By Everett Thomas Dague
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Additional resources for Napoleon and the First Empire's Ministries of War and Military Administration: The Construction of a Military Bureaucracy
For example, prior to 1789 lower ranked soldiers who suffered wounds were often discharged with little or no pensions, leaving them to theft or vagrancy for a living. On the other hand, in 1793 widows and wounded veterans were promised a pension or a bed in the Invalides regardless of rank. Such promises, though made frequently in the early years of the French Revolution; no less than 25 laws and decrees relating to soldier's welfare were promulgated between 1793 and 1794,57 but were seldom fulfillable.
Napoleon did not inherit a bureaucracy capable of supporting the Empire any more than he inherited an army capable of conquering Europe. The legacy and the potential were there, to be certain; Brown was fundamentally correct in describing the evolution of the Ministry of War from a politicized body that required the creation of extraordinary offices, such as the Bureau topographique, to a professional organization capable of mobilizing France for war. He also described to a remarkable degree revolutionary methods of military administration and its breakdown.
Between 1763 and 1789, there was a trend toward the development of a competent administrative corps which worked in conjunction with a bureaucratic infrastructure. ) In addition, retirement records, which include a listing of every office a particular individual held, tend to support this claim, but most of these reflect Revolutionary and Imperial service rather than ancien regime. See Service historique, Carton XSI52 (Retirement Records of Administrative Officials) for these records. ~'he question of whether this administrative structure provided the middle class with a military career path is interesting.