General Jean-Hyacinthe-Sébastien Chartrand

Général de brigade of the Young Guard who was executed for his role in the Hundred Days

Born: January 22, 1779

Place of Birth: Carcassonne, Aude, France

Died: May 22, 1816

Cause of Death: Executed

Place of Death: Lille, France


Younger than many of the other soldiers, Jean-Hyacinthe-Sébastien Chartrand enlisted at age fourteen as a volunteer in November of 1793. Throughout the course of the Revolution he served in the Army of the Eastern Pyrenees, the Army of Italy, the Army of England, and finally the Army of the Rhine. With the Army of the Rhine he fought at Biberach in May of 1800 where he was wounded by a shot to the foot.

In 1803 Chartrand joined the Chasseurs à Pied of the Consular Guard and when war broke out two years later he took part in the campaigns of the Grande Armée. In February of 1807 he finally received a commission as a lieutenant in the Chasseurs à Pied of the Imperial Guard. The next year Chartrand was sent to Spain but in 1809 he was recalled to serve in Germany on the Danube campaign of that year. That April he joined the 1st Tirailleurs Chasseurs of the Imperial Guard and then in May he fought at Aspern-Essling where he was wounded by a shot of grapeshot to the thigh. Chartrand returned to Spain to serve for the next two years.

Chartrand returned to France in 1811 and then began the campaign in Russia of 1812 with the 1st Chasseurs à Pied of the Guard. During the retreat from Russia that October he was named a major in the 51st Ligne. The next year he took part in the campaigns in Saxony and that August he was promoted to colonel of the 25th Ligne. In September of 1813 Chartrand received a promotion to général de brigade and he took command of the advance guard of I Corps, helping to defend Dresden. As the Allies tried to take Dresden, Chartrand was wounded by a shot to the left shoulder on November 10th, and the following day the city surrendered. Chartrand was taken as a prisoner of war and conducted to Presbourg.

After Napoleon's abdication Chartrand was allowed to return to France in May of 1814. The restored Bourbons named him a Knight of Saint Louis but also put him on non-activity. When Napoleon escaped from exile in 1815 for the Hundred Days, Chartrand rallied to him and was sent to the south to raise troops against the Duke of Angoulême. After completing that task, he was given command of a brigade of the Young Guard and took part in the campaign in Belgium in June, fighting at Ligny and Waterloo.

After Napoleon's second abdication, General Chartrand attempted to stay employed under the Second Restoration of the Bourbons and was even recommended by General Bourmont. However, he was exiled to Carcassonne but he defied those orders and came to Paris. Chartrand was then arrested and taken to Lille where he was brought before a council of war of the 16th military division and judged for his role during the Hundred Days. On May 9th, 1816, the council of war reached a decision and condemned Chartrand to die. About two weeks later Chartrand was led out to the ditches surrounding the fortress at Lille and shot by a firing squad.


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Updated February 2015

© Nathan D. Jensen