Étienne Gihot (1775 - 1833 )


Signature of Étienne Gihot

Étienne Gihot was born in Valenciennes in the northern French Département of Nord, on February 9, 17751. He was the son of Lambert Joseph and Marie Anne (née Macklemy) Gihot. His  father was a drummer in the Dillon Irish Regiment in the company commanded by Barthelemy Dillon that was then garrisoned at the Valenciennes Citadel.2 His godfather was Étienne Mols of the same regiment. Because his father was a soldier,  Étienne was an enfant de troupe3 so the army was responsible for his education and probably his musical training.  On his sixteenth birthday,  February 9, 1791, he entered the service for military training as an enfant de troupe of the 30ème Regiment Infanterie de Ligne.  He served under Napoléon Bonaparte in 21e Regiment d'Infanterie Ligne as a musician throughout the First Empire period including the Russian Campaign (1812)  and Waterloo (1815, see his service record, below). On June 22, 1805 while  stationed in Dunkirk, he was a witness to the birth of Louise, daughter of Jean Pierre Pruvot and Marie Motte. Monsieur Pruvot was a fellow musician in 21e R.I.L.

Étienne Gihot married Caroline Sophie Erhart, a native of Berlin and widow of Jean-Louis Lehmann.

After his military service Étienne Gihot became Premier Cor du Grand Théâtre de Lyon. A Méthode Pour le Cor (c. 1827) by J. Blanc is dedicated to Gihot (see below).

Étienne Gihot died in Lyon on March 26, 1833 at the age of fifty-eight. The witnesses of record to his death were Adolph Faucille, a mechanical engineer, and Antoine Navaizard who was a wine merchant and a neighbor. His widow, Caroline Sophie, died only three months later on  June 11, 1833 at the age of fifty-six. The witnesses were horn-maker, Jean Baptiste Tabard, and Jean Fréderic Lang, professor of music. 

Above left, Grand Théâtre,  Lyon designed by Jacques-Germain Soufflot (1713-1780) in 1754. It was destroyed by fire in 1826. It was replaced in 1831 on the same site by a theatre built by Antoine-Marie Chenavard (right).  Étienne Gihot probably played in both.
Military Service Record of Étienne Gihot with 21e Regiment d'Infanterie Ligne4

Starting in 1793 Étenne Gihot served in the Army of the Rhine and North, then moved to the army of Sambre-et-Meuse, Belgium.  He was present at the siege of Dutch city of Maëstricht in 1794, which was annexed and became a French city of what would become the First French Empire.  He then moved to the Army in Italy, serving in Rome, Naples and other cities.  He advanced quickly in rank during these years, first to corporal on April 7, 1797, then two years later to sergeant (May 29, 1799), and finally the next year to sergeant-major on September 3, 1800. In 1806 and 1807 he served in Prussia and Poland, then moved to Austria in 1809. In 1812 he took part in Napoléon's infamously ill-fated invasion of Russia. In 1813 he was sent to the 13th Corps, and in 1814 took part in the blockade of Hamburg.

With the abdication of Napoléon on April 11, 1814 the Bourbon monarchy was briefly restored in France. During this time on October 5, 1814, Étienne Gihot was awarded Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur by Louis XVIII for his twenty-some years of active service. On March 20, 1815, Napoléon returned to Paris from his exile on Elba, temporarliy ending the Restoration ("One-Hundred Days"). With the final defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, Étienne Gihot  returned to France where on September 1, 1815 he was discharged by order of the king.5 On January 1, 1816, he entered the Légion des Hautes-Pyrénées6 in Lyon with the title Chef de Musique, and on October 1 the same year signed an oath of allegiance to the king as a "loyal Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur." On December 29, 1820 the departmental legions were converted into regiments and the Légion des Hautes-Pyrénées became the new 14e Régiment d'Infanterie Légère.  Étienne Gihot retired from military service on October 31, 1828.

Above, title page from Nouvelle Méthode de Cor by J. Blanc, Professeur de Musique au Collége de l'Arc à Dole. Jean Antoine Blanc was born January 21,1793, in  Barcelona, Spain and died December 23, 1869, Lons-le-Saunier, Jura, France.
At left, medal of the Légion d'Honneur with figure of Henry IV as it appeared in 1814 under the restoration of the monarchy when awarded to Étienne Gihot.


Special thanks to M. Christian Declerck for all of his assistance and particularly the leads to the Legion of Honor archives and vital records regarding Étienne Gihot.

1. There are discrepencies among public documents regarding the year of M. Gihot's birth. According to a transcript from the registers of births in Valenciennes his birth year was 1775, however according to the record of his service with the Légion des Hautes-Pyrénées dated October 5, 1814, he was born in 1776. 

2.  The original Dillon Regiment came from Ireland  to France in 1690 as part of a mutual exchange of troops. It remained as part of the Irish Brigade in the service of France  recruiting from the expatriot Irish community, and was commanded by subsequent generations of the Dillon family.  The Dillon Regiment was part of the French expeditionary army commanded by Comte de Rochambeau (1725-1807), sent to help the American Revolution in 1780. They were vital to the American-French allied victory at Yorktown in September 1781.  In that year the regiment was commanded as follows: Colonel,  Count Arthur Dillon; Second Colonel,  Count Theobald Dillon; Lieutenant- Colonel, 
Barthelemy Dillon. It is not known whether Lambert Joseph Gihot was part of that expedition.

3. An enfant de troupe was a child whose father was a non-commissioned officer (called subaltern at the time) or soldier and who followed the troops with his family. Unlike children of officers who had schools to train them in the profession of arms, these children had no way of having military training other than to engage as a soldier.  May 1, 1766, an order of Louis XV improved the lives of these children by requiring that every company or squadron of each regiment of the royal army, two budget items would be reserved for the son of non-commissioned officers or soldiers. Napoléon Bonaparte, as 1st Consul enacted a law in 1800 which, among other things, officially called such miiiltary dependents "children of the troops." A child of the regiment became a ward of the nation upon the death of his military father.

4. Regimental war record (Battles and Combats) of 21e Regiment d'Infanterie Ligne:
1793: Landau
1794: Meastricht
1796: Loano, Montenotte, Millesimo, Dego and Lodi
1799: Verone, Magnano,Vaprio, Peschiera, Bassignana, Modena, La Trebbia and Novi
1800: Wurzbourg and Burg-Eberach
1806: Auerstadt and Pultusk
1807: Eylau
1809: Eckmuhl, Ratisbonne, Essling, Presbourg and Wagram
1812: Smolensk, Valoutina, La Moskowa and Wiasma
1813: Dresden, Pirne, Hollendorf and Kulm
1814: Berg-op-Zoom
1815: Waterloo
See Napoleon Series.org

5. licencié par suite de l'ordonnance du Roi

6. Following the Hundred Days, the government of the Restoration wanted to destroy a hotbed of partisans commited to the cause of the deposed emperor. The old corps were dismissed and replaced by departmental legions whose training center was the administrative center of each department. Some remnants of the old empire corps were brought into this organization, however. Those of the 1st Light were directed to Tarbès and were used as the core of the Legion of Hautes Pyrénées. This first group joined with former soldiers of various regiments, which, following the disaster of Waterloo, returned to the native land. Officers of the old army were called to the administrative center of their department, to work together in the formation of the legion. On January 1, 1816. the Legion of the Hautes-Pyrénées was formally constituted and on August 25 it received its flag. The following day it departed Tarbès, and successively held garrisons at Aurillac (1816), Lyon (1817),  Carcassonne (1818-1819), where it became a legion of light infantry, and in Toulon (1820 - 1821). On October 23, 1820, a royal decree formed the  infantry into 80 regiments, including 60 of line and 20 light (all with 3 battalions). On December 29, 1820 the departmental legions were converted into regiments. The Legion of the Hautes-Pyrénées became the 14th Regiment of Light Infantry, and received a new flag.

Archives Municipales de Lyon en Ligne

Balch, Thomas; The French in America During the War of Independence of the United States, 1777-1783, Vol. II., Porter & Coates, Philadelphia, 1895

Charles-LaVauzelle, Henri; Historique du 89e Régiment d'Infanterie, Imprimerie Librairie Militaire, Paris, 1891

Declerck, Christian, Dictionnair des musiciens Dunkerque

Patrimoine de France - Indices of holders of the Legion of Honor

Leonore Le  Fonds  de la  Légion  d ' Honneur  aux  Archives  Nationale

William Waterhouse, The New Langwill Index of Wind Instrument Makers and Inventors, pub.Tony Bingham, London 1993

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