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"The duel - truth or fiction?" Topic

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1,256 hits since 5 Sep 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Cuirassier Inactive Member06 Sep 2017 1:19 p.m. PST

Can anyone confirm if this incident really happened? French carabinier à cheval against British heavy cavalryman (?) duelling between the lines.



Edwulf Inactive Member06 Sep 2017 2:28 p.m. PST

Not sure.

I heard of a duel between a light dragoon officer and a chassuer in Spain.

If this happened it must have been Waterloo or the retreat to after Quatre Bras. But I am not sure.

Nine pound round06 Sep 2017 4:44 p.m. PST

Marbot told the story of a British light infantry officer taunting him into single combat while serving as an aide to Massena, but I don't know whether historians classify that as truth or fiction.

Robert le Diable Inactive Member06 Sep 2017 10:43 p.m. PST

The name "Trooper Shaw" of a British Dragoon or perhaps Household regiment comes to mind (at Mont Saint Jean/Waterloo, as Edwulf states). Try that as a start-point, anyway.

Wargamorium06 Sep 2017 10:58 p.m. PST

Brigadier Etienne Gérard had such an encounter in Spain but he was certainly not a Carabinier.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP06 Sep 2017 11:01 p.m. PST

Well, the painting clearly isn't set in Belgium. So it would have been in Spain.

Artilleryman07 Sep 2017 12:04 a.m. PST

I think this a romantic version of a real event, as others have said, probably in Spain. The landscape suggests Spain but the British only met the Carabiniers during the 100 Days.

Green Tiger07 Sep 2017 1:01 a.m. PST

Shaw was a Lifeguard and spent the morning of Waterloo drinking heavily – he subsequently ran amok and killed a number of Frenchmen but this wasn't controlled single combat this was a melee…

Sparta07 Sep 2017 1:26 a.m. PST

As said before this terrain is not in Belgium, and to my knowlegde the carabiniers were never in spain – and certainly not from 1812 forward in cuirass. The Brit would not have stood a chance!

Edwulf Inactive Member07 Sep 2017 2:08 a.m. PST

The terrain is likely not historical.
As stated the only time I know the British and Carabiniers could have clashed is during the 100 days.
The brit is a dragoon and could be in either theatre as he has white trousers…

So this is either a historical incident but the painter has some details wrong (intentionally or mistakenly) in which case it COULD be anywhere.
OR It's a historical incident but one we lack the details of, in which case it's the 100 Days and the author has taken artistic liberties with the surroundings.
Or it's some fanciful artwork based on events but not of a real one.

If it is Spain then its unlikely to have been a heavy cavalry unit. Only one French cuirassier unit served in Spain and they were opposed to the Spanisg not the British unless I forget.

Edwulf Inactive Member07 Sep 2017 2:28 a.m. PST

cptn Edward Kelly of 1st Life Guards. Killed the CO of the 1st Cuirrasiers and took his eppulettes as trophies. Could be some confusion over the French unit in Hillingfords notes?

RittervonBek07 Sep 2017 4:16 a.m. PST

green epaulettes [sp?] and red shako cords……

DeRuyter07 Sep 2017 8:53 a.m. PST

The one Cuirassier unit in Spain was either the 13th or 11th rgt and AFAIK did not wear cuirasses.

dibble Supporting Member of TMP07 Sep 2017 9:07 a.m. PST

Green Tiger

Shaw was a Lifeguard and spent the morning of Waterloo drinking heavily – he subsequently ran amok and killed a number of Frenchmen but this wasn't controlled single combat this was a melee…

I see you have taken what Private (later Corporal) Morris of the 73rd said in his first published account as verbatim.

You should read Thomas Playford's accounts that are published in Gareth Glover's Waterloo Archive tomes and his Ken Trotman published accounts. Playford was with Shaw before and during the battle (Playford was in Shaws troop and lined up a couple of horses down from him when formed up) and when Morris supposedly witnessed Corporal of Horse (equivalent to a sergeant) Shaw getting drunk, Playford, Shaw (in command of the foraging party) and several others were away foraging for food at the time where they 'acquired' a sack-full of bread,and carried on looking for other food in a large farmhouse. At this time, the battle commenced so they returned to their regiment. They were not standing around a vat of Hollands with some private line infantrymen getting pissed.

Perhaps that's why Morris' second edition totally omits his Shaw account.

dibble Supporting Member of TMP07 Sep 2017 9:28 a.m. PST

Hillingford painted many fictional scenarios, not unlike the one above. In fact there was a discussion on another site over a Peninsula war scene in which I and other contributors of TMP partook.


Hillingford did other paintings with this theme too.

Paul :)

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP07 Sep 2017 2:28 p.m. PST

There are a number of cavalry memoirs that recount such 'duels' and more events where one officer called out another but the challenge wasn't taken up. All the ones I have read were between officers, and usually during skirmish actions or lulls in an engagement.

Edwulf Inactive Member07 Sep 2017 2:39 p.m. PST

So most likely completely fictional in this painting.

William Ulsterman07 Sep 2017 4:33 p.m. PST

In Zamoyski's 1812 he records reference to two officers fighting a duel at the Berezina whilst everyone waited to cross – it's even footnoted and referenced to the recollections of Raymond Pontier.

Cuirassier Inactive Member16 Oct 2017 7:01 p.m. PST

Many thanks for all the feedback.

Gazzola17 Oct 2017 6:37 a.m. PST

Not sure if this helps, but I noticed that the French cavalryman (hussar) on the right looks to be wearing a rouleau type shako, which I don't think came into fashion until 1813.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP17 Oct 2017 9:55 a.m. PST

But the accompanying infantry are in pre Bardin coats…ie pre 1812. All looks very unlikely to me and totally irresponsible behaviour.

Gazzola18 Oct 2017 9:43 a.m. PST

I guess it might be a case of why let the truth get in the way of a good picture? LOL

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