General Marie-François RouyerGeneral who frequently commanded units formed from the Confederation of the Rhine
Born: March 2, 1765
Place of Birth: Vouxey, Vosges, France
Died: August 10, 1824
Place of Death: Paris, France
Arc de Triomphe: ROUYER on the north pillar
Originally a volunteer fireman in Germany, Marie-François Rouyer decided upon a military career and enlisted in the Austrian army. In 1784 he was sent to war against the Ottoman Empire and two years later he was commissioned as a sous lieutenant in a dragoon regiment. Rouyer continued to fight against the Turks, being promoted to lieutenant in 1787 and fighting until 1789. Learning of events in France, in 1791 Rouyer quit the Austrian service and then joined the French army as a capitaine in the 12th Infantry. Rouyer was sent to the Army of the North and then in April of 1794 he was promoted to chef de brigade in the Army of the Ardennes. That year Rouyer fought at Charleroi in June and then became part of the newly formed Army of the Sambre and Meuse.
In late 1796 Rouyer was employed in the 15th military division. Two years later he joined the Army of Mainz, and then in 1799 he joined the Army of the Rhine and was promoted to général de brigade. Rouyer joined Legrand's division in April of 1800, but the following year he was put on non-activity for a period of time. In 1802 he resumed his career and served in the 10th military division and then as the commander of the département of Ardennes.
Rouyer was sent to the camp of Montreuil in 1803 where he served in General Dupont's division. The following year he was named a Commander of the Legion of Honor. When war broke out in 1805, Rouyer served on the campaign with Dupont and distinguished himself at Hasslach in October. After the successful conclusion of the campaign, he was promoted to général de division but nevertheless he remained with Dupont's division instead of assuming command of a division.
General Rouyer continued to serve with Dupont's division for the campaign against Prussia in 1806. That October he served at Halle and the next month he served at Lubeck. In January of 1807 Rouyer was given command of the Hessian troops under General Victor at the siege of Graudentz, probably due to his fluent German and past experience with the Austrian Empire. When Victor was summoned to the Grande Armée to take command of I Corps in June, Rouyer took over the siege.
In March of 1808 Rouyer rejoined General Dupont, now in command of a corps, and took command of a division. Moving into Spain, he fought at Alcolea in June and then with Dupont in July he was trapped at Bailen. When Dupont disastrously surrendered his corps, Rouyer refused to sign the surrender. Taken prisoner, he was shipped back to Toulon where he was then sent on leave to his home while the conduct of officers at Bailen was investigated.
Rouyer was one of the few to escape downfall after Dupont's failed leadership. He was named a Baron of the Empire and then in March of 1809 he took command of a division of various contingents of the principalities from the Confederation of the Rhine. After Austria attacked that April, Rouyer led his men into action at Ratisbon. He and his men were eventually placed under General Vandamme in what would become VIII Corps. That July they were sent to the Tyrol to serve under Marshal Lefebvre.
In 1810 Rouyer's division was sent to Catalonia and he went with them. A year later he obtained a leave, and then in 1812 he was put on non-activity. During these years of the height of the French Empire, Rouyer's daughter married Joseph Nicolas Clary, a member of the powerful Clary family that had ties to many other notable officers of the time. Rouyer was recalled to service in July of 1813 when he took command of the 1st Division in the Army of Italy. Initially serving under General Verdier, he later served under General Grenier and then fought at Ala and Caldiero in November. That December Rouyer took command of the 2nd Division under Grenier, and then in February of 1814 he fought at the Battle of the Mincio.
After Napoleon's abdication in 1814, Rouyer was named a Knight of Saint Louis. When Napoleon returned from exile in 1815 for the Hundred Days, Rouyer was named commander of a division of the National Guard in the Army of the Moselle. After the Second Restoration of the Bourbons, Rouyer retired.
Updated February 2018
© Nathan D. Jensen