General Martin VignolleDeputy chief of staff to Berthier who served in Italy for much of his career
Born: March 18, 1763
Place of Birth: Marsillargues, Hérault, France
Legion of Honor: Grand Officer
Imperial Nobility: Count
Died: November 13, 1824
Place of Death: Paris, France
Arc de Triomphe: VIGNOLLE on the south pillar
Volunteering to join the infantry regiment of Barrois in 1779, Martin de Vignolle became a gentleman cadet in the regiment the following year. In 1784 he was commissioned as a sous-lieutenant, and his next promotion came after the Revolution was underway when he was promoted to lieutenant in September of 1791. In 1792 Vignolle received a promotion to capitaine and he served in Savoy. The next year in June he fought at the attack of Lignères where he was wounded and then at the camp of Millefourches where he was again wounded, this time by the blow of a bayonet. In 1794 Vignolle joined the staff of the Army of Italy and he was promoted to chef de bataillon. That April he served at Saorgio and then at the Tende pass and in December he was promoted to chef de brigade by the representatives of the people. In June of 1795 Vignolle was appointed deputy chief of staff to the Army of Italy and later he became Schérer's chief of staff.
When General Bonaparte arrived to take command of the Army of Italy in 1796, Vignolle became the deputy chief of staff under Berthier. He served at Dego in April and then in May he served at Lodi and entered Crémone. Continuing to fight, Vignolle seized the fort of Urbino in June and then in July he served at the action of Migliaretto before Mantua. That August he was promoted to général de brigade by General Bonaparte and he served at Castiglione . The following month Bonaparte appointed Vignolle as a member of the commission to judge French soldiers in Italy who had committed violations against towns. Still serving with the army, Vignolle fought at the Battle of Arcola where he was wounded by two shots. In January of 1797 he was named commander at Crémone and then in June he became deputy chief of staff of the Army of Italy.
In November of 1797 Vignolle was named Minister of War of the Cisalpine Republic and he held this position until February of 1799 when he was ordered by the Directory to resign. Serving with the Army of Italy, in August of 1799 he was ordered by Moreau to organize the battalions of reinforcements at Nice. That December Vignolle was called to Paris to become the secretary general of the Minister of War. He next served with the staff of the Army of the Reserve and he stopped at Dijon in May to oversee the depots of the army. When General Brune arrived at Dijon, Vignolle then rejoined the army at Aoste. He was named commander of Ivrée in May and he went on to serve at the crossing of the Tessin before becoming commander of Milan. In August of 1800 Vignolle was appointed a member of the commission to examine the conduct of Italian officers who had served with the French in 1799. That December he served at Monzembano where he was wounded.
During the peace that followed, Vignolle was sent in January of 1801 to command a corps of 2000 National Guard troops of Bologne at the blockade of Ferrare. Six months later he was ordered to organize the Cisalpine army which he did until December of 1802. Next Vignolle was employed in the 15th military division in 1803 and he worked with the Minister of the Administration of War. In the summer of 1803 he was named chief of staff of the French army in Holland and then promoted to général de division. In 1804 Vignolle became General Marmont's chief of staff.
When the Grande Armée marched to face Austria in the fight against the Third Coalition, Vignolle served as chief of staff to Marmont's II Corps. After the conclusion of the campaign he was named chief of staff to Prince Eugène de Beauharnais. In 1806 Vignolle was named a Knight of the Iron Crown and then he returned to Marmont's side as chief of staff in Dalmatia. Two years later he was named a Baron of the Empire and then put on leave. When the Danube campaign of 1809 began, Vignolle served directly under Marshal Berthier. That June he became Eugène de Beauharnais' chief of staff and in July he was wounded by grapeshot to the right eye on the day before the Battle of Wagram . At the end of 1809 Vignolle was named a Count of the Empire.
In 1812 as the Grande Armée prepared to campaign against Russia, Vignolle remained in Italy to serve as chief of staff of all the French troops remaining in Italy. After the disastrous campaign in 1812, in 1813 Vignolle became chief of staff to the Army of Italy. While serving in Italy Vignolle named a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor and a Commander of the Iron Crown. In February of 1814 he fought at the Battle of the Mincio. After Napoleon's abdication and the Bourbon restoration in 1814, Vignolle became a member of the commission ordered to examine the services of émigrés. When Napoleon resumed power in 1815 for the Hundred Days, he named Vignolle inspector general of infantry of the 3rd arrondissement. Vignolle retired from the army in September after the second restoration.
Updated March 2018
© Nathan D. Jensen