LANGLOIS de MAUTHEVILLE Marquis du BOUCHET Denis-Jean-Florimond. Lieutenant général.Dates: 20/10/1752 (Clermond F) -16/10/1826.
Côte S.H.A.T.: 7 Yd 942.
Arme: Génie puis Artillerie puis Infanterie.
- 17/06/70 sous-lieutenant.
- 07/05/77 lieutenant.
- 03/07/77 capitaine (Etats-Unis).
- 07/10/77 major (Etats-Unis).
- 22/01/79 capitaine.
- 13/06/83 lieutenant-colonel.
- 01/04/91 adjudant général colonel.
- 31/12/97 maréchal de camp avec effet rétroactif au 15/06/95 (Emigration).
- 26/08/09 colonel.
- 23/08/14 maréchal de camp avec effet rétroactif au 15/06/95 (Première Restauration).
- 09/10/16 lieutenant général (honoraire).
- Légion d'honneur: Légionnaire (28/09/14), Officier (17/01/15).
- Saint-Louis: Chevalier (12/08/83).
- 1791 émigre.
- 1803 rentre en France.
- 26/08/09-14/05/10 commandant d'armes à Ypres.
- 14/05/10-15/12/13 commandant d'armes à Breda.
- 15/12/13 admis en retraite.
Moustic : "Des infos que tu as déjà !"
Denis-Jean Florimond de Langlois, marquis [from 1815] du Bouchet (1752-1826)
Denis-Jean Florimond de Langlois was born 20 October 1752, in Clermont- Ferrand, France, where his father held a royal-appointed administrative position. He was the eldest son of five children, and received his early education by Jesuits in Paris. In 1767, he entered the military at age 14, and became an artillery cadet at Bapaume the following year. However, a saber wound received during a duel in March 1768, prevented him from taking the exams and graduating. He resigned and departed Bapaume the following July. He went to Fribourg, Switzerland, where he joined the Saxe-Gotha infantry regiment of infantry. The unit consisted of "mostly of French deserters in Austrian service" and was stationed in Luxembourg, near the French border. By June 1770, Denis-Jean Florimond had left the Austrian service and returned to France, where he returned to the French service as a sub- lieutenant in the la Marche infantry regiment. In 1768, his unit was sent to subdue a revolt in Corsica. The campaign was brief and followed by a long period of peacetime inaction in France, which meant that officer promotions were slow.
In 1776, Denis Jean Florimond was still a sub-lieutenant in la Marche, stationed in Bethune on the Dutch border, when he heard of the rebelling American colonists' appeal for professional military volunteers to join the Continental Army. Florimond was one of many officers in the French service who saw this as an opportunity "to partake in the perils and the glory."
Along with his brother-in-law, Thomas Conway, a Franco-Irish colonel in the Aquitaine Regiment, Florimond was interviewed by Silas Deane, the American representative in Paris. While Conway was in a position to be offered a position of considerable rank in the American army, Florimond was one of many who offered to serve initially without the promise of a specific rank or money. With Deane's recommendation to the US Congress, Florimond resigned his commission in the French army and went with Conway to the Le Havre port in November 1776, where they joined several other volunteer officers.
At Le Havre, these volunteers were assembled to be transported on l'Amphitrite (16 guns), which also carried war-fighting cargo acquired by Pierre- Augustine Caron de Beaumarchais (the French agent tasked with 'secretly' smuggling such aid to the rebels). On 25 January 1777 l'Amphitrite sailed with 25 officers, 50 four-pound cannon, 14,000 muskets, 100,000 flints and other war materials. The ship arrived at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on 22 April. A few weeks later, Florimond and Conway were with George Washington's army at their Morristown camp.
Florimond would write later in his life of his observations and experiences during his service in the American Army. In general he found the landscape attractive, some of the people very friendly and some to exhibit 'Puritan' manners of extreme austerity. His accounts also record the discord among some the French volunteers in the American service. The more experienced French officers felt slighted that they were granted lower ranks that had been promised by Silas Deane. There was some resentment that Lafayette, "a mere cavalry captain in France" with no campaign experience, held a major general's rank in the American service. Florimond also detected (or so recognized when he wrote his journal later in life) that the arrogant behavior of some of the French officers irritated the American leaders, such as Washington.
Though granted the rank of captain in the Continental Army, Denis Jean Florimond, resented not being given a command. He felt further discomfort in his association with Conway. Conway's open resentment at being made only a brigadier, and not a major general, expressed itself in his general behavior, and forced a breech in his relationship with Washington. Although he, himself, was no longer close to his brother-in-law, Florimond felt uncomfortable with the situation, and eagerly sought a transfer to the northern army under General Gates.
When he arrived at Stillwater in late August 1777, Denis Jean Florimond received a rather indifferent welcome from Gates. The Frenchman was assigned as aide-major to Colonel Daniel Morgan's riflemen. Florimond would note in his later journal that he had to sleep under a self-made shelter, as General Gates denied providing him a tent. However, after a few weeks of observing the French officer's performance, Gates invited Florimond to dine in Gates' tent, as well as ordering the Frenchman a tent of his own.
During the First Battle of Bemis Heights (19 September), Florimond assumed command of a leaderless company of riflemen, and captured two British cannons. He was then given the company permanently. On 7 October, at the second Battle of Bemis Heights, Gates promoted Florimond on the battlefield to major. Less than two weeks later Burgoyne surrendered.
The American success at Saratoga led some of the French officers in the American service to anticipated France openly declaring an alliance with the Americans, and to foresee that the better 'career move' might lie back in France. Being of such a view, Florimond sought and was granted a discharge. He then sailed in January 1778 from Baltimore on a ship bound for Haiti. The ship was intercepted by a British warship. The British boarding party identified Florimond as a French military volunteer and took him prisoner. Florimond endured three weeks on one of the infamous British prison ships anchored in New York harbor, before he and six fellow prisoners made a night escaped in a small row boat. By good fortune, they approached a French ship moored in the lower harbor. The ship took them to St. Domingo. From there, Florimond managed to reach France in late July 1778.
Florimond was disappointed to receive nothing more than his old 'captaincy' back in his former regiment -- now re-named 'Conti', and stationed near Honfleur in Normandy. Through some personal connections he was appointed aide-de-camp to General comte de Rochambeau, and was sent to St. Malo, where a French force was being assembled to invade England. The invasion plan was cancelled in December 1779, and Florimond rejoined his regiment. In March 1780, Florimond was again assigned to Rochambeau's command at Brest. He was detailed to the general headquarters' infantry staff under the marquis de Chastellux. Rochambeau's force was being assembled for a secret mission [expédition particulière].
The 46 ship (convoy and escorts) departed St. Malo on 2 May 1778. Florimond was aboard the frigate Amazone (36 guns), commanded by comte de la Pérouse. On 18 June, Rochambeau opened his 'secret orders' and announced the destination and mission of the expedition. After 70 days passage, the French expedition arrived at Newport, Rhode Island, on 11 July 1780.
Florimond, being one of the few French officers who could speak English, played an important role as Rochambeau's liaison with local authorities and American military staffs. Unfortunately, his liaison skills denied Florimond from participating in the French army's march from Newport to join the allied operations north of New York city in June 1781. He was designated to remain with a 400-man Newport garrison under the command of Marquis de Choisy. Florimond was sensitive to the 'slight' and took offensive during a 10 June dinner when a fellow officer offered to purchase his horse, as Florimond "would not have need for it." Insults were exchanged and both officers were wounded in a saber duel fought that night. Three weeks later they made up. In early August, Rochambeau sent for the Newport detachment and siege train to join the allied army in Virginia. Florimond deployed to Virginia with Barras' naval squadron that transported the French siege guns from Newport. He was present for the siege of Yorktown in 1781.
In February 1782, Florimond escorted some British prisoners, released from the hospital at Gloucester, Virginia, to New York. This was part of a prisoners' exchange for some French held by the British. During the procedures, one of the British prison guards expressed that he must had met Florimond before. The 1778 'fugitive' from the New York harbor British prison ship gave an evasive answer, and returned to Williamsburg, Virginia, with the freed, but very sick, Frenchmen. Unfortunately, most of the freed Frenchmen died soon after from illness acquired on the British ships. Florimond, himself, became ill and was hospitalized for nineteen days.
Denis Jean Florimond arrived back in France in late February 1783, and was promoted to lieutenant colonel in June and awarded the Order of St. Louis in August of the same year. However, his membership into the French branch of The Society of The Cincinnati was denied because he had not held the rank of colonel or above during the American war. His highest rank in the French service was lieutenant colonel. Otherwise he met the requirment of 'three years of honorable service'. Florimond so coveted the membership that he boarded a packet for New York in late March 1784. He presented his case to the society in Philadelphia, and was awarded the society's medal by Washington on 17 May 1784. Florimond returned to France by the end of May with his prize.
For a while, Florimond's world was at its peak. He married in 1788; was granted a colonelcy of a provincial regiment in December 1788; and had a son in 1790. Then the French Revolution wreaked havoc in his life. Unable to support the rebels' cause, Florimond was one of the first to emigrate in the summer of 1791. He joined the counter-revolutionary army of the Prince de Condé. For the next ten years he was in exile, until the amnesty of 1802. He was then 50 years old. His property had been confiscated and he was financially destitute. His wife had died impoverished in France while Florimond was in exile, and he had two brothers die, one killed in the vicious Vendée resistance (1793) of the Royalists.
Florimond joined the Napoleonic army as a brigadier. However, being a royalist at heart, Florimond supported the Restoration in February 1814 and remained loyal to the Bourbon dynasty during the 'One Hundred Days'. A grateful Louis XVIII made him a marquis du Bouchet [by which title he is referred in many accounts] in December 1815, and promoted him to lieutenant general when he retired in 1816. Florimond died in Paris, 17 October 1826.
During his last years, Denis Jean Florimond de Langlois, marquis du Bouchet, reflected upon his life, so dramatically impacted by the American and the French Revolutions. He left a written testament of his strongly felt resentment in the dissolution of the ancien régime and his world of the privileged nobleman. His feelings are expressed in a three-volume manuscript begun in early 1822: 'le journal d'un émigré; ou cahier d'un etudiant en philosophie' ['The Journal of an Emigrant; or Memorial of a Student of Philosophy'].
The first volume (completed in late 1822 or early 1823) tells of Denis Jean Florimond's experience as a Frenchman in the Continental Army from Saratoga to Yorktown, and as a prisoner in New York harbor. The work provides a "rare glimpse into the personalities and motivations of French volunteers fighting for American independence,... [and] many interesting observations about life and customs in colonial America." But in it, the author also condemns the "subversive doctrines... germinated [and] nurtured" in America. Florimond's personal experiences led him to conclude that the American rebellion influenced some of the French participants into supporting the radical ideas that lay behind the "disastrous revolution of 1789" in France. The tone of Denis Jean Florimond de Langlois, marquis du Bouchet's manuscript separates him from many of the other French participants in the American war. While many historians may dismiss such a direct link in the motivating factors behind these two late eighteenth-century revolutions, the evidence of such feelings being expressed by one of the participants in both upheavals is interesting.
Marquis du Bouchet's manuscript was re-discovered in 1959 and is now part of the Rare and Manuscript collection of Cornell Library, where Dr. Robert Selig, noted historian on the American Revolution, inspected it first in 1997. Dr. Selig has provided broader public access to the manuscript in his article "A French Volunteer Who Lived to Rue America's Revolution," Colonial Williamsburg Journal (June/July 1999, pp.16-25). Dr. Selig's article is the main source for the summary on this webpage, and for the particular quotted passages therein.