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"Battle of Benavente - Help with French OOB" Topic


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Cuirassier02 Aug 2017 8:52 p.m. PST

Battle of Benavente (29 December 1808)

Exactly how many squadrons of the Regiment of Chasseurs à Cheval of the French Imperial Guard fought against the British cavalry at Benavente? How many Guard chasseurs à cheval and how many Mamelukes? Thanks in advance.

Cuirassier02 Aug 2017 9:14 p.m. PST

General Lefebvre-Desnouettes (the commander of the Guard chasseurs à cheval in 1808)

Click on the image to enlarge it: link

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP03 Aug 2017 3:43 a.m. PST

According to Oman (Volume I, 549-550), Lefebvre-Desnoettes had four squadrons of the Guard Chasseurs a Cheval, between 500 and 600 all ranks. He deoesn't mention the Mamelukes.

After they crossed the river and advanced from the river, they were engaged by the pickets of the 18th Light Dragoons, a troop of the 3d Dragoons of the KGL, and the 10th Hussars.

Lefebvre-Desnoettes horse was wounded and refused to cross the river. He was captured along with two captains and 70 other ranks. There were 55 chasseurs killed or wounded as well. British losses were about 50 all ranks. British strength was about 650.

In Napoleon's War in Spain by Lachouque, Tranie, and Carmigniani, the numbers/squadrons of the Chasseurs a Cheval are the same, but they mention that the British cavalry was composed of the 7th, 10th, 18th Hussars and the 3d Hussars of the KGL, numbering more than 3,000.

Oman is most probably correct, , though the numbers given for the British cavalry is probably a little low and doesn't include the 3d Dragoons of the KGL.

Allan F Mountford03 Aug 2017 7:04 a.m. PST

A little wargaming trivia here.

Duncan Macfarlane wrote an article in the UK magazine 'Miniature Warfare' in the early 1970's describing the action at Benevente. Interestingly, he refought the action using three (then) current sets of Napoleonic wargames rules:
(1) London Wargames Section 'Napoleonic Rules'
(2) WRG '1750-1850'
(3) Stephen & Julian Reed's 'Napoleonic Warfare'
The WRG set was the only one that generated historical results, and even then only at the extreme range of die roll variables.
Reed's rules were outside the historical results.
The London Wargames Section rules were more hysterical than historical.

Cuirassier03 Aug 2017 8:25 a.m. PST

Many thanks, Kevin. So… The entire regiment fought against the British cavalry at Benavente… I remember reading somewhere that only three squadrons fought against the British. I even remember reading about a single squadron being ambushed by the British cavalrymen.

"British strength was about 650." Low indeed… Probably…

Andrew Preziosi Supporting Member of TMP03 Aug 2017 9:54 a.m. PST

That's because the true heroes of the Retreat, the 15th Hussars, were not present.

Le Breton03 Aug 2017 10:06 a.m. PST

The French general staff study of the 1808-1809 campaign in Spain (Balagny, 1906 – volume 4, page 431) gave the British :
--- 3rd Light Dragoons KGL : 450 men
--- Pickets of various regiments, among which most from 18th Hussars, 20 men from the 3 LD KGL, 20 from the 10th Hussars, and other regiments : 250-300 men total
--- 7th Hussars : 200 men
--- 10th Hussars : 450 men in support, not engaged, behind the 7th Hussars

British "numbering more than 3,000" is from Napoléon's bulletin

=============

The chasseurs à cheval (including the mameluks) reported 69 officers and 845 other ranks present under arms on 15 December (with 35 men "in hospital", and 2 officers and 101 men behind in the rear of the army).

For the battle, 50 officers and 550 other ranks would accord well with the report that 4 squadrons were engaged. Having 1 squadron from each guard cavalry regiment assigned in the personal bodyguard of Napoléon was typical. So, one supposes that 3 squadrons of chasseurs and 1 squadron of mamluks was engaged. There was also at least 1/2 compagnie of guard horse artillery present, as the rout of the French guard horse was covered by artillery fire.

The mamelucks *were* present, as the officer casulaties included :
- capitaine commandant la 1ere compagnie de mamelucks Daoud Habaïby, wounded
- lieutenant en 2e à la 2e compagnie du escadron de mamelucks Azaria le Pétit, mortally wounded and died the next day

Among the chasseurs, it would seem that they had a pretty good scuffle involving the état-major, assumedly associated with the capture their colonel commandant, général de division comte Lefèbvre-Desnoëttes :
- capitaine à la suite de l'état major de chasseurs à cheval Pierre Cayre, wounded
- capitaine commandant la 5e compagnie du 1er escadron Joseph-Philippe-Antoine Geist, wounded
- lieutenant en 1er porte-étendard Baucheux, killed
- lieutenant en 1er sous-adjudant-major Louis Sève (dit "le jeune"), wounded
- lieutenant en 2e sous-adjudant-major Henry Assant, wounded
- lieutenant en 2e à la 6e compagnie du 2e escadron Antoine Passerieu, wounded

Andrew Preziosi Supporting Member of TMP03 Aug 2017 10:41 a.m. PST

WELL, there you have it!

Great job, Le Breton!

Cuirassier09 Aug 2017 5:41 p.m. PST

Wow… Many, many thanks for sharing this info, Le Breton!

Supercilius Maximus13 Aug 2017 4:10 a.m. PST

- lieutenant en 1er porte-étendard Baucheux, killed

One assumes, from the absence of any mention of it, that no standard/eagle was captured, but would this gentleman have been carrying one, or would it have been stored safely in the rear?

Le Breton13 Aug 2017 9:09 a.m. PST

I would guess (repeat "guess") that the aigle was not present, since if it were there, I would have expected to see the poor lieutenant's death noted as being in its defense.

I get the impression that the most intense action was with the chasseurs' staff, assumedly in defense of their commander.

Supercilius Maximus14 Aug 2017 2:30 a.m. PST

That would have been my guess, too; also, I suspect that the relevant British accounts would have mentioned it (just a wee bit!!!).

Can I ask – was "lieutenant en 1er porte-etendard" his full rank? I was under the impression that, by this time, eagles had been reduced from 1 per squadron to 1 per regiment, and their bearers were mostly former NCOs whose illiteracy prevented them from becoming "normal" officers. Was this equally true of the Garde units?

Le Breton14 Aug 2017 10:29 a.m. PST

Well, Elie Krettly was surely not illiterate (although he was promoted from the ranks) – he left great memoires:
Souvenirs historiques du capitaine Krettly, trompette major des guides de Bonaparte: mémoires authentiques
Elie Krettly
Paris : Grandin, 1839
link
By the way, Krettly was not in Spain, but on extended leave due to illness. He never returned the ranks of the chasseurs. As a lieutenant en 1er de la garde, he retired a capitaine de cavalerie and was granted a position (by Napoléon personally) as a "garde-général des eaux et forêts" at Montélimar.
With Krettly on leave, Baucheux would have carried the aigle had the chasseurs brought one to Benavente.

Lieutenant Baucheux's given name was Augustin, and he had won his place in the légion d'honeur by virtue of his award of a sabre d'honneur on 12 November 1800, then a brigadier in the chasseurs à cheval de la garde des consuls. Elie Krettly recieved the same award on 18 April 1801, then a brigadier-trompette in the regiment. These awards would have been for Marengo. They were promoted together to lieutenant en 2e on 18 December 1805, for Austerlitz.
Historique du 13e régiment de chasseurs et des chasseurs à cheval de la garde
Paul Descaves
Béziers : A. Bouineau, 1891

In a report of a skirmish by the colonel Dahlmann dated "bivouac de Lopaczyn 26 décembre 1806"
"[U]n peloton qui couvrait notre droit se précipita sur 2 pièces de canon qu'il enleva en présence d'au moins 200 hussards russes. M. Baucheux, lieutenant commandant du peloton, sauta à cheval par-dessus la première pièce pour sabrer les canoniers."
Campagne de Pologne, novembre-décembre 1806-janvier 1807 (Pultusk et Golymin), d'après les archives de la guerre
Paul Jean Foucart
Paris : Berger-Levrault, 1882
Volume 1, page 452

Krettly and Baucheux were promoted lieutenant en 1er after Eylau.
"De notre camp impérial de Preussisch-Elyau, le 16 février 1807 …. Baucheux, porte-étendard-lieutenant en second dans les chasseurs à cheval de notre garde, est nommé porte-étendard-lieutenant en prémier dans le même corps. Kretely, porte-étendard-lieutenant en second dans les chasseurs à cheval de notre garde, est nommé porte-étendard-lieutenant en prémier dans le même corps."
Le Moniteur Universel – No.95 du 5 avril 1807 – page 3

You can read a short biography of Augustin Baucheux in
link
Fastes de la Légion-d'honneur: biographie de tous les décorés accompagnée de l'histoire législative et réglementaire de l'ordre, Volume 1
Jean Maurice Verdot & Pierre Bégat
Paris : Bureau de l'administration, 1842
pages 477-478

The notice of Baucheux's death in the Martinien spells his name "Bocheux". Both spellings seem to have used in his lifetime. Notice also how Krettly's name is also spelled with variants. This "inaccuracy" was very common in the era.
Tableaux, par corps et par batailles, des officiers tués et blessés pendant les guerres de l'Empire (1805-1815)
A[strid] Martinien
Paris : Charles Lauvazelle, 1899
page 97

To answer your question (finally) :
The porte-étendards were sous-lieutenants in the garde des consuls, and lieutenants en 2e in the garde impériale. I found only two exceptions to this "rule" : Krettly and Baucheux, who served as porte-étendard after promotion to lieutenant en 1er. However, I stopped checking after 1811. Actually, these two did not serve long in this capacity : Elie Krettly went on sick leave and then retired, Augustin Baucheux was killed. Unlike the French line, I do not see the position of porte-étendard as a career terminal one, parking a deserving NCO in an officer's billet. Instead, it appears to be a normal assignment in the career path of a junior officer of merit. Their next positions are as you might expect : commanding a peloton of the guard as a lieutenant en 1er, promotion to a captaincy in the line. However, as they all seem to have been promoted after long service, some (such a Krettly) retired. In general, their careers seem not much different from any of the lieutenants en 2e of the regiment.

=============================

État-Militaire de la République Française An XII porte-étendard aux chasseurs à cheval de la garde des consuls (page 8)
--- sous-lieutenant, chevalier de la légion d'honneur Guibert [promoted lieutenant en 2e 23 September 1804, mortally wounded at Eylau]
--- sous-lieutenant Pegrot [promoted lieutenant en 2e 23 September 1804, mortally wounded at Eylau]
--- sous-lieutenant Donchéry [promoted lieutenant en 2e 23 September 1804, promoted lieutenant en 1er 1 May 1806]
--- lsous-lieutenant Mexner [promoted lieutenant en 2e 23 September 1804]

Almanch Impérial An XIII porte-étendards aux chasseurs à cheval de la garde (page 66-77)
--- lieutenant, chevalier de la légion d'honneur Guibert [lieutenant en 2e, mortally wounded at Eylau]
--- lieutenant, chevalier de la légion d'honneur Peyrot [lieutenant en 2e, mortally wounded at Eylau]
--- lieutenant, chevalier de la légion d'honneur Sève [lieutenant en 2e, promoted lieutenant en 1er 1 May 1806]
--- lieutenant, chevalier de la légion d'honneur Viala [lieutenant en 2e, promoted lieutenant en 1er 1 May 1806]
Comment : They are listed without "1er" or "2e"
mamelouks --- no porte-étendard listed

Almanch Impérial 1806 porte-étendards aux chasseurs à cheval de la garde (pages 76-77)
--- lieutenant, chevalier de la légion d'honneur Guibert [lieutenant en 2e, mortally wounded at Eylau]
--- lieutenant, chevalier de la légion d'honneur Peyrot [lieutenant en 2e, mortally wounded at Eylau]
--- lieutenant, chevalier de la légion d'honneur Kretly [lieutenant en 2e, promoted lieutenant en 1er 16 February 1807]
--- lieutenant, chevalier de la légion d'honneur Baucheux [lieutenant en 2e, promoted lieutenant en 1er 16 February 1807]
Comment : They are listed without "1er" or "2e".
mamelouks --- lieutenant en 2e, chevalier de la légion d'honneur Mérat

Almanch Impérial 1807 porte-étendards aux chasseurs à cheval de la garde (pages 82-83)
--- lieutenant en 2e, chevalier de la légion d'honneur Guibert [lieutenant en 2e, mortally wounded at Eylau]
--- lieutenant en 2e, chevalier de la légion d'honneur Peyrot[lieutenant en 2e, mortally wounded at Eylau]
--- lieutenant en 2e, chevalier de la légion d'honneur Kretly [lieutenant en 2e, promoted lieutenant en 1er 16 February 1807]
--- lieutenant en 2e, chevalier de la légion d'honneur Baucheux [lieutenant en 2e, promoted lieutenant en 1er 16 February 1807]
mamelouks --- lieutenant en 2e, chevalier de la légion d'honneur Mérat

Almanch Impérial 1808 porte-étendards aux chasseurs à cheval de la garde (pages 87-88)
--- lieutenant en 1er, chevalier de la légion d'honneur Kretly
--- lieutenant en 1er, chevalier de la légion d'honneur Baucheux
--- lieutenant en 2e, chevalier de la légion d'honneur Brunel
--- lieutenant en 2e, chevalier de la légion d'honneur Pélissier
mamelouks --- lieutenant en 2e, chevalier de la légion d'honneur Mérat

Almanch Impérial 1809 porte-étendards aux chasseurs à cheval de la garde (page 89)
--- chevalier de la légion d'honneur Baucheux [lieutenant en 1er]
--- chevalier de la légion d'honneur Allié [lieutenant en 2e]
--- chevalier de la légion d'honneur Pélissier [lieutenant en 2e]
--- chevalier de la légion d'honneur Bayard [lieutenant en 2e, promoted lieutenant en 1er 27 February 1813]
Comments : They are listed as without ranks. The Almanach was composed late in the prior year, and would have gone to press before the death of lieutenant Baucheux was reported.
mamelouks --- lieutenant en 2e, chevalier de la légion d'honneur Mérat

Almanch Impérial 1810 porte-étendards aux chasseurs à cheval de la garde (pages 92-93)
--- chevalier de la légion d'honneur Allié [lieutenant en 2e]
--- chevalier de la légion d'honneur Pélissier [lieutenant en 2e]
--- chevalier de la légion d'honneur Bayard [lieutenant en 2e, promoted lieutenant en 1er 27 February 1813]
--- chevalier de la légion d'honneur Lepape [lieutenant en 2e]
Comment : They are listed as without ranks.
mamelouks --- lieutenant en 2e, chevalier de la légion d'honneur Mérat

Almanch Impérial 1811 porte-étendards aux chasseurs à cheval de la garde (page 98)
--- chevalier de la légion d'honneur Allié [lieutenant en 2e]
--- chevalier de la légion d'honneur Pélissier [lieutenant en 2e]
--- chevalier de la légion d'honneur Bayard [lieutenant en 2e, promoted lieutenant en 1er 27 February 1813]
--- chevalier de la légion d'honneur Lepape [lieutenant en 2e]
Comment : They are listed as without ranks.
mamelouks --- lieutenant en 2e, chevalier de la légion d'honneur Mérat

Cuirassier14 Aug 2017 9:38 p.m. PST

Sabretache used by General Charles Lefebvre-Desnouettes at Benevente. This sabretache is still held by the British Army Museum today.

The museum's description of the action: Lefebvre-Desnouettes was captured at Benavente in Spain on 29 December 1808 by members of the 7th (or The Queen's Own) Regiment of Light Dragoons. He was leading a detachment of the Chasseurs [à Cheval] of the Imperial Guard when his men were surprised by a large body of British and German dragoons. This sabretache was taken from him as a souvenir by a member of the 7th Dragoons.

RIGHT-CLICK ON THE IMAGE, COPY AND PASTE THE URL/ADDRESS OF THE PHOTO, THEN CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENLARGE IT.

picture

Supercilius Maximus15 Aug 2017 1:28 a.m. PST

Le Breton – merci!

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