General Alexandre Elisabeth Michel DigeonCavalry officer who served with the Grande Armée from 1805-1807 and then in Spain from 1808-1813
Born: June 26, 1771
Place of Birth: Paris, Paris, France
Died: August 2, 1826
Place of Death: Ronqueux, France
Arc de Triomphe: DIGEON on the south pillar
The son of a farmer, Alexandre Elisabeth Michel Digeon volunteered to join the Parisian National Guard the day before the storming of the Bastille in July of 1789. In 1792 he was commissioned as a sous-lieutenant and he served in the Army of the Center and the Army of the Moselle. A promotion to capitaine arrived for Digeon in March of 1793 and that month he also joined the 19th Dragoons before becoming an aide-de-camp to General Gilibert. In November Digeon ceased serving as an aide-de-camp and in December he rejoined the 19th Dragoons. He served with the Army of the Moselle in 1794 and 1795 and in 1796 he began serving in the Army of the Rhine and Moselle. That September he was fighting at Kehl when he was wounded by a bayonet in the right hand and taken prisoner. Released in March of 1798, Digeon returned to the Army of the Rhine and then in 1798 he joined the Army of Italy. In 1799 he began serving with the Army of Naples and he was promoted to chef d'escadrons. That June General Rusca placed Digeon in charge of a regiment and they fought together at the Battle of the Trebbia . On the 19th Rusca promoted Digeon to chef de brigade and then on the 20th Digeon was wounded in the foot by the blast of a shell and taken prisoner. Digeon was released to return to France in August of 1800.
Digeon's next service came in 1801 when he served on board the squadron of Admiral Decrès. In 1802 he took command of a regiment of PIedmontese chasseurs that was to become the 26th Chasseurs à Cheval. Digeon served in garrison at Liege in 1803, and then when the army marched to war in 1805 he and his men joined Margaron's brigade in Marshal Soult's IV Corps. He participated in the campaign that year and fought at Landsberg. At the Battle of Austerlitz, Digeon seized two enemy flags but he was also wounded by a shot that broke his left clavicle. In 1806 he served with the Grande Armée in Prussia and that November he joined Michaud's division. In January of 1807 Digeon served before Stralsund where he was wounded by grapeshot to the right shoulder. Two months later he was promoted to général de brigade and he took command of the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Dragoon Division of the Cavalry Reserve. That summer Digeon fought at the Battle of Heilsberg and the Battle of Friedland.
In 1808 Digeon was sent to Spain as commander of the light cavalry of IV Corps in the Army of Spain and that November he fought at Tudela. The next year he was named a Baron of the Empire and he joined Milhaud's division. In 1810 Digeon commanded the brigade of cavalry of Loison's 1st Reserve Division and then in October he was named governor of the province of Córdoba. The following May he was named governor of the province of Jaen and then in early 1812 he was sent to the Army of the South. With the Army of the South Digeon took interim command of the 2nd Cavalry Division and then in October he took command of the 1st Dragoon Division in the Army of Andalucia. 1813 was a busy year for Digeon as he was promoted to général de division in May and he took command of the 2nd Dragoon Division in April. That June he fought at the Battle of Vitoria where he was wounded by four sabre blows, one of which was critical. Digeon returned to France in July but in November he was back in the saddle commanding the cavalry division of the Army of Aragon and Army of Catalonia. At this time he was also named a Knight of the Iron Crown. Returning to France in January of 1814, Digeon took command of a cavalry division in the Army of Lyon and he served at Limonest. After Napoleon's abdication, he surrendered Grenoble.
When Napoleon set foot on French soil again in 1815 for the Hundred Days, Digeon served as chief of staff of the Count of Artois. However, he did not leave France with the Count of Artois, instead he remained in France while Napoleon regained power. Napoleon tried to give Digeon a command in the Army of the Alps, but Digeon refused, citing his health. After the Second Restoration, Digeon was rewarded for his loyalty to the king. He became an honorary aide-de-camp to the Count of Artois and a Peer of France. In 1823 he became Minister of State and in 1824 he commanded the occupation force in Spain. When the Count of Artois became King Charles X in 1824, Digeon was named honorary aide-de-camp to the king.
Updated September 2019
© Nathan D. Jensen