V Corps (Grande Armée)

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For the similarly numbered formation in World War I and World War II, see 5th Army Corps (France).
V Corps (Grande Armée)
Active 1805–1815
Country France First French Empire
Branch Army
Type Army Corps
Size Two to three infantry divisions, cavalry, artillery
Engagements Napoleonic Wars
Jean Lannes
Anne Jean Marie René Savary
André Masséna
Édouard Mortier
Jean-Baptiste Drouet, Comte d'Erlon
Józef Poniatowski
Jacques Lauriston
Jean Rapp

The V Corps of the Grande Armée was a military unit during the Napoleonic Wars, formed in 1805 and later few times reorganized. In 1805–1807 there served mainly French troops under command French Marshals Lannes, Mortier, Lefebvre, general Savary and Marshal Massena.

The Polish Corp d'Armées[edit]

In 1812, the V Corps was made up entirely of Polish soldiers from the Duchy of Warsaw under the command of General Józef Poniatowski. It was one of several non-French corps of the Grande Armée and at its peak in 1812 consisted of around 36,000 Poles.


After the disastrous Russia campaign, V Corps was rebuilt in Magdeburg from newly formed French units in spring 1813. These troops were under command of General of Division Jacques Lauriston.

Th1 100 Days[edit]

In March 1815, V Corps was rebuilt again and placed under command of General of Division Jean Rapp.


The V Corps varied in strength and organization. In the beginning of each campaign it had:

  • 14,000 French in 1805
  • 18,000 French in 1806–1807
  • 36,000 Polish in 1812
  • 20,000 French in 1813
  • 20,000 French in 1815

This corps had several different troops. In 1805 there were:

  • Infantry Division - General Gazan
  • Combined Grenadier Division - General Oudinot
  • Light Cavalry Division - General Treilhard, then Lasalle

In 1806 and 1807 there were:

  • Infantry Division - General Suchet
  • Infantry Division - General Gazan
  • Light Cavalry Division - General Treilhard

In 1812

  • 16th Infantry Division - General Jozef Zajaczek, then Izydor Krasinski and Franciszek Paszkowski
  • 17th Infantry Division - General Jan Henryk Dabrowski
  • 18th Infantry Division - General Ludwik Kamieniecki, then Karol Kniaziewicz
  • Cavalry Division - General Michal Ignacy Kamieński

In 1813

  • 16th Infantry Division - General Nicolas Joseph Maison
  • 17th Infantry Division - General Jacques Pierre Louis Puthod
  • 19th Infantry Division - General Marie Joseph Rochembeau

V Corps took part in Napoleon's invasion of Russia and fought hard in the Battle of Smolensk and Battle of Borodino.[1] It also fought hard and suffered heavy casualties during winter retreat. Polish soldiers from this corps got back to Warsaw and later were reinforced with new recruits. In 1813, they went to Saxony, passing Austrian Bohemia (today Czech) and there formed VIII Corps in French service.

In 1815, the V Corps was commanded by Jean Rapp and was ordered to defend the north-east frontier of France. The corps consisted of four infantry divisions and one light cavalry division. There was one division of national guard and three line divisions. The division of national guard consisted of six battalions, all people of the region Haut- and Bas-Rhin. The strength was around 3000 Pers and the division was commanded by General de Berckheim. It remained in the town of Colmar during the campaign and was meant to be the reserve for the Corps. The fighting part of the corps was three divisions strong, the 15, 16 and 17 line division. The commander of the 15 Division was general de Rottembourg with under his command 2 Brigades, the first with the 39 and 40 Line regiment and the second with the 36 and 103 line regiment. The 16 Div was commanded by Joseph Albert, first brigade with 10th light and 32nd line regiment, the second brigade with the 18 and 57 Line regiment. The last division of the Corps, the 17th was commanded by Charles Grandjean and was also four infantry regiments strong, divided in two brigades. The first two divisions were involved with delaying the progress of the Austrian-Russian army, and had success in delaying them. The light cavalry division was three brigades strong. The division was commanded by general Merlin, the first brigade was two regiments of chasseurs a cheval strong, the 2 and 7 regiment. Probably the 2 chasseurs was only two squadrons strong. The second brigade was a medium brigade, with the 11 and 19 regiment of dragoons. The third brigade was a mixture of the garnisoon squadrons, probably two to four squadrons strong. The corps had some great actions against the enemy, but with the news of the loss at Waterloo, the fighting spirit was gone.[citation needed]


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

1. Memoires of General Rapp 2. Town notes of Strasbourg 3. Letters of Napoleon