On This Day in Napoleonic History – 14 May 1796

23Napoleon writes to the Directory, threatening to resign

The news had reached Napoleon that the Directory wanted to divide the command of the Army of Italy between himself and François Kellermann, the commander of the Army of the Alps. It was an understandable decision by a feeble government body that was concerned about the public adulation concentrating dangerously around General Bnaparte. After all, no government wanted to accord too much power to any one general.

The furious Napoleon wrote to Barras: ‘I will resign. I cannot be useful here unless I have your full confidence.’ He later famously added: ‘One bad general is better than two good ones. War, like government, is a matter of tact.’

It was a gamble but it paid off. Napoleon’s resignation threat, coming with the news of the victory at Lodi and the capture of Milan, ensured that no more was heard of the scheme.

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