General Jean Pierre Ramel
Born: October 6, 1768
Place of Birth: Cahors, Lot, France
Died: August 17, 1815
Cause of Death: Assassinated
Place of Death: Toulouse, France
The son of a prosecutor and notary of Cahors, Jean Pierre Ramel joined the army in 1785, first joining the Ardennes Chasseurs and then in 1788 joining the Noailles Dragoons. After the onset of the Revolution, Ramel left the army in 1789 only to return in 1791 when he joined the 2nd Battalion of Volunteers of Lot. He was promoted to capitaine in 1792 and then employed in the Army of the Eastern Pyrenees in 1793. Ramel received a promotion to chef de bataillon from the representatives of the people with the army in September, and later that month he served at Peyrestortes where he was wounded by a saber blow to the head. In April of 1794 Ramel was suspended from duty as a noble, but then in September General Dugommier reintegrated him in into the army. Ramel was added to the staff in June of 1795 and then in August he joined the 22nd Chasseurs à Cheval.
After the Army of the Eastern Pyrenees was broken up, in late 1795 Ramel was sent to the Army of the Rhine and Moselle and promoted to chef de brigade. The following year he distinguished himself in September at the recovery of the fort of Kehl. Ramel was next sent to command the grenadiers defending the two legislative bodies of government in Paris. During the coup of 18 Fructidor in September of 1797 that expelled the royalists, he attempted to do his duty and defend the legislature, and he only stood down when ordered to by General Augereau1. Arrested and condemned to deportation for defending the losers of the coup, Ramel was sent along with others to Sinnamary in French Guiana. In June of 1798 he and seven others, including Generals Pichegru and Aubry, escaped the prison and made their way to Dutch Guiana and eventually to London. Learning of his escape, the French Directory added Ramel's name ot the list of émigrés.
After Napoleon took power and offered a general amnesty to the French citizens who had fled during the Revolution, Ramel returned to France and was reintegrated into the army. In 1802 he was designated to join the Army of Saint-Domingue and he made his way there. Next in January of 1803 Ramel served at the recovery of the Port-de-Paix but he was wounded by a shot to the right forearm. Due to the severity of his wound, that March he was authorized to return to France, and once back in France he eventually took the post of chief of staff of the 20th military division at Périgueux.
With the Third Coalition moving against France in 1805, Ramel was sent to Italy to serve in the Army of Italy. He served there until 1808 when he was sent to the VII Corps of the Army of Spain. Ramel briefly served in the reserve in Germany in 1809 before he returned to Spain with the VIII Corps. In May of 1810 he was appointed chief of staff of Clauzel's division and then in July of 1811 he joined the staff of the Army of the South. Ramel's next command came in 1813 when he was named chief of staff of the 15th military division at Rouen before he was called to join the Army of Italy. He served in Italy until Napoleon's abdication in April of 1814.
Ramel was initially put on non-activity during the Bourbon Restoration, but then in November of 1814 he was promoted to maréchal de camp. After Napoleon resumed power in 1815 for the Hundred Days, Ramel's promotion to general was upheld. That June Ramel was sent to Toulouse to command the département of Haute-Garonne. After Napoleon's second abdication, Ramel remained in his position. On August 15th, Ramel was dining with a friend when he learned that riots had broken out in Toulouse. He returned home where a group of royalists known as the Verdets, intent on assassinating him, attacked Ramel with shouts of "Long live the king! There's Ramel!" Ramel attempted to defend himself but fell under their blows and was badly wounded by a shot to the stomach. He suffered in agony for two days before succumbing to his wounds.
- Ramsay Weston Phipps, The Armies of the First French Republic and the Rise of the Marshals of Napoleon I, (USA: Pickle Partners Publishing, 2011), IV:297-298.
- Labarre de Raillicourt, Dominique. Les Généraux des Cents Jours et du Gouvernement Provisoire (Mars-Juillet 1815). Paris: Published by the author, 1963.
- Quintin, Danielle, and Bernard Quintin. Dictionnaire des Colonels de Napoléon. Paris: S.P.M., 1996.
Updated February 2018
© Nathan D. Jensen