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Delve deeper into Napoleonic history here in our section on the history of the two empires. Alongside a section for those just starting, there are many articles, images with commentary, close-ups and special dossiers for the serious Napoleonic enthusiast.

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Achille Baraguey d'Hilliers was born in Paris on 6 September, 1795. He entered the 9e dragoon regiment in 1806 before going on to attend military academy a year later. He completed his studies and left on 3 September 1812 with the grade of second lieutenant. He served with the 2e regiment de chasseurs à cheval and participated in the Russian campaign. On 3 June, 1813, he received the title of count from his father who had died on 6 January on the condition that he take the oath when he came of age. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 1 August and was named aide-de-camp to Maréchal Marmont, Duc de Raguse, with whom he fought in the German campaign. At Leipzig, he lost his left hand to a cannon shot, but was made Captain on 26 February 1814. He remained with Marmont and was later placed with the 6e régiment de chasseurs à cheval. He resigned his commission on 8 June, 1815, but returned to the same regiment on 8 July and on 10 October entered the 2e régiment de grenadiers à cheval in the Royal Guard, where he remained until 1820.
In 1818, he was cavalry major but from 11 October, he served as battalion head in the Cher legion before being transferred to the 9e régiment d'infanterie de ligne where he remained until 1825. Between 1823 and 1825, he fought in the Spanish campaign. Between 1830 and 1833 he served in the 1er régiment infanterie légère, with whom he participated in the capture of Alger. He was promoted to Colonel on 31 August, 1830 following the capture. From 1833, he was second in command at the Ecole Militaire de Saint-Cyr and between 1836 and 1841, he ran the school. In 1841 and 1842 he served in the general government in Algeria and on 19 June, 1843, he was named commandant of the Constantine province. By 1848, he was in command of the 2e division de l'armée des Alpes.
However, a few days later he was elected député of the Doubs département in the constituent assembly. One of the heads of the monarchist-right and president of the committee known as "la rue de Poitiers", he was allied to the Prince-President. The 1848 constitution allowed for a vice-president, which was to be chosen from a list of three names put together by the President. Baraguey d'Hilliers was amongst the three suggested by Louis-Napoleon but was unsuccessful. On 13 May, 1849, he was elected député of the Legislative Assembly for the Doubs département and on 4 November, he was given the command of the expeditionary force to the Mediterranean. However, a few days later, he was named envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to the Pope. On 9 January, 1851, he was given the command of the 1ère division militaire but resigned this post a few months later. He supported the coup d'état on 2 December, 1851, and became a member of the Senate on 26 January 1852 where he was named one of the vice-presidents, a post that he would continue to hold until 1870.
In 1853, he was made ambassador extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary in Constantinople. The following year, during the Crimean War, he commanded the expeditionary corps in the Baltic and on 16 August captured the fortress at Bamarsund in the Aland Islands. Shortly after, on 28 August, he was made a Maréchal of France. In March 1855, he served as head of the 1er corps de l'armée du Nord in Boulogne, before taking charge of the Armée du Nord itself between 1855 and 1856. He participated in the Italian campaign of 1859 and fought the Austrians at Melegnano and at Solferino. After the war he was given command of 5e corps in Tours.
During the war with Prussia, he took command of the 1er corps d'armée (which had become the 8e corps) in Paris. After the defeat, between 1871 and May 1872, he presided over the commission set up to investigate the causes of the French defeat. He died in Amélie-les-Bains on 6 June, 1872.

Joseph VALYNSEELE (tr. & ed. H.D.W.)
This article is reproduced with kind permission from the Dictionnaire du Second Empire, published by Fayard.


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