Meet the Leaders

Lieutenant-Général Baron Alexandre Dalton

by Capitaine Bill Peterson
1ère Division de Cuirassiers
Armée du Nord

(Adapted from the Dictionnaire Biographique des Généraux et Amiraux Français de la Révolution et de l'Empire (1792-1814))

Général Dalton

Dalton (known to Battleground gamers as d'Alton, leader of the élite light infantry of Morand's Division in Davout's I Corps at Borodino) had a distinguished career spanning the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, and extending well into France's 19th-Century colonial expansion.

Born at Brive on 20 April 1776, Dalton was named Sous-Lieutenant in the 88ème Régiment d'Infanterie on 15 September 1791, at the age of 15, and promoted to Lieutenant on 16 November. He served along the Rhine in 1792-94, distinguishing himself at the siege of Fort Vauban, and in the Army of the West in 1794-96. He was promoted to Capitaine on 4 June 1795, at age 19. As an aide-de-camp of Général Hoche, he took part in the abortive attempt to invade Ireland in December 1796.

Dalton served in the Armée de Sambre-et-Meuse in 1797, was promoted to Chef de Bataillon (Major) on 20 October 1797, at age 21, and served as aide-de-camp to Général Hédouville in Santo Domingo (Haiti) in 1798. He was with the Army of Italy in 1799-1800, aide-de-camp to Alexandre Berthier in the Army of Reserve through the campaign and Battle of Marengo in 1800 and in Switzerland, until returning to Santo-Domingo in November 1801. Upon his return to France in 1803 he served on the staff of the Ministry of War, then with the Army of the Coasts. 29 August 1805 he was assigned to the headquarters of the Grande Armée. He was present at the Battle of Austerlitz. Named Colonel of the 59ème Ligne on 21 December 1805, he led that regiment through the Battles of Jena (October 1806), Eylau (February 1807), and Friedland (June 1807).

As a reward for distinguished service, Colonel Dalton was granted an annual pension of 4,000 Francs by the Kingdom of Westphalia in March 1808. He was promoted to Général de Brigade on 21 March 1809. He replaced Général Guiot de Lacour in command of the 2nd Brigade, III Corps of the Grande Armée after the latter was mortally wounded at Wagram. He was named Baron de l'Empire on 15 January 1810.

The Battle of Smolensk

The Battle of Smolensk

In November 1811, Dalton took command of the 1st Brigade of Morand's Division on the Elbe. He led that Brigade into Russia in 1812. He was wounded in the left foot by grapeshot at the Battle of Smolensk on 17 August 1812. He served through the Battle of Borodino, but on 23 September 1812 was sent back to France to recover from his wound, thus missing the rigors of the Great Retreat.

On 10 July 1813 Dalton was named commandant of the Fortress of Erfurt in Germany. He successfully defended that post from 25 October 1813 to 16 May 1814, when he and his garrison marched out with the Honors of War.

In the Campaign of the Hundred Days, Dalton was promoted to Lieutenant-Général on 13 April 1815, and given command of the 25ème Division d'Infanterie in Brune's Army of the Var, defending the FrenchFrench Troops in Algeria, 1830's Riviera. Dalton was the Military Governor of Toulon under siege, 7-20 June 1815.

After only a few months of inactivity, Dalton was reinstated into the French Army of the Bourbons in 1816. He served widely as an Inspector-General of Infantry. In 1832, he was assigned to the Armée d'Afrique, taking part in the beginnings of France's colonial adventure in Algeria. He retired in 1848, but in 1853 the doughty old warrior (age 76) had himself placed on the list of reservists, ready to do battle against the Russians again in the Crimean War if his country should need him. Dalton died at Versailles in 1859.

French troops in action in Algeria, 1830's