General Louis Charbonnier

Commander of the Army of the Ardennes from February to June of 1794

Born: October 9, 1754

Place of Birth: Clamecy, Nièvre, France

Died: June 2, 1833

Place of Death: Clamecy, France

Arc de Triomphe: CHARBONIER on the north pillar


The son of a cobbler, Louis Charbonnier enlisted in the regiment of Vintimille in February of 1781. In July of 1789 as the Revolution was beginning, he quit his regiment without authorization and he went on to become a capitaine in the National Guard of Clamecy. In September of 1792 Charbonnier was named a lieutenant colonel in the 2nd Battalion of the Reserve of Soissons. He served with the Army of the North and fought at Jemappes and Neerwinden . In September of 1793 Charbonnier was wounded by a shot to the right leg at Menin and then in November he was promoted to général de brigade. Only two months later in January of 1794 he was promoted to général de division and then in February he was named provisional commander of the Army of the Ardennes. That April Charbonnier defeated the Austrians at Boussu les Walcourt and then he seized Beaumont. Over the course of a few weeks in May he crossed the Sambre and was then forced to go back, ultimately crossing four times before gaining a stable foothold. In June Charbonnier was beaten at Charleroi and he was then recalled to Paris. He quit his command and was unemployed by the army so he retired to Clamecy.

Now semi-retired, Charbonnier became chief of the legion of the national guard of the district of Clamecy. In September of 1795 he was named commander of Boulogne and then in February of 1796 he was named commander of Givet and Charlemont. Charbonnier next temporarily served at Charleroi in 1798 before traveling to Liége. In October of 1800 he was officially returned to activity in the army as a général de brigade and commander of arms at Liége. Charbonnier next became commander of arms at Maestricht in April of 1801, a position he would hold for the next thirteen years until 1814. In the meantime he was named an Officer of the Legion of Honor in 1804 and then in 1809 he was detached under Marshal Bernadotte to command troops of the advance posts on the left bank of the Scheldt. After the Bourbon Restoration in 1814, Charbonnier was named a Knight of Saint Louis and commander of arms at Givet and Charlemont. With Napoleon's return from exile in 1815 for the Hundred Days, Charbonnier was temporarily retired before being called to serve in his previous post, as commander of arms at Givet and Charlemont. In 1816 he officially retired from the army.


Updated February 2018

© Nathan D. Jensen