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Forget Waterloo, Napoleon’s greatest defeat was at the hands of a horde of bunny rabbits.
But why did the rabbits attack instead of run away? Well, there’s a very good reason for it, and it’s all Berthier’s fault.
Napoleon asked his Chief of Staff Alexandre Berthier to arrange a hunt to celebrate the treaty.
But Berthier had grander plans than chasing a few bunnies around the countryside. He had plans for a massacre, and his plans were to come back and bite him, well actually bite Napoleon on the rear.
Now at this point, this is where many versions of this event begin to differ. Berthier started collecting rabbits for the big hunt.
But he wasn’t content with a few dozen; he wanted it to be a memorable occasion. Most accounts of the event say that he collected between several hundred and 3000 rabbits.
t would appear as though he had a greater fondness for rabbits than Mel Blanc. In any event, we can say it was a lot of rabbits, and he certainly went overboard.

Now placing the blame on a horde of marauding ravenous rabbits on one man seems a little far fetched, as well as unfair. But once you dig into it a bit the blame is easy to place. To put it bluntly, Berthier was lazy. Instead of seeking out and collecting wild rabbits for the chase, he approached local farmers for their farm rabbits. Rabbits that were tame.
Unlike wild rabbits that would run away, these farm rabbits had no reason to fear people, and saw Napoleon and his men as a food source, just like the farmers they were bought from. So in essence, Napoleon had no real reason to fear the rabbits. They just wanted a feed
. But the sheer numbers would have been bewildering, to say the least Berthier placed his bounty of caged bunnies on the edge of an open grassy field. Once the emperor and his contingent of hunters were ready, they were released.
But something unexpected happened. Instead of scurrying away, they charged at their aggressors like a pack of fierce lions.
The hunters had become the hunted. At first, Napoleon and his men thought it was quite funny, and laughed. But their humor soon gave way to bewilderment and concern as the rabbits continued to storm the little emperor. Before long, the horde of had completely swamped Napoleon’s legs and even started to climb his jacket. The emperor and his men tried in vain to repel the onslaught.
They tried beating them with crops, sticks and even muskets, but the rabbits continued to attack. Napoleon even tried shooting them, but he and his men were severely outnumbered.
Knowing it was a battle he could not win, Napoleon hastened his retreat. Napoleon withdrew to what he thought would be the safety of his carriage. But he was wrong.
They continued to attack his with the same fervour as the revolutionaries that storm the Bastille. Napoleon was besieged and surrounded.
They even began to breach the safety of his carriage. A full-scale retreat from the field of battle was his only option. Once he began to leave the bunnies ceased their attack.