General Frédéric Guillaume de Donop

Général de brigade of cavalry who was killed at Waterloo

Born: June 3, 1773

Place of Birth: Kassel, Germany

Died: June 18, 1815

Cause of Death: Killed in action

Place of Death: Waterloo, Belgium

Arc de Triomphe: DONOP on the north pillar

The son of a colonel and chamberlain to the landgrave of Hesse, Frédéric Guillaume de Donop first volunteered to join the Esterhazy Hussars in March of 1789. In 1790 he was commissioned as a sous-lieutenant and during the early Revolution his unit was renamed the 3rd Hussars. Donop and his comrades were sent to the Army of the Moselle in 1792 and he was promoted to lieutenant in February of 1793. Nine months later in November he was relieved of duty by the representatives of the people for unpatriotic remarks. Donop went on to serve with the inspection of wood at Nancy and then with the draft board of the 17th military division.

In February of 1801 Donop returned to active duty as an aide-de-camp of General Tharreau with the Army of Italy. That year he also joined the staff of General Murat in Tuscany and then in 1802 he was sent to Livorno. Donop remained in Italy until 1805 when he joined the 2nd Guard of Paris. When the Grande Armée marched later that year to confront the forces of the Third Coalition, Donop joined Murat's staff and served with the army. In 1806 he was promoted to capitaine in the 9th Hussars and then in March of 1807 he rejoined Murat's staff. After the conclusion of the war, Donop was promoted to chef d'escadrons and named an aide-de-camp to General La Houssaye.

In 1808 Donop was sent to Spain and Portugal. He distinguished himself at the crossing of the Tagus at the bridge of Arzobispo in August of 1809. In 1810 Donop became chief of staff of Trelliard's 4th Dragoon Division and in November of 1812 he served as interim chief of staff of the Army of the Center for two weeks. Donop was recognized as an Officer of the Legion of Honor in early 1813 and at the end of the year he was promoted to général de brigade and assigned to the 13th Division of IV Corps. Instead of commanding a brigade in combat, in January he took a position at the central depot of cavalry of Versailles where he remained for the rest of the war.

After Napoleon's abdication and the restoration of the Bourbons, Donop was named a Knight of Saint Louis but also put on non-activity. When in 1815 Napoleon returned from exile and resumed power for the Hundred Days, Donop rallied to him and was employed in the 2nd Division of the Cavalry Reserve. That June Donop took command of the 2nd Brigade of Roussel d'Hurbal's 12th Division of III Cavalry Corps. Donop fought at the Battle of Waterloo where he went missing after being badly wounded and ran over by a horse.


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Updated August 2017

© Nathan D. Jensen