From Yorktown to Valmy: The Transformation of the French Army in an Age of Revolution

By Samuel F. Scott | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

ON NOVEMBER 5, 1780, François Gogue, a drummer-boy in the Regiment of Soissonnais, died at the French military hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. He had been born thirteen years earlier in a village in the province of Dauphiné. Following the death of both his parents on August 13, 1777, when he was ten, he was enrolled in the Soissonnais Infantry where his older comrades, with that combination of humor and affection typical of French soldiers of the period, gave the apparently pesky orphan the nom de guerre, or military nickname, “Go-away.” 1

Gabriel de Queyssat was born into a noble family of Protestant background in rural Guyenne in southwestern France. As had four of his brothers, he entered the army as a junior officer when he was sixteen years old. After sixteen years of service he was discharged as a captain in 1775. Recalled to service five years later, Queyssat resumed his rank and participated in the American War of Independence, during which the British made him a prisoner of war. When the Revolution broke out in France after his return, he supported it, joining the Paris National Guard in 1789. He returned to regular duty as a battalion commander in August 1791, fought at Valmy, and within two years was promoted to brigadier general. Suspended from his functions in July 1793 after being denounced as a noble and an “accomplice” of Lafayette, he was imprisoned from January to November 1794, when the Revolutionary Tribunal absolved him of all charges. He retired the following April and died near his hometown on April 30, 1837, three months after his ninety-fourth birthday. 2

A former wig maker whose father was a small winegrower, Alexis Morge was born on March 8, 1759, at Landrecourt in what would later become the

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