General Louis-Charles de La Motte-Ango de FlersArmy commander during the Revolution who defended Perpignan but was nevertheless executed
Born: June 12, 1754
Place of Birth: Paris, Paris, France
Died: July 22, 1794
Cause of Death: Executed
Place of Death: Paris, France
Arc de Triomphe: DEFLERS on the west pillar
Born into a noble family, Louis-Charles de la Motte-Ango de Flers first joined the army in 1771 at age sixteen as a sous-lieutenant of the cavalry. Three years later he was promoted to capitaine and then in 1788 he was finally promoted to chef d'escadrons. After the onset of the Revolution, in November of 1791 de Flers was named a lieutenant colonel of the 3rd Cavalry. Five months later he was promoted to colonel of the regiment and he and his regiment were then sent to the Army of the North. In August of 1792 de Flers was promoted to maréchal de camp by General Dumouriez and he fought at Flines-lès-Mortagne where he was wounded in the thigh. Two months later Dumouriez placed him in charge of the reserve of the Army of Belgium. In February and March of 1793 de Flers commanded the troops in Holland and defended Breda, which he was finally forced to surrender in April.
After he and his troops returned to France, the government promoted de Flers to général de division and gave him command of the Army of the Eastern Pyrenees. De Flers took command of this army at Perpignan, and then in May he was beaten at Thuir and Mas Deu by the Spanish. Nevertheless, de Flers trained his troops and then led them to a great victory defending Perpignan in July, though he was unable to prevent the Spanish from taking Villefranche. The representatives of the people who accompanied the army considered that if de Flers had won such a great victory in a defensive stand he could have won a greater victory if he had gone on the offensive.1 For this the representatives of the people on site denounced him and relieved him of command in August. De Flers was transported to Paris where a revolutionary tribunal found him guilty and condemned him to die. He was finally executed by guillotine on July 22nd, 1794, less than a week before the Thermidorian Reaction brought about the fall of Robespierre and the end of the Reign of Terror.
- Paddy Griffith, French Napoleonic Infantry Tactics 1792-1815, (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2007), 17.
Updated October 2015
© Nathan D. Jensen