200-Year Napoleonic Mystery Solved by a One-Legged Skeleton

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200-Year Napoleonic Mystery Solved by a One-Legged Skeleton

 

General Charles-Etienne Gudin, a French general during the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars, was one of the favorite generals of Napoleon. It was believed that the two men attended military school together. On August 19, 1812, he was hit by a cannonball in the Battle of Valutino on Smolensk, a city west of Moscow. Reports showed that Gudin's leg was amputated due to the incident. After three days, he died. 

 

 

The French Army buried him on a site, however, the area where his remains were located was never known. Sky News, a British media and telecommunications conglomerate which delivers breaking news, headlines and top stories, reported that since then, the French general's burial place was considered lost. About 200 years later, the researchers unearthed a one-legged skeleton during a dig in Russia last July which they believed was owned by Gudin. Marina Nesterova, the head of the Franco-Russian team said, "As soon as I saw the skeleton with just one leg, I knew that we had our man." 

 

Photo Credit via SkyNews

 

After the discovery, Pierre Malinowski, head of the Foundation for the Development of Russian-French Historical Initiatives, requested to conduct a DNA test to confirm the identity of the skeleton. According to the international search expedition, the remains belonged to a man aged 40-45. Upon examining, the researchers believe that the remains are consistent with Gudin's injuries. The statement was supported by the Russian Military Historical Society.

Malinowski also requested the Russian Academy of Sciences and the authorities export some samples of the genetic material to France for research. "It's very important to me that the remains of this hero, who is very popular in France, could return to the homeland," he said. According to an article by The Local, a multi-regional, European, English-language digital news publisher, the search for Gudin's remains started in May which is funded by a Franco-Russian group. 

 

The Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris / Photo Credit via AFP / The Local FR

 

The team first followed Marshall Davout, a subordinate of Gudin. He organized the funeral of the French general. However, the trail ran cold. Thus, the researchers checked another theory by a witness of the funeral. They found pieces of a wooden casket buried under an old dance floor in the city park where they found the skeleton. 

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