Jean Henri Dombrowski

(Jan Henryk Dombrowski)
Polish and French General

Louis DesaixPolish patriot and military leader in exile, Jean Henri (or Jan Henryk) Dombrowski (or Dabrowski) was one of the leading soldiers of Poland during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

Like other Poles he realised that by helping the revolution in France it was the best way to gain freedom for his native land, which had been subsumed by its neighbours Prussia, Russia and Austria.

He had earlier military experience in the Saxon army, having served between 1770 and 1784, and then joined the Polish forces in 1791.

In 1795, Dombrowski moved to France where he organised a Polish legion that served in northern Italy.

At Novi Dombrowski won recognition for his courage and ability and a year later he was made a general.

In 1806 he raised a Polish division that fought at Danzig and Friedland and joined General Josef Poniatowksi's army of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw in 1809.

When Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Russia in 1812, Dombrowski was severely tested at Borisov, a bridge over the Beresina. Arriving to take over a poorly organised defence his men were overwhelmed by far superior Russian numbers.

Wounded at the battle for the Berezina he continued to serve and fought at both Mockern and Leipzig, where he took over the command of Poniatowski's VIII Corps after the marshal drowned trying to escape across the Elster River.

After Napoleon abdicated in 1814, Dombrowski left rance for Poland and a year later was given a generalship by Tsar Alexander and re-formed the Polish army. He retired in 1816.

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