General Étienne Nicolas Lefol

General who served in many major campaigns of the empire

Born: October 24, 1764

Place of Birth: Giffaumont, Marne, France

Died: September 5, 1840

Place of Death: Vitry-le-François, France

Arc de Triomphe: LEFOL on the north pillar


The son of a clerk of a bailiff, Étienne Nicolas Lefol first studied philosophy and then law before enlisting as a dragoon in 1786. He left the army two years later and then in 1791 he was elected capitaine in the 3rd Battalion of Volunteers of Marne. Lefol served in Belgium in 1792 and 1793 and then in 1794 he joined the Army of the Sambre and Meuse. In 1797 he joined the staff of that army and then in February of 1799 he was promoted to chef de bataillon in the Army of the Lower Rhine. Later that year in July Lefol was promoted to chef de brigade and then in September he was taken prisoner by the Austrians near Mannheim. He returned to France on parole in March of 1800 and then he was officially exchanged in June and he joined the Army of the Rhine. In November Lefol became chief of staff to Hardy's division and that December he served at the Battle of Hohenlinden.

In 1803 Lefol was named chief of staff of the 22nd military division and then sent to the camp of Montreuil. In 1805 when the Grande Armée marched east to confront the Third Coalition, Lefol became chief of staff of Malher's division in Marshal Ney's VI Corps. During the campaign that year he distinguished himself at Gunzbourg in October. In October of 1806 Lefol became chief of staff of Marchand's division and he held this position throughout the campaigns of 1806 and 1807.

In 1808 Lefol followed his division to Spain and then in November he was promoted to général de brigade and named a Baron of the Empire. He took command of the 1st Brigade of Ruffin's division in Marshal Victor's I Corps and then in July of 1809 he took command of the 2nd Brigade of Villatte's 3rd Division, still in I Corps. From 1810 to 1812 Lefol served in Andalusia and in May of 1813 he was promoted to général de division. The next month he took command of the 1st Division of the Army of the South in Spain but he was then recalled to France. In August of 1813 Lefol took command of the 2nd Division of what would become Marshal Augereau's XVI Corps. With this division he fought at the Battle of Leipzig in October where he was wounded by a shot to the head. Lefol left the army to recover from his wounds and he finally returned to active campaigning in March of 1814 when he took command of a division under Marshal Ney in Champagne. That month he fought at Arcis-sur-Aube and then in April he and his division joined Oudinot's VII Corps.

After Napoleon's abdication and the Bourbon Restoration, Lefol was put on non-activity and named a Knight of Saint Louis. He rallied to Napoleon in 1815 for the Hundred Days and he was given command of the 8th Division that formed part of Vandamme's III Corps in the Army of Belgium. Serving on the campaign that June, Lefol fought at the Battle of Ligny and then in July he served with the Army of the Loire. Not long thereafter he was put on non-activity and retired.


Updated May 2019

© Nathan D. Jensen