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Expedient of Conjugal Affection

Anecdotes Home






Napoleon used to relate an anecdote
shewing the conjugal affection of some women who accompanied his troops
when he was at Col de Tende. To enter this mountainous and difficult
country, it was necessary for the soldiers to pass over a narrow bridge,
and, as the enterprise was a hazardous one, Napoleon had given orders that
no women should be permitted to cross it with them. To enforce this order,
two captains were stationed on the bridge with instructions, on pain of
death, not to suffer a woman to pass. The passage was effected, and the
troops continued their march. When some miles beyond the bridge, the
Emperor was greatly astonished at the appearance of a considerable number
of women with the soldiers. He immediately ordered the two captains to be
put under arrest, intending to have them tried for a breach of duty. The
prisoners protested their innocence, and stoutly asserted that no women had
crossed the bridge. Napoleon, on hearing this, commanded that some of the
women should be brought before him, when he interrogated them on the
subject. To his utter surprise they readily acknowledged that the captains
had not betrayed their trust, but that a contrivance of their own had
brought them into their present situation. They informed Napoleon, that
having taken the provisions, which had been prepared for the support of the
army, out of some of the casks, they had concealed themselves in them, and
by this stratagem succeeded in passing the bridge without discovery.





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