Commander-in-Chief, Army of the Rhine
|Born||16 February 1761|
Arbois or Les Planches-près-Arbois
|Died||5 April 1804 (aged 43)|
|Years of service||1783–1797|
|Battles/wars||French Revolutionary Wars|
Jean-Charles Pichegru (16 February 1761 – 5 April 1804) was a distinguished French general of the Revolutionary Wars. Under his command, French troops overran Belgium and the Netherlands before fighting on the Rhine front. His royalist positions led to his loss of power and imprisonment in Cayenne, French Guiana during the Coup of 18 Fructidor in 1797. After escaping into exile in London and joining the staff of Alexander Korsakov, he returned to France and planned the Pichegru Conspiracy to remove Napoleon from power, which led to his arrest and death. Despite his defection, his surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 3.
France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.
The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of sweeping military conflicts lasting from 1792 until 1802 and resulting from the French Revolution. They pitted France against Great Britain, Austria and several other monarchies. They are divided in two periods: the War of the First Coalition (1792–97) and the War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802). Initially confined to Europe, the fighting gradually assumed a global dimension. After a decade of constant warfare and aggressive diplomacy, France had conquered a wide array of territories, from the Italian Peninsula and the Low Countries in Europe to the Louisiana Territory in North America. French success in these conflicts ensured the spread of revolutionary principles over much of Europe.
Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, and the North Sea to the northwest. It covers an area of 30,688 square kilometres (11,849 sq mi) and has a population of more than 11.4 million. The capital and largest city is Brussels; other major cities are Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi and Liège.
Pichegru was born in a peasant family at Arbois (or, according to Charles Nodier, at Les Planches-près-Arbois, near Lons-le-Saulnier), in the then Franche-Comté (now in the Jura department of France). The friars of Arbois were entrusted with his education, and sent him to the military school of Brienne-le-Château. There, he taught mathematics, and among his pupils was the young Napoleon Bonaparte. In 1783, he entered the 1st regiment of artillery, where he rapidly rose to the rank of adjutant-second lieutenant, and briefly served in the American Revolutionary War.
Arbois is a commune in the Jura department in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region in eastern France. The Cuisance River passes through the town, which has some pretty streets lined with ancient houses. The town centres on an arcaded central square where one can sample the local wines.
Jean Charles Emmanuel Nodier was an influential French author and librarian who introduced a younger generation of Romanticists to the conte fantastique, gothic literature, and vampire tales. His dream related writings influenced the later works of Gérard de Nerval.
Les Planches-près-Arbois is a commune in the Jura department in Franche-Comté in eastern France.
When the Revolution erupted in 1789, he became leader of the Jacobin Club in Besançon, and, when a regiment of volunteers of the départment of the Gard marched through the city, he was elected lieutenant colonel.
Besançon is the capital of the department of Doubs in the region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. The city is located in Eastern France, close to the Jura Mountains and the border with Switzerland.
Gard is a department in Southern France, located in the Occitanie region. It had a population of 742,006 as of 2016; its prefeture is Nîmes. The department is named after the Gardon River; the Occitan name of the river, Gard, has been replacing the French name in recent decades, both administratively and among French speakers.
Lieutenant colonel (pronounced Lef-ten-ent Kernel or Loo-ten-ent Kernel ) is a rank of commissioned officer in the armies, most marine forces and some air forces of the world, above a major and below a colonel. The rank of lieutenant colonel is often shortened to simply "colonel" in conversation and in unofficial correspondence. Sometimes, the term, 'half-colonel' is used in casual conversation in the British Army. A lieutenant colonel is typically in charge of a battalion or regiment in the army.
The fine condition of his regiment was noticed in the French Revolutionary Army section of the Rhine, and his organizing ability got him appointed in the headquarters, and then promoted général de brigade.
The French Revolutionary Army was the French force that fought the French Revolutionary Wars from 1792 to 1802. These armies were characterised by their revolutionary fervour, their poor equipment and their great numbers. Although they experienced early disastrous defeats, the revolutionary armies successfully expelled foreign forces from French soil and then overran many neighboring countries, establishing client republics. Leading generals included Jourdan, Bonaparte, Masséna and Moreau.
In 1793, Lazare Carnot and Louis de Saint-Just were sent to find roturier (non-aristocratic) generals who could prove successful (see: Campaigns of 1793 in the French Revolutionary Wars ). Carnot discovered Jean-Baptiste Jourdan, and Saint-Just discovered Louis Lazare Hoche and Pichegru. At first, Pichegru was appointed général de division and commander of the Division of the Upper Rhine.
Lazare Nicolas Marguerite, Count Carnot was a French mathematician, physicist and politician. He was known as the Organizer of Victory in the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars.
The French nobility was a privileged social class in France during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period to the revolution in 1790. The nobility was revived in 1805 with limited rights as a titled elite class from the First Empire to the fall of the July Monarchy in 1848, when all privileges were abolished for good. Hereditary titles, without privileges, continued to be granted until the Second Empire fell in 1870. They survive among their descendants as a social convention and as part of the legal name of the corresponding individuals.
The French Revolutionary Wars continued from 1792, with new powers entering the First Coalition after the execution of King Louis XVI. Spain and Portugal entered the coalition in January 1793, and on 1 February France declared war on Great Britain and the Netherlands.
Appointed commander-in-chief of the Army of the Rhine, Pichegru attacked the Coalition army of Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser in the Battle of Haguenau in 1793. Over a period of weeks the Coalition Forces were driven back step by step in bitter fighting. The intervention of the Army of the Moselle under Hoche at the Battle of Froeschwiller in late December finally caused Wurmser to abandon Alsace. For the Second Battle of Wissembourg, Pichegru was placed under the command of Hoche, who proved to be a difficult superior. Nevertheless, the French again won the battle, compelling Wurmser to retreat to the east bank of the Rhine and the Prussian army to withdraw toward Mainz.
Dagobert Sigismund, Count von Wurmser was an Austrian field marshal during the French Revolutionary Wars. Although he fought in the Seven Years' War, the War of the Bavarian Succession, and mounted several successful campaigns in the Rhineland in the initial years of the French Revolutionary Wars, he is probably most remembered for his unsuccessful operations against Napoleon Bonaparte during the 1796 campaign in Italy.
The Battle of Haguenau saw a Republican French army commanded by Jean-Charles Pichegru mount a persistent offensive against a Coalition army under Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser during the War of the First Coalition. In late November, Wurmser pulled back from his defenses behind the Zorn River and assumed a new position along the Moder River at Haguenau. After continuous fighting, Wurmser finally withdrew to the Lauter River after his western flank was turned in the Battle of Froeschwiller on 22 December. Haguenau is a city in Bas-Rhin department of France, located 29 kilometres (18 mi) north of Strasbourg.
The War of the First Coalition is the traditional name of the wars that several European powers fought between 1792 and 1797 against the French First Republic. Despite the collective strength of these nations compared with France, they were not really allied and fought without much apparent coordination or agreement. Each power had its eye on a different part of France it wanted to appropriate after a French defeat, which never occurred.
In December 1793, Hoche was arrested, probably owing to his colleague's denunciations, and Pichegru became commander-in-chief of the Army of the Rhine and Moselle. He was summoned to succeed Jourdan in the Army of the North in February 1794, subsequently fighting three major campaigns within the year. The forces of the Kingdom of Great Britain, the Dutch Republic and Habsburg Austria held a strong position along the Sambre to the North Sea.
After attempting to break the Austrian centre, Pichegru suddenly turned their right, and defeated the Count of Clerfayt at Cassel, Menin and Courtrai, while his subordinate, Joseph Souham, defeated Prince Josias of Coburg in the battle of Tourcoing in May 1794. After a lull, during which Pichegru feigned a siege of Ypres, he again attacked Clerfayt, and defeated him at Roeselare and Hooglede, while Jourdan, commanding the newly named Army of Sambre-et-Meuse, withstood Austrian attacks in the battle of Fleurus (27 June 1794), which eventually led to Allied evacuation of the Low Countries.
Pichegru began his second campaign by crossing the Meuse on 18 October, and, after taking Nijmegen, drove the Austrians beyond the Rhine. The Anglo-Hanoverian army withdrew behind the Waal. Then, while Pichegru's troops prepared to go into winter quarters, the Convention ordered the Army of the North to mount a winter campaign. On 27 December two brigades crossed the Meuse on the ice, and stormed the Bommelerwaard. On 10 January Pichegru's army crossed the ice of the Waal between Zaltbommel and Nijmegen, then, on 13 January, entered Utrecht, which surrendered on the 16th. The Anglo-Hanoverian army retreated behind the IJssel and then withdrew to Hanover and Bremen. Pichegru, who had successfully penetrated the frozen Hollandic Water Line, arrived in Amsterdam on 20 January, after the Batavian Revolution had taken place. The French occupied the rest of the Dutch Republic in the next month.
This major victory was marked by unique episodes, such as the Capture of the Dutch fleet at Den Helder by French hussars, and exceptional discipline of the French battalions in Amsterdam, who, although faced with the opportunity of plundering the richest city in Europe, showed self-restraint.
Although a former associate of Saint-Just, Pichegru offered his services to the Thermidorian Reaction, and, after having received the title of Sauveur de la Patrie ("Saviour of the Fatherland") from the National Convention, subdued the sans-culottes of Paris, when they rose in insurrection against the Convention on 12 Germinal (1 April).
Pichegru then took command of the armies of the North, the Sambre-and-Meuse, and the Rhine, and, crossing the Rhine in force, took Mannheim in May 1795.
Although he had become a hero of the Revolution, he allowed his colleague Jourdan to be defeated, betrayed all his plans to the enemy, and took part in organizing a conspiracy for the return and crowning of Louis XVIII as King of France. The plans were suspected, and, when he offered his resignation to the Directory in October 1795, it was promptly accepted (much to his surprise). He retired in disgrace, but secured his election to the Council of Five Hundred in May 1797 as a leader of the Royalists.
Pichegru planned a coup d'état during the Coup of 18 Fructidor , but he was arrested and with fourteen others was deported to Cayenne, French Guiana in 1797. He and seven others escaped and fled to Paramaribo. The gouverneur De Friderici allowed them to get on board a ship to the United States. Shortly thereafter, he went to London where he joined thousands of Frenchmen who had left France in a mass movement in an effort to save themselves from the violence of the French Revolution. There, he served on General Aleksandr Rimsky-Korsakov's staff in the campaign of 1799. He went to Paris in August 1803 with Georges Cadoudal to head a royalist uprising against the First Consul, Napoleon Bonaparte. Betrayed by a friend, Pichegru was arrested on 28 February 1804, and was later found strangled in prison. The government reported that he had committed suicide, but the report was widely thought to be false.
Pichegru was buried in the cimetière Sainte-Catherine, a Paris cemetery with its entrance in the former rue de Fer, and which was closed in 1824.
The Battle of Aldenhoven or Battle of the Roer saw a Republican French army commanded by Jean Baptiste Jourdan attack a Habsburg Austrian army under François Sébastien Charles Joseph de Croix, Count of Clerfayt which was defending the line of the Roer River. The key crossing was won by the French right wing at Düren after heavy fighting. The Austrian retreat from the Roer conceded control of the west bank of the Rhine River to France. The battle occurred during the War of the First Coalition, part of a wider conflict called the Wars of the French Revolution. Aldenhoven is located in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany about 21 kilometres (13 mi) northeast of Aachen.
Louis Lazare Hoche was a French soldier who rose to be general of the Revolutionary army. He won a victory over Royalist forces in Brittany. His surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 3. Richard Holmes says he was, "quick-thinking, stern, and ruthless...a general of real talent whose early death was a loss to France."
François Sébastien Charles Joseph de Croix, Count of Clerfayt, a Walloon, joined the army of the Habsburg Monarchy and soon fought in the Seven Years' War. Later in his military career, he led Austrian troops in the war against Ottoman Turkey. During the French Revolutionary Wars he saw extensive fighting and rose to the rank of Field Marshal.
François Joseph Lefebvre, Duc de Dantzig, was a French military commander during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and one of the original eighteen Marshals of the Empire created by Napoleon.
The French Revolutionary Wars continued from 1795, with the French in an increasingly strong position as members of the First Coalition made separate peaces. Austria and Great Britain were the main remaining members of the coalition. The rebellion in the Vendée was also finally terminated by General Hoche.
The Army of Sambre and Meuse was one of the armies of the French Revolution. It was formed on 29 June 1794 by combining the Army of the Ardennes, the left wing of the Army of the Moselle and the right wing of the Army of the North. Its maximum paper strength was approximately 83,000.
The Army of the Rhine and Moselle was one of the field units of the French Revolutionary Army. It was formed on 20 April 1795 by the merger of elements of the Army of the Rhine and the Army of the Moselle.
The Coup of 18 Fructidor, Year V, was a seizure of power by members of the French Directory on 4 September 1797 when their opponents, the Royalists, were gaining strength. Howard G. Brown, Professor of History at Binghamton University, stresses the turn toward dictatorship and the failure of liberal democracy under the Directory, blaming it on "chronic violence, ambivalent forms of justice, and repeated recourse to heavy-handed repression."
The Battle of Handschuhsheim or Battle of Heidelberg saw an 8,000-man force from Habsburg Austria under Peter Vitus von Quosdanovich face 12,000 men from the Republican French army led by Georges Joseph Dufour. Thanks to a devastating cavalry charge, the Austrians routed the French with disproportionate losses. The fight occurred during the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. Handschuhsheim is now a district of Heidelberg, but it was a village north of the city in 1795.
The Siege of Mannheim began when 17,000 Habsburg Austrian troops under Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser defeated 12,000 Republican French soldiers led by Jean-Charles Pichegru. In the Battle of Mannheim the French were driven from their camp and forced to retreat into the city of Mannheim which was then placed under siege. After winning battles at Mainz and Pfeddersheim, the Austrian army of François Sébastien Charles Joseph de Croix, Count of Clerfayt drove Pichegru's army away from the city, leaving it isolated. After a month-long siege, the 10,000-strong Republican French garrison of Anne Charles Basset Montaigu surrendered to 25,000 Austrians commanded by Wurmser. This event brought the 1795 campaign in Germany to an end. The battle and siege occurred during the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. Situated on the Rhine River at its confluence with the Neckar River, Mannheim lies in the state of Baden-Württemberg in modern-day Germany.
At the Battle of Höchst, the Habsburg Austrian army commanded by François Sébastien Charles Joseph de Croix, Count of Clerfayt outmaneuvered the French Republican Army of Sambre-et-Meuse commanded by Jean-Baptiste Jourdan. Although the French attacked first, they were unable to dislodge an Austrian flanking column. Afterward Jourdan's army retreated to the north. The clash happened during the War of the First Coalition, part of a wider conflict known as the French Revolutionary Wars. Modern-day Höchst is a suburb and administrative district of Frankfurt am Main in the state of Hesse in Germany. Höchst is about 12 kilometers (7 mi) west of the Frankfurt city center.
The Battle of Pfeddersheim or Battle of the Pfrimm saw a Habsburg Austrian army led by François Sébastien Charles Joseph de Croix, Count of Clerfayt attack a Republican French army under Jean-Charles Pichegru. The Austrians defeated the French and forced them to retreat south to Frankenthal where Clerfayt won another clash a few days later. The battle occurred during the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. The borough of Worms-Pfeddersheim is located in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany. Worms is approximately 23 kilometres (14 mi) north of Mannheim and Pfeddersheim is about 6 kilometres (4 mi) west of Worms.
Jacques Philippe Bonnaud or Bonneau commanded a French combat division in a number of actions during the French Revolutionary Wars. He enlisted in the French Royal Army as cavalryman in 1776 and was a non-commissioned officer in 1789. He became a captain in the 12th Chasseurs à Cheval Regiment in 1792. The unit fought at Valmy, Jemappes, Aldenhoven, Neerwinden, Raismes, Caesar's Camp and Wattignies, and he was wounded twice. In January 1794 he was promoted to general officer. In April 1794, he reluctantly accepted command of a division that had been cut to pieces at Villers-en-Cauchies and Troisvilles, and this at a time when failed generals often were sent to the guillotine. He led his troops at Courtrai, Tourcoing and in the invasion of the Dutch Republic. He fought in the War in the Vendée the following year, briefly leading the Army of the Coasts of Cherbourg. In the Rhine Campaign of 1796 he led a cavalry division in combat at Amberg, Würzburg and Limburg. He was badly wounded in the latter action and never recovered, dying at Bonn six months later. BONNEAU is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 6.
In the Rhine Campaign of 1795, two Habsburg Austrian armies under the overall command of François Sébastien Charles Joseph de Croix, Count of Clerfayt, defeated two Republican French armies attempting to invade the south German states of the Holy Roman Empire. At the start of the campaign, the French Army of the Sambre and Meuse, led by Jean-Baptiste Jourdan, confronted Clerfayt's Army of the Lower Rhine in the north, while the French Army of the Rhine and Moselle, under Jean-Charles Pichegru, lay opposite Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser's Army of the Upper Rhine in the south. An early summer offensive failed. In August, Jourdan crossed the Rhine and quickly seized Düsseldorf. The Army of the Sambre and Meuse advanced south to the Main River, completely isolating Mainz. Pichegru's army made a surprise capture of Mannheim; subsequently, both French armies held significant footholds on the east bank of the Rhine.
Anne Charles Basset de Montaigu, born 10 June 1751 in Versailles (Yvelines), died 8 May 1821 at Luneville was a general of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. Tainted by his association with Charles Pichegru, he was cleared by a courts-martial in 1797, and served subsequently in the Army of the Danube and in the Grande Armée until his retirement from military service in 1811.
Paul-Alexis Dubois commanded French divisions during the War of the First Coalition and was killed in action fighting against Habsburg Austria. He enlisted in a French infantry regiment in 1770 and transferred into the cavalry in 1776. Thereafter he served in several different cavalry and infantry regiments. From sous-lieutenant in 1791, he served in the Army of the Moselle and was rapidly promoted to general of brigade by August 1793. After briefly commanding an infantry division in the Army of the Rhine at Wissembourg he switched back to the Army of the Moselle to fight at Kaiserslautern before being wounded at Froeschwiller in December 1793.
Amédée Willot, Count of Gramprez, held several military commands during the French Revolutionary Wars but his association with Jean-Charles Pichegru led to his exile from France in 1797. He joined the French Royal Army as a volunteer in 1771 and was a captain by 1787. He was elected commander of a volunteer battalion in 1792 and served in the War of the Pyrenees. Shortly after being promoted commander of a light infantry regiment Willot was appointed general of brigade in June 1793. A few months later he was denounced as a Royalist and jailed. In the light of later events, this may have been an accurate assessment of Willot's sentiments. After release from prison in January 1795, he led troops in Spain during the summer campaign. He was promoted to general of division in July 1795.
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