General François Mireur

Volunteer during the Revolution who popularized La Marseillaise and was later killed in Egypt

Born: February 9, 1770

Place of Birth: Escragnolles, Alpes-Maritimes, France

Died: July 9, 1798

Cause of Death: Assassinated

Place of Death: Damanhur, Egypt

Arc de Triomphe: MIREUR on the south pillar


A student of medicine at Montpellier at the outbreak of the Revolution, François Mireur joined the National Guard of Montpellier as a capitaine in 1790. Nevertheless, he finished his studies and became a doctor of medicine in June of 1792. His first claim to fame came shortly thereafter when he sang a patriotic song to the volunteers of Marseille. So impressed by the song and his performance, these volunteers sang it upon arriving in Paris, and the song thereafter was known as "La Marseillaise".1 Mireur meanwhile traveled to Soissons where he was elected a lieutenant of grenadiers. Sent to the Army of the North, Mireur served in Belgium and was slightly wounded at the Battle of Jemappes in November. In 1794 he received a promotion to chef de bataillon from the representatives of the people and he was appointed chief of staff to Mayer's division. That July Mireur joined the Army of the Sambre and Meuse when the army was reorganized and in October he served at Maestricht and the Roer.

During the summer of 1795, Mireur was promoted to chef de brigade and he served under General Bernadotte. That September he fought at the affair of Nassau where he was wounded in the arm. The next year Mireur crossed the Rhine in July where with 400 grenadiers he seized the redoubt of Bendorf and held it successfully against several enemy attacks. In 1797 he followed Bernadotte to the Army of Italy and in March he distinguished himself at the crossing of the Tagliamento and at Gradisca. Less than a week later he was appointed chef de brigade of the 19th Chasseurs à Cheval, and shortly thereafter he received a promotion to général de brigade. Mireur commanded a brigade in Italy for the remainder of the year.

In 1798 Mireur was designated for the expedition to Egypt and given command of a brigade of cavalry in the Army of the Orient. Serving in Dumas' division, he marched on Damanhour with Desaix's division. While there, he rode away from the camp for a ride on a new horse and was attacked and assassinated before anyone could come to his help.



Updated September 2014

© Nathan D. Jensen