The Duel

The Duel

Postby [N]Legless Lannes » Thu Jun 17, 2010 10:28 pm

The late Paris duels have called up the subject of duelling anew; and among the most extraordinary affairs of that nature which inquiry has brought to light, is the story of a duel commencing in 1794 and ending only in 1813. We commend its perusal to Messrs. Gwin, Wilson, Burlingame, et id omue belliger:

Francois Fournier-Sarlovese was born in the town of Sarlat in the Dordogne,, Fournier who was a one-time choirboy would go on to be one of the most daring, unruly, and unpredictable senior officer ever to serve Napoleon. Discipline appeared to be an abhorrence to him, and rules and indeed orders, were to be flouted or ignored, should he consider them unnecessary or troublesome. But for all this he was one of the best light cavalry man in the Grandee Armee possessed. He was great friends with the most famed cavalry man Antione Louis Charles LaSalle . And before the latter’s marriage were notorious hell raisers involving themselves in potentially serious and dangerous incidents much to the vexation of the Emperor. In fact Fournier made a habit of being audaciously rude in the presence of the Emperor.

While the Emperor would look past LaSalle’s misgivings and would even pay his debts and honour him for the excellent service he gave as a cavalry commander. Even for Fournier the Emperor would tolerate his rudeness and recklessness due to his expertise as a cavalry commander. But Fournier had a side to him that left the Emperor with a distaste,for Fournier was a Professional duellist,not for nothing was he called 'The Demon of the Grande Armee'.

So let us return to story of the duel which began in 1794 and ended in 1813.

In 1794, then, there lived a Captain of hussars named Fournier, At Strasbourg, who was considered most hot-headed and quarrelsome man in all that region. Again and again he had slain his man in duels, but no successes seemed to satiate his taste for this sort of murder. On one occasion he had wantonly provoked a young man, named Blumm who was a great favourite among the bourgeoisie of Strasbourg-and as wantonly had slain him.

The whole town was full of excitement, and the whole town condemned Fournier as his murderer. Still, dueling was honorable; who should venture to punish the murderer, who was only [a] duellist? It happened that, upon the night of the burial of poor Blumm, a great ball, long time announced, was given by the military commander of the place. Fournier was among the invited guests; but the general commanding, foreseeing what unpleasant reconter might grow out of his presence, gave orders to his aid-de-camp, Captain Dupont, to station himself at the door, and, citing the order of the general, to not give entrance to Fournier.

Dupont accepted the commission.

Fournier in due time presented himself. Dupont addressed him:

"Fournier, what are you doing here on the night of poor Blumm's burial? "

"Ah! o'est toi, Dupont; bon! I come to the ball, naturally enough."

"And I am here to prevent you, by my general's orders."

"Ah!c'est ga! I cannot fight the general, for his rank; you will, perhaps, have no objection? you who commit impertinences at secondhand."

Dupont accepted the challenge; in a few days they fought, and Dupont succeeded in giving the desperado a severe sword wound; but Fournier, even as he fell, claimed a new meeting. On his recovery another duel was fought, in which Fournier wounded Dupont severely. But Dupont, maddened by the ruffianism of his antagonist, and trusting to his skill, insisted, upon his recovery, on a third trial. Fournier declared for pistols, being himself unfailing in his aim, and amusing himself on leisure evenings by shattering the pipes in the mouths of the soldiers with pistolballs. Dupont, however, claimed a privilege of the military service, and the trial was renewed with swords. Both were slightly wounded. Upon this a duel convention was drawn up between them , running in this way:

1d. As often as MM. Dupont and Fournier find themselves within thirty leagues of each other, they shall meet half-way between, for a duel with swords.

2d. If either of the combatants finds himself restrained by the exigencies of the service, the other shall make the entire journey, in order to effect a meeting.

3d. No excuse, except such as may grow out of the exigences of military duty, shall be admissible.

The convention was executed in good faith; on every occasion when it was possible for the two impetuous men to meet, they met, and fought desperately.

A most extraordinary correspondence sprung up between them, of which we give a sample.

"I am invited," writes one, "to breakfast with the staff of chasseurs, at Luneville; and since you are in that place, upon leave of absence, I shall accept the invitation, and shall hope for the opportunity of giving you another cut from my sabre

"Truly yours."

Or again:

"Dear Friend,-I shall pass through Strasbourg a t noon, on the 5th of November next. You will find me at the Hotel des Postes: we will have a fight."

Sometimes the promotion of one or the other, by destroying their military equality, interfered with the prosecution of their agreeable engagements.

Thus Fournier writes :

"My dear Dupont,--I learn that the Emperor has made you General of Brigade. Accept my felicitations. The appointment gives me special pleasure, since it restores you to equality of rank with me, and gives us opportunity to renew fight, which I shall surely do on the first occasion."


The affair, naturally enough, attracted great attention in its day. Each bore the marks of numerous wounds: each was anxious to compass the death of the other. Both, however, were admirable swordsmen, and held religiously to the law of the duel, which forbade a second thrust after blood had once been drawn.

On one occasion, it is related that they met unexpectedly by night in a chalet of Switzerland.

"Ah, Dupont, it is you! Let us fight! "

Dupont threw aside his cloak, and put himself in position. As they parried thrust after thrust, the following conversation took place:

"Parbleu! I thought you were in the interior."

"No, I am ordered here."

"Good! We shall be nearby. Are you lately arrived? "

"This instant."

"Very good to think of me."

And as he spoke Dupont's sword pierced his neck-cloth, grazing his neck, and pinning him to the mall. The noise of the altercation had drawn in officers from a neighboring chalet, who separated the antagonists. So through fourteen years the long duel trailed, satisfaction not being given or gained.

At length Dupont found himself on the eve of marriage. His fiancé insisted the strife should be ended. He paid a visit to Fournier; he represented to him the inconvenience of the feud and the intervention of his bride. He proposed a final meeting.

A duel should be fought with pistols. Fournier, conscious of his force in that way, expressed surprise. Dupont says,

"I know this. But I have a scheme to put us on a level footing. A friend of mine has a pleasant copse, inclosed by a high wall; there are two gates--one to the north, one to the south. At noon precisely, tomorrow, you shall enter at the north gate, pistol in hand; I shall enter by the.south. Once within the corpse, each shall seek his occasion to fire."

The terms were accepted. At noon the next day they entered; the gates were closed; they advanced cautiously from thicket to thicket. At length they discovered each other, and at the same instant each took refuge behind a trunk of tree. Five minutes passed: Dupont slowly thrust his arm beyond the shelter; the bark flew, there was a quick retort, and one shot of Fournier's was lost. Five minutes more, and Dupont cautiously thrust his hat into sight: on the instant it was pierced, the ball grazing his fingers. He now marched out coolly: Fournier left his shelter, with the empty pistol in his hand--cool to the last.

Dupont took deliberate aim and pointed the pistol directly at his nemesis’s heart.

"I have your life in my hands," said Dupont.

"I give it you on this condition-that if you ever harass me, or provoke me to renew this long fight, I shall have the benefit of two shots before you fire."

The conditions were accepted; the fourteen years of duel were ended; Dupont was married; the duel was done.


Whilst the duel was at an end there is a little more to tell of Fournier-Sarlovese.... Following the Grande Armee's defeat at Leipzig and subsequent retreat he became openly insubordinate and unruly, for such actions he was stripped of his commission. That would have been the end of an eventful career but such is fate Fournier was reprieved. After Napoleon's demise and exile on St Helena the Bourban's brought him back into the army as they began the disbandment of the army. Of the Red lancer's of the Imperial Guard Fournier said "These Gentleman belonged to a corps afflicted with a troublesome prejudices". Did he perhaps forget his brother when he spoke these words, his brother had been with the Chassuers a' Chevel of the Imperial Guard?

For all his faults he was undoubtedly a brave man and carried out many daring exploits, sometimes behind enemy lines. He was not showered with decorations and financial rewards as were many other senior officers, but he was made a Baron of the Empire. In March 1819, the King wanted him to add Lugo to his name in recognition of his conduct in that town so many years before but Fournier preferred Sarlovese after a medieval hero of the Sarlat district.

He died in 1827 and the age of 53.

General François Fournier-Sarlovese
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[N]Legless Lannes
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Re: The Duel

Postby [N]Pints of Guinness » Sun Jun 20, 2010 10:39 pm

A great read! Thank you for posting that mate. I am particularly fond of the film the Duelists based upon these events. It truly captures that sense of honor and accurately recreates the ambiance of the period. However, I think it is fact not fiction which is more stirring. Still, its a great film and I highly recommend it. ... re=related
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Re: The Duel

Postby [N]Legless Lannes » Tue Jun 22, 2010 5:49 pm

Hello there Pints :greetings:

As for the veracity of this 'story' I don't know, like you I hope it's true because it's a cracking read. If I'd had a guess I would say it has some basis in truth but likely it's been garnished with some artistic license, like the ending for example.

I should state that I added the name Fournier-Sarlovese myself along with the last paragraph, in the original text the duellist is named just as Fournier. I added it because the duel is mentioned in Elting's 'Swords around a Throne' and is attributed to a Fournier-Sarlovese in a footnote, as is the sobriquet 'The Demon of the Grande Armee'.

Great nickname, he must have been some bastard :lol: named him in their list of top twenty French cavalry commanders. ... rnier.html
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Re: The Duel

Postby [N]Sloop » Thu Jul 08, 2010 1:38 am

These chaps sound like some peeps is NTW.
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