Napoleon verses the Bunnies
After signing the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807 Napoleon decided to celebrate by hosting a rabbit hunt, entrusting the arrangements to his chief of staff Alexander Berthier. Berthier gathered several hundred rabbits for the hunt, and invited some of the most important men in the French Empire. In addition to the various VIP’s present at the hunt, there were also a number of gun bearers, beaters (a person who flushes game by beating the brush with a stick), and game keepers. The plan was that when the gamekeeper released the rabbits they would scatter in all directions, running for their lives as the hunters shot the rabbits at will. There was one hitch, Berthier had not gathered wild rabbits but purchased tame domesticated bunnies. When the bunnies were released, rather than running for their lives they all dashed at the hunting party, believing they were about to be fed by the man wearing the big hat. Napoleon formed a skirmish line but the horde of bunnies swarmed the party, tugging at their pants and climbing up their legs. Sensing defeat as a bunny climbed up his jacket Napoleon called retreat and made for the safety of his coach. Napoleon had to eject several bunnies from the coach while making his escape.
Hilarious, ludicrous and true.
The event was mentioned by Napoleonic historian David G. Chandler in one of his books: “with a finer understanding of Napoleonic strategy than most of his generals, the rabbit horde divided into two wings and poured around the flanks of the party…” Nobody’s said it yet, but was he dealing with Napoleon Bunnyparte?