Camille Alphonse Trézel. Lithography of the 19th century

Camille Alphonse Trézel was a French General born in Paris on January 5, 1780. His father was Pierre Jean Baptiste Antoine Auguste Trézel and his mother was Magdeleine Victoire Payen.

Trézel was the son of a merchant. However, he left the trade business to start a career in the military in 1801, and in fact in the special branch of engineer geographers. In 1803 he was already a second lieutenant. In 1804 he served in the Netherlands and the following year he was named assistant engineer-geographer. In 1806 he took part in the campaign in Poland, and in 1807-1808 he participated, with the rank of lieutenant, in the mission of the General and Ambassador of France, Gardane, to Persia. He returned to France in 1809 and followed General Guilleminot to Illyria as his aide de camp. In 1810 he was promoted to Captain and took part in the war in Catalonia. In 1811 he served in Germany. In 1812 he was sent to Russia and fought in various battles. He returned to France and became Major in 1813. After his successful participation in the battle of Mayence, he was promoted to Colonel. He was then appointed Chief of the Staff of General Vandamme and he was wounded at the Battle of Fleurus in 1815. He was named Brigadier General on July 5, 1815, but the Bourbon regime did not recognize his rank. Finally, in 1820 – 1823 he took part in the Spanish Civil War, where he distinguished himself. Trézel arrived in Greece in 1828, and was appointed deputy commander of the Staff of General Maison’s expeditionary corps in Morea.

As it is well known, General Maison had submitted a proposal to Governor Kapodistrias for the organization of the Greek Regular Army, under the responsibility of the French officers of his Corps and at the expense of the French government. Thus, Colonel Camille Alphonse Trézel, in accordance with the terms of the agreement, was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Greek Regular Troops. Trézel was promoted by Kapodistrias to a General and took up his new duties by decree on July 22, 1829. At that time, the Greek Regular Army counted 2,688 men.

According to the decree published in the General Gazette, General Trézel was also in charge of the duties of Inspector General of the Regular Corps. His mission was to monitor the progress of the organizational work, to propose transfers, promotions, moral rewards and commemorations, to send reports or requests to the Governor, to process orders on behalf of the Governor, to communicate and to cooperate with the French headquarters, to submit the proposed amendments to the administration, etc. For all these efforts, Trézel was informing the French government, which was financing the Greek army.

Immediately after taking office, Trézel selected brilliant officers from General Maison’s army to build his staff. One of them was Pellion, who was appointed Chief of the Staff, Saint Martin, who took over the management of the ammunition and the funds sent from France to cover the operational needs of the Army, Auguste Guérrin, who took over the duties of the Military assistant quartermaster of the Greek Regular Army, and Sauquet, who served as a Military quartermaster.

General Trézel reorganized the Regular Corps which now included the following units:

a. four Infantry Battalions, each consisting of six companies,
b. an Artillery Battalion, consisting of four Artillery companies and a field Artillery company,
c. a Cavalry Corps, consisting of four squadrons (two of lancers and two of riflemen),
d. a Technical Corps (Fortification and Architecture),
e. the Central War School,
f. the arsenal.

Trézel enforced French regulations in all military sectors, as well as the French Army financial management system. Saint Martin even set up a school, in which Greek officers learned the French rules of military administration and logistics. At the same time, Trézel commissioned Lieutenant Pourchet to command the arsenal. In addition, and since French criminal law had been applied to the Greek Army from the beginning, a permanent Military Court was established in December 1828, which continued to apply the French Military Penal Code. Naturally, Trézel introduced entirely French regulations into training. The training took place in a camp in Megara, lasted 40 days for each soldier and was based mainly on the provisions of the French Campaign Regulations. Trézel himself oversaw the manoeuvres of the Regular Army and Corps (Infantry, Artillery and Cavalry).

Trézel intervened also on the subject of the uniform of the Regular Army, and introduced through another order a uniform which was entirely identical to that of the French Army.

Thus, thanks to Trézel’s efforts, “the Greek Regular Army was in no way different from the French…”, as Christos Byzantios characteristically writes. According to Themeli – Katifori, at that time more than 150 French officers were serving in the Greek military corps which had been organized in line with French standards.

In addition, in October 1829, on the personal initiative of Trézel, a compulsory conscription system was imposed in all the provinces of the new Greek state. Until then, recruitment was carried out on a voluntary basis. But Trézel had identified the need to cultivate a climate of trust between the Regular Army and the government, and stressed in all directions that being a small state, Greece would require a strong national army to acquire significant deterrence power.

Following another proposal by Trézel, the religious oath for the military was introduced. Trézel saw it as a means of restoring military order and discipline. As P. Spyropoulos points out, he believed that in this way, due to the deep religious devotion of the Greeks, the soldiers would consciously abstain from any violation of norms and and deviations.

Trézel was the General Director of the Regular Corps and Inspector General, and he also chaired the examination committee of the Central Military School (Military School of Cadets in Nafplio), which had just been formed by another French officer, Henri Pauzié. Thus, the examinations of the first cadets took place in October 1829, before him and in the presence of the consular agent of France. The first graduates, in whom Kapodistrias himself wore the epaulettes, accompanied by General Trézel, were only eight and they all joined the Artillery.

Cadet 1829 (GES archive)

Representation of the first awarding of ranks to the cadets of the Military School of Greece.

In addition to the above, General Trézel was also responsible for evaluating the candidate-officers who wished to join the Regular Army through their service in the Corps of Attachés This Corps was established by decree in the same year and month, with the main purpose of attracting the sons of the captains who refused to send their children to the War School. The Attachés bore the rank, the uniform and received the salary of the non-commissioned officers of the Regular Corps. They were trained within the Regular Corps and, after being evaluated by a committee chaired by Trézel, they joined the Army as Second Lieutenants, just like the cadets of the War School. The Corps of Attachés, however, was not successful and eventually over time the institution was abolished.

Unfortunately, General Trézel’s significant efforts to reorganize the Army in all areas ended in 1830, due to the change of the political climate in France and the enthronement of Louis Philippe. The new French government stopped granting 100,000 francs per month, which covered the expenses of the Greek Army, and recalled the majority of French officers serving in Greece. General Trézel himself, according to an article in the General Gazette, was then appointed Chief of Staff of the Morea Expeditionary Corps, and in August 1830, on the orders of the Corps Commander, Schneider, he resigned from his post of Director-General of the Regular Corps. He was replaced at the command of the Regular Corps by the French General Gérard.

Camille Alphonse Trézel. Lithography of the 19th century.

Trézel then returned to France in 1831 and later left for Africa as Chief of Staff of Duke De Rovigo. He fought in the Algerian campaign and distinguished himself in all the battles in which he participated until 1835, with the exception of the Battle of Makta. In fact, he was injured in some of them. He returned to France, but in 1836 he was recalled to Algeria, where this time he was seriously injured, and left for France again.

He became a lieutenant General on November 11, 1837 and was subsequently appointed Chief of Staff of the Ministry of War on 15 May 1839. On July 21, 1846 he was elected to the French Parliament as Pair de France and on May 9, 1847 he became Minister of War, a position he held until February 24, 1848. With the revolution in France the same year, he was retired. Finally, in 1853 he was called up for military service as a Count Commander of the Count of Paris, a position he held until 1856. He died on April 11, 1860.

During his career, Trézel was awarded the medal of the Legion of Honour on February 12, 1813, and the medal of the senior officer of the Legion of Honor on January 13, 1837.

He was also honoured with the Order of the Sun. In Greece he was honoured with the medal of the Order of Grand Officer of the Order of the Redeemer. He was also the author of memoirs related to his war missions. His efforts in Greece undoubtedly had a great impact on the establishment of the Greek Regular Army, as they introduced the French military education and training system, the French way of thinking and the French military spirit that was maintained for many years and influenced the military tradition in Greece.



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