The New Student's Reference Work/Masséna, André
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Masséna (mä'sâ'nȧ'), André, duke of Rivoli, prince of Essling and the greatest of Napoleon's marshals, was born at Nice, Italy, probably of Jewish parents, May 6, 1758. He served 14 years in the Sardinian army. Early in the French Revolution he joined a battalion of volunteers, becoming a general of division (1793). He distinguished himself greatly in the campaigns in upper Italy. After Jourdan's defeat at Stockach, in 1799, Masséna was given command of the army in Switzerland and by his crushing victory over Suvaroff's Russians at Zurich freed France from the danger of invasion. In 1804 he was made a marshal of the empire and commander of the army in Italy. He kept Archduke Charles, of Austria in check, crushed him at Caldiero, and overran Naples. In the campaign of 1809 against Austria he commanded on the right, bank of the Danube, and covered himself with glory at Landshut, Eckmühl and Ebersberg-on-Taun. In 1810 he was sent to Spain to drive out the English, and drove Wellington back upon his intrenchments at Torres Vedras. Finding it impossible to break the English lines and harassed by lack of supplies, he made a masterly retreat but was recalled in anger by Napoleon. He himself said his failure was owing to the disobedience of his captains Ney and Junot. He submitted to the Bourbons at their restoration, and was made a peer. In strategy and tactics Masséna was like Napoleon in quickness and ability, and was brave and unwearied on the battlefield. He died at Paris on April 4, 1817.