Napoleon Series Archive 2015

bad press

What I see in the Tyrol are reactions to what happened; without any particular animosity against either the Bavarian or French. It's N. who gets the blame. It's N. who issued the orders for making examples and burning villages. It was N. who directly ordered the murder -it can be called nothing else- of Andreas Hofer. It was N. who ordered the division of the country. It was N. who ordered the Continental System that only worked to impoverish the Tyrol. In the very religious Tyrol, N. was widely viewed as the anti-Christ. From the Tyrollean side, 1809 was a religious war.

In a real sense it seems that 1809 was the beginning of modern Tyrol, mainly because everything before that was destroyed. And much of the current local culture seems to fixed in that time. A good example can be seen here: http://www.suedtirolerland.it/en/video/the-fires-on-sacred-hearts-eve/?pk_campaign=fb_s A tradition born of necessity fighting the French still thriving today.

Andreas Hofer is the most obvious example of this. His image is everywhere. His physical likeness is everywhere, since so many of the men wear costumes based on him. He is effectively the Tyrollean national saint.

There doesn't seem to be a lot of good research on 1809 Tyrol. On the French side there is "Nos Campagne au Tyrol 1797-1799-1805-1809" by General Victor Bernard Derrécagaix, Paris, 1910, which has all of the back and forth communications between N. and his commanders in the country. Unfortunately, the history of Tyrol 1809 on the German side was taken over by the nationalists and as a consequence is wrapped in more myth than anything else. Don't know how many German Tyrol 1809 histories I've read but they all read of the same nationalists style. That I am aware of, there are no first-hand accounts. Only lately has some quality work come out, which only seems to show up from small family archives.

My motivation for going over the history of Tyrol 1809 was the rumor that N. ordered the immediate execution of any Tyrol caught with an air gun. N. gave the order to execute immediately any Tyrol with a weapon in hand, so, certainly that would have included being caught with an airgun but there was never any order specific to airgun use. So, I went through all of the Tyrol histories I could find looking for any mention of the use of airguns and there was nothing. There were descriptions of every other type of weapons imaginable: rocks, pitchforks, clubs, scythes, wooden cannons shooting rocks, artificial avalanches, etc, etc, but not a single airgun mention. This is interesting since we know without question that airguns would have been used. The inventor of the famous Austrian Military Girandoni repeater airgun was from south Tyrol.

The local Tyrol hunters are described as carrying their unique powerful hunting airguns but, other than maybe for poaching, there has never been any hard information on exactly what the intended game was for the Tyrolean hunting airgun. Part of the problem is, as described above, there aren't the regular sources of information. There are extremely few weapons from that era since the people were disarmed and their weapons destroyed (previously, they were allowed to openly carry weapons as local privilege.) Then, just to finish things off, when the Americans occupied the Tyrol in 1945, they again disarmed the people and destroyed all of their weapons, even the old ceremonial rifles that escaped the French in 1809. That is why today all of the Schützenkompanie are equipped with Mausers. Interesting to note that it was after the French took over from the Americans, it was the French commander who ordered that the surplus Mauser rifles were to be supplied since he knew it is just not possible to divest the Tyrol of their rifles. In the Tyrol, the rifle is a national symbol.

So, the result is that there are almost no known examples of original circa 1800 Tyrolean airguns. The only known example, interestingly, was given to the Bavarian King. We know where it is supposed to be, since it was cataloged in Dresden. Been working to determine if it is still in the museum collection, but, these things are always slow moving pictures. If still there, it is almost sure to be buried deep in the back.

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Particulars Regarding Grouchy's Army
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bad press
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Tyrol Airguns
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Austrian Military Airguns
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Hofer
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