General Jean Dembarrère

Engineering officer who distinguished himself during the French Revolution and became a Senator

Born: July 3, 1747

Place of Birth: Tarbes, Hautes-Pyrénées, France

Died: March 3, 1828

Place of Death: Lourdes, France

Arc de Triomphe: DEMBARRERE on the north pillar


The son of a noble and lieutenant general of criminal affairs, Jean Dembarrère entered the engineering school of Mézières in July of 1768. He left the school as an engineer in 1770 and then seven years later in 1777 he was promoted to capitaine. In 1792 Dembarrère was named commander of engineers at Brest and later he joined the Army of the North. From May to July of 1793 he took part in the defense of Valenciennes and then after the surrender of Valenciennes he was sent to the Army of the Coasts of La Rochelle and promoted to général de brigade. Dembarrère next distinguished himself under Santerre at Doué in September, and then in January of 1794 he was promoted to général de division. The following month he was named inspector general of fortifications. Dembarrère served with the Army of the West in 1795 where he commanded a division. In March of 1797 he was named commander at Luxembourg and then commander at Metz and in 1798 he served with the Army of England. For a brief time in the summer of 1799 he served as interim commander-in-chief of the Army of England and then in July he took command of the 11th military division at Bordeaux. Sent to the Army of Italy in March of 1800, Dembarrère took command of the engineers and that May he defended the head of the bridge over the Var.

In 1801 Dembarrère was named director of fortifications and later inspector general of fortifications. Four years later in 1805 he was named a Senator and he retired from the military. Named a Count of the Empire in 1808, Dembarrère briefly returned to military life in 1812 when he organized some of the National Guard of the 11th military division. After France was invaded in 1814 by the Sixth Coalition and Paris surrendered to the allies, Dembarrère supported the removal of Napoleon from power. With the Bourbons returned to the throne, Dembarrère was named a Peer of France, a Knight of Saint Louis, and a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor. He did not take part in the Hundred Days of 1815 and he abstained during the trial of Marshal Ney.


Updated January 2020

© Nathan D. Jensen