General Jean-Antoine BrunInfantry commander who served throughout many campaigns
Born: April 15, 1761
Place of Birth: Quaix, Isère, France
Died: September 4, 1826
Place of Death: Grenoble, France
Arc de Triomphe: BRUN on the east pillar
Initially joining the artillery regiment of La Fère as a cannonier in 1781, Jean-Antoine Brun left the army three years later. After the onset of the Revolution, he rejoined the army in November of 1791 as a capitaine in the 3rd Battalion of Volunteers of Isère. Brun was sent to serve in the Army of the Alps and he later went to serve at the Siege of Toulon . During that siege, he was wounded by a shot to the left knee but he also was the first to enter a British redoubt. In April of 1794 Brun was promoted to chef de bataillon in the 9th Battalion of Volunteers of Isère and sent to the Army of Italy. In 1795 he was assigned to the 2nd Light, in 1796 he joined the 12th Light, and then in 1797 he served at Neumarkt.
Brun was next designated to serve on the expedition to Egypt and once in Egypt he was named commander of the citadel of Cairo serving under the overall command of General Dupuy. After Napoleon left the army and General Kléber assumed command, Kléber promoted Brun to chef de brigade in the general staff in February of 1800. Two months later Brun served at the Siege of Cairo where he was wounded by a shot to the shoulders. That June Kléber gave him command of the 69th of the Line, and eventually Brun and his men returned to France with the other French troops.
In 1803 Brun was sent to the Army of the Coasts of the Ocean where he was placed under Ney's command. When the Grande Armée prepared to head east in August of 1805, Brun and his men of the 69th of the Line formed part of Marchand's division in Marshal Ney's VI Corps. He served throughout the campaign of 1805 and was named a Commander of the Legion of Honor on Christmas Day of that year. The next year Brun continued to serve in VI Corps and he took part in the campaign against Prussia. That December he fought at and was wounded at Soldau, and then in February of 1807 he received a promotion to général de brigade. As the campaign resumed when the weather improved, Brun fought at the Battle of Friedland in June where he was wounded.
In 1808 Brun was sent to Spain as part of III Corps. He was recalled to Paris in January of 1809 and then in April he was attached to the staff of the Grand Armée. Brun served during the Danube campaign of 1809 and in May he took command of the 3rd Brigade of Grandjean's 3rd Division of II Corps. After the conclusion of the campaign, Brun was employed in the 9th military division. In 1810 he was named a Baron of the Empire and then given command of the département of Var. The next year he was sent to the 23rd military division and the 17th military division, and then in 1812 he took command of a brigade of Compans' division. Serving during the Russian campaign of 1812, Brun's unit formed part of Marshal Davout's I Corps. That July he was named commander at Pillau and then in August he was named commander of Grodno. He held Grodno until December when he retreated with the rest of the army to friendlier territory.
For the campaigns of 1813 in Germany, Brun took command of the 1st Brigade of the 4th Division of Marshal Victor's II Corps. He served throughout 1813 until he was taken prisoner at the Battle of Leipzig in October. After Brun's return to France and Napoleon's abdication, he was put on non-activity by the restored Bourbons but also named a Knight of Saint Louis. When Napoleon resumed power in 1815 for the Hundred Days, Brun briefly commanded the département of Jura before retiring from the army in September.
Updated March 2016
© Nathan D. Jensen