General Jean-Pierre-François BonetGénéral de division who served notably in Spain
Born: August 8, 1768
Place of Birth: Alençon, Orne, France
Legion of Honor: Grand Cross
Imperial Nobility: Count
Died: November 23, 1857
Place of Death: Alençon, France
Arc de Triomphe: BONET on the east pillar
The son of a pastry cook, Jean-Pierre-François Bonet enlisted in the army in 1786 but then deserted later that year. Returning to the army, he was judged and forced to add four more years of service to his term. Despite these new terms Bonet deserted again in 1790, but with the changes of the Revolution sweeping the nation, he was not pursued. In September of 1791 Bonet joined the 1st Battalion of Volunteers of Orne and was elected a lieutenant. Serving with the Army of the North, the next year he was promoted to capitaine. In 1793 Captain Bonet fought at Hondschoote where he was wounded by a shot to the left eye, costing him his sight in that eye. Two months later he received a promotion to chef de bataillon.
1794 was a busy year for Bonet. That March he became chief of staff to Fromentin's division and then in May he was promoted to général de brigade. Joining Hatry's division in June, he went to the Army of the Sambre and Meuse and then served at the Battle of the Ourthe as part of Morlot's division in September. The next year Bonet served in Desjardin's division during the siege of Luxembourg, but then in January of 1796 he resigned due to his inability to see well.
Bonet returned to the army in June of 1796, and then in April of 1797 he served during the crossing of the Rhine as part of Olivier's division. In February of 1798 he was relieved for having acquired too many expenses on campaign, but a military tribunal exonerated him of all charges the following month. In August of 1799 Bonet took command of the advance guard of Ney's division. Continuing to serve in the Army of the Rhine in 1800, Bonet fought at Engen and Messkirch in May and then at Hohenlinden in December as part of Bastoul's division. During that battle, he took six cannons and 1500 prisoners.
During the years of peace that followed, General Bonet served in various military divisions and was promoted to général de division in 1803. In 1805 he served briefly in Belgium and then took a command at Brest.
Bonet returned to more active campaigning in 1808 when he was sent to Spain to command the 3rd Division of II Corps. That November he served at Burgos and then occupied Santander. For the next two years he commanded in the Asturias, winning notable actions at Oviedo in 1810 and Llanès and Puelo in 1811. In recognition of these achievements, he was named a Count of the Empire. In June of 1811 Bonet evacuated the Asturias and took command of the 8th Division of the Army of Portugal under Marshal Marmont. Over the following months he won at Orbigo, Riego de Ambrosio, and Puente Fierros, eventually retaking the Asturias. Bonet led his division to rejoin the Army of Portugal in July of 1812 and therefore took part in the Battle of Salamanca. After Marmont was wounded, Bonet took command until he himself was wounded, and then General Clauzel took command.
Bonet next returned to France to take part in the campaigns in Germany in 1813. Given command of the 2nd Division under Marmont, he served at Lutzen and Bautzen that May. Three months later Bonet commanded a division under Gouvion St. Cyr at the Battle of Dresden. Remaining near Dresden, he seized the defile of Geyersberg in September and fought at Racknitz in October before he was taken prisoner when Dresden surrendered to the Allies in November of 1813.
After Napoleon's abdication, Bonet was released and he returned to France where he served in the 2nd military division at Tours. When Napoleon escaped from exile for the Hundred Days, Bonet rallied to him and was named commander at Orleans, then Dunkirk, and finally Metz. During this time, Bonet and General Ornano got in a fight and two duels ensued. During the first duel both generals missed each other with their pistol shots, but during the second duel they each wounded one another.1 Due to their wounds, they were unable to participate in the campaign in Belgium, and instead Bonet joined the defenders of Paris. After Napoleon's second abdication, the restored Bourbons put Bonet on non-activity.
- Ronald Pawly, Napoleon's Dragoons of the Imperial Guard, (Oxford: Osprey Publishing Ltd., 2012), 42-43.
Updated October 2014
© Nathan D. Jensen