General Joseph Bouvier des Eclaz

Dragoon commander who frequently served under Generals Klein and Latour-Maubourg

Born: December 3, 1757

Place of Birth: Belley, Ain, France

Died: January 12, 1820

Place of Death: Belley, France

Arc de Triomphe: BOUVIER DES EATZ on the north pillar


Joining a dragoon regiment in 1778, Joseph Bouvier des Eclaz slowly rose up the enlisted ranks, finally becoming an officer near the start of the Revolution. In 1792 he was promoted to lieutenant in the 11th Dragoons and assigned to the Army of the Rhine. The following year he received a promotion to capitaine. In June of 1794 Bouvier des Eclaz fought at the Battle of Fleurus where he was wounded by a saber blow to the head. When the army was reorganized shortly thereafter, he was assigned to the Army of the Sambre and Meuse. Next Bouvier des Eclaz went on to serve at Bamberg and Friedberg, and then in 1797 he was promoted to chef d'escadrons and appointed chief of staff to Klein's dragoon division. Bouvier des Eclaz stayed with Klein's division when it was assigned to the Army of England, the Army of Switzerland, and finally the Army of the Rhine. With that last army, in December of 1800 he served at the Battle of Hohenlinden.

In 1803 Bouvier des Eclaz was appointed a major in the 17th Dragoons. When war broke out in 1805, he served with that unit throughout the campaign that year and he fought at the Battle of Austerlitz. Shortly before war commenced with Prussia in 1806, Bouvier des Eclaz was promoted to colonel of the 14th Dragoons. Serving with Klein's division again, he took part in the campaign against Prussia and in February of 1807 he fought at Eylau where he was wounded by a shot. After the campaign resumed in the spring, Bouvier des Eclaz served as part of Latour-Maubourg's dragoon division and he fought at Heilsberg where he was wounded by the explosion of a shell.

Colonel Bouvier des Eclaz was next sent to serve in Spain in 1808, and that year he was named a Baron of the Empire. Serving throughout Spain under Latour-Maubourg, in 1810 he received a promotion to général de brigade. 1811 was a busy year for Bouvier des Eclaz, as he served at the Gebora in February and then in June he distinguished himself at Santa Marta and Villalba. Later that same year he was rewarded as a Commander of the Legion of Honor, a Knight of the Iron Crown, and he went on to serve with the Army of Andalusia.

At the end of 1811 Bouvier des Eclaz returned to France to prepare for the campaign against Russia of 1812. That January he took command of a brigade of Defrance's 4th Cuirassier Division. Leading his men into Russia, he participated throughout the campaign and fought at the Battle of Borodino in September. Bouvier des Eclaz survived the retreat from Russia but it took its toll on his health, and in March of 1813 he was authorized to return to France due to his health. That July he was sent to Holland to command the département of Frise, and in September he took command of the département of Bouches de la Meuse. Commanding at The Hague, Bouvier des Eclaz was trapped when the city rose up against the French in November. He took refuge in the chateau of Binnenhof but was forced to surrender and was arrested. The next month he was released and subjected to an investigation, but ultimately he was just put on non-activity.

After Napoleon's abdication and the Bourbon Restoration in 1814, Bouvier des Eclaz was made a Knight of Saint Louis. When Napoleon returned from exile in 1815 for the Hundred Days, he gave command of the National Guard of the 6th military division to Bouvier des Eclaz. After Napoleon's second abdication, Bouvier des Eclaz retired later in that year.


Updated April 2019

© Nathan D. Jensen