The Prisoners of Cabrera
Napoleon's Forgotten Soldiers, 1809-1814Unknown - 2001
A Napoleonic-era version of "Survivor"--played for keeps Between 1809 and 1814, the tiny Mediterranean island of Cabrera was an unwalled prison, a bleak prisoner-of-war camp for thousands of Napoleon's conscripts and elite guards captured by Spanish armies during the Peninsular War. Defeated in battle, they were a humiliation to Napoleon; betrayed by their captors, they were denied immediate return to France. Instead the Spanish, with Britain's collusion, consigned them to the barren confines of Cabrera, where they were thrust into a virtual state of nature. Exiled with only the clothes on their backs, an unreliable supply of fresh water, no shelters, and starvation rations dropped off by supply ships, they were left to fend for themselves. Twelve thousand soldiers were sent to Cabrera, along with a remnant of camp followers, including women. A few hundred were allowed to leave in prisoner exchanges with the French, a handful managed to escape; thousands perished of disease, exposure, or malnutrition. When Napoleon was defeated in 1814, some 3,700 survivors were returned to France; their accounts became the only records of a community built on desperation, a social order created out of nothing. Historian Denis Smith draws on original documents and the memoirs of half a dozen survivors and escapees to enliven this first English-language account of Cabrera, one of the first POW prisons, and of its inhabitants' extraordinary adventures.
Publisher: Toronto : Macfarlane Walter & Ross, c2001
Branch Call Number: 940/.277/Smi 359401 1
Characteristics: xviii, 219 p. : ill
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