III Corps (Grande Armée)

The III Corps of the Grande Armée was a French military unit that existed during the Napoleonic Wars. The corps came to prominence between 1805 and 1809 under the command of Marshal Louis-Nicolas Davout, when it repeatedly scored impressive victories single-handedly or in conjunction with other French forces. Napoleon called it "My tenth legion", in reference to Julius Caesar's finest unit, the X Equestris. Troops from III Corps then took part in many battles in Poland, during the War of the Fourth Coalition, e.g. Czarnowo, Pultusk, Golymin, Eylau, in Bavaria at Teugen-Hausen and Eckmuhl, and in Austria at Wagram in 1809. These troops were later reorganized as the I Corps and included French, German, and Polish units. It also included the 127th to 129th "régiment d'infanterie de ligne" from the North German countries of Oldenburg, Bremen, and Hamburg that were annexed shortly before and thus counted as French.

III Corps
Active1805–1815
Country First French Empire
BranchArmy
TypeCorps
EngagementsWar of the Third Coalition
War of the Fourth Coalition
Peninsular War
War of the Fifth Coalition
Russian campaign
War of the Sixth Coalition
War of the Seventh Coalition
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Louis-Nicolas Davout
Jean-Andoche Junot
Bon-Adrien Jeannot de Moncey
Michel Ney
Joseph Souham
Louis-Gabriel Suchet
Dominique Vandamme

A parallel III Corps existed in Spain from 1808 until 1811 when it became the Army of Aragon. Its commanders were Marshal Bon-Adrien Jeannot de Moncey, General Jean-Andoche Junot, and Marshal Louis-Gabriel Suchet. Cobbled together from hastily raised French conscripts and Polish auxiliaries, the corps later became one of the most effective French forces in Spain under Marshal Suchet.

SizeEdit

By the time of Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812, the III Corps had been reorganized and went under the command of Marshal Michel Ney. It consisted of a mixture of Croatian, French, Portuguese, and Württemberger units and like the rest of Napoleon's forces, suffered heavy casualties as the campaign progressed. At the crossing of the Niemen River in 1812, the size of the corps was estimated at around 44,000 men; by the Battle of Smolensk, only 22,000 men remained.[1]

BattlesEdit

The corps participated in a number of battles, including Austerlitz, Auerstedt, Eylau, Teugen-Hausen, Eckmühl, Wagram, Borodino,[2] Lützen, Bautzen, Katzbach, Leipzig, Ligny, and Waterloo.

CommandersEdit

  • Corps commander: Marshal Michel Ney (1812-1813)
    • Divisional commanders:
      • General Ledru (1812), later General Girard (1813)
      • General Razout (1812), later General Ricard (1813)
      • General Royal Prince of Württemberg, later General of Division Jean Gabriel Marchand
      • General Souham (1813)
      • General Montmorand (1813)
    • Corps cavalry under General-Major Woellwarth (1812), later General of Brigade Laboissière
  • Corps commander: General Joseph Souham (1813)
    • Divisional commanders:
    • Corps cavalry under General of Brigade Beurmann

References and notesEdit

  1. ^ Badone, Jean Cerino; et al. "1812 - Invasion of Russia". Retrieved 2007-08-16.
  2. ^ Badone, Jean Cerino; et al. "Battle of Borodino, 1812 - Armies. "French and Russian Orders of Battle"". Retrieved 2007-08-16.