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André Massena - one of the best of Napoleon's marshals

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André Massena. One of the best of Napoleon's marshals? Probably, but one who combined some of the best and some of the worst character traits.
After the wars were over, Wellington told him that he had caused him more sleepless nights than any other marshal. He was certainly clever, resourceful, tenacious. During the siege of Genoa, he kept a good proportion of the Austrian army occupied while Napoleon vanquished an Austrian force at Marengo. With little food left in Genoa, Massena allegedly said that they would eat their boots before they surrendered. He did surrender in the end, but only after Napoleon had safely won his victory at Marengo (and presumably tasted the first ever Poulet a la Marengo).
But Massena was also the most enthusiastic looter in the French army - it was said that if something wasn't actually nailed down, he would help himself.
When visiting Genoa, one can go in search of traces of the siege of Genoa, 1800. You will be met with perplexed, enquiring looks everywhere. But there is a plaque on a small palazzo, commemorating the place where "Andrea Massena, Primo tenente di Napoleone Bonaparte" had his headquarters in 1800.


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