"Legio Patria Nostra"

A copy of an earlier post.

Each year on the anniversary of the battle of La Puebla, Mexico where the forces of Mexico under the leadership of Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín defeated the of French Foreign Legion loaned by the Emperor Napoleon III of France to the Emeror Maximillian I of Mexico on May 5, 1862.

However there is another side of this story...

On the 30th of April, at 1 a.m., the 3rd company of the Foreign Regiment, consisting of 3 officers and 62 soldiers, marched en route to relieve the French Army being besieged at la Puebla, under the command of Captain Danjou. At 7 a.m., after a 15-mile march, they stopped at Palo Verde to rest. Soon a Mexican Army force of 600 cavalry was sighted. Captain Danjou ordered the company to form a square, this being a common practice by infantry of the period to defend against cavalry, and, though retreating, he rebuffed several cavalry charges, inflicting the first heavy losses on the Mexican army.

Finding a defensible position, Danjou made a stand in the Hacienda Camarón, an inn protected by a 9-foot-high-wall. His plan was to occupy Mexican forces to prevent attacks against the nearby convoy that Danjuo's men were escorting. While his legionnaires prepared to defend the inn, the Mexican commander, one Colonel Milan, demanded Danjou and soldiers surrender, noting the Mexican Army's numeric superiority. Danjou in the style of the French, replied: "We have munitions. We will not surrender." He then swore to fight to the death, an oath which was seconded by the men. Around mid-day the Mexicans were increased in size by the arrival of 1,200 infantry.

At noon, Captain Danjou was shot in the chest and died; his soldiers continued fighting despite overwhelming odds under the command of an inspired Lt. Vilain, who held out for four hours before falling during an assault. With their ammunition exhausted, the last of Danjou's soldiers, numbering a mere five under the command of Lt. Maudet, fixed bayonets and charged. Two men died outright, while the rest continued the assault. The tiny group was surrounded and beaten to the earth. Colonel Milan, commander of the Mexicans, managed to prevent his men from ripping the surviving legionnaires to pieces. When the last two survivors were asked to surrender, they insisted that Mexican soldiers allow them safe passage home, to keep their arms, and to escort the body of Captain Danjou. To that, the Mexican commander commented, "What can I refuse to such men? No, these are not men, they are devils," and, out of respect, agreed to these terms.

"Camerone Day" April 30, is an important day for the Legionnaires, when the wooden prosthetic hand of Capitaine Danjou is brought out for display and veneration in special ceremonies at the Legion headquarters at Aubagne, France.

After hearing of the battle, French Emperor Napoleon III had the name Camerone embroidered onto the flag of the Foreign Legion.

In 1892, a monument commemorating the battle was erected on the battlefield containing a plaque with the following inscription in French :"They were here less than sixty opposed to a whole army. Its mass crushed them. Life rather than bravery gave up these French soldiers at Camerone on 30 April 1863. In memory of them, the fatherland has erected this monument".

The hand of Captian Danjou. After the battle, it was picked up by a Mexican named Ramirez, who was arrested by an Austrian Lt. Karl Grübert who returned it to the Legion on July 17, 1865.

"Legio Patria Nostra" means the "Legion is our Homeland."


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