General Charles Saligny de San-GermanoNephew by marriage to Joseph Bonaparte and skilled staff officer
Born: September 12, 1772
Place of Birth: Vitry-le-François, Marne, France
Legion of Honor: Commander
Died: February 25, 1809
Place of Death: Madrid, Spain
Arc de Triomphe: SALIGNY on the west pillar
Like many others during the Revolution, Charles Saligny joined the military as a volunteer, joining the 3rd Battalion of Volunteers of the Marne as a sous-lieutenant in 1791. The next year he joined the staff of the Army of the Ardennes and then served in Fromentin's division. In 1794 Saligny received a promotion to chef de bataillon and then he joined the Army of the Sambre and Meuse when that army was formed. Another promotion followed in 1795 when he was promoted to chef de brigade, and then in 1796 he joined Grenier's division. In 1797 Saligny was put at the disposition of the Ministry of War.
Saligny de San-Germano returned to a more active command in the summer of 1798 when he joined Gouvion St. Cyr's division in the Army of Mainz. Next he joined the Army of Switzerland where he became chief of staff to Oudinot's division. By September of 1799 Saligny was serving as Soult's chief of staff and in this capacity he took part in the crossing of the Linth which was part of the Battle of Zurich . After the battle, General Masséna promoted Saligny to général de brigade. Saligny next took a position in Mortier's division in November.
Near the beginning of the year 1800, General Saligny joined the Army of the Rhine. That May he took command of the 1st Brigade of Baraguey d'Hilliers' division and he then led them into action at Engen. After the brief cessation of hostilities during that year, he returned to the army in November to a position in Legrand's division and he then fought at the Battle of Hohenlinden.
During the years of peace that followed, Saligny served in various military divisions until late 1803 when he transferred to the camp of Saint-Omer. While there he became a Commander of the Legion of Honor in 1804 and a général de division in 1805. Later in 1805 Saligny married Marie-Rose Rosine Clary of the famous Clary family and he thereby became a nephew to both Joseph Bonaparte and Marshal Bernadotte.
When the Grande Armée began the campaign against the Third Coalition in 1805, Saligny was named chief of staff to Marshal Soult's IV Corps. He took part in the campaign that year, signing the surrender of Memmingen and then serving at the Battle of Austerlitz. As a relative by marriage to Joseph Bonaparte, when Joseph Bonaparte became king of Naples in 1806, Saligny transferred to the military of Naples. Joseph named Saligny the Duke of San Germano and a Grand Dignitary of the Order of Two Sicilies.
Two years later when Napoleon made Joseph the King of Spain, Saligny again followed Joseph and he transferred to the service of Spain. While there, he was appointed commander of the Royal Guard. He died in February of 1809 and his widow later remarried Admiral Dècres.
Updated December 2015
© Nathan D. Jensen