The Archduke guessed who he was going to be. He is Pierre Jacques Étienne Cambronne. At Waterloo he was a maréchal de camp (an archaic title for General de Brigade) in command of the first regiment of the Chasseurs à pied of the Imperial Guard.
In 1815, at the age of 45, Cambronne was a veteran of 23 years, having served in the campaigns of Jena, Spain, Russia and1813 and 1814. Starting as a humble grenadier, he rose steadily through the ranks of the Imperial Guard. In 1814 he commanded the battalion of guardsmen that accompanied Napoleon to exile and was rewarded with the title of Viscount when Napoleon returned to power.
The Emperor's offer of promotion to General de Division, however, was refused by the typically self-effacing Cambronne. It was thus with a relatively modest colonel's command (which, as a guardsmen, required him to have general's rank) that Cambronne fought at Waterloo.
Cambronne entered into legend when it was said that he heroically refused to surrender his regiment after it was surrounded at the end of the battle. His legendary reply when summoned to lay down his arms was: "the Guard dies but does not surrender!" Some sources say that it was altogether briefer and more direct.
The exact circumstances, however, are disputed, as Cambronne didn't die and did surrender! Anglo-German accounts insist that he was captured by Sir Hugh Halkett, the commander of the 3rd Hanoverian Brigade. Halkett claimed that he seized the wounded Cambronne by one of his epaulettes and physically dragged back behind British lines.
The figure is Hinton Hunt FN 367: General Cambronne, in general's uniform and cocked hat on foot, with drawn sword and waving arm. He was, until very recently, the only French personality figure I was missing. Hans, however, has very kindly donated him so that I could complete the set.
Marcus Hinton evidently preferred the legendary version of Cambronne and depicted him much as he appeared in the famous print by Hippolyte Bellange. In Bellange's work, Cambronne is grasping the tricolour, surrounded by his defiant guardsmen. My attempt to re-stage this stirring scene is in the last shot.
|Cambronne at Waterloo, after Bellange.|
|Cambronne at Waterloo, after Marcus Hinton.|