The Only Surviving Photographs Of Veterans of the Napoleonic Wars

Napoléon Bonaparte and his Grande Armée were finally defeated during the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Even after his death in 1821, the warriors who fought with Napoléon continued to revere him and pay their respects every 5th of May — the anniversary of his death.

The proud veterans wore the uniforms they fought in, swords, plumes, epaulettes, medals and all, and marched to Paris’ Place Vendôme to pay their homage to the Emperor.

It’s during one of these occasions that these photos were taken, possibly in 1858. The men were well into their 70s and 80s. And these are their only surviving images.

Grenadier Burg, 24th Regiment of the Guard, 1815

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Monsieur Mauban, 8th Dragoon Regiment, 1815

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Monsieur Moret, 2nd Regiment, 1814-15

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Monsieur Ducel Mameluke de la Garde, 1813-1815

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Monsieur Vitry, Departmental Guard

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Monsieur Dupont, Fourier for the 1st Hussar

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Quartermaster Fabry, 1st Hussars

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Monsieur Schmit, 2nd Mounted Chasseur Regiment, 1813-14

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Monsieur Maire, 7th Hussars, c. 1809-15

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Quartermaster Sergeant Delignon, in the uniform of a Mounted Chasseur of the Guard, 1809-1815

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Sergeant Taria, Grenadiere de la Garde, 1809-1815

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Monsieur Loria, 24th Mounted Chasseur, Regiment Chevalier of the Legion of Honor

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Monsieur Lefebre, Sergeant 2nd Regiment of Engineers, 1815

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Monsieur Dreuse of 2nd Light Horse Lancers of the Guard, c. 1813-14

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Monsieur Verlinde of the 2nd Lancers, 1815

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Credit: Brown University Library

The base and railings of the column of the Place Vendôme appear this day decked out with the annual offerings to the memory of the man whose statue adorns the summit. The display of garlands of immortelles, and other tributes of the kind, is greater than usual…the old soldiers of the Empire performed their usual homage yesterday at the same place.”

– as noted by the Times of London in May 1855

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