HISTORY OF THE 21EME

Serving the Republic

The regiment served in Germany in 1793 and by the mid 1790's was in the Armme d'Italie. The 21eme was involved in action at Laona in 1796 and also Montenotte, Millesimo, Dego and the bridge at Lodi. It was at Lodi where grenadiers of the Regiment charged over the bridge under constant fire shouting "Vive la Republique!" overthrowing the Austrian defenders and capturing their artillery.

In 1799 the regiment saw further action at Verona, Magano, Trebbia and most notably the Battle of Novi. It was here that Sergeant-Major Jean Georges Pauly, cut off by a body of Russian Cavalry was called upon to surrender. Replying "Je Passe Quand Même", (I shall pass nevertheless) he rallied a handful of men and forced his way back to the regiment using musket butt and bayonet killing or wounding more than 40 Russians in the process.

1803-05

The demi-brigades lost their denomination on the 24th September 1803, and were gradually re-organised as Regiments. The first 30 regiments retained their numbers. Thus the 21eme was formed from the four battalions of the 21me demi-brigade itself also incorporating men from the 109th demi-brigade. Among the officers was to be found chef de battalion Ducrest, later to become Colonel of the regiment.

At this time, Napoleon was preparing for his invasion of England, and had set up dozens of camps on the French coast. This army would spend the next two years drilling and drilling to prepare for an invasion that, ultimately, would never happen. But the years spent drilling in 1805 is what would make the Grande Armee the greatest army in Europe. 

Until November 1803 the first and second battalions passed their time at the Camp of Bruges, formed behind Ostend. The third and fourth battalions were lodged at Flessingue holding emplacements there until July 1804, at which time the four battalions were re-united at the Bruges Camp

23rd October 1804 saw the third and fourth battalions moved to Cologne where they formed part of the 25th Military Division. The other two battalions remained in the Bruges Camp until July 1805.

During their stay in the camps of the Channel coast, the Emperor presided over exercises which had the men embark upon ships of war in port every day; and of uniting ships, sea and land troops in attacking other very large warships that would cross in front of the French shoreline.

The Combat at Ambleteuse 18th July 1805:

The 21eme, before making towards the Camp at Ambleteuse, embarked on the Dutch flotilla, commanded by Admiral Verhuel. Arriving at a position above Gravelines, the flotilla suffered a long cannonade from all sides by the British fleet and were forced to take refuge in Calais. On the 18th July they set out once more and were passing the Cap Gris Nez, the enemy commenced a furious attack on them with grape-shot. They were engaged in a combat that did not cease before coming to Ambleteuse,  then the land batteries forced the British to keep their distance. In this combat the 21eme underwent an apprenticeship to the sort of war new to it, but they displayed the same courage and ardour that they were to display on land. The Regiment lost a few men as casualties including some killed. 

On arriving at Ambleteuse the first two battalions, commanded by Chefs de Bataillon Vaugreneuse and Grogniet had an effective strength of 1709 men. They were placed in the 1st Brigade (Petit) of the 3rd Division (Gudin) of the 3rd Corps which was formed on the right of L’Armee des Cotes de l’Ocean commanded by Marshal Davout and quartered in the area of Ostend.

Campaign of 1805

In 1805, Britain formed a Third Coalition against France, with Russia, Austria, Sweden, Naples and Sicily. Russia and Austria were now amassing their armies to the East, forcing Napoleon to abandon his dreams of invading England.  

The first two battalions of the 21eme under the orders of Colonel Dufour remained a part of the 1st Brigade of the 3rd Division of the 3rd Corps, the two other battalions remained in Cologne, forming part of the 2nd Corps of the Army of the Reserve commanded by Marshal Lefebvre.

Gudin’s division (comprising the 12th, 21st, 25th, and 85th Regiments of the Line) left Ambleteuse on 3rd September 1805 and arrived at Durkheim on the 27th September, after having travelled some 412 miles, averaging 25 miles on each day’s march.

Davout’s Corps, forming the left wing of the army passed the Rhine between Meinheim and Heidleberg. Gudin’s Division passed the river on 28th September over a floating pontoon bridge established there and occupied the heights of Obrichheim to the left of Necker on the 30th.

After the passage of the Rhine, all the troops’ marches were done at least in part at night, they sometimes had to stop, being unable to find their way in the dark. Frequently they found it impossible for the three divisions that formed the Corps to reach their destination and nearly every day saw the divisions in one column, being covered by the advance guard moving from one carefully selected position to another.

Napoleon manoeuvred his forces in order to fall upon the rear of the Austrian army under General Mack, to isolate it from the Russians and destroy them with the maximum of ease.

As part of Gudin's division, the 21eme took part in the encirclement of Ulm, where General Mack's army was being penned in by the Grande Armee. 

On the 17th October, the capitulation of Ulm was signed, the terms of the capitulation being carried out on the 20th. 27,000 Austrians were captured and 66 cannons.

 

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On the 24th October Gudin’s Division marched onwards after a few days well earned rest. With the Austrian army captured and defeated, Napoleon set his sights on Vienna, the capital of the Austrian Empire. 

On the 27th the Division marched towards Muhldorf, but the Russians who had been arriving since the 15th October occupying the line of the Inn tried to delay Davout’s march by subjecting him to a furious artillery bombardment from selected positions as he advanced.

After weeks of more marching, Davout's Corps entered the Austrian capital on the 18th November and took billets in the city’s suburbs. The next day the 21eme and 12eme passed to the left bank of the Danube and occupied the hamlets at the head of the bridge (Danubion).

About the time the army reached Brunn, the Russian and Austrian Emperors were at Olmutz. Gudin’s division had pursued the Austrians on the road through Styrie and took their cantonments at the march and crossed that river at Neudorf without opposition on the 27th reaching Pressburg. The colonel of the 21eme then took control over that area on the 28th November, passed a squadron of the 1st Chasseurs a Cheval and a battalion of the 21eme to the right bank of the Danube in order to support General Vialannes, the commander of the Third Corps Cavalry Division.

The 21eme did not take part in the Battle of Austerlitz, Gudin's division having marched hard but not soon enough to take direct part in the battle.  Out of Davout’s Corps only Friant’s infantry had taken part at Austerlitz and in order to bring the other two divisions together after the battle a position was taken up between Monitz and Olnitz.

The Emperor then ordered Davout to bring together Morand and Gudin’s divisions and cease actions in order to pursue the enemy who was en route to Hungary and to intercept their retreat. However, it was not long after Austerlitz that peace negotiations began with Austria. 

In the period of armistice that followed, Colonel Dufour of the 21eme was promoted to General of Brigade, he was replaced by Colonel Decouz, who had been appointed on 27th December having been promoted after Austerlitz, where he had had a horse killed under him.

Austria and France agreed peace terms at Pressberg on 26th December, later an agreement was made that the Russians would evacuate Austrian territory and that the Grand Army would return home.

On 5th January 1806 Gudin’s Division left their emplacements. Months of marching followed as the 21eme and the Grande Armee cantoned in Germany in 1806. 

Campaign of 1806-1807

In October 1806, Prussia declared war upon the French Empire after a breakdown of relations over the ownership of Hanover. Napoleon was well prepared for this eventuality, the Grande Armee was south of the Prussian border in a prime position for a lightning strike into Prussian territory. 

Under Napoleon’s instructions Davout assembled his corps at Oettingen and then on the 2nd September 1806 he placed them at Bamberg, Gudin’s division arriving at Ellwangen on the 26th. The 21eme still comprising the same part of the corps was augmented by its 3rd and 4th battalions on the 28th bringing the Regiment up to a strength of 2274 men led by Colonel Decouz.

On the 7th October the 3rd Corps set out to cross the Bavarian-Saxon frontier and into Prussian territory. 

After a week of marching, during which Napoleon was seeking to put the Prussian army to battle, Davout's Corps arrived in the environs of Auerstadt. At 6:30am on the morning of 14th October, Gudin's cavalry came into cotnact with a large Prussian army marching towards Davout. This was the main Prussian army led by the Duke of Brunswick, with the King of Prussia in attendance. This army of 64,000 was facing Davout's Corps of 26,000 men.  

Battle of Auerstadt

Half an hour before daybreak a thick mist had set in which did not allow objects to be distinguished further than a pistol shot. The French cavalry then came upon and skirmished with two squadrons of Prussian horse. Davout managed to discern through the gloom that the enemy horse had turned his right wing and was menacing the rear of the 25th Chasseurs a Cheval. As a response, he ordered General Petit up to support his cavalry with the 21eme Regiment d'Infanterie de Ligne, supported by the 12eme de ligne echeloned to their right rear. At the same time Davout brought up ten artillery pieces to counter the brisk artillery fire power. being brought to bear on his movements by the enemy.

At the moment the mist began to clear, Prussian General Blucher started to arrive on the scene at the head of 25 squadrons of cavalry, and entered the villages of Spielberd and Bunsherau behind the leading French units. Not hesitating for a moment, Blucher charged with his forces in a furious attack, but not soon enough. The 21eme and 25eme de Ligne formed battalion squares echeloned to the right. This prompt action beat off Blucher’s initial onslaught and all the while Davout,  Gudin and two Generals de Brigade  Petit and Gauthier moved from square to square urging on their troops. 

At last after an enormous loss the Prussians lost heart and broke in a flight and retreated as far away as Eckartsberg, followed by elements of the French cavalry, Blucher himself had a horse shot from under him and was forced to take that of a trumpeter in order to follow his men in an attempt to rally them. Shortly after this Friant’s division arrived on the field and established themselves on the French right flank. The Prussian general Wartensleben came up with his division and numerous cavalry squadrons and deployed forward of the village of Gemstaedt. His cavalry then launched a series of attacks against Gudin’s regiments. Gudin’s men resisted the attacks of the enemy. On the right of his division, Gudin had posted the 85eme all alone except for the support of 2 eight pound cannons on the height of Hasenhausen.

The 21eme had been defending this village alone, until the arrival of Friant’s division, which meant that Gauthier could support them with the 25eme. All alone they had fought with success against a whole Prussian division under Smettau who was also supported by cavalry. The brigade of the 21eme and 25eme, although weakened by losses in the combat, continued in their defence, and to great effect. While they held the attention of the Prussians, Friant’s division began to turn the enemy line.

By 4pm one of the two Prussian reserve divisions which had come up, found themselves about to be flanked and drew themselves from the line to form a defence in front of Ekartsburg. 
Davout resolved to storm this position and quickly formed a scratch battalion comprised of 400 men taken from the 21eme and the 12eme under the command of General Petit. With these men General Petit was to storm the enemy’s front whilst General Grandeau’s brigade of the 2nd division, plus the 3rd, would attack the enemy’s right flank, supported by Friant. Despite their artillery support and the good position the Prussians occupied, they could not stop the French onslaught. Without firing a shot Petit’s 400 men stormed up the hill and charged home into the Prussian’s ranks and through them with the bayonet. Faced by such an audacious  attack the Prussians broke and hurriedly abandoned their position. Gudin’s 400 men, comprising grenadiers of the 21eme and 12eme, were left in possession of 22 Prussian guns. The enemy was pursued beyond the woods of the chateau of Eckartsburg, where Gudin’s men ( 4 regiments) ceased their advance.

 

Since half past six that morning they had for more than 9 hours resisted all the attacks of Smettau’s division, which had been supported by an immense number of cavalry, including Blucher’s squadrons. At Auerstadt The 3rd corps suffered losses of 270 officers and 7000 soldiers and N.C.O’s killed or wounded. Gudin’s division alone had suffered about a half of these. Davout, always in the thick of the action, had received a great number of musket balls which lodged in his clothes. General Petit received a painful bruising. 

General Gudin after visiting and praising the wounded generals and officers cited with distinction in his report Colonel Decouz and Chef de battalion Vaugrineuse of the 21eme. Captain Duchene was cited in the army bulletin for how he distinguished himself at the head of his company of the 21eme, although receiving a badly bruised left thigh (possibly from a spent ball). He refused to quit the battlefield until the end of the battle.

The Prussian army withdrew, and was caught amongst the rout of the Prussian army that had been defeated that same day by Napoleon at Jena.

Berlin and Kustrin:

On 25th October, Davout's Corps were the first French troops to march into the Prussian capital of Berlin, Napoleon lauded the corps with praise for their achievements at Auerstadt.

On the 31st October, the 21eme participated in the siege of Kustrin. 

At 8.00 o’clock in the evening, Captain Duchene of the 21eme de Ligne carried a flag of truce to the governor of the fortress. Duchene called on the governor to cease the firing upon the French troops, threatening that if the firing continued the French would reduce the place to ashes, after which negotiations further took place and these resulted in the governor ordering a cessation of the garrison fire.

The next day Gudin received orders to take his division to Frankfurt and in preparation to do this positioned himself with his first brigade, that of General Gauthier, but General Petit with the 21eme was to remain behind before following the Division. When a demand was issued to the enemy garrison, the Governor consented to this, being that he should give up the place if no relief were to reach him within the next few days. After the Governor consented General Petit then demanded that the garrison must lay down its arms within two hours, threatening to make use of 80 mortars already drawn up in a battery. General Petit addressed Colonel Duplein of the 85eme who had just arrived with four companies feigning to have just escorted a column of artillery He said, “Although you have orders to take you further please remain to bear out my threat to crush the place. Suspend the execution of your orders.”

Petit sent back a Prussian Officer and demanded that the Governor should come to treat with him directly. The officer returned and he was accompanied by the Govenor very shortly after.

The surrender of Kustrin was immediately carried out and General Petit himself entered the fortress, followed by a company belonging to the 21eme. The garrison, some 3,000 strong put up a brief struggle in the fortresses place of arms but soon laid down their arms. They were immediately transported to an island on the Oder and guarded there by some soldiers of the 21eme de Ligne

The well fortified town of Kustrin contained provisions and munitions in abundance. 90 pieces of artillery were mounted on the town ramparts and another 400 were held in the arsenal. The Governor of the place had been forced to surrender without a siege by the pleading of the town’s bourgeoisie and by the nature of the victories and rapid marches that the Grande Armee had achieved in such a short time.

Eventually it was General Gauthier and the 85eme de Ligne that were left in Kustrin,

Gudin's division later rejoined the rest of the 3rd Corps on the 2nd November. With the Prussian armies having routed to fortresses, the French army had been besieging these en masse, many surrendered quickly. Some Prussian forces had fled east, where the Russian's were amassing in Poland. 

Battle of Eylau

On the 8th February, a bloody battle was fought between Napoleon's Grande Armee and a Russo-Prussian army under General Bennigsen. The 21eme took part in this battle in Gudin's Division of Davout's 3rd Corps which attacked the enemy's left flank.
Two hours before daybreak, the three divisions of 3rd Corps set off on the march; the 2nd Division, Friant’s, marched in front and headed for the left flank of the Allied army. The 3rd Division followed the same movement on Serpallen. The battle started at the break of day; Davout, debouching onto the field of battle, attacked with impetuosity the left of the Prussian army, overthrew it and chased it from Serpallen. He pursued the enemy as far the the wood of Klein-Sousgarten, where they retreated in disorder. Meanwhile, the Russians returned to the charge and the combat continued with vivacity. While they were attacking their centre, Davout made progress on their left and succeeded, after one of the liveliest combats in taking the plateau between Auklapen and Kutschnitten.

The Russians rallied. They rushed with fury on the 51st and 108th from the division of Morand and Friant and pushed them back to Klein-Sousegarten. But the rest of Friant’s Division and the 12th, 21st and 25th of Gudin’s Division, placed themselves in front of the village, covered by the whole artillery of the 3rd Corps and opposed an invincible obstinacy to the last effort of the coalition troops. The Marshal rode through the ranks and encouraged the soldiers by telling them, “The cowards will die in Siberia, and the brave men will die here among men of honour”.

The Russians, fearing to find themselves exposed to the combined efforts of the corps of Marshal Ney and that of Davout, retreated beyond the Pregel. During the night of the 8th and 9th the army bivouacked on the field of battle. The Third Corps stayed there all day on the 9th and was passed by the Emperor in review.

The loss of life in this battle was enormous and led to an earnest desire for peace. Estimates vary enormously amongst historians, one estimate says the Allies lost 15-20 thousand killed and wounded and the French over 15,000. Riding over the battlefield the next day, Marshal Ney exclaimed "Quel massacre! Et sans résultat" ("What a massacre! And without result").

The 21eme continued to march throughout the rest of the 1807 campaign, missing the rest of the major battles of the campaign, until the Battle of Friendland and subsequent Treaty of Tilsit ended the War of the Fourth Coalition.

1807-1809

1806-07

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After the Treaty of Tilsit was signed in July 1807, the 3rd Corps cantoned in Poland, now created into a French satellite kingdom called the Duchy of Warsaw, until December.  During this time the 21eme was reinforced and replenished from fresh troops from the depot and the 4th battalion. 

At the end of the month of January, 1808, the battalions of the 21eme, occupied German villages and towns situated to the far West of modern Poland, close to the banks of the Warthe, a river which flows into the Oder. The 3rd battalion became part of the division which was formed at Frankfurt, by the order of the Emperor, dated 8th January 1808, and which had for its goal the re-establishment of order in the territory of Cassel.

In August, Napoleon consented to evacuate Prussia, except for three places on the Oder; Glogau, Custrin, and Stettin, which were to be held until the complete accomplishment of the clauses of the Treaty of Tilsit.

The 3rd. Corps was then directed to Silesia. The 21eme went in October 1808, to occupy Liegnitz, to the south of Glogau. The 3rd battalion, under the command of Major Bernard, was sent to Parchwitz and the 4th battalion, under Major Rome, was placed at Jauer. The 1st. and 2nd battalions had respectively as commanders Majors Ducrest and Broussard. The battalions kept their positions until the end of October, at which time Napoleon made a new distribution of the troops that he had left in Germany. He took away from them the title La Grande Armee, and substituted that of the Army of the Rhine, the command of which he gave to Marshal Davout, the most capable of his marshals, for the maintenance and discipline of an army.

 

The marshal, with his three former divisions, a new division, that of St. Hilaire, detached from Soult’s Corps, cuirassiers, and Oudinot’s elite division, had to occupy the left bank of the Elbe. The infantry were cantoned in the former Franconian and Saxon provinces of Prussia. All the other troops, having returned to France, had already been sent to Spain. Gudin’s division left Silesia at the end of October, heading for Magdeburg, where it crossed the Elbe, and marched into Hanover. The four battalions of the 21eme which still were part of Petit’s brigade. In February, the four battalions were distributed as follows: the 1st at Artzen, the 2nd and 3rd at Ohsen and the 4th at Hamelin. The 5th battalion, forming the depot, was at Juliers.

Campaign of 1809

1806-07

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In the early morning of the 10th April 1809, an Austrian army invaded Napoleon's ally, Bavaria, by crossing the River Inn. Austria sought to redeem their national honour after the humiliating defeat they'd suffered at Austerlitz. The French intervention in Spain the previous year had alarmed Austria, whilst also convincing them that they stood a chance against Napoleon's forces left in Germany while he was in Spain. 

The 21eme was still part of Gudin's division in Davout's elite 3rd Corps, Davout was now in command of the Army of the Rhine. On the 15th April, Gudin’s division arrived at Regensberg and joined the corps. Napoleon, having arrived on the 17th at Donauworth to take command of the army, immediately gave the order to Davout to evacuate Regensberg, leaving the 65th Line there to form a garrison, and to march up the Danube to join him in the vicinity of Abensberg. A battle was fought there on the 20th, which forced the beaten Austrians back towards the Inn river,

 

Battle of Eckmuhl:

While Napoleon triumphed at Abensberg, Archduke Charles rallied Austrian army of Bohemia and forced Regensberg to surrender. Napoleon ordered Marshal Lannes to leave Landshut on the 21st April, with the divisions of Gudin and Morand, and the corps of the Duc de Rivoli, the cuirassier divisions and the Wurttemberg division. 

On the 22nd April, the 21eme found itself on the extreme right of the line of battle, and had only a few companies engaged. Gudin’s division, worn out by fatigue, bivouacked behind Egglofsheim, and night having fallen, the combat was adjourned until the next day, in case the Archduke wished to stand in front of Regensberg. The Archduke had decided to cross the Danube, while the cavalry manoeuvred on the plain, on the right bank, to protect the passage. The French, having set out early on the 23rd, arrived at the river just as the last Austrian battalions were crossing it. Nevertheless, the French had not arrived at the river without striking a blow and in the different attacks that they had to sustain from the cavalry the 21eme suffered particularly.

Arriving before Regensberg, Napoleon had all his artillery placed in line to bombard the walls of the city while Marshal Lannes advanced with Gudin’s division towards the Straubing gate. There the skirmishers of the 21eme had to suffer from the fire of the Austrians, placed on the ramparts. The Regiment entered the town, after the 85eme Ligne,  the Austrians, pressed on all sides, was forcedto capitulate.

 

The 21eme, which had been seriously engaged in the attack on Regensberg, counted many officers and men amongst the dead and wounded. On 24th April, Davout, who had just received the title of Prince of Eckmuhl, as a reward for the bravery which he had shown on the field of battle, received the order to follow the enemy on his retreat into Bohemia, thus protecting the march of the other army corps, which were advancing on Vienna, following the banks of the Danube.

War on the Danube:

The 21eme spent the month of June around Pressburg, having skirmishes with Austrian forces and constructing entrenchments. 

On the 29th June, Davout ordered General Gudin to have made a reconnaissance of the island of Obern in the Danube river which appeared to him to be strongly occupied by the Austrians. The colonel of the 21eme, charged with the operation, called for officers, NCOs and men to volunteer to cross the arm of the Danube, which formed the island in front of Pressberg where the Austrians were entrenched. Lieutenant Constant presented himself first, with two other officers and 150 soldiers. He received command of the detachment, which crossed the arm of the Danube on the 30th, one hour before daybreak, in little skiffs, under the fire of some cannon, and in spite of a lively fusillade from the enemy. The boat containing Lieutenant Constant and seven soldiers of the regiment sank to the bottom. Constant threw himself into the water and swam to the island, where the enemy were positioned; he attacked as soon as he had collected a hundred men on the bank. On his side, sous-lieutenant Jobert, having led 40 swimmers, had penetrated into the island. Two pieces of artillery and their caisson, 217 prisoners, 50 Austrians dead, not including a great number of wounded, were the result of this attack.

The 21eme had seven men killed and forty wounded, most of these had been under the fire from the enemy entrenchments forming the bridgehead on the island.

Among the prisoners were the Austrian Colonel de Longueville, grievously wounded, and a staff-officer named Latour, a native of Savoy, a man of much importance, whom Marshal Davout sent to the Emperor as being able to give him useful information. 

Several of the men of this expedition were rewarded by the Emperor; lieutenant Constant received the Cross of an Officer of the Legion of Honour, and sous-lieutenant Jobert was named as a Knight of the Legion of Honour.

Battle of Wagram:

The 5th-6th July witnessed the culmination of the War of the Fifth Coalition saw heavy action in this battle against the Austrians which is clear by the amount of casualties.
At 4 o’clock in the morning the first shots from the cannon made themselves heard on the French right, it was Prince von Rosemberg, commanding the Austrian 4th Corps, descending from the heights of Margrafenneusiedl and was advancing on Grosshofen and Glinzendorf. General Gudin sent the 12eme and 21eme to the defend the village of Glinzendorf. The two regiments, formed in column, attacked the enemy with spirit and forced them to withdraw to the Rusbach. The Austrian skirmishers, covering the space between the two villages had also been repelled; Prince von Rosemberg resumed his position on the slopes of the Neusiedl. Gudin's division next took up their positions to attack the heights on the other side of the Rusbach. Formed in line on the right bank, between Neusiedl and Baumersdorf, they waited for the right moment to advance. As soon as the divisions of Friant and Morand had opened their attack on the left flank of the enemy, the division entered into action under the control of Marshal Davout.

Gudin’s Division crossed the Rusbach and assaulted, under a murderous fire, the plateau of Neusiedl. General Friant, who had won ground in the rear of Rosemberg, forced the enemy to withdraw, and permitted Gudin to pass the square tower. The Prince von Hohenzollern, however, who was beyond Baumersdorf, facing Oudinot, who had not moved, advanced half of his troops towards the square-tower, and directed them onto the right of the division, in order to push them into the Rusbach. The cuirassiers attempted to charge, but were repelled in disorder. The 85eme Line, of the 2nd Brigade, was welcomed with a violent fusillade, and stopped in its advance. The 12eme, 21eme, and 25eme came to its aid, and the entire division engaged in a desperate struggle against the troops of Hohenzollern, who gave way little by little. The divisions of Friant and Morand, winning ground at the rear of the plateau, pursued the troops of Rosemberg. At this moment Oudinot threw himself on Baumersdorf, and the divisions of the 3rd Corps, forming an oblique line, arrived on the plateau of Wagram. Gudin’s Division, which had just covered itself with glory by taking by assault the village of Neusiedl, pursued, with the 3rd Corps, while the two other corps attacked it frontally. Before this double movement the Archduke Charles ordered the retreat, and the left wing of his army took the route to Brunn, by the side of Wolkersdorf. It was 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the battle was won.

The losses of the Austrians were immense, the French took several thousand prisoners and captured some flags, and thirty pieces of artillery. General Gudin was wounded. The 21eme suffered severely; lieutenant-colonel Ducrest was wounded in the shoulder, the Emperor named him, six days afterwards, as colonel of the regiment, to replace colonel Decouz, named as General of Brigade. The other wounded of the 21eme were: chef de bataillon Francois, captain Monthoil, who had a leg amputated on the field of battle, captain Gaillard, who died of his wounds, lieutenants Nicolain, Caillebotte, Constant, Tyssautier, Leroux, Dauteuille, who died of his wounds, and many others.
 

After the Battle of Znaim fought on 10th-11th July, an armistice was signed between Napoleon and the Austrians. 

Campaign of 1812

1806-07

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IThe years of peace after 1809 had seen the ranks of the 21eme swell. It was now part of the I Corps under Marshal Davout, this corps was formed by the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th French Divisions, commanded respectively by Generals Morand, Friant, Gudin, Compans, and Desaix. The 21eme formed part of the 3rd Division of the Corps, with the 7th Legere and 12th Ligne. It belonged to Longchamps’ Brigade, and counted an effective strength of 4,344 men.

On the 22nd, the I Corps arrived at Kowno, on the Niemen, it was precisely the day on which Napoleon officially declared war on Russia. On the night of 23-24 June they threw three bridges of boats across the Niemen, Gudin’s Division, preceded by the light cavalry, crossed the river first, and on the 24th, at daybreak, it was ranged in line on the plain in serried columns of battalions. The l Corps, formed the advance-guard of the army. It met Cossacks on the way, who fled at its approach, setting fire to castles and barns. On the 28th the Corps made its entry into Vilna, where the Lithuanians received the soldiers with joy and helped them to repair the bridge over the Vilia.

Smolensk:

On the 16th August, the I Corps arrived before Smolensk, was placed in the centre of the French army, facing the suburbs of Micislav and Roslave, which were protected by entrenchments and each defended by 7 or 8,000 infantry. The attack on the suburbs of Micislav was confided to General Gudin. The division, led by its general and by Marshal Davout in person, attacked the suburb defended by the division of Kaptsevitch. This was first pushed back with the bayonet as far as the entry to the suburb; the 12eme and 21eme, which formed the head of the column, launched themselves across the streets in pursuit of the Russians and drove them up to the ditches of Smolensk, where they were fired on at point-blank range, only finding, for entry into the town, a few practicable gaps in the wall. The battery of 12 pounders of the Division was directed against the walls. They ejected the enemy from the towers by shells  setting them  on fire. The combat lasted all night; the Russians set the town on fire, and the French entered the following morning.

Valutino:

On the 18th August, towards the evening, the Regiment set off in pursuit of the Russians who were retreating East. Davout crossed the River Dnieper on the morning of the 19th, and marched partly on the Moscow road, partly on the road to St Petersburg. Gudin’s Division, of which 21eme was a part, followed the Moscow road. The Russians had retired onto the heights of Valutino, at first chased from this position by Marshal Ney, they made their retreat towards a last post which they resolved to keep at all costs. The ground favoured the defence, the Russians taking post behind a muddy stream on top of a long bank covered intermittently with patches of woodland and thick scrub. The road crossed the stream on a little bridge, which they had destroyed. To take the position, it was necessary to force the road, which descended a little to the right into a sort of bog, next cross the stream, the bridge having been destroyed, and finally climb up into the middle of undergrowth full of skirmishers, and cross the bank lined with troops and artillery. Ney pushed back the Russian advanced guards as far as the stream, but to open a passage he needed considerable reinforcements.

Of the five divisions of Marshal Davout, Gudin’s Division was the only one to arrive in time to support Marshal Ney.

 

We shall borrow from M. Thiers the story of the unheard of efforts of General Gudin to force the Russian position in the combat of Valutino. - “General Gudin, arriving towards five o’clock in the afternoon at the little bridge, which had just been replaced, put himself fearlessly at the head of his Division, to take at any price, the sort of cutting which was beyond the little bridge. He formed his Division in columns of attack, while Marshal Ney, with Ledru’s Division, prepared to support him, Razout’s Division occupied the enemy on the left, and, on the right, Murat, galloping with his cavalry, looked for a passage across the marshes.

The signal being given, Gudin launched his columns of infantry, who defiled over the bridge to cries of ‘Vive l’Empereur’, and met without being shaken, on the flank the fire of the skirmishers, and in front, that of the artillery emplaced on the bank. They crossed the bridge at the charge, climbed the bank and met a troop of grenadiers who received them at the point of the bayonet. They threw themselves on the Russians, forcing them to recoil, and succeeded in debouching onto the plateau. There, however, fresh battalions assailed them and obliged them to retreat. The brave Gudin took them back to the assault, and a terrible melee started then in the area between the stream and the foot of the bank.

 

The men collided with each other, wrestled hand to hand and fought with cold steel. In the midst of the awful conflict, Gudin having dismounted, and sword in hand led his soldiers on, he was hit by a ball which shattered his thigh, and falling into the arms of his officers, he designated General Gerard to replace him. This officer, of a rare energy, took command, and leading his soldiers again against the enemy, again climbed the bank and appeared a second time on the plateau. Barclay de Tolly, wishing to make a last effort, launched the brave division of Konovnitsyn against the Divisions of Gudin and Ledru, commanded by Gerard and Ney, in order to push them from the plateau which they had succeeded in conquering. Gerard and Ney received the attack, bending an instant under its violence, but then returning to the charge, they hurled themselves onto the Russian infantry with a fury and put them to rout. At 10 p.m., they were still masters of the opening and the Russians were forced to retire definitively.

The 7th Legere, the 12th Ligne, 21st Ligne, and the 127th Ligne, which composed the division, had attacked with such impetuosity that the enemy had persuaded themselves that they had been engaged with the Imperial Guard. General Gudin had both his legs carried away by a shell and died two or three days afterwards at Smolensk. He was one of the most distinguished officers of the army. He was commendable for his moral qualities as much as for his bravery and intrepidity.

Chef de Bataillon Fuzieu, in the uncertainty as to where the position of the enemy was, at the approach of night, having gone alone on reconnaissance, and finding himself face to face with a Russian officer, he clapped him on the shoulder, crying to the soldiers of his battalion to fire, that it was the enemy. Adjutant Lenglet received a shot in the left arm, at the moment when he was making prisoner a Russian general. The brilliant bravery of which he made proof that day gained him the decoration of the Legion of Honour.

 

The day after the combat of Valoutina, the Emperor distributed on the field of battle rewards to all the regiments which had distinguished themselves. The 21eme had for its share twenty-five decorations, shared between six captains, eight lieutenants and Second-Lieutenants, and eleven non-commissioned officers. The choices had been made in a circle, in front of the Emperor, with the acclamation of the troops. These rewards given on the field of battle, in the midst of the dead and dying, of the debris and the trophies of victory, made an imposing spectacle. The enemy had so hurried his march after the combat of Valoutina, that, during the day of the 20th, our troops made eight leagues without finding even cossacks.

Borodino: 

On the 7th September 1812, at two o’clock in the morning, Napoleon gave his orders to the marshals commanding the army corps. The divisions of Morand and Gerard (Gudin's successor) were placed, for the day, under the orders of Prince Eugene Beauharnais, who had the mission of taking the village of Borodino, and of debouching by three ways onto the heights, while Generals Morand and Gerard, had to march on the Grand Redoubt and capture it. The 21eme was part of Gerard's division.


At 5.30 a.m., the sun rose, and disengaged itself from the thick mist which covered the horizon, and appeared radiant on the field of battle. The assembly was beaten at the head of each regiment; the captains of each company formed their troops into a semi-circle, and themselves read aloud the following order of the day:
“Soldiers, here is the battle which you have desired so much. Henceforward the victory depends on you; it is necessary to us; it will give us abundance, good quarters for the winter, and a prompt return to the Fatherland. Conduct yourselves as at Austerlitz, at Friedland, at Vitepsk, at Smolensk, and the most remote posterity will cite your conduct during this day: they will say of you: he was at that great battle under the walls of Moscow.”


At 6.00 a.m. they were in movement at all points. At 8.00 a.m, the two divisions of Morand and Gerard crossed the Kolocza to execute the orders that they had received. At a critical moment, Morand’s Division captured, alone, the Great Redoubt, even though it was defended by the fire of eight pieces of artillery. During this time, Gudin’s Division had stayed at the foot of the work. But soon the redoubt was retaken by the Russians, and the infantry of Morand was about to be pushed into the ravine which faced it, when the divisions of Gerard and Broussier arrived to help them, they rallied the troops of Morand, engaged in a terrible combat, and stayed masters of the plateau.

At 3.00 p.m, Prince Eugene concentrated the divisions of Morand and Gerard to attempt to a new effort on the Great Redoubt, of which the Russians had stayed masters. The 9th. Line and the cuirassiers of Caulaincourt penetrated there first, but, to maintain themselves there, these troops had need of the support of other regiments. The Viceroy, at the head of the 17th, 21st, and 35th, had the charge beaten, took his sword in his hand, the soldiers, fired by his example, shook themselves, marched bayonet lowered, attacked the redoubt frontally, and broke in at the moment when the cuirassiers of General Caulaincourt were obliged to abandon it. The Viceroy next had his troops cross the ravine which separated them from the enemy troops, posted beyond, and put them fully to rout. The attacks had succeeded equally well along the whole line of battle, and by night, the Russian army was in full retreat. The losses of the French did not exceed 30,000 men.

The 21eme had, for its part, a great number of officers killed and wounded.

Retreat

On 26th October, Davout's Corps was made the rearguard of the army, after having spent over a month in Moscow and the Russians refusing to come to the peace table.

At 8am on the 3rd November, Russian cavalry of Russian commander Miloradovich separated Davout's I Corps from the IV and V Corps of Viceroy Eugene Beauharnais and Poniatowski respectively. They attacked the Vyazma-Fedorovskoye road that linked Davout with IV and V corps. As Russian cavalry attacked from the West, a simultaneous attack came from Platov's Cossacks to the east, supported by some Russian infantry. Davout's infantrymen formed squares to meet the attack from Platov and Paskevich, and his artillerymen set up their pieces to return the Russian cannon fire.
Davout's exhausted, hunger-weakened Corps was bombarded by Russian artillery and was in danger of being overwhelmed and destroyed.
Fortunately, the Russians lacked enough infantry to support their cavalry attacks and was vulnerable to a determined French counterattack. Davot's infantrymen to the east repulsed Platov and Paskevich with steady, disciplined musket-fire. The 21eme was in Gerard's division which was acting as the rearguard of the I Corps, so was likely fighting the cavalry in the east. More importantly, Eugene heard the cannon fire engulfing Davout's position to the rear, and immediately ordered his troops to counterattack and regain possession of the Vyazma-Fedorovskoye road.
Eugene's counterattack fell on the rear of the troops Miloradovich had positioned on the road facing Davout. This counterattack was conducted by two of Eugene's Italian divisions, one division of Poles from the V Corps, and a single regiment of troops sent to the scene by Ney, whose III Corps was positioned in the heights near Vyazma. Davout, upon seeing these troops advancing to rescue him, sent his infantrymen to attack as well. Miloradovich's cavalry and his small body of infantrymen were now attacked from the east and the west, including being enveloped in French artillery shot, and were compelled to retreat from the road. Thanks to Eugene's counterattack, a passageway had been created on the Vyazma-Fedorovskoye road for Davout to continue his retreat.
The Russians at this point had been repulsed at all points, but they were hardly finished with the battle. Having pulled back from Eugene's attack, Miloradovich ordered his troops to reposition themselves parallel to the road. A heavy cannonade was then commenced against Davout's troops as they retreated toward Vyazma. Davout's artillery was unable to respond effectively to the Russian fire, and panic broke out among his troops.

Louis Philippe, comte de Ségur, an observer of the action on the French side, describes this moment in the battle thus:
"…disorder reigned in the I Corps – the one commanded by Davout. The sudden maneuver, the surprise, and particularly the tragic example of the crowd of unhorsed, unarmed cavalrymen running up and down in blind fright, threw this corps into utter confusion. This spectacle encouraged the enemy, who credited themselves with a victory. Their artillery, superior in strength, galloped into position and, opening an oblique fire on our lines, began mowing our men down, while our own guns were coming back to us at a snail's pace from Vyazma."


The damage wrought by the Russian artillery on Davout's troops was such that many of them were compelled to abandon the road, and to retreat across an open field in their desperation to reach safety behind Eugene's position. By 10 am, when the rest of Miloradovich's infantry arrived, Davout's battered corps had taken shelter behind Eugene. According to Segur, the Russian cannonshot and musketry at this point were "frighteningly effective." The 21eme seem to have suffered heavily from the cannonade. They had, among other officers killed, Lieutenant Charreau and Second-Lieutenant Ragot, among wounded were Captain Ourblain, Lieutenants Delcamp, Second-Lieutenants Belgrand, Lepoutre, Herel, and Gasson. And the amount of rank and file must have been substantial as well.
At 2:00 p.m., Davout, Eugene, and Poniatowski conferred, and they concluded that victory was not possible given the disorganization in the French units caused by the Russian aggression. Soon, the three French corps had retreated into the town of Vyazma.

At 4 p.m., the fighting spread into the town of Vyazma itself, which at this point was consumed by flames. By now the infantry of General Choglokov (from Ostermann-Tolstoy's corps), as well as detachments of Platov's Cossacks were engaging the French in torrid, close quarters combat on the streets of Vyazma. The French were hard pressed, and had to fight desperately to hold the Russians off while evacuating the town.
By 8 p.m., the fighting was over. The corps of Davout, Eugene, and Poniatowski had retreated west of Vyazma, bruised but safe. Ney's rearguard was last to withdraw from the town, suffering heavy losses in a final bayonet fight with a force of Russian grenadiers.
In order to cover their retreat, the French had set large sections of Vyazma on fire, resulting in many wounded from both sides burning to death.

The Battle of Vyazma represented a defeat of the Grande Armée's rearguard, as French losses in this battle, 6,000 to 8,000 casualties, including 4,000 lost as prisoners to the Russians, were prohibitive. The shock of the Russian attack reduced many French units to a state of disarray, and owing to the speed with which their retreat had to be resumed, order was never restored within them. These disorganised units became easy targets for Cossack raids in the following days.
General Armand de Caulaincourt, the famed memoirist who participated in the events of 1812 from the French side, perhaps best summarised the effects of Vyazma on Davout's proud I Corps with the following rueful words:

"Until then – as long, that is, as it had to withstand alone the attacks of the enemy – the First Corps had maintained its honour and reputation, although it was fiercely attacked and its formation broken by the artillery. This momentary disorder was conspicuous because it was the first time that these gallant infantry broke ranks and compelled their dogged commander to give ground. I have related these painful details because from this incident must be dated our disorganisation and misfortunes. The First Corps, which on taking the field was the largest and finest, a rival to the Guard, was thenceforward the hardest hit; and the evil spread."

Here the 21eme's journey loses cohesion as the regiment was, along with the rest of I Corps, no longer in a fighting state. The cadres of the I Corps, and in particular, those of the 21eme, gathered at Thorn, and it was towards this rallying point that the soldiers of the Regiment scattered on the roads were directed. On 8th January, 1813, there was a strength of 34 officers and some 150 men in a state to carry arms.

Campaign of 1813-1814

1806-07

[14:15]

The 21eme, like the rest of the French army, was completely replenished over the course of the early months of 1813 from conscripts. The regiment did not participate in the 1813 campaign until after the summer armistice of 1813. During the armistice, the 21eme had been rebuilt to four battalions, commanded respectively by chiefs of battalions Fuzier, Caillebote, Joubert, and Leroux, the regiment had a strength of 78 officers and 2123 men. The 1st and 2nd companies of the 5th battalion were in garrison at Stettin, and the two others, of the 5th battalion, were at Julich, forming the depot.

The 21eme, with the 33eme de Ligne, belonged to O’Meara’s 1st brigade of Teste’s 23rd division. This division joined at Magdeburg, on the 18th June, the I Corps, commanded by General Vandamme, and composed of Philippon’s and Dumonceau’s divisions, which had been detached from Davout’s Corps.

Battle of Dresden, 26th-27th August 1813

In August, Napoleon, having learned that the allied army, underGeneral Schwarzenburg, was debouching from Bohemia and was marching on Dresden, halted his march towards Silesia, and headed for Dresden, taking with him the Imperial Guard and the I Corps. Teste’s division arrived at Dresden on 25th August. The 21eme was placed, with the 33rd, under the orders of Murat, who was to advance to meet the Austrians in the plain of Friedrichstadt.

Marshal Saint-Cyr led the forces defending Dresden. French infantry manned the various redoubts and defensive positions. They hoped to last long enough for reinforcements to arrive. Sure enough, they got their wish. Napoleon arrived quickly and unexpectedly with reinforcements to repel this assault on the city. French counterattacks on the Great Garden in the southeast and on the allied centre were successful, and by nightfall the French had regained almost all of Saint-Cyr's original positions.
On the 26th, while Murat was chasing the enemy from the plain, General Teste, with the 1st Brigade, the 21eme and 33eme, left Dresden by the Freyberg gate, and took the village of Klein-Hamburg.
On the 27th, Napoleon gave the mission to Murat, helped by Marshal Victor, of descending into the plain and advancing with his troops to attack six enemy divisions which were covering the hills above the valley of the Plauen. General Teste established himself, with his 1st Brigade, facing the village of Lobda and the mouth of the valley of the Plauen, to prevent the Austrian grenadiers of Bianchi from debouching from it, as they had the day before. As soon as the army had taken its positions, General Teste launched the 21eme into the village of Lobda, chasing from it the Austrian skirmishers, and penetrated next as far as the mouth of the valley. During this time Marshal Victor was advancing onto the heights, taking three villages, Murat, deploying his 60 squadrons on the Freyberg road, overturned the enemy, put him to rout and captured his flags and cannons. Neither the rain, which fell in torrents, nor the fatigues of a night passed in the water and mud, had been able to slow down the ardour of his troops.

 

Prisoners of War
The 21eme as part of I Corps remained around Dresden for the rest of the campaign. Dreden was surrounded by the Allied armies. After the disastrous Battle of Leipzig 16th-19th October, Napoleon ordered the I Corps to attempt to break out and retreat West back to France.  

The sorties began on 6th November. Count Lobau pierced the enemy lines, but he was obliged to return into the next day, and on the 11th Dresden capitulated. The garrison was to lay down its arms and return to France by stages; but the capitulation having been violated, they were kept prisoner and sent to Hungary. The four battalions of the 21eme suffered the fate of the rest of the garrison. 

The depot battalion of the 21eme, composed of two companies, had remained in Julich. Two other companies of the same battalion, which were at Stettin under the orders of General Grandeau, shared the fate of the valiant garrison, which became prisoners of war . There existed no more of the 21eme at the end of 1813 other than the two depot companies at Julich.

1814 & Bergen op Zoom

In the early months of 1814, the Netherlands broke out in rebellion as the Allied armies marched into the Low Countries as liberators. A company of the 21eme from the depot, composed of 8 officers and 283 men, was thrown into the garrison of the fortress of Bergen op Zoom. 

Meanwhile, Julich, where there were the cadres of two companies and a small number of men of the 21eme depot, surrendered during January after a short siege, the garrison being made prisoners of war.

On the night of the 8th March, an English expeditionary force, composed mostly of second battalions under the command of Sir Thomas Graham, scaled the walls of the Dutch fortress Bergen op Zoom and entered into the town, defended by 2,700 Frenchmen, commanded by General Bizanet. Bizanet counterattacked the assaults and and overthrew the English columns taking a large number prisoners. The 274 strong battalion of the 21eme, commanded by Chef de Bataillon Lespez and which had been drawn up from the depot, was stationed at the Steenbergen Gate, behind the stockades which defended the approaches to a bridge over a ditch into the main body of the place. He had vigorously repulsed the attack on this side. Much later, in the early morning hours of the 9th, the 21eme reinforced the garrison to the south of the fortress as the fighting had reached a stalemate with the British inaction boosting the defenders' confidence. The British were pinned along the walls of the fortress
between the Antwerp Gate and the Water Gate. They endured pinning fire from musket and cannon for hours whilst Bizanet brought reinforcements for a decisive blow. The French attacked in overwhelming numbers and many British soldiers drowned in the icy waters around the fort. During the ensuing recommencment of the battle, Lespez and the 21eme and other nearby defenders began to grow increasingly aggressive and pushed along the wall from the Antwerp Gate to the bastion ajacent to Bastion Orange on which the British defence was centered, The British pushed the 21eme back with most of their forces, back to the Antwerp Gate. But the situation for the British was untenable with cross fire from bastions and concentrated French resistance, much of the assaulting force remaining surrendered. The Regimental Colour of the 2/69th of Foot was captured and the 4/1st was also taken into French hands. It was a humiliating disaster for the British, overshadowed by Wellington's successes in the south of France and Napoleon's subsequent abdication the following month.
Of the 21eme, Captain-Adjutant-Major Tiger was wounded, and died later of his wounds. Lieutenants Langrand and David, and sous-lieutenant Benoit, were also wounded.

The remainders of the 21eme survived up to Napoleon's first abdication on 14th April which finally ended the war of the Sixth Coalition. 

Campaign of 1815

1806-07

[14:15]

On 1st March 1815, Napoleon landed in the south of France after having escaped his exile on the island of Elba. On the 20th March, Napoleon was back in Paris as Emperor of the French. The European powers at the Congress of Vienna declared him an outlaw and immediately began preparing for war once again. 

The 21eme formed part of Marcognet's Division in D'Erlon's I Corps. Prior to the Battle of Waterloo, the I Corps had no part in the fighting at Ligny or Quatre Bras, marching in between the two battlefields for the entire day. 

 

Battle of Waterloo:
At midday, the 62 cannon covering the I Corps opened fire to cover the main assault against the Allied centre. Count d’Erlon formed his divisions en echelon. Each division formed of a column of battalions, deployed in “close” column at a distance of 5 paces from each other. Being formed, the column advanced through the muddy and high crop covered fields. As they reached the plateau, the artillery ceased fire.
D’Erlon had the charge beaten, the soldiers of Marcognet’s Division threw themselves on the battalions of Pack’s English brigade, and Best’s Hanoverian brigade. The latter, partly lying down in the wheat rose up and opened a heavy fire on to the battalions of the division, as they crossed the hedges which lined the Ohain road, they moved down the reverse of the ridge. Victory seemed near as Marcognet's division unleashed devastating volleys into Pack's brigade, repulsing their attempt to counter the French advance, which had been mauled at Quatre Bras 2 days prior. The Colonel Sir Horace Seymour, ADC to Lord Uxbridge said ;At the moment Sir Thomas Picton received the shot in his forehead which killed him, he was calling me to rally the Highlanders, who were for the instant overpowered by the masses of French infantry..."

At this moment a charge of 1,200 of Ponsonby’s English Dragoons brought disorder into the ranks of the division which didn’t have time to form square because of the faulty dispositions of the division, caused by the terrain and casualties from Allied fire. Before the officers could reestablish order, the Union Brigade exploited the confusion and smashed into the division. The soldiers of the Division, sabred by the English Dragoons, where obliged to quickly retreat into the valley. The disorder wrought by the Allied cavalry charge rendered divisions of I Corps almost completely combat ineffective for the rest of the battle.

Marcognet's Division was reformed and returned to the plateau, where it remained without being able to advance or retreat until the end of the day. It was subsequently attacked by the infantry of the Prince of Saxe Weimar as it descended the slope; disorder began to take over the Division, the men left the ranks and arrived in disorder towards La Belle Alliance, under canister from 32 pieces placed in a battery on the plateau. Napoleon had formed four squares from the battalions of the Guard in a supreme effort to save the situation. He tried in vain to rally Marcognet’s and Durette’s men; each moment more and more men were fleeing; until d’Erlon’s Corps did not have any formed units, his entire artillery was taken. The men fled in the direction of Marchiennes, where the debris of the army recrossed the Sambre. The Battle of Waterloo was lost.
The Colonel of the 21eme was taken prisoner. Amongst the wounded of the Regiment, were Chef de Bataillon Debar, captains Bourgogne and Thory, lieutenants Soufflet, Tercine, and Benoit, and eagle bearer Fleury, who was captured along with the 3rd porte-aigle. Historian Paul L Dawson has hypothesised, using original accounts, the 21eme Eagle was captured briefly by the Inniskillings and recaptured by French lancers, may save this analysis for another post in the future.

The total casualties for the regiment were 94 wounded, 278 taken prisoner, 5 killed and 293 missing, in total, 670 men. Of the over 996 men of the 21eme that marched on the campaign, 67 per cent were lost at Waterloo. By 23rd June when the regiment re-mustered, it had 12 officers and 158 men. In a letter to Soult, the Major of the regiment told the Marshal the regiment had been 'destroyed' in the Union Brigade's charge.

Sources:

Historique du 21e régiment d'infanterie: 1610-1875 - Translated by John Henderson
Waterloo, The Truth at Last by Paul L. Dawson