Jean Cardinal Verdier

Jean-Antoine Verdier

Jean-Antoine Verdier (2 May 1767—1839) was a French General during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

Born in Toulouse, he enlisted into the Régiment de la Fère on 18 February 1785. He served as Aide-de-camp to Augereau in 1792 with the army of the Eastern Pyrenees.

In 1793, during the war with Spain, Verdier, with only a battalion of riflemen, captured a redoubt outside Figueres defended by 4,000 Spanish troops and 80 guns, gaining promotion from Captain to Adjutant-General. He was promoted to Brigadier in 1795, and the following year in Italy, at the head of three Grenadier battalions, captured the fortress of Medolano. He was made General of Brigade on the battlefield of Castiglione, was wounded at Arcole, and fought on until the end of the war of the First Coalition.

In Egypt, he commanded a brigade in Kléber's division at the Battle of the Pyramids. At the siege of Acre he was wounded by a bayonet thrust. On 1 November 1799 with only 1,000 men Verdier attacked 8,000 Janissaries which had landed close to Damiette, killed 2,000, took 800 prisoners and captured 10 guns and 32 standards. Kléber presented him with the Sabre of Honour and promoted him to General of Division.

Recalled in France before the evacuation of Egypt, Verdier served in Italy and Austria from 1801 to 1806. On 10 June 1807, he took part in the battle of Heilsberg and took many prisoners. His division also saw notable action at the Battle of Friedland.

In Spain, he took part in the battle of Logrono and the first siege of Saragossa, which was abandoned after the French defeat at Bailén. Napoleon awarded him the title of Count on 19 March 1808. The next year he seized Gerona, and several other positions.

In the Russian campaign, Verdier distinguished himself again, and was seriously wounded at Polotsk.

In 1813 and 1814 he commanded a Franco-Italian corps under Eugène de Beauharnais. At the battle of Aca, shot through the thigh by a musket ball, he remained at his station, supported by his aide-de-camp. On 8 February 1814 at the Battle of the Mincio River, Verdier, though heavily outnumbered, gallantly held off a force of Austrians, and eventually counter-attacked.

On the first restoration of King Louis XVIII he was retired, but was awarded the Cross of Saint-Louis, and on 17 January 1815, he was decorated with the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour. He had already been made Commander of the Iron Crown by Napoleon.

During the Hundred Days, he was made a Peer of France by Napoleon, and commanded the 8th Military District (Marseilles). In the chaos after Waterloo he preserved Toulon from being plundered.

The ordinance of 1 August 1817 obliged him to retire once again, though he was briefly reactivated in the reserves in 1830, he soon retired for good.

While on active service his wife was widely admired for accompanying her husband in the field.

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