General Pierre-César Dery
Born: February 2, 1768
Place of Birth: Saint-Pierre, Martinique, France
Died: October 18, 1812
Cause of Death: Killed in action
Place of Death: Winkowo, Russia
Arc de Triomphe: DERY on the east pillar
Initially serving in the navy, Pierre-César Dery served as a pilot on the frigate L'Iphigénie in 1780 at age twelve. The following year he served on the corvette L'Elise and in 1782 he and the ship were captured and he was made a prisoner of war. Dery was exchanged before long and he went on to serve in the American Revolutionary War until its conclusion in 1783.
By 1788 Dery had arrived in France and he enlisted as a soldier in the Chasseurs à Cheval of Champagne in 1788. After the Revolution was well underway, in 1792 he was assigned to the Army of the North. In March of that year Dery fought at the combat of Saint-Trond where he was wounded by two sabre blows. In 1793 he was promoted to sous-lieutenant and then in early 1794 he received a promotion to lieutenant. Dery fought at the Battle of Fleurus that June where he was once again wounded by two sabre blows, and afterwards when the army was reorganized he was assigned to the Army of the Sambre and Meuse. That November he fought at the combat of Kreutznach where he took two cannon from the enemy.
Sometime over the course of the following years, Dery began to serve in Italy. In 1800 he took part and fought at the Battle of Marengo where he was wounded by a shot and taken prisoner. After the Convention of Alessandria was signed, he was released the following day. In 1801 Dery received a promotion to capitaine in the 12th Chasseurs à Cheval.
Four years later in 1805 Dery was appointed an aide-de-camp to Marshal Murat. Dery took part in the campaign of 1805 as Murat's aide and then in February of 1806 he received a promotion to chef d'escadrons. When Prussia declared war in 1806, Dery continued to serve as Murat's aide and he distinguished himself at Schleiz in October. He then went on to served at Wolgast in November and then at the end of the year he was promoted to colonel of the 5th Hussars and placed in Lasalle's division. With Lasalle's division, Dery led his men into action at the combat of Walthersdorf in February of 1807 where he was wounded. That May he was named an Officer of the Legion of Honor and then in June he served at the Battle of Heilsberg. After the end of the campaign, he was further rewarded, being named a Knight of the Order of Military Merit of Wurtemberg.
In 1808 Colonel Dery was stationed in Germany as part of Pajol's brigade. The following year he was sent to Naples to serve Murat as a général de brigade in the service of Naples. Meanwhile, back in France in 1810 he was named a Baron of the Empire, and then in August of 1811 he returned to France as a général de brigade. For the campaign against Russia of 1812, Dery held a command under General Sébastiani. He fought at Ostrowno in July where he was again wounded. During the retreat from Russia later in the year Dery charged a group of cossacks at Winkowo and he was killed during the charge.
- Six, Georges. Dictionnaire Biographique des Généraux & Amiraux Français de la Révolution et de l'Empire (1792-1814). 2 vols. Paris: Gaston Saffroy, 2003.
Updated November 2015
© Nathan D. Jensen