Period glossary : 29
The word 'grog' (which first appeared in English in the mid-eighteenth century) is an abbreviation of the mid-sixteenth century word 'Grosgram' (itself a corruption of the French expression 'gros grain', literally 'coarse grain cloth'). 'Old Grog' was the name given to Admiral Vernon (1684-1757), famed for his bold taking of Porto Bello (Panama) from the […]
On being hit by a sniper's bullet at 1:25pm on 21 October, 1805, Nelson collapsed on to the deck of Victory. He was carried below deck to be tended by distraught shipmen and Captain Thomas Masterman Hardy (1769-1839), an old friend of Nelson's. Just before the admiral died, he called Hardy and famously requested an […]
The name “Johnny Crapaud” was used by English sailors during the Napoleonic wars to designate a Frenchman. The ancient Flemings used to call the French “Crapaud Franchos,” in allusion to the toads borne originally in the arms of France. (Source: Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 1898)
In the 19th century, trenchwork or defensive dugouts were referred to as lines. Hence the huge complex of forts, ditches, inundations and other obstacles built by Wellington in 1809 just behind Lisbon were known as the 'Lines of Torres Vedras'.
ExpressionMan of December
Nickname for Napoleon III. He was made President of the French Republic December 11, 1848; made his coup d'état December 2, 1851; and was made Emperor December 2, 1852.(E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898) The term/criticism was invented by Victor Hugo in the poem Châtiments published in 1853. This criticism was then […]
ExpressionMan of Sedan
and, by a pun, M. Sedantaire (Mr. Sedentary) Nicname for Napoleon III. [He] was so called, because he surrendered his sword to William, King of Prussia, after the battle of Sedan (September 2, 1870). (E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898) Napoleon III was the subject of a number of […]
ExpressionMan of Silence
Nickname for Napoleon III, [due to] his great taciturnity. (E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898) This is a German expression, still used, coined by Oskar Meding in a book about the German war which ended with the battle of Sadowa in 1866. For Sceptre and Crown, written under the pseudonym Gregor […]
The 'darned Mounseer' of Gilbert and Sullivan fame was British Navy slang for Frenchmen, itself a corruption of 'Monsieur'.
Founded long before the Napoleonic wars, the Impress service came into high profile during the wars with Revolutionary France. The word impress was derived from the old French word 'prest', modern 'prêt' or loan/advance, in other words, each man 'impressed' received the loan of a 'shilling' (that is he paid the 'King's shilling' to enlist) […]
A harum-scarum fellow, a madcap (Dutch, randten, to be in a state of idiotcy or insanity, and pole, a head or person). The late Emperor Napoleon III. was called Rantipole, for his escapades at Strasbourg and Boulogne. In 1852 I myself saw a man commanded by the police to leave Paris within twenty-four hours for […]