General and trooper alike, Napoleon's cavalry brought a superb panache to the drab business of war. James Lunt describes how, for fifteen years, there was “hardly a village in Europe between Moscow and Madrid” through which these dashing horsemen did not ride.
“I am, and always will be, for the French much more the man of Marengo than that of Jena and Friedland,” said Napoleon on his return from Tilsit. Marengo was a victory that he was unwilling to share with any of his lieutenants: it paved the way to the throne, his favourite charger was named after it, and, when he died, his body was wrapped in the shabby blue greatcoat he had worn throughout the long and broiling day of June 14th, 1800. And yet Napoleon was lucky that Marengo turned out to be a French victory, instead of a French defeat.