Suite: Napoleon, Corsica and the Corsicans

Second account: Corsica will find itself at the centre of the French wars.

1793: The Bonaparte family leaves for Toulon. And there, Napoléon will join a French battalion, with mission to defend the boats in Toulon against the English. They set off searching for somewhere to stay, which will be Corsica. At the same time, Pasquale Paoli asks for protection from the English, against the French.
They will settle in Bastia (for less than two years), the ‘Anglo-Corsican’ period, which meant a territory belonging to the British Empire.
Sir Gilbert Elliot is viceroy in Bastia. His nomination makes Paoli leave for England in 1795. Elliot reigns with Charles André Pozzo di Borgo, his second in command.

1795: Napoléon is in Paris, and gets noticed when he reprimands a royalist insurrection, and he meets Joséphine de Beauharnais.
1796: He is named general-in-chief of the Italian army (which is partly French, at war in Italy). They have a mission, and that is to force the Austrians to leave Italy – and secondly, to chase the English from Corsica. We are now at the end of 1796, and Corsica returns to being French.
Let’s return to the Bonaparte family now, for they return to Ajaccio. Joseph and Laetitia decide to restore their house and recuperate property in the Milelli area, around Ajaccio, also purchasing other properties and investing. Napoléon will be summoned for further missions.
1798 – 1799: The Egyptian army will be under his orders.
Following this, in 1799 he returns to Corsica and this will be for the last time. This would be for an unintended short stay, as they were caught up in a storm returning from Egypt. He spends one week at the beginning of October. Normally, they should have been subjected to quarantine, but Napoléon doesn’t have time for this !
The captain who was in charge of healthcare for the port, Jean-Baptiste Barberi, finds a way for Napoléon to go ashore without having to remain in quarantine.
Inquiries are made as to why this boat is arriving, and questions are asked.
Roch Donzella wonders where the captain is, and do they have news of Napoléon – Napoléon answers, ‘he’s here, and is well’. But, there’s still a problem for entering, so the crew from Ajaccio decide to climb onto the boat on purpose in order to ensure contact. This was very badly received by his enemies, to say the least, and they will make Barberi (who has vineyards towards Alata), pay for it later on – his house is tagged: ‘O Barberi, vai à fà ti pagà da i to Bonaparti di merda’ (go and get paid by the flipping Bonapartes).

Napoléon’s week in Ajaccio, didn’t go unnoticed. He toured around the town, accompanied by a few soldiers – Eugene de Beauharnais and Joachim Murat were amongst them, showing off his house … we must remember his status is quite different now, he is welcomed and respected. He goes to Milelli and shows his family property (1786) to his general staff, which is composed of scientists who had studied the desert in Egypt and civilisation, and also historians, geographers and mathematicians; Vivant Denon, Monge, Berthollet were all together in Ajaccio. They immediately see the town’s problem – built at the citadel without water. Napoléon knows there’s a fountain at Milelli, and an archeological site too just underneath. The Arbitrone stream flows there, from Saint Antoine, and the fountain is a Jesuit fountain. All of this intrigues the visitors. Saint Jean has water ‘le puits du bourg’ which is ‘punta di Pozzo di Borgo’. They must take the water from here in order to develop Ajaccio, and this will be the objective later on when Napoléon develops the town.

1799: At the beginning of October, Napoléon leaves Ajaccio with his men. This stopover will prove to be of the highest interest, as it’ll be the beginning of projects for development.
In November, Napoléon takes over with the coup d’état 18 Brumaire – which brings him to power as First Consul. He is thirty years of age, what will he do for Corsica ?
André François Miot, a civil servant, will become general administrator of Corsica. In 1796, he had a first mission on the island to do an evaluation after the English had been here. He’s close to Joseph, and Napoléon will name him for a second mission in 1800, which will be to make a new estimation; this time including the weaknesses and the strengths, in view of a dynamic participation in the French Republic. He was what was called ‘Mr Corsica’ of the government, at the time.

To be followed.

Source/image: Philippe Perfettini Historian Fesch Museum, whom I thank once again for his time and precious help.

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