The records confirm that this clock, No. 178, completed in 1796, was the first carriage clock ever made by Breguet. A series of three were planned, but the two others were not finished at the time, being recorded as apparently lost. Curiously, an entry made at a much later date (September 1890) records that clock No. 179 was in fact sold in approximately 1804 to the Duc de Marchessa (François de Bourbon, King of Naples), for 3500 or 4000 Francs. It was obviously completed after 1800, with the addition of an alarm train, a moon in blued-steel and a later form of escapement with compensation balance and parachute (see George Daniels: The Art of Breguet, p. 164, fig. 155 a - d) Clock No. 178, bought by Général Bonaparte has survived in completely original condition, and is as such a unique document in the history of the pendule de voyage. It appears to be the very first made in the form (rectangular, glazed all round with visible movement and a folding handle) that was to be adopted by the Courvoisiers, Cugnier and Leschot in Switzerland, Paul Gamier, Oudin and LeRoy in France, and eventually to become the standard pattern for the modern carriage clock. One of many legends surrounding the life of Napoleon relates how he required his senior officers to make use of portable clocks to assure their timely arrival at the staff meetings. In view of the fact that Bonaparte purchased this clock, the earliest recorded, only 25 days before his departure for the Egyptian campaign on 19 May 1798, the legend may well contain more than a grain of truth.
GÉNÉRAL NAPOLÉON BONAPARTE (1769 - 1821)
Napoleon Bonaparte, Military General, First Consul and Emperor of France, and the man who most influenced the history of Europe during his age. Born on 15 August 1769, in Ajaccio, Corsica, the son of Charles-Marie Bonaparte and Marie-Laetitia Ramolino, he entered the Royal Military school at Brienne at the age of ten, graduating to the artillery school in Paris, from where he passed out in 1785. As a lieutenant in 1786, he was stationed in Corsica, fighting at first for, and then against Paoli, the leader of the faction demanding self-government. In 1789, whilst garrisoned at Auxonne, he quelled a riot, but he first came to notice on the 10th of August 1792, when he took part in the storming of the Tuileries palace. At the siège of Toulon, held by the English, he was made commander of the artillery, and conceived a plan to recapture the town; it finally fell on the 17th of December 1793. Bonaparte was promoted to Brigadier General and made Artillery Commander of the army in Italy. However, as a close friend of Robespierre's brother Augustin, he was at first arrested after the 9 Thermidor (27 July 1794), but subsequently released. Returning from Italy in March 1795 he refused to accept a command in Vendée and was reduced to the ranks. The first coalition against France had been organised in 1792, but the Treaty of Basle in 1795, established a separate peace with Prussia and Spain; England, Austria and Piemont, continuing the war. On 2 March 1796, Bonaparte was named as general in charge of the French forces in Italy, and proclaimed to his men: "Soldiers you are badly clothed, badly fed.... I will lead you to the most fertile plains in the world...There you will find honour, glory and riches." Between the 9th of April and the 10th of May 1796 Napoleon split the Austrians from the Piemontais by his victories at Monternotte and Millesimo. He defeated General Colli at Mondori, followed by the Austrians at Lodi, and entered Milan in triumph, after which his soldiers nicknamed him Le Petit Caporal. On the 3rd and the 5th of August he won the battles of Lonato and Castiglione against the Austrian general Wurmser, and in November of the same year, narrowly escaped death at the bridge of Arcole, his life being saved by Lannes (later made Marshal) who was wounded, and Muiron, who was killed. January 1797 saw the victory at Rivoli, the capitulation of Wurmser at the siege of Mantoue, and the forces of the Archduke Charles forced to retreat. Bonaparte, now the protector of two Italian Republics, was virtually a sovereign ruler. In October, the Austrians sued for peace at Leoben, signing the Treaty of Campo-Formio which ceeded Belgium and the left bank of the Rhine to France. Bonaparte returned to France in triumph in December 1797. Having decided to attack England through Egypt with the intention of cutting off the trade route to the Indias, Napoleon embarked on his Egyptian campaign on 19th May 1798, setting sail on board the Orient. He captured Malta en route and disembarked his army at Alexandria. On 21 th July, at the battle of the Pyramids, Bonaparte announced to his troops:" Soldiers, from the summit of the pyramids, forty centuries of history looks down on you." He went on to defeat the Mameluks, but the French fleet was destroyed by Nelson at Aboukir on 1st August. In February 1799, already master of Egypt, Bonaparte pursued the Turkish army into Syria and was again victorious at Mount Thabor, but the onset of plague amongst his troops forced him to lift the siege of Saint-Jean-d'Acre. His final victory was against mercenary troops at Aboukir on the 25th July, after which he decided to leave General Kleber in command and return to France. Disembarking at Fréjus on the 9th October 1799, Bonaparte was feted throughout his journey to Paris. The remainder of Napoleon Bonaparte's life as a Consul and Emperor is as well documented as his early career as a soldier, but falls after the period when he bought this clock and was entered by Breguet in their sales book as Général Bonaparte.