Monday, 10 August 2015

Général de Brigade Baron Jacques-Charles Dubois

At Waterloo Dubois commanded the 1st Brigade of the 13th Cavalry Division in  Milhaud's IV Cavalry Corps.  His brigade consisted of the 1st and 4th Regiments of Cuirassiers.  Dubois was a natural choice for inclusion in my flurry of French generals as I painted the 4th Cuirassiers a few years ago, and the 1st Cuirassiers are on my list of things to paint up this year.  Jacques-Charles Dubois (1762-1847) joined the dragoons in 1781 but left the service a few years later.  He rejoined soon after and by 1792 was lieutenant in the 16th Dragoons.  He served in the French Caribbean colony of Sainte-Dominque (modern Hispaniola) and then in the Vendée.  Like most French soldiers of his generation, he fought with Napoleon in Italy and then in the Prussian and Polish campaigns.  He fought at Eylau, as a major in command of the 5th Dragoons' elite company, and so distinguished himself that he earnt the praise of  no less a figure than Murat himself.  In 1807 Dubois transferred to the 7th Cuirassiers as their colonel and was appointed a baron of the empire the following year.  At the battle of Essling he had to assume command of his regiment's division, as all superior officers had been killed or wounded. In February 1813 he was promoted to général de brigade rank, in recognition of his regiment's performance at the crossing of the Berezina.  He seems to have been a brave and inspiring leader.

Milhaud's Corps provided support for D'Erlon's large attack on Wellington's centre.  Dubois' brigade appears to have been involved in the fighting around La Haye Sainte, initially to assist other cuirassiers who had had some success against Hanoverian infantry but have then been counter-attacked by elements of the Household Brigade.  Dubois charged into this melee and may then have also been attached by the Union Brigade as it charged into D'Erlon's infantry.  Apparently during this encounter the coloner of the 1st Cuirassiers had his epaulettes ripped off by a captain of the 1st Light Guards. It is not clear whether Dubois' brigade then took part in the later cavalry attacks on the allied centre or was sent to participate in the defence on Napoleon's right against the advancing Prussians.

So it seems that we don't know for sure whether Dubois was ordered to charge the allied square with the French cavalry in the late afternoon.  Which is a shame, as the Foundry figure here has a wonderfully angry expression, as if he's saying to his ADC "tell the Général de Division that I'm not throwing my command away by charging British infantry in square".  Maybe instead he's asking the ADC to ensure that the 1st Cuirassiers' colonel finds some new epaulettes.  The ADC, also from Foundry, is painted as a junior officer in the 7th Hussars, following a colour scheme in the Histoire et Collections French hussars book that is slightly different to the standard uniform for the 7th (I couldn't see a way of painting this figure in the more usual dark blue with light blue facings ADC uniform).  I'm assuming that there is no reason why a heavy cavalry general shouldn't have a light cavalry ADC, and the two figures seemed to go together quite well - Dubois is clearly rather agitated about something.

2 figures. Painted June 2015.


 

12 comments:

Michael Awdry said...

Great work Giles and I just love that last photograph.

Iowa Grognard said...

Excellent! A lot of character on these figures.

Simon Jones said...

Lovely, I cannot see why the Hussar is a problem. The French did not have long to organise their army for the 100 Days Campaign. I think a lot of uniforms and equipment were not as complete as you would imagine. Also had the army and country recovered from the disastrous 1812-1814 period to allow this? Most soldiers probably just changed insignia from Empire to Royalist to Empire again.

Simin

Giles said...

Thanks, chaps!

Stefan (aka. Monty) said...

Wonderful pieces, Giles.

David said...

More top notch stuff Giles!

Achilles said...

Beautiful work Giles!

I have come to expect nothing less from you!

paulalba said...

A lovely addition Giles, cracking painting!

Doc Smith said...

Great painting Giles. Makes perfect sense that a foppy hussar would get some sort of tongue lashing from a tough-as-nails Cuirassier general! Wonderful figures in a nicely done little vignette.

Phil said...

Great post, fantastic photos and paint job!

Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

Excellent work Giles!

Christopher

Stefan (aka. Monty) said...

Wonderful!
Especially the angry look in Dubois's face.