- William B. Skelton
Bernard, Simon (26 April 1779–05 September 1839), military engineer, was born in Dôle, in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France, the son of an artisan. His parents’ names are unknown. Although extremely poor, Bernard managed with the aid of a local priest to enter the École Central des Travaux Publics (soon renamed the École Polytechnique) in Paris, the basic school to train candidates for the technical branches of the French army. Graduating second in his class in 1797, he joined the Army of the Rhine, and for the next seventeen years he performed ably as an officer of engineers. He earned the notice of Emperor Napoleon I for a reconnaissance before the battle of Austerlitz in 1805, engaged in road building and counter-guerrilla operations in Dalmatia, and supervised the fortification of Antwerp. In 1809 he married Maria Anna von Lerchenfeld, with whom he had an unknown number of children. In 1813 Bernard was appointed an aide-de-camp to the emperor, and the following year he rose to ...