Jacques-Philippe Bonnaud, 1757-1797

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Jacques-Philippe Bonnaud (1757-1796) was a French general of the War of the First Coalition who served with the Army of the North and the Army of the Sambre-and-Meuse, before dying of wounds suffered at the combat of Giessen. Bonnaud was born in Bras (Yar) on 11 September 1757. He joined the army in February 1776 as a dragoon in the Dauphinoise legion, and by 17 June 1792 he had been promoted to captain.

Bonnaud was promoted to brigadier general on 28 January 1794 and was sent to join the Army of the North. He took part in the invasion of maritime Flanders which made up the left wing of Carnot's plan for 1794. At the battle of Willems (10 May 1794) he commanded the largest French column, which attacked along the road from Lille to Tournai. His attack failed, but the French infantry stood up to a number of cavalry charges, demonstrating their increasing level of training. Bonnaud's division missed the battle of Courtrai (11 May 1794), as it was posted at Sainghin, ten miles to the west of the Allied left.

By the time of the battle of Tourcoing (17-18 May 1794) Bonnaud had not been moved, but the battlefield had expanded, and he was now part of the French right wing. On the second day of the battle Bonnaud attacked north-east towards Lannoy and Roubaix, and came close to trapping the British contingent in the Allied army (Duke of York), but the British managed to fight their way out. During the French attack at Tournai (22 May 1794) Bonnaud's division took part in the unsuccessful attack on the Allied left. The Allied position in the Austrian Netherlands began to collapse after the French victory at Fleurus. This freed the Army of the North to advance into Holland, and on 27 December 1794 Bonnaud forced his way through the lines of Breda.

Bonnaud was next sent to the Vendée to join Hoche, and then to the Army of the Sambre-and-Meuse, where he commanded Jourdan's cavalry during his campaign in Germany in 1796. At the combat of Forchhiem (7 August 1796) he advanced around the Austrian left forcing the Austrians to retreat. At the combat of Wolfring (20 August 1796) he advanced to the Naab opposite Schwandorf, forcing the Austrians to retreat from Wolfring.

This was the last success during Jourdan's invasion of Germany. He was forced to retreat by the Archduke Charles, and by mid September was back on the Rhine. Bonnaud's cavalry were amongst the first French troups to encounter the Archduke's troops during the battle of Amberg (24 August 1796), when they were pushed back to the town. His cavalry was also heavily involved at Würzburg (3 September 1796) where they were eventually defeated by a much larger force of Austrian cavalry, in what was the turning point of the battle.

Bonnaud fought a successful action at Giessen (16 September 1796), but his thigh bone was broken by a gunshot during the fighting, and he died of his wounds at Bonn on 30 March 1797.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (23 February 2009), Jacques-Philippe Bonnaud, 1757-1797 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/people_bonnaud.html

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