General François Joseph GérardCavalry officer who served with the Grande Armée from 1806-1813
Born: October 29, 1772
Place of Birth: Phalsbourg, Moselle, France
Died: September 18, 1832
Cause of Death: Illness
Place of Death: Beauvais, France
Arc de Triomphe: GÉRARD, F. on the north pillar
The son of a prosecutor in Phalsbourg, François Joseph Gérard joined the hussars of Esterhazy in December of 1787. After the start of the French Revolutionary Wars, in 1792 he began serving with the Army of the North and in August of 1793 he was commissioned as a sous-lieutenant. 1794 was a busy year for Gérard for that summer he became an aide-de-camp to General Boyé, he was promoted to lieutenant, he joined the Army of the Sambre and Meuse, and he served at the Siege of Landrecies. Continuing to serve, in October Gérard fought at the Battle of the Roer where he was wounded by a shot to the left leg. His next notable career event came at the end of June of 1796 when he was named an aide-de-camp to Kléber. A little more than three months later Gérard was promoted to capitaine in the 1st Hussars in October. The following April he distinguished himself at the crossing of the Rhine at Neuwied. For the remainder of 1797 and then through 1799 Gérard served with the Army of Germany, the Army of Mainz, and the Army of the Danube. In June of 1799 he was promoted to chef d'escadrons in the 4th Hussars and in 1800 he joined the Army of the Rhine.
In 1803 Gérard was named a major in the 3rd Hussars and he served with the Army of Hanover. In early October of 1806 he was promoted to colonel of the 2nd Hussars in Tilly's division for the campaign against Prussia. Gérard served at Halle later that month and then on November 3rd he was wounded and taken prisoner at the combat of Crivitz, though he was freed shortly thereafter. In 1807 he won at Glatz in March and then in April he served under Beaumont de Carrière in I Corps.
In 1808 Gérard was assigned to the Army of Germany and he was named a Baron of the Empire. In March of 1809 he was promoted to général de brigade and that June he began serving in the Army of Italy under General Sahuc. After Sahuc was wounded the day before the Battle of Wagram , Gérard took command of Sahuc's division for the battle. In 1810 Gérard was sent to Italy first as commander of the département of Tagliamento and later as the commander of the département of Bacchiglione. In 1811 he commanded a brigade of light cavalry and then in 1812 he took part in the campaign against Russia as part of Chastel's 3rd Division of Light Cavalry in the III Cavalry Corps. Having survived the retreat, Gérard served in Saxony in 1813 and that October he took command of the cavalry of Marshal Gouvion St. Cyr's XIV Corps. He served at the combat of Racknitz on October 17th and then defended Dresden until the city was forced to surrender and he was taken prisoner in November.
After Napoleon's abdication and the Bourbon Restoration in 1814, Gérard was named a Knight of Saint Louis and commander of Landau. After Napoleon returned from exile for the Hundred Days of 1815, Gérard was named commander of the 4th military division at Nancy. He was briefly put on non-activity in August but he resumed his military career in 1816.
Updated October 2020
© Nathan D. Jensen