30.04.

1863: 65 Foreign Legion Soldiers Confront a Force of Approximately 3,000

1863: 65 Foreign Legion Soldiers Confront a Force of Approximately 3,000
Photo Credit To http://www.mercenary-wars.net/photos/f-legion/001.jpg

The anniversary of that battle is celebrated every year in the Foreign Legion, in its headquarters in the town of Aubagne in southern France. 

On this day a battle that became a living legend in the French Foreign Legion took place. The anniversary of that battle is celebrated every year in the Foreign Legion, in its headquarters in the town of Aubagne in southern France, about ten kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea and the city of Marseille.

The battle that took place on this day has a truly heroic character, because one company of 65 members of the Foreign Legion faced an enemy force of several thousand soldiers (up to 3,000 enemy troops arrived at the scene at the end of the battle). What was the battleactually about? Namely, it took place during the French intervention in Mexico, when Emperor Napoleon III fought against the local Republicans, trying to achieve hegemony in Mexico (he later actually succeeded, so Maximilian of Habsburg became Emperor of Mexico according to the plan of Napoleon III).

While the French troops besieged the Mexican city of Puebla in 1863, a supply convoy with ammunition, equipment and about three million francs was sent to them from the shore. The convoy was protected by the aforementioned company of the Foreign Legion, which numbered 65 men. There were in total three officers and 62 legionnaires. The company was under the command of Captain Jean Danjou. At Palo Verde the company was first attacked by Mexican military force of about 800 members of the cavalry. Captain Danjou and the legionnaires took a defensive position, trying to keep Mexicans away from the convoy they were protecting. Members of the Legion found themselves in a local hacienda called “Hacienda Camarón”, which had a three-meter-high wall.

When the Mexicans demanded the legionnaires surrender, they refused despite the difference in numbers. The Mexican force of 800 horsemen was soon reinfoced with 2,200 infantrymen. The legionaries stood their ground and stubbornly defended their positions. Captain Danjou was shot in the chest and died, but his men continued to fight. When they ran out of ammunition, they mounted a bayonet charge, though there were only six of them.

To this day the achievement of that company is well remembered in the French Foreign Legion. The company managed to prevent the Mexicans from stopping the above-mentioned logistics convoy, and Puebla was conquered. Today the prosthetic hand of the killed Capitaine Danjou (he had lost his hand earlier) is the most valuable artifact of Foreign Legion and is annually solemnly carried in procession during the parade on the so-called “Camerone Day” (named after the French writing of the Mexican Camarón, where the Battle took place).

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