V Corps (Grande Armée)

The V Corps of the Grande Armée was a military unit during the Napoleonic Wars. The corps was originally formed in 1805 and was reorganized several times until it was discontinued in 1815.

In 1805–1807 the corps was constituted mainly of French troops, and was commanded by Marshals Jean Lannes, Édouard Mortier, François Joseph Lefebvre and André Masséna as well as Général de Division Anne Jean Marie René Savary.

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 consisted of around 36,000 soldiers. The corps took part in Napoleon’s invasion of Russia and fought in the Battle of Smolensk and the Battle of Borodino.

It suffered heavy casualties during winter retreat, but managed to reach Warsaw and later was reinforced with new recruits. In 1813, they went to Saxony, passing Bohemia. The corps was temporary disbanded with the remaining troops, and Poniatowski was reassinged to the VIII Corps.

After the disastrous Russian campaign, the 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. Participating in the War of the Sixth Coalition the corps was disbanded again after Napoleon’s abdication.

In March 1815, V Corps was rebuilt again and placed under command of General of Division Jean Rapp. Ordered to defend the north-eastern frontier of France, it missed the Battle of Waterloo; instead winning the Battle of La Suffel.

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