Thanks to the unpublished testimony of Jean-François Cowez, we are entering great history through a back door that a young soldier of the First Empire opened a crack. He tells us many anecdotes that throughout his manuscript reflect a life of more days of suffering than hours of glory. To be convinced of this, it suffices to imagine the ordeal that could have been at the time his permanent search for food, a roof to sleep in and estimate the number of shoes he used on the roads of 'Europe during endless marches. Cowez indeed took part in the 1809 campaign in Austria and Germany, then that in Spain and Portugal from 1810 to 1813. Captured in August 1813, he then shares with us his daily life as a prisoner on an English pontoon through a story. as exciting as it is rare. Repatriated to Brest in June 1814, he witnessed the return of the Emperor the following year. He ended his military career on the battlefield of Ligny before returning to civilian life in his village in Belgium.