Jean-Charles Pichegru

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pichegru Signature Jean-Charles Pichegru.PNG

Jean-Charles Pichegru (born February 16, 1761 in Arbois , Franche-Comté , † April 5, 1804 in Paris ) was a French Général de division of the Revolutionary Wars , who played a leading role in the conquest of the Austrian Netherlands and Holland, later with conspired to the counter-revolutionaries and planned an assassination attempt against Napoleon Bonaparte .


Pichegru studied with the Minorites and, as a teacher of mathematics at the College of Brienne-le-Château , wore the religious dress, but never received orders. He also gave lessons at the military school in Brienne, but Napoleon was not one of his students.

In 1783 he joined the Auxerre artillery regiment as a soldier , stood in Besançon at the outbreak of the French Revolution , which he enthusiastically joined, and as president of a political club was given the command of a battalion of the National Guard , which he led to the Armée du Rhin . Here he distinguished himself in such a way that he came to the General Staff in 1792 and was promoted to Général de division in 1793 .

Entrusted with the command of the Armée du Rhin in October , he and Hoche threw back the Austrians in December, seized the Weissenburg lines , terrified Landau and took Lauterburg . In February 1794 he received the supreme command of all armed forces in the Netherlands , fought on 26-29. April the victories of Montcastel and Menen , defeated the Austrians under Friedrich Josias von Sachsen-Coburg-Saalfeld and Friedrich August, Duke of York and Albany on May 18th at Courtrai and in June at Roeselare and Hooglede . After Jean-Baptiste de Jourdan's victory at Fleurus , Pichegru crossed the Scheldt , took Bruges , Ostend , Gent and Oudenaarde , crossed the Meuse with 40,000 men on October 18, and conquered the island of Bommel on December 27, supported by the frost invaded the Netherlands victoriously in early 1795, greeted as liberators by the Dutch patriots.

In March 1795 he was called to Paris as city commander , and on April 1st he suppressed the popular uprising in the suburbs, but then returned to the "Armée du Rhin" and conquered Mannheim . Here, through the mediation of the emigrant de Montgaillard, he met Louis Fauche-Borel , a bookseller from Neufchâtel in Switzerland and agent of the Bourbons , who made great promises to Pichegru in the name of Prince Condé if he led the Bourbons back to the French throne.

Adolphe Thiers (1797–1877), French historian, liberal-conservative minister and president, described the background as follows around 1820: Condé, whose army of emigrants was financially supported by the British government, was asked by the English to send his army to Pichegru to arrange a change of flag. Pichegru's well-known tendency towards a lush lifestyle - which was not possible with the meager republican payment - was to be rewarded with 1 million francs, the Chambord castle and its park, the dignity of marshal and the governorate of Alsace. His wife and children were to receive a continuous annual pension of 200,000 francs. All officers in the Rhine Army were to keep their ranks. The surrendering commanders were assured pensions and their towns were exempt from taxes for fifteen years. In return, Pichegru was to open the fortress of Hüningen on the Rhine, hand it over to the Austrians and lead the Prince de Condé with his and the Rhine army to Paris.

According to Thiers, Pichegru did not want to negotiate a handover of the Hüningen fortress or that of the Rhine Army, but only the participation of selected officers from his staff. Pichegru may not have seriously intended to accept the offer and delayed the negotiations with requests for changes and counterclaims until they were finally broken off.

From now on Pichegru operated the operations so negligently that he seemed to diminish the profit from the French victories and thereby became suspect of the government. The new Directory therefore gave him a legation post in Sweden . Pichegru did not accept this post, however, but retired to the former Bellevaux monastery about 70 km north of his native Arbois. In 1797 he was arrested as member and president of the Council of Five Hundred after the coup d'état of the 18th Fructidor (September 4th) and sentenced to deportation to Cayenne . From here he escaped in June 1798 with seven companions to Paramaribo , went to England , joined the Austro-Russian army under Alexander Michailowitsch Rimski-Korsakow in 1799 , lived in Germany for some time and then returned to England.

After resuming his previous ties with the Bourbons, he and Georges Cadoudal drafted the plan to assassinate the First Consul . Disguised both went to Paris in 1804, where Pichegru established ties with Jean-Victor Moreau . However, on February 28th, he was arrested.

Before his trial came to the decision, he was found on April 5, 1804 in his cell in the Temple on his neck cloth hanged . Whether by his own hand or on orders from Bonaparte remained unclear.


His name is entered on the triumphal arch in Paris in the 3rd column.

In 1816 a statue was erected for him in Arbois.

Individual evidence

  1. According to French Representations were the "Armée du Rhin" and the Armée de la Moselle at this time separately under the commands of Pichegru and Hoche. The conquests mentioned here were made only by the Armée de la Moselle. The French fortress of Landau was liberated by General Le Veneur de Tillières .
  2. According to Thiers, Pichegrus' monthly salary in assignats was 2000 francs, which at the limit were not worth 200 francs purchasing power
  3. ^ MA Thiers, History of the French Revolution, German edition Mannheim 1844, Volume 4, Chapter 10
predecessor Office successor

François Lamarque
Presidents of the French Council of Five Hundred
May 20, 1797 - June 18, 1797

Pierre-François Henry La Rivière