General Gabriel Barbou d'EscourièresGeneral who served in Holland during the Revolution and Italy during the Empire
Born: November 23, 1761
Place of Birth: Abbeville, Somme, France
Legion of Honor: Grand Officer
Died: December 6, 1827
Place of Death: Paris, France
Arc de Triomphe: BARBOU on the north pillar
A career soldier, Gabriel Barbou d'Escourières first volunteered to join the regiment of Artois in 1779. Three years later he was commissioned as a sous-lieutenant and then sent to Jamaica, only to return to France after peace was signed with Great Britain. In 1788 Barbou was promoted to lieutenant, and then after the onset of the Revolution in 1791 he set off for Saint-Domingue. Barbou returned to France in July of 1792 where he was then sent to the depot at Strasbourg.
In 1793 Barbou served with the Army of the North and then the Army of the Ardennes and he served at the defense of Maubeuge. That October he received a promotion to chef de bataillon and then in April of 1794 he served in the attack of Cateau. Next Barbou was promoted to chef de brigade in the Army of the North and he served at the Battle of Fleurus that June. The next month he was named chief of staff to General Schérer and he went on to serve at the sieges of Quesnoy, Landrecies, Valenciennes, and Condé. Afterwards, Barbou received a promotion to général de brigade and then in October he served at the combats of Aywaille and Aldenhoven.
During the years 1795 and 1796, General Barbou served in General Bernadotte's division and in that time he served at the attack of Weissenthurm, the blockade of Cassel, the action of Kreutznach, and the action of Kirchberg. In August of 1796 he fought off the enemy at Tenning and Lauf and then in September he served at Wurzburg. Barbou's next position came in February of 1797 when he was employed in the 2nd Division of the Army of the Sambre and Meuse under General Grenier. That April he served at Neuwied and then in May he commanded the troops before Kastel.
In October of 1797 Barbou was named chief of staff of the Army of the North and employed with the troops stationed in the Batavian Republic in Holland. In 1798 he was employed in the Army of Holland and in September of 1799 he joined Daendels' division and served at the combat of Zyp. Barbou went on in October to command the cavalry at Bergen and then fight at Castricum. Less than two weeks later, he was promoted to général de division by General Brune. Barbou remained in Holland and for a brief time in 1800 he served as interim commander of the army there. At the end of 1800 he seized Schweinfurth and served at Burg Eberach and Nuremberg, and then in April of 1801 he commanded the French troops of the combined French-Dutch army who seized Franconie.
After peace was signed in 1801, the Army of Holland was reorganized into other units and Barbou returned home to France. In March of 1802 he took command of 27th military division at Turin and then that October he began to serve in Switzerland. In 1803 Barbou took command of the 2nd Division of the camp of Utrecht and then in 1804 he was assigned to the Army of Hanover. Barbou remained in charge of the French troops at Hanover throughout the campaign of 1805 against the Third Coalition.
In 1806 Barbou was selected to go serve in Dalmatia but he did not take that command due to illness. Instead he was sent to Bordeaux to command the 11th military division. Barbou's return to an active command came in November of 1807 when he took command of a division in General Dupont's corps. After the French army moved into Spain, in June of 1808 Barbou fought at the bridge of Alcolea. He went on fight at Cordoue and then was taken prisoner at the surrender at Bailen in July. Sent with other senior officers back to France, Barbou arrived at Toulon in September but was not disgraced like other commanders. Instead Barbou was given command of the 5th Division of the Army of Italy. When Austria declared war in 1809, Barbou was still commanding his division in Italy and he took part in the campaign under Prince Eugene de Beauharnais. He served at the Battle of Sacile in April and then at Venice under General Vial where he victoriously resisted the troops of the Austrian Archduke John. He was next sent to stop the revolts in the Tyrol until the conclusion of the campaign.
Barbou continued to serve in Italy over the following years, commanding the 5th military division from Ancona. In 1812 much of the Army of Italy left Italy for the Russian campaign of 1812, but Barbou remained in Italy. As the Kingdom of Italy was threatened in 1814, Barbou continued to hold Ancona. After Marshal Murat turned the Kingdom of Naples against France and the Kingdom of Italy, Murat laid siege to and bombarded Ancona and Barbou was forced to surrender. He returned to France after Napoleon's abdication in April of 1814 and he was named a Knight of Saint Louis and a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor. Barbou did not take an active part in the Hundred Days of 1815 and afterwards he retired from the army.
Updated January 2016
© Nathan D. Jensen