Jean-Roch Coignet was born on 16 August 1776 at Druyes-les-Belles-Fontaines. He participated in sixteen campaigns and forty-eight battles, but was never wounded. An illiterate peasant, he was selected for the Grenadiers of the Imperial Guard, rising to the rank of captain. He began to write his memories after the death of his wife in August 1848. These were initially published in Auxerre between 1851 and 1853 under the title Aux vieux de la vieille. He died on 10 December 1865.