General Alexis-Paul-Michel Tanneguy Le Veneur de TillièresGeneral of the early Revolution who served at notable battles of 1792 and 1793
Born: September 28, 1746
Place of Birth: Paris, Paris, France
Died: May 26, 1833
Place of Death: Carrouges, France
Arc de Triomphe: LEVENEUR on the north pillar
Born into a noble family, Alexis-Paul-Michel Tanneguy Le Veneur de Tillières began his military career when he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the French infantry in 1763. Ten years later in 1773 he was named colonel of the provincial regiment of Abbeville. During the 1780s Le Veneur became a Knight of Saint Louis in 1781 and he was promoted to mestre de camp in 1782. That year he was also assigned to the Lyonnais Regiment and he served in Spain at Gibraltar. In 1788 Le Veneur received a promotion to maréchal de camp.
After the onset of the French Revolution, Le Veneur stayed in France and in April of 1792 he joined the Army of the Center under the Marquis de Lafayette. The next month he took command of the 2nd Division and then in June he was promoted to lieutenant general. That August Lafayette deserted the army to escape persecution from the Revolution and Le Veneur deserted alongside him. However, Le Veneur must have had a change in heart, for eight days later he returned to the army, and in September he was reintegrated as a lieutenant general in the Army of the Center under General Dumouriez. Back in command, Le Veneur served at the Battle of Valmy shortly thereafter. Next he was named deputy commander of the Army of the Ardennes under General Dillon. Le Veneur went on to take part in the attack on the chateau of Namur, and in January of 1793 he was named interim commander of the Army of the Ardennes. The following month he served at the Siege of Maestricht, and then in March he commanded the right wing of the army at the Battle of Neerwinden . During this time Le Veneur also appointed the talented young officer Hoche as his aide-de-camp.
Not long after, General Dumouriez defected and Le Veneur decided to quit the army. He was arrested within a few days but then released at the end of the April. In June of 1793 Le Veneur returned to an active command, first commanding a division and then the Army of the North under the overall command of General Custine. However, at the end of July he was suspended from his command for being of noble birth, and he protested against this injustice. In response, Le Veneur was arrested by the government, but he was perhaps lucky for Custine was executed in August. Le Veneur was held until May of 1794 and upon his release he retired to Carrouges, but then in July of 1794 the Committee of Public Safety again ordered his arrest. Le Veneur was arrested and conducted to Paris where he was thrown in prison, but the Thermidorian Reaction soon removed the most violent and dangerous of the revolutionaries from power. He was released from prison in September.
Le Veneur returned to the military in June of 1795 as a général de division assigned to the 14th military division. He stayed in this position for three years and then retired in 1797. During the French Empire that followed, he was named an Officer of the Legion of Honor and he became an administrator of the département of Orne. In 1808 Le Veneur was elected a deputy of Orne to the Corps Légaslatif, a position he held for four years. In 1810 he received a further reward, being named a Count of the Empire.
Updated June 2016
© Nathan D. Jensen