Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Antoine-Louis Decrest de Saint-Germain

Of noble decent, Antoine-Louis Decrest de Saint-Germain was born in Paris on 8 December 1761. In 1778, he joined the gendarmerie de Lunéville, but was expelled in 1784 for indiscipline – at which point he transferred to the Légion étrangère de Waldemer.


By 1190, he had joined the garde nationale parisienne and gained a captaincy in the cavalry the same year. At the outbreak war, he served in the Army of the North (1792) and commanded the legion des Ardennes as a lieutenant colonel in the Army of the Ardennes in 1793. However, in April 1794, his family background probably led to his arrest, but he was to escape the Guillotine and rejoined the army a year later – as colonel of 23e régiment de chasseurs à cheval.


Saint-Germain led his regiment in campaign on the Rhine and received his first recorded battle wound when a cannonball broke his right foot on 20 September 1796. Following his recuperation, he was wounded again at the battle of Wiesbaden on 22 Apr 1797, suffering a couple of fractured ribs and a broken left arm whilst leading a cavalry charge. However, he was well enough to serve under Michel Ney at the battle of Hohenlinden on 3 Dec 1800, where he had four horses killed under him over the course of two days.


In April 1805, Saint-Germain was named general of brigade and given a command in Nansouty’s 1st Heavy Cavalry Division with whom he served in he wars of the Third and Fourth Coalition. Joining the Légion d’honneur in May 1807 and made baron in January 1809, Saint-Germain led a cuirassier brigade at the battle of Aspern-Essling. He was promoted to general of division in July the same year and given command of 2e division de cuirassiers.


Here we see him represented here in 28mm as commander of 1re division de cuirassiers de la Grande Armée, a position he had gained in 1811. To his flanks are an Imperial Orderly and a senior officer of the Horse Artillery.


Saint-Germaine was wounded again leading a charge at the battle of Borodino in 1812, but recovered to participate in the battle of Hanau in 1813 as a count of the Empire and commander of 2e corps de cavalerie de la Grande Armée. 


His final field command was in 1814 during which year was part of Grouchy action that caught Blucher’s rearguard at Vauchamp. He then moved to MacDonald’s command, under whom he distinguished himself at an action at the bridges of Barse against Prince Schwarzenberg.


At the restoration in 1814, Saint-Germain was made chevalier de Saint-Louis and inspecteur-général de cavalerie and then inspecteur-général de cavalerie of 15e et 16e divisions militaires in 1818. He retired in 1826 and survived until 4 Oct 1835. The name, Saint-Germaine, is inscribed on the Arc de Triomphe.



10 comments:

  1. What a legacy to have ones name carved into the Arc De Triomphe... The pillars of French military prominence - and to think he started his career by getting expelled :0)

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    1. He deserves a fuller biography :-)

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  2. Thanks for this - lovely models and interesting bio - he was quite a soldier and cavalier!

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    1. I was happily surprised to read of his exploits too. At first, all I knew was that he had been wounded at Borodino.

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  3. Cool command and a nifty back story! I may just do this chap myself.

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  4. a really good idea to have an artillery officer on the base!!

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    1. Thanks, I was inspired by the Ney vignette.

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