General François Marie Dufour

General who served at Corfu and then in Naples for much of his career

Born: December 5, 1769

Place of Birth: Fruges, Pas-de-Calais, France

Died: April 14, 1815

Cause of Death: Illness

Place of Death: Lille, France


Joining the army as a volunteer in the 8th Battalion of Pas-de-Calais in September of 1792, François Marie Dufour was assigned to the Army of the North. Only a few weeks later he was elected a capitaine of his battalion and then in November he was elected lieutenant colonel. Dufour didn't have time to rest on his laurels though, for only two days later he served at the Battle of Jemappes . Next he went on to serve at the action of Mons and then he joined the Army of the Ardennes. In March of 1793 Dufour served at the Battle of Neerwinden and he remained with the Army of the Ardennes until July of 1794 when he joined the Army of the Sambre and Meuse. Afterwards he served during the attack of Stromberg and then at the Siege of Maestricht where he was wounded by a shot.

In 1795 Dufour joined the Army of the Rhine and that July he was given the official rank of chef de bataillon. In 1797 he was sent to the Army of Italy and then that June he began serving at the Ionian Isles under General Chabot. Dufour served at Corfu in 1798 and 1799 and during this time he was promoted to chef de brigade. In November of 1798 a Russian and Turkish force laid siege to Corfu and Dufour took part in the defense until the French finally surrendered in March of 1799. Taken as a prisoner, Dufour was released in 1800 and he then joined the Army of the Reserve. Next in 1801 he joined the Army of the South and then in 1802 he joined the Army of Italy, followed by the Army of Naples in 1803. He would remain with the Army of Naples for a number of years. After the French had taken control of Naples in 1806, Dufour served under Joseph Bonaparte and he took part in the Siege of Gaeta. He was named a Commander of the Legion of Honor in 1806 and then in 1807 he was promoted to général de brigade in the Army of Naples. Dufour remained in Naples until 1811 when he requested to go on indefinite leave which was granted.

In April of 1811 Dufour took command of a brigade of General Friant's division and then he led a brigade of the same division for the campaign against Russia of 1812. While on campaign he was named a Baron of the Empire and he served at and was wounded at the Battle of Borodino in September. Dufour seized the Kremlin upon the army's entry into Moscow and then he was placed in Ricard's division. During the retreat that followed, he took part in the combat of Winkowo in October and then he was wounded at Krasnoe in November.

Having survived the retreat, in March of 1813 Dufour was promoted to général de division. He took command of the 5th Division of Marshal Victor's II Corps and that April he served at Harbourg. In May Dufour and his men won at Zollenspieker and Tetterborn and then in August he took part in the Battle of Dresden. As the Grande Armée fell back in November, Dufour took command of the men of II Corps at Strasbourg and then in January of 1814 he took command of the 1st Division of the Paris Reserve under General Gérard. In February he fought at La Rothière and then he continued to serve under Gérard in Champagne.

After Napoleon's abdication in April of 1814, the restored Bourbons named Dufour a Knight of Saint Louis and also named him commander of the département of Nord. Upon Napoleon's return from exile in 1815, Napoleon gave Dufour command of the 5th Division of Reille's II Corps. However, Dufour died of illness two weeks later and therefore he did not participate further in the Hundred Days.


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Updated January 2023

© Nathan D. Jensen