He Lost His Head
The following is a prefatory comment to a 1936 paper by General J.F.C. Fuller, "Generalship--It's Diseases and Their Cure," found online at the Command and General Staff College Library. It is an excellent read.
"IN the summer of 1921 I was lunching at the Restaurant la Rue with the Deputy Chief of the French General Staff when he told me the following story:
At the battle of Waterloo, Colonel Clement, an infantry commander, fought with the most conspicuous bravery; but unfortunately was shot through the head. Napoleon, hearing of his gallantry and misfortune, gave instructions for him to be carried into a farm where Larrey the surgeon-general was operating.
One glance convinced Larrey that his case was desperate, so taking up a saw he removed the top of his skull and placed his brains on the table.
Just as he had finished, in rushed an aide-de-camp, shouting - 'Is General Clement here?'
Clement, hearing him, sat up and exclaimed: 'No! but Colonel Clement is.'
"Oh, mon général' cried the aide-decamp, embracing him, 'the Emperor was overwhelmed when we heard of your gallantry, and has promoted you on the field of battle to the rank of General.'
Clement rubbed his eyes, got off the table, clapped the top of his skull on his head and was about to leave the farm, when Larrey shouted after him: 'Mon général - your brains!' To which the gallant Frenchman, increasing his speed, shouted back: 'Now that I am a general I shall no longer require them!' "
In this modest study my object is to prove, that though Clement was wrong about his brains, without his courage there can be no true generalship.