Lauzun, Armand Louis de Gontaut, Duc de Biron

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Lauzun, Armand Louis de Gontaut, Duc de Biron

LAUZUN, ARMAND LOUIS DE GONTAUT, DUC DE BIRON. (1747–1793). French officer. Lauzun was an ensign in the French Guards when he entered service in 1761, and was promoted to lieutenant in 1764, then to captain in 1767. He took part in the campaign against Corsica in 1769 and was made a chevalier in the Order of St. Louis. He was promoted to colonel of the Royal Legion (1774), lieutenant mestre de camp of the Royal-Dragoons Regiment (1776), colonel of the Corps of Foreign Volunteers in the navy (1778), and brigadier of the Dragoons.

In 1779 Lauzun commanded an expedition that seized Senegal. In 1780 he was appointed colonel of a Legion of Foreign Volunteers in Rochambeau's army (led by Jean Baptist Donatien de Vimeur, Comte du Rochambeau). Created by royal ordinance of 5 March 1780 and known as "Lauzun's Legion," it was composed of German, Polish, and Irish recruits. Lauzun routed General Banastre Tarleton at Gloucester Neck (Virginia) on 3 October 1781; and was commended by the Virginia delegation to the Congress. Lauzun was selected to carry news of the Yorktown victory to France, but on his return to America his ship was almost captured by a British vessel. Rochambeau handed over the French command in America to Lauzun. General George Washington was impressed by his "politeness, zeal and attention" and complimented him repeatedly. In fact, Washington had hoped that Lauzun would serve in the American peacetime army after the war, but he was recalled to France in 1783 and promoted to mestre de camp. In 1788 he became commander of a cavalry brigade. He served in 1789 as a deputy of the nobles of Le Quercy to the Estates General, was promoted to lieutenant general in 1792, to commander in chief of the army of the Rhine (9 July), the army of Italy (25 December), and the army of the Coasts of La Rochelle (15 May 1793). He was arrested and condemned on 30 December and executed the following day. His name appears on the south side of the Arc de Triomphe. His memoirs are frequently cited by historians of the American Revolution.

SEE ALSO Gloucester, Virginia.


Biron, R. de Gontaut. Le Duc de Lauzun. Paris: Plon, 1937.

Rice, Howard C., 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.

                    revised by Robert Rhodes Crout

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Lauzun, Armand Louis de Gontaut, Duc de Biron

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