Sunday, September 20, 2009

The butler (almost) did it

The largest contingent of those attached to the expedition to establish the Peruvian town of Caballococha were from Germany. Most left Germany of their own accord to start a new life, some it seems had other reasons for leaving.

During his entire time in Peru, Henri who travelled in style, had a young German, August Forgens, assigned to him to carry some of his possessions, help him set up his elaborate tent when they arrived at a new village and to also help him entertain guests. It seems Henri's accommodations were quite upscale given the circumstances, and Henri would invite different members of the expedition to dine or have a cordial with him in the evening.

Just before Henri left the expedition to travel on to Brazil he was informed by a compatriot of Forgens that August had been implicated in an attempted assassination of General Karl Wilhelm von Willisen, Supreme Commander of the forces of the German Confederation. Most of the men who were on the expedition were former military men and if the story is accurate, Forgens may have been motivated by the defeat of the Schleswig-Holstein troops under the command of von Willisen at the hands of Denmark during the Battle of Isted in 1850. The defeat was highly demoralizing and effectively broke the back of the Schleswig-Holstein army.

General Karl Wilhelm von Willisen

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