Napoleonic Literature
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The 13th Vendémiaire; What Really Happened

It is generally believed that when Napoleon faced the mob that assaulted the Tuileries on 5 October 1795, the 13th Vendémiaire, that he subdued the mob with a single salvo from his cannons. However, such was not the case. Following is an account of what really took place that afternoon and evening:

"Not a moment was lost, and throughout the night most vigorous and incessant preparation was made. Buonaparte was as much himself in the streets of Paris as in those of Ajaccio, except that his energy was proportionately more feverish, as the defense of the Tuileries and the riding-school attached to it, in which the Convention sat, was a grander task than the never-accomplished capture of the Corsican citadel. The avenues and streets of a city somewhat resemble the main and tributary valleys of a mountain-range, and the task of campaigning in Paris was less unlike that of maneuvering in the narrow gorges of the Apennines than might be supposed; at least Buonaparte's strategy was nearly identical for both. All his measures were masterly. The foe, scattered as yet throughout Paris on both sides of the river, was first cut in two by seizing and fortifying the bridges across the Seine; then every avenue of approach was likewise guarded, while flanking artillery was set in the narrow streets to command the main arteries. Finally a reserve, ready for use on either side of the river, was established in what is now the Place de la Concorde, with an open line of retreat toward St. Cloud behind it. Every order was issued in Barras's name, and Barras, in his memoirs, claims all the honors of the day. He declares that his aide was afoot, while he was the man on horseback, ubiquitous and masterful. He does not even admit that Buonaparte bestrode a cab-horse, as even the vanquished were ready to acknowledge. The sections, of course, knew nothing of the new commander or of Buonaparte, and recalled only Menou's pusillanimity. Without cannon and without a plan, they determined to drive out the Convention at once, and to overwhelm its forces by superior numbers. The quays of the left bank were therefore occupied by a large body of the National Guard, ready to rush in from behind when the main attack, made from the north through the labyrinth of streets and blind alleys then designated by the name of St. Honoré, and by the short, wide passage of l'Échelle, should draw the Convention forces away in that direction to resist it. A kind of rendezvous had been appointed at the church of St. Roch, which was to be used as a depot of supplies and a retreat. Numerous sectionaries were, in fact, posted there as auxiliaries at the crucial instant.

In this general position the opposing forces confronted each other on the morning of October fifth, the thirteenth of Vendémiaire. Both seemed loath to begin. But at half-past four in the afternoon it was clear that the decisive moment had come. As if by instinct, but in reality at Danican's signal, the forces of the sections from the northern portion of the capital began to pour through the narrow main street of St. Honoré, behind the riding-school, toward the chief entrance of the Tuileries. They no doubt felt safer in the rear of the Convention hall, with the high wall of houses all about, than they would have done in the open spaces which they would have had to cross in order to attack it from the front. When their compacted mass reached the church of St. Roch, and, taking a stand, suddenly became aware that in the side streets on the right were yawning the muzzles of hostile cannon, the excited citizens lost their heads, and began to discharge their muskets. Then with a swift, sudden blast, the street was cleared by a terrible discharge of the shrapnel, canister, and grape-shot with which the great guns of Barras and Buonaparte were loaded. The action continued about an hour, for the people and the National Guard rallied again and again, each time to be mowed down by a like awful discharge. At last they could be rallied no longer, and retreated. On the left bank a similar melee ended in a similar way. Three times Laffont gathered his forces and hurled them at the Pont Royal; three times they were swept back by the cross-fire of artillery. The scene then changed like the vanishing of a mirage. Awe-stricken messengers appeared, hurrying everywhere with the prostrating news from both sides of the river, and the entire Parisian force withdrew to shelter. Before nightfall the triumph of the Convention was complete. The dramatic effect of this achievement was heightened by the appearance on horseback here, there, and everywhere, during the short hour of battle, of an awe-inspiring leader; both before and after, he was unseen. In spite of Barras's claims, there can be no doubt that this dramatic personage was Buonaparte. If not, for what was he so signally rewarded in the immediate sequel? Barras was no artillerist, and this was the appearance of an expert giving masterly lessons in artillery practice to an astonished world, which little dreamed what he was yet to demonstrate as to the worth of his chosen arm on wider battle-fields. For the moment it suited Buonaparte to appear merely as an agent. In his reports of the affair his own name is kept in the background. It is evident that from first to last he intended to produce the impression that, though acting with Jacobins, he does so because they for the time represent the truth: he is not for that reason to be identified with them."

Source: Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, Vol. I, Sloane, William Milligan
The Century Company, 1896, pp. 180-182. (Quoted)



Death of Napoleon's Son

Napoleon's son, the ex-King of Rome, after Napoleon's first abdication in April 1814, was taken to Austria where he was raised by his grandfather, the Emperor Francis, as an Austrian Prince. His name was quickly and officially changed from Napoleon Francois Charles Joseph to Franz Joseph Karl, and an Austrian title, Duke of Reichstadt, was given to him in exchange for the title, King of Rome, which was taken from him.

In January 1832, the Duke of Reichstadt became ill. His health deteriorated over the coming months and on May 22, he was moved to Schoenbrunn and, in order to give him more exposure to sunlight, was given the first floor apartments that his father, Napoleon, had occupied after the battles of Austerlitz and Wagram, which was a suite of three rooms. His health deteriorated quickly and on July 22, he died in the same room that his father had slept in after the battle of Wagram. Strangely, two other significant events in the duke's life occurred on July 22 of previous years: On July 22, 1818, the Hapsburgs had formally changed his name, and in July 22, 1821, he had learned of his father's death.

Source: Napoleon and His Son, Pierre Nezelof, translated from the French by Warre Bradley Wells, Liveright Publishing Company, 1937.



Description of Napoleon by Bourrienne

His finely-shaped head, his superb forehead, his pale countenance, and his usual meditative look, have been transferred to canvas; but the versatility of his expression was beyond the reach of imitation. All the various workings of his mind were instantaneously depicted in his countenance; and his glance changed from mild to severe, and from angry to good-humoured, almost with the rapidity of lightning. It may truly be said that he had a particular look for every thought that arose in his mind.

Source: Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte, Volume I, Fauvelet de Bourrienne, Charles Scribners Sons, 1891, pp. 307. (Quoted)



Description of Napoleon by the Comte d'Antraigues (1797)

' "Bonaparte is a man of small stature, of sickly hue, with piercing eyes, and something in his look and mouth which is cruel, covert, and treacherous; speaking little, but very talkative when his vanity is engaged or thwarted; of very poor health because of violent humors in his blood. He is covered with letter, a disease of such a sort as to increase his vehemence and his activity. He is always full of his projects, and gives himself no recreation. He sleeps but three hours every night, and takes no medicine except when his sufferings are unendurable. This man wishes to master France, and, through France, Europe. Everything else, even in his present successes, seems but a means to the end. Thus he steals without concealment, plunders everything, is accumulating an enormous treasure of gold, silver, jewels, and precious stones. But he cares for it only as a means. This same man, who will rob a community to the last son, will without a thought give a million francs to any person who can assist him. If such a person has hate or vengeance to gratify, he will afford every opportunity to do so. Nothing stands in the way of his prevailing with a man he thinks will be useful; and with him a bargain is made in two words and two minutes, so great is his seductive power. The reverse side of his methods is this: the service rendered, he demands a complete servility, or he becomes an implacable enemy; and when he has bought traitors, their service rendered, he observes but little secrecy concerning them. This man abhors royalty: he hates the Bourbons, and neglects no means to wean his army from them. If there were a king in France other than himself, he would like to have been his maker, and would desire royal authority to rest on the tip of his own sword; that sword he would never surrender, but would plunge it into the king's heart, should the monarch cease for a moment to be subservient." '

Source: Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, Volume II, William M. Sloane, The Century Company, 1896, pp. 19. (Quoted)



Description of Napoleon by Doctor Corvisart, his personal physician

The following description of Napoleon was made by Doctor Corvisart in 1802:

"Napoleon was of short stature, about five feet two inches by French measure [5 feet 6 inches, English measure], and well built, though the bust was rather long. His head was big and the skull largely developed. His neck was short and his shoulders broad. His legs were well shaped, his feet were small and well formed. His hand, and he was rather proud of it, was delicate, and plump, with tapering fingers. His forehead was high and broad, his eyes gray, penetrating and wonderfully mobile; his nose was straight and well shaped. His teeth were fairly good, and mouth perfectly modelled, the upper lip slightly drawn down towards the corner of the mouth, and the chin slightly prominent. His skin was smooth and his complexion pale, but of a pallor which denoted a good circulation of blood. His very fine chestnut hair, which, until the time of the expedition to Egypt, he had worn long, cut square and covering his ears, was clipped short. The air was thin on the upper part of the head, and left bare his forehead.

The shape of his face and the ensemble of his features were remarkably regular. When excited by any violent passion his face took on a stern and even terrible expression. A sort of rotary movement very visibly produced itself on his forehead and between his eyebrows; his eyes flashed fire; his nostrils dilated, swollen with the inner storm. He seemed to be able to control at will these explosions, which, by the way, as time went on, became less and less frequent. His head remained cool. In ordinary life his expression was calm, meditative, and gently grave. When in a good humor, or when anxious to please, his expression was sweet and caressing, and his face was lighted up by a most beautiful smile. Amongst familiars his laugh was loud and mocking."

Source: Napoleon - An Intimate Account of the Years of Supremacy 1800-1814, Edited by Proctor Patterson Jones, published by Random House, Inc., 1992, pp. 52-53 (Quoted).



Description of Napoleon by Various Eye Witnesses

In the Spring of 1802, Madame d'Arblay (Fanny Burney) joined her husband who was in Paris where he had been engaged in seeking to recover any part of his natural inheritance. While there, from time to time she wrote to her relatives in England. One of her letters gives an account of her successful attempt to see the First Consul.

"At length the door of the audience chamber was thrown wide open and an officer descended the three steps into our apartment and called out, Le Premier Consul!

"You will readily believe nothing more was necessary to obtain attention; not a soul spoke or stirred as he and his suite passed along. I had a view so near, though so brief, of his face, as to be very much struck by it. It is of a deeply impressive cast, pale even to sallowness, while not only in the eyes, but in every feature--care, thought, melancholy, and meditation are strongly marked. with so much of character, nay, genius, and so penetrating a seriousness, or rather sadness, as powerfully to sink into an observer's mind.

"Yet, though the busts and medallions I have seen are, in general, such good resemblances that I think I should have known him untold, he has by no means the look to be expected from Bonaparte, but rather that of a profoundly studious and contemplative man, who 'o'er books consumes' not only the 'midnight oil' but his own daily strength, 'and wastes the puny body to decay' by abstruse speculation and theoretic plans. But the look of the commander who heads his own army, who fights his own battles, who conquers every difficulty by personal exertion, who executes all he plans, who performs even all he suggests; whose ambition is of the most enterprising, and whose bravery is of the most daring cast:--this, which is the look to be expected from the situation, and the exploits which have led to it, the spectator watches for in vain. The plainness, also, of his dress, so conspicuously contrasted by the finery of all around him, conspires forcibly with his countenance, so 'sicklied o'er with the pale hue of thought,' to give him far more the air of a student than of a warrior."

Later on she witnessed the review, of which she writes: "It was far more superb than anything I have ever beheld. Bonaparte, mounting a beautiful and spirited white horse, accompanied by his generals rode round the ranks, holding his bridle indifferently in either hand. After making his round, the First Consul stationed himself opposite to the window at which I was placed; and thence he presented some swords of honour spreading out one arm with an air and mien which changed his looks from that of scholastic severity to one that was highly military and commanding."

In the same year, Lord Aberdeen visited Paris, when he had much conversation with the First Consul and was greatly fascinated by his singular beauty. He used to say "that Napoleon's smile was the most beautiful he ever saw, and that his eye was wholly unlike that of any other man."

Mrs. St. George, writing from Paris in 1803 to Mary Leadbeater, says: I have been presented to Bonaparte and his wife, who received with great state, ceremony, and magnificence. His manner is very good, but the expression of his countenance is not attractive. Curran says he has the face of a gloomy tyrant. Another compared him to a corpse with living eyes and a painter remarked to me that the smile on his lips never seemed to accord with the rest of his features."

A remarkable event of the "Hundred Days" was the ceremony at "Champ de Mai," where Napoleon met the deputies from the Departments, and distributed eagles to the representatives of his forces. A young American who was a student at one of the colleges in Paris, was present during the whole of this latter ceremony, and in relating his experiences of the day (June l, 1815) states in an article printed in the Atlantic Monthly many years ago, that he saw Napoleon more distinctly than at any previous time. His account reads as follows: "I stood among my friends, the soldiers who lined the way. His four brothers preceded him in one carriage, while he sat alone in a state coach, all glass and gold, to which pages clung wherever they could find a footing.

"He was splendidly attired, and wore a Spanish hat with drooping feathers. As he moved slowly through the crowd, he bowed to the right and left, not in the hasty, abrupt way which is generally attributed to him, but in a calm, dignified, though absent manner.

"His face was one not to be forgotten. I saw it repeatedly; but whenever I bring it up, it comes before me, not as it appeared from the window of the Tuileries, or when riding among his troops, or when standing, with folded arms or his hands behind him, as they defiled before him; but it rises on my vision as it looked that morning, under the nodding plumes, smooth, massive, and so tranquil, that it seemed impossible a storm of passion could ever ruffle it. The complexion was clear olive, without a particle of color, no trace was on it to indicate what agitated his soul. The repose of that marble countenance told nothing of the past, nor of anxiety for the deadly struggle that awaited him. The cheering sounds around him did not change him; they fell on an ear that heard them not. His eye glanced on the multitude but it saw them not. There was more machinery than soul in the recognition as his head instinctively swayed toward them. The idol of stone was there, joyless and impassive, taking its lifeless part in this last pageant. But the thinking, active man was elsewhere, and returned only when he found himself in the presence of delegated France, and in the more congenial occupation which followed that part of the day's celebration."

Source: The Opinions and Reflections of Napoleon, Edited by Lewis Claflin Breed, The Four Seas Company, 1926. (Quoted)



La Marseillaise, Origin.

"It is now necessary to describe the formation of the sister army, in order to bring the history of both forces up to the point
at which their real influence on the war began.  The Armée du Rhin was the least important of the first three armies formed. It was originally placed under the same Marshal Luckner whom we have just seen coming to the ‘Centre’ from the ‘Nord’ :  he did in fact command each army in turn.  In the ‘Rhin’ he had a nominal strength of 35,000 infantry and 8,000 cavalry, guarding the line of the Swiss frontier to the river Lauter.1  The army, since it did not change its name, and since ‘Rhin’ was a more striking title than ‘Centre’, is rather better known than is its neighbour, but it might have had a still wider fame than it ever possessed.  Its head-quarters were at Strasbourg, and it was in that town that, on the night of the 25th April 1792, the patriot Mayor, Dietrich, entertained at his house a company which included the Chief of the Staff to the army, General Victor de Broglie, and his young A.D.C., the Chevalier de Veygoux, to be known as Desaix.  After dinner Dietrich suggested to a young Captain, Rouget de L’Isle, that he should compose a ‘beau chant’ for the warrior people that was rising from all parts at the appeal of the Nation for the war declared in the city that day.  All night Rouget de L’Isle worked, and next morning he brought the result to Dietrich, who, trying the air on his clavecin, was the first to sing what was printed as the ‘Chant de guerre pour l’armée du Rhin, dédié au Maréchal Luckner’.  By a curious fate the song became known to France and to the world under another title, ‘La Marseillaise’.  It was to ring on many battle-fields.  Luckner, Dietrich, and Victor de Broglie probably heard it as they in their time mounted the scaffold :  certainly it thundered round the guillotine when Louis XVI died."

Source:  Volume 2, The Armies of the First French Republic, Ramsay W. Phipps, London, Oxford university press, H. Milford, 1926-29, 5 volumes.

The Mamelukes, Who Were They?

"Saladin had followed a tradition of Eastern despotism in the formation of a body-guard destitute of all ties except those which bound them to his person. Purchased as infants in Georgia or Cireassia, its members were, like the janizaries at Constantinople, trained to arms as an exclusive profession, and, mounted on the finest steeds of Arabia, they became the elite of his army. In time this force of acute and powerful men transformed itself into a warrior caste, was divided into twenty-four companies, and obeyed no authority except that of its captains. These were known in Oriental phrase as Beys, the subordinates were themselves what we call the Mamelukes; the whole formed a kind of chivalry which, though reduced to nominal submission in 1517, still governed the land with despotic power, and bade defiance to the Sultan's shaky authority."

Source: Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, Volume II, William M. Sloane, The Century Company, 1896, pp. 39-40. (Quoted)



Napoleon's Favorite Horse

In 1810, Napoleon's favorite horse was Marengo.

Source: The Imperial Guard of Napoleon, J.T. Headley, Charles Scribner, 1851, pp. 99.


Napoleon's Horses at Elba

While in exile on Elba, the Emperor's stable included the following horses:

Source: The Opinions and Reflections of Napoleon, edited by Lewis C. Breed, The Four Seas Company, 1926, pp. 174.


Napoleon's Horse at Waterloo

At Waterloo, Napoleon rode his famous white Arab mare, Désirée.

Source: Napoleon Speaks by Albert Carr, The Viking Press, New York, 1941, pp. 343.



Napoleon' s Second Burial

"In 1830 the elder branch of the Bourbons fell, and Louis Philippe succeeded Charles X. The new monarchy professed to be liberal and national enough not to fear reviving the memories of the great Emperor. The tricolor once more waved over France, and at last it seemed impossible to let the body of the Emperor rest in its distant grave."

On 8 October 1840, with the permission of the British government, a French commission headed by the Prince de Joinville, Louis Philippe's third son, landed at Jamestown, St. Helena. At one o'clock in the morning of 15 October, they began the procedure of exhuming Napoleon's body. Seven hours later, at 8 o'clock, the coffin was finally reached and removed. The coffin was carried to a tent where it and the enclosed coffins were opened until the face of the Emperor was exposed. "The body had remained intact. 'Some of the eyelashes still remained. The cheeks were a little swollen, the beard had grown after death, as had the nails of the fingers and toes. The hands had preserved the colours of life' a burst boot had allowed the toes of one dull white foot to escape. The nose alone had decayed, but only its lower part. The uniform of the Chasseurs of the Guard was easily recognisable, though the epaulettes had lost their brightness, as had some of the small decorations placed on the breast. The two vases holding the heart and the entrails were also found intact and perfectly preserved.' The effect was most striking. The coffins had been opened in dead silence; and when the Emperor was revealed as if alive among his kneeling and weeping followers the scene must have been such as we read of in olden days at the opening of the shrine of some loved Saint. The body was placed in three coffins, the outer one of lead, and then in a fourth, brought from France, a magnificent one of ebony."

On 18 October, the commission sailed from St. Helena on the Belle Poule to return to France with the Emperor's body. They anchored at Cherbourg on 29 November, where, the next day the forts and warships in the harbor saluted the Emperor. "On the 8th of December the coffin was transferred to the steamer Normandie, a thousand guns being fired when the body left the Belle Poule and another thousand when the Normandie left the basin. On the 9th of December the Normandie entered the Seine. At Valde la Haie the coffin had to be removed to a smaller vessel, the Dorade, which carried it to Courbevoie, which was reached on the 14th of December. On the 15th of December 1840 the body was carried through Paris to the Invalides. It was placed on a splendid car drawn by sixteen horses. Marshals Oudinot and Molitor, Admiral Roussin, and General Bertrand, mounted, held the cornersof the pall. Gérard, recovered from his wounds at Wavre, and now a Marshal, commanded the escort, which included the other Marshals. Covered with all the insignia of his rank, surrounded by every detail of ceremonial with which the Army, the State, and the Church ever seek to honour their greatest dead, encircled by his old comrades, met by the priests of the religion to which he had restored France, amidst the solemn thunder of the guns which had sounded so often throughout his stormy life,--the body of the great Emperor moved under the arch which told of his triumphs, through a double row of eagles to the Church of the Invalides. The Royal family, the Ministers, the Peers, the Deputies, the Great Dignitaries, were there assembled to meet it. Marshal Moncey, the Governor of the Invalides, too feeble to stand, was brought in to receive the ashes of his old Chief.

'Sire,' said the Prince de Joinville, standing at the head of the coffin, to the King, 'I present to you the body of the Emperor Napoleon.'--'I receive it in the name of France,' answered the Sovereign. Generals Bertrand and Gourgaud placed on the coffin the sword and hat of the Emperor, and in 1843 Joseph Bonaparte sent the great collar, ribbon, and bade of the Legion of Honour which his brother had worn. Napoleon had again and finally conquered. He had died an exile, an outlaw, denied title, wealth, comfort, and even the family rights common to the lowest. Now all that affection, gratitude, and honour could give were lavished on his corpse. 'Slowly wise,' France had claimed her great dead. While every throne in Europe was shaking, the Great Conqueror came to claim and receive from posterity the crown for which he had sacrificed so much. In the Invalides the Emperor had at last found a fitting resting place, 'by the banks of the Seine, amongst the French people whom he had loved so well.'"

Source: Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte, Volume IV, Fauvelet de Bourrienne, Charles Scribners Sons, 1891, pp. 408-414.


The Skeleton of Marengo

The skeleton of Marengo is on display at the National Army Museum in London. Marengo was a grey Arab, 14.1 hands high and was captured after Waterloo. For a while it was put on public display in London before being pur- chased by the Angerstein family and put out to stud near Newmarket. On its death its skeleton was articulated by a Surgeon Wilmott of the London Hospital and displayed at the Royal United Services Institute Museum in Whitehall. It was transferred to the National Army Museum about thirty years ago and is now on display in the Museum's Road to Waterloo Gallery. Other exhibits in the Gallery include a 400 square foot model of the Battle of Waterloo, the eagle of the French 105th Regiment, items relating to Sir John Moore, and the saw used to amputate the leg of the Earl of Uxbridge, British cavalry commander at Waterloo. Admission to the Museum is free. (Note: A link to the Museum's website is on my links page.)

Contributed by Julian Humphrys, Senior Information Officer, National Army Museum, London.


Value of French Paper Money in 1795

In 1795, a 20 franc gold piece was worth 750 in paper.

Source: Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, Vol. I, Sloane, William Milligan
The Century Company, 1896, pp. 172.



Importance of Farmsteads and Hamlets on Napoleonic Battlefields

"On a level battle-field the solid brick or stone walls of a village, of a churchyard, or of great farm- courts like those of Lombardy, afford the most desirable shelter, and oftentimes, as at Marengo, Aspern, and even Waterloo, the loss or gain of such a position turns the tide of battle; for an army equipped with flint-lock muskets and small unrifled field-pieces, though victorious in the open, dares not leave a considerable portion of their enemy thus ensconced in the rear. Hence the ever-recurring and enormous importance of farmsteads and hamlets in the Napoleonic battle-fields."

Source: Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, Vol. I, Sloane, William Milligan
The Century Company, 1896, pp. 117-118.



The Device of the Empire

The heraldic device chosen for the seal of the Napoleonic dynasty was the favorite symbol of the Holy Roman Empire, an eagle "au vol"—that is, on the wing. The "lion couchant" had been suggested as the heraldic device of the new Empire, but Napoleon scorned it. In all his preparations he carefully distinguished between the "State," which was of course France with its natural boundaries, and the "Empire," which was evidently something more; the resting lion might typify the former, the soaring eagle was clearly a device for the other, which, like the realm of Charles the Great, was to know no "natural" obstacles in its extension.

Source: Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, Vol. II, Sloane, William Milligan
The Century Company, 1896, pp. 206-207.



The First Marshals of the Empire and Why They Were Appointed

The list was shrewdly chosen to assure the good will of the army. Jourdan, who as consular minister had successfully pacified Piedmont, was named as having been the victor of Fleurus in 1794; his republicanism was thus both recalled and finally quenched. Berthier was rewarded for his skill as chief of staff; Masséna for his daring at Rivoli, his victory at Zurich, his endurance at Genoa. Augereau, another converted democrat, was remembered for Castiglione; Brune was appointed for his campaign in Holland against the Duke of York; Davout for his Egyptian laurels; Lannes and Ney for their bravery in many actions; Murat as the great cavalry commander; Bessières as chief of the guards; Bernadotte, Soult, Moncey, and Mortier for reasons of policy and for their general reputation.

Source: Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, Vol. II, Sloane, William Milligan
The Century Company, 1896, pp. 207.



Description of the French Cuirassier

The front cuirass is in the form of a pigeon's breast, so as to effectually turn off a musket shot, except fired within twenty yards. The back cuirass is made to fit the back. They weigh from nine to ten pounds each, according to the size of the man, and are stuffed inside with a pad. They fit on by a kind of fish-scaled clasp, and are put off and on in an instant. The men have helmets like the English horse-guards, straight long swords and pistols, but no carbines, and if there were a good horse to be found, they are sure to have it. They are all picked men, must be five feet seven inches French (above six feet English), have served in three campaigns, have been twelve years in the service, and of a good character.

In close action they were protected from the sabres of their antagonists by their armour, except the blow fell on the neck or limbs; but the shape and weight of the cuirass necessarily impeded the motion of their arms, and rendered them far inferior to the British in the dexterous use of the sabre.

Source: Memorable Battle of Waterloo, etc., etc., by Christopher Kelly, published in 1836 by Thomas Kelly, London, pp. 44.



Description of Napoleon's Traveling Carriage Captured at Waterloo

It nearly resembles a fashionable English travelling-carriage, though with a greater appearance of heaviness. Its colour is dark blue, bordered with gold, and ornamented with the imperial arms of France. The lamps have a curious appearance, one is at each corner, and another in the centre of the back, which illuminates the inside of the carriage.

The interior presents the most perfect specimen of elegance and convenience which can be conceived. It is a complete office, bed-chamber, dressing-room, eating-room, and kitchen. Packed up in the most ingenious way, as a complete breakfast-service for tea, coffee, and chocolate, including a spirit-lamp; sandwich-service, consisting of plates, knives, forks, spoons, salt, pepper and mustard boxes, decanter and glasses; a dressing-care, containing every article for the toilette; a complete wardrobe; a bedstead, bed, and mattrass; and all so arranged as to be found in an instant.

Source: Memorable Battle of Waterloo, etc., etc., by Christopher Kelly, published in 1836 by Thomas Kelly, London, pp. 56.



Napoleon's "Hand-in-Waistcoat" Pose

Basically, artists used certain stock poses, based, in part, on poses from classical statuary. The "hand-in" pose is one of these (yes, the ancient Romans didn't wear waistcoats, but they used a hand in the toga pose for portrait sculptures.  A few relevant quotes from the article (see Source information below):  ' We find the earliest depictions of the "hand-in" pose in French prints dating from the early 1680s. . .Clearly, the gesture is part of the language of social decorum; it belongs with the ritual of bows, honors, and formal courtesies set by the French court in the seventeenth century. . . Francois Nivelon published his Book of Gentee Behavior, a manual offering visual and verbal instruction on how to walk, stand, and present oneself. . . Its engraved illustrations confirm that by that time graceful movements had become rigidly codified into prescriptive, static poses. One such pose was the "hand-in-waistcoat"—body language that Nivelon identified as signifying "manly boldness tempered with modesty." '  ' Today the "hand-in" gesture is, of course, best known from its personalized revival in the nineteenth century. Surely most people would recognize the pose as Napoleon's inimitable trademark—which David rendered indelible in his commanding portrait of 1812. . . It is not surprising that when Napoleon's reputation plummeted, a subtly arched postural inflection made the gesture decidedly imperious. . .The enduring French association is in fact somewhat ironic, in the gesture had a voguish run as an English portrait convention long before it became Napoleon's quasi-military emblem." The pose appeared in so many portraits in the mid-1700s that one English painter had "his ability to paint hands . . . called into question. '  The article includes many examples of portraits in which the "hands-in" pose is used prior to Napoleon. So, in summary, the pose is just that, a commonplace, if somewhat theatrical pose, which became associated with Napoleon due, in large part, to David's 1812 painting. (Supposedly, Napoleon was taught by the great French actor Talma how to act "imperial."  Is it possible that it was the actor who suggested this pose to Napoleon?)

Source:  Re-Dressing Classical Statuary: The Eighteenth-Century "Hand-in-Waistcoat" Portrait; an article from ART BULLETIN, vol. 77, March 1995 p.45-63, by Arline Miller. This information was presented in the Napoleonic Discussion Forum and the contributor gave me permission to include it here.



Why Junot was Created Duke of Abrantes

"At about 10.00 ill the morning (8 April) the Turks launched their main attack. A dragoon officer describes it as follows:

‘The Turkish cavalry attacked us at a gallop, shouting horribly. Their sabres glittered in the sun, their flowing coats revealed their gold bordered dress; their horses jumped full of fury and seemed to share the rage of their riders. On our side profound silence reigned ... Junot gave the order to open fire. The thunder of the fusillade drowned out the shouting and the clatter of the arms. Through the dense smoke which surrounded us I saw the hideous riders with their dark faces, who shouted like demons; however Major Duvivier had already lifted his sabre and we met the furious Turkish onslaught with firm foot and our blades commenced their terrible work. A richly dressed Mameluke fired his pistol at my head, wounding me lightly: but I had the consolation of stretching him out dead at my feet. At that moment I saw Major Prevot fighting on the ground against two Turks, his horse having been killed under him by a shot, but he had disengaged himself in time, and with astonishing calm was countering the blows aimed at him by his adversaries. The brave Pignard came running to his aid and transfixed the body of one of his enemies with his sabre, while Prevot killed the other with a back handed blow ... A captain of the 3rd Dragoons fell mortally wounded and some of the men of his company had great difficulty in recovering his body. Somewhat farther away an NCO of the same regiment attacked a Mameluke who held a battle banner made out of a long horse tail; both horsemen struggling body against body their mounts participating furiously, until the whole group rolled on the ground. However, the Turk, hindered by his flowing robes, could not get up in time and the blade of the NCO pierced his chest, and he died full of rage as he saw his banner in the hands of' his enemy. After this the attacks became less pressing.'

The fire of the French infantry line became more effective and the Turks withdrew a bit, leaving the French isolated in an area strewn with corpses. Junot reorganized his men, and the Turks renewed their assault, but this time less resolutely. They looked now for weak spots in the French line and hurled their lances against the French so as to create a passage between the French bayonets, but in vain. Junot was attacked by two Turks, but killed one of them by a pistol shot and the other by a cut of his sabre. A further four battle banners were captured by the French, but were lost again in the melee. At 3 o'clock the Turks withdrew.

The French lost eight cavalrymen and three infantrymen killed, and 48 wounded. In Junot's report to Napoleon after the battle he stressed the good quality of the enemy cavalry and pointed out that this had been the hottest fight he had ever been in. Napoleon, who always preferred to name battles after places with historically resonant names, did not call the battle after the village of Lubya, but named it the ‘Battle of Nazareth'. He appreciated the spirit shown there by his old friend Junot to such an extent that, when in 1807 he decided to create him a duke, his first choice was Duke of Nazareth. However he had second thoughts: he believed ‘Junot of Nazareth' might sound just a bit too like ‘Jesus of Nazareth', and thus Junot was created Duke of Abrantes (in Portugal) instead."

Source:  An excerpt from Napoleon in the Holy Land, appearing in Greenhill Military Book News No. 88, January 1999. Quoted. (This book is published by Greenhill Books of London. If you would like to read more about this book, and perhaps purchase it, please take this link to my bookstore.

What is the Inscription above Napoleon's Tomb?

There is, in fact, no particular inscription on the tomb; however, there is one inscription above the door that opens on the room where the tomb is located. The inscription reads, "Je désire que mes cendres reposent sur les bords de la Seine, au milieu de ce peuple francais que j'ai tant aimé."  English translation:  "I  wish that my ashes rest on the edges of the Seine, in the medium of these French people that I liked so much."

Source:  Emmanuel (Manu) Desanois, webmaster of Historie et Figurines.

Killed by Friendly Fire.

Lieutenant Joseph Strachen was killed on the march when a strand of standing corn became entangled in the trigger guard of Private Jeremiah Bates’ musket, which caused a discharge that hit Strachen in the heart.

Source:  Haythornwaite, The Armies of Wellington, p. 136. (Submitted to Napoleonic Literature by Jerry McKenzie.)

Napoleon's Body Measurements.

Following the autopsy of the Emperor's body, on 6 May 1821, the afternoon of the day after he died, Dr. Antommarchi, the Emperor's personal physician, who also performed the autopsy, made the following observations from the Emperor's body:
(Note:  Of the following footnotes, the two 3-digit those appearing in red [363, 364] are from the quoted text. Footnotes 1 through 5, appearing in blue [1], are mine.)

1.  The Emperor has grown considerably thinner, and is not now one quarter of what he was before my arrival.1
2.  The face and body are pale but without distortion, unlike a corpse. The face is handsome, and with eyes closed he appears more to be asleep than dead. His lips are tightly pinched in a sardonic smile.2
3.  The body reveals a cautery wound on the left arm, a scar on the head, one on the left ring finger, and a deep one on the left thigh.
4.  The overall height from the top of the head to the heels is 5 feet, 2 inches, 4 lines.363
5.  His reach, stretching between the tips of his middle fingers, is 5 feet 2 inches.3
6.  From the pubic symphsis to the top of the head, 2 feet, 7 inches, 4 lines. [2 feet 7 1/3 inches]4
7.  From the pubis to the heel bone, 2 feet 7 inches.4
8.  From the top of the head to the chin, 7 inches 6 lines. [7 1/'2 inches]
9.  The head is 20 inches 6 lines.364 in circumference, the hair is sparse and light chestnut.
_____________________________________
3635 feet 6 3/8 inches in US measurements. He wasn't short by the standares of the day, but appeared so when standing among marshals and officers of the imperial guard, all very tall (Murat, Mortier, Lannes, Ney, etc.)5
36421.85 inches in US measurements.
1Dr. Antommarchi arrived at Saint Helena on 21 September 1819. By this time, Napoleon's health had declined sharply. It is a good assumption that he also weighed less at this time than he did upon his arrival on 15 October 1815.
2Dr. Antommarchi made these measurements within 24 hours of Napoleon's death, with occurred at 5:45 p.m. on 5 May 1921. At this time, according to Louis Marchand's memoirs, the Emperor's facial muscles were still taught and he resembled himself as he looked at Marengo. The plaster casting for his death mask was made on 7 May. By this time, the Emperor's features had sagged.
35 feet 6 1/8 inches in US measurements.
4The fact that Napoleon's upper and lower body measurements were virtually identical indicate that his body was perfectly proportioned.
5This is a very good point that most people, to include most authors, are not aware of. Historians have presented Napoleon to us as being well below average height because they have failed to take into account that his diminutive height of 5 feet 2 inches is in French measure of the Paris foot, which is equivalent to 12.789 inches in English or US measurement. For that period, Napoleon was average height. As stated by the editor of Louis Marchand's memoirs, when a person of average height stands among men of superior height, he looks small. One must keep in mind that most of the soldiers close to the Emperor were of superior height because they were, for the most part, soldiers of the Imperial Guard. To qualify for the Imperial Guard, a soldier needed to be at least 5 feet 10 inches in height (French measure), which is slightly more than 6 feet 2 inches in US measurement. Napoleon, standing among a group of Imperial Guardsmen, with the additional height of their bearskin busbies, would look diminutive.

Source:  Louis-Joseph Marchand, Produced by Proctor Jones, In Napoleon's Shadow, pp. 692 and 693. If you have not read In Napoleon's Shadow, I highly recommend it. - John Schneider

Some Miscellaneous Facts and Opinions.

The contributor provided the following five excerpts from the Miscellaneous Works of Lord Macaulay (edited by his sister Lady Trevelyan, The University Library Association Bibliphile Edition, Philadelphia, 10 vols, no date.  This work does not contain an essay on Napoleon, but several of the essays -- all of which first appeared in the Edinburgh Review -- contained in these ten volumes include some interesting references to Napoleon.

Writing about Lord Holland in July 1841 (Vol. 5): "To his opinions on foreign policy we for the most part cordially assent; but now and then we are inclined to think them imprudently generous. We could not have signed the protest against the detention of Napoleon." p. 174.

Writing about Lord Clive in January 1840 (Vol. 5): "He approved himself ripe for military command. This is a rare if not a singular distinction...The only man, as far as we recollect, who at an equally early age ever gave equal proof of talents for war was Napoleon Bonaparte." pp. 106-107.

Writing about Addison in July 1843 (Vol. 6): "Bonaparte loved to describe the astonishment with which the Mamelukes looked at his diminutive figure. Mourad Bay, distinguished above all his fellows by his bodily strength and by the skill with which he managed his horse and his sabre, could not believe that a man who was scarcely five feet high, and rode like a butcher, could be the greatest soldier in Europe." p. 114.

Writing about the War of Succession in Spain in January 1833 (Vol. 3): "The empire of Philip the Second was undoubtedly one of the most powerful and splendid that ever existed in the world." (p. 151).  "It is no exaggeration to say that, during several years, his power over Europe was greater than even that of Napoleon. The influence of the French conqueror never extended beyond low-water mark..." (p. 152). "The influence of Philip on the Continent was as great as that of Napoleon." (p. 153).

Writing about Bertrand Barere in April 1844 (Vol. 6) regarding the Convention's orders that all English prisoners were to be shot, and pointing out that the Army felt that, if the deputies wanted this done, they could personally do it themselves: "Bonaparte, who thoroughly understood war, who at Jaffa and elsewhere gave ample proof that he was not unwilling to strain the laws of war to their utmost rigor, and whose hatred of England amounted to a folly, always spoke of Barere's decree with loathing, and boasted that the army had refused to obey the Convention." p. 256. Regarding how Barere might be of use to Napoleon: "The First Counsel, as he afterwards acknowledged, greatly overrated Barere's power as a writer. The effect which the reports of the Committee of Public Safety had produced by the camp-fires of the republican armies had been great. Napoleon himself, when a young soldier, had been delighted by those compositions, which had been much in common with the rhapsodies of his favorite poet, Macpherson. The taste, indeed, of the great warrior and statesman was never very pure. His bulletins, his general orders, and his proclamations are sometimes, it is true, masterpieces in their kind; but we too often detect, even in his best writing, traces of Fingal and of the Carmagnoles. It is not strange, therefore, that he should have been desirous to secure the aid of Barere's pen." p. 277.

Source:  The Miscellaneous Works of Lord Macaulay (edited by his sister Lady Trevelyan, The University Library Association Bibliphile Edition, Philadelphia, no date.  (Submitted to Napoleonic Literature by Tom Vance of Kalamazoo, Michigan.)



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