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Today's Featured Biography

Michel Ney, Marshal Of France

      Among the marshals of the great Napoleon, Ney has always held in my mind the place of honor. "The Bravest of the Brave" was the sobriquet bestowed on him by the men of his own nation and his own time; and the briefest record of his life cannot fail to prove how well the title was deserved. I could wish for a larger canvas on which to paint his portrait; but the space allotted to me here will at least suffice to reveal his character, and chronicle the main events of his career.

      Michel Ney was born on January 10, 1769, in the small town of Sarre-Louis, in Lorraine, which province had at that time only recently been annexed to France. He was in reality, therefore, more German than French. His father was a working cooper by trade, but he wished his son to be something better, and arranged for him to study law. Life at a desk, however, had no interest for the future marshal, who, even then, had no doubt as to what should be his future career. In 1787 he enlisted, at Metz, as a private hussar. His rise was rapid from the first. He greatly distinguished himself in the Netherlands, where revolutionary France, under Dumouriez and others was holding her own against allied Europe. He became lieutenant in 1793, and captain in 1794. In 1796, after a brilliant conflict under the walls of Forchheim, which resulted in the taking of that town, and on the field of battle, he was made General of Brigade.

      Next year, in trying to save a gun from capture, he was taken prisoner by t...

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