Battle of Camerone

Battle of Camerone, Captain Jean Danjou and its wooden hand

The Battle of Camerone is the greatest symbol of the French Foreign Legion. It is a sample illustration of bravery and determination of fighting to the death.

On April 30, 1863, a small Legion unit led by Captain Jean Danjou was protecting the French convoy as a part of the French intervention in Mexico. Near the Mexican village of Camerone, these 62 men and three officers were attacked and besieged by a force that have reached almost 2,000 Mexican infantry and cavalry. Captain Jean Danjou, his legionnaires and two officers (Lt Maudet and Lt Vilain) held out in an old hacienda. When the Mexican commander demanded the surrender of Danjou and his legionnaires, Danjou replied: “We have munitions. We will not surrender” and swore to fight to the death. Nearly all were killed, including Cpt. Jean Danjou. The last five legionnaires had fought until their ammunition ran out, then decided to charge with fixed bayonets. When they did, the Mexican commander ordered his troops to cease fire and spared the surviving legionnaiers. He also allowed them to form an honour guard for the body of Captain Danjou.

Captain Jean Danjou had lost a hand in Algeria some years before and wore a wooden hand to replace it. His wooden hand was brought back to France. Today, the wooden hand of Captain Jean Danjou is paraded annually on April 30, Camerone Day.