Perhaps one of the enduring myths - and certainly images - of the Napoleonic army is the 'brave little drummer boy', perhaps best summed up in the somewhat saccharine painting by Lady Butler 'Steady the drums and fifes' depicting golden-haired innocent youths caught up in the hell of war. The historical reality, however, is that drummers were most definately not boys: they were grown men.
No. 3246 Piere Caron served as Tambour 1e Co., 2e Battn., 2e Regiment des Grenadiers at Waterloo. He was 23 years old. He was 1m 67cm tall, with an oval face, fair complexion, a small mouth a medium-sized nose and brown eyes. He joined the Guard as a volunteer 2 May 1815 and faught at Waterloo before deserting 18 August 1815.
No. 3526 Francois Louis Marie Bouron, was admitted to the Guard 11 May 1815 from the Voltigeur Company of the 9e de Legere. He served in 2e Co., 1e Battn., 2e Regiments des Grenadiers as Tambour at Waterloo and deserted 26 August 1815.
No. 3792 Henry Lecoux, was the son of Louis and Marie Martine Lecoux. He was 1m 66cm tall with an oval face, medium nose and grey eyes. He enlisted as a volunteer in the 3e Regiment des Tirailleurs 3 October 1809. He served in Spain 1809, 1810,1811,1812; in Saxony 1813 and in the Campaign of France (1814). He was admitted to the 1e Co., 2e Battn., 3e Regiment of Grenadiers as Tambour 10 May 1815 and was wounded in the right leg at Waterloo and taken prisoner.
No. 4091 Blaile Revol, Tambour in 3e Co., 2e Battn., 2e Regiment des Grenadiers at Waterloo was 28 years old. He had joined the army as Conscript of the 'class' of 1808 joining the 4e Regiment des Tirailleurs on 9 June 1808. He passed into the 1e Regiment des Grenadiers 12 April 1812. He served during the campaigns of 1809, 1810, 1811; was in Spain during 1812 and fought in Saxony during 1813. He was admitted to the Imperial Guard 16 May 1815, fought at Waterloo but deserted 25 August 1815.
No. 4149 Pierre Louis Jilbreul. Born 16 April 1785 at Soissons. He was 1m 72cm tall and enlisted as a volunteer in the Imperial Guard 17 May 1815, serving as Tambour "a la suite" in the 3e Regiment des Grenadiers. He had previously served from 29 March 1801 to 21 June 1813 in the 1e Regiment d'Artillerie de Marine.
No. 4756 Hypolyte Adrien served as a Tambour in the 4e Co, 2e Battn., 4e Regiment des Grenadiers. He was 19 years old - 1m 70 tall, with an oval face, blue eyes and blond hair. He had joined the army as a Pupille of the Guard 29 September 1812 as an Eleve-Tambour (Cadet or Trainee Drummer). Fought in the Campaign of France 1814 and joined the 4e Regiment des Grenadiers as a Volunteer 1 June 1815. Seventeen days later he had his right arm smashed by a gun shot wound and was never seen again.
No. 4794 Jacques Buchet, served as a Fifre (Fifer) in the 2e Co., 2e Battn., 4e Regiment des Grenadiers. He was 22 years old at Waterloo. He was conscripted into the Army on 17 February 1814 from the Ecole de Fontainebleau; admitted to the 1e Regiment des Grenadiers as Fifre 16 April 1814. Admitted into the Imperial Guard 5 June 1815; taken prisoner at Waterloo.
No. 4795. Pierre Detourbet. Was aged 25 at Waterloo where he served in 1e Co., 2e Battn., 4e Regiment des Grenadiers. He was 1m 67 tall and had been conscripted 1 November 1812 into the 2e Regiment de Ligne. Admitted to the Imperial Guard 5 June 1815 as a Fifre. He was wounded at Waterloo and taken prisoner.
No. 4817. Laurent Chaux. The Legitimate son of Louis and Elisabeth Chaux; he was 22 at Waterloo. He was 1m 6cm[sic., 60cm] tall with an oval face, grey eyes and a small mouth. He was a Carpenter's Apprentice before he was conscripted into the 8e Battn. Ouvriers de la Marine on 12 February 1810. He faught in the campaigns of 1810,1811,1812 and in Spain 1813. He was made POW in Germany 12 January 1814 and released 4 August 1814. Joined the Guard 5 June 1815 and was a Tambour in 1e Co., 2e Battn., 4e Regiment des Grenadiers. He surived Waterloo and was dismissed from the army September 1815.
No. 4876 Hypolite Pierrot was Tambour-Caporal 1e Regiment des Grenadiers. He was born 11 August 1773 in Nancy and was conscripted into the 28e de Ligne 6 September 1792; the remainder of his service history is obscure but he passed into the Veterans de la Garde in 1810 and retired from the army 30 June 1814. By trade he was a tailor and volunteered to join the Imperial Guard 7 June 1815. He deserted from the Guard Depot at Courbevoie 6 July 1815.
4359 Jean Loureau, Tambour-Caporal 4e Regiment des Grenadiers was born in Paris 13 March 1780. Enlisted in the Conscrit Grenadiers 10 June 1807 as Tambour. Passed into the 1e Tirailleurs-Grenadiers. Admitted to 2e Regiment of Grenadiers a Pied 1 July 1813; Grenadiers de France 27 May 1814; 4e Regiment des Grenadiers 23 May 1815. Awarded Legion d'Honneur 28 September 1813.
And not forgetting the Tambour-Major: No. 3700 Louis Paquin, who served as Tambour Major to the 3e Regiment des Grenadiers at Waterloo. He was 1m 85cm tall and had a large nose, a medium-sized mouth and grey eyes. He was admitted into the Guard 4 May 1815. He had been conscripted into the 23e Battn. Infanterie de la Marine 1 May 1800; Grenadier 34e de Ligne 21 October 1801; promoted Corporal 6 October 1806. Tambour Major 9 November 1809.Was taken prisoner in Spain (28 October 1811) and transported to Britain. Returned to France 24 July 1814. Admitted to the Guard (4 May 1815) in the 2e Regiment des Grenadiers, passed to the 3e Regiment 21 May 1815 as Tambour-Major.