General Louis-Nicolas-Hyacinthe ChérinChief of staff to Hoche who was mortally wounded near Zurich
Born: October 21, 1762
Place of Birth: Paris, Paris, France
Died: June 8, 1799
Cause of Death: Mortally wounded
Place of Death: Aarau, Switzerland
Arc de Triomphe: CHERIN on the east pillar
Following in his father's footsteps as a genealogist working for the king, Louis-Nicolas-Hyacinthe Chérin examined records and titles of nobility to determine officer eligibility in the French army. With the onset of the Revolution in 1789, Chérin joined the Parisian National Guard on the same day as the storming of the Bastille. In 1791 he lived in Montmorency and then in 1792 he became a sous-lieutenant in the 18th Infantry. That June Chérin joined the 12th Infantry and then only a week later he saw action at Menin and Courtrai. Next Chérin was sent by General Dillon to visit the northern frontiers and then the representatives of the people ordered him to arrest General Lafayette at Sedan. Lafayette escaped though and Chérin joined Dumouriez's army as a chef de bataillon in October of 1792. The next month he distinguished himself at the action of Tirlemont and then the Siege of Antwerp.
In 1793 Chérin took part in the bombardment of Maestricht in February and then he fought at the Battle of Neerwinden in March. In April he refused to defect with Dumouriez and afterwards he was placed under Dampierre's command. The next month Chérin took part in the combats to take Condé, received a promotion to chef de brigade, and he served at the defense of the camp of Famars. At the end of July of 1793 Chérin was suspended and arrested at Cambrai and afterwards he was transferred to Arras and then Amiens. Chérin remained incarcerated for a year, finally being released in August of 1794 but he was not yet employed in the army again. He went to Marly to live near his father-in-law but then in September he was given a new command in the Army of the Coasts of Cherbourg.
In March of 1795 Chérin was named interim chief of staff of the Army of the Coasts of Cherbourg. General Hoche promoted Chérin to général de brigade and made Chérin his chief of staff that June, but Chérin went on temporary leave in September for health reasons. Next Chérin was employed in the Army of the Interior and then in 1796 he again served as Hoche's chief of staff for the preparations of the expedition of Ireland. Taking part in the expedition, he was on board the ship with General Grouchy, the second in command, that arrived in Bantry Bay. After Grouchy's repeated indecision, Chérin allegedly contemplated throwing Grouchy overboard as the most practical solution.1
Once back in France, Chérin continued his association with Hoche, becoming Hoche's chief of staff in the Army of the Sambre and Meuse. That August he was promoted to général de division and then in September he took part in the coup of 18 Fructidor, commanding the guard of the Directory. After Hoche's untimely death, Chérin next became General Augereau's chief of staff and in the Army of Germany. In 1798 he joined the Army of England and then he was named to the Army of Italy, but he did not join that army due to his health.
General Chérin resumed an active command in March of 1799 when he joined the Army of the Danube and the next month he became chief of staff to General Masséna. That June the Austrians attacked the camp and cut it off from Zurich and Chérin led the defense of the camp. Chérin charged at the head of a squadron but received a bad wound to the stomach during the charge. He was transported to Aarau where he died a few days later, and he was later buried at Huningue.
- Arthur George Frederick Griffiths, French Revolutionary Generals, (London: Forgotten Books, 2012), 219.
Updated December 2015
© Nathan D. Jensen