Gouvion, Jean Baptiste

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Gouvion, Jean Baptiste

GOUVION, JEAN BAPTISTE. (1747–1792). (Chevalier de.) French volunteer. Gouvion was from Toul, the son of a conseiller du roi. He was a student-second lieutenant at the engineering school of Mézières (1769–1770) and became an engineer on 1 January 1771. While assigned at Metz, he decided to go to America. On 25 January 1777 he was given leave of absence to go and on 8 July entered the Continental army as major of engineers with rank from 13 February. On 17 November 1777 he advanced to the grade of lieutenant colonel. The fortifications at West Point were planned and executed in part by Gouvion; he also built the redoubt at Verplancks Point and made significant repairs at Fort Schuyler. He served under Duportail in the Yorktown campaign. On 16 November 1781 he was breveted colonel and granted six months' leave to France. Washington commended him in 1783 for "unquestionable proofs of bravery, activity, intelligence and skill" (Writings, 27, pp. 40-41). On 10 October 1783 he retired from the Continental army.

He resumed his military career in France, becoming an aide to the maréchal général of army operations with the rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1784 he became a chevalier in the Order of Saint Louis. He was promoted to mestre de camp in 1787. As a deputy from Paris to the Legislative Assembly in 1791, he served on its military committee. Rejoining the Army of the Center under Lafayette, he was killed in action at Maubeuge in 1792.

SEE ALSO Duportail; Fort Schuyler, New York; Lafayette, Marquis de; Verplanck's Point.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Contenson, Ludovic de. La Société des Cincinnati de France et la Guerre d'Amérique. Paris: Editions Auguste Picard, 1934.

Digne, M. "Gouvion." In Dictionnaire de biographie française. Edited by J. Balteau et al. Vol. 16. Paris: Librairie Letouzey et Ané, 1985

Ford, Worthington C. et al. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1904–1937.

Rice, Howard C., Jr., and Anne S. K. Brown, eds. and trans. The American Campaigns of Rochambeau's Army: 1780, 1781, 1782, 1783. 2 vols. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1972.

Smith, Paul H. et al., eds. Letters of Delegates of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1976–2000.

Washington, George. Writings of George Washington. Edited by John C. Fitzpatrick. 39 vols. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1931–1944.

                              revised by Robert Rhodes Crout

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