Thursday, May 06, 2010


The uniformed fellow above is one Andre Massena, born this day 1758, in Nice, Italy. The son of a shopkeeper, he ran off at the age of 13 to be a cabin boy on a merchant ship. He sailed on it around the Mediterranean, and on two long voyages to French Guiana. After those voyages he joined the French Army where he made it all the way to warrant officer, the highest rank he could achieve being a non-nobleman, before leaving the army in 1789. However, that pesky little thing called the French Revolution was just kicking off, and he was back in harness by 1791, and a colonel by 1792. Talent like his has a way of rising to the top, and the head fellow in charge, Napoleon himself said that Massena was "the greatest name of my military Empire." Pretty high praise, and even more so as it came from a megalomaniac. He distinguished himself in many a campaign, and was made Duc de Rivioli (one of the many victories that he helped bring about), in 1808. He fought till the end of the Napoleonic wars, and had his highs and lows, but he was one of the most talented field commanders of his or any other generation. He also bought an estate upstream from Napoleon's estate, and was heard to say that he could "piss on him (Napoleon) whenever he wanted to." Pretty funny stuff, and for that type of humour, and for being a damn fine military mind, Andrea Massena (May 6th, 1758-April 4th, 1817, at the age of 58), you are my (252nd) hero of the day.

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