Louis-Charles de Flers

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Louis-Charles de La Motte-Ango, vicomte de Flers
Born12 June 1754 (1754-06-12)
Paris, France
Died22 July 1794 (1794-07-23) (aged 40)
Paris, France
Allegiance Flag of France.svg France
Rank General of Division
Battles/wars Battle of Jemappes (1792)
Battle of Mas Deu (1793)
Siege of Bellegarde (1793)
Battle of Perpignan (1793)

Louis-Charles de La Motte-Ango, vicomte de Flers (12 June 1754 22 July 1794) joined the French Royal army and rose in rank to become a general officer in the French Revolutionary Wars. After serving in the Austrian Netherlands, he was appointed to command the Army of the Eastern Pyrenees. His army suffered several defeats in May and June 1793, but he rallied his troops to win a defensive victory at the Battle of Perpignan in July. The all-powerful Representatives-on-mission arrested him in August 1793 for a minor setback and sent him to Paris under arrest. The Committee of Public Safety executed him by guillotine on trumped up charges in the last days of the Reign of Terror. De Flers is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe.

A General Officer is an officer of high rank in the army, and in some nations' air forces or marines.

French Revolutionary Wars series of conflicts fought between the French Republic and several European monarchies from 1792 to 1802

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.

Austrian Netherlands

The Austrian Netherlands was the larger part of the Southern Netherlands between 1714 and 1797. The period began with the acquisition of the former Spanish Netherlands under the Treaty of Rastatt in 1714 and lasted until its annexation during the aftermath of the Battle of Sprimont in 1794 and the Peace of Basel in 1795. Austria, however, did not relinquish its claim over the province until 1797 in the Treaty of Campo Formio. The Austrian Netherlands was a noncontiguous territory that consisted of what is now western Belgium as well as greater Luxembourg, bisected by the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. The dominant languages were German, Dutch (Flemish), and French, along with Picard and Walloon.


Early career

De Flers fought at Jemappes Bataille Jemmapes.jpg
De Flers fought at Jemappes

De Flers was born into a noble family in Paris on 12 June 1754. His parents were Ange Hyacinthe Ango de la Motte-Ango, comte de Flers (17191788) and Marie Madeleine Charlotte de Chertemps de Seuil, baroness de Reaux (17221775). [1] De Flers enlisted in a cavalry regiment at a very early age. He embraced the French Revolution and became a marechal de camp in 1791. At the direction of General Charles Francois Dumouriez, de Flers established the camp of Maulde in 1792 and was badly wounded defending it. After recovering, he joined Dumouriez's invasion of Belgium as a division commander in 1792. [2]

Major general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. The disappearance of the "sergeant" in the title explains the apparently confusing phenomenon whereby a lieutenant general outranks a major general while a major outranks a lieutenant.

On 6 November 1792 he commanded the Reserve of the Left Wing at the Battle of Jemappes. Under his command were two squadrons of Mounted National Gendarmes and a number of grenadier battalions. [3] The French defeat at the Battle of Neerwinden on 18 March 1793, left de Flers commanding an isolated garrison at Breda. After a brief siege, he surrendered the place and was allowed to march out with the honors of war [2] on 3 April. [4]

Battle of Jemappes battle

The Battle of Jemappes took place near the town of Jemappes in Hainaut, Austrian Netherlands, near Mons during the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. One of the first major offensive battles of the war, it was a victory for the armies of the infant French Republic, and saw the French Armée du Nord, which included a large number of inexperienced volunteers, defeat a substantially smaller regular Austrian army.

Battle of Neerwinden (1793) 1793 battle between the French and the First Coalition

The Battle of Neerwinden saw a Republican French army led by Charles François Dumouriez attack a Coalition army commanded by Prince Josias of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. The Coalition army's Habsburg Austrians together with a small contingent of allied Dutch Republic troops repulsed all French assaults after bitter fighting and Dumouriez conceded defeat, withdrawing from the field. The French position in the Austrian Netherlands swiftly collapsed, ending the threat to the Dutch Republic and allowing Austria to regain control of her lost province. The War of the First Coalition engagement was fought at Neerwinden, located 57 kilometres (35 mi) east of Brussels in present-day Belgium.

Breda City and municipality in North Brabant, Netherlands

Breda is a city and municipality in the southern part of the Netherlands, located in the province of North Brabant. The name derived from brede Aa and refers to the confluence of the rivers Mark and Aa.

War of the Pyrenees

On 14 May General of Division de Flers assumed command of the Army of the Eastern Pyrenees. [5] The War of the Pyrenees had opened badly for the French. The Spanish Army of Catalonia under Captain General Antonio Ricardos invaded France on 17 April with 4,500 men and routed the 400-man garrison of Saint-Laurent-de-Cerdans. Three days later, the Spanish force fell upon the 1,800 French defenders of Céret. The French were defeated with losses of 100 to 200 killed, wounded, and missing. In addition, 200 soldiers drowned in the Tech River trying to swim to safety. Ricardos reported losing only 17 men wounded. [6]

Army of the Eastern Pyrenees

The Army of the Eastern Pyrenees was one of the French Revolutionary armies. It fought against the Kingdom of Spain in Rousillon, the Cerdanya and Catalonia during the War of the Pyrenees. This army and the Army of the Western Pyrenees were formed by splitting the original Army of the Pyrenees at the end of April 1793 soon after the war started. Shortly after the Peace of Basel on 22 July 1795, the fighting ended and the army was dissolved on 12 October that same year. Many of its units and generals were transferred to join the Army of Italy and fought under Napoleon Bonaparte in 1796.

War of the Pyrenees conflict

The War of the Pyrenees, also known as War of Roussillon or War of the Convention, was the Pyrenean front of the First Coalition's war against the First French Republic. It pitted Revolutionary France against the kingdoms of Spain and Portugal from March 1793 to July 1795 during the French Revolutionary Wars.

Antonio Ricardos Spanish general

Antonio Ricardos Carrillo de Albornoz was a Spanish general. He joined the army of the Kingdom of Spain and fought against Habsburg Austria, the Portugal, and the First French Republic during a long military career. By embracing the Spanish Enlightenment, he earned the displeasure of conservative elements of society. He played an active role in reforming the Spanish military. Upon the outbreak of the War of the Pyrenees in 1793, the king sent him to command in Catalonia. He invaded Rousillon where he won several victories over the French. After his death in early 1794, the war went badly for Spain.

On 19 May, Ricardos with 7,000 troops advanced on de Flers' camp of Mas Deu, a group of medieval-era buildings established by the Knights Templar. In the Battle of Mas Deu, the French suffered losses of 150 killed, 280 wounded, three 6-pound cannons, and six ammunition wagons. The Spanish lost 34 killed and an unknown number wounded. De Flers fell back to the fortress of Perpignan where a battalion of National Guard mutinied and had to be disbanded. Rather than pursue his beaten enemy, Ricardos turned back to invest the Fort de Bellegarde. [7]

Knights Templar Western Christian military order; medieval Catholic military order

The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, also known as the Order of Solomon's Temple, the Knights Templar or simply the Templars, were a Catholic military order recognised in 1139 by the papal bull Omne datum optimum. The order was founded in 1119 and was active until 1312 when it was perpetually suppressed by Pope Clement V by the bull Vox in excelso.

Battle of Mas Deu

The Battle of Mas Deu or Battle of Mas d'Eu on 19 May 1793 saw the French Revolutionary Army of the Eastern Pyrenees under Louis-Charles de Flers fighting Bourbon Spain's army of Catalonia led by Antonio Ricardos.

Perpignan Prefecture and commune in Occitanie, France

Perpignan is the prefecture of the Pyrénées-Orientales department in Southwest France. Perpignan was the capital of the former province and County of Roussillon and continental capital of the Kingdom of Majorca in the 13th and 14th centuries.

A model of the fortress of Perpignan Plan relief Perpignan.jpg
A model of the fortress of Perpignan

The powerful Bellegarde fortress guarded the Le Perthus pass at 300 metres (984 ft) altitude on the main road between Barcelona and Perpignan. De Flers tried to relieve the garrison without success, including an attempt by 3,350 men to escort a supply convoy through the siege lines on 29 May. [8] While the Spanish army was preoccupied with the siege, de Flers drove another enemy force away from the port of Collioure. [2] The Siege of Bellegarde ended on 24 June with a French surrender. [9]

Le Perthus Commune in Occitanie, France

Le Perthus is a commune in the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France. Natives of Le Pertus are called Perthusiens and, in 2016, there were 586 inhabitants.

Barcelona City and municipality in Catalonia, Spain

Barcelona is a city in Spain. It is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Catalonia, as well as the second most populous municipality of Spain. With a population of 1.6 million within city limits, its urban area extends to numerous neighbouring municipalities within the Province of Barcelona and is home to around 4.8 million people, making it the sixth most populous urban area in the European Union after Paris, London, Madrid, the Ruhr area and Milan. It is one of the largest metropolises on the Mediterranean Sea, located on the coast between the mouths of the rivers Llobregat and Besòs, and bounded to the west by the Serra de Collserola mountain range, the tallest peak of which is 512 metres high.

Collioure Commune in Occitanie, France

Collioure is a commune in the southern French department of Pyrénées-Orientales.

After the fall of Bellegarde, de Flers began arming the local farmers. Ricardos wrote a letter on 3 July protesting this, and threatening to hang any civilian caught with arms. De Flers replied that all Frenchmen were soldiers and that their only uniform was the tricolor cockade. He also promised to retaliate if the Spanish began shooting civilians. [2] De Flers drilled his troops so that they might fight the Spanish regulars on more equal terms. He also put his men to work building field fortifications around Perpignan and drafted experienced coastal artillerists to serve the guns in his redoubts. When the Spanish attacked again his efforts paid off. [10]

On 17 July, de Flers with 12,000 soldiers turned back an attack by Ricardos and 15,000 Spanish troops in the Battle of Perpignan. Historian Digby Smith called the Battle of Niel a French victory and gave French losses as 800 killed and wounded, plus one cannon captured. Smith listed Spanish casualties as only 31 killed, 131 wounded, and three captured. [11] A second authority gave de Flers credit for good tactical leadership and stated that Spanish casualties numbered 1,000. When Ricardos sent five separate columns forward to envelop Perpignan, de Flers concentrated his main strength on the third column and defeated it. The fifth column turned back to assist the third column, but the French routed it as well to claim the victory. [10] A third authority called the July battle a French triumph, but gave no details. [2]


On 4 August 1793, a Spanish force captured Villefranche-de-Conflent in the Cerdagne. Though this was a relatively minor defeat, the Representatives-on-mission accused de Flers of treason. Arrested and sent to prison in Paris, de Flers was brought before a Revolutionary Tribunal the following year. The court condemned him to die for communicating with enemies of the state and for taking part in the Luxembourg Prison conspiracies, charges which one source called a "ridiculous pretext". De Flers went to the guillotine on 22 July 1794. [2] Five days later, the government fell and Maximilien de Robespierre and his political allies quickly shared de Flers' fate. [12] The name DEFLERS is inscribed on Column 33 of the Arc de Triomphe. [1]

De Flers was married to Maximilienne Albertine Guillemine de Latre-Neuville. The couple had two children, a daughter Guillemine Aline Ange, born in 1787, and a son Charles Amédée Guillain who was born in 1789 and died in 1857. Guillemine married Alexandre René de Saffray (b. 1785) on 18 August 1828. Charles Amédée first married Anne Bernard Flavie de Froissard (18011835). [1] His second wife was countess Nathalie Charlotte Ferdinande d'Oultremont (1818-1900).


  1. 1 2 3 Geneanet, Louis Charles, vicomte
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Michaud, Flers, Charles de
  3. Smith (1998), 31
  4. Smith (1998), 42
  5. Prats, Mas Deu
  6. Smith (1998), 45
  7. Smith (1998), 46
  8. Smith (1998), 47
  9. Smith (1998), 48
  10. 1 2 Rickard, Battle of Perpignan
  11. Smith (1998), 49. Possibly, Smith only listed the Spanish losses at Nyls.
  12. Rothenberg (1980), 37

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