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Estaing, Comte d’ (24 November 1729–28 April 1794), French general and admiral, was born Jean-Baptiste-Charles-Henri-Hector d’Estaing in Ravel (now the department of the Puy-de-Dôme), France, the son of Charles-François, the marquis de Saillant and a lieutenant general, and Marie-Henriette Colbert de Maulevrier. Typical for adolescents of his social status, he served as an officer in the War of Austrian Succession (1740–1748), reaching the grade of colonel before his twentieth birthday. Early in the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763) he was promoted to brigadier and sent to India, where he served for most of that conflict. During the war he was wounded, captured twice, and reached the rank of lieutenant general (25 July 1762) at the age of thirty-two. Following its conclusion he served as governor of Saint-Dominique (Haiti) and became vice admiral in 1777....

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Grasse, Comte de (12 September 1722–14 January 1788), French admiral, was born at Bar-sur-Loup (now in the department of the Alpes-Maritimes), France, the son of François, marquis de Grasse, an army officer, and Véronique de Villeneuve-Trans. His given name was François-Joseph-Paul. De Grasse was appointed to the Gardes de la Marine at Toulon in 1734 and received his naval training there and as a page in the Order of the Knight of Malta. During the War of Austrian Succession (1740–1748) he served in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. In May 1747, while in a convoy bound for Canada, he was wounded and made prisoner by the English, but he was exchanged after giving his parole before the war ended. A lieutenant commander at the outbreak of the Seven Years’ War in 1756, he took part in the defense of Louisbourg and was promoted to captain in 1762. Following the peace he served mostly in the Mediterranean. In 1764 he married Antoinette-Rosalie Accaron, who died in 1773; they had six children. While stationed at Saint Domingue (Haiti) in 1776 he married a wealthy widow, Catherine de Pien, who died only four years later....

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Lafayette, Marquis de (06 September 1757–20 May 1834), major general in the Continental army and French soldier and statesman, was born Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch Gilbert du Motier Lafayette in Chavaniac, France, the son of Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, and Julie de la Rivière. After his father, a colonel in the grenadiers, was killed at the battle of Minden in 1759, his mother moved to Paris. The boy was raised at Château Chavaniac in the mountains of Auvergne until he was twelve. He then spent four years at the Collège du Plessis in Paris in a curriculum emphasizing the civic virtues of republican Rome....

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Le Moyne, Jean-Baptiste (baptized 23 Feb. 1680–07 March 1767), French soldier, explorer, and governor of colonial Louisiana, was born in Montréal, New France, the son of Charles Le Moyne, sieur de Longueuil et de Châteauguay, a provincial nobleman, and Catherine Thierry Primot. Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne inherited the title ...

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Rochambeau, Comte de (01 July 1725–12 May 1807), French general, was born Jean-Baptiste-Donatien de Vimeur in Vendôme (now in the department of the Loir-et-Cher), France, the son of Joseph-Charles de Vimeur, the marquis de Rochambeau, governor of the Château of Vendôme, and grand bailiff of the region, and Marie-Claire-Thérèse Begon, the governess of the duc d’Orléans’s children. As a younger son, he was first destined for the clergy and educated by Oratorian and Jesuit priests, until the death of his older brother opened the way for him to pursue a military career. Rochambeau’s first military service came in the War of Austrian Succession. Commissioned on 24 May 1742, he saw considerable action, was wounded, and emerged at the end of the war a colonel of infantry. On 29 December 1749 he married Jeanne Thérèse da Costa, the daughter of a wealthy bourgeois family of Portuguese origins; they had two children. With the outbreak of the Seven Years’ War, he returned to action in central Europe and reached the grade of major general in 1761, two years before the war’s end. After 1763 Rochambeau devoted his energies to improving military training in the French army. He was appointed governor of Villefranche in 1776, and in 1779 he was named commander of the advance guard of a French army assembled for an aborted invasion of England....