Vandamme was a brave, formidable fighter whose career was marred
by greed, looting and his bad temper.
had a varied early career with the French army and served in the
West Indies before returning to Europe and fighting in Holland and
late 1793 he was a brigadier-general with General
Moreau and fought at Tourcoing,
but within two years had been suspended for looting.
he was made a general of division in 1799, fought at Stockach.
argument with Moreau led to him being charged over financial irregularities
- which were later dismissed - and he went back to service in Holland.
next major campaign saw him one of the heroes of Austerlitz
where he recaptured the Pratzen Heights from General
Miloradovich. Attacked by General
Kutusov's guard infantry, Vandamme and his men held their ground
but were placed in peril by Marshal
Bernadotte's failure to support him.
situation was saved by the intervention of Marshal
Bessieres at the head of the guard cavalry.
falling out with his commanding officer - this time Marshal
Soult - the rough, fighting general spent periods on the staff
and with Marshal Ney.
1809, he fought at Abensberg,
and was wounded in the shoulder at Wagram,
where he led the VIII Corps.
Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Russia
in 1812, Vandamme was given command of the II and VIII Corps
under Jerome Bonaparte, but the
two quickly fell out and he was sacked.
1813, he joined Marshal Davout
in the defence of Hamburg and fought at Kulm,
where he was unlucky to be captured.
a prisoner, Vandamme was accused of looting by Tsar
Alexander. The general countered with: "At least I have
never been accused of killing my father."
the fall of Bonaparte, Vandamme was exiled by the returning Bourbons
but rejoined his emperor and led III Corps for the
100 Days' Campaign.
the command of Marshal Grouchy,
Vandamme and General Gerard both argued strongly - albeit unsuccessfully
- for the right wing of the army to march and join Bonaparte on
the field of Waterloo.
the French defeat, Vandamme was placed in charge of the French rearguard,
but his performance was well below his usual high standards.
the Bourbons now back in power, Vandamme was exiled again and spent
three years in America. Upon his reconciliation with the Royalists
he returned to France in 1819 and was given back his rank and privileges,
but remained unemployed.
1830 he died of throat cancer.