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Battered, torn, stained and foxed. But both items - including the Felddienst-Auszeichnung, which has a patina black as coal - with a thick crust of age to them. 
This rare 'Abschied' or discharge document was handed to Andreas Schuhmann, from Vörstetten in the borough of Freyburg in the Grand Duchy of Baden in 1820.
In February 1812, aged 20, Andreas had volunteered to become a soldier.
 
When the French Revolution threatened to burn itself into the rest of Europe in 1792, Baden joined forces against France and became the frontline. Hardly able to defend itself, having an army of only 2000 men, the Duchy was in a difficult position. With the fall of the Palatinate to French troops in 1793, it was soon flooded with refugees, which made the situation even worse. In 1796, the margrave Charles Frederick, Grand Duke of Baden, was compelled to pay an indemnity and cede his territories on the left bank of the Rhine to France. Fortune, however, soon returned to his side. In 1803, largely owing to the good offices of Alexander I, emperor of Russia, he received the bishopric of Konstanz, part of the Rhenish Palatinate, and other smaller districts, together with the dignity of a prince-elector. Changing sides in 1805, he fought for Napoleon, with the result that, by the peace of Pressburg in that year, he obtained the Breisgau and other territories at the expense of the Habsburgs. In 1806, he joined the Confederation of the Rhine, declared himself a sovereign prince, became a grand duke, and received additional territory. The Baden contingent continued to fight for France, and by the Peace of Vienna in 1809, the grand duke was rewarded with accessions of territory at the expense of the Kingdom of Württemberg. Having quadrupled the area of Baden, Charles Frederick died in June 1811, and was succeeded by his grandson, Charles, Grand Duke of Baden. In February 1812 Baden raised a Corps of 7166 men to fight alongside the French in Russia.
 
One of the men volunteering to join was Andreas Schumann, who joined the ‘elite’ rifle company of the Light Infantry Battalion. The Badeners performed all kinds of field policing duties before finally uniting with the Grande Armee in July, becoming part of IX. Korps. The Baden contingent was rated highly, many of the men had plenty of combat experience from earlier years (1806, 1807, 1809) and they were well supplied. They marched on Minsk, Smolensk and later played an important part covering the retreat of Napoleon’s Great Army across the Beresina in fierce fighting. After that the Baden brigade formed the Arrièregarde of II. Korps on its march to Vilnius.
Casualties were enormous. Of the 7166 men of the Baden brigade, 537 were still present at roll call at Marienwerder on 30 December 1812. Of those only 154 were fighting troops. On 7 December 1812, the Light Infantry Battalion, in which Andreas Schumacher served, had a strength of 4 officers and 54 men. Far less than that ultimately returned home.
 
One of them was Andreas Schumann. He continued to fight for Baden as part of the Light Battalion, which fought in the Battle of the Nations at Leipzig (again on the French side) and later in the campaigns of 1814/15 on the side of the Allies.
 
The heavily patinated medal (lacking its suspension ring) is the Felddienst-Auszeichnung of 1840 which was issued to all veterans of the Baden Army still alive then.
One of less than 154 fighting soldiers to march back from Russia to Baden in January/February.
 
Andreas Schumann is listed in the ‘Veteranen-Chronik der Krieger Badens’ (The Baden veteran’s chronicle), published in Freiburg in 1843.
 
He passed away in 1848.
 
Both items saved from certain destruction from previous owner who could not read what the document said, and even if - would not have had any interest in exploring this further.  They are bruised and stained, but both certainly among the most loved pieces in my collection. 
 
 
 
 

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Edited by RobS
typo
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Hi Rob,

Great items, I love documentation relating to the Napoleonic period. I don't think people realise how much of the Grande Armee was composed of German contingents. One of my ancestors died in Russia whilst fighting with a Saxon unit. Your guy was extremely lucky.

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1 hour ago, VtwinVince said:

Hi Rob,

Great items, I love documentation relating to the Napoleonic period. I don't think people realise how much of the Grande Armee was composed of German contingents. One of my ancestors died in Russia whilst fighting with a Saxon unit. Your guy was extremely lucky.

My own family comes from the Rhineland Palatinate and all my ancestors in that period served in French regiments. Lost several family members in Russia, others in Spain. My own direct great x x  grandfather fought at Waterloo with 56e Ligne and only returned to 'Germany' in 1821. My great x x x aunt married the Duc de Mortier (Marshall of France), Anna Maria Himmes. :)  So I can always say "My uncle commanded the French Imperial Guard  ;) 

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Excellent, and quite a family connection. My 3x great grandfather was also involved in the conflict, but on the Prussian side. I once had dinner with an old family friend, and saw a portrait of a Napoleonic officer on his wall. It turned out he was a direct descendant of Marshal Graf Barclay de Tolly.

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52 minutes ago, VtwinVince said:

Excellent, and quite a family connection. My 3x great grandfather was also involved in the conflict, but on the Prussian side. I once had dinner with an old family friend, and saw a portrait of a Napoleonic officer on his wall. It turned out he was a direct descendant of Marshal Graf Barclay de Tolly.

Wonderful

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