General Gabriel-Marie-Théodore-Joseph d'HédouvilleGeneral who served frequently as chief of staff and later became a Senator
Born: July 27, 1755
Place of Birth: Laon, Aisne, France
Died: March 30, 1825
Place of Death: Brétigny, France
Arc de Triomphe: HÉDOUVILLE on the west pillar
Of noble birth, Gabriel-Marie-Théodore-Joseph d'Hédouville entered the military school of Paris at age fourteen in 1769. Four years later he was commissioned as a sous-lieutenant in the dragoons of Languedoc. In 1788 Hédouville was promoted to lieutenant and then in January of 1792 he was promoted to lieutenant. Less than five months later he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and then assigned to the Army of the North. Hédouville served at the Battle of Valmy that September and shortly thereafter he was promoted to chef de brigade. In March of 1793 he was promoted to général de brigade and appointed chief of staff of the Army of the Moselle. Hédouville's noble birth began to give him trouble, for that June he was suspended. He returned to his post for a brief period of time in August and September, but then he was suspended again due to his noble birth. This time the representatives of the people kept Hédouville in his position, but the Committee of Public Safety back in Paris was unhappy with this and ordered his arrest. Hédouville fought at Kaiserslautern at the end of November and only a few days later he was arrested and then taken to the prison of l'Abbaye.
After the Thermidorian Reaction brought an end to the Terror, Hédouville was released from prison in August of 1794 and then the next month he officially retired from the army. In April of 1795 he returned to the army as a général de brigade and was appointed chief of staff of the Army of the Coasts of Cherbourg. Seven months later Hédouville was promoted to général de division and then in December he was named commander of the Army of the Coasts of Brest. With the reorganization of the armies that followed soon after, Hédouville became chief of staff to General Hoche in the Army of the Coasts of the Ocean. In September of 1796 he was named commander of the 12th, 13th, and 14th military divisions.
In 1797 General Hédouville was selected to be sent to Saint-Domingue as the government's civilian and military agent. He arrived there in March of 1798 but seven months later he left due to difficulties with Toussaint-Louverture. Once back in France, in 1799 Hédouville again commanded some military divisions before he was named commander of the Army of England. That army was renamed the Army of the West and the command was then given to General Brune, with Hédouville being named Brune's chief of staff and given command of the right wing of the army.
During the years of peace that followed, Hédouville commanded the 13th military division and then served as inspector of infantry for multiple military divisions. In 1803 he was appointed ambassador to Russia and he returned to France in 1804 where he was named a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor. The next year he received more awards, being named a Chamberlain of the Emperor, a Knight of Honor of the Empress Josephine, and a Senator.
When war broke out in 1805, Hédouville served with the Grande Armée on campaign, and after the conclusion of the campaign he was named Governor of Linz. When Prussia declared war in 1806, Hédouville was appointed chief of staff of IX Corps under the command of Jerome Bonaparte. That October he and his men occupied Dresden and afterwards they went on to participate in the conquest of Silesia. In 1807 Hédouville was rewarded as a Knight of the Order of Fidelity of Baden and a Knight of the Lion of Bavaria.
General Hédouville retired from the army in August of 1807 and the following year he was named a Count of the Empire. In 1809 he served as a minister to the Grand Duke of Frankfurt and was then sent to Bayonne to command the 11th military division and ensure the continued supply to the Army of Spain. Hédouville left that position in 1810 to return to the senate where he remained until 1812. That year he organized the National Guard of the 30th military division before resuming his duties in the senate.
When Napoleon abdicated in 1814, Hédouville supported the return of the Bourbons and was rewarded as a Peer of France and Knight of Saint Louis. Napoleon returned from exile in 1815 for the Hundred Days but Hédouville did not take part in those events. Afterwards, he participated in the trial of Marshal Ney where he voted for death. In 1818 he was sent by the king to resolve the disagreements France had with the Grand Duchy of Warsaw.
Updated January 2017
© Nathan D. Jensen