II Corps (Grande Armée)

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II Corps (Grande Armée)

2ndcorps augsburg.jpg

The II Corps at Augsburg during the Ulm Campaign
Active 18051815
Country Flag of France.svg First French Empire
Branch Army
Type Army Corps
Size Two to four infantry divisions
Engagements Napoleonic Wars
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Auguste de Marmont
Jean-Baptiste Bessières
Nicolas Soult
Nicolas Oudinot
Jean Lannes
Jean Reynier
Claude Perrin Victor
Honoré Charles Reille

The II Corps of the Grande Armée was a military unit that existed during the Napoleonic Wars.

The Grande Armée was the army commanded by Napoleon I during the Napoleonic Wars. From 1805 to 1809, the Grande Armée scored a series of historic victories that gave the French Empire an unprecedented grip on power over the European continent. Widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest fighting forces ever assembled, it suffered terrible losses during the French invasion of Russia in 1812 and never recovered its tactical superiority after that campaign.

Napoleonic Wars Series of early 19th century European wars

The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major conflicts pitting the French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of European powers formed into various coalitions, financed and usually led by the United Kingdom. The wars stemmed from the unresolved disputes associated with the French Revolution and its resultant conflict. The wars are often categorised into five conflicts, each termed after the coalition that fought Napoleon: the Third Coalition (1805), the Fourth (1806–07), the Fifth (1809), the Sixth (1813), and the Seventh (1815).

Contents

The Campaigns

At its formation in 1805, Auguste de Marmont was appointed commander of the corps.

Auguste de Marmont French General, nobleman and Marshal of France

Auguste Frédéric Louis Viesse de Marmont was a French general and nobleman who rose to the rank of Marshal of France and was awarded the title Duke of Ragusa.

The War Of The Third Coalition

It participated in the Ulm Campaign before advancing southeast to serve as a flank guard. Still under Marmont, the troops then served as the garrison of the Illyrian Provinces until 1809 when they became the Army of Dalmatia and later the XI Corps.

Ulm Campaign

The Ulm Campaign was a series of French and Bavarian military maneuvers and battles to outflank and capture an Austrian army in 1805 during the War of the Third Coalition. It took place in the vicinity of and inside the Swabian city of Ulm. The French Grande Armée, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, comprised 210,000 troops organized into seven corps, and hoped to knock out the Austrian army in the Danube before Russian reinforcements could arrive. Through rapid marching, Napoleon conducted a large wheeling maneuver that captured an Austrian army of 23,000 under General Mack on 20 October at Ulm, bringing the total number of Austrian prisoners in the campaign to 60,000. The campaign is generally regarded as a strategic masterpiece and was influential in the development of the Schlieffen Plan in the late 19th century.

Illyrian Provinces province of the First French Empire

The Illyrian Provinces were an autonomous province of France during the First French Empire that existed under Napoleonic Rule from 1809 to 1814. The Provinces encompassed modern-day Croatia, Slovenia, Gorizia, and parts of Austria. Its headquarters were stationed in Laybach, which would be renamed Ljubljana and made the capital of contemporary Slovenia. It encompassed six départments, making it a relatively large portion of territorial France at the time. Parts of Croatia were split up into Civil Croatia and Military Croatia, the former served as a residential space for French immigrants and Croatian inhabitants and the latter as a military base to check the Ottoman Empire.

The XI Corps of the Grande Armée was the name of a French military unit that existed during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1809 during the War of the Fifth Coalition, General of Division Auguste Marmont's Army of Dalmatia was renamed the XI Corps. Emperor Napoleon I held it in reserve at the Battle of Wagram. In 1812, the unit was reconstituted during the invasion of Russia and placed under Marshal Pierre Augereau. It did not fight in any battles and instead served a collection point for reserves. In spring 1813, it was reorganized and placed under the command of Marshal Jacques MacDonald. The corps fought at Lutzen, Bautzen, the Katzbach, Leipzig, and Hanau in 1813. Still under MacDonald, the unit fought at Bar-sur-Aube and several minor actions in 1814.

The Peninsular War

A new II Corps was created in 1808 in northern Spain from the troops under Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bessières. Soon after, Marshal Nicolas Soult took command of the formation. In 1810, Jean Reynier assumed command of the corps in Spain until 1811 when the unit was suppressed.

Jean-Baptiste Bessières Marshal of France

Jean-Baptiste Bessières, 1st Duc d' Istria was a Marshal of France of the Napoleonic Era. His younger brother, Bertrand, followed in his footsteps and eventually became a divisional general. Their cousin, Géraud-Pierre-Henri-Julien, also served Napoleon I as a diplomat and Imperial official.

Jean Reynier French general

Jean Louis Ebénézer Reynier rose in rank to become a French army general officer during the French Revolutionary Wars. He led a division under Napoleon Bonaparte in the French Campaign in Egypt and Syria. During the Napoleonic Wars he continued to hold important combat commands, eventually leading an army corps during the Peninsular War in 1810-1811 and during the War of the Sixth Coalition in 1812-1813.

The War Of The Fifth Coalition

Meanwhile, a parallel II Corps was created in 1809 to fight against Austria. The formation was led first by Nicolas Oudinot, then by Marshal Jean Lannes who was fatally wounded at Aspern-Essling. Oudinot took over the corps again and won his marshal's baton at Wagram in July 1809.

Nicolas Oudinot Marshal of France

Nicolas Charles Oudinot, 1st Comte Oudinot, 1st Duc de Reggio, was a Marshal of France. He is known to have been wounded 34 times in battle. Oudinot is one of the Names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, Eastern pillar Columns 13, 14.

Jean Lannes Marshal of France

Jean Lannes, 1st Duc de Montebello, Prince de Siewierz, was a Marshal of the Empire. He was one of Napoleon's most daring and talented generals. Napoleon once commented on Lannes: "I found him a pygmy and left him a giant". A personal friend of the emperor, he was allowed to address him with the familiar "tu", as opposed to the formal "vous".

Battle of Aspern-Essling battle

In the Battle of Aspern-Essling, Napoleon attempted a forced crossing of the Danube near Vienna, but the French and their allies were driven back by the Austrians under Archduke Charles. The battle was the first time Napoleon had been personally defeated in over a decade. However, Archduke Charles failed to secure a decisive victory as Napoleon was able to successfully withdraw most of his forces.

The Invasion Of Russia

Still commanded by Marshal Nicolas Oudinot, the Corps took part in the 1812 invasion of Russia, at which point its size was roughly 40,000 men.

6th Division (Legrand)

8th Division Jean-Antoine Verdier

9th Division (Swiss) Pierre Hugues Victoire Merle

Corps Cavalry

Sources:Les effectifs de la Grande-armée pour la campagne de Russe de 1812 - Paris 1913 Adjutant's Call of the Military Historical Society Vol. III - U.S.A.

The War Of The Sixth Coalition

The corps was reorganized in Germany in 1813 and Marshal Claude Perrin Victor was appointed to lead it.

The War Of The Seventh Coalition

The corps was headed by Honoré Charles Reille in 1815 and fought at Waterloo.

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The VIII Corps of the Grande Armée was the name of a French military unit that existed during the Napoleonic Wars. Emperor Napoleon formed it in 1805 by borrowing divisions from other corps and assigned it to Marshal Édouard Adolphe Casimir Joseph Mortier. Marshal André Masséna's Army of Italy was also reorganized as the VIII Corps at the end of the 1805 campaign. The corps was reformed for the 1806 campaign under Mortier and spent the rest of the year mopping up Prussian garrisons in western Germany.

The III Cavalry Corps was a French military formation that fought during the Napoleonic Wars. The corps was created in 1812 and reconstituted in 1813 and 1815. Emperor Napoleon first mobilized the corps for the French invasion of Russia. Commanded by General of Division Emmanuel Grouchy, two divisions of the corps fought at Borodino, Tarutino, and Vyazma. A third division fought at First and Second Polotsk and the Berezina. During the War of the Sixth Coalition in 1813, General of Division Jean-Toussaint Arrighi de Casanova led the corps at Grossbeeren, Dennewitz, Leipzig, and Hanau. During the Hundred Days in 1815, Napoleon reorganized the corps and appointed General of Division François Étienne de Kellermann to lead it. One brigade of the corps was engaged at Quatre Bras and both divisions fought at Waterloo.

The V Cavalry Corps was a French military formation that existed during the Napoleonic Wars. The corps was created in 1813 and fought until 1814. Emperor Napoleon first organized the corps during the summer armistice in 1813 and it fought at Dresden and Leipzig. Samuel-François Lhéritier led the corps at first but was replaced by Pierre Claude Pajol. After Pajol was wounded at Leipzig, Édouard Jean Baptiste Milhaud commanded the corps at Hanau in 1813, and at Brienne, La Rothière, Mormant, Fère-Champenoise, and Paris in 1814.

The XIII Corps of the Grande Armée was the name of a French military formation that existed during the Napoleonic Wars. The corps was formed in the spring of 1813 and Marshal Louis-Nicolas Davout was appointed as its commander. The corps included three French infantry divisions and attached cavalry. In the spring campaign the corps was assigned to defend northern Germany. Accordingly, Davout seized Hamburg and prepared to defend it against the Allies. In September 1813, one brigade was defeated at the Battle of the Göhrde by the Allies. After Emperor Napoleon's decisive defeat at the Battle of Leipzig in October, the XIII Corps became isolated in Hamburg. An Allied army under Levin August, Count von Bennigsen initiated the Siege of Hamburg in December. Under Davout's leadership, the corps repelled three attacks in February 1814 and a fourth attack in April. Davout was only persuaded to surrender in mid-May by direct orders from the new French government after Napoleon abdicated. Thanks to the iron discipline of Davout, the behavior of the XIII Corps soldiers toward the citizens of Hamburg was exemplary, compared to the usual rough treatment non-combatants often received from French soldiers of the era.

The Reserve Cavalry Corps or Cavalry Reserve of the Grande Armée was the name of a French military formation that existed during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1805, Emperor Napoleon appointed Marshal Joachim Murat to command all the cavalry divisions that were not directly attached to the Army Corps. During the Ulm Campaign, Murat led his horsemen in successfully hunting down many Austrian Empire units that escaped the Capitulation of Ulm. Murat's horsemen fought at Austerlitz in December 1805. Under Murat, the Cavalry Reserve played a prominent role in the destruction of the Kingdom of Prussia's armies after the Battle of Jena-Auerstadt in 1806. Five dragoon divisions of the corps were employed in the Peninsular War starting in 1808 and placed under the overall command of Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bessières. The Cavalry Reserve was reassembled in 1809 to fight Austria with Bessières still in command. In 1812 the Reserve Cavalry Corps was split up into the I, II, III, and IV Cavalry Corps for the French invasion of Russia.

Charles Claude Jacquinot French politician and officer

Charles Claude Jacquinot commanded a French cavalry division at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. He joined a volunteer battalion in 1791 and transferred to a light cavalry regiment as a junior officer in 1793. He earned promotion to squadron commander and was acting commander of his regiment at Hohenlinden in 1800. After serving in a staff position at Austerlitz in 1805, he led a light cavalry regiment at Jena in 1806. Promoted to general of brigade he led his horsemen at Abensberg, Raab and Wagram in 1809. During the French invasion of Russia he fought at Ostrovno, Smolensk and Borodino in 1812. During the 1813 German Campaign he led a cavalry brigade at Dennewitz and Leipzig. After being appointed general of division he fought at Second Bar-sur-Aube and Saint-Dizier in 1814. During the Hundred Days he rallied to Napoleon and led a light cavalry division in the Waterloo campaign. After 15 years of inactivity, he was restored to favor in the 1830s. Thereafter he held a number of commands and was appointed to the Chamber of Peers. His surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 20.