DNA tests in France have confirmed the one-legged skeleton discovered earlier this year is that of Charles Etienne Gudin, it is reported. The 44-year-old general died after being hit by a cannonball during the Battle of Valutino on 19 August 1812 near Smolensk in western Russia. French newspaper Le Point said that DNA from the body in Russia matches his brother, Pierre César Gudin, also a general.
The remains are reported to have genetically matched his mother and also son Charles Gabriel César Gudin.
In July the skeleton was found in a wooden coffin in a park under the foundations of a former dance floor, according to reports in August.
“As soon as I saw the skeleton with just one leg, I knew that we had our man,” said Marina Nesterova, head of the archaeological team.
It has taken until now to obtain scientific confirmation that the remains indeed belong to General Charles Etienne Gudin, who attended military school with Napoleon, his childhood friend.
Gudin died from gangrene as a result of his cannonball wound which led to a battlefield amputation near the beginning of Napoleon’s march toward Moscow, 250 miles further east.
Napoleon’s army had cut out his heart, which is now buried at the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris.
But the site of the rest of his remains had remained a mystery before a major search to find the military leader was staged this summer.
The search was funded by French historian Pierre Malinovsky, a former soldier, and was approved by President Vladimir Putin.
Napoleon is supposed to have wept on hearing of Gudin’s death in Russia, and the fallen hero’s name was inscribed on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
He was described as a “lion in combat”.
Less than ten per cent of the French army which numbered 400,000 survived the Russian campaign.
The Kremlin earlier described the discovery of the body as “a very important archaeological find”.
Presidents Putin and Emmanuel Macron in August discussed the find ahead of the DNA confirmation.