General Jean Jacques Germain Pelet-Clozeau

Jean Jacques Germain Pelet-Clozeau
Général de brigade who served in the Imperial Guard and later directed the Depot of War, preserving historical documents

Born: July 15, 1777

Place of Birth: Toulouse, Haute-Garonne, France

Died: December 20, 1858

Place of Death: Paris, France

Arc de Triomphe: PELET on the east pillar


The son of a jewel merchant, Jean Jacques Germain Pelet-Clozeau was originally from Toulouse and he went to the school of arts and sciences there. In 1799 he enlisted in the military and the next year he was promoted to sergeant in the 1st Auxiliary Battalion of Haute-Garonne, joining the engineers. In 1801 Pelet-Clozeau was commissioned as a sous-lieutenant and he began working on geography and topography. The next year he was promoted to lieutenant.

Pelet-Clozeau's next major career move came in 1805 when he joined Marshal Masséna's staff in the Army of Italy, eventually becoming Masséna's aide-de-camp in early October. He went on to fight at Caldiero where he was wounded in the head by a ball. The next year Pelet-Clozeau served in Naples and then in 1807 he was promoted to capitaine. In 1809 he saw action again, being wounded that May at Ebersberg by a ball to the left arm. Afterwards Pelet-Clozeau was promoted to chef de bataillon and he served at Aspern-Essling in May and then at Znaim in July.

For the years 1810 and 1811, Pelet-Clozeau served in Portugal. In 1811 he was also promoted to colonel and made a Knight of the Empire. The next year Pelet-Clozeau joined General Marchand's staff for the campaign in Russia and he fought at Smolensk and Borodino. During the retreat from Russia, Pelet-Clozeau was given command of the 48th of the Line in Ricard's division, and he fought at Krasnoe where his right arm and both legs were broken by grapeshot.

In April of 1813 Pelet-Clozeau was promoted to général de brigade and employed in VI Corps. That August he took command of the 2nd Brigade of the Decouz's 3rd Division of the Young Guard and he fought at Dresden. Two months later Pelet-Clozeau served at Leipzig and then in 1814 he continued to serve with the Young Guard in defense of France. He fought at Brienne in January and then after Decouz was badly wounded Pelet-Clozeau took command of the division, fighting at La Rothière, the bridge of Lesmon, Champaubert , and Montmirail in February. Next he took command of the 1st Brigade of Friant's division and he fought at Vauchamps and Montereau , and then in March he took command of a brigade of chasseurs of the Old Guard and he served at Craonne, Laon, Reims, and Arcis-sur-Aube.

After Napoleon's abdication in April of 1814, the restored Bourbons made Pelet-Clozeau a Knight of Saint Louis. Nevertheless, when Napoleon returned from exile in 1815, Pelet-Clozeau rallied to him. Pelet-Clozeau took a command in the 2nd Chasseurs à Pied of the Old Guard in Morand's division and he served at Ligny. At the Battle of Waterloo he and his men defended Plancenoit.

After Napoleon's second abdication, Pelet-Clozeau was put on non-activity. He resumed an active career in 1818 and in 1830 he became director of the Depot of War. In 1831 Pelet-Clozeau entered politics and he was elected a deputy of Haute-Garonne. Four years later he was grievously wounded when Fieschi tried to assassinate King Louis Philippe with the infernal machine in the same attack that killed Marshal Mortier. In 1845 Pelet-Clozeau again became director of the Depot of War and he finished his military career there before retiring and later joining the senate.


Updated March 2023

© Nathan D. Jensen