LECOURBE, Claude-Jacques

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'C'est un sournois, un méchant homme, dangereux, et qui est lié à nos ennemis', Napoleon, 1806 (reported in Lecestre, Lettres inédites) 'Très brave, il eut été un excellent maréchal de France; il avait reçu de la nature toutes les qualités nécessaire pour être un excellent général...', Napoleon on Saint Helena to Montholon, 1819.
LECOURBE, Claude-Jacques

Fact file

Born Besançon,22 February, 1758, son of an officer, died Béfort, 22 October, 1815.
Expelled from school for refusing to take his punishment
Volunteer fusilier in the Régiment d'Aquitaine (which became the 35e d'infanterie in 1791), 3, May, 1777
Served at the siege of Gibraltar, the siege of Mahon and the taking of Minorca
Caporal in 1780
Capitaine commandant of the Garde nationale de Ruffey (Jura), August 1789
Délégue for the Jura at the Fête de la Féderation, July, 1790
Captain of the 8e compagnie of the 7e bataillon of Volontaire du Jura, 7 August, 1791
Lieutenant-colonel in the 2e in the same bataillon, 24 November, 1791
With his brothers he joined the Armée du Rhin
Took part in the occupation of Porentruy, 28 April, 1792
Served under Custine in the Expedition to Mainz, October, 1792
Joined the Division Nevinger at Hochheim, 6 January, 1793
Passed over to the Armée du Nord, August 1793
Served at the taking of Herzeele (6 September) and Hondeschoote (8 September)
Wounded in the leg by cannon ball at Bisseghem, 15 September, 1793
Distinguished himself at Wattignies, 16 October, 1793
Denounced by 4 of his officers and accused of 'modérantisme', 6 December, 1793
Arrested by order of Représentant Duquesnoy, 7 December, 1793
Imprisoned first at Amiens, 8 December, 1793, then at Arras, and finally at Nantes, 21 February, 1794
Acquitted unanimously by the Tribunal révolutionaire in Nantes, 13 April, 1794
Reinstated in his regiment at Amiens
Appointed to the Armée de la Moselle, 10 May, 1794
Chef de brigade, 20 May, 1794
Provisional Général de brigade, division Mayer, in the Armée de l'Ardennes, 12 June, 1794
Commanded the 2e brigade, same division, under Marceau on the right wing at Fleurus, 26 June, 1794
Joined the Armée de Sambre-et-Meuse, 2 July, 1794
Victor at Beaulieu à Sombreffe, 7 July, 1794
Served at the taking of Namur, the Battle of l'Ourthe (18 September, 1794), the Battle of the Roer (2 October, 1794)
Followed the Meuse as far as Neimegen and the Rhein to Wesel
Served in the Division Montaigu at the siege of Luxembourg, 5 April -7 June, 1795
Confirmed Général de brigade, 13 June, 1795
Commandant of the 1ere brigade of the 11e division (Reneauld) in the Armée de Rhin-et-Moselle, 30 July, 1795
Served at the siege of Mainz, 7 August, 1795
Covered the retreat, 23-27 October, 1795
Joined the 11e division (Gouvion-Saint-Cyr) on 1 November,1795, and served at the Combat at Pfrimm, 10 November
Joined the 7e division (Gouvion-Saint-Cyr), April 1796
Not named in the reshuffle of 13 April, but supported in his command by Moreau, 23 April, 1796
Commandant of a brigade in the Division Taponier, May 1796
Served at the Battle of Ettlingen, 9 July, 1796
Present at the combat of Gernsbach (15 July), at the taking of Cannstadt, and at the Battle of Neresheim, 11 August, 1796
Present at Bruch, and at Biberach, where he was struck on the chest (2 October, 1796)
Passed over to the 6e division (Ambert), 18 October, 1796
Served at Emmendingen (19 October, 1796) and at the defence of Kehl (22 November, 1796)
Drove back the Austrians during the 'Affaire de l'Île d'Erlenheim', 2 December, 1796
Served with the Division Duhesme at the crossing of the Rhein at Diersheim (20 April, 1797) and at the crossing of the Renchen (23 April, 1797)
Joined the Armée d'Allemagne, 20 October, 1797
Posted to the Armée d'Angleterre, 12 January – 9 May, 1798
Took Mannheim, 25 January, 1798
Appointed to the Armée du Haut-Rhin, division Lefebvre, 27 April, 1798
Sent to join the Armée d'Helvétie, 13 November, 1798
Appointed Général de division de l'Armée d'Helvétie by the Directoire exécutif, 5 February, 1799
Commanded the left wing operating in the Engadine and the Valtellina, 4 March, 1799
Invaded the Grisons, 6 March, 1799
Entered the Engadine,
Victor at Finstermünz (taking 1,300 prisoners), 12 March, 1799
Victor at Martinsbruck (13 March, 1799), took Schuls (25 March, 1799)
Driven back into the Upper Engadine with the retreat of the Armée d'Helvétie, end of March, 1799
Retreated, fighting a successful rearguard action Remus (22 April) and Zernetz (30 April)
Retreated beyond the river Reuss
Commandant of the 2e division of the right wing of the Armée d'Helvétie under Ferino, (30 April)
Commandant of the 1ere division of the Armée d'Helvétie, end of May, 1799
Victor over the Austrians and wounded in the arm at the Combat of Wasen, 1 June, 1799
Took Saint-Gothard, Grimsel, Furka and Oberalp, 14-16 August, 1799
Commandant of the 2e division of the Armée d'Helvétie, 22 August, 1799
Retreated against Suvarov's advance, halting the Russian at Airolo (23 September) and Saint-Gothard
Retreated beyond the river Reuss (24 September)
After a series of skirmishes reoccupied the valleys of the Reuss and the Glaris, 29 September, 1799
Appointed provisional Commandant en chef of the Armée du Rhin (in place of Moreau), 25 September, 1799
Crossed the Rhein (28 October) and took Heilbronn and Pforzheim, 31 October, 1799
After victory over Gorger on the Neckar (16 November) was defeated at Wisloch, 2/3 December, 1799
Retired from command of the Armée du Rhin (5 December) and became lieutenant to the Général en chef, Moreau, in command of the troops in Helvétie, 28 November, 1799
Took command of the right wing of the new Armée du Rhin, 12 December
Forcing the crossing between Basle and Schaffhausen (29 April, 1800), he took the Fort of Hohentweil (2 May, 1800)
Victor at Stockach (3 May, 1800), served at Mösskirch (5 May), took Memingen (10 May), occupied Augsburg (28 May, 1800)
Victor over Klinglin at Höchstädt, 19 June, 1800
Took Donauwörth, victor at Nordlingen (23 June) and Neuburg (27 June, 1800)
In charge of the lines of communication of the Armée d'Italie over the Vorarlberg and the Grisons
Took Füssen (10 July) and Feldkirch (13 July)
On his return after two months leave, he took Rosenheim (1 December), was victor at Salzburghofen (12 December), took Salzburg (14 December), victor at Kremsmünster (20 December, 1800)
Removed from active service, 28 March, 1801
Inspecteur général d'infanterie in the 6e and 7e divisions militaries and in Helvetia, 24 July, 1801
Settled in Paris, 1802
Disgraced during Moreau's trial because of his relations with Moreau and the attitude of his brother Judge Lecourbe in the Moreau-Pichegru-Cadoudal trial
Put in retirement on the minimum pension of 3000 francs, 8 September, 1804
Exiled to the Jura, 1 September, 1805
Ordered to go to Bourges and placed under high surveillance when Moreau passed over to the coalition allies, 12 September, 1813
Called to Paris by the Comte d'Artois, 15 April, 1814
Returned to service, 24 April, 1814
Grand-Croix of the Légion d'Honneur, 23 August, 1814
Comte, 31 December, 1814
Inspecteur général d'infanterie in the 6e and 18e divisions militaries, 3 January, 1815
Went to Lons-le-Saulnier to command a division under Ney, 12 March, 1815
Refused at first and then later offered his services to Napoleon during the Cent-Jours in order to, as he put it, 'save France in danger'.
Appointed Commandant of the 18e division militaire, 27 March, 1815
Comte de l'Empire, 3 April, 1815
Commandant en chef of the Corps d'Observation du Jura (later the 8e Corps), 16 April, 1815
Pair de France, 2 June, 1815
Attempted to halt the enemy at Foussemagne (30 June), Bourogne, Chévremont (2 July), Bavilliers (8 July)
Signed an armistice with the Austrian general Colloredo at Bavilliers, 11 July, 1815
Rallied to Louis XVIII, 23 July, 1815
Retired on a pension of 6,000 francs, 4 September, 1815
An effective soldier whose career was cut short by his close friendship with Moreau.

Further reading

Lort de Sérignan, Napoléon et les généraux de la Révolution et de l'Empire, 1914

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