1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Dumouriez, Charles François
DUMOURIEZ, CHARLES FRANÇOIS (1739-1823), French general, was born at Cambray in 1739. His father was a commissary of the royal army, and educated his son most carefully in various branches of learning. The boy continued his studies at the college of Louis-le-Grand, and in 1757 began his military career as a volunteer in the campaign of Rossbach. He received a commission for good conduct in action, and served in the later German campaigns of the Seven Years’ War with distinction; but at the peace he was retired as a captain, with a small pension and the cross of St Louis. Dumouriez then visited Italy and Corsica, Spain and Portugal, and his memorials to the duc de Choiseul on Corsican affairs led to his re-employment on the staff of the French expeditionary corps sent to the island, for which he gained the rank of lieutenant-colonel. After this he became a member of the Secret du roi, the secret service under Louis XV., where his fertility of diplomatic resource had full scope. In 1770 he was sent on a mission into Poland, where in addition to his political business he organized a Polish militia. The fall of Choiseul brought about his recall, and somewhat later he was imprisoned in the Bastille, where he spent six months, occupying himself with literary pursuits. He was then removed to Caen, where he was detained until the accession of Louis XVI.
Upon his release in 1774 he married his cousin Mlle de Broissy, but he was neglectful and unfaithful, and in 1789 the pair separated, the wife taking refuge in a convent. Meanwhile Dumouriez had devoted his attention to the internal state of his own country, and amongst the very numerous memorials which he sent in to the government was one on the defence of Normandy and its ports, which procured him in 1778 the post of commandant of Cherbourg, which he administered with much success for ten years. He became maréchal de camp in 1788; but his ambition was not satisfied, and at the outbreak of the Revolution, seeing the opportunity for carving out a career, he went to Paris, where he joined the Jacobin Club. The death of Mirabeau, to whose fortunes he had attached himself, was a great blow to him; but, promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general and commandant of Nantes, his opportunity came after the flight to Varennes, when he attracted attention by offering to march to the assistance of the Assembly. He now attached himself to the Girondist party, and on the 15th of March 1792 was appointed minister of foreign affairs. He was mainly responsible for the declaration of war against Austria (April 20), and the invasion of the Low Countries was planned by him. On the dismissal of Roland, Clavière and Servan (June 13), he took the latter’s post of minister of war, but resigned it two days later on account of the king’s refusal to come to terms with the Assembly, and went to join the army of Marshal Lückner. After the émeute of August 10 and Lafayette’s flight he was appointed to the command of the “Army of the Centre,” and at the same moment the Coalition assumed the offensive. Dumouriez acted promptly. His subordinate Kellermann repulsed the Prussians at Valmy (September 20, 1792), and he himself severely defeated the Austrians at Jemappes (November 6). Returning to Paris, he was received with a popular ovation; but he was out of sympathy with the extremists in power, his old-fashioned methodical method of conducting war exposed him to the criticism of the ardent Jacobins, and a defeat would mean the end of his career. Defeat coming to him at Neerwinden in January 1793, he ventured all on a desperate stroke. Arresting the commissaries of the Convention sent to inquire into his conduct, he handed them over to the enemy, and then attempted to persuade his troops to march on Paris and overthrow the revolutionary government. The attempt failed, and Dumouriez, with the duc de Chartres (afterwards King Louis Philippe) and his brother the duc de Montpensier, fled into the Austrian camp.
He now wandered from country to country, occupied in ceaseless intrigues with Louis XVIII., or for setting up an Orleanist monarchy, until in 1804 he settled in England, where the government conferred on him a pension of £1200 a year. He became a valuable adviser to the War Office in connexion with the struggle with Napoleon, though the extent to which this went was only known in public many years later. In 1814 and 1815 he endeavoured to procure from Louis XVIII. the bâton of a marshal of France, but was refused. He died at Turville Park, near Henley-on-Thames, on the 14th of March 1823. His memoirs were published at Hamburg in 1794. An enlarged edition, La Vie et les mémoires du Général Dumouriez, appeared at Paris in 1823. Dumouriez was also the author of a large number of political pamphlets.
See A. von Boguslawski, Das Leben des Generals Dumouriez (Berlin, 1878-1879); Revue des deux mondes (15th July, 1st and 15th August 1884); H. Welschinger, Le Roman de Dumouriez (1890); A. Chuquet, La Première Invasion, Valmy, La Retraite de Brunswick, Jemappes, La Trahison de Dumouriez (Paris, 1886-1891); A. Sorel, L’Europe et la Révolution française (1885-1892); J. Holland Rose and A. M. Broadley, Dumouriez and the Defence of England (1908); E. Daudet, La Conjuration de Pichegru et les complots royalistes du midi et du l’est, 1795-1797 (Paris, 1901).