General Charles Louis Joseph Olivier Guéhéneuc
Born: June 7, 1783
Place of Birth: Valenciennes, Nord, France
Died: August 26, 1849
Place of Death: Paris, France
Arc de Triomphe: GUÉHÉNEUC on the west pillar
The son of a senator, Charles Louis Joseph Olivier Guéhéneuc's sister Louise had married General Lannes in 1800. Guéhéneuc first joined the military in 1803 and he served in the 10th Light, being promoted to sergeant in late 1803. The next year he was attached to the staff of the Army of the Coasts of the Ocean at the camp of Boulogne and promoted to sous-lieutenant.
In 1805 Guéhéneuc became aide-de-camp to his brother-in-law Marshal Lannes and he served throughout the campaign against the Third Coalition. In the summer of 1806 he received a promotion to lieutenant and then he served in Prussia and Poland for the remainder of the year, being promoted to capitaine at the very end of 1806. Still serving as an aide-de-camp to his brother-in-law, Guéhéneuc was wounded by a ball to the left arm at the Battle of Friedland. Rewards followed for Guéhéneuc when he was named a Knight of the Order of Saint Henry of Saxony and he received a promotion to chef de bataillon.
Following Lannes to Spain, Guéhéneuc was wounded by a shot at Tudela in November of 1808. Two months later he received a promotion to colonel and then in 1809 he took part in the Danube campaign against the Fifth Coalition. On April 20th, he successfully captured 82 Austrian dragoons at Abensberg. After Lannes' death that May, Guéhéneuc was given a new position as aide-de-camp to Napoleon. Later that summer he was made a Baron of the Empire.
In the intervening years, Guéhéneuc was named colonel of the 26th Light. Taking part in the Russian campaign of 1812, he was assigned to Legrand's 6th Division of II Corps. Near the start of the campaign, when it came time for the army to cross the Neris River, Guéhéneuc swam across the river leading a group of swimming soldiers to secure a crossing. Afterwards when a lancer began to be swept away by the current, he leapt back into the river fully clothed and rescued the man.1 Months later during the retreat from Russia, he was wounded in the arm at the Battle of the Berezina, but in December he was promoted to général de brigade and he returned to serving as an aide-de-camp to the Emperor. He served in this capacity on campaign in Saxony in 1813.
After Napoleon's abdication in 1814, General Guéhéneuc was put on half pay and he moved to Antibes. Despite not taking part in the Hundred Days, he was suspected of having supported Napoleon's return from exile and landing at Golfe-Juan, which is near Antibes. Guéhéneuc was not actively employed again in the military for a number of years.
- Armand de Caulaincourt, With Napoleon in Russia, ed. Jean Hanoteau and George Libaire, (Mineola: Dover Publications, 2005), 49.
- Divry, Arnauld. Les Noms Gravés sur l'Arc de Triomphe. Paris: L'Harmattan, 2017.
- Six, Georges. Dictionnaire Biographique des Généraux & Amiraux Français de la Révolution et de l'Empire (1792-1814). 2 vols. Paris: Gaston Saffroy, 2003.
Updated February 2022
© Nathan D. Jensen