- Historical event:
- 23 May 1813
- A cannonball hit Geraud Duroc in the stomach, tore open his belly, and spilled out his intestines in a gory mess over uniform, saddle and horse.
French general Geraud Duroc, one of the closest collaborators of Napoleon, died a horrible death on this day in 1813.
Before Napoleon became Emperor, Duroc had been his first adjutant. Later, Duroc became the “Grand Marshal of the Palace” (French: Grand Maréchal du Palais).
The “Grand Marshal of the Palace” was the head of the Military Household of the Emperor (Maison Militaire de l’Empereur), which means he was responsible for the safety and supply of the imperial court.
The Military Household of the Emperor included Napoleon’s accompaniment during all military campaigns (more than 800 people).
Bonaparte gave Duroc the aristocratic title of Duke of Friuli. In fact, Duroc was still in a way Napoleon’s first adjutant even though he held the title of “Grand Marshal of the Palace”.
At Reichenbach, Germany (near today’s tri-border area of Germany, Poland, and Czech Republic), Duroc received a terrible wound.
A cannonball bounced off a tree and hit him in the stomach, tore open his belly, spilling out his intestines in a gory mess over uniform, saddle and horse. Napoleon allegedly witnessed the event.
Napoleon mourned over this late Grand Marshal. While Duroc was dying inside a farmhouse, he apologised to the Emperor for not being able to serve him further, and asked him to be like a father to his daughter.
Duroc died on this day. Later, Napoleon bought the farm, and erected a monument to his memory.