General Antoine Louis Decrest Saint-Germain
Born: December 8, 1761
Place of Birth: Paris, Paris, France
Died: October 4, 1835
Place of Death: Neuilly, France
Arc de Triomphe: ST. GERMAIN on the north pillar
Antoine-Louis Decrest Saint-Germain was a career cavalry soldier, originally joining the gendarmerie of Lunéville in 1778 at age sixteen. Three years later he was a lieutenant of cavalry, but then in 1784 he was stripped of his rank for indiscipline. His next notable service came during the Revolution, when in 1790 he served with the National Guard of Paris and then became a capitaine. Serving with the Army of the North in 1792, he became a lieutenant colonel of hussars at the end of the year, and then in early 1793 he was promoted to chef de brigade.
Saint-Germain's luck did not last, for he was suspended in September of 1793. In April of 1794 he was arrested, but he was later released and he resumed his military career in 1795 as the chef de brigade for the 23rd Chasseurs à Cheval. He went on to serve with the Armies of the North and later the Sambre and Meuse. In September of 1796 he fought and had his right foot wounded by a ball, and then in 1797 he received more wounds during the fighting at Wiesbaden when he was hurt on the left arm. In 1799 Saint-Germain served with the Army of the Danube, and in 1800 with the Army of the Rhine, fighting at Hohenlinden.
During the years of peace Saint-Germain spent part of the time with the Army of Hanover. In 1805 he was promoted to général de brigade and he took command of the 3rd Brigade of Cuirassiers in Nansouty's Division. He served in this position for the next few years, taking part in the campaigns in Austria, Prussia, and Poland.
1809 saw Saint-Germain created a Baron of the Empire and again taking command of a brigade of Nansouty's Division. That May he fought at Aspern-Essling , and then in mid July he was promoted to général de division and given command of the 2nd Division of Cuirassiers. He returned to France with his division in 1810.
With the Russian campaign looming in 1812, General Saint-Germain took command of the 1st Cuirassier Division of the I Cavalry Corps. He fought at Ostrowno in July and then at Borodino in September where he was wounded. After returning to friendly territory, he took command of the 1st Division of the II Cavalry Corps in April of 1813. That May he fought at Lützen, and then in August he took command of the 2nd Division of Heavy Cavalry. Another reward followed when he was created a Count of the Empire, and he followed that up with a charge at Hanau in late October.
Shortly before 1814, Saint-Germain was named commander of the II Cavalry Corps. In February of that year, he charged at Vauchamps , and then in March he served at Vendeuvre, was repulsed at Villenauxe, and fought at Saint-Dizier. After Napoleon's abdication, Saint-Germain was made an inspector general of cavalry, a Knight of Saint Louis, and a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor. When Napoleon returned from Elba, Napoleon sent Saint-Germain to the Army of the Alps to organize the cavalry there. After Napoleon's second abdication, Saint-Germain was put on non-activity.
- Six, Georges. Dictionnaire Biographique des Généraux & Amiraux Français de la Révolution et de l'Empire (1792-1814). 2 vols. Paris: Gaston Saffroy, 2003.
Updated May 2019
© Nathan D. Jensen