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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > Napoleonic Era

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Napoleonic Era Discuss the many wars fought around the globe around the time of Napoleon. This forum is dedicated to the memory of Ben Weider.

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  #1  
Old 04 Oct 09, 01:36
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Acts of chivalry during the Napoleonic Era

Please, post your favorite stories of compassion and chivalry towards enemies. I will start the ball rolling.

During the fighting at Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington noticed a surgeon working on the wounded while under fire. Upon asking who it was and learning that it was Larrey, he directed his men to not fire in Larrey's direction and took off his hat in a salute to Larrey. When asked who he was saluting, Wellington pointed at Larrey and explained, "I salute the courage and devotion of an age that is no longer ours."

Larrey was the Chief Surgeon of the Grande Armée and Imperial Guard.

Retreating from Waterloo, Larrey, his ambulances, and his escort charged through a Prussian unit blocking their path, but Larrey was hit, knocked unconscious, and left for dead. Upon waking, he set off on his own, only to have a Prussian cavalry squadron hunt him down. All alone, he surrendered, but was immediately manhandled and stripped of almost everything on him. They then took Larrey to a Prussian general, who ordered that he be shot. As a Prussian surgeon stepped forward to bandage his wound before his imminent execution, the surgeon recognized Larrey and convinced the general to not execute Larrey. Larrey was sent first to General Bülow, who improved his condition, giving him new clothes and untying his hands, and then sent him on to Blücher. Larrey had previously treated Blücher's son at Dresden, and Blücher treated him with respect and sent word to his wife that he was alive, as the French had thought Larrey was killed in the retreat from Waterloo.
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  #2  
Old 08 Oct 09, 10:45
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Not really the kind of chivalry you're after but 'knightly' nonetheless, I was impressed to read recently of Cuirassier and British cavalry officers singling each other out for personal duels in front of their respective squadrons in the tumult of the fighting behind La Haye Sainte at Waterloo. This was quite common during the Napoleonic wars. Marbot talks of a similar duel involving himself before the eyes of the whole army. Talk about performance anxiety!
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Old 08 Oct 09, 19:00
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Originally Posted by Compans View Post
Not really the kind of chivalry you're after but 'knightly' nonetheless, I was impressed to read recently of Cuirassier and British cavalry officers singling each other out for personal duels in front of their respective squadrons in the tumult of the fighting behind La Haye Sainte at Waterloo. This was quite common during the Napoleonic wars. Marbot talks of a similar duel involving himself before the eyes of the whole army. Talk about performance anxiety!
Edward Costello of 95th Rifles described a duel between a light dragoon and a French cavalryman: "One of their vedettes, after being posted facing English dragoon, of the 14th or 16th [Light Dragoon Regiment] displayed an instance of individual gallantry, in which the French, to do them justice, were seldom wanting. Waving his long straight sword, the Frenchman rode within 60 yards of our dragoon, and challenged him to single combat.

We immediately expected to see our cavalryman engage his opponent, sword in hand. Instead of this, however, he unslung his carbine and fired at the Frenchman, who not a whit dismayed, shouted out so that every one could hear him, Venez avec la sabre: je suis pret pour Napoleon et la belle France. Having vainly endeavoured to induce the Englishman to a personal conflict, and after having endured two or three shots from his carbine, the Frenchman rode proudly back to his ground, cheered even by our own men. We were much amused by his gallantry, while we hissed our own dragoon... " (- Costello pp 66-67)
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Old 09 Oct 09, 17:33
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