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I Corps
Emblem of Napoleon Bonaparte.svg
Emblem of Napoleon Bonaparte as "Emperor of the French".
Active 1804–1813
1815
Country France French Empire
Allegiance Napoleon Bonaparte
Branch France French Army
Size Army Corps
Part of Grande Armée
Engagements

(Notable Battles:) Napoleonic Wars

Commanders
Notable
commanders
  • Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte
  • Louis-Nicolas Davout
  • Jean-Baptiste Drouet, Comte d'Erlon
  • Claude Victor-Perrin, Duc de Belluno
  • Dominique Vandamme
  • The I Corps of the Grande Armée was a French military unit that existed during the Napoleonic Wars. Though disbanded in 1814, following the Treaty of Fontainebleau, it was reformed in April 1815 following the return of Napoléon during the Hundred Days. During the Hundred Days, the corps formed part of the quickly re-formed Army of the North.


    Campaigns[edit | edit source]

    During the mobilisation by Napoléon in 1803, and the subsequent ordnance reforming the army, the new "Army of Hanover or Armée de Hanovre" was formed in French occupied Hanover. This new army was the size of a corps, but under this reorganisation this meant the corps was to be deemed an army (for psychological reasons). On 17 June 1805 Jean Baptiste Bernadotte was made Governor of Hanover, and on 29 August 1805 took control of the new I Corps, and remained in this role for another seven years.

    War of the Third Coalition[edit | edit source]

    When the War of the Third Coalition was declared, the Army of Hanover was separate from the new Army of Hanover (responsible for the defence of Hanover) and the I Corps. This new corps was formed as part of what later became the famed Grande Armée. On 29 August 1805 the I Corps arrived in Würzburg, and tasked with providing support to the Bavarian Army (now a French ally). During the famed Ulm campaign, the I Corps formed part of the far left flank, preventing the possible retreat of the Austrians under General Karl Mack von Leiberich. As Russian General Mikhail Kutuzov arrived in Eastern Austria/Bavaria, the reality of the situation caused a general retreat towards Moravia, and the I Corps was tasked with ensuring they wouldn't escape. This plan however failed, and it was because of this move that the Battle of Austerlitz in-fact went ahead, because of Kutuzov's successful retreat.

    Below is the order of battle of the corps on the eve of the Grande Armée's crossing of the Rhine into (what is now) Germany.

    Order of Battle on 26 October 1805[1][2]
    I Corps Headquarters; Maréchal d'Empire Jean Baptiste Bernadotte
    • Corps Artillery; Colonel Humbert
      • 4th Company, 3rd Horse Artillery Regiment
      • 18th Company, 8th Artillery Regiment
      • 20th Company, 8th Artillery Regiment
      • 6 Artillery Train Companies (465 men)
      • 1st Company, 1st Auxiliary Pontooner Battalion (116 men)
      • 1st Detachment, 2nd Platoon, 8th Artisan Company (43 men)
    • Cavalry Division; Général de Division François Étienne de Kellermann
      • 2nd Company, 3rd Horse Artillery Regiment
      • 3rd Company, 3rd Horse Artillery Regiment
      • Brigade; Général de Brigade Joseph-Denis Picard and Van Marizy
        • 2nd Hussar Regiment (2éme Régiment de Hussards) — 3 squadrons with 431 men
        • 4th Hussar Regiment (4éme Régiment de Hussards) — 3 squadrons with 444 men
        • 5th Hussar Regiment (5éme Régiment de Hussards) — 3 squadrons with 355 men
        • 5th Regiment of Mounted Chasseurs (5éme Régiment de Chasseurs à Cheval) — 3 squadrons with 436 men
    • 1st Division; Général de Division Jean-Baptiste Drouet
      • 1st Company, 8th Artillery Regiment
      • 2nd Company, 8th Artillery Regiment
      • Brigade; Général de Brigade Bernard-Georges-François Frère and François Werlé
        • 94th Regiment of Line Infantry (94éme Régiment d'Infanterie de Ligne) — 3 battalions with 2,097 men
        • 95th Regiment of Line Infantry (95éme Régiment d'Infanterie de Ligne) — 3 battalions with 1,947 men
        • 27th Regiment of Light Infantry (27éme Régiment d'Infanterie Légère) — 3 battalions with 2,161 men
    • 2nd Division; Général de Division Olivier Macoux Rivaud de la Raffinière
      • 5th Company, 8th Artillery Regiment
      • 6th Company, 8th Artillery Regiment
      • Brigade; Général de Brigade Charles Dumoulin and Michel Marie Pacthod
        • 8th Regiment of Line Infantry (8éme Régiment d'Infanterie de Ligne) — 3 battalions with 1,900 men
        • 45th Regiment of Line Infantry (45éme Régiment d'Infanterie de Ligne) — 3 battalions with 1,822 men
        • 54th Regiment of Line Infantry (54éme Régiment d'Infanterie de Ligne) — 3 battalions with 1,937 men

    War of the Fourth Coalition[edit | edit source]

    The corps took part in the battles of Schleiz, Halle, and Lübeck in 1806, and Mohrungen and Spanden in 1807. After Bernadotte was wounded at Spanden, General Claude Victor-Perrin led the I Corps at Friedland where his tactics earned him a marshal's baton.

    Order of battle, 1808[edit | edit source]

    Peninsular War[edit | edit source]

    Victor continued to lead the I Corps in Spain where it was engaged at Uclés, Medellín, Alcantara, and Talavera in 1809, the Siege of Cádiz beginning in 1810, and Barrosa in 1811.

    Russian campaign[edit | edit source]

    The corps was reorganised into a strength of five infantry divisions for the invasion of Russia in 1812 and Marshal Louis-Nicolas Davout was appointed to lead it. At the crossing of the Niemen River in 1812, the size of I Corps was around 79,000 men, but by the Battle of Smolensk, about 60,000 men remained.[4] By the end of the Russian campaign, only 2,235 men remained.[5]

    Under Davout, the unit fought at Borodino, Vyazma, and Krasnoi before dissolving as an effective unit during the retreat from Moscow.

    War of the Sixth Coalition[edit | edit source]

    In 1813, the I Corps was reconstituted and placed under the command of General Dominique Vandamme. The corps was destroyed at Kulm, with the remnants surrendering together with XIV Corps following the siege of Dresden in November 1813.

    Order of battle, 1813[edit | edit source]

    Order of battle, 1814[edit | edit source]

    War of the Seventh Coalition[edit | edit source]

    The corps was rebuilt in 1815 during the Hundred Days, and was assigned to General Jean-Baptiste Drouet, under whom it fought at the Battle of Waterloo.

    Order of battle, 1815[edit | edit source]

    Notes[edit | edit source]

    1. Smith 1998; p. 216.
    2. George Nafziger. "French Grande Armée 26 October 1805 Upon its Crossing of the Rhine". United States Army Combined Arms Center, Fort Leavanworth, Kansas. https://usacac.army.mil/sites/default/files/documents/carl/nafziger/805JXA.pdf. Retrieved 27 November 2020. 
    3. George Nafziger, French I Corps 15 December 1808, United States Army Combined Arms Center.
    4. Badone, Jean Cerino. "1812 – Invasion of Russia". http://napoleonistyka.atspace.com/FRENCH_ARMY.htm#french1812. Retrieved 16 August 2007. 
    5. Badone, Jean Cerino. ""I have no army any more!" – Napoleon". http://napoleonistyka.atspace.com/FRENCH_ARMY.htm#french1812. Retrieved 16 August 2007. 
    6. George Nafziger, French I Corps 25 September 1813, United States Army Combined Arms Center.
    7. George Nafziger, French I Corps 1 February 1814, United States Army Combined Arms Center.
    8. "Les Uniformes pendant la campagne des Cent Jours - Belgique 1815". http://centjours.mont-saint-jean.com/organigrammeFRcps1.php?#CPS. 

    References[edit | edit source]

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