General Antoine, comte Drouot, 1774-1847

General Antoine, comte Drouot (1774-1847) was a French officer who had the rare distinction of having fought at Trafalgar and at the Waterloo, as well as commanding the Artillery of the Imperial Guard in Russia in 1812. He should not be confused with General Jean-Baptiste Drouet, comte d'Erlon.

Drouet was the son of a baker from Nancy. He studied at the L'École Polytechnique, and received a commission in the artillery in 1793, at the age of 19, and fought in the early stages of the Revolutionary Wars, taking part in the battles of Fleurus (26 June 1794) and Hohenlinden (3 December 1800).

In 1805 he was attached to the French fleet as an artillery expert, and in that role served on the Indomptable at the battle of Trafalgar.

In 1808 he was appointed commander of the Guard Artillery. He served with the Guard during Napoleon's only campaign in Spain, then took part in the campaign against Austria in 1809. He was wounded in the right foot at Wagram (5-6 July 1809), a wound that left him with a permanent limp. He was ennobled as a baron in 1810.

Drouot commanded the Imperial Guard during the invasion of Russia of 1812, leading the artillery with some distinction at Borodino.

He was promoted to general of brigade in January 1813 and appointed an aide de camp to Napoleon. He led the artillery with distinction at Lützen, Bautzen, Dresden and Leipzig. One of his most noteworthy achievements came at Lützen, where he moved seventy cannon forward and inflicted heavy damage on the Allies towards the end of the battle. He was promoted to general of division in 1813 and ennobled as a comte in October.

Drouot fought in the French campaign of 1814. He followed Napoleon into exile on Elba in 1814, and took part in his dramatic return to France in 1815. He was given command of the entire Imperial Guard for the Waterloo campaign. At Waterloo Drouot argued against attacking early in the morning because the ground was too wet to move the artillery easily.

After the second Bourbon restoration Drouot was charged with treason, but he was acquitted by a court-martial. He refused to take service under the Bourbons and even returned to take his pension until after Napoleon's death. He remained in retirement in Nancy for the rest of his life.

Drouot was known for his studious, pious attitude, which led Napoleon to call him the 'sage of the Grande Armée'. He carried a bible into battle, but was also somewhat superstitious and always wore his old artillery uniform into battle.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (10 June 2014), General Antoine, comte Drouot, 1774-1847, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/people_drouot.html

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