Two places to the east of Toulouse are known as le cimitière des anglais, or the English cemetery. The question is, are any Englishmen buried there?
This story follows on from my previous post about the Battle of Toulouse, fought on 10 April 1814 between the armies of Wellington and Soult. In that post, I explained that Wellington’s allied army included troops from all corners of the British Isles, several German cavalry regiments and a large number of Spanish and Portuguese units.
The retreat along the Canal du Midi
The day after the battle, Marshal Soult and his army retreated along the south bank of the Canal du Midi. The allies were scouting the hills to the north, so Soult’s engineers blew up the bridges along the canal to keep them at a safe distance. The French planned to cross the canal at Baziège and follow the old Roman road towards Castelnaudary. To protect this crossing point, Soult posted infantry and cavalry units in the hills above Baziège to stop the allies attacking the long column of his retreating army.
The Battle of Baziège
A detachment from the French 75th infantry regiment took up a position in the grounds of the Château de Lamothe, two kilometres north-east of Baziège. Four hundred metres to the north-east of the château stands the chapel of Sainte-Colombe, and inside its porch is a brief account of a cavalry clash that took place in the surrounding fields on 12 April 1814. At the end of it, 25 French and 52 allied cavalrymen lay dead.
The account in the chapel’s porch claims the allied dead came from the 5th dragoons, a British regiment. My own research suggests they came from a brigade that comprised an Anglo-Irish regiment (the 18th hussars) and the 1st hussars of the King’s German Legion. This cimitière des anglais is unlikely to be filled with Englishmen, although there may be few.
Le cimitière des anglais? Le cimitière des irlandais? Le cimitière des allemands? No one knows for sure.