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Marche de la Garde Consulaire

Formed soon after the coup d’etat of 18 Brumaire, the Consular Guard served as the personal bodyguard of First Consul Bonaparte and would be a model for the later Imperial Guard of the empire. It made its public debut on 19 February 1800 in a magnificent ceremony at the Tuileries in which Napoleon officially took possession of the royal palace. The Guard was by no means merely ceremonial, however, and would soon play a key role in the Battle of Marengo (14 June), where it was sent forward to shore up the French line following the collapse of Victor’s corps. Arrayed in a massive square formation, some 800 grenadiers repelled a series of Austrian attacks, buying time for Napoleon to reform his forces and conduct an orderly withdrawal. The image of this isolated square, its band playing their signature march in the midst of the enemy, would soon become part of the army’s growing legend.