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Chapter 3


March 20, 1815.

History and contemporaneous memoirs have truncated,
or badly related, or even omitted altogether, certain details
of the arrival of the Emperor in Paris on March 20, 1815.
But living witnesses are to be met with who saw them and
who rectify or complete them.

During the night of the 19th, the Emperor left Sens.
He arrived at three o'clock in the morning at Fontainebleau.
Towards five o'clock, as day was breaking, he
reviewed the few troops he had taken with him and those
who had rallied to him at Fontainebleau itself. They
were of every corps, of every regiment, of all arms, a little
of the Grand Army, a little of the Guard. At six o'clock,
the review being over, one hundred and twenty lancers
mounted their horses and went on ahead to wait for him
at Essonnes. These lancers were commanded by Colonel
Galbois, now lieutenant general, and who has recently
distinguished himself at Constantine.

They had been at Essonnes scarcely three-quarters of
an hour, resting their horses, when the carriage of the
Emperor arrived. The escort of lancers were in their
saddles in the twinkling of an eye and surrounded the
carriage, which immediately started off again without having
changed horses. The Emperor stopped on the way at the
large villages to receive petitions from the inhabitants and
the submission of the authorities, and sometimes to listen
to harangues. He was on the rear seat of the carriage,
with General Bertrand in full uniform seated on his left.
Colonel Galbois galloped beside the door on the Emperor's
side; the door on Bertrand's side was guarded by a
quartermaster of lancers named Ferrès, to-day a wineshop
keeper at Puteaux, a former and very brave hussar whom
the Emperor knew personally and addressed by name.
No one on the road approached the Emperor. Everything
that was intended for him passed through General
Bertrand's hands.

Three or four leagues beyond Essonnes the imperial
cortege found the road suddenly barred by General
Colbert, at the head of two squadrons and three regiments
echelonned towards Paris.

General Colbert had been the colonel of the regiment
of lancers from which the detachment that escorted
the Emperor had been drawn. He recognised his lancers
and his lancers recognised him. They cried: "General,
come over to us!" The General answered: "My children,
do your duty, I am doing mine." Then he turned
rein and went off to the right across country with a few
mounted men who followed him. He could not have
resisted; the regiments behind him were shouting: "Long
live the Emperor!"

This meeting only delayed Napoleon a few minutes.
He continued on his way. The Emperor, surrounded only
by his one hundred and twenty lancers, thus reached Paris.
He entered by the Barrière de Fontainebleau, took the
large avenue of trees which is on the left, the Boulevard
dim Mont-Parnasse, the other boulevards to the Invalides,
then the Pont do la Concorde, the quay along the river
and the gate of the Louvre.

At a quarter past eight o'clock in the evening he was at
the Tuileries.

Victor Hugo