Quote: A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon (attrib Napoleon)

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu Aug 23 23:07:58 UTC 2012

Perhaps Jon Lighter or another list member can help with a quotation
attributed to Napoleon that I have been asked to explore. Here is an
instance in a book of military quotations of variable accuracy:

Cite: 1966, "Dictionary of Military and Naval Quotations" edited by
Robert Debs Heinl, Category: Awards, Quote Page 22, Column 2, United
States Naval Institute, Annapolis, Maryland. (Verified on paper)
[Begin excerpt]
A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.
Napoleon I: To the Captain, HMS Bellerophon, 15 July 1815
[End excerpt]

I have not performed many searches yet. Here is a similar type of
quotation many years after the death of Napoleon.

Cite: 1916, Potential Russia by Richard Washburn Child, Quote Page 6,
E. P. Dutton and Company, New York. (Google Books full view)
[Begin excerpt]
And whether we would prefer to believe it or not, war teaches man that
he is willing to die for a bit of colored ribbon, if he believes,
rightly or wrongly, that that bit of ribbon represents the good of his
[End excerpt]

The Legion of Honour was established by Napoleon Bonaparte. H. G.
Wells writing in "The Outline of History" referred to Napoleon and
bits of ribbon.

Cite: 1921, The Outline of History: Being a Plain History of Life and
Mankind by H. G, Wells, Edition 3, Section: The Career of Napoleon
Bonaparte, Quote Page 900, The MacMillan Company, New York. (Google
Books full view)
[Begin excerpt]
Another great achievement which marks his imaginative scope and his
estimate of human nature was the institution of the Legion of Honour,
a scheme for decorating Frenchmen with bits of ribbon which was
admirably calculated to divert ambitious men from subversive
[End excerpt]


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list