French Officer Ranks 1789 - 1815




French army ranks 1789-1815 and their equivalents in the US army



French Rank US Rank
Sous-lieutenant Second Lieutenant
Lieutenant Lieutenant
Capitaine Captain
Chef de bataillon
Chef d'escadrons1
Major
Mestre de camp
Chef de brigade
Colonel2
Colonel
Général de brigade
Maréchal de camp3
Brigadier General
Général de division
Lieutenant general4
Major General
Maréchal d'Empire Lieutenant general
General

  • 1Chef de bataillon and chef d'escadrons are equivalent, with the distinction being which branch the officer served with, infantry/artillery/engineers or cavalry.
  • 2Mestre de camp, chef de brigade and colonel are equivalent, with mestre de camp being used before the Revolution, chef de brigade being used during the Revolutionary Wars and early Consulate, and colonel being used in the late Consulate and Empire.
  • 3Général de brigade and maréchal de camp are equivalent, with général de brigade being used throughout the Revolution, Consulate, and Empire, and maréchal de camp being used up until 1793 and then again after the first Bourbon Restoration in 1814.
  • 4Général de division and lieutenant general are equivalent, with général de division being used throughout the Revolution, Consulate, and Empire, and lieutenant general being used up until 1793 and then again after the first Bourbon Restoration in 1814.


Appointed positions (not to be confused with ranks)

  • Aide-de-camp: An assistant to an officer of a higher rank. When sent with orders, they carried the authority of their commanding officer.
  • Chief of staff: Oftentimes the second-in-command, an officer who briefed the commander-in-chief on reports and ensured the commander-in-chief's orders were carried out.
  • Intendant General: A logistics specialist tasked with procuring supplies.
  • Major: A position specifically related to the administration of a regiment, typically filled by a chef de bataillon or chef d'escadrons.
  • Major General: A French term for the chief of staff. It can also be considered as "chief of the staffs". Marshal Berthier was frequently referred to as the Major General.
  • Marshal of the Empire/Marshal of France: An honorary political appointment that nevertheless conveyed a higher military rank than generals.


Updated June 2017

© Nathan D. Jensen