Napoleon’s Rabbits

In July 1807, Napoleon Bonaparte signed the Treaty of Tilsit, officially ending the war between the French Empire and Imperial Russia. Ever the sportsman, Napoleon decided that the signers and their men needed to celebrate the treaty. Therefore, he proposed a rabbit hunt.

Alexandre Berthier, Napoleon’s chief of staff, was put in charge of the event. On the day of the hunt, he got rabbits and placed them in cages along the edges of a massive field. When Napoleon and others arrived, the rabbits were released, and the hunt began. However, instead of the rabbits hopping away into the forest, they ran toward Napoleon and his men.

As one can suspect, the men involved in the hunt initially found it funny. However, three thousand rabbits running at you at once can be a terrifying prospect, and their laughter was soon replaced by fear. They tried in vain to force the rabbits back, but they kept coming and coming. Napoleon and his men were outnumbered.

The rabbit’s barrage only ended when Napoleon and his carriage left the scene. But that only happened once many of the rabbits had already jumped into the carriage.

As it turns out, these rabbits were not wild rabbits. Instead, what was collected were all tame rabbits raised by farmers. Therefore, they were not afraid of people and ran toward them, most likely thinking that the humans had carrots for them.[1]

[1] “Napoleon and the Battle of Rabbits – Telangana Today,” Telangana Today, October 20, 2020,


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