General Nicolas Schmitz

Nicolas Schmitz
Infantry commander who served throughout many campaigns

Born: April 11, 1768

Place of Birth: Guessling-Hémering, Moselle, France

Died: January 8, 1851

Place of Death: Paris, France

Arc de Triomphe: SCHMITZ on the west pillar


Enlisting in the infantry regiment of Bourbonnais in 1786, Nicolas Schmitz began his Revolutionary career in 1792 in the Army of the Rhine under General Custine. In 1793 he was promoted to sous-lieutenant and then from 1794 to 1797 he served in the Army of the North and the Army of the Sambre and Meuse. In 1796 Schmitz received a promotion to lieutenant and then in 1799 he joined the Army of Switzerland. That September he fought at the Battle of Zürich where he was wounded by a shot to the right shoulder. Only a few days later Schmitz was fighting at Muotathal where he was wounded by the blow of a bayonet. In 1800 he joined the Army of the Rhine and in 1801 he was promoted to capitaine. Schmitz served in the Army of the Coasts of the Ocean from 1803 to 1805 and he was named an Officer of the Legion of Honor in 1804.

When war broke out in 1805, Schmitz served as captain of a company in the 108th of the Line. He took part in the campaign that year, distinguishing himself at the Battle of Austerlitz with his defense of Sokolnitz. The next year Schmitz fought the Prussians at the Battle of Auerstädt and two days later he was promoted to chef de bataillon of the 107th of the Line. Schmitz continued to serve during that campaign and in February of 1807 he fought at the Battle of Eylau. In 1809 he took part in the Danube campaign and that April he fought at Tengen and then was wounded by a shot to the forearm the following day at Abensberg. In June he took command of two unattached battalions and then in November he was appointed a major in the 32nd of the Line.

In 1810 Schmitz was sent to Spain where he commanded the 2nd Infantry Regiment. That March he battled the guerilla chief Mina and took him prisoner. In 1811 Schmitz was named colonel of the regiment of Illyria and then in 1812 he joined the 10th Division of Marshal Ney's III Corps for the campaign against Russia. During the retreat he was wounded by a shot to the right leg at the affair of Krasnoe.

In 1813 Schmitz was sent to serve in Italy and he was promoted to général de brigade that June. He distinguished himself at Villach in August, was wounded by a shot to the chest at Feistritz in September, and then took part in the combat of Resciutta in October. Schmitz took command of the 1st Brigade of Rouyer's 2nd Division in the Army of Italy in February of 1814 and the next month he served at the Battle of Parma.

After Napoleon's abdication in 1814 and the Bourbon Restoration, Schmitz was named a Knight of Saint Louis. When Napoleon resumed power in 1815 for the Hundred Days, he employed Schmitz in Donzelot's 2nd Division of I Corps of the Army of Belgium. Schmitz fought at the Battle of Waterloo that June and then retired in October.


Updated April 2018

© Nathan D. Jensen