From 1907 onwards, Napoleonic drums began to emerge as part of the imperial epic. With the development of the recording industry, they became very popular and became part of history. The origins of the myth lie in the meeting between Édouard Philippe and Charles Gourdin, drum major of the Republican Guard. The First World War, followed by the advent of cinema, contributed to its development, especially since the orderly drum had been reformed. Although regularly recorded and used in re-enactments, historians have shown little interest in these sound signals. Yet they were essential to the functioning of the armies. Based on little-known documents, two researchers have worked on these elements, which ultimately embellish Napoleon’s history.
Thierry Bouzard has a doctorate in history and teaches the history of military music at the Commandement des musiques de l’armée de terre (COMMAT, Satory). His publications include Histoire des signaux d’ordonnance, L’Harmattan, 2021.
► See the full programme for the second-half 2023 session of Napoleonica® les conférences [the talks]