Napoleon Bonaparte, conqueror of nearly all the known world in his day, met his match during a bleak Russian winter. However, he was also once assaulted by a vast horde of rabbits. Yes, bunnies.
In July of 1807, after signing the Treaties of Tilsit, he was invited by Marshall Louis-Alexandre Berthier to a hunt. Wanting to please the Emperor of the World, Berthier had ordered thousands of rabbits which were going to be used for the hunt. They were in pens when Napoleon and his compatriots were in arms, ready to pursue the forest creatures.
However, upon releasing the bunnies from all edges of an open field, they swarmed Napoleon. Thousands, most accounts say as many as 3,000, rabbits seemed to rise up in protest of their plight. Napoleon and his men, not knowing what to do, began to panic and started to beat the bunnies with riding crops, sticks and their guns. Napoleon even shot at some of them.
According to one historian:
With a finer understanding of Napoleonic strategy than most of his generals, the rabbit horde divided into two wings and poured around the flanks of the party and headed for the imperial coach.David Chandler
The desperate animals began clawing up Napoleon’s pants and onto his jacket. Some of them even jumped into the carriage he was standing next to and the only way to get rid of them was to order his men to jump in the carriage and drive away. Napoleon was throwing the rabbits out of the carriage windows as they drove away, according to legend.
The reality is that Berthier had ordered rabbits for a hunt but was given domesticated rabbits by a breeder. The rabbits, seeing only an open field with humans in it, swarmed them in hopes of being fed.