General Marceau, hero of the revolutionary army

General Marceau, hero of the revolutionary army

  • Portrait of General Marceau.

    SERGEANT Antoine (1751 - 1847)

  • Honors returned to the brave General Marceau.

    SERGEANT Antoine (1751 - 1847)

  • Testament of General Marceau.

  • Project of the tomb of Marceau, offered by the army of Sambre-et-Meuse, designed by Antoine Sergent.

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Title: Portrait of General Marceau.

Author : SERGEANT Antoine (1751 - 1847)

Creation date : 1798

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 42 - Width 32

Technique and other indications: Etching in color "Sold In Paris at the Author, Rue des Poitevins Sect [i] on of the French Theater N ° 16 In Basel at Decker Libraire In Frankfurt at Guilhauman Libr. Published on 26 Germinal Year VI under the guarantee of the Law of 19 Jul. Year II of the Republic [liqu] e "

Storage location: Departmental archives of Eure-et-Loir website

Contact copyright: © Departmental archives of Eure-et-Loir - Phot.J.Y. Web populusite

Picture reference: AD028 / Jusselin Collection, n ° 231

Portrait of General Marceau.

© Departmental archives of Eure-et-Loir - Phot.J.Y.Populu

To close

Title: Honors returned to the brave General Marceau.

Author : SERGEANT Antoine (1751 - 1847)

Creation date : 1797

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 25.7 - Width 40.8

Technique and other indications: Color aquatint Proof before the letter "Honors returned to the brave General Marceau: commanding the right wing of the army of Sambre and Meuse by Prince Charles and the generals of the army of HM Imperial / drawn and engraved by Sergent his-in-law brother. In Paris, with the author, lan V. me "

Storage location: Departmental archives of Eure-et-Loir website

Contact copyright: © Departmental archives of Eure-et-Loir - Phot.J.Y. Web populusite

Picture reference: AD028 / Jusselin Collection, n ° 242

Honors returned to the brave General Marceau.

© Departmental archives of Eure-et-Loir - Phot.J.Y.Populu

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Title: Testament of General Marceau.

Author :

Creation date : 1796

Date shown: September 21, 1796

Dimensions: Height 12.5 - Width 13

Technique and other indications: Testament dictated to Jean-Baptiste Souhait, captain of engineers. Autograph signature of Marceau Collected by friends of Marceau and then by collectors, the will was given to the Departmental Archives of Eure-et-Loir on November 11, 1933 by Canon Yves Delaporte, archivist of the diocese of Chartres.

Storage location: Departmental archives of Eure-et-Loir website

Contact copyright: © Departmental archives of Eure-et-Loir - Phot.J.Y. Web populusite

Picture reference: AD028 / Jusselin Collection, n ° 239

Testament of General Marceau.

© Departmental archives of Eure-et-Loir - Phot.J.Y.Populu

To close

Title: Project of the tomb of Marceau, offered by the army of Sambre-et-Meuse, designed by Antoine Sergent.

Author :

Creation date : 1796

Date shown: 1796

Dimensions: Height 24 - Width 41

Technique and other indications: Pen drawing, enhanced in color Inscription in the hand of Kléber, signed by Generals Kléber, Bernadotte and Championnet We, the undersigned general officers, undertake to hold hands during the execution of the monument in memory of the brave General Marceau our companion of weapons, whose project is expressed in the drawing below presented by his brother-in-law.Kléber g [enera] l of division Bernadotte Championnet

Storage location: Departmental archives of Eure-et-Loir website

Contact copyright: © Departmental archives of Eure-et-Loir - Phot.J.Y. Web populusite

Picture reference: AD028 / Jusselin Collection, n ° 254

Project of the tomb of Marceau, offered by the army of Sambre-et-Meuse, designed by Antoine Sergent.

© Departmental archives of Eure-et-Loir - Phot.J.Y.Populu

Publication date: November 2004

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General Marceau, hero of the revolutionary army

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Historical context

A young general killed in action

François Séverin Marceau-Desgraviers was born in Chartres on March 1, 1769. Officer in 1791 of the battalion of volunteers of Eure-et-Loir, he obtained, on November 7, 1792, his reinstatement in the regular army, with the rank of lieutenant of cavalry.

In 1793, the Vendée war earned him a series of rapid and exceptional promotions: a simple captain on May 1, brigadier general on October 16, division general on November 10, he became acting general-in-chief of the army of the West on December 5, 1793. The following days, he won two decisive victories at Le Mans, then at Savenay; he is not yet 25 years old.

Appointed to the army of the Ardennes, future army of Sambre-et-Meuse, he participated in the main battles of the campaign of 1794, including the victory of Fleurus (June 26) and received the surrender of Koblenz on October 23, which allowed the junction with the army of the Rhine-and-Moselle.

Charged with guarding the Rhine crossings while the two armies engaged in unsuccessful campaigns against the Austrians, he was fatally wounded near Altenkirchen in September 1796 while protecting the retreat of French troops.

The engraver Antoine Sergent (Chartres, 1751-Nice, 1847), who married Marceau's older sister, an engraver herself, devoted himself to the posthumous glory of the young hero.

Image Analysis

Portrait of Marceau

Marceau, standing in Fort Petersberg in Koblenz, in 1794, his right leg folded over the left, his left hand raised, wears a shako with a tricolor plume, a dolman with frogs and the trousers of the 11th chasseurs. At his feet, his aide-de-camp Wish, who will accompany him in his last moments. The image of the soldiers in rags of Year II is no longer appropriate under the Directory; flattering Republican army uniforms are preferred, although the reality of military campaigns is far from brilliant. By his own admission, Sergent added the red sash of the division generals, Marceau did not wear it during the surrender of Koblenz and his plume was cut by a bullet during the Limburg affair!
The artist displays his kinship with the young hero by signing Sergent Marceau. This color engraving, possibly his masterpiece, reproduces a portrait painted by him from life, "ad vivum ". Sergent launches publication shortly after the painting was exhibited at the Salon de l'Ain VI. Sold in Basel and Frankfurt as well as in Paris, it was widely advertised in the newspapers, which gave its price: 48 francs before the letter (i.e. without the text) and 24 francs with the letter, like this copy. [1]. The engraving, the distribution of which was based on a well-orchestrated commercial campaign, is aimed at a large European clientele, in particular by associating with the two French verses that Lesur devoted to the glory of Marceau in song VIII of the Francs to a quote in German from a Übersicht des Feldzuges - which can be reduced by Campaign review - published in Vienna.

Last honors rendered by the enemy

Marceau died on September 21, 1796 at Altenkirchen, after being hit on the 19th by an Austrian sniper, a member of an elite unit specially trained to shoot down French officers. The Austrian general-in-chief, Archduke Charles, younger brother of Emperor Francis II (and nephew of Queen Marie-Antoinette) decides to pay him military honors and return his remains to the French. He was buried on September 24 in Koblenz.
This proof before the letter of Sergent's engraving published in July 1797 attests to the recognition of the merits of Marceau, by his enemies [2], on the very scene of the fight: on the right, the Archduke Charles, in the background the honorary escort composed of Austrian hussars and, on the height, some inhabitants of the region who paid homage to his administration. The purely imaginary setting - Altenkirchen is a small town, not a clearing in the forest - contributes to the dramatic intensity of the scene.

Testament of Marceau

On the night of September 20 to 21, 1796, an agonizing Marceau dictated this testament to the engineer captain Jean-Baptiste Souhait and signed it with his hand. He divided between his older sister, wife of Sergent, and his younger brother, Auguste, a sum of 14,400 pounds. The size of Marceau's nest egg may have come as a surprise, but the lifestyle of the generals of that time was often unrelated to their pay. That of a general of division amounts in cash to 45 pounds (a pound is worth hardly more than a franc) per month since the decrees of 16 and 23 Germinal year IV (5 and 12 April 1796), this sum being supplemented by important supplies in kind: food, fodder and horses.

Tomb project

In 1796, shortly after Marceau's death, Sergent drew up a project for a tomb in his memory and sought to raise the funding. The mention made on the drawing, top right, by Generals Kléber, Bernadotte and Championnet, concerns the open subscription for its realization: the three companions of Marceau confirm that they will ensure its proper execution.
The project Sergent wanted will never be executed. Too expensive, no doubt… It is finally in a more sober monument, a simple pyramid raised on the plans of Kléber, that the urn containing the ashes of Marceau is placed on September 24, 1797, a year to the day after his burial. . This funeral ceremony, exceptional under the Directory, consecrates the glory of a hero.

Interpretation

A symbol

A revolutionary general from the petty-bourgeoisie, who died young, in combat, Marceau is mourned by the army and honored by his enemies, leaving the image, perhaps a little idealized, of the hero of the juvenile and brave generation of 1793 The emotion aroused by his death colored with heroism Jourdan's retreat towards the Rhine in 1796.

Even more than Hoche, he will remain for a long time in the patriotic countryside the symbol of republican fidelity, even if the nascent glory of Bonaparte quickly surpassed that of these young heroes.

Marceau's fame also owes a lot to Sergent. Jacobin, conventional, regicide, the engraver becomes suspect after Thermidor and must take refuge in Basel for two years. His quality of brother-in-law of General Marceau protects him from his past: he has been accused of embezzlement and also of provocation to the September massacres, which seems less well founded. He made great efforts to publicize the glory and death of young Marceau through his engravings, also making a profit from the sale. Outlawed as an "exclusive" Jacobin after the attack on rue Saint-Nicaise against Bonaparte, he lived in Venice and Milan, then, from 1824, in Nice, then a Sardinian city, where he died in 1847.

  • army
  • Directory
  • revolutionary wars

Bibliography

Anne-Marie JOLY, The Legend of Marceau: Founding documents, catalog of the exhibition presented at the Departmental Archives of Eure-et-Loir from September 30 to November 23, 1996, Chartres, General Council of Eure-et-Loir, 1996. Auguste KUSCINSKI, Conventional Dictionary, Paris, Society of the History of the French Revolution, 1916, reprint Ed. Of French Vexin, Brueil-en-Vexin, 1973. Georges SIX, Biographical dictionary of French generals and admirals of the Revolution and the Empire (1792-1814), 2 volumes, Paris, Éd. Georges Saffroy, 1934.

To cite this article

Luce-Marie ALBIGÈS and Michel THIBAULT, "General Marceau, hero of the revolutionary army"


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