General Louis Baraguey d'Hilliers, 1764-1813

General Louis Baraguey d'Hilliers was a French general best known as a dragoon commander, but who served in a variety of roles from the start of the Revolutionary Wars until his death in Berlin in 1813.

Baraguey d'Hilliers was commissioned in the French Army in 1787, before the outbreak of the Revolution. He had been promoted to General of Brigafde by 1793, but then spent some time under political arrest. He was eventually released and sent to join the Army of Italy. There he served under Napoleon during his first Italian campaign, and fought at the battle of Rivoli (14-15 January 1797).

After the Italian campaign he was promoted to General of Division, and he was selected to command a division during Napoleon's Egyptian campaign. He reached Malta, but then had to be left behind due to ill health (Menou took over his division). In June 1798 d'Hilliers set sail for France, but on 27 June his ship, La Sensible, was captured by HMS Seahorse. D'Hilliers and his ADCs were briefly kept as prisoners of war, but they were soon exchanged. He was then appointed Chief of Staff of the Army of the Rhine.

In 1799 he commanded the French garrison of Mannheim, which in September he used to capture Heidelberg. The Austrians responded in strength and on 18 September d'Hillier's was defeated at Neckerau.

In 1800 he fought at the Second battle of Stockach, where he commanded the 1st Division of St. Cyr's army. The battle ended as a French victory that prevented the Austrians from blocking Napoleon as he moved into Italy through Switzerland.

He commanded a dragoon division during the 1805 campaign against Austria and his division was part of the advance guard as Napoleon crossed the Rhine at the start of the war. Early in the campaign Napoleon trapped the Austrians under Field Marshal Mack at Ulm. Mack made one attempt to escape the trap, sending a force east along the Danube. This unit ran into Dupont's isolated French division at Albeck (11 October 1805). Baraguey d'Hillier's dragoon division was the nearest French reinforcements. He also fought at Elchingen (14 October 1805), a French victory that came just before Mack surrendered.

He served in Italy from 1806-1809, and in 1808 he was ennobled as a comte. 

He was present at the battle of the Piave (8 May 1809), a key battle in the 1809 campaign in Italy, but his division formed part of the reserves and spent much of the battle on the wrong side of the Piave River. He was more heavily involved at the combat of Tarvisio (18 May 1809), a minor battle during the Austrian retreat out of Italy.

After the end of the Italian campaign d'Hilliers was moved to Catalonia, where he remained until 1812. He wasn't involved in the early stages of the invasion of Russia, but later became Governor of Smolensk.

As Napoleon retreated west towards Smolensk, d'Hilliers was moving east with a fresh division. In early September this division was surprised by the Russians while moving to meet the main army. One brigade was heavily defeated and forced to surrender, and d'Hilliers retreated back to Smolensk. Napoleon was furious and had him removed from command, arrested and escorted out of Russia. The plan was to conduct an inquiry into his conduct of this affair, but d'Hilliers died at Berlin in 1813, before the inquiry had been conducted.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (2 July 2014), General Louis Baraguey d'Hilliers, 1764-1813 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/people_hilliers_baraguey.html

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