General Joseph-Laurent DemontGeneral who served under Marshal Davout on a number of campaigns
Born: September 29, 1747
Place of Birth: Sartrouville, Yvelines, France
Died: May 8, 1826
Place of Death: Paris, France
Arc de Triomphe: DEMONT on the east pillar
The son of a Swiss guard of the King, Joseph-Laurent Demont first enlisted in the Swiss regiment of Vigier in 1764. Four years later he was commissioned as a sous-lieutenant, but it would take another thirteen years for him to receive another promotion when he finally achieved the rank of lieutenant in 1781. In 1785 Demont was promoted to capitaine, and then after the onset of the Revolution he was recognized as a Knight of Saint Louis in 1791.
Demont joined the staff of the Army of the Rhine in October of 1792, and then the following May he was promoted to chef de bataillon. For a brief period of time in October of 1793 he served as chief of staff of the Army of the Rhine before he was suspended from command. After the Thermidorian Reaction in July of 1794 overthrew Robespierre, the next month Demont was finally reintegrated into the army. Two years later in 1796 Demont was still serving with the Army of the Rhine when he was promoted to chef de brigade. That August he seized the bridges over the Isar and then in September he fought at Freising before he was repulsed at Pötmess by the Army of Condé. In 1797 Demont was serving under General Davout and he took part in the crossing of the Rhine at Kehl where he was wounded. Two years later in early 1799 Demont was promoted to général de brigade and assigned to serve with the Army of Switzerland. That March he seized Reichenau and Dissentis, and the following month he joined Lecourbe's division before he was taken prisoner at Suss in May.
General Demont was finally returned to France once peace was signed in 1801. He was then assigned to the 24th military division until 1803 when he was sent to the camp of Bruges. In 1804 Demont was named a Commander of the Legion of Honor, and in 1805 he took command of the 1st Brigade of the 1st Division of Marshal Davout's III Corps. Taking part in the campaign that year, Demont fought at the Battle of Austerlitz where he had his left arm broken by a shot. A few weeks later he received a promotion to général de division.
In 1806 Demont was appointed a senator and in 1807 he took command of the 3rd Legion of the National Guard at Rennes before retiring that May. In 1808 he was named a Count of the Empire and then in 1809 Demont returned out of retirement to serve in an active command against the Austrian threat. Demont took command of the 4th Division of Marshal Davout's corps for the Danube campaign of that year, fighting in April at Abensberg and the Battle of Eckmühl before he served at the Battle of Aspern-Essling in May. That June he was named commander at Linz and governor of Upper Austria, but once the campaign was concluded he returned to Paris.
Demont remained in retirement until 1814 when France was threatened by the allied powers, and then he took part in the defense of Strasbourg. After Napoleon's abdication in April of 1814, the restored Bourbons named Demont a Peer of France. When Napoleon returned to power in 1815 for the Hundred Days, Demont did not take part in the events. After Napoleon's second abdication, as a member of the Chamber of Peers Demont sat in judgment at the trial of Marshal Ney where he voted for death.
Updated August 2016
© Nathan D. Jensen