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“Napoleonic Memory in Nineteenth-Century France: The Making of a Liberal Legend”

upon graduating in September 1785, Bonaparte was commissioned a second lieutenant in La Fère artillery regiment.[28][note 5] He served in Valenceand Auxonne until after the outbreak of the Revolution in 1789, and took nearly two years’ leave in Corsica and Paris during this period. At this time, he was a fervent Corsican nationalist, and wrote to Corsican leader Pasquale Paoli in May 1789, “As the nation was perishing I was born. Thirty thousand Frenchmen were vomited on to our shores, drowning the throne of liberty in waves of blood. Such was the odious sight which was the first to strike me”.[39]
He spent the early years of the Revolution in Corsica, fighting in a complex three-way struggle among royalists, revolutionaries, and Corsican nationalists. He was a supporter of the republican Jacobin movement, organising clubs in Corsica,[40] and was given command over a battalion of volunteers. He was promoted to captain in the regular army in July 1792, despite exceeding his leave of absence and leading a riot against French troops.[41]
He came into conflict with Paoli, who had decided to split with France and sabotage the Corsican contribution to the Expédition de Sardaigne, by preventing a French assault on the Sardinian island of La Maddalena.[42] Bonaparte and his family fled to the French mainland in June 1793 because of the split with Paoli.[43]