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Louis-Pierre Montbrun : biography

1770 - 1812

Louis Pierre, Count Montbrun (1770, Florensac, Hérault – 1812), French cavalry general, served with great distinction in the cavalry arm throughout the wars of the Revolution and the Consulate, and in 1800 was appointed to command his regiment, having served therein from trooper upwards.

At the Battle of Austerlitz on 2 December 1805) he was promoted to General of brigade. He earned further distinction in Germany and Poland as a dashing leader of horse, and in 1808 he was sent into Spain. Here occurred an incident which unfavourably influenced his whole career. He found himself obliged to overstay his leave of absence in order to protect the lady who afterwards became his wife. Napoleon was furious, and deprived him of his command, and Montbrun was awaiting his master's decision when an opportunity came to retrieve his reputation.

Some doubt exists as to the events of the famous cavalry charge at the Battle of Somosierra, but Montbrun's share in it was most conspicuous. Soon afterwards he was promoted to General of division, and in 1809 his light cavalry division took no inconsiderable part in the victories of Eckmühl and Raab. He was employed in the Peninsular War, during 1810–1811. At the battles of Bussaco and Fuentes de Onoro, he commanded Marshal Andre Masséna's cavalry reserve.

He was killed while commanding a cavalry corps at the beginning of the Battle of Borodino (7 September 1812). Montbrun was considered, as a leader of heavy cavalry, second only to Kellermann of all the generals of the First Empire. Shot by a cannon ball from side to side, he whispered "excellent shot !", before losing consciousness.

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