Preudhomme de Borre, Philippe Hubert, Chevalier de

views updated

Preudhomme de Borre, Philippe Hubert, Chevalier de

PREUDHOMME DE BORRE, PHILIPPE HUBERT, CHEVALIER DE. (1717–1790 or 1791). Continental general. France. Entering the French army as a volunteer on the rolls of the Regiment of Champagne in 1740, he became sous lieutenant in 1741, lieutenant in 1742, and captain of a cavalry regiment (in Brittany, later Burgundy) in 1744. During the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–1748), he took part in several campaigns. In June 1745 he received four saber strokes on the head and one on the wrist; one hand was disabled permanently. He was deactivated in 1749. Promoted to lieutenant colonel, he organized a regiment from Liège (his birthplace) and was made a chevalier in the Order of Saint Louis in 1757. When his unit was reorganized in 1762, Borre was reassigned in grade to the Metz garrison and again deactivated later that year.

With a commission of brigadier general and official authority to go to America, Borre sailed from Le Havre on 14 December 1776 with Coudray and a large French contingent aboard the Amphitrite, but Coudray forced him off the ship. Borre changed to the Mercure and reached Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on 17 March. Reporting to Washington on 17 May, he was given a commission as brigadier general with date of rank from 1 December 1776. On 21 May he took command at Princeton of a brigade composed of Baron d'Arendt's German battalion and the Second, Fourth, and Sixth Maryland Continental Regiments and served in New Jersey during the summer of 1777. Borre drew Washington's ire when he took matters into his own hands and hanged a Tory civilian. In a blistering letter of 3 August, Washington ordered him not to take such initiative: "The temper of the Americans … will not countenance proceedings of this nature," the commander in chief wrote. Borre then tried and removed Major Thomas Mullens for insubordination, which Washington eventually supported. Borre commanded a brigade in the Staten Island raid of Sullivan on 22 August and at Brandywine on 11 September 1777. When Washington called for a court of inquiry on his behavior at Brandywine, Congress recalled him from the army on 13 September. The next day he offered his resignation, which was accepted. Borre later complained to Congress not only that he had been condemned without a hearing but that he deserved promotion to major general; Congress, however, rejected his request on 4 October. Richard Henry Lee was of the opinion that Congress's treatment of Borre was unfair.

Sailing from Charleston on 20 January 1779, the chevalier carried dispatches to d'Estaing at Cap Français in Saint Domingue. He reembarked on the Andromaque on 15 May, witnessed the fight in which this ship sank the British privateer Tartar, and reached Brest on 5 July. He received the rank of brigadier general in the French army on 1 March 1780. As early as 5 April, action was initiated to retire him for physical disability.


Bodinier, André. Dictionnaire des officiers de l'armée royale qui ont combattu aux Etats-Unis pendant la guerre d'Indépendance, 1776–1783. Vincennes, France: Service historique de l'armée, 1982.

Ford, Worthington C. et al., eds. 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, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1976–2000.

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

                         revised by Robert Rhodes Crout