General Jacques-Laurent-Louis-Augustin Vial

Cavalry officer and younger brother of General Honoré Vial

Born: August 9, 1774

Place of Birth: Antibes, Alpes-Maritimes, France

Died: May 20, 1855

Place of Death: Antibes, France

The younger brother of General Honoré Vial, Jacques-Laurent-Louis-Augustin Vial first joined the army in October of 1792 as a sous-lieutenant in the 26th Infantry. Sent to Corsica, he served there until February of 1794 when he was wounded by four shots during a combat near Saint-Florent. Taken prisoner during that fight, Vial was sent to Gibraltar and finally returned to France on Christmas Day of 1795.

Vial next went to the Army of Italy where he became an assistant to his older brother for the Italian campaign of 1796. In August of 1797 he was promoted to lieutenant and placed with the 11th Cavalry, and then in 1798 he joined the staff of the Army of the Orient. Taking part in the campaign to Egypt, Vial fought at Alexandria where he was wounded by a shot to the right arm. A little more than a month later he was promoted to capitaine and appointed an aide-de-camp to General Lagrange. Vial served on the expedition to Syria and then remained in Egypt, receiving a promotion to chef d'escadrons in March of 1801.

Returning to France in late 1801, Vial was placed with the 17th Cavalry. When war broke out in 1805, he served with the Grande Armée on campaign. The next year he served against Prussia at the Battle of Jena and then in February of 1807 he served at Deppen. Next Vial was promoted to colonel of the 26th Chasseurs à Cheval in April of 1807 and he served in Germany until mid 1808.

In September of 1808 Colonel Vial and his men were sent to Spain and they went on to distinguish themselves at Bilbao and Medellin . Vial was named a Baron of the Empire in December of 1808 and he would spend much of the remainder of his Napoleonic career in Spain. In July of 1813 Vial was promoted to général de brigade and he took command of a brigade of light cavalry in General Pajol's V Cavalry Corps in Germany. After serving in Germany for a brief period of time, General Vial was sent to the Army of the Pyrenees to help defend France there. Defending France in 1814, he served at Orthez and Toulouse .

After Napoleon's abdication, the restored Bourbons named Vial a Knight of Saint Louis but also put him on non-activity. When Napoleon escaped from Elba in 1815 and resumed power for the Hundred Days, Vial rallied to him and was given command of a brigade of cuirassiers in Delort's division of the Army of the North. Vial served during the campaign that June and after Napoleon's second abdication he was again put on non-activity.

Please see the Appendix about the name VIAL on the Arc de Triomphe.


Updated March 2015

© Nathan D. Jensen