The Battle of Paris, 1814.
No Hostile Army Had Reached Paris For 400 Years.

1. Paris and France in 1814.
2. Military Operations - "It's a Beautiful Chess Move !"
3. Battle of Paris, March 30-31st 1814.
- - - - - - - Troops and Deployment.
- - - - - - - "To Arms !"
- - - - - - - Montmartre Heights.
- - - - - - - The Capitulation - "Joseph is an ass..."
4. The Allies Entered Paris.
- - - - - - - The Cossacks enjoyed their time in Paris.
- - - - - - - French Royalists and the English.
- - - - - - - The Bourbons.
5. The Raging Guard and Napoleon's Abdication.
6. The Grande Finale: Allies Meeting in London.

Langeron's Russian infantry at Paris
Battle of Paris, 1814
Russian infantry storming Montmartre Heights.
Picture by Parkhaiev

"It is not for my crown I am fighting,
but to prove that Frenchmen
were not born to be ruled by Cossacks."
- Napoleon in 1814

Paris and France in 1814.
"I shall not make peace as long
as Napoleon is on the throne."
- Tsar Alexander

On picture: Russian army marching into France. In the center, riding on a white horse is Tsar Alexander, behind him (in red uniform) is colonel of the Lifeguard Cossack Regiment. This regiment was monarch's escort.

Russian author Mikhailovski-Danilevski wrote: "On January 1st we crossed the Rhein River in Basel and loud "Hurah !" announced that we were finally in France, the goal of our march, where, in the heart of Napoleon’s power, we were going to give him coup de grace. ... Our quarters in France were very dissatisfying; we found that the French are less educated than Germans, so our officers, taught by their tutors that France was El Dorado, were unpleasantly surprised to see poverty, untidiness, ignorance and low spirits in villages and towns. French, since Revolution, have experienced so many sufferings ... However skillful were maneuvers of the enemy, our numbers suppressed him ... " (Mikhailovski-Danilevski - "Memoires 1814-1815")

In April 1814 Allies armies reached Paris. (ext.link) Paris was a 19th century metropolis. It had 550,000 people. The overall impression of the city was created by its theaters, gardens, museums, Ecole Militaire, Champ-de-Mars, monuments, churches, broad avenues and grand palaces. Paris was the capital of great country. France was one of the most populous and wealthiest countries in the World, the leading political, military and cultural power. The French language was spoken in all European countries.

Marbot described the situation in Paris: "Sadly, loyalty to the Emperor was so much diminished in the Senate and the legislative body, that there were leading members of these assemblies, such as Tallyrand, the Duc de Dalberg, Laisné and others, who through secret emissaries informed the allied sovereigns of the dissatisfaction among the upper-class Parisians with Napoleon, and invited them to come and attack the capital."


From the beginning of this campaign
Napoleon had "put on his Italian boots"
and disconcerted the Allies
by the rapidity of his maneuvers.

Military Operations.
"It's a Beautiful Chess Move !"
- Napoleon on Allies' maneuver.

Tsar of Russia, Alexander I The driving and decisive force in this campaign were the Russian and Prussian armies. Both monarchs were in a close relationship and the King of Prussia very often supported the Tsar. The Frenchmen in city of Troyes even described the King as Tsar's aide-de-camp. The Austrian emperor leaned toward coming to terms with Napoleon so as to restrain the ambitions of the Russian emperor. But the Tsar was determined, he said "I shall not make peace as long as Napoleon is on the throne." The Russian monarch had support of Prussian king and Russian and Prussian generals. In early 1814 Lord Castlereugh undertook to try to persuade the Tsar of the necessity for reopening negotiations but all his arguments failed to produce any effect on Alexander. The Russian monarch maintained that the only course to continue the war, and to act more vigorously than they had hitherto done. In France were almost half million of Allies troops. The local traditions say that the Prussians committed more atrocities than the Cossacks and Cossacks more than Wirtembergians and Bavarians. The civilians used to say that war is an unpleasant thing, "especially when 50.000 Cossacks and Bashkirs take part in it." The British (in southern France) and the Austrians behaved better than all others.

Napoleon had appointed his wife, Marie Louise, as regent and had left Paris to place himself at the head of the French army. His soldiers were young and exhausted, they fought and died hard. And the Emperor loved them. From the beginning of this campaign Napoleon had "put on his Italian boots" and disconcerted the Allies by the rapidity of his maneuvers. He was able to race from one Aliies' army to the other and confront them successively. The old but energetic Blucher was badly beaten at Champaubert, Montmirail, Chateau-Thierry and Vauchamps. The younger but slower Schwarzenberg was caught at Montereau and defeated.
The King of Prussia and Emperor of Austria had been quickly demoralized by the defeats and talked about general retreat but the Tsar was more determined than ever. He imposed his will on Schwarzenberg and the wavering monarchs. Allies' armies were again advancing against Napoleon. Napoleon defeated Russians at Craonne but his casualties were very heavy. At Laon he was unable to dislodge the Prussians and Russians. The French had taken Reims, but they had lost Soissons. The surrender of Soissons compromised Napoleon's strategic plan.

Meanwhile Napoleon's own minister Talleyrand sent a secret letter to the Allies describing how the popular sentiment in Paris was running strongly against Napoleon and that the city would joyfully open its gates to the Russians, Prussians and Austrians as soon as they showed themselves on the horizon. Talleyrand was a prototype of the witty, cynical diplomat. His corruption was undeniable, and his pliability enabled him to hold power under the ancien régime, the Revolution, Napoleon, the Restoration, and the July Monarchy.

Situation on March 18-19 To contain Blucher's Army of Silesia, Napoleon left Marmont (and Mortier) 22,500 men. They had to hold the Aisne River and to fight a deleying action to cover Paris. The Allies called on the French nation to overthrow Napoleon. The Emperor immediately marched against their main army under Schwarzenberg. His approach sent the Allied headquarters into mental convulsions.
Schwarzenberg reportedly issued 3 contradictory orders on the 16th alone, then collected his wits and ordered a concentration of troops. Then he ordered his army to face Macdonald. Confused and frightened Schwarzenberg collapsed with an attack of gout before ordering a general retreat ! On March 20th, 1814 Tsar Alexander rode to Arcis-sur-Aube where, it was said, Napoleon was going to try his last chance. He took position on a hill and watched the battle raging in front of his eyes. Due to Schwarzenberg's half-measures the Allies' army was unable to win despite heavily outnumbering the French. Some time after the battle Tsar Alexander rode out to meet the King of Prussia and Schwarzenberg. He came upon them on the road, dismounted, had a map spread out on the ground, and explained the course of the action he favored. The main Allies' army was ordered to march on Paris while Russian general Wintzingerode with a huge mass of 10.000 cavalrymen rode toward Saint-Dizier to deceive Napoleon and detain him.
Tsar's stratagem was successful.
Having dispersed the Allies' cavalry Napoleon was astonished to learn from intercepted dispatches that it was not the advance guard of the main army, as he had imagined, but a divisionary detachment sent to keep him amused while the Russians and Prussians swooped down upon Paris. Napoleon was impressed: "It's a beautiful chess move ! ... I should never have thought a general of the coalition was capable of it." The Allied armies were nearing Paris and the roads were full of refugees.


Near the burning Torcy the Russians and Prussians
marched on both sides of the road and made
"the air resound with their trumpets and war songs."

The Battle of Paris, March 30-31st, 1814.
Napoleon had charged his brother Joseph
with the defence of Paris.

Austrian artillery in battle Chandler writes: "The Allied armies of Silesia and Bohemia united at Meaux on 28 March and planned their culminating advance on Paris. With only the weak forces of Mortier and Marmont facing them - perhaps 23,000 men in all - and the defenses of the French capital in a very incomplete state, the 107,000 Allies made predictable progress toward their objective from the eastern and northern sides." (Chandler - "Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars" p 286) The allied armies reached Paris, with some Russians shouting "Paris ! Paris !", breaking their ranks and pressing forward to see the glorious city. The Allies brought approx. 100.000 troops (63.000 of them were Russians). No hostile army had reached Paris for 400 years and now the Enlish newspapers advocated the burning of the city. The Tsar was dominated by one idea, Napoleon had entered Moscow and the Tsar wished to enter Paris riding at the head of his Imperial Guard. He was not filled with the dreams of blood and fire which haunted the Prussians. Blucher was disposed to make a severe retaliation upon Paris for the calamities that Prussia had suffered from the armies of France. Blowing up the Parisian Bridge of Jena was said to be one of his contemplated acts. The discipline of the troops was relaxed and looting began with Allies and French soldiers with torches carrying off furniture to their bivouacs.

Troops and Deployment.
Map of Battle of Paris, 1814 Allies troops were commanded by Austrian Schwarzenberg and Russian Barclay de Tolly. The first reserve was formed Russian cuirassiers and Guard. The Tsar spent the night at the Chateau of Bondy.
On March 28th the Empress (Napoleon's wife) left for Rambouillet with her son, the ministers and the Council of State and the Queen Catherine of Westphalia. It is only on March 29 that King Joseph and Clark decided to gather 84 cannons on the heights of Belleville and Montmartre. The were escorted by 1.200 men of Imperial Guard. Napoleon had charged his brother Joseph * and 40,000-65,000 soldiers with the defence of Paris, the city, walls and 56 gates.

  • Mortier's 8,000-15,000 battle-hardened Young Guard
  • Marmont's 15,000-20,000 line troops.
  • Moncey's 15,000-30,000 poorly trained National Guard
    The French troops were deployed as follow: Christiani's infantry division defended the north of Paris, Belliard's cavalry was deployed on the plain of Saint-Denis, Ornano's cavalry stood to the left of Belliard, Compans' infantry has holding area of Romainville, Curial's infantry defended Les Maisonettes. These troops were supported by artillery, National Guard and civilians. King Joseph set up his command post on top of Montmartre. Mortier's Young Guard camped near their combat positions. Many thought that Napoleon was on his way to Paris.

    "To Arms !"
    Mortier's Young Guard in combat.
    Marshal Mortier In early morning the French NCOs cried "To Arms !" and in approx. the same time the young Polytechnicians arrived with General Evain at the Barrière du Trône. They were joined by veteran gunners and 28 guns of the reserve. The young men shared their commanders' determination, if not their military experience. Some were in a state of glee and excitement under the impression that they are to be led out to attack the 'northern barbarians' at the gates of Paris. Innocently unaware of war's grim realities, these units wore a variety of uniforms and were largely indifferent to the complexities of battalion maneuver. They would rely on patriotism rather than tactical proficiency to vanquish the hated enemy.

    At daybreak the fighting began and Parisians had been watching the battle through telescopes. As the escalating roar of battle gave evidence that the Allies had begun their great assault, blue-clad troops of Mortier came sweeping toward the eastern suburbs, driving Allies skirmishers before them. Between 6 and 7 a.m. a sharp fight took place near Romainville, whose strategic importance was considerable. The green-clad Russians dislodged the Young Guard but with the support of artillery and 11th Voltigeur Regiment of Young Guard the French counterattacked.
    Many troops fought in skirmish order or small battle groups defending streets, gardens and buildings. As the several hundreds armed Parisians and infantrymen waited along the fence-lined edge of a garden in eastern Paris, their commanding officer rode forward to assess the situation. Moments later, he came galloping back, and ordering the men to their feet. Over the fence and forward through the garden they went, opening fire on the advancing Russians.
    To the north, Blücher's Prussians attacked in Aubervilliers. But the Prussians didn't press too hard. To the southeast, the prince of Wurtemberg seizes of Saint-Maur and of Charenton. Four regiments of Russian cuirassiers had sallied out of the village of Pantin but had found themselves handicapped by ditches and enclosures and exposed to artillery fire. The French counterattacked and the cuirassiers withdrew toward Pantin. The artillery of Napoleon's Imperial Guard was firing continously and sent for more ammunition. They fired until Prussian Guard appeared in their rear. Then they hurled 2 guns into the canal and abandoned other 2 as they retired. Allies artillery was busy too and even the horse grenadiers of Old Guard found themselves under fire.
    King Joseph moved to Chateau of Brouillard. Group of voltigeurs of Young Guard was surrounded at St. Denis by Russians and Prussians. They ran out of ammunition and tirailleurs of Young Guard and 80 Polish cavalrymen led by "hero of Somosierra" Kozietulski tried to bring them cartridges. Lafitte with chasseurs and Kozietulski with lancers led several dramatic charges until Moncey ordered them to retreat. At Parc des Buttes Chaumont the National Guard and marine artillery fought a desperate battle against the assaults of the Prussians, before surrendering. When Russian Chuguiev Uhlan Regiment captured French battery, the uhlans discovered that many of the gunners were students of the École Polytechnique. Some of the prisoners were crying while others were hostile and defiantly stood by their cannons.

    Montmartre Heights.
    "The Old Guard Has Never Laid Down Its Arms".
    Grenadier of Old Guard by Vernet The most of the fighting took place on Montmartre Heights. The Russian infantry under the command of General Langeron (a French emigree) and General Alexandr Rudsevich (ext.link) prepared for advance. The drummers marching behind each battalion, beat the rhythm over cadences. Some officers, riding out in front of the ranks with their sabers unsheathed, barked out words of encouragement. They marched through the gardens, in cadence with the monotonous roll of the drums and carried off the Montmartre batteries.
    The French fought with desperation, Marshal Marmont's uniform was torn and blood-stained, his boots covered with mud and face black with powder. Lieutenant Viaux of 2nd Grenadiers of Old Guard collected 20 soldiers at Montmartre and fought to the end. His body full of wounds was found under a tree, with saber in his hand and surrounded by corpses of dead and wounded Prussians. Near Courbevoie the invalids of Old Guard refused to surrender shouting "The Old Guard has never laid down its arms". The invalides gave up the fight only after had been granted a honorable terms. At Saint-Denis 400 voltigeurs of Young Guard led by Major Savarin refused to surrender to the Russians.

    The Capitulation.
    "Joseph is an ass..."
    - Napoleon

    Marshal Marmont, considered by most French as a traitor. Everyone was expecting Napoleon to come and there were several false alarms. There were 18.000 killed and wounded. Mortier, Moncey and Marmont fought until King Joseph Bonaparte abandoned Paris desiring Marmont to conclude a convention for its surrender. Napoleon was furious and wrote: "...they must hold out until night ! Everyone has lost his head. Joseph is an ass ..." But the three marshals in Paris surrendered. Only one battalion of voltigeurs of Young Guard under Mjr. Savarin still held out, but these die-hards soon surrendered too.
    The Tsar summoned Orlov and ordered him to accompany a French officer and to go with him to King Joseph (Napoleon's brother) as an envoy to hasten the surrender. The Russian monarch said to Orlov: "When God made me powerful and gave my armies success He wished me to secure the peace of the world. If we can do so without shedding any more blood we shall be glad, but if not, we shall carry on the fight to the end ... Whether it be in the palaces or on the ruins, Europe will sleep tonight at Paris." Orlov had shown himself to be a sincere friend of France but the Prussian officer Muffling (was with Wellington in 1815) in his impatience was already asking the Tsar whether Paris should not be set on fire. (According to French author l'Houssaye)
    Marmont took Orlov to his house while the Parisians were most anxious to learn the terms of capitulation. Marmont and Mortier learned that the Tsar wished to spare the Parisians. The capitulation was signed at Marmont's house at 2 a.m. Next day Marmont's troops marched out of Paris toward Essones and Mortier's to Mennecy. For the Old Guard Marshal Marmont (on picture) was traitor and deserter.

    By this time Talleyrand had presented the keys of Paris to the Tsar.

  • ~

    A huge bonfire was lighted in the court of Invalides
    and hundreds of standards captured from the Allies
    by French soldiers "were given to the flames."

    The Allies Entered Paris.
    Russian General Sacken
    Became The New Governor of Paris.

    By Weygand Parisian deputation went to the Tsar and presented the capitulation of the city. After Napoleon's surrender at Rochefort, King Joseph went to the USA. The Allies made feverish preparations to enter Paris, "the modern Babylon." They were brushing their uniforms, polishing buttons and waxing their boots. At 11 a.m. they entered Paris through the Pantin Gate. The French National Guard was lined up on either side of the way, making way for the men they had been fighting the day before. (The French regular troops left Paris during the night - according to the terms of armistice. Only the National Guard was allowed to stay.) Parisians had climbed up into trees, on top of carriages and rooftops, and heads appeared at every window. Napoleon was in Fontainebleau where - as Mihailovski-Danilevski wrote - "he remained a silent witness of the triumph of Alexander in Paris." Tsar Alexander and Guard Cossacks appeared in Paris being greeted in a way "no pen is able to describe." The Tsar rode on grey thoroughbred named Eclipse (gift of Napoleon), on his one side was King of Prussia and on his other side Schwarzenberg representing the Emperor of Austria. A huge crowd of more than 1.000 Russian, Austrian, Prussian, Bavarian, Wirtembergian, Baden and British officers followed. According to Mihailovski-Danilevski the order in which the Allies entered Paris was as follow: Prussian Guard cavalry, Russian Guard light cavalry, Austrian grenadiers, Russian grenadiers, Russian, Baden and Prussian foot guards. And finally, in the tail rode the long lines of booted to their knees and "full of vigor" Russian 1st, 2nd 3rd Cuirassier Division with horse artillery to create the climax of this parade march. The parading troops raised a murmur of amazement.
    Among the iron-clad warriors was General Ilia Duka (1768-1830). He was awarded with Russian order of St. Anna of 1st Class, Prussian Order of Red Eagle and Austrian Order of St. Leopold.
    Almost 400 guns passed by making an earsplitting din. The Tsar halted, some ladies climbed up on the horses of officers as they wanted to get a closer look at the "Agamemnon of people." Alexander said in a loud voice: "I do not come as an enemy, I come to bring you peace and commerce !" The Parisians cheered and a citizen took a step forward and cried: "We've been waiting for you a long time !" The monarch replied: "If I diddn't come sooner it is the bravery of French troops that is to blame !" The Parisians shouted: "Long live Alexander ! Long live the Allies !" After the parade was over the Tsar of Russia went to the residence of Talleyrand and slept there.

    The reaction of Parisians to the occupying forces varied, some were angry and hostile, while other were very friendly. Very hostile group surrounded several Russian officers. The Russians dashed to nearby shop but the crowd followed them. One Frenchwoman approached them and set her fist at the face of officer Löwenstern, cursing and shouting. The French National Guard arrived and walked the Russians into safety. But when Russian hussars under Pahlen crossed the Austerlitz Bridge they were met by groups of royalists who offered bread and wine. Some hussars of became so drunk so quickly that they had trouble to stay in saddles ! The French royalists were mad with joy and paraded the streets shouting "Long live the Bourbons !" The new Governor of Paris became Russian General Sacken. He distinguished himself in recent battle of La Rothiere.

    Within next months there were held reviews of the Allies' troops with thousands of Parisians as curious spectators. The troops were ordered drilling and spit and polish sessions to look at their best. The Cossacks set their headgears with an air of defiance and cheerfulness everytime they passed the monuments erected for the glory of the French army. The victorious Allies troops have taken part in military parades. The Russians made remarks that they were busier because of the preparations to parades than during the campaign. The French, British and German observers expressed their enthiusiasm for the way the Russian Guardsmen looked and marched. The crowd's reaction was one of bewildered awe.

    A Russian officer Glinka was impressed with Paris and its surroundings. He wrote that all the villages around Paris were well build, and the castles, palaces and gardens with fountains decorated the landscape. Only the smell of decomposed bodies of recently killed soldiers and horses spoiled the picture and polluted the air. Another officer, Löwenstern, experienced an indescribable feeling when he first time saw Paris. As he wrote, this is from this city laws, fashion and culture radiated on the entire Europe.
    For many Russians it was only during the peacetime that they noticed the cheerful nature of the French. The Parisian girls and women were described as cheerful, and either singing and speaking unceasingly. "And they are pretty"- as Glinka added. The girls and women were one of the main atractions for the cavalry. A. Chertkov of Russian Guard Cavalry Regiment enjoyed visiting the Palais Royal where on the third floor he met prostitutes and on the second floor could play the roulette. Other attraction were visits to Musée du Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, opera and theaters. Some officers slept in hotels, full of carpets and big mirrors, although they complained for the high prices. Glinka wrote in "Pisma russkogo ofitzera" (Part V) that one day in Parisian hotel would cost 15 roubles (!) They also visited restaurants and caffees. When in a caffee the service was too slow for their taste they shouted bistro ! (quickly). It gave the name for bistro, as the name for café. The Russian etymology however is disputed.
    But not all Russians were so enthiusistic about this city; after all here the bloody revolution and the Napoleonic expansion were born. So although they admitted that Paris looked grandious and rich they were disgusted in the excess of luxury. Officers wrote that Paris occupies smaller space than Moscow and is more crowded. That in Moscow every family has its own house but in Paris "one finds family behind every window."

    During the occupation, "the British were looked down, the Prussians were hated but the Russians succeeded to create a friendly relationship with the French." Just like the town of Givet, which was so relieved to receive a Russian garrison and to see the departure of the Prussians. The Russian army stayed in Paris in its vicinity from spring to summer 1814. Then part of the troops and the Guard was ordered to march home.

    The Cossacks enjoyed their time in Paris.
    Cossacks in Paris The dreaded Cossacks were received with the best meals but they preferred to cook their own meals. The beautiful houses, palaces and courts, and the products of luxury which they encountered in Paris did not tempt them. In the beginning the Parisians were scared of the them. Russian and Cossack officers gathered in certain restaurannts and hammered on the tables yelling bistro ! which is Russian word for "quickly". Hence the name bistro for this type of restaurant.
    The no-nonsense warriors bivouacked in the square of the Carousel before his majesty's windows, and dried their shirts and trousers on the iron railings of the palace. They also camped out on the famous Champs Elysees.
    (The Cossacks were again in Paris in 1815. In 1815 a group of Cossacks was despatched to find the Prussians and English armies advancing on Paris and they were the first Allies' troops who marched through Paris after Waterloo.)

    French Royalists and the English.
    German farmer, mounted Cossack and an Englishman are enjoying a duel between the robust Blucher and little Buonaparte.  By Gotfried Shadow The French royalists and English newspapers described Napoleon as a coward, a charlatan and compared to Cromwell and leader of the Huns, Attila. In British caricature Napoleon was portrayed as a little Corsican upstart and Josephine as a tart. The cartoons of Gillray drew crowds of people to the shops and discounts were offered for buying larger numbers of prints. Napoleon was demonised and British mothers would tell their children at night, 'If you don't say your prayers, Boney will come and get you.'

    The Bourbons.
    Louis XVIII On May 3rd took place a solemn entry of Louis XVIII in Paris. He was seated beside his niece, Marie-Antoinette's daughetr and sole survivor of the former royal family. The royalist diarist de Boigne writes: "The procession was escorted by the Imperial Guard. Its aspect was imposing, but it froze us. It marched quickly, silent and gloomy. With a single glance it checked our outbursts of affection. ... The silence became immense, and nothing could be heard but the monotonous tramp of its quick striking into our very hearts." Another royalist, Chateaubraind had noticed how the veterans had "pulled their bearskins down over their eyes and presented arms with a gesture of fury."
    By Louis XVIII, Marshal Marmont was made a Peer of France, and Captain of the Garde-du-Corps. When Napoleon landed from Elba, the haughty and fond of vain shew Marmont, Duke of Ragusa was named the traitor. A word "ragusade" was coined to signify treason and the company of horse Life-Guards which Marmont commanded was named as the company of Judas.
    Marmont was not the only one falling in love with the old regime. Ney "The Bravest of the Brave", Macdonald (nothing in common with the fast-food chain), the stalwart Oudinot and generals Compans, Souham, and Bordesoulle followed Marmont's steps. On April 5th several other generals held a secret meeting. General Pelet was one of the few who considered this meeting illegal and refused to attend. But the commander of the 1st Division of Old Guard, Friant, warned Pelet that no further orders would be received from Napoleon. Ney and Macdonald had forbidden Berthier to transmit Napoleon's orders to the army.
    Even 5 days after Napoelon's abdication Davout's men, bottled up in Hamburg and still fighting on, hadn't yet heard of it. So that when, at dawn on 9 May, they'd seen "the enemy line decked out in white flags, the marshal [Davout] ordered us to fire on them. After a quarter of an hour they'd been knocked down by our gunfire. New flags quickly appeared, out of range of our roundshot."


    Chateaubriand related that "when the King passed,
    the grenadiers of Old Guard bared their teeth like tigers.
    When they presented arms they did so with a movement of fury,
    and with a noise which filled the onlookers with terror."

    The Raging Guard and Napoleon's Abdication.
    "Down with the traitors ! On to Paris !" - Old Guard

    Napoleon farewell Part of the French army was very unhappy with the new situation. On April 7th the Guard came out of their barracks in Fountainebleau carrying torches and weapons shouting "Vive l'Empereur !" and "Down with the traitors !" These lads were ready to fight. Chateaubriand related that "when the King passed, the grenadiers of Old Guard bared their teeth like tigers. When they presented arms they did so with a movement of fury, and with a noise which filled the onlookers with terror."

    On April 7th Napoleon called for volunteers from his Old Guard to serve in his guard on Elba Island. The Allies allowed for 500 infantrymen, 120 cavalrymen and 120 artillerymen. Generals Petit and Pelet were soon swamped with requests. Many officers asked to serve as simple privates. Out of 400 volunteers of Guard Artillery 100 were selected for Elba. Out of the Marines 21 men were accepted, and out of the entire French and Polish cavalry only 100 Polish lancers were chosen. There were additionally several hundred volunteers from infantry, 300 grenadiers and 300 chasseurs of Old Guard. Charles Parquin wrote: "General Krasinski who commanded the Polish lancers ... came forward with his officers. As he took his leave of the Emperor he uttered these words, which do the greatest credit to his nation: "Sire, if you had mounted the throne of Poland, you would have been killed upon it; but the Poles would have died at your feet to a man." Krasinki wearing his parade uniform announced to his lancers that "God has visited misfortune upon the Emperor" and all began to weep. They regreted they had not all been killed before hearing that anyone had dared demand Napoleon's abdication. Loud cries for vengeance were heard along with "Vive l"Empereur!" Sabers and lances were brandished and the cavalry moved toward Fontainebleau. They passed through Nainville before Sebastiani's ADC halted them.
    Krasinski galloped off to headquarters to protest that his duty and honor called him to Napoleon's side, since it was not to France but to Napoleon that his lancers had pledged their lives. The lancers bivouacked near Fountainebleau where also the loyal Guard artillery set their camps.

    The French Old Guard and Polish lancers lit torches and marched to the city shouting "Down with the traitors ! On to Paris !" But the marshals were tired of fighting. On April 20, 1814 the Emperor of France bid farewell to the soldiers of his Old Guard. Tears trickled down their cheeks and they struggled to maintain composure (see picture) when he said:
    "Soldiers of my Old Guard: I bid you farewell. For twenty years I have constantly accompanied you on the road to honor and glory. In these latter times, as in the days of our prosperity, you have invariably been models of courage and fidelity. ...
    I go, but you, my friends, will continue to serve France. Her happiness was my only thought. It will still be the object of my wishes. Do not regret my fate; if I have consented to survive, it is to serve your glory. ... Adieu, my friends. Would I could press you all to my heart."

    When Napoleon left France for Elba Island the Bourbons have returned. They were disliked by many Frenchmen and political caricatures and cartoons appeared on walls. On one of them showed the fat King Louis XVIII riding behind a Cossack, "over the corpses of French soldiers."


    "Twenty times Tsar Alexander had to appear on the balcony
    to respond to the ovations of the English." (- Henri Troyat)

    The Grande Finale: Allies Meeting in London.
    Allies monarchs were guests at a diner
    held by British merchants and bankers.

    In England news of Napoleon downfall was greeted with euphoria and Tsar Alexandr's earlier duplicity was forgotten while the English newspapers heaped praise upon the Russian troops. When Allies leaders (Tsar Alexander, King of Prussia, Prince Metternich, Prince of Liechtenstein, Hannoverian Prince, generals Schwarzenberg, Blucher, Platov, de Tolly and many others) disembarked at Dover, they realized that the Brits were as infatuated with them as the Parisians (or rather the French royalists). Huge crowds cheered him along the road. The Londoners unhitched the horses from the barouche in which the Tasr was sitting with the King of Prussia and pulled the carriage through the streets. The monarch counted on his charm to help him to win also over British politicians. While the monarch was waiting for a visit from the Prince Regent, an enthusiastic crowd gathered in front of the house. "Twenty times Tsar Alexander had to appear on the balcony to respond to the ovations of the English." (- Henri Troyat)

    Events in London

  • 7th June - arrival of Allies leaders
  • 16th June - Allied monarchs are guests at a diner held by merchants and bankers.
  • 20th June - Blucher, Wellington and Barclay de Tolly reviewed 12,000 British troops in Hyde Park.

    The Allies were showered with gifts and awards. Tsar Alexander received an honorary doctorate from Oxford University and showed himself in Hyde Park on horseback dressed in English uniform. He also visited Westminster, the British Museum and the races at Ascot. The Tsar met with the Quakers and discussed religious questions and talked with Jeremy Bentham, a philosopher and jurist. He was also invited to Guildhall, at which 700 guests gathered. Italian singers did their best to charm the distinguished guests and the dinner was served on gold plates. Suddenly the Russian Grand Duchess Catherine abruptly asked that the Italians be silent, she detested music. Alexander was hard of hearing and didn't understand the embarrassed murmurs all around him. Her demand threw the company into great confusion and the monarch couldn't wait to leave this country that was so proper, cold and stiff.
    On top of this embarasment there were disagreements between him and the Prince Regent. Alexander noticed that the English court and diplomats strongly objected to his views on Poland and further strengthening of the Russian Empire. Allies monarchs' popularity faded quickly but Platov and his bearded Cossacks were liked to the very end. Platov was awarded a golden sword and a honorary degree by the University of Oxford. Tsar Alexander took ship at Dover and sailed to France before returning to Russia. He rode through Germany, Poland, and the devastated western Russia before reaching S. Petersburg.

    After Napoleon' abdication in 1814 a congress met in Vienna.
    Its purpose was to redraw the map of Europe.

    When the eagle was silent, the parrots began to jabber.

  • Links.

    French Army ~ Polish Army
    Prussian Army ~ Russian Army ~ Austrian Army

    Napoleon, His Army and Enemies