Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics

Armes d'Honneur Awarded to the French Cavalry 1799 - 1802

By Tony Broughton

Prior to the introduction of the Legion d'Honneur in 1803 the men of the French Army received  Armes d'Honneur in recognition of their bravery on the battlefield. The 30th July 1791 saw the abolishment of decorations and Insignia, however on 5 May 1793, they were re-introduced by the National Convention and were specifically for the battle of Jemmapes. This award took the form of a Sabre d'Honneur and had an inscription on the blade which read "La Republique Francaise a Breteche".

In 1796 Napoleon introduced the award to be given to troops who had distinguished themselves in battle whist serving with the Armee d'Italie and initially ordered ninety sabres for Grenadiers and ten for Cavalry. The blade was to be inscribed with the words

"Armee d'Italie ? Division ? Demi-Brigade et donne de la porte du Directoire Executive de la Republique Francaise par la General Bonaparte"

and on the reverse

"Republique Francaise Liberte, Egalite, (and the action it had been awarded for)"

On the 2nd February 1799 these awards were to be extended to drummers, trumpeters, and artillerymen and by a Constitutional Decree dated 13 December 1799 as Article Eighty-seven of the constitution and stated:  (loose translation)

"It as been decreed to reward soldiers of the Republique who have rendered brilliant service as a combatant for the Republic."

The Consuls amended article Eighty-seven on the 25th December 1799 to read as follows:

"The Consuls of the Republic considering Article eighty seven of the constitution which states that rewards are to be given to soldiers who have rendered brilliant service as a combatant for the Republic and wanting to rule on the fashion that these rewards will take. After having had the reports from the Minister of War it as been decided the rewards will be in ten categories. These categories to be:

1. Sabre d'Honneur
2. Fusil d'Honneur
3. Mousqueton d'Honneur
4. Carabine d'Honneur
5. Grenades d'Honneur
6. Baguettes d'Honneur
7. Trompette d'Honneur
8. Haches d'Abordage
9. Haches de Sapeur
10. Varia

Each award to be inscribed "Le 1er Consul au ? ". During the period December 1799 to 17 May 1802 a total of one thousand eight hundred and fifty-four Armes d'Honneur were awarded, of which the cavalry received three hundred and ninety-six, (this is excluding the Guard Cavalry). Below is a breakdown of the awards received by the Cavalry during this period.

Sabre d'Honneur Number Awarded

Cuirassiers: Eleven
Carabiniers: Six
Chasseurs-a-Cheval: Fifty-seven
Dragons: Forty-five
Hussards: Twenty-four
Regiment de Cavalerie: Sixteen

Carabines d'Honneur Number Awarded

Cuirassiers: Six
Carabiniers: Two
Chasseurs-a-Cheval: Eleven
Dragons: Nine
Hussards: Six
Regiments de Cavalerie Seven

Mousquetons d'Honneur Number Awarded

Cuirassiers: Seven
Carabiniers: Seven
Chasseurs-a-Cheval: Fifty-three
Dragons: Twenty-one
Hussards: Thirty
Regiments de Cavalerie: Eleven

Fusils d'Honneur Number Awarded

Cuirassiers: None
Carabiniers: None
Chasseurs-a-Cheval: Two
Dragons: Forty-five
Hussards: Three
Regiments de Cavalerie: Two

Pistolets d'Honneur Number Awarded

Cuirassiers: None
Carabiniers: None
Chasseurs-a-Cheval: None
Dragons: One
Hussards: None
Regiments de Cavalerie: None

Trompettes d'Honneur Number Awarded

Cuirassiers: One
Carabiniers: One
Chasseurs-a-Cheval: Three
Dragons: One
Hussards: Three
Regiments de Cavalerie: Two

 A further breakdown is the number of awards received by rank is:

Chef de Escadron: Eight
Capitaine-Adjutant-Major: One
Capitaines: Fourteen
Lieutenants: Seven
Sous-Lieutenants: Twenty
Adjutant-Sous-Officier: Ten
Marechal des Logis Chefs: Three
Marechal des Logis: One hundred and thirty-one
Brigadiers: Sixty-nine
Sapeurs: Two
Fouriers: One
Trompette-Major: One
Brigadier-Trompette: One
Trompettes:  Eleven
Soldats: One hundred and twenty

The Armes d'Honneur award was as coveted as the Legion d'Honneur and below is a list of the soldiers who received  the award. It should be noted that two of these men unfortunately do not have the actual award they received, I have as yet not been able to locate any information on these two.

Bibliography

Pascal, Adrien. Histoire de l'Armee et de tous les Regiments  Paris 1850 (four volumes)

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: February 2002

 

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