After the Battle of Waterloo, commanding the last of the Old Guard, Pierre Cambronne was summoned to surrender by General Colville. A journalist named Rougement reported Cambronne’s reply as “La garde meurt et ne se rend pas !” (“The Guard dies and does not surrender!”). These words became famous and were put on a Cambronne statue in Nantes after his death.
However, Cambronne always denied that he had made the “The Guard dies …” statement. His reply, according to other sources, was the much more direct “Merde!” (“Shit!”, figuratively, “Go to hell”), which he also denied having said. This version of the reply became famous in its own right, becoming known as le mot de Cambronne (“the word of Cambronne”)