Thomas-Alexandre Dumas Haiku

The just rewards of

Peerless valor undone by

Little man with crown.

Thomas-Alexandre Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie (breathes) was a French Revolutionary general and father of an author you may have heard of.

Dumas was born in 1762 in Saint-Domingue to a French aristocrat and an African slave. In 1776, Pops took his boy to France for an education. Before you give him too much credit, though, know that he sold Alexandre’s mother and three sisters before leaving. When Pops wed in 1786, Alexandre took his mother’s name (Dumas) and joined a military academy.

And then, the Revolution! Dumas got hitched to Marie-Louise Labouret, an innkeeper’s daughter. He was then kept very busy – putting down riots, fathering three children, becoming a staunch Republican, fighting Austrians in the Alps, the Pyrenees, etc. He nearly became a victim of the Terror, but dragged his feet in going to Paris until Robespierre snuffed it. He wound up serving as a general in Italy under Napoleon and the two did not become BFF. Nevertheless, they wound up in Egypt.

The Egyptian campaign was goddamned miserable. If you’re expecting soldiers to march from Alexandria to Cairo, what do you need? Well, if you can’t give them rest, at least give them plenty of water and food. The troops had neither and suicide became a popular alternative to marching. Dumas made the mistake of grumbling about it with other officers. After the Battle of the Pyramids (in which he was all valorous AGAIN), Napoleon caught wind of the grumbling and threatened to shoot him. But he was apparently appeased by Dumas putting down a revolt and finding a bunch of treasure for him. Apparently.

When Dumas was finally on the way home, his ship wrecked and he wound up in France’s latest enemy, the Kingdom of Naples. The two years in custody broke him physically – half-blinded, half-deafened, half-paralyzed. Meanwhile in France, poor Marie-Louise begged Napoleon to help find her husband, to which the response was: shrug.

Dumas did finally get released, but Napoleon refused to give him either back-pay or pension. Nor did Boney pay his wife a pension after Dumas died of cancer in 1806. But his boy made good, aided a little by his aristocrat antecedents, so that’s something.

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