Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Harpers Round Table 1896 - A Soldier of Napoleon

The man you see in the photograph at left was born in 1794, and is the only known veteran to have fought in the Napoleonic War as well as the Civil War. His incredible story follows:


"Most of us nowadays, when thinking of the Napoleonic wars, consider them as a part of the remote past, and it is difficult to realize that there may be people still living who took part in the battles of Marengo, Jena, and Waterloo.  But all of Napoleon's soldiers are not yet dead, and one man who fought under the great French general is said to be living now near Cleveland, Ohio.  Whether it is true or not, it is a fact that only recently one of Napoleon's old warriors died at the Soldier's Home, Kearny, New Jersey.
His name was Henry Mueller, and a picture of the old gentleman is given herewith. He was born in Germany in 1794, and when the French armies invaded Prussia Mueller was fifteen years old.  With many of his compatriots, he was drafted into the Grand Army, and marched off to Russia to fight the Cossacks and the cold. He was at Moscow, and tramped all the way back in the disastrous retreat, suffering untold tortures, and seeing his fellow soldiers falling in the snow at almost every step. But Mueller kept up, and lived to get back into Germany, and to fight at the battles of Bautzen, Leipsic, and finally in the great battle of Waterloo.

After Napoleon had been captured by the British and sent to the lonely island of St. Helena, and the great armies of Europe had been disbanded, Mueller took ship and came to the United States. Not long after his arrival in this country the Seminole and Mexican wars broke out, and the old spirit of the soldier was reawakened in Mueller, and he went again to the front, this time wearing the American uniform and fighting for the American flag.  So much warfare had now made a confirmed soldier of the German, and so when the war of the rebellion broke out in 1861 he again took up his musket and fought through the entire war.

One of the most wonderful things of all these experiences is that Mueller was never seriously wounded, and managed to keep himself in such good health that he lived to be over one hundred years old, and spent his last days in peace and comfort in the Soldier's Home, smoking his long German pipe on the lawn under the trees, and telling of his own personal experiences, which, to most of us, are part of a very remote history."

See the full scanned page of this incredible article on Scribd here:  http://www.scribd.com/doc/114694305

It's very hard to believe, but what if it was true?  If this magazine is from 1896 and the man died recently, born in 1794, could a man his age have fought in four different wars, from Napoleon to Lincoln?  What amazing stories that man must have had.

Other veteran facts:  The oldest known veteran of the Civil War died in 1956. Albert Woolson was 105.  He is the only soldier of which color film footage exists.  He outlasted one of my favorite veterans (Johnny Clem) by about twenty years. I read in a guidebook that Woolson made frequent trips to the Gettysburg battlefield during his old age. It also mentioned how, as a young boy, he knew old men who had fought in the Revolutionary War and much later as an old man himself, had friends who fought and died on the beaches of Normandy.  That shows us how our country is not as old as we think it is.

The last veteran of the First World War died on February 28, 2011.  Corporal Frank Woodruff Buckles, aged 110. They called him "The Last Doughboy"

How long will it be until all the World War II vets are gone?

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