General Jacques-Philippe Bonnaud

Cavalry officer who distinguished himself in the Army of the North and was mortally wounded at Giessen

Born: September 11, 1757

Place of Birth: Bras, Var, France

Died: March 30, 1797

Cause of Death: Mortally wounded

Place of Death: Bonn, Germany

Arc de Triomphe: BONNEAU on the north pillar


After initially embarking on a career as a surgeon, in 1776 Jacques-Philippe Bonnaud decided to enlist as a dragoon in the Legion of the Dauphiné. During his career, in 1782 he took part in the expedition to Geneva. After the onset of the Revolution, in March of 1792 Bonnaud was promoted to lieutenant and then in June of 1792 he received a promotion to capitaine. Sent to the Army of the North, Bonnaud received his first wound from a saber blow in May of 1793. In August of 1793 he was again wounded, this time a saber blow to his left hand at the retreat of the camp of César.

Continuing to serve with the Army of the North, Bonnaud's star rose in 1794 for that January he was promoted to général de brigade and employed at the camp of Arleux. That April he fought at Troisvilles and then he was promoted to général de division by the representatives of the people with the army. Next Bonnaud was sent to Lille with 20,000 men in May and he fought at the Battle of Tourcoing where he distinguished himself. Bonnaud went on to fight at Pont-à-Chin and then in July he took command of a division of the Army of the North. A few months later in October Bonnaud laid siege to Grave and then he took part in the Siege of Nimègue. That December he served at the Siege of Bréda where he forced the lines, and then in January he took Heusden, laid siege to and took Gertruydenberg, and occupied Dordrecht, Rotterdam, and La Haye.

In May of 1795 Bonnaud was accused of brigandage by a representative of the people with the Army of the North, but the charge does not appear to have adversely affected his career. The following month he was ordered to lead 10,000 reinforcements from the Army of the North to the Army of the Coasts of Cherbourg. Having done so, in July Bonnaud was employed in the Army of the Coasts of Cherbourg and in September he took command of 6,000 men detached to serve under the overall command of General Hoche. Ordered to repulse the rebels who menacing Nantes, Bonnaud successfully did so and forced them to reunite with Charette. That October he took command of the third mobile column ordered to move on Saint-Florent, and in November he took command of the Army of the Coasts of Cherbourg until it was reorganized in January of 1796.

General Bonnaud resumed command of a division under General Hoche and he was then sent to the Army of the Sambre and Meuse as commander of the cavalry reserve of the center corps. In July of 1796 he served at Camberg and then the following month he seized Castel and fought at Amberg. That September Bonnaud became commander of the cavalry stationed at Wurzburg and on the 16th of September he repulsed the enemy at the combat of Giessen. Unfortunately for Bonnaud, during that action his thigh was broken by a ball. While not immediately fatal, he remained hospitalized and eventually succumbed to complications from that wound six months later.


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Updated October 2015

© Nathan D. Jensen