General Pierre Benoît Soult

Marshal Soult's younger brother who distinguished himself as a cavalry leader

Born: July 19, 1770

Place of Birth: Saint-Amans-Labastide, Tarn, France

Died: May 7, 1843

Place of Death: Tarbes, France

Arc de Triomphe: SOULT, P. on the south pillar

The younger brother of Marshal Soult and the son of a notary and lawyer, Pierre Benoît Soult enlisted in the regiment of Touraine in September of 1788. By 1793 he was serving in the Army of the Moselle and that October he was serving under Burcy when he was wounded near Saverne. In January of 1794 Soult joined the advance guard of the army and in June he fought at the Battle of Fleurus . When his brother was promoted to general in October of 1794, Soult became his brother's aide-de-camp. For the next few years Soult served in the Army of the Sambre and Meuse and in 1796 he was wounded by a shot to the thigh at the crossing of the Oahn. However, he also earned a promotion to sous-lieutenant at this time. In April of 1797 Soult distinguished himself at Herborn by taking 320 prisoners with only 30 hussars and for this feat he received another promotion, this time to lieutenant. Over the next few years he served in the Army of England, the Army of the Danube, and the Army of Switzerland and he continued to serve as his brother's aide-de-camp. He was promoted to capitaine in October of 1798. In June of 1799 Soult was fighting at the defense of the camp cut off from Zürich when he was wounded by a shot and multiple saber blows. He was taken prisoner but during his captivity he was promoted to chef d'escadrons and by the end of the month he had been exchanged. Only a few months later Soult distinguished himself at the crossing of the Linth during the Battle of Zürich . He next followed his brother to the Army of Italy where in 1800 he took part in the defending Genoa during the Siege of Genoa . During one of the sorties out from the garrison, Soult's brother was wounded and they were both captured.

After Napoleon had defeated the Austrians at Marengo, Soult was returned from captivity. In 1802 he was promoted to chef de brigade of the 25th Chasseurs à Cheval. No longer serving alongside his brother, in 1805 Soult served in Mermet's division in the Army of Italy. In 1806 he took part in the campaign in Prussia and then in March of 1807 he rejoined his brother as an aide-de-camp. That June he fought at the Battle of Heilsberg where he was wounded by the blow of a bayonet and the following month he was promoted to général de brigade.

In November of 1808 Soult joined the staff of the Army of Spain and he was then placed in command of the city of Santander. In June of 1809 he replaced Franceschi-Delonne in command of the light cavalry of the II Corps in the Army of Spain. Two months later Soult served at the attack of the bridge of Arzobispo. In 1810 he began serving in Reynier's corps and that September he fought at the Battle of Bussaco where he was wounded by grapeshot to the left leg. In 1811 he served in IX Corps and then the Army of the South and in August he provisionally took command of the 3rd Dragoon Division when General Milhaud left. Almost immediately Soult distinguished himself by winning at Las Vertientes. In December he served at Lorca and then in January of 1812 he entered Murcie and Orihuela. Soult next took command of the 3rd Cavalry Division under Leval in the left wing of the Army of Andalusia. In July he fought at the combat of Alba de Tormès where he was wounded by a shot to the right arm and then in October he took command of the 2nd Dragoon Division. A promotion to général de division finally arrived for Soult in March of 1813 despite him having commanded divisions since August of 1811. Soult took command of a division of light cavalry and served in Spain throughout 1813, culminating in defending France at Saint-Pierre d'Irube in December. Continuing to defend the southern France in 1814, he served at the Battle of Orthez in February and the Battle of Toulouse in April.

The restored Bourbons named Soult a Knight of Saint Louis and inspector general of cavalry for 1815 for the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 20th military divisions. Soult rallied to Napoleon upon Napoleon's return to the throne and Soult was elected a representative of Castres to the Chamber of the 100 Days. However, he left this position to take part in the campaign in Belgium of June, taking command of the 4th Light Cavalry Division in General Pajol's I Cavalry Corps. After the Second Restoration, Soult was put on non-activity.


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Updated September 2019

© Nathan D. Jensen