The Objects

29th Apr 1815

Source: © Paris – Musée de l’Armée, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Anne-Sylvaine Marre Noël

Colonel Marbot’s Uniform

Contributed by: Ewan McGowan

The image shows a shako, pelisse and dolman of the 7th hussar regiment that belonged to Colonel Jean-Baptiste Antione Marcellin de Marbot (1782 - 1854).

Colonel Marbot had been put in charge of the 7th hussar regiment during the Bourbon restoration in 1814. However his support for the King, like that of many in the French army, was doubtful. On the 28th March 1815 Marbot and his regiment, which had been garrisoned in Valenciennes, seized control of the town on Napoleon's orders, and Marbot overturned the authority of General Dubreton, who had remained loyal to Louis XVIII. According to some sources, it was Marbot's action that prevented Dubreton from handing over the town to the British.

Marbot and his regiment would subsequently join the Waterloo campaign from Valenciennes. They took an active part in the fighting and Marbot was injured whilst charging a British square at Waterloo. On the return of Louis XVIII Marbot was banished from France.

Despite the high odds of ultimate defeat, the loyalty to Napoleon that Marbot demonstrated was commonplace in the army: earlier glories were ascribed to Napoleon, while the humiliating conditions of peace and the surrender of the Paris defences in March 1814 were associated with the King. After Napoleon’s exile to Elba, officers had been put on half pay and the army was disbanded. Those who remained welcomed Napoleon back. His talent for inspiring his troops was his most important asset in his return to power, and enabled him, when the other European powers refused to recognise his legitimacy, to mobilize an army and to fight the Allied powers one last time in a cautious and war-weary France.

This research was completed with funding from the University of Warwick Undergraduate Research Support Scheme.

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