Military Subjects: Battles & Campaigns


 


French Order-of-Battle at Wavre: 18 June 1815

By Stephen Millar


There is not a lot of specific online information about the Battle of Wavre, most probably because the more-influential Battle of Waterloo occurred the same day. Most websites will present an Order-of-Battle for Napoleon’s entire L’Armee du Nord at the beginning of the Waterloo Campaign, forcing the student/researcher/war-gamer to determine which units and commanders were on each battlefield – and in what strength. The total numerical strength of Marshal Emmanuel, Marquis de Grouchy’s detachment is usually stated at around 33,000 men.

Surnames of French officers during the Napoleonic Wars can cause inexperienced researchers great difficulties. For example: Colonel Jean-Baptiste Bouquerot des Essarts’ surname is “Bouquerot des Essarts,” not “des Essarts.” Also, some officers are better-known under another surname – for example, General-de-Brigade Jean-Baptiste Breton [dit Berton].

There were a number of related commanders in La Grande Armee – such as the Colbert brothers – as well as officers sharing the same common surname and/or title. General-de-Division Teste’s 21st Division in the Wavre Order-of-Battle has an excellent example: is the full name of the 1st Infantry Brigade commander General-de-Brigade Justin, Baron Lafitte (1772-1832) or General-de-Brigade Michel-Pascal, Baron Lafitte (1774-1839)? Both men were promoted to general officer in early 1813 and held the title of Baron. The correct commander appears to be Michel-Pascal (who commanded the 72nd Line Regiment from 1808 to 1813). Justin had been a cavalry officer in the 18th Dragoon Regiment from 1806 to1811. Some less-detailed web-sites fail to make this distinction.

The complete name of General-de-Brigade Baron Billard (1st Infantry Brigade commander in General-de-Division Lefol’s 8 Infantry Division) is unclear. This general was killed on 15 June 1815, so he can not be General-de-Brigade Pierre-Joseph, Baron Billard -- who died 28 April 1855. I have not found any online references able to shed light on this mystery, apart from a reference saying the incident was apparently a non-combat death (he fell from his horse). His name has also been spelled Billiard in some sources.


French Right Wing: 62 battalions, 49 squadrons and 96 guns

Grouchy, Marshal Emmanuel, Marquis de

 

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: June 2004

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