General Jean Charles Desailly

Commander of the 15th Light who became a général de brigade and served in Davout's divisions

Born: December 27, 1768

Place of Birth: Oisy-le-Verger, Pas-de-Calais, France

Died: May 22, 1830

Place of Death: Montreuil-sous-Bois, France

Arc de Triomphe: DESAILLY on the west pillar


Enlisting in the infantry regiment of Berry in 1785, Jean Charles Desailly volunteered to join the 1st Battalion of Pas-de-Calais in October of 1791. He was sent to serve in the Army of the North and in August of 1792 he participated in the defense of the camp of Maulde. That October he was promoted to capitaine. The next year, in September of 1793 Desailly distinguished himself at the Siege of Dunkirk and in 1794 he served at the combat of Roulers and then the Siege of Grave. In 1795 he he served under General Pichegru in Holland and later he was sent to the Army of the Sambre and Meuse. Desailly participated in the crossing of the Rhine that September and then the Siege of Mainz at the end of the year. In June of 1796 his unit became part of the 15th Light and in 1797 he joined the Army of Italy. That March Desailly served at the crossing of the Tagliamento and the action of Gradisca and then a week later he was promoted to chef de bataillon by General Bonaparte. Desailly remained in Italy and in 1798 he served under Championnet in the Army of Rome at Civita Castellana. In 1799 he served with the Army of Naples and he fought at the Battle of the Trebbia and the week after he was promoted to chef de brigade by General Macdonald. Desailly went on to serve with the Army of Italy and in May of 1800 he was named commander of the 15th Light and he joined the Army of the Reserve.

When Napoleon's Grande Armée marched east to confront the Third Coalition in 1805, Desailly served as part of General Friant's division. During the campaign of 1805 he served at Wertingen, Hollabrunn, and Austerlitz and afterwards he was named a Commander of the Legion of Honor. In June of 1807 Desailly served at the action of Koenigsberg. Two years later when Austria attacked in Germany Desailly was still serving as part of Friant's division. He fought at the Battle of Eckmühl in April and in June he was promoted to général de brigade and he took command of the 2nd Brigade of Puthod's 4th Division in Marshal Davout's III Corps. Desailly fought at the Battle of Wagram in July where he was wounded by a ball to the right shoulder. After the conclusion of the campaign he was named a Baron of the Empire.

In 1811 Desailly took command of a brigade in Gudin's division. He remained with this division throughout the campaign of 1812 against Russia. In August of 1812 he fought at Smolensk and then at Valutina where his left thigh was shattered. Desailly returned to France and retired in May of 1813.


Updated May 2019

© Nathan D. Jensen