General Henri-Christian-Michel Stengel

German born cavalry general who was mortally wounded at Mondovi

Born: May 11, 1744

Place of Birth: Neustadt, Germany

Died: April 28, 1796

Cause of Death: Mortally wounded

Place of Death: Carassone, Italy

Arc de Triomphe: STENGEL on the south pillar

A soldier from Germany by trade, Henri-Christian-Michel Stengel originally served in the military in the Palatinate but in 1760 he transferred to France's service as a sous-lieutenant. Serving during the Seven Years War, he was wounded by a shot to the leg while serving in Germany during that conflict.

By the time of the Revolution, Stengel had risen to become a chef d'escadrons and he had been recognized as a Knight of Saint Louis. In 1792 he became colonel of the 1st Hussars and his unit was employed in Le Veneur's division. That September Stengel received a promotion to maréchal de camp and only a week later he served at the Battle of Valmy where he commanded the advance guard. Two months later he and his men seized Malines and Aix-la-Chapelle. Serving with the Army of Belgium, in March of 1793 General Stengel and his men were pushed back by the Prince of Wurtemberg and he was summoned by the Convention to answer for this failure. He appeared before the Convention and was then arrested and thrown in prison. Tried by the Revolutionary Tribunal, Stengel was unanimously acquitted and released at the end of May. However, he remained suspended from command and he finally retired at the start of 1795.

Two months after his retirement in 1795 Stengel returned to the service. In June of 1795 he was promoted to général de division and given command of the cavalry of the Army of Italy. The next year the young General Bonaparte arrived to take command of the Army of Italy and lead it on an aggressive offensive with Stengel as his cavalry commander. During the Battle of Mondovi in April, Stengel led the cavalry in a circle around the town but then perceived an enemy force on his flank. While he gave an order to form up to receive the enemy, he had to give it twice, once for his German speaking troops and once for his French speaking troops. The French cavalry lost cohesion and the Piedmontese attacked. During the ensuing melee Stengel was wounded by a pistol shot to the left arm and several saber blows, though Murat managed to salvage the situation. Stengel's wounded left arm was amputated by the surgeons but he died a week later from his wounds.


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Updated June 2016

© Nathan D. Jensen