General Antoine RichepanseCavalry general who helped win Hohenlinden and died in Guadeloupe from yellow fever
Born: March 25, 1770
Place of Birth: Metz, Moselle, France
Died: September 3, 1802
Cause of Death: Illness
Place of Death: Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe
Arc de Triomphe: RICHEPANCE on the east pillar
With his father serving in a regiment of dragoons, Antoine Richepanse was close to the cavalry his entire life. At age 4 he became the adopted child of the cavalry regiment of Conti and by the time he was 15 he had joined a regiment of chasseurs. The Revolution brought many promotions for Richepanse, in 1791 he was a sous-lieutenant, the next year a lieutenant, and in 1793 a capitaine. In the middle of 1794, Richepanse was promoted to chef d'escadrons in the 1st Chasseurs à Cheval and began serving in the Army of the Sambre and Meuse.
On June 1, 1796 Richepanse received a promotion to chef de brigade. Three days later he was wounded by a saber blow at the Battle of Altenkirchen, but he was also rewarded afterwards by Kléber with a promotion to général de brigade, having been a chef de brigade for only three days. Continuing to fight despite his wound, he helped protect the retreat at the combat of Wetzlar and also fought at Uckerath. That July Richepanse joined Lefebvre's division and served at Friedberg, and a month later he was wounded by another saber blow during a cavalry skirmish at Strullensdorf.
In April of 1797 General Richepanse took command of the chasseurs à cheval of the Army of the Sambre and Meuse under Lefebvre. After assisting with the crossing of the Rhine at Neuwied, he charged the enemy at Bendorf and seized Frankfurt. Service in the Army of Italy and the Army of the Greater Alps followed, and in September of 1799 he was serving in Grenier's corps. Two months later General Championnet promoted Richepanse to général de division on the battlefield at Fossano for his excellent leadership.
Throughout the year 1800, Richepanse's talents shone. In April he took command of the 3rd Division of Moreau's corps and then led them into action at Engen, Messkirch, and Biberach in May. From June to November he commanded the left corps of the army and in this time he was victorious at Güttenzell and invested Ulm. That November Richepanse took command of the 2nd Division of Moreau's corps and in December he led his men into battle at Hohenlinden. During the battle Richepanse was at the front of his division's column to try and help perceive the way through a snowstorm. An attack by the Austrians cut his division in two, leaving wreckage in a narrow defile and separating him from half his command. Nevertheless Richepanse decided to proceed on the attack with the half of his division still with him. His improvised attacks and audacity against the Austrian rear are considered to be the decisive factors contributing to the French victory.1 In the following weeks, he proved victorious again, winning at Herdorf, Strasswabchen, Frankenmarkt, Schwannstadt, and Lambach.
The peace that followed brought about administrative positions for Richepanse. In March of 1802 he was appointed the Governor General of Guadeloupe. The next month he set sail from Brest, but unfortunately in less than six months he was dead from yellow fever.2
- James R. Arnold, Marengo and Hohenlinden: Napoleon's Rise to Power, (Barnsley: Pen & Sword Military, 1999), 236-243.
- John R. Elting, Swords Around a Throne: Napoleon's Grande Armée, (USA: Da Capo Press, 1997), 158.
Updated February 2015
© Nathan D. Jensen