General Jacques DarnaudOfficer who served on the Rhine and in Italy during the Revolution
Born: January 8, 1758
Place of Birth: Bricy-le-Boulay, Loiret, France
Legion of Honor: Grand Officer
Imperial Nobility: Baron
Died: March 3, 1830
Place of Death: Paris, France
Arc de Triomphe: DARNAUD on the north pillar
Enlisting as a soldier in the regiment of Anjou in 1777, Jacques Darnaud earned a promotion to sergeant in 1783 and then sergeant major in 1787. After the onset of the Revolution, in September of 1791 he was promoted to sous-lieutenant and then in August of 1792 he was promoted to lieutenant. Darnaud joined the Army of the Rhine and he served at the action of Spire in September and at Mainz and Frankfurt in October. In March of 1793 he took part in the retreat of the army on Landau and Wissembourg. That August Darnaud was arrested by the representatives of the people for being a suspected royalist, but only two days later he was released and promoted to capitaine. Next Darnaud went to the camp of Cassel where he joined the Army of the North and he fought at Hondschoote in September. In March of 1794 he served at the attack of the villages of Saint-Vaast and Saint-Aubert and then two months later he was named commander of Longwy.
With the reorganization of the armies in June of 1794, Darnaud joined the Army of the Sambre and Meuse. In April of 1795 he was promoted to chef de brigade by the representatives of the people, having skipped the rank of chef de bataillon. Darnaud took command of the 30th of the Line in February of 1796 and then he and his men joined Bernadotte's division. He and his regiment served at the combat of Lintz at the blockade of Ehrenbreitstein and then in June they covered the retreat at the crossing of the Rhine at Neuwied. Next Darnaud was named commander at Frankfurt, and then in August his lower jar was shattered by the blast of a shell near Mainz.
In 1797 Darnaud followed Bernadotte's division to the Army of Italy. In 1798 he joined the Army of Rome and that December he was distinguished at Civita Castellana. The next month he again distinguished himself at Otricoli but then he was taken prisoner at Cajazzo. Released only a few days later, Darnaud was then named governor of the province of Capua. Continuing to serve in Italy, he joined the Army of Naples and then distinguished himself at the action of Modène in June of 1799. A week later he fought at the Trebbia where he was wounded by a shot to the right foot. Darnaud received a promotion to général de brigade in July and then in August he served at the Battle of Novi as part of Watrin's division. Continuing to fight, he served at Bosco in October, Rivalta and Novi in November, at Nervi in December, and then he was wounded by three shots at the affair of Castagna on December 15th. In March of 1800 Darnaud joined Miollis' division and then in April he served at the combat of Recco and then Monte-Faccio. Next he served during the Siege of Genoa and he distinguished himself in the combat of April 30th. Darnaud joined Soult's division at the attack of Bisagno on May 11th, and then he was wounded by a shot to the left knee on May 28th. That wound proved serious enough that his left leg was amputated.
No longer leading men into battle, Darnaud was named commander of Genoa in April of 1801. He received a sabre of honor from the Ligurian government and then he returned to France in August of 1802. The next month Darnaud took command of the département of Corrèze and then in October of 1803 he took command of the département of Orne. In 1807 he was elected as a candidate to the Corps Légaslatif by the département of Orne but he did not join the senate. Darnaud was named a Baron of the Empire in 1809 and then in early 1810 he temporarily commanded the 14th military division. In 1811 he again commanded the 14th military division before becoming the deputy commander of Les Invalides. With the Bourbon restoration in 1814, Darnaud was named an honorary lieutenant general.
Updated February 2018
© Nathan D. Jensen