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Eared troops: how Napoleon lost the battle to hares

During his lifetime Napoleon brought Europe into awe and delight. But there was one small fluffy animal with which the commander did not have a problem and who eventually finished it. No, it’s not a fox.

If the hare crosses the road

“Oh, but what difference does it make who crosses the road, what kind of grandmothers of superstition,” you thought for sure. So Napoleon, the son of the Enlightenment, thought so too. He generally did not suffer by the belief in the irrational, and believed that religion exists – literally – “to calm the mob”. But the hare had to be treated with all seriousness.

Evgeny Bashin-Razumovsky

Expert on historical issues

Napoleon, of course, is one of the greatest people in world history, and was distinguished by a perfectly rational mind, but he was nevertheless subjected to superstitions-like any honest Corsican.

The circumstances of the encounter with the oblique were fatal. In 1812, the emperor was fed up with the tricks of his eastern partners in the continental blockade of Britain, and he resolutely invaded Russia. Right on the day (or rather, the night) of the invasion, June 24, all happened.

When the hare jumped out before the galloping imperial horse, she frantically jumped aside and dropped the rider. This story is described in his memoirs by the marquis of Armand Augustin de Caulaincourt, the future French foreign minister (not to be confused with the Napoleonic general Auguste de Colencourt, his younger brother, who was killed in the battle of Borodino), accompanying Napoleon. The earth was soft, and Napoleon got off with a bruise … well, the marquis diplomatically called it the “lower part of the hip.”

However, it is not enough to believe in superstition if all the others believe in them. Napoleon had an example of his great predecessor: when Guy Julius Caesar descended from the ship to the African coast, he stumbled and fell. To avoid a panic in the troops, he spread his arms and yelled, “You are in my hands, Africa!”

The ability to think quickly quickly turned the bad omen into a good omen.

Instead of also inventing something insane, Napoleon tried to smooth the impression. He immediately jumped to his feet, then began “purposely joking about his fall,” “tried to show a good mood.” However, he was less fortunate with the audience than Caesar.

Auguste saw all his tricks, noting: “In other circumstances, he would complain about a horse who made a stupid jump, and at the Ober-Stahlmaster.” So the emperor had already realized which trap he had fallen into, and tried to hide it from the rest. Especially since later he was gloomy – although he usually exuded optimism before major operations – and tried to get hold of the Marquis, what they say about his fall at the rate.

De Caulaincourt was quite skeptical: “Russians do not have so little territory that they could not give him (Napoleon – Ed.) A decent piece, at least in order to remove it to a greater distance from France and force them to split their forces. ” And then Bonaparte came back from the mare.

“I thought then that this is a bad omen,” writes the Marquis in his memoirs.

Rushing to the aid of the fallen emperor Marshal Berthier, Prince Neuchatel, also quietly zabubnil that all this will end badly.

“We would have done much better if we had not crossed the Niemen,” he said, directly prophetically. The Marshal had already dealt with hares in 1807 and knew that they were not going well with Bonaparte.

With a kalashny snout in the eared row

This was the year when the empire of Napoleon was at the zenith of its power.

The emperor simply was not equal in Europe. With Russia, he concluded the Peace of Tilsit, Emperor Alexander I became an adored partner and friend.

Austria? The emperor was soon to marry an Austrian princess, and Austria would become the same “partner”, even more tame. Relatives he massively attached to all sorts of thrones: once they can not use their heads for their intended purpose, so even though the crowns are worn in the name of the interests of the French emperor … It’s time to celebrate with some performance the successes of the homeless star of world politics!

Chief of Staff Louis Alexander Berthier decided that now is the time to drive to the beloved monarch and stake out his special position. He knocked out the right to organize a grandiose hunt in his estate.

All the military surrounding Bonaparte had their talents. Talent Berthier was meticulous. He could not allow the hunt to fail. And how does the emperor not see the hare? Or will not get into it?

This event was described in the book Napoleon’s Campaigns by Napoleon historian David Chandler. The case was in July 1807. Hunters left in the field, saw the game, began to shoot.

Soon strangeness was revealed: the animals did not disperse, but the hunters counterattacked.

Zaytsev became more and more. At first it caused laughter. They were pounded to the right and left with sticks and musket butts, optimists still tried to shoot back. But the animals did not even think of retreating.

The shots did not frighten them, the rabbits arranged a zerg-rush (meme from the game StarCraft, any mass poorly organized raid in which an attempt is made to take the crowd.) – Ed.). They climbed into the carriages of the courtiers, crawled along the jackets of illustrious generals, climbed into the ladies’ skirts and selflessly climbed the elk of the courtiers.

Laughter gave way to anxiety. After some time, the great commander could not stand it and decided to give a dope. He was given a carriage. The fluffy horde (according to Chandler, the rabbits understood in the strategy of more than many generals) broke into two streams and struck from the flanks. Under the feet of the emperor, the hares were swarming, but he heroically climbed into the carriage and she jerked from her seat. Napoleon threw into the window those animals that had time to jump inside, and the nightmare ended.

The reason was that Berthier for hare hunting bought on farms three thousand rabbits. And, as it turned out, rabbits are not only valuable fur, but also two kilograms of frostbite. They were kept in cages, and at the beginning of the hunt they released on the field.

Whether they were accustomed to compete for food, the animals decided that the emperor now is their porridge and breadwinner, or whether these animals showed strangely enough stress. As a result, they inflicted on the Emperor and his generals the most shameful of possible defeats – the foreshadowing of the future defeat.

Morality? And there is nothing to offend the hares and invade foreign countries.

 

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