Napoleon’s Buttons – The Disintegrating Tin Buttons

I just started reading Napoleon’s Buttons, a book I’m reading for school in 8th Grade. It’s about an interesting thing that happened to Napoleon’s Grand Armée, and that’s where the buttons come in. All the buttons on all the soldiers were made of tin, and when tin gets cold, it starts to disintegrate. This book says that all the buttons on the soldiers in the wintertime disintegrated, and that they all looked like they were “beggars wearing rags”. Now, no one knows if this is true, but I think not, as Wikipedia says “None of the many survivor’s tales mentions problems with buttons”. Although this tin disintegration, or “Tin Pest”, as officially called, is an interesting uh, phenomenon? I guess? , I doubt it actually happened. What I’m really wondering is what the 370 page book is going to tell me about it….

Tin Pest is a cool thing, I kinda want to witness it myself. Apparently, as Wikipedia says, a long time ago in Europe, tin pipe organs in the church started decomposing due to tin pest, and once started, the process only accelerated. I hope I’ll get to experiment one day with tin, because I will definitely try this!

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