Monument des Marie-Louise – Ferme de Hurtebise
The Monument des Marie-Louise stands by the Ferme d’Hurtebise, a farm that once depended from the old Cistercian abbey of Vauclair.
Maxime Real del Sarte sculpted the Monument des Marie-Louise, in order to commemorate the Battles of 1814 and 1914 that took place near Craonne.
The monument represents two young soldiers, a Marie-Louise (young soldier of the Napoleonic armies named so in honour of the Empress) and a Bleu of the Great War.
That said, the dedication is incorrect as the young soldiers of the Class 14, who were twenty years old in 1914, were nicknamed Biquets.
Bleus was the nickname given to those of the Class 16, and Bleuets (Cornflowers) to the Class 17.
We can only presume that Bleu (Blue) sounded better than Biquet (Kid).
The dedication engraved on the Monument des Marie-Louise reads:
1814-1914 – A la Vaillance de la Jeunesse Française – Marie-Louise de 1814 – Bleus de 1914 unis dans une même Gloire”
“To the Bravery of the French Youth – Marie-Louise of 1814 – Bleus of 1914 united in the same Glory”
The Ferme d’Hurtebise stands at the intersection of Chemin des Dames (D18CD) and Route Départementale D886.
This spot was also right in the centre of the two Battles of Craonne that took place a century apart.
Battle of Craonne of 1814
A ceremony was held on the site on March 7, 1914 in order to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the victory of the Battle of Craonne.
Napoleon I spent the night in the Ferme de Hurtebise on the eve of the battle.
This battle was the Emperor’s last victory.
However, the casualties were very high.
Indeed, 5400 soldiers of the Napoleonic armies and 5000 Coalition soldiers were killed.
Napoleon followed the development of the battle from the Moulin de Vauclair.
The windmill stood on the heights of the village of Craonne, to the east of the farm.
Craonne was transformed into a huge battlefield hospital in order to treat the thousands of injured.
The mill was destroyed during WWI; a statue representing Napoleon I was erected on its site on June 30, 1974.
Battle of Craonne of 1914
The Ferme d’Hurtebise was once more the epicenter of deadly attacks that took place from September 1914 to the assault of April 16, 1917, the offensive Nivelle.
It was during this tragic failed offensive that the 10th Division of the Colonial Infantry (composed of the 33th, 52nd and 53rd Colonial Infantry Regiments, the latter two made of Senegalese Battalions) fought in the Hurtebise sector.
Losses among the Forces Coloniales Sénégalaises were astronomical.
Sadly, the farm was once more at the center of a deadly attack on May 20, 1940, when the German armored divisions surrounded and attacked the convoy of the French 4eme Division Cuirassée.
Two commemorative slabs were later affixed on the walls of the Ferme d’Hurtebise in order to pay tribute to all these men.
Finally a slab commemorating the bicentenary of the Battle of Craonne of 1814 was laid on March 9, 2014 near the ruins of the church of Vieux Craonne.
The village was completely eradicated during WWI and kept in its war state (Vieux Craonne).
The ‘new’ village of Craonne was rebuilt next to it.
Here are the official links to the WWI 100th Anniversary Commemorations:
Mission Centenaire 14-18 in English
Directions: Picardie region – Aisne department – Crossroads Chemin des Dames -D18CD – D886
Coordinates Monument des Marie-Louise: Lat 49.441084 – Long 3.737885