General Charles François Deponthon


Engineering officer who conducted a number of sieges in 1806-1807 and served on missions to Russia



Born: August 26, 1777

Place of Birth: Éclaron, Haute-Marne, France

Legion of Honor: Grand Officer

Imperial Nobility: Baron

Died: August 25, 1849

Place of Death: Éclaron, France

Arc de Triomphe: DEPONTHON on the west pillar




Entering the engineering school of Metz as a sous-lieutenant in 1794, Charles François Deponthon was promoted to lieutenant in March of 1795 and then assigned to the Army of the Interior in December. In April of 1796 he joined the Army of Italy and during the campaign of 1796 he served at the Siege of Mantua , at Castiglione , and at Saint-Georges. In March of 1797 Deponthon served during the crossing of the Piave and the crossing of the Tagliamento but in April he was taken prisoner. Released sometime thereafter, his next assignment came in February of 1798 when he served at the occupation of Rome. Also during that month Deponthon was promoted to capitaine. Deponthon next joined the Army of the Orient on the expedition to Egypt as part of Desaix's division. He served at the action on Malta in June and then in July he served at the action of Alexandria, Rahmanieh, Chebress, the Battle of the Pyramids , and at Cairo. In 1799 Deponthon served at the Battle of Abukir and he remained in Egypt for the next two years, serving at the combat of Damietta, taking part in the recovery of Cairo, opposing the British landing in 1801, and then serving at the defense of Alexandria.

After the French surrender in Egypt Deponthon returned to France and he was then sent to Antwerp and later the isle of Cadzand. In 1804 he joined the 2nd Dragoon Division of the Reserve at the camp of Compiègne. After the campaign of 1805 began, in October Deponthon was employed in the 3rd Division of IV Corps and he served with that division at the Battle of Austerlitz in December. In September of 1806 he was named an officer of ordnance for the Emperor Napoleon and the next month he served at the Battle of Jena. Deponthon went on to serve at a number of sieges, namely at Glogau, Breslau, Neisse, Kosel, Schweidnitz, and Glatz. In June of 1807 he was promoted to chef de bataillon and then the next month he served at the Siege of Stralsund.

In 1808 Deponthon was sent on a mission to Russia and then he served in Spain at the end of the year. In 1809 he was sent on another mission to Russia and he was named a Knight of the Order of Military Merit of Bavaria and a Knight of the 3rd Class of the Order of Saint Vladimir of Russia. In 1810 Deponthon was attached to the emperor's staff and he was ordered to make a reconnaissance of Holland, the mouths of the rivers Em, Weser, and Elbe, and the channel between the Baltic and the North Seas. That October Deponthon was promoted to colonel and then in 1811 he was named a Baron of the Empire.

In 1812 as the Grande Armée prepared to go to war with Russia, Deponthon was named an attaché to the cabinet of the emperor. During the campaign he served at the action of Smolensk , the Battle of Borodino, and the action of Moscow. After returning from Russia, Deponthon was named commander of the engineers of the unit that would become Marshal Marmont's VI Corps. He served during the campaign in Saxony of 1813, fighting at Lützen and Bautzen in May. In June Deponthon was named commander of engineers at Hamburg under Marshal Davout and in July he became director of fortifications. Deponthon served throughout the Siege of Hamburg under Davout's leadership and in March of 1814 Davout provisionally promoted Deponthon to général de brigade. After Davout received enough proof to surrender the city, Deponthon returned to France where he was named director of fortifications at Rochefort and had his promotion confirmed. He was also named a Knight of Saint Louis. During the Hundred Days of 1815, Deponthon was ordered to inspect Château-Thierry, La Fère, Guisse, and Soissons to improve their defenses. After Napoleon's second abdication, Deponthon briefly commanded the engineers of the Army of the Loire.


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Updated December 2019

© Nathan D. Jensen