Dominique Larrey

French Surgeon

Another portrait

Dominique LarreyOne of the leading non-military figures of the Napoleonic Era, Dominique Larrey was an energetic and devoted doctor whose main concerns were always for people.

He went with Napoleon Bonaparte to Egypt, stomached the horrendous slaughters of Aspern-Essling and Wagram, survived the retreat from Russia in 1812 and was wounded at Waterloo.

Thousands of Frenchmen and enemy soldiers owed their lives to Larrey who, during his duties, studied how to beat post-wound or post-operation infection.

His method was for immediate amputation and his skill was such that there was a remarkable turnaround in post-battle fatalities.

He also designed one of the first mobile field ambulances.

Larrey was the darling of the common soldier and they looked after him during the dreadful retreat from Russia. At the crossing of the Beresina, where thousands died in the panic-stricken struggle to get over the bridge, French troops passed him over their heads the length of the span to safety.

Larrey's courage was even noticed at Waterloo by the Duke of Wellington who, noticing Larrey tending injured men in a dangerously exposed position, saluted a man "of an age no longer ours'."


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