Battle of Camarón occurred on 30 April 1863,
between the French Foreign
Legion and the Mexican army.
In this battle the French Foreign
made its legend. A small infantry
patrol led by Captain Jean Danjou, Lt
Maudet and Lt Vilain, numbering 62 soldiers and 3 officers was
attacked and besieged by a force that may have eventually reached
2,000  Mexican infantry and cavalry, and was
forced to make a defensive stand at the nearby Hacienda Camarón, in Camarón de
Tejeda, Veracruz, Mexico.
As part of
the French intervention in
Mexico, a French army commanded by the Count of Lorencez, was besieging the
Mexican city of Puebla.
Fearing a logistical shortage, the French sent a convoy with 3
, matériel, and munitions for
the siege. The French Foreign Legion detachment was charged with
protecting the convoy, and Captain
was assigned the 3rd company of the Foreign Regiment. As
the company had no officers, Captain Danjou assumed command.
On the 30 April, at 1 a.m., the 3rd company — 62 soldiers and 3
officers — was en route. At 7 a.m., after a 15-mile march, they
stopped at Palo Verde
to rest and
"prepare the coffee". Soon after, a Mexican Army force of 600
cavalry was sighted. Captain Danjou ordered the company take up a
, and, though
retreating, he rebuffed several cavalry charges, inflicting the
first heavy losses on the Mexican army that suffered from the
French long range rifle.
Seeking a more defensible position, Danjou made a stand at the
nearby Hacienda Camarón, an inn protected by a 3-metre-high-wall.
His plan was to occupy Mexican forces to prevent attacks against
the nearby convoy. While his legionnaires prepared to defend the
inn, the Mexican commander, Colonel Milan, demanded that Danjou and
soldiers surrender, noting the Mexican Army's numeric superiority.
Danjou replied: "We have munitions. We will not surrender." He then
swore to fight to the death, an oath which was seconded by the
Around 11 a.m. the Mexicans were increased in size by the arrival
of 1,200 infantry. The Hacienda took fire but the French had lost
all water early in the morning when pack mule were lost during the
At noon, Captain Danjou was shot in the chest and died; his
soldiers continued fighting despite overwhelming odds under the
command of an inspired 2nd Lt. Vilain, who held for four hours
before falling during an assault.
At 5 p.m only 12 Légionnaires remain around 2nd Lt. Maudet.
Soonafter, with ammunition exhausted, the last of Danjou's
soldiers, numbering only five under the command of Lt. Maudet,
desperately mounted a bayonet
men died outright, while the rest continued the assault. The tiny
group was surrounded and beaten to the earth. Colonel Milan,
commander of the Mexicans, managed to prevent his men from ripping
the surviving legionnaires to pieces. When the last two survivors
were asked to surrender, they insisted that Mexican soldiers allow
them safe passage home, to keep their arms, and to escort the body
of Captain Danjou. To that, the Mexican commander commented, "What
can I refuse to such men? No, these are not men, they are devils,"
and, out of respect, agreed to these terms.
Order of battle (French)
Officers : Capitaine Danjou, Sous-Lieutenant Maudet et
NCO : Sergent Major Tonel, Sergents Germeys, Morzycki, Palmaert et
Corporals: Berg, Delcaretto, Favas, Magnin, Maine et
Légionnaires : Baas, Bernardo, Bertolotto, Billod, Bogucki,
Brunswick, Burgiser, Cathenhusen, Catteau, Conrad, Constantin,
Dael, Daglincks, Dicken, De Vries, Dubois, Friedrich, Fritz,
Fursbaz, Gaertner, Gorski, Groux, Haller, Hipp, Jeannin, Konrad,
Kurz, Kunassec, Langmeier, Lemmer, Leonard, Lernoud, Merlet,
Rerbers, Reuss, Rohr, Schreiblich, Schifer, Seffrin, Seger, Seiler,
Timmermans, Van Den Bulcke, Van Den Meersche, Vandesavel, Van
Opstal, Verjus, Wensel, Wittgens et Zey
Thanks to the heroic stand of the Foreign Legion, the French supply
convoy made it safely to Puebla. The Mexicans failed to relieve the
siege and the city fell on May 17
Today "Camerone Day" is an important day for the Legionnaires, when
the wooden prosthetic hand of Capitaine Danjou is brought out for
display and veneration in special ceremonies at the Legion
headquarters at Aubagne, France. That day officers prepare the
coffee for their men to celebrate the one they didn't have time to
drink before the battle.
After hearing of the battle, French Emperor
had the name
embroidered onto the flag of the Foreign
In 1892, a monument commemorating the battle was erected on the
battlefield containing a plaque with the following inscription in
French :"They were here less than sixty opposed to a whole army.
Its mass crushed them. Life rather than bravery gave up these
French soldiers at Camerone on 30 April 1863. In memory of them,
the fatherland has erected this monument".
Visiting The Site of the Battle
The site of the battle can be visited at the village of Camarón de
Tejeda, in the state of Veracruz, Mexico. This village was formerly
known as El Camarón, and later as Adalberto Tejeda, Villa Tejeda or
Camarón de Tejeda.
In the village is a monument erected by the Mexican government in
1964 honoring the Mexican soldiers who fought in the battle. There
is also a memorial site and parade ground on the outskirts of the
village. The memorial has a raised platform, which covers the
resting place of the remains of French and Mexican soldiers
disinterred in the 1960’s. The surface of the platform has a plaque
in Latin. Diligent search of the area has failed to locate the
plaque with the oft quoted 1892 French language inscription
referred to above. (See cited References below for description and
photos of the monuments and memorials).
Every year on 30 April the Mexican government holds annual
ceremonies at the memorial site, with political speakers and a
parade of various Mexican military units. The village holds a
fiesta on the same day. The ceremonies are sometimes attended by
representatives of the French military, and the site is also
visited by retired veterans of the French Foreign Legion. (See
cited References below for description and photos of the
The village of Adalberto Tejeda (also known as Villa Tejeda,
Camarón de Tejeda, or simply El Camarón) is located on secondary
roads about 25 to 30 km west of the town of Soledad de Doblado,
Veracruz, and about 64 km. west of the city of Veracruz. The 1964
monument is in the center of town. The memorial and parade ground,
known as El Mausoleo (the Mausoleum
), is a
few blocks away on the edge of the village, near the town cemetery.
The coordinates of the village of Adalberto Tejeda are Lat.
19.0216°; Long. -96.6154.
- Brunon, Jean. Camerone. Paris, Editions France,
- Patay, Max. Camerone 1863. Paris, Socomer editions,
- Ryan, James W. Camerone. The French Foreign
Legion's Greatest Battle. Westport, Conn., Praeger, 1996.
Reference with photos and desriptive narrative relating to visiting
the site of the battle: