Incognito prisoner of war haunts garden...

recouperating enemy Admiral nurses his wounds at Bath

Jacobin in a wheelchair

In the summer of 1806, as war with France entered its fourteenth year still unresolved, a wounded French officer began moving incognito amongst Garden regulars. He was Admiral Charles-Alexandre Linois and he had been a prisoner of the British since his capture of his flagship, the Marengo, in the Atlantic in March. Sent by Napoleon to harrass British shipping and capture trade convoys in the Indian Ocean three years earlier, Linois was finally caught as he made his way back to France with one accompaying frigate and came uexpectedly upon what he assumed to be a vulnerable merchant convoy. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a Sir John Borlais Warren with a seven-ship British Naval squadron of formidable strength and Linois was quickly defeated after a bloody encounter that left 70 French sailors dead and Linois himself wounded.

sea battle

The Marengo, with three masts down and taking in huge amounts of water, was claimed as a prize by Warren and taken, not without difficulty, back the Britain. Linois was made a prisoner of war and taken to the French prison at Stapleton near Bristol where he was treated for his wounds. He ended up staying there until the end of the war in 1814 in fact because Napoleon, who blamed him for the failure of the entire Indian expedition, declined the opportuity to bring him home in a prisoner exchange. So in August 1806, presumably unable to walk, and on the recommendation of the surgeons treating him at Stapleton, Linois was noted to have 'frequented Sydney Garden for some days past, unknown, in a wheel chair, attended by a black servant'. What he thought of the Gardens' penchant for recreating British Naval victories in tableaux at royal galas is not recorded...

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