General François Roguet

François Roguet
Drill instructor who rose to command infantry divisions in both the Young Guard and Old Guard

Born: November 12, 1770

Place of Birth: Toulouse, Haute-Garonne, France

Died: December 4, 1846

Place of Death: Paris, France

Arc de Triomphe: ROGUET on the south pillar

The son of a locksmith, François Roguet was an infantry commander who eventually was affectionately referred to by his soldiers as "Old Man Roguet" or "Father Roguet". Originally enlisting in the infantry in May of 1789, in December of 1791 he joined the 1st Battalion of Haute-Garonne and he went on to serve with the Army of the Alps in 1792. In 1793 Roguet transferred to the Army of Italy where he would spend the next seven years. Despite his lack of knowledge or experience with training, one of his first tasks was to drill and train new recruits. As the new recruits began to stream in, Roguet feigned illness for three days and studied the drill manuals until he felt confident enough that he could teach the new soldiers.1

In 1795 Roguet saw combat and he was wounded by a ball to his left leg during the assault on the fort of Savona. The next year General Bonaparte took command of the Army of Italy and Roguet participated throughout the campaign in northern Italy. In May of 1796 he switched units to the 32nd of the Line and in December he was promoted to chef de bataillon of the 33rd of the Line, serving as part of Joubert's division.

The next significant moments in Roguet's career came in 1799. During the fighting at Pastrengo in March he was wounded by a shot to the right leg. Over the next few months, Roguet punished the insurgents of Liguria and then in June he was promoted to chef de brigade of the 33rd of the Line on the field of battle. That August he was placed in charge of the flankers of the left of the Army of Italy and he fought at Novi . Later Roguet served at Fossano and then on the Var.

In 1803 Roguet was promoted to général de brigade and sent to the camp of Montreuil. As the Grande Armée marched to war in 1805, Roguet took command of the 2nd Brigade of the 2nd Division of Marshal Ney's VI Corps, serving at Elchingen and seizing the fort of Scharnitz. In 1806 he continued to serve as a brigade commander in VI Corps, and then in 1807 he took command of the 1st Brigade in Bisson's division. With that unit Roguet fought in June at Guttstadt where he was wounded by a shot to the left foot and taken prisoner. A month later he was released and he took up an administrative position with the 1st military division.

Roguet was rewarded in 1808 by being named a Baron of the Empire. That September he traveled to Spain to become commander of the 1st Brigade of an infantry division under General Sebastiani in IV Corps. After serving at Durango that October, he continued on with the army until March of 1809 when he returned to France to take up a position with the Imperial Guard. Made colonel in second of the Grenadiers à Pied of the Imperial Guard, he served in Austria and then at the end of April he was made commander of the Tirailleurs of the Guard. After serving at Aspern-Essling , Roguet took command of the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Division of the Young Guard to serve at Wagram .

At the end of 1809 General Roguet was tasked with leading the 1st Division of the Young Guard to Spain. Once there, he served primarily in the Old Castile region of Spain, usually under the orders of General Dorsenne. In September of 1810 Roguet was victorious over the guerillas at Yuanguas, and then two months later he was victorious at Belozado. After growing frustrated with the guerrilla warfare, Roguet came up with a plan to turn the guerrillas against one another. Drawing up fake documents about an agreement between himself and various guerilla bands, he ensured that these documents would fall into the hands of different guerrilla bands. Before long the rival bands were filled with mistrust for one another.2 For his excellent work, in July of 1811 Roguet received a promotion to général de division.

In 1812 Roguet was recalled to France to take part in the campaign against Russia, taking command of the 2nd Division of the Young Guard under Marshal Mortier. He fought at Borodino and Krasnoe and was known for being unbreakable despite the horrors of the retreat. In January of 1813 Roguet was placed temporarily in charge of the Imperial Guard under Prince Eugene. That April he took command of the Old Guard in Saxony and in May he fought at Lützen and Bautzen. In August Roguet took command of the 4th Division of the Young Guard and he was bruised by a ball to the left side during the fighting at the Battle of Dresden. Two months later he was back in action, fighting at Leipzig and Hanau.

Next sent to Belgium, Roguet took command of the 6th Division of the Young Guard. He attacked Bréda without success in December, and then in January he was defeated at Turnhout. A few days later Roguet served at Merxheim and then in February he began to serve at the defense of Antwerp. Named a Count of the Empire towards the end of February, at the end of March he left Antwerp, joined Maison, and served at the combat of Courtrai.

The restored Bourbons treated Roguet well, making him a Knight of Saint Louis and giving him a position, but nevertheless in 1815 he rallied to Napoleon for the Hundred Days. Napoleon gave him a command as colonel in second of the Grenadiers à Pied of the Guard, which he served with at the Battle of Waterloo. Afterwards, he was placed on non-activity. In 1818 Roguet resumed his career and he retired at the end of 1824. In 1830 he returned to army service and in 1831 he was named a Peer of France.



Updated August 2023

© Nathan D. Jensen