General Etienne Tardif de Pommeroux de BordessoulleCavalry general who served at most of the major battles of the Empire
Born: April 4, 1771
Place of Birth: Luzeret, Indre, France
Died: October 3, 1837
Place of Death: Senlis, France
Arc de Triomphe: BORDESOULLE on the north pillar
Joining the army in April of 1789 at the age of eighteen, Etienne Tardif de Pommeroux de Bordessoulle enlisted in the 2nd Chasseurs à Cheval shortly before the onset of the Revolution. Three years later he was serving with the Army of the Rhine and that year he fought near Spire where he was wounded by a bayonet blow to the thigh. In March of 1793 Bordessoulle distinguished himself during the retreat on Landau and then in October he was taken prisoner near Wantzenau. Released in 1794, he went on to distinguish himself in June at Erixheim, and then he fought at Brixheim in July where he was wounded numerous times. A commission to sous-lieutenant followed in August, and then in September Bordessoulle took the Prussian advance posts near Durckheim. At the end of the year he served before Mainz and was again wounded, this time by two sabre blows to the head at the redoubts of Salzbach.
In July of 1795 Bordessoulle became an aide-de-camp to General Laboissière and when the armies were reorganized he began serving with the Army of the Rhine and Moselle. That November he served before Landau. In July of 1796 Bordessoulle finally received a promotion to lieutenant and then a few months later he fought at Emmendingen where he was wounded by two sabre blows, one of which broke his right wrist. In 1797 he received a promotion to capitaine and served with the Army of England, and then in 1799 he served in the Army of Mainz before being sent to the Army of Italy. General Moreau promoted Bordessoulle to chef d'escadrons in the 6th Hussars that May, and then Bordessoulle served at the Battle of Novi in August where he covered the retreat of the army but had his right arm broken. In 1800 Bordessoulle returned to the Army of the Rhine and that June he fought at Neubourg.
Bordessoulle rejoined the 2nd Chasseurs à Cheval in 1802 and he received a sabre of honor, and then in 1803 he was appointed major in the 1st Chasseurs à Cheval. For the next few years he served in the camp of Bruges, and then when war broke out in 1805 he was placed with Marshal Davout's III Corps. Serving on the campaign that fall, Bordessoulle fought at Austerlitz in December and a few weeks afterwards he received a promotion to colonel of the 22nd Chasseurs à Cheval.
In 1806 Colonel Bordessoulle was with the army when Prussia declared war and his unit was placed with Marshal Soult's IV Corps. He served throughout the campaign against Prussia and then the winter campaign against the Russians. When the campaigning resumed in the spring of 1807, Bordessoulle fought at Guttstadt on June 9th where he was wounded by two bayonet blows, one to the right arm and the other to chest. Nevertheless, the next day he served at the Battle of Heilsberg and only four days later he served at the Battle of Friedland. In recognition of his contributions, he was promoted to général de brigade less than two weeks later.
Bordessoulle was briefly sent to Danzig after the conclusion of the campaign and then in September of 1808 he was sent to Bayonne. Sent into Spain, he took command of the 2nd Brigade of Lasalle's division of the Cavalry Reserve. Bordessoulle was recalled to Paris in January of 1809, but he was still in Spain in March to serve at Aranjuez and Medellin . Next he hurried to join the army in Germany where he took command of a brigade of cavalry in Marshal Masséna's IV Corps. After General Fouler was taken prisoner at the Battle of Aspern-Essling , Bordessoulle took command of Fouler's brigade in the 3rd Cuirassier Division. He then led these men into action at Wagram in July where he was wounded.
In 1810 General Bordessoulle was sent to the Hanseatic cities and then he served in Holland. The next year he took command of a brigade of light cavalry that served under Marshal Davout in what would become the I Corps of the Grande Armée for the campaign against Russia of 1812. Bordessoulle led his men into Russia, winning at Soleschniky in June, taking Mohilew in July, serving at Smolensk in August, and then fighting at Borodino in September where his jaw was shattered by grapeshot. During the retreat he served at Krasnoe and in December he was promoted to général de division.
For the campaigns in Germany of 1813, Bordessoulle was given command of the 1st Cuirassier Division in I Cavalry Corps. That May he served at Lutzen and Bautzen and he was also named a Baron of the Empire. In August Bordessoulle served under Marshal Murat and then at the Battle of Dresden he charged the enemy. Two months later he fought at the Battle of Leipzig and then in November he took command of the II Cavalry Corps.
General Bordessoulle served during the defense of France of 1814, initially commanding two cavalry divisions organized at Versailles. In February he served at the Battles of Champaubert , Vauchamps , and Valjouan before he took command of the heavy cavalry of I Cavalry Corps. The next month Bordessoulle fought at Reims, Fère-Champenoise, and at Paris.
After Napoleon's abdication, the restored Bourbons named Bordessoulle inspector general of cavalry. When Napoleon returned from exile in 1815, Bordessoulle followed King Louis XVIII to Ghent instead of rallying to Napoleon. While in exile he became the chief of staff to the Duke of Berry and then he returned to France with the Bourbons in July. Afterwards, Bordessoulle was awarded the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor and appointed to the commission that examined the conduct of officers during the Hundred Days.
Updated August 2016
© Nathan D. Jensen