General Antoine François Brenier de MontmorandGeneral who led his men in a successful escape from the British blockade of Almeida in 1811
Born: November 12, 1767
Place of Birth: Saint-Marcellin, Isère, France
Legion of Honor: Grand Officer
Imperial Nobility: Baron
Died: October 8, 1832
Place of Death: Saint-Marcellin, France
Arc de Triomphe: BRENIER on the west pillar
The son of a lawyer, Antoine François Brenier de Montmorand first began his military career as a cadet in the service of Spain in 1781. By 1786 he had returned to France and become a gendarme. After the onset of the Revolution, in 1791 Brenier was promoted to capitaine and served as an aide-de-camp to General Crillon. The following year he served as aide-de-camp to General d'Albignac, and then in June of 1793 he was named a chef de bataillon commanding the 6th Battalion of Maritime Coasts of the West in the Army of the Eastern Pyrenees. Only four months later Brenier was promoted to chef de brigade by the representatives of the people. In 1795 he took command of the 14th of the Line, in 1796 he began serving in Italy, and in 1797 he he took command of the 63rd of the Line. Brenier was sent to Holland in 1798 and then in 1799 he returned to the Army of Italy. In April of 1799 he took part in the attack of Verona where he was wounded and then he took part in the crossing of the Adda where he was again wounded, this time by a bayonet. That June General Moreau promoted Brenier to général de brigade and then later Brenier served under General Pérignon. In March of 1800 he joined Turreau's forces and then the following month he was named commander of Tarentaise. Brenier then joined Chabran's division in May and he served at the action of Fort Bard. After the conclusion of the campaign he was sent to serve with the French-Dutch army.
In 1801 Brenier joined the 20th military division and then in 1803 he was employed in the 11th military division. Three years later in 1806 he was sent to Italy, and then in 1807 he joined Delaborde's division in the Corps of Observation of the Gironde. Sent to Spain and Portugal in 1808, in August Brenier served at Roliça and then he fought the British at the Battle of Vimeiro where he was wounded and taken prisoner. The following April he was exchanged and released and he took a position with the Army of the North. In 1810 he was sent back to Spain and that February he took command of a brigade of the rear guard of the Army of Spain. In August of 1810 Brenier was named governor of Almeida and then in April of 1811 Almeida was besieged by British forces. About a month into the siege Brenier successfully led his troops out of Almeida in a daring escape while destroying the fortifications they left behind. He and his men rejoined the Army of Portugal and he received a promotion to général de division. That October Brenier took command of the 6th Division of the Army of Portugal and then in February of 1812 he was named a Baron of the Empire.
Brenier became available in August of 1812 and in November he was sent to command the 25th military division at Wesel. In March of 1813 he joined the army in Germany, taking command of the 9th Division in Marshal Ney's III Corps. Brenier served at Weissenfels on May 1st and then he fought at Lützen the next day where he was badly wounded by a ball to the right thigh. Out of action for a time, he was well enough to resume a command in October when he took command of the 16th military division at Lille. That December Brenier was recognized as a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor.
After Napoleon's abdication and the restoration of the Bourbons in 1814, Brenier was named a Knight of Saint Louis and a member of the committee of war. When Napoleon returned from exile in 1815 and resumed power for the Hundred Days, he named Brenier commander of Brest.
Updated August 2017
© Nathan D. Jensen