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General Vandamme

Empire General <br />General Dominique-Joseph René Vandamme, Count of Unseburg (5 November 1770, Cassel, Nord - 15 July 1830) was a French military officer, who fought in the Napoleonic Wars.

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Reportedly a brutal and violent soldier, renowned for insubordination and looting, Napoleon is said to have told him, "If I had two of you, the only solution would be to have one hang the other". Napoleon added that he would give Vandamme command of the vanguard were he (Napoleon) to launch a campaign against Lucifer in Hell.

Vandamme enlisted in the army in 1786 and rapidly rose through the ranks. At the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars in 1793 he was a Brigadier General. He was court-martialled for looting and suspended. Reinstated, he fought at the First Battle of Stockach on 25 March 1799, but disagreement with General Jean Moreau led to his being sent to occupation duties in Holland. At the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805 he led the charge that recaptured the Pratzen Heights.

He was named Count of Unseburg by Napoleon I after the Silesian campaign during the War of the Fourth Coalition. In the campaign of 1809, he fought in the battles of Abensberg, Landshut, Eckmuhl.

In the campaign of 1813 Vandamme's division was encircled by the Prussian General Kleist at Kulm and 13,000 men were captured, including Vandamme himself. Taken to Tsar Alexander I of Russia, Vandamme was accused of looting, but is alleged to have replied, "I am neither a plunderer nor a brigand but in any case, my contemporaries and history will not reproach me for having soaked my hands in the blood of my father"

In the campaign of 1815 he was in command of the 3rd Corps, under the direction of Marshal Grouchy. He urged Grouchy to join Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, but Grouchy preferred to pursue the Prussian 3rd Corps under General Johann von Thielmann, winning the Battle of Wavre, but losing the war. After the restoration of Louis XVIII of France Vandamme was exiled to America and settled in Philadelphia amongst other French military exiles.
General Vanmdamme was allowed to return by the ordinance of 1 December 1819. He was reestablished in the service in the Ètat-major Général, until his final retirement on 1 January 1825. Afterwards he lived alternatively in Cassel and Ghent, occupying himself with the writing of his Memoirs. He died in his native Cassel, aged 59.

His name is inscribed on the North side of the Arc de Triomphe

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  • Pewter figurines by theme : Napoleon
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