He entered strong young person like volunteer to the 3rd battalion of the volunteers of the Meuse, the September 6th 1791 hardly 16 years old. He was named second lieutenant the October 22nd 1793, lieutenant, the June 19th 1798, assistance-of-camp of the general Éblé, the October 22nd 1798. The April 13rd 1799 he was captain provisional with the 16th dragons. It was distinguished at the beginning by several brilliant deeds which pointed out it Murat, of which it became soon the assistance-of-camp and the friend. It was named major in October 1803, and colonel of the 1st hunters the December 27th 1805.
It was distinguished in particular with the Bataille from Wertingen (October 8th 1805) where it had to coordinate the action of several divisions of cavalry while waiting for the arrival of the marshal and showed a remarkable bravery: it was as of the following day congratulated by the emperor and made officer of the Légion of honor. It had three horses killed under him and made wonders of value, it was charged to present to Napoleon i the flags taken on the enemy. Napoleon made him the most flattering reception and says to him: “ I know that it is impossible to be braver than you: I make you officer of Legion-in Honneur. ”
At the end of the campaign of 1805, Exelmans was named Colonel 1st regiment of hunters with horse, with the head of which it served in 1806 and 1807 under the marshal Davout, being distinguished in particular with Auerstaedt and Eylau.
It was named brigadier general to Eylau, the May 14th 1807 and was attached to the staff of Murat, which it followed in Spain like assistance-of-camp in 1808. It was taken in full peace by the guerillas Spanish and led in England, but managed to escape while being thrown in a boat with which it crossed the Manche (1811).
The December 24th 1811, it was named major of hunters with horse of the imperial guard and of pomegranates has horse, the July 27th 1812; it made the countryside of Russia and gained its Major general title of to the Bataille of Moskowa (September 8th 1812). Its brilliant led in the Campagne of 1813 was worth the cord of to him large Officer of the Legion of Honor; it made wonders of value in the countryside of France.
Under the First Restoration, one surprised of him a letter with Murat enough compromising. The order to stop it was given; he escaped initially, then constituted himself captive in the citadel of Lille. A council of war discharged it unanimously, the January 23rd 1815.
With the return of the isle of Elba, Exelmans was named Pair France and commander-in-chief of the 2nd body of cavalry. During the Hundred Days, a few days before the Battle of Waterloo, it surprised a Prussian division which already went on the capital, and entirely destroyed it. In 1815, Exelmans ordered IIe Corps of cavalry, placed under the higher command of the marshal Grouchy: it thus took part in the Bataille of Ligny, but not in that of Waterloo. At the beginning of July, the army joined together under the walls of Paris awaited the signal of a battle which had been a revenge of Waterloo.
See also: Battle of Rocquencourt
On the other hand, Exelmans can be credited with the ultimate victory of the imperial period: after same the abdication of Napoleon, but before the armistice is not signed, it crushed a Prussian brigade at the time of the combat of Rocquencourt (July 1st 1815).
Exelmans was proscribed by the ordinance of the July 24th. Exiled with the return of the Bourbons, it is restored within the framework of the general staff, on September 1st 1819. He was general inspector of cavalry the May 7th 1828 and the August 8th 1830.
II took share in 1830 with the days of July, and assisted the general Pajol in his walk on Rambouillet. The November 19th 1831, it was created Pair France in the batch of thirty-six pars for life intended to allow the adoption the Upper House of the bill abolishing the Hérédité of peerage.
In August 1849, it is Grand Cross and large chancellor of the Legion of honor to replace the marshal Molitor, and, in 1851, under the Second Republic, Marshal of France. He perishes in 1852, of a fall of horse.
Exelmans is the only marshal of the Second Empire which has a boulevard with its name in the famous boulevards of the marshals who encircle Paris.
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