General Dominique Louis Antoine Klein

Dominique Louis Antoine Klein
Général de division of dragoons who retired in 1807 to become a senator

Born: January 24, 1761

Place of Birth: Blâmont, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France

Died: November 2, 1845

Place of Death: Paris, France

Arc de Triomphe: KLEIN on the east pillar


The son of a merchant, Dominique Louis Antoine Klein was a cavalry general who eventually retired to serve in the senate. Enlisting in the service of the king in 1777, he remained in the military for the next ten years before quitting the service. In early 1792 he was back with the military as a lieutenant in the 83rd Infantry and within a few months he had switched to cavalry and was serving with the 3rd Dragoons before joining the 11th Chasseurs à Cheval. That year he served in numerous small combats before fighting at Valmy and Jemappes . In October he became an aide-de-camp to General Bouchet and the next year he became aide to General Champollon.

At the end of 1793, Klein was promoted to chef de brigade and he served with the Army of the Ardennes. The next year he fought at the Battle of Fleurus , and with the Army of the Sambre and Meuse he fought near the Meuse, the Ourthe, and Aywaille. Next he was placed in charge of the advance guard of the right wing of the army, and he served at the crossing of the Roër, and then at Bonn, Andernach, and Coblentz. Promoted to général de brigade in October, he took command of a brigade of cavalry in Marceau's division, and later in Championnet's division. In September of 1795 his unit was victorious at Dietz. After going back to Marceau's division for a period of time, Klein took command of the advance guard of Championnet's division in July of 1796 and he led them into action over the coming months at Camberg, Wurzburg, Bamberg, Weilburg, and Limbourg.

In February of 1797 General Klein was placed in charge of the dragoons of the Army of the Sambre and Meuse and serving under Championnet. That April he fought at Neuwied, Altenkirchen, and Steinberg. The next year he was designated to join the Army of England, but instead he was sent to the Army of Mainz in September to take command of their dragoons. February of 1799 saw Klein promoted to général de division and then a month later he was sent to command the Cavalry Reserve of the Army of the Danube. After serving at Pfullendorf in March, in early April he was selected to be the chief of staff to the army, and then he joined the Army of Switzerland, taking command of the cavalry. At the first Battle of Zurich, he commanded the cavalry under Soult, and then in September at the second Battle of Zurich he commanded the reserve, contributing to the victory.

After a brief respite in France, Klein next joined the Army of the Rhine as commander-in-chief of the cavalry. In 1800 he served as commander at Kehl before taking command of a mobile column tasked to stop partisans in the Brisgau area. At the end of the year he joined Sainte-Suzanne's corps, and then in 1801 he was put on non-activity before being employed in the Cisalpine in 1802.

At the end of 1802 Klein was appointed inspector general of cavalry and then the next year he took command of a division of dragoons forming at Amiens. He took this division to the camp of Montreuil in late 1803, and when the army prepared for war in 1805 his division became the 1st Division of Dragoons of the Grande Armée. During the campaign of 1805, General Klein led his men into action at Wertingen, Albeck, Langenau, Neresheim and Nuremberg. The next year his dragoons fought at Jena, Kolozomb, and Golymin . In early 1807, Klein's dragoons fought at Hoff and Ziegelhoff in the days leading up to Eylau, and then they took part in the great charge at Eylau.

Klein next chose to leave the military, becoming a senator in August of 1807. The next year he received the honors of being made a Count of the Empire and governor of the imperial palace. In 1809 he briefly returned to the military to assist the Army of the North and then he commanded the cavalry of the Army of Antwerp before returning to the senate at the end of the year. 1812 saw Klein helping to raise troops in the 22nd military division.

After Napoleon's abdication in 1814, Klein was well treated by the Bourbons, becoming a Peer of France and Knight of Saint Louis. With Napoleon's return, he made symbolic opposition to the Bourbons but did not participate in the Hundred Days. During the trial of Marshal Ney, Klein voted for Ney to be deported.


Updated February 2022

© Nathan D. Jensen