Thursday, 30 April 2015

30 April: Jean-Marie Dorsenne (1773-1812)

Anonymous engraving depicting "le beau Dorsenne".
Dorsenne (General Count), born in Picardy [actually Ardres, which is in Pas-de-Calais], owed his military elevation to his sole merit, and before becoming a general, he went through every rank. He enlisted in 1791 in a volunteer battalion of Pas-de-Calais; in April 1792, he was present at the first encounters between the French and Austrian armies between Lille and Tournai, and he was wounded; he followed General Bonaparte to Egypt; he served in Desaix’s division as a commandant and was wounded a second time. In 1804, he was made the colonel of the 61st Line, and in January 1805, Napoleon made him the major of the grenadiers of the Guard. His valour at the battle of Austerlitz was rewarded with the rank of brigade general. As the new commander of the Imperial Guard, he fought the Prussians and Russians in the 1806 and 1807 campaigns. In 1808, he served n the war against Austria. At the battles of Essling and Wagram and in the fights at Ratisbon, his bravery singled him out once more. His military talents earned him the rank of divisional general in 1811, and he was sent to Spain. One month after his arrival (August 1811), he led the army of the North against the Spaniards, routed them completely and settle his headquarters in Valladolid, after crossing Navarre and Biscay unimpeded. General Dorsenne never concealed his opinion on this dreadful war; his reports give a picture of his state of mind at the time. Exhausted by the violent pains that resulted from previous head trauma, he decided to withstand the pain and the hazards of trepanning; but this did not help him. His sufferings grew worse, and he came back to Paris, where he died on 24 July 1812.

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