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"Poles Apart" Topic

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Jpnorth28 Sep 2018 6:19 a.m. PST

I wonder what opinions are concerning the fighting abilities of the Polish Legions are. I know the Polish Vistula Legions under the empire had a good reputation (and was assigned to the Young Guard in 1812), but not sure about the legions which fought for the French republic. I ask because I came across a report by General Girardon from the summer of 1798 (campaign to put down the revolt around Rome):

"The Poles have bare feet and plead for shoes. I forgot to mention something about them. After Frosinone was taken I marched on Alatry with 400 men. Half way there the Poles lay down and refused to budge. I asked the officers, who were shocked, what was happening and they told me that the soldiers were complaining that they should not have to take part in two attacks per day. I failed to convince them that we were not operating in friendly territory."

He then wrote to Macdonald:

"Send me Frenchmen and have the Poles return to Rome if you can, for they have committed atrocities which my pen refuses to describe. They do not listen to anyone and the sight of the body of one of their comrades made them furious."

The French commanders in Haiti also had cause to complain about the conduct of the Poles, although there I think one can sympathise with the soldiers.

I want to reassure you that this is not a question of whether one nation is better or more violent than another. I have great interest in the Poles and have published two books on them (War of Lost Hope --about Haiti -- and Glory and Despair -- about the sieges of Saragossa), but I just wanted to see if there are any contemporary opinions on their conduct before 1805.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP28 Sep 2018 8:41 a.m. PST

Otherwise they got famous for their dancing.

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