Research Subjects: Biographies


The Top Twenty French Cavalry Commanders:
#5 General Claude-Pierre Pajol

By Terry J. Senior

 

General Pajol

General Claude-Pierre Pajol

It will surprise none of the students of the period that this officer is rated so highly. The Besançon born commander possessed a great deal of talent.

He was a strict disciplinarian, very keen on appearance, a rather dapper soldier of medium height and always smartly dressed. His hair started to recede quite early and he favoured a typical cavalryman's moustache and a Montbrun like goatee beard.

Another expert horseman, he too was endowed with leadership qualities, and again able to make assessments and decisions as events on the battlefield unfolded.

Born in 1772 and enlisting in August 1791, he had a long career, which finally ended in 1842. He was present at: Spire, Maestricht, Neuwied, Pfullendorf, Stockach, Winterthur, Ulm, Guttstadt, Heilsberg, Koenigsberg, Dinzling, Schierling, Eckmuhl, Ratisbonne, Wagram, Vilna, Ochmiana, Borodino, Mojaisk, Dresden, Wachau, Ligny, and Wavre.

He took many wounds, some very bad indeed, like that at Wachau on 16 October 1813 when his horse was killed by an exploding shell, and his shattered left arm hung, almost completely severed. His battered torso was recovered after the charge, and was smothered with other severe but less serious wounds including a number of broken ribs, but he was lucky to escape with his life. By early February 1814, however, he was back in service having sufficiently recovered from his horrific injuries.

In Belgium in 1815, he commanded the 1st Cavalry Corps comprising the 4th and 5th Cavalry Divisions of Generals Pierre Soult (younger brother of le Marechal Soult) and Jacques-Gervaise Subervie, with a total of 2,536 sabres and six guns

He was an ADC to Kleber early in his career and was awarded a "sabre d'honneur" in July 1800. A General-de-Brigade in March 1807 he was decorated as Chevalier du Merite Militaire de Baviere, Chevalier de l'ordre du Lion du Baviere, General-de-Division in August 1812, Comte de l'Empire, Chevalier de Saint Louis, Grand Aigle de Legion d'Honneur, Grand Croix de la Legion d'Honneur, and Pair (Peer) de France. He detested the Bourbons and led the insurgents against Charles X in August 1830.

He was a family man and married the 18 year old Marie-Louise Oudinot, daughter of le Marechal Nicolas-Charles-Marie Oudinot and his first wife Francoise-Charlotte Derlin.  Pajol and his wife had just two children both boys, Charles-Pierre-Victor and Louis-Eugene-Leonce. They each took military careers and like their father, both became Generals.

 

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: August 2002

 

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