Jean-Baptiste Jourdan bigraphy, stories - Marshal of france

Jean-Baptiste Jourdan : biography

29 April 1762 - 23 November 1833

Jean-Baptiste Jourdan, 1st Comte Jourdan (29 April 1762 – 23 November 1833), enlisted as a private in the French royal army and rose to command armies during the French Revolutionary Wars. Emperor Napoleon I of France named him a Marshal of France in 1804 and he also fought in the Napoleonic Wars. After 1815, he became reconciled to the Bourbon Restoration. He was one of the most successful commanders of the French Revolutionary Army.

Early career

Born at Limoges, France into a surgeon's family, he enlisted in the French royal army in early 1778 when he was not quite sixteen. Assigned to the Regiment of Auxerrois, he participated in the ill-fated assault at the Siege of Savannah on 9 October 1779 during the American War of Independence. After service in the West Indies, he returned home in 1782 sick with a fever. Bouts of illness (possibly malaria) troubled him for the rest of his life. In 1784 he was discharged from the army and set up a haberdashery business in Limoges. He married a dressmaker in 1788 and the couple had five daughters.Glover-Chandler, p 158

Napoleonic Wars and later life

In 1804, Napoleon appointed Jourdan a marshal of France. He remained in the newly-created Kingdom of Italy until 1806, when Joseph Bonaparte, whom his brother made king of Naples in that year, selected Jourdan as his military adviser. He followed Joseph into Spain in 1808; but Joseph's throne had to be maintained by the French army, and throughout the Peninsular War the other marshals, who depended directly upon Napoleon, paid little heed either to Joseph or to Jourdan. Jourdan was blamed for the defeat at the Battle of Talavera in 1809 and replaced by Marshal Nicolas Soult. He was reinstated as Joseph's chief of staff in September 1811, but given few troops.Glover-Chandler, p 164-165 After the disastrous French defeat at the Battle of Salamanca in July 1812, Joseph and Jourdan were forced to abandon Madrid and retreat to Valencia. Joining with Soult's army, which evacuated Andalusia, the French were able to recapture Madrid during the Siege of Burgos campaign and push Wellington's Anglo-Portuguese army back to Portugal.

The following year, Wellington advanced again with a large, well-organized army. Repeatedly outmaneuvering the French, the Anglo-Allied army forced Joseph and Jourdan to fight at the Battle of Vitoria on 21 June 1813. After the decisive French defeat, which resulted in the permanent loss of Spain, Jourdan held no important command up to the fall of the Empire. He adhered to the Bourbon Restoration of 1814, and though he rejoined Napoleon in the Hundred Days and commanded a minor army, he submitted to the Bourbons again after the Battle of Waterloo. Greatly to his credit, Jourdan refused to be a member of the court which sentenced Marshal Michel Ney to death. He was made a count, a peer of France in 1819, and governor of Grenoble in 1816. In politics he was a prominent opponent of the royalist reactionaries and supported the revolution of 1830. After this event he held the portfolio of foreign affairs for a few days, and then became governor of the Invalides, where his last years were spent. Jourdan died in Paris on 23 November 1833 and was buried in Les Invalides.

While in exile on Saint Helena, Napoleon admitted, I certainly used that man very ill ... I have learned with pleasure that since my fall he invariably acted in the best manner. He has thus afforded an example of that praiseworthy elevation of mind which distinguishes men one from another. Jourdan is a true patriot; and that is the answer to many things that have been said of him.Glover-Chandler, p 168

Jourdan wrote Opérations de l'armée du Danube (1799); Mémoires pour servir a l'histoire sur la campagne de 1796 (1819); and unpublished personal memoirs.

Footnotes

War of the First Coalition

Battle of Fleurus, won by Jean-Baptiste Jourdan over the Austrian forces led by the princes of Coburg and Orange on 26 June 1794.]]

When the National Assembly asked for volunteers, Jourdan was elected Chef de bataillon of the 2nd Haute-Vienne Battalion. He led his troops in the French victory at the Battle of Jemappes on 6 November 1792 and in the defeat at the Battle of Neerwinden on 18 March 1793. Jourdan's leadership skills were noticed and led to his promotion to general of brigade on 27 May 1793 and to general of division two months later. On 8 September, he led his division at the Battle of Hondschoote, in which he was wounded in the chest. On 22 September he was named to lead the Army of the North.Glover-Chandler, p 159 Three of his predecessors, Nicolas Luckner, Adam Philippe, comte de Custine, and Jean Nicolas Houchard were under arrest and later executed by guillotine.

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