Bye Bye Boney

This week marks the 200th anniversary of the final surrender of Napoleon. Defeated at the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815, Napoleon retreated to Paris and then fled towards Rochefort, hoping to escape on a French frigate and head to the United States. A British blockade prevented his escape and on July 15th, 1815 Napoleon surrendered to Captain Frederick Maitland of the British ship Bellerophon.

As always, there is an apropos political cartoon from George Cruikshank on the subject. Napoleon was a favorite target for the satirist and only nine days after the surrender he published “Complements & Congees or Little BONEY’S surrender to the Tars of Old England!!!”

George Cruikshank, Complements & Congees or Little BONEY’S surrender to the Tars of Old England !!! London: J. Johnson, 24 July 24 1815. 1954.1800.600 The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia

In this image Napoleon leads an entourage of “brave generals” headed by a barber and a cook. He asks to be taken to America, or barring that, England since he “hate[s] those Bears & cursed cossacks.” Captain Maitland responds, “I’m afraid they would not take that care of you in America that they will in England therefore I shall conduct you to the latter place as quickly as possible.” Meanwhile, the British sailors speculate that Napoleon should be put in a zoo.

Of course Napoleon was not destined for the monkey house at the Tower of London. Instead, in August he was shipped off to St. Helena in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, where he would die in 1821. For more on one of the odder souvenirs collected after Napoleon’s death, check out our 2012 post on Napoleon’s Penis.

Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia and the primary poster at the Rosen-blog