The Waterloo Association: Members Area

Get Involved:

Facebook Twitter Email
The Napoleon Series > Biographies > Biographies

Research Subjects: Biographies

Emmanuel, Marquis de Grouchy, Marshal (1815)

(Born Paris, 1766 - Died Saint-Etienne, 1847)


The last one to be promoted to marshal in 1815 one of the most brilliant cavalrymen of the Empire. Forever faithful to Napoleon. Some deem him responsible for the defeat of Waterloo. Yet Grouchy was where he was expected to be.

Born of an old noble family of Normandy, Grouchy is an officer of the Bodyguards when the Revolution breaks out. He takes up the new ideas, mixes with brilliant people such as Beaumarchais, D'Alembert, Turgot, Condorcet and Cabanis the last two will also become his brothers-in-law and remains in the army.

In 1792, he is promoted to brigadier in command of the cavalry of the Alps. He is sent to Vendée. He must leave the army in 1793, following the decree excluding nobles from the army. He re-enlists as a private in the National Guard. On June 11, 1795 he is confirmed major general, rank conferred on him by the army commissioners the year before. He is chief of staff of the army of the West, and seconds Hoche in Vendée.

In late 1796, the Directory promotes him to second-in-command of the army in charge of a landing in Ireland. But he does not succeed in gaining a foothold in the country. In 1798, he joins the Army of Italy, under Joubert's command. He distinguishes himself at the battle of Novi (August 15, 1799) where, wounded fourteen times, he is finally made prisoner.

Back in France, he is put in the reserve army. Moreau requests that Grouchy be posted to his army. At the head of one of Moreau's divisions, he plays a decisive role at Hohenlinden (December 3, 1800).

General in command of a cavalry division, he takes part in the 1806 Prussian campaign : he is the first to enter Lübeck. At Eylau, on February 8, 1807, his cavalry charge is absolutely heroic. Four months later at Friedland (June 14, 1807), he again accomplishes great feats. He is sent to Spain, appointed Governor of Madrid, and takes part in the repression of May 2, 1808. In command of the cavalry of the Army of Italy, he takes part in the battle of Raab (June 14, 1809), under Prince Eugene de Beauharnais' command. At Wagram, his division of dragoons plays a decisive role.

At Borodino in 1812, his command of the 3rd cavalry corps is superb. He is in charge of covering the Grande Armée's retreat. When, at the end of the campaign, he asks to be posted to the infantry, Napoleon refuses, wishing to keep such a brilliant cavalryman. But Grouchy retires with hurt feelings. Nevertheless, he remains faithful and offers his services for the 1814 French campaign. He is put in command of the cavalry forces and distinguishes himself at Vauchamps. Napoleon promotes him to marshal, but he will only get his commission during the Hundred Days.

At Ligny (June 16, 1815) Grouchy is in command of the French cavalry. On June 17, Napoleon gives him the order to pursue Blücher at the head of two infantry corps and two cavalry corps, to prevent the junction with Wellington. The Prussian conceals his troops' movements by leaving a curtain rearguard. On June 18, Grouchy, on the road to Wavre, hears the noise of the cannon of the Mont-Saint-Jean (Waterloo) battle. He does not turn back. He has received no orders to that effect.

During the second Restoration, Grouchy takes refuge in America. He comes back to France in 1821, when Louis XVIII re-instates him, and gives him back his titles, except that of marshal. During the July Monarchy, Louis-Philippe gives him this title back and names him Peer of France. Grouchy dies in 1847.

By Artea


Biographies Index | Marshals Index ]