Sunday, 2 May 2010
General Dorsenne was an almost legendary officer of the Imperial Guard, known for his strict discipline and excellent attention to detail. While a considerable number of officers showed remarkable sang froid under fire, Dorsenne was unique among them for being the only one who would completely turn his back on the enemy fire, inspiring and giving orders to his men without one glance as to what was going on behind him.Serving at Austerlitz, he was rewarded with a promotion to general de brigade in the regular army, and colonel of the guard. He went to distinguish himself at Eylau, and in 1808 became a Count of the Empire.
Temporarily sent to Spain with a detachment of infantry of the Guard, he returned to Paris in early 1809 and then took command of the Grenadiers and Chasseurs à Pied of the Imperial Guard in the Danube Campaign. After serving at Ratisbon unscathed, he was not so lucky at Aspern-Essling. As his men were cut down and the dirt kicked up by the artillery rained down upon him, Dorsenne held his ground and told his men, "Your general is not hurt. You may count on him, he will know how to die at his post." Unfortunately later he was wounded, receiving a wound to the head that would plague him for the rest of his life. The week before Wagram, Dorsenne took command of the 2nd Division of the infantry of the Old Guard, and led them at Wagram.
In 1810, Dorsenne was sent to Spain to take command of the Imperial Guard in Spain. His wife accompanied him to Spain, but refused to travel at a walking pace, forcing her escort of soldiers to run alongside the carriage to keep up with her. Many soldiers of her escort were hospitalized due to the strain of running such distances. In June of 1810 he became the Governor of the province of Burgos, and the next summer he took command of the Army of the North in Spain, replacing Marshal Bessières. That summer he was made a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor, won at Saint-Martin de Torrès, and then reunited his force with Marmont's.In May of 1812 Dorsenne quit his command and returned to Paris for a risky procedure to help relieve issues stemming from his wound from Aspern-Essling. Unfortunately, the surgery did not go well, and he died from complications.