Berthier, Louis-Alexandre

b. 20 November 1753, Versailles

d. 1 June 1815, Bamberg (Bavaria)

"Of Burgundian origins (his father was born in Tonnerre in 1721) ... he became a topographical engineer of the camps and armies of the King on 1 January 1766 (at 12 years old!). He was a lieutenant of the infantry of the Legion of Flanders on 24 March 1772, a captain of dragoons on 2 June 1777, assistant on the staff on 13 June 1783, aide-maréchal-général des logis on 2 December 1787, major on 1 July 1788, and lieutenant-colonel on 11 July 1789. Major-général of the National Guard of Versailles in July 1789, he became adjudant-général-colonel on 1 April 1791, maréchal de camp on 22 May 1792, and was suspended in 1793. Reinstated on 5 March 1795, he was promoted general of division on 13 June 1795. Minister of War from 10 November 1799 to 2 March 1800, then from 8 October 1800 to 9 August 1807. Marshal of the Empire on 19 May 1804, peer of France on 4 June 1814, and commander of a company of garde du corps. Died ... by accident or suicide.

Had participated in the campaign in America under Rochambeau in 1781. He had served on the staff of Lafayette in 1791, and was then chief of staff to Luckner. He had not ceased to perform the functions of chief of staff except from 1793-95, and in 1800, when he was, nominally, commander-in-chief of the army of the reserve, which won at Marengo. But he became thereafter, and for the whole duration of the Empire, chief of staff of the Grande Armée. At the same time, he was Grand Huntsman, Vice Constable, Colonel-General of the Swiss. Prince of Neuchâtel in 1806, and Wagram in 1809, Grand Eagle of the Legion of Honour, etc." Bouvier, F. Bonaparte en Italie, 1796, 1899, p. 651.

See also Michaud. Biographie universelle ancienne et moderne, 1843-?, vol. 4, pp. 131-8; Balteau, J. and others. Dictionnaire de biographie française, 1933-, vol. 6, pp. 210-3.

The most accessible modern biography is probably that included in Chandler, D. G. Napoleon's Marshals, 1987.

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