General Jean Nicolas Louis Abbé
Born: August 28, 1764
Place of Birth: Trépail, Marne, France
Died: April 9, 1834
Place of Death: Châlons-sur-Marne, France
Arc de Triomphe: ABBE on the west pillar
The son of a winemaker, Jean Nicolas Louis Abbé first enlisted as a soldier in the regiment of Barrois in 1784. By 1789 he had became a sergeant and then in 1792 he was promoted to sergeant major. That year Abbé served with the Army of the Alps and then for the next six years he would serve with the Army of Italy. In September of 1793 Abbé was promoted to sous-lieutenant and then that December he was wounded by a shot at the affair of Limone. He served at Limone again in July of 1794. In 1796 Abbé joined General Lanusse's staff and he was promoted to lieutenant. He served under Dallemagne at Mantua that June and then in July he served in Sérurier's division. That August Abbé took part in the crossing of the Mincio and then he fought at Governolo, and then in September he was wounded by grapeshot at Castellaro. In December of 1798 Abbé surprised the town of Novare and he was promoted to capitaine in the 8th dragoons.
In January of 1799 Abbé was sent to Paris to present the flags taken from the enemy and he was promoted to chef d'escadrons and received a saber and pistols of honor. That August he became an aide-de-camp to General Leclerc and then in 1800 he followed Leclerc to the Army of the Rhine. In 1801 he traveled to Saint-Domingue with General Leclerc and then in May of 1802 he was promoted to chef de brigade by Leclerc. After Leclerc's unfortunate death, Abbé returned to France. He was named commander of the 22nd Light Demi-Brigade in Corsica in 1803. In 1805 Abbé joined the Army of Italy in Verdier's division, and then in 1806 he joined the Army of Naples. That year he protected the retreat after the combat of Santa-Eufémia and then in 1807 he was promoted to général de brigade. Abbé went on to defeat the Anglo-Sicilian forces at Miléto in March and then he entered Reggio in May. Next he contributed to the Siege of Scylla and the action of Scylla and then in 1808 he was named a Commander of the Legion of Honor.
In 1809 Abbé returned to the Army of Italy as commander of the 2nd Brigade of Grenier's 3rd Division. That April he served at the Sacile and then joined Pacthod's division and served at the combat of Soave. In May Abbé fought at the Battle of the Piave, served at Villanova, and occupied Osopo. The next month he and his men took the bridge of Karako.
In January of 1810 Abbé was sent to the Army of Spain where he was employed in the III Corps under General Suchet. That May he assisted in the action of Lérida and then in July he defeated O'Donnell and seized Tivisia, repulsing the enemy. In October Abbé was named a Baron of the Empire, in November he served at Falset, and then in December he joined the Siege of Tortosa where he repulsed a sortie. After the conclusion of the siege, in January of 1811 Abbé served in Habert's division at the combat of Chéca. Five months later in June of 1811 he won at Bruch and then he took part in the final assault on Tarragona. The next month Abbé attacked the Spanish forces holding Montserrat and was victorious, and a week later he received a promotion to général de division. In 1812 he took command of a division in Navarre under General Reille and that August he defeated Mina. Next Abbé was named governor of Pampelune and then in December he again defeated Mina, this time at Carrascal. In 1813 he was placed under General Clausel and that May he fought and defeated Mina yet again, this time at Ysaba. However, after the French loss at the Battle of Vitoria , he returned to France. Preparing to defend France, Abbé took command of the 3rd Division of the Corps of Center under General Drouet d'Erlon in the Army of the South. In August he was pushed back on Urdax and then in December he was pushed back on Espelette. That December Abbé served in the combat on the Nive and then at Saint-Pierre d'Irube. In 1814 he joined the right wing of the Army of the Pyrenees under Reille and then he joined the garrison of Bayonne under General Thouvenot. In April he commanded Thouvenot's questionable sortie against the besieging British after Napoleon's abdication and the cessation of hostilities.
With the abdication of Napoleon and the restoration of the Bourbons, Abbé was named a Knight of Saint Louis. In January of 1815 he took command of the 2nd subdivision of the 8th military division at Toulon. Abbé rallied to Napoleon when Napoleon resumed power in Paris for the Hundred Days and Abbé was then placed in charge of the 18th Infantry Division under General Lecourbe at Belfort. Abbé fought the Austrians at Dannemarie on June 27th and then he fell back to Belfort to defend it from the Austrians. On June 29th he fought again at Foussemagne. After the second Bourbon Restoration, Abbé was put on non-activity and he retired.
- Divry, Arnauld. Les Noms Gravés sur l'Arc de Triomphe. Paris: L'Harmattan, 2017.
- Six, Georges. Dictionnaire Biographique des Généraux & Amiraux Français de la Révolution et de l'Empire (1792-1814). 2 vols. Paris: Gaston Saffroy, 2003.
Updated August 2017
© Nathan D. Jensen