General Claude-Louis-Constant-Esprit-Juvénal Corbineau
Born: March 7, 1772
Place of Birth: Laval, Mayenne, France
Died: February 8, 1807
Cause of Death: Killed in action
Place of Death: Eylau, Prussia
Arc de Triomphe: CORBINEAU on the east pillar
Constant Corbineau was the oldest of three brothers who rose to prominence as cavalry officers. His brother Jean-Baptiste-Juvénal in due time also became an aide-de-camp to Emperor Napoleon, but is more well known for discovering the ford across the Berezina. His youngest brother Marie-Louis-Hercule-Hubert had a distinguished career in the Imperial Guard.
Constant Corbineau began his career as a gendarme with the rank of lieutenant in the Gendarmes of the Queen in 1788. By 1791 he was serving as a sous-lieutenant in the 3rd Dragoons, and over the next few years he served in the Army of the North and the Army of the Moselle, became an aide-de-camp to Harville, and was promoted to lieutenant.
In May of 1793 Corbineau received a promotion to capitaine, and that October he fought at the Battle of Wattignies and was badly wounded, receiving several saber blows including one to the armpit, two to the head, and more to his right arm. In 1794 he was back in action and serving with the Army of the Sambre and Meuse when he received another wound, this time a shot to his left ankle at Beaumont. The next year Corbineau was promoted to chef d'escadrons and served on Hoche's staff, taking part in the failed expedition to Ireland. Over the next few years he served in various armies, first returning to the Army of the Sambre and Meuse, then joining the Army of Germany, and last joining the Army of Switzerland.
In late 1799 Corbineau was promoted to chef de brigade of the 5th Chasseurs à Cheval and later his unit joined the Army of the Rhine under Moreau. At the Battle of Hohenlinden in December of 1800, he led his men in a charge against the enemy and was badly wounded by two shots, one to the right hip and the other to his right thigh. During the peaceful years that followed, Corbineau served in garrison with his brother before traveling to Hanover to serve under Bernadotte.
1805 brought honors for Corbineau when he made an equerry of the Empress. That September he joined Marizy's brigade of Kellermann's division of I Corps, and he went on to fight at Austerlitz where he was wounded while capturing a Russian flag. In recognition of his service, within a few weeks he was made a Commander of the Legion of Honor.
The next year Corbineau was promoted to général de brigade and became an aide-de-camp to Emperor Napoleon. After fighting at Golymin in December, he continued to take part in the Polish campaign. While eating breakfast at Eylau, Corbineau informed his companions that he expected to die that day.1 During the battle, Corbineau was entrusted with delivering to Marshal Augereau the order to attack with the VII Corps. As he gave the order to Augereau, he was killed by a cannonball.2
- Louis Constant Wairy, Memoirs of Constant: First Valet de Chambre of the Emperor, On the Private Life of Napoleon, His Family, and His Court, trans. Elizabeth G. Martin, (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1895), II:187-188.
- F. G. Hourtoulle, From Eylau To Friedland, trans. Alan McKay, (Paris: Histoire & Collections, 2007), 52.
- Six, Georges. Dictionnaire Biographique des Généraux & Amiraux Français de la Révolution et de l'Empire (1792-1814). 2 vols. Paris: Gaston Saffroy, 2003.
Updated May 2014
© Nathan D. Jensen