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August 30, 1813

Discussion in '"Today in History", Literature & Media Review' started by Martin Antonenko, Aug 30, 2022.

  1. Martin Antonenko A Fixture

    Country:
    Germany
    A French General must catch Sable!



    On August 30, 1813, Russian Cossacks succeeded, during the battle near Kulm (today Chlumec u Chabařovic, Czech Republic) captured the French general Dominique-Joseph René Vandamme, Count of Unsebourg (his real name was Dominique-Joseph-René Van Damme). ..

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    ...to capture...:

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    According to other sources, they are Russian Yaegers (light infantry),

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    ...but that's not true!

    The Cossacks do not know who exactly fell into their hands, otherwise Vandamme would hardly have survived his capture.

    Because the French general was - especially at the Russians! – not only as unusually brave, but also as extraordinarily brutal!

    The troops of the VIII (Westphalian) Army Corps led by Vandamme (he led it as "adviser" to the nominal commander Jerome Bonaparte, the brother of the emperor) ...

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    ... were - and were - not very squeamish about their actions against civilians, especially when tracking down hidden food did not shrink from torture, rape and murder!

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    The daily struggle for food in an area where the Russians had left them little more than 'scorched earth' was for the French a constant, brutal guerrilla war with the peasants, causing untold casualties on both sides!

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    Vandamme is smart enough to only reveal himself at Allied Headquarters - that is, when he is relatively safe.

    From there he was escorted to Moscow and, as a prisoner, initially enjoyed comfortable accommodation in a guarded palace, which he was allowed to leave during the day – under guard or, on a word of honour, unaccompanied.
    This goes well until he is recognized again – this time on the street.

    Coincidentally, the Russian Tsar Aleksandr I was in Moscow at the same time and noticed the prominent prisoner.

    Vandamme is welcomed for a short conversation that doesn't end well for him.

    What happens then reads like this in Ernst Moritz Arndt's writings "To my dear Germans" (Leipzig 1848):

    “General Vandamme himself was captured and taken to Siberia to learn sable catching; for such soldiers as he and Marshal Davoust, who have been in the trade of executioners and bailiffs, must not demand to be treated like men of honour."

    Vandamme was deported to Siberia under harsh conditions on a personal order from the tsar. He had to live in a simple wooden 'isba' (a Russian peasant cottage) and actually catch sable, or rather empty the traps set up under guard every day!

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    Vandamme remained in custody in Siberia until peace was signed.

    By the time he returned to France, the Bourbons were in power and of course had no use for Vandamme. He was ordered to go to his castle in his hometown of Cassel (near Dunkirk in the département du Nord) until further notice...

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    ... which was tantamount to house arrest.

    After Napoleon's return from exile on the island of Elba, Napoleon elevated him to peer during the "100 days" and gave him command of the III. Army corps belonging to Marshal Grouchy's army branch.

    There, along with Marshal Emmanuel Marquis de Grouchy, he missed the Battle of Waterloo...:

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    After the restoration, King Louis XVIII. to emigrate with a personal order (“Ordonnance royale”) on January 12, 1816!

    He went to North America because the Netherlands banned him from staying in Flanders.

    It was not until 1824 that Vandamme was allowed to return to France, but he was forbidden to go anywhere near Paris, let alone take up quarters in the capital!

    Vandamme died on May 15, 1830 in his castle in Cassel.

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  2. Nap A Fixture

    Country:
    England
    That's some Military story ...he was lucky to survive for sure

    Nap

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