Auguste-Marie-Henri Picot, comte de Dampierre (1756-1793)

Auguste Marie Henri Picot, comte de Dampierre, was one of the more successful aristocratic generals of the French Revolutionary Wars, combining military ability with a dedication to the revolution. His early death after the battle of Saint Amand or Condé (8 May 1793) may have prevented him from playing a major role in the wars of the period.

Dampierre was born in Paris on 19 August 1756, the some of Pierre, marquis de Dampierre. He entered the Regiment of Guards on 17 May 1772, was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the 5th Dragoons on 25 July 1791, to brigadier on 7 September 1792 and to lieutenant-general on 8 May 1793.

Dampierre was caught up in the collapse of the French position in the Austrian Netherlands in the spring of 1793. On 2 March he took part in the unsuccessful defence of Aix-la-Chapelle, but then distinguished himself during the retreat that followed. After the French defeat at Neerwinden (18 March 1793), General Dumouriez began to plot against the increasingly radical French government, in the belief that the army would support him in a march on Paris. Instead, on 4 April the army rallied to Dampierre, who on that day was appointed as commander of the Armée du Nord. Dumouriez fled into exile with the Austrians, leaving Dampierre to inherit a disastrous military situation.

By the end of April the French had been forced to pull back across their borders. The Allies were besieging Condé-sur-l'Escaut, and were threatening Valenciennes. The Convention in Paris urged Dampierre to make an attempt to lift the siege. Despite the poor state of his armies, Dampierre made two such attempts. The first, on 1 May, was a badly thought out attack along the entire Allied line, which achieved nothing, but the second, on 8 May (battle of Condé or Saint Amand) was a much more focused affair in which Dampierre attempted to drive a wedge between the Austrians and their allies. The attack came close to success, but the arrival of British reinforcements (led by the Coldstream Guards) stopped one part of the attack. Dampierre himself was hit in the thigh by a cannon ball, and bled to death, dying on the day after the battle.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (13 January 2008), Auguste-Marie-Henri Picot, comte de Dampierre (1756-1793) ,

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