The same doubts which still continue of Jourdan’s political opinions remain also with regard to his military capacity. But the unanimous declaration of those who have served under his orders as a general must silence both his blind admirers and unjust slanderers. They all allow him some military ability; he combines and prepares in the Cabinet a plan of defence and attack, with method and intelligence, but he does not possess the quick coup d’oeil, and that promptitude which perceives, and rectifies accordingly, an error on the field of battle. If, on the day of action, some accident, or some manoeuvre, occurs, which has not been foreseen by him, his dull and heavy genius does not enable him to alter instantly his dispositions, or to remedy errors, misfortunes, or improvidences. This kind of talent, and this kind of absence of talent, explain equally the causes of his advantages, as well as the origin of his frequent disasters. Nobody denies him courage, but, with most of our other republican generals, he has never been careful of the lives of the troops under him. I have heard an officer of superior talents and rank assert, in the presence of Carnot, that the number of wounded and killed under Jourdan, when victorious, frequently surpassed the number of enemies he had defeated. I fear it is too true that we are as much, if not more, indebted for our successes to the superior number as to the superior valour of our troops.
Jourdan is, with regard to fortune, one of our poorest republican generals who have headed armies. He has not, during all his campaigns, collected more than a capital of eight millions of livres—a mere trifle compared to the fifty millions of Massena, the sixty millions of Le Clerc, the forty millions of Murat, and the thirty-six millions of Augereau; not to mention the hundred millions of Bonaparte. It is also true that Jourdan is a gambler and a debauchee, fond of cards, dice, and women; and that in Italy, except two hours in twenty-four allotted to business, he passed the remainder of his time either at the gaming-tables, or in the boudoirs of his seraglio—I say seraglio, because he kept, in the extensive house joining his palace as governor and commander, ten women-three French, three Italians, two Germans, two Irish or English girls. He supported them all in style; but they were his slaves, and he was their sultan, whose official mutes (his aides-de-camp) both watched them, and, if necessary, chastised them.
Paris, September, 1805.