"Crossing the Bridge at Lodi"
Engraving after Carle Vernet - c. 1806
At Lodi, during the First Italian Campaign, facing heavy fire from Austrian guns on the far bank, Napoléon decided to storm the river's wooden bridge. Astride a white horse, he road up and down the ranks, working his troops' courage up to a fever pitch. With the drum and fifes playing La Marseillaise, he gave the order and the French forces charged, shouting, "Vive la République!" By the end of the day, victory was theirs. This day was a psychological turning point for Napoléon, who became truly aware of his extraordinary powers of leadership.
Napoleon Bonaparte Signed Letter from Polish Campaign, War of the 4th Coalition
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