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Charles, comte Lefebvre-Desnouettes

Charles, comte Lefebvre-Desnouettes

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Charles, comte Lefebvre-Desnouettes or Lefèbvre-Desnoëttes (1773 – 22 May 1822) became a French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 officer during the French Revolutionary Wars
French Revolutionary Wars
The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of major conflicts, from 1792 until 1802, fought between the French Revolutionary government and several European states...

 and a general during the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

. He later emigrated to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...


French Revolutionary Wars

He joined the army in 1792, and served with the armies of the North, of the Sambre et Meuse
Army of Sambre-et-Meuse
The Army of Sambre-et-Meuse is the best known of the armies of the French Revolution. It was formed on 29 June 1794 by combining three forces: the Army of the Ardennes, the left wing of the Army of Moselle, and the right wing of the Army of the North. It had a brief but celebrated existence...

 and Rhine et Moselle
Army of Rhin-et-Moselle
The Army of Rhin-et-Moselle was one of the field units of the French Revolutionary Army. It was formed on 20 April 1795 by merging the armée du Rhin and the armée de la Moselle. On 29 September 1797 it was merged with the armée de Sambre-et-Meuse to form the Armée d'Allemagne....

 in the various campaigns of the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

. Six years later he had become captain and aide-de-camp to General Napoleon Bonaparte. At the Battle of Marengo in June 1800 he won further promotion.


Under the Empire, Lefebvre-Desnouettes fought with distinction at the Battle of Elchingen
Battle of Elchingen
The Battle of Elchingen, fought on October 14, 1805, saw French forces under Michel Ney rout an Austrian corps led by Johann Sigismund Riesch. This defeat led to a large part of the Austrian army being invested in the fortress of Ulm by the army of Emperor Napoleon I of France while other...

 in 1805. Later that year, he became colonel after the Battle of Austerlitz
Battle of Austerlitz
The Battle of Austerlitz, also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors, was one of Napoleon's greatest victories, where the French Empire effectively crushed the Third Coalition...

. He served also in the Prussian campaigns of 1806-1807. He was promoted to general of brigade in September 1806 and general of division in November 1807. He was created a count of the Empire in March 1808.

Sent with the army into Spain, he conducted the first and unsuccessful Siege of Saragossa
Siege of Saragossa (1808)
The First Siege of Saragossa was a bloody struggle in the Peninsular War. A French army under General Jean-Antoine Verdier besieged, repeatedly stormed, and was repulsed from the Spanish city of Saragossa over the summer of 1808....

. Later he commanded the IV Corps in several actions in Spain. On 29 December 1808, he was taken prisoner in the action of Benavente
Battle of Benavente
The Battle of Benavente was a cavalry clash in which the British cavalry of Lord Paget defeated the elite Chasseurs à Cheval of the French Imperial Guard during the Corunna Campaign of the Peninsular War. The French chasseurs were broken and forced into the River Esla; their commanding officer,...

 by the British cavalry under Henry Paget
Henry Paget, 1st Marquess of Anglesey
Field Marshal Henry William Paget, 1st Marquess of Anglesey, KG, GCB, GCH, PC , styled Lord Paget between 1784 and 1812 and known as The Earl of Uxbridge between 1812 and 1815, was a British military leader and politician, now chiefly remembered for leading the charge of the heavy cavalry against...

 (later Lord Uxbridge, and subsequently Marquis of Anglesey).

For over two years Lefebvre-Desnouettes remained a prisoner in England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, living on parole at Cheltenham
Cheltenham , also known as Cheltenham Spa, is a large spa town and borough in Gloucestershire, on the edge of the Cotswolds in the South-West region of England. It is the home of the flagship race of British steeplechase horse racing, the Gold Cup, the main event of the Cheltenham Festival held...

. In 1811 he broke his parole, an act which greatly offended British public opinion, and escaped; in the invasion of Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 in 1812, he led the Guard Chasseurs à Cheval cavalry. In 1813 and 1814, he and his men distinguished themselves in most of the great battles, especially Brienne
Battle of Brienne
The Battle of Brienne was fought on January 29, 1814, and resulted in the victory of Emperor Napoleon I's French forces over the Russian and Prussian forces commanded by the Prussian Generalfeldmarschall Prince von Blücher....

 (where he was wounded), La Rothière
Battle of La Rothiere
The Battle of La Rothière was fought on 1 February 1814 between the French Empire and allied army of Austria, Prussia, Russia, and German States previously allies with France. The French were led by Emperor Napoleon and the coalition army was under the command of Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher...

, Montmirail
Battle of Montmirail
The Battle of Montmirail was a battle fought near Montmirail, France, during the Six Days Campaign of the Napoleonic Wars. It was fought on February 11, 1814, and resulted in the victory of the French under Emperor Napoleon I over the Russians under General Fabian Wilhelm von Osten-Sacken and the...

, Vauchamps
Battle of Vauchamps
The Battle of Vauchamps, the final major engagement of the Six Days Campaign of the War of the Sixth Coalition, was fought on 14 February 1814...

 and Arcis-sur-Aube
Battle of Arcis-sur-Aube
The Battle of Arcis-sur-Aube was Napoleon’s penultimate battle before his abdication and exile to Elba...

. He joined Napoleon in the Hundred Days
Hundred Days
The Hundred Days, sometimes known as the Hundred Days of Napoleon or Napoleon's Hundred Days for specificity, marked the period between Emperor Napoleon I of France's return from exile on Elba to Paris on 20 March 1815 and the second restoration of King Louis XVIII on 8 July 1815...

 and was appointed commander of the Guard Light Cavalry Division, which he commanded at the Battle of Quatre Bras
Battle of Quatre Bras
The Battle of Quatre Bras, between Wellington's Anglo-Dutch army and the left wing of the Armée du Nord under Marshal Michel Ney, was fought near the strategic crossroads of Quatre Bras on 16 June 1815.- Prelude :...

At the Battle of Waterloo
Battle of Waterloo
The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday 18 June 1815 near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands...

 he was wounded.

Later career

For his part in the Hundred Days he was condemned to death by the royalists, but he escaped to the United States and spent the next few years farming in the ill-fated Vine and Olive Colony
Vine and Olive Colony
The Vine and Olive Colony was an ill-fated effort by a group of French Bonapartists who, fearing for their lives after the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Bourbon Restoration, attempted to establish an agricultural settlement growing wine grapes and olive trees in the Alabama wilderness...

, beginning in 1817.
His frequent appeals to Louis XVIII
Louis XVIII of France
Louis XVIII , known as "the Unavoidable", was King of France and of Navarre from 1814 to 1824, omitting the Hundred Days in 1815...

 eventually obtained his permission to return, but the Albion, the vessel on which he was returning to France, went down off the coast of Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 with all on board on 22 May 1822. He is recognized as LEFÈBVRE-DESNte on the 31st column of the Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe
-The design:The astylar design is by Jean Chalgrin , in the Neoclassical version of ancient Roman architecture . Major academic sculptors of France are represented in the sculpture of the Arc de Triomphe: Jean-Pierre Cortot; François Rude; Antoine Étex; James Pradier and Philippe Joseph Henri Lemaire...

 in Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...


His widow had an obelisk, known as the 'Pain de Sucre' due to its shape and frequent re-painting in white, erected to his memory and that of the sailors who perished with him. It stands above the sea on the crest of a low hill in Sainte-Adresse
Sainte-Adresse is a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in the Haute-Normandie region in northern France.-Geography:A coastal suburb situated some northwest of Le Havre city centre, at the junction of the D147 and the D940...

, now a suburb of Le Havre, and doubled as a navigation mark helping other sailors avoid the hazards in the approach to the port.

External links

  • Smith, Digby. The Napoleonic Wars Data Book. London: Greenhill, 1998. ISBN 1-85367-276-9
  • Charles Lefebvre Desnouettes Letters, 1818-1819., Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina
    University of North Carolina
    Chartered in 1789, the University of North Carolina was one of the first public universities in the United States and the only one to graduate students in the eighteenth century...