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The Napoleon Series > Military Information > Battles


The Capture of a French General at Waterloo

Provided by Mark McManus

The following is an article that appeared in an Australian newspaper in 1889. Unfortunately the general was not identified in the article. Could it have been Cambroone?

"The only prisoner made by the English Reserve at Waterloo was a French general, whose capture due to the cool head and stout heart of a young brigade major, anxious for an adventure. Baron Malortie tells the story in his book Twixt Old Times and New. During the battle several regiments of cavalry and infantry were kept in reserve, under a heavy fire from the French guns. Great was the havoc, and neither men nor horses relished the passive attitude of which they were condemned. While a group of young officers, in front of the left wing of the Reserve, were discussing the situation, their attention was attracted to a French general and his staff, all on horseback, who were looking at the Englishmen through their glasses. One of the group was Captain Halkett, a young brigade major, mounted on a thoroughbred. Suddenly he exclaimed: 'I'll lay anyone five pounds that I will bring the French general over here, dead or alive. Who'll take my bet?' 'Done - done - done,' shouted several officers. The captain examined the saddle girths and pistols. Then shouting 'Good bye!' and putting spurs to his horse, he dashed at a furious pace across the plain between the British and French lines. His comrades followed him with their glasses, not speaking a word. The Frenchmen opposite seemed puzzled. Believing that the Englishman's horse had bolted, and that the rider had lost control of him, they opened their ranks to let the runaway through. Halkett steered his steed so as to graze the mounted general on the right side. At that instant, he put his [word missing in original, probably should be 'arm' here] around the Frenchman's waist, lifted him bodily out of the saddle, and, throwing him over his own horse's neck, turned sharp, and made for the English lines. When the general's staff realised the meaning of the bold rider, they dashed after him. But he had a good start, and not a Frenchman dared to fire, for fear of hitting the general. Half squad of English dragoons, seeing Halkett chased by a dozen French officers, charged them. They opened their ranks to let Halkett through, closed them up again the moment he was in the rear, and then forced the Frenchmen to turn swiftly and seek shelter under their own guns. Amid the maddest cheering, Halkett stopped in front of the British lines, and the general half dead, but securely clasped in his strong arms. He jumped from his horse, apologised to his prisoner for the unceremonious was in which he had been handled, and in reply to the congratulations of his comrades, said simply, 'Praise my horse, not me.' The captured general was treated with the utmost courtesy. Horses and servants were placed at his disposal, and he was sent under escort to Brussels."


"Capturing a General" The Western Star 12th November 1889; Page 4


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