General Auguste-Julien BigarréAide-de-camp to Joseph Bonaparte and general who served with the Young Guard
Born: January 1, 1775
Place of Birth: Le Palais, Morbihan, France
Legion of Honor: Grand Officer
Imperial Nobility: Count
Died: May 14, 1838
Place of Death: Rennes, France
Arc de Triomphe: BIGARRE on the south pillar
The son of a magistrate, Auguste-Julien Bigarré initially enlisted in the Navy in 1789 at age fifteen. Setting sail for the Antilles, he later served at Saint-Domingue briefly but then returned to France in 1792 and quit the navy. Now back in France, Bigarré joined the 9th Infantry as a sous-lieutenant in early 1793. Two years later he saw action at Quiberon where he was wounded by a shot to the left shoulder, and a few months after that he received a promotion to lieutenant. In 1796 Bigarré was again promoted, this time to capitaine, and then he was serving in April of 1797 when he was taken prisoner. Released a month later, Bigarré resumed service with the Army of the Sambre and Meuse and then in 1798 he served with the Army of Switzerland. That March he fought at the action of Soleure and then in September he was wounded in the jaw by a shot. In 1800 Bigarré served with the Army of the Rhine and he fought at Hohenlinden where he was wounded by a ball to the right arm and a bayonet to the thigh.
During the peace that followed, Captain Bigarré was appointed to the Foot Chasseurs of the Consular Guard. In 1805 he was appointed major to the 4th Ligne at the Camp of Saint-Omer, and when war broke out later that year he served on the campaign and took part in the fighting at Ulm before distinguishing himself at Austerlitz. In 1806 Bigarré was sent to Naples to serve King Joseph Bonaparte as an aide-de-camp. The following year he was appointed colonel of a Neapolitan regiment and rewarded as a Commander of the Royal Order of the Two Sicilies.
In 1808 Bigarré was promoted to général de brigade and he followed Joseph Bonaparte as an aide-de-camp to Spain. The next year he took command of the Spanish Royal Guard tasked with protecting Joseph Bonaparte, and in 1810 he was recognized as a Baron of the Empire. After serving a number of years in Spain, Bigarré returned to France in late 1813 and joined Marshal Macdonald's XI Corps.
For the defense of France of 1814, in February General Bigarré took command of a brigade of Brayer's 8th Division of the Young Guard. The next month he served under General Curial and fought at Craonne where he was wounded. Ten days later Bigarré received a promotion to général de division, and barely more than a week after that he fought at Fère-Champenoise where he was wounded in the right leg. Falling back, he took part in the defense of Paris until Napoleon's abdication.
The restored Bourbons named Bigarré commander of the département of Ille-et-Vilaine and a Knight of Saint Louis. Despite this, when Napoleon escaped from exile in 1815 and resumed power, Bigarré rallied to him. Bigarré was given command of the 13th military division at Rennes, and during the tumult of the Hundred Days, he led a force against a royalist uprising. Fighting that June, he defeated the royalists at Redon and then fought at Auray where he was wounded by a shot but nevertheless defeated the chief Chouan named Sol de Grissolles. After Napoleon's second abdication, Bigarré was put on non-activity by the Bourbons.
Updated October 2014
© Nathan D. Jensen