Art Of WarHomeWar Painting CommissionsGalleryScenes War DepictionLinksFamous Historic BattlesContact
war of art   battles paint   canvas



Camerone 1863

Capt. Danjou gets his men to swear an oath to fight ‘jusqu' au dernier'

French forces were in Mexico because of a civil war won by Benito Juarez, who believed passionately in Mexican independence and expelled many foreigners and suspended foreign loans. France , Britain and Spain agreed to send an expedition to Mexico to help the anti-jaurists to gain power. Britain and Spain gave their support but France was the main military force sent to Mexico .
The Foreign legion's 1 st . Battalion 3 rd . Company, consisting of around 60 men led by Captain Danjou, a young, brave officer who had lost his left hand in the Crimean war and now wore a wooden, jointed hand covered in a white glove. Capt. Danjou had the task of escorting a convoy of carts and mules carrying munitions and gold to pay the main French army besieging the Mexican city of Puebla , on the main road to Mexico city .

On the morning of 30 April, the convoy was ambushed by a large Mexican force led by Colonel Milan in a small town called Camerone.
The Legion were vastly outnumbered and took shelter in a large, abandoned hacienda made up of a farmhouse and old barns surrounding a courtyard and enclosed by a wall. There the surviving 49 legionnaires made their last stand. The Mexicans knew the French stood no chance and called to the Legionnaires to surrender but Capt. Danjou replied “We'll die before we surrender!”
Throughout the day the French fought bravely, their disciplined fire taking its toll on the Mexicans. Just before Capt. Danjou was killed he made everyman swear not to surrender, it was said they swore this oath on his wooden hand.
The Mexicans numbers were swelled even more when battalions of infantry, about a thousand, arrived and the Legionnaires were eventually picked off until there were only five men left standing. With no ammunition, water or food the Legionnaires fixed bayonets and led by Sous-Lt. Maudet, they charged into the masses of Mexicans. The Legionnaires were inevitably cut down and lay riddled with bullets wounded or dead. Colonel Milan personally moved in and saved three of the legionnaires from being finished off by his men, making sure they were carried off to the nearest hospital. Col. Milan was heard to say “they are not men, they are devils.”

Since that day the French Foreign Legion celebrate ‘Camerone Day' and Capt. Danjou's wooden hand, which is kept in a casket, is brought out to take the salute.

  All artwork © Paul Bishop 2013 | Home | Gallery | Links | Contact   website design