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azyeoman

Paper worth more than metal: St. Helene brevets

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The ubiquitous and often extremely overpriced St. Helene medals are arguably one of the most aesthetically pleasing medals and historically commemorate one of the most interesting periods of military history. What is much rarer than the medals themselves are the brevets that accompanied the medals and rarest of all is the original box in which the medals were issued. The medals in the attached photograph are from left to right with an original full-size medal with a portion of the original ribbon, the smallest version of the miniature with original ribbon, a full-size with original ribbon and veteran's society eagle device, the larger of the miniatures with modern ribbon and lastly a full-size with a replacement modern ribbon. The number following the surname in the thread below indicates the number of the brevet and NOT the service number.

Edited by azyeoman

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Reverse and inside top of box. I'm not sure what the first name is, but the surname appears to be "Lamedaille" and the date is the 13th of October 1857.

Edited by azyeoman

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Exceptionally rare brevet to a sailor, Raymond Marcombe (213,494) who served on the Niemen in an action which ended up with her being taken as a prize ship by HMS Amethyst. This was a real Hornblower type of action.

5-6 Apr 1809 Amethyst chased and captured the French 40-gun frigate Niemen, with the assistance of the Emerald. The Niemen became a great acquisition to the British navy under her French name. Read the account in William James' Naval History of Great Britain by clicking on the date of the action.

Niémen was built by Chantier Courau Frères at Bordeaux to a design by Pierre Rolland, carrying 40 guns. She was launched in 1808 but spent only months in French service. She was commissioned at Bordeaux on 22 November 1808, but not completed until January 1809. On 4 April 1809 she sailed under the command of Commandant Jean Dupotet for Fort-de-France with stores and a substantial crew of 319.

Two days later, as she was she was in the Bay of Biscay, she encountered three British vessels, including the 36-gun frigate HMS Amethyst, under the command of Captain Sir Michael Seymore. Also sailing in company with Amethyst were the 36-gun HMS Emerald, (Captain Frederick Lewis Maitland), and the 38-gun JMS Arethusa, (Captain Robert Mends).

Seymour, who had previously won fame by capturing the French frigate Thétis the previous November, gave chase at 11am. After a sustained chase lasting all day, the Amethyst lost sight of the Emerald, which could not match the speed of the two others, and had failed to gain on the Niémen. Seymour then wore his ship around and was able to bring himself close to the Niémen at 9.30pm.

The two ships began exchanging fire at 11.30pm, with Amethyst coming alongside at 1am on the morning of 5 April to exchange sustained broadsides. By 3am theNiémen had lost her main and mizzen masts, and her fire was slackening. The Arethusa then arrived on the scene, firing a couple of broadsides at the badly damaged French ship. At this point Niémen surrendered. Other accounts report that during the night, Niémen maneuvered to capture Amethyst, when Arethusa came to the rescue and forced Niémen to strike her colours.

Regardless, Niémen had surrendered, having lost 47 killed and 73 wounded, compared to eight killed and 37 wounded on the Amethyst. Sir Michael brought her in as a prize, and was rewarded with a baronetcy for his actions in capturing the Niémen, and the earlier capture of the Thetis. In 1847 the Admiralty authorized the issue of the Naval General Service Medal with clasp "Amethyst 5 April 1809" to be awarded upon application to all British participants still living in 1847. (Wikepedia)

Edited by azyeoman

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Augustin Besnier (129,428) of the 2eme regt. du Train d'equipage. The train was created on 26 March 1807 with eight battalions "des equipages des transports militaires. It was reorganized with four escadrons on 14 October 1814. The 2eme took part in the invasion of Russia; only ten thousand out of the original 422 thousand men returned and so this is quite rare as so few would have lived a further 45 years longer to receive their medals in 1857.

Edited by azyeoman

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Jean Baptist Petitot (39,190) who served with the 93eme Ligne.

Edited by azyeoman

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Jean Jacques Bridron (23,388) who served with the 101st line infantry.

Edited by azyeoman

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Another to Pierre Louis Fasil (289,810) of the 36e Ligne. It hailed from Anjou and was started on 1 January 1794. The 36th fought at Jemmapes in 1793, Zurich in 1799, Austerlitz in 1804 and Jena in 1805.

Edited by azyeoman

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Here's a wonderful site with much information and if you're lucky, perhaps you'll find a photo of the Napoleonic veteran whose brevet graces your collection.

http://www.stehelene.org/php/accueil.php?page=1&lang=en

Here's what you can find on an individual. The example is for No. 10 above

http://www.stehelene.org/cgi-bin/lh/stehelene-search.pl

Edited by azyeoman

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Fantastic thread. Paul Dawson has been going through the Imperial Guard rosters for 1815 and found some really interesting stuff. If only the medals could talk.

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In my humble opinion the medal and particularly the brevets are highly under appreciated. When you consider that Besnier on page six started off as one of the 422,000 men who invaded Russia in 1812 and then was one of the 10,000 who returned and then one of those who lived a further 45 years to receive his St. Helene medal, it's just amazing. Charles Joseph Minard's statistical graph is a landmark in statistical graphics. It will show you the fate of Napoleon's army and how rare the little document to Besnier is. He may have "only" been in the supply train, but he was there and lived to tell the tales.

Edited by azyeoman

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Hello,

thanks for this wonderful threat.

Last year, I've bought one of these medals, because some bavarian soldiers were awarded with this medal.

Has anyone papers from a german or bavarian owner?

Regards Andreas

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There is an amazing group to a Bavarian in an old thread. The group was owned by Ed Haynes.

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Hello,

here is my litle napoleonic collection.

The cross with the square cross-arms was awarded to the bavarian veterans, which fought with Napoleon till 1813. King Maximilian II foundet this cross 1848.

I miss this cross in the veterans box. Possibly he died before 1848.

The cross with the round arms was given 1815 to the bavarian veterans which fought against Napoleon.

The round coins are prussian Medals.

What do you think about the ribbon of the St. Helena medal, is it a original ribbon?

Regards Andreas

Edited by spolei

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I think the ribbon may be original, but it's hard to say without looking at the inside of the ribbon too.

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Here is my brevet & medal...

Jean Baptiste Verney, old soldier from the 4º artillery regiment with the 13200 number on the Order:

3520pvs.jpg

2i1dsas.jpg

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Hi

Need a little help on bring some ligth on to this medal....I believe it is a napoleonic eagle but do not know of what period/empire, it is made of silver (with marks on the handle), but the rest I do not know!!!!Any help here???

2zq55q1.jpg

fxtax2.jpg

Thanks in advance....

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