Reviews: Periodicals

La Patience

Dion-Valont, BE: Bernard Coppens, 1999.

The bulletin "La Patience" no.10 is a true "one-man effort" devoted to many different topics related to the Revolutionary and Imperial period. It is now composed of the following parts:

"Messidor An 7:" the events of the month of Messidor An 7 - i.e. from the 19th June to the 19th July 1799 as related in the newspapers of the time. These are eight pages of odds and ends picked up by Bernard Coppens. This goes from the mundane (a shopkeeper fined for opening her business the day of the "ci-devant" Sunday) to "grand" history as related to the campaigns in Switzerland.

"La Patience-Document:" This part gives excerpts of La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt's "Voyage dans les Etats-Unis d'Amérique 1795-1797."

"La Patience-Reconstitution:" four pages focused on reenactment and offers articles on the greatcoat (including a small-scale pattern), the "soupe du soldat" (not exactly "haute cuisine!"), music and dental hygiene! All in all, a fun grouping of information which I greatly enjoyed.

And another four pages answering various questions related to past issues.

The plate featured is related to the Tirailleurs-Grenadiers de la Garde Impériale in 1809. Obviously this is the main feature of La Patience and I must say that given the topic, I feel quite happy with it. The middle and young guard infantry regiments are without a doubt the least known and documented. As usual Bernard Coppens has done a very good job at pulling together thorough references and sources, as much as possible from primary sources (Histoire de lıEx-Garde, SHAT archives, and the usual Fallou and Rousselot thrown in for good measure). The plate itself is slick showing off a line of soldiers, officers, and a drummer at the ready.

In a departure from the usual single plate approach, another one is enclosed this time a reproduction of a period illustration featuring a civilian womanıs "capote anglaise" (a dress...and not what fluent French speakers amongst you might believe it to be).

Finally the real "treat" of this bulletin is a follow-up to Coppens/Courcelle's Waterloo series. In 12 pages, mixing both contemporary testimonials and the results of his own research, Bernard Coppens summarizes what heıs discovered on this battle. The least one can say is that his views are iconoclastic. The Hougoumont booklet had already aimed at explaining how little the French staff seemed to have understood what lay beyond the Hougoumont woods and had sent Reille's corps unknowingly to attack a well-defended building. This analysis is retold here, but to that, Bernard Coppens adds the fact that most probably Napoleon and his staff, given a misinterpretation of the existing maps, had probably misplaced the Allied troops and believed that La Haie Sainte was the farm of Mont Saint Jean. This may seem a somewhat hasty conclusion, but Coppens does provide evidence to his statement. Of course, itıs all debatable, and it will be argued against...but this does show that the infamous Battle of Waterloo is still alive and kicking despite what all soothsayers might profess.

So, what do I think of this bulletin? At 50 FF ($8-$9 in 1999), I do find it quite enjoyable and very good value for money. Bernard Coppens delivers on an irregular basis (a con) and excellent professional product (a pro). Itıs a pleasant "pot-luck" written by a passionate historian-artist for other passionate hobbyists (like me). The uniform plate in itself is worth it, and if youıre fluent in French youıll probably get a kick out of the dental hygiene article or snippets from Messidor An 7.

Now, the main drawback: this is produced by Bernard Coppens all by himself - this does imply there will be delays (and thus the irregularity of publication), so be prepared to be patient. But I sincerely hope he captures more readers, as there is little of this kind of quality information being published.

The address for "La Patience" in case you wish to get hold of this bulletin or previous issues (and plates) is:

Bernard Coppens
24, chaussée de Huy
1325 Dion-Valmont

Reviewed by Yves Martin


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