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Mercian Pete

Marching into Paris

I just read that the allied march into Paris was lead by 2nd Battalion 95th Rifles with a Lt Thomas Smith at their head before making camp in the Champs Elysees (any errors there are entirely mine!).  Do you think they'll let the unit do that in 2015?  :-)

Would be great fun, but I doubt the french would be very interested in facilitating it for several reasons.

Troops, other than their own, marching as conquerors down Champs Elysees is probably a bit sensitive, in part due to the later unpleasantness, I believe the general rivalry you've had going since the middle ages might play into it too.

The current mayor of Paris is alledgedly not very military history minded in his interests.

The previous events that have taken place publicly in Paris, like the recreation of the handout of the eagles (which would be more of a festive occasion for frenchmen) have been very much the work of Czechs and other "foreign" French groups.

Bonapartism is still a political platform in France, although not taken very seriously by most people.

But who knows.. send an application with a rough draft to the mayors office ;)
Ben Townsend

Its a cherished regimental tradition that the left of the army was first to enter Paris, which would be an honour. That would have been Adam's brigade, with the 2nd and 3rd 95th to the left (and therefore in front of, if you follow me) of the 52nd.

I believe this story was regaled during the C19th as an indication of Wellington's recognition of these unit's decisive actions at the crisis of Waterloo (Colbourne's wheel).

I haven't looked into this in any depth, so cannot confirm it's accuracy.
It is notable however that Adam's brigade was bivouacked on the Champs Elysee site for a period at the beginning of the occupation, before being moved to the Bois de Bologne, where more of the army was stationed.

Lets have a description of that momentous occasion from 16yr old Ensign William Leeke . One of my favourite period accounts -"The History of Lord Seatons regiment (52nd Light Infantry) at the Battle of Waterloo". Vol 1 page 151:
"On the morning of the 7th of July General Adam's brigade (52nd,71st and 95th) had the honour of entering Paris by the Barriere de l'Etoile. They marched down the centre of the road leading to the Champs Elysees, to the Place Louis Quinze,(now the Place de La Concorde) and the Tuileries. A brigade of artillery, with lighted matches, was posted close to the barrier on either side of the chausee. It was a proud and happy moment, when with bands and bugles playing, we thus took possession of, and entered, the capital of France. At least it was the proudest moment of my life, when I found myself riding down the centre of the avenue of the Champs Elysees, bearing that same 52nd regimental colour which I had the honour of carrying to victory on the eventful and glorious day of Waterloo..................These were the British troops which occupied the French capital; almost the whole of the rest of the Allied army remained in the Bois de Boulogne, although some were at Montmartre".    
Leeke has a whole chapter on the encampment in the Champs Elysees - until 2nd November 1815 and details the daily routine, drill, cricket matches and Band concerts - two companies of the 52nd providing a guard for the Duke - who Leeke found one morning stumbling over his tents ropes!
Did 2/95th enter first? In terms of seniority it should have been the 52nd - and this was an entire Light Division so 60 0r 70 Buglers -  let alone Bandsmen - Oh the rapture ! q14
Mercian Pete

The following link will take you to the RGJ museum website.

Just posted a new topic  : Lt. Dugald MacFarlane -
he also describes the entry into Paris in much the same way as Leeke but it seems that the 3rd Battalion 95th might have been first in:

"And on the morning  of July 7 1815, the following order was issued: 'The two companies 3rd Battalion Rifle corps, under the command of Captain William Eales, will proceed as advance picket through the Barriere de l'Etioile to their encampment in the Champs Elysees, where they will pitch tents' .............Two field pieces attached to the brigade marched the usual war distance in advance, and passing through the Barrier, posted a gun on each side of the road about 20 yards in front of the gate, with their matches burning."

So perhaps its the Gunners who were actually first in - 'Ubique'  !!
Mercian Pete

Now my Dad would have been very proud of that! (70th (Sussex) RA)

Wait a bit - here's the rest of Adam's Brigade marching in:

From " A Soldier of the Seventy- first" edited by Christopher Hibbert
page 110:

"Nothing particular happened before reaching Paris, where we lay in lines until the French capitulated. We had our posts planted each side of the city. The French troops retired and we got under arms and marched towards the gates. We had a cannon on each side of the gate, and gunners with lighted matches standing by them. We marched into the city, passed Lord Wellington, who stood at the gates, and were encamped on the main road in the Tuilleries, where we remained all the time we were here."
Ben Townsend

Eddie, and Pete, what have you begun. I was just off to bed, and now, I'm scurrying to my index of memoirs and reaching for the whisky. Lets look at the 52nd memoirs:

p. 225
A singular talent for war, on John Colbourne, by his son, also John Colbourne, contained in Leonaur, Colbourne, adapted from The Life of John Colbourne, Lord Seaton.

"General Adam's brigade (the 52nd, 71st, 2nd and 3rd battalions 95th, had the honour of entering Paris. They were the only troops which occupied the city."

There is nothing on the subject in the two other 52nd memoirs I have, those of John Dobbs and Sir George Napier.
Mercian Pete

Ben, I would presume hat the RGJ museum may have access to the regimental war diaries? I suspect that you know more about that than do. Wouldn't those indicate the truth of the matter? They seem to assert that 2/95 entered Paris first.

I only say this so that you get a chance to enjoy more whiskey on a Friday evening
Ben Townsend

The pre-eminent regimental historians of the 95th at the moment are George Caldwell and Bob Cooper, whose series of 'Rifle Green' books trace the story of the regiment from various memoirs and records.  They have been very generous with information, in fact it has been a two way street, with info flowing back from us to them.  The text you reproduce above is lifted almost verbatim from their 'Rifle Green at Waterloo'.  But we still have to check ;)

The RGJ museum has been plundered of 95th material. I make no bones about this shocking, and indeed criminal state of affairs. It is shameful. There is next to nothing left in the archives. I have more in the way of original material on my shelves here than the RGJ archives has remaining. Perhaps this is a subject for another thread though.
Ben Townsend

In Siborne's letters there is one from Lord Seaton (Colbourne of the 52nd) in which he relates the story about Adam's brigade entering first. This was written in 1843.

The guns attached to Adam's brigade could conceivably have been drawn from the divisional artillery, which in the 2nd division comprised Bolton's company and Sympher's KGL company. Probably a conjecture too far...

Straying slightly off, but wouldn't the losses on the 16th-18th have made a reorganisation or consolidation necessary in many of the brigades and divisions afterwards?

Or is the Paris entry OoB identical to the one of June 16th?
Mercian Pete

Just a thought. Many years ago I was trained as a young infantry officer. Mr Yuill has a massive advantage over me in terms of experience here.  However, I also spent over 14 years as a police firearms commander and at last estimate had planned and led quite a few hundred operations.

If Wellington had brought Gunners forward with matches lit to cover the initial advance through the gates, it seems to me that he wasn't giving anyone the benefit of the doubt. It seems that he may still have been operating in "tactical" mode rather than choreographing a colourful parade.

That being the case, wouldn't  the first infantry through the gate be likely be his skirmishers? "The first in the field ..."

This adds credence to the many references I keep finding on-line to Thomas Smith being the first in, as Adjutant at the head of 2/95.

I will be searching through the dusty books on the shelves of Attingham Park today instead of speaking to visitors. The 3rd Lord Berwick, William Noel Hill was a cousin of "Daddy" Hill and an active diplomat throughout the Napoleonic Wars. Indeed we have most of Caroline Murat's (Bonaparte) furniture from her summer palace in Naples because William occupied it from 1818 to 1832. Many of his surviving books cover aspects of the French Republic and the wars.

The Barrière de l'Étoile, is in the foreground. Worth keeping in mind that the Arc de Triomphe was an abandoned building site at the time.
Ben Townsend

Extracts from Major-General Adam's Brigade Orders:

The Opening of the Waterloo Campaign.

Villers St. Amand, 20th April 1815.

"The Brigade will be formed up in open column of Companies, right in front, on the high road, opposite Villers St. Amand, at half past two o'clock precisely, for the inspection of the duke of Wellington."

p. 207, The Oxfordshire Light Infantry Chronicle 1905.

Before 15th June, there are four further mentions of forming with the right in front, or 'formed as before'. So, as we might expect, this was usual.
Mercian Pete

Ben - as a newbie (or should it be "Newcome"?) I don't yet understand the full implications of the general order in respect of how it would have placed the 2/95 in the order of march.

I can see that Adam was commander of 3rd British Brigade, an included 2 and 3/95 under Lord Hill's II Corps.

Further corroboration of the likelihood of the entry of Paris being a careful tactical operation rather than a victory parade could be inferred from the following narrative:

"On the evening of 3rd July, Lord Hill marched to take possession of the Barrier of St Denis, accompanied by his Staff... a French soldier levelled and discharged his musket at the English party ... A similar outrage had also been committed against the officer sent into the city just ahead of the Duke. This man was even carrying a white flag, but he was not so fortunate, being shot through the body."  Hill J. (2011) Wellington's Right Hand Man. Spellmount

Any use?
Ben Townsend

There was an armistice in effect before the allies entered Paris, so the army wasn't anticipating a clearance operation, but there might be something in your observation that some resistance from disaffected soldiers or partisans could be expected.
Mercian Pete

Having just re-read the thread I can now see the context of the Brigade Orders mentioned above. Thanks.

I would have thought there may have been tension. Wasn't Paris notorious for popular uprisings?

I've just checked in a book about Fanny Burney - aka Madame D'Arblay - who is sort of in my family tree. Her husband was Lt. General Alexandre D'Arblay, a French Royalist who had been forced to retreat northwards from Paris, away from Napoleon's march towards the capital in the spring. (Similar to modern times, the French had upgraded their security status from "Run" to  "Hide" :-) ) He wasn't at Waterloo, but lay injured in Prussia when the Allies entered Paris, and was apparently furious at the thought of the English occupying the city. A popular sentiment perhaps?  (In an amusing twist, circumstances then forced the pair of them to move to Cheltenham!!)
Marc Demi-Frog

Evening all,

I think that the Champs Elysées might be a bridge too far...BUT....

There might be a possibilty to do something in Paris (such as Vincennes for example) but it would need a committed management team, good contacts (I've got them), and a solid history-based programme and no "rubbing noses in caca" attitude.

Any takers?
Ben Townsend

If you can organise it to replicate the removal of the art from the Louvre, I'm up for that. It was a 95th action after all, and there was even a badge awarded for those who protected the removal men. We could start with La Gioconda as my missus (Un Fiorentina) reckons its in the wrong place.

On another note, while you're here, do you know of any good books in French on the 1815-19 occupation of Paris. In English there is nothing.

Cheers, Ben
Ben Townsend

Macready of the 30th noted that during the occupation of Paris on 22nd July 1815 ( the anniversy of Salamanca )  the whole army was paraded 'every soldier with a leaf of laurel in his cap'.
" The leaves of the laurel were sadly distressing to the poor Frenchmen, it was certainly insulting: but it pleasant to remember the day on which an English army marched through Paris proudly bearing this badge of victory."
Mercian Pete

????? don't know how much this would cost though.
Ben Townsend

There are copies on Abe for about £80. Thanks for the link. I am a bit worried that it will be too Wellington-centric, and culled entirely from his papers at Soton Uni. I have most of the despatches by Gurwood etc, and really want a balanced view. Can't hurt to have a peek though.
Marc Demi-Frog

Currently writing an article (a long one at that) about the occupation of France by the Allied powers.

To be honest, nothing much has been written in French either (there's an edition of "Empire & Glory" magazine though which talks about the subject).

From "Letters from the Battle of Waterloo " Unpublished letters of Allied officers from the Siborne papers Ed. Gareth Glover p 182 Captain William Rowan 52nd Regt :

"Are you aware that when the Duke made his formal entry into Paris on the 8th July our Brigade only accompanied him. At the Barriere de L'Etoile he and all his Staff placed themselves in front of the 52nd, and with band playing, Colours flying and such, we marched down the Champs Elysees, the 52nd taking up its bivouac close to the Duke's residence, where it remained as his bodyguard until the end of October"

Ensign Leeke 52nd continues the story -
" Before the 52nd band was dismissed, Sir John Colborne ordered it to play "Vive Henri Quatre" one of the principal royalist tunes, but it did not appear to attract any number of people. Indeed there were not many more persons stirring at that hour -it was between eight and nine - than one would see at about the same hour in Hyde Park between Apsley House and the Marble Arch"

Has anyone got the source for the actual account Lt Thomas Smith's entry into Paris ??  - I can't find it in Harry Smiths memoirs.

The Prussians were already in Paris - Zieten's 1st Army Corps having entered the day before.His fourth brigade was quartered at the Place de la Concorde, the Tuileries and the Louvre while his Reserve cavalry and Artillery were bivouacked on the Champs Elysees. Two loaded cannon were positioned on each of the bridges near the Palais de Luxembourg, the Tuileries and the Louvre.
(The Waterloo campaign:The German Victory  Peter Hofschroer p277)

Wellingtons entry in the City was therefore really a symbolic thing - he had been upstaged by the Prussians!
Mercian Pete

It says "formal entry" into Paris. But Gen Hill, o/c II Corps, including the 3rd Brigade had been fired on taking possession of the Barrier St Denis on the evening of 3rd July - five days earlier?  Could the 8th have been the "parade" after successfully taking the city under the terms of the armistice?

Marc Demi-Frog wrote:
Currently writing an article (a long one at that) about the occupation of France by the Allied powers.

To be honest, nothing much has been written in French either (there's an edition of "Empire & Glory" magazine though which talks about the subject).

Let me know if you have time/need for something from the obscure fringes. The danish switched sides as part of the armistice in january 1814, so contributed a small corps, mainly placed in Belgium.

Re Lt. Thomas Smith:

History of the Rifle Brigade COPE  p212
" On July 7 the Army marched into Paris, and the 2nd Battalion had the honour of being the first corps which entered;  Lieutenant and Adjutant Thomas Smith, riding in front of the Battalion, being the first British officer who entered Paris on the famous day"

I have not been able to find a first hand account which confirms this-  however Cope in his Preface mentions that a "Colonel Smith" freely and kindly communicated his recollections of service during the Peninsula' etc and noted that Smith was the oldest surviving 95th officer (1877) who had joined in 1808.
Thomas Smith did indeed join in 1808 and was alive until 1877.

Researching a different topic entirely (English language newspapers in India 1820-30) I have some how stumbled upon our poor chap shot entering Paris.

He was brevet Lt-Col. William Staveley of the Staff. He had been present throughout the Peninsular and at Ciudad Rodrigo he volunteered to act as guide to the stormers of the light division, and was one of the first to reach the top of the smaller breach. He was stunned by the explosion as the troops made their way along the ramparts, and was picked up for dead, but later recovering. During Waterloo, he had been one of the principle messengers between Wellington and Blucher.

Along with another staff officer, he entered Paris, probably on the 6th, a day ahead of Wellington, in order to take possession of the Barriere de L'Etoile, and carrying a white flag he was shot, but once again survived his wounds.

He remained in France during the occupation, and returned to England in 1818. In 1821 he was sent to Mauritius, eventually becoming commandant of Port Louis and later acting governor for several months. He left Mauritius for Hong Kong in 1847, where he commanded the garrison for three years. In 1851 he took command of a Division in the Bombay Army, before being appointed commander-in-chief at Madras, with the rank of Lt-General.

What remarkable and well travelled lives these soldiers led!?

Having read about Staveley, it seems that Hill's account doesn't entirely tally with the facts, and he probably didn't take control of the Barriere St. Denis until the 6th.

Under the Convention of St. Cloud, handing Paris over to the Allies, it gives a clear timetable for the evacuation of the city by the French Army. It was signed by Muffling, Hervey and Davout on the 3rd July, but required ratification by Blucher and Wellington at 6am on the 4th on the Bridge at Neuilly. It states that,

"Article VIII. Tomorrow, the 4th of July, at midday, St. Denis, St. Ouen, Clichy, and Neuilly shall be given up. The day after tomorrow, the 5th, at the same hour, Montmartre shall be given up. The third day, the 6th, all the Barriers shall be given up."

St Denis, St Ouen, Clichy, Neuilly and Montmartre were all villages outside of Paris at the time, with considerable stretches of countryside between them and the city walls. Which means that nobody on the allied side, British, Prussian or any of the others, would have entered the city itself until the 6th at the earliest, or face breaking the terms of the convention.

By the end of the 6th then, the entire French army had just left Paris, and a few men take control of the gates. Wellington's entry into Paris on the 7th really was very soon after, but there wouldn't have been any French soldiers around by this point. The guns were probably there to warn off any remaining civilian Bonapartists or simply as a symbolic move.

Also notice, only Rowan, states the British entered on the 8th all the other accounts (Leake, Eales etc) say it was the 7th, the same day that Zieten entered at the head of the Prussians. Cope and Hofschroer et al are all trying to engineer their man into Paris first, as they have agendas to fulfil. Namely, tell their readers it was the Rifles/Prussians/52nd what won the war.

Despite being out by a day I think Rowan's probably right and Wellington was at the head of the column that marched into Paris, (he had an ego to match the size of his nose, so where else is he going to be that day?) with the staff and Adam's brigade behind. Which unit was at the head of that brigade hardly matters. As for Zieten, I can't imagine the Duke being upstaged.

But if we're interested in who the very first allied solider to enter the city limits was, then it would be one of the chaps taking control of the barriers, possibly even poor Staveley, but we'll never really be able to find that out.

Good stuff Kieran - amazing what can be found out by a bit of digging!

As an aside but connected with the occupation of Paris I came across this on the Royal Green Jackets museum site - a silver casket presented to Amos Norcott:

Which also has a Finart drawing of  a Rifle's officer I had not  seen before
Mercian Pete

That is really interesting and well put together. Thank you.
Ben Townsend

Clinton (2nd division) was the chap who ordered the Brigade of Adams into Paris. A new publication of his papers shed some light on his choice, and sadly it runs counter to the arguments we have suggested here,
He is writing to family on 15th July,

'The English sent one brigade, the Prussians theirs (two) into Paris, the British brigade of my division was fixed upon, not because it had distinguished itself in the battle, though nothing could behave better than it did, but probably from its being the largest at the spot to be reviewed.'

p.160 The Correspondence of Sir Henry Clinton in the Waterloo Campaign, vol ii
edited by Gareth Glover, Ken Trotman, 2015

So there you go- the 52nd was at very high strength in this campaign, and it was probably for this reason that the brigade was chosen to represent the British army in paris.

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