General René-Charles-Elisabeth de Ligniville

General of the early Revolution who successfully defended Montmédy in 1792

Born: February 22, 1760

Place of Birth: Herbéviller, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France

Died: September 14, 1813

Place of Death: Boncourt, France

Arc de Triomphe: LIGNEVILLE on the north pillar


A career soldier of noble birth, René-Charles-Elisabeth de Ligniville initially joined the Guard of the King in the company of Beauvau in 1774. Three years later he obtained the rank of capitaine in the Noailles Dragoons. In 1780 Ligniville was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the company of Beauvau and then in 1782 he became an aide-de-camp to the Count d'Estaing. He next became a mestre de camp in the regiment of Royal-Roussillon in 1784 and then colonel of the Bourgogne regiment in 1788.

After the onset of the Revolution, Ligniville was named a Knight of Saint Louis in 1790 and appointed colonel of the Condé regiment in October of 1791. In early 1792 he was promoted to maréchal de camp and served with the Army of the Center under General Lafayette. Between August and October Ligniville successfully defended Montmédy and during this time he was promoted to lieutenant general. That November he joined the Army of the Moselle under General Beurnonville and then in January of 1793 he became interim commander of the army. Two months later Ligniville fell from his horse and he was replaced as interim commander by General d'Aboville. Only a few days later Ligniville was then ordered arrested, under suspicion as a noble, and he was taken before the National Convention. He was imprisoned at l'Abbaye but then acquitted at trial in May, however he was not allowed to return to the army.

Ligniville retired to his home in July of 1793, only returning to the army in October of 1796. After the death of General Marceau, the Directory briefly brought Ligniville out of retirement and sent him as a général de division to command Marceau's division in the Army of the Sambre and Meuse. Ligniville quickly took up his command and defended Hunsruck, only to leave the army in November. He then once again retired and eventually emigrated to Germany. In 1800 he returned to France where he was named a deputy of Haute-Marne to the Corps Législatif. In 1804 Ligniville was named a Commander of the Legion of Honor. His service in France continued and in 1806 he was appointed inspector general of the stud farm for breeding horses. He was named a Baron of the Empire in 1809 and he retired in January of 1813.


Updated June 2016

© Nathan D. Jensen