Featured on the PBS’s The History Detectives
After Napoleon Bonaparte’s final exile to the island of St. Helena, his once-unsurpassed army and loyal soldiers were left leaderless. Threatened by the victorious Bourbons, the soldiers turned to the New World as a place of refuge and hope.
Napoleon’s soldiers fled Europe and traveled across the sea to the territories of Pennsylvania, Alabama, Texas, and Louisiana. The majority of them settled in New Orleans, which proved to be an ideal haven for the exiles because of its comforting French heritage and tradition.
Although unrecognized by most of history, these soldiers have had a lasting effect on Louisiana, from influencing the preservation of the state’s Napoleonic Code to the names of countless streets. Pierre Benjamin Buisson, a lieutenant in the sixth artillery regiment in Napoleon’s army, was active as chief engineer of Louisiana, laying out streets across the state and naming them in honor of the former emperor. In this engaging study, Simone de la Souchère Deléry presents a unique look at early life in America and how Napoleon’s ex-soldiers, craftsmen, and engineers helped shaped the developing country.