General Louis-Albert-Ghislain, baron Bacler d'Albe, 1761-1824

General Louis-Albert-Ghislain Bacler d'Albe (1761-1824) was the head of Napoleon's topographical bureau from 1804 and one of his most important staff officers.

Bacler d'Albe was an artist before the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars. He joined the French Army in 1793, and was almost immediately employed in the topographical and geographical services.

Bacler d'Albe served in Italy in 1794-96, during Napoleon's first campaign in Italy. He then worked for Napoleon for most of the rest of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

In September 1804 he became head of Napoleon's Topographical Department, with responsibility for producing and updating maps of any campaign area, complete with the positions of friendly and enemy troops. He also had to make sure that all the equipment Napoleon might require for map work were present each day, along with Napoleon's valued carnets, notebooks that contained details of every French and enemy unit. He was also often given the job of working out times and distances.

He became one of Napoleon's most trusted and valued subordinates, and on campaign was normally the first man Napoleon summoned in the morning, and the last at night. At first he worked alone, despite his heavy workload, but eventually he was given two assistants.

General Fain describes the two men crawling across the top of the map table to get closer to the fine details, sometimes bumping heads as they looked at the same information.

Although Napoleon depended heavily on his campaign headquarters and its small staff, he didn't promote or reward its members very well. Bacler d'Albe was made a baron in 1809, but he wasn't promoted to general of brigade until 1813, despite playing a key part in most of Napoleon's most famous campaigns.

Bacler d'Albe's oldest son Joseph-Albert served as an aide-de-camp to Philippe Ségur during the 1812 invasion of Russia.

Bacler d'Albe's career survived the fall of Napoleon. He was made director of the Dépot de la Guerre 1814 and served the Bourbons until his retirement in 1820.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (25 January 2016), General Louis-Albert-Ghislain, baron Bacler d'Albe, 1761-1824 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/people_bacler_d_albe.html

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