Emmanuel Grouchy

Marshal Emanuel GrouchyFrench Marshal

Blame for the French loss at Waterloo has been heaped upon Grouchy whose courage and fine career, as well as winning the battle of Wavre, have been largely ignored.

An aristocrat, Grouchy joined the army in 1781 and after six years moved into the king's Gardes du Corps, where his strong republican leanings grew.

Tainted by his heritage he was sacked in 1793 but, within two years, was a general of division.

Journeying with Hoche on the Ireland expedition he returned to lead the French left at Novi.

Wounded, he was taken prisoner, but did later command a division again at Hohenlinden.

Grouchy's abilities as a cavalry commander were shown at Eylau and Friedland and while he performed soundly as an administrator - he was governor of Madrid - and served in Italy and at Wagram, his earlier friendship with General Jean Moreau and his pro-republic stance counted against him when the Marshalate was picked.

In 1812, Grouchy commanded the III Cavalry Corps at Borodino and performed exceptionally well during the horrendous retreat from Moscow.

With his health badly knocked about the hardships of the retreat he retired but rejoined the cause in 1814, where he suffered a wound at Craonne.

Grouchy did work under the Bourbons, but swapped sides for the 100 Days' Campaign.

He was promoted to marshal and given command of the right wing of the Army of the North - with well known results.

Grouchy insisted on following orders to pursue the retreating Prussian army, instead of "marching to the sound of the guns" at Waterloo, and that allowed enough of Blucher's men to arrive on Bonaparte's flank and decide the crucial battle.

It is unfortunate for Grouchy his long years of good service counted, historically, for nought.


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