On graduation in September 1785, Bonaparte was commissioned a second lieutenant in La FÃ¨re artillery regiment. He served on garrison duty in Valence, DrÃ´me and Auxonne until after the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, though he took nearly two years of leave in Corsica and Paris during this period. A fervent Corsican nationalist, Bonaparte wrote to the 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."
He spent the early years of the Revolution in Corsica, fighting in a complex three-way struggle between royalists, revolutionaries, and Corsican nationalists. He supported the revolutionary Jacobin faction, gained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and command over a battalion of volunteers. After he had exceeded his leave of absence and led a riot against a French army in Corsica, he was somehow able to convince military authorities in Paris to promote him to Captain in July 1792. He returned to Corsica once again, and came into conflict with Paoli, who had decided to split with France and sabotage a French assault on the Sardinian island of La Maddalena, where Bonaparte was one of the expedition leaders. Bonaparte and his family had to flee to the French mainland in June 1793 due to the split with Paoli.