Montgéry, Jacques-Philippe M

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(b. Paris, France, 25 July 1781; d. Paris, 9 September 1839)

military technology.

Montgéry began his career as a seaman in the French navy in 1794. Commissioned midshipman second class in 1798, he rose to the rank of captain (1828). His commands included the gunboat Enflammée (1803) and the corvettes Émulation (1816–1818) and Prudente (1819–1820). In 1820 he made a military and naval tour of America. It was Montgéry’s long-standing position as a member of the Conseil des Travaux de la Marine, however, that afforded him the opportunity to undertake his extensive scientific and military studies.

Montgéry was an analytical scientific chronicler and a prolific writer. He suggested the adoption of new weapons, including a flamethrower, the use of military railroads, and a rocket-firing submarine called L’invisible. A strong advocate of steamships, ironclads, mines, torpedoes, and rockets, he examined the Steam Battery and submarines of Robert Fulton and subsequently wrote extensively on the historical development of all phases of underwater warfare and exploration. He also wrote on Fulton’s life and made elaborate critiques of his experiments.

Montgéry’s investigations of pyrotechnics led him to do research into the war rockets of William Congreve and to the production of what may be the first documented history of rocketry, Traité des fusées de guerre (1825). Known throughout Europe, it became the standard work on the subject, appeared in serial form in several official journals, and was republished in 1841. Montgéry’s coverage was exhaustive and analytical, particularly in his treatment of rocket physics.

Montgéry also wrote essays on the aeolipile designed by Hero of Alexandria (circa A.D. 60) and discussed in his Pneumatica; the origin of cannon shells; the development of whaling implements; and the rise of industrial education in England.

Montgéry’s Traité des fusées earned him membership in the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (1825) and in other learned societies. He was also an officer of the Légion d’Honneur, Knight of Saint-Louis, and Knight of the Sword of Sweden. He never married.


I. Original Works. A bibliography of Montgéry’s work is found in the Catalogue général des Livres Imprimés de la Bibliothèque nationale, 118 (1933), 417–419, Traité des fusées de guerre (Paris, 1825) was also printed in part or in whole in Journal des sciences militaires, 1 (1825), 260–286; Bulletin des sciences militaires, 1 (1824), 368–380; and Annales maritimes et coloniales, 26 , pt. 2 (1825), 565–741; and was republished in J. Corréard, ed., Histoire des fusées de guerre, I (Paris, 1841), 77–288. The work was reviewed at length in Revue encyclopédique, 28 (Dec. 1825), 699–711; and Allgemeine Militär-Zeitung, 1 (12 July 1826), 25–28; (5 July 1826), 20–23; (7 Mar. 1827), 148–151.

Other works include Régles de pointage à bord des vaisseaux (Paris, 1816, 1828); Mémoire sur les mines flottantes (Paris, 1819); Mémoire sur les navires en fer (Paris, 1824); Notice sur la navigation et sous-marines (Paris, n.d.); Notice sur la vie et les travaux de Robert Fulton (Paris, 1825); Observations relatives aux ouvrages de M. Paixhans (Paris, n.d.); and Réflexions sur quelques institutions … sur … les progrés de l’industrie (Paris,n.d.). Montgéry was also a regular contributor to the journals cited above.

II. Secondary Literature. See Howard I. Chapelle, Fulton’s “Steam Battery": Blockship and Catamaran, Museum of History and Technology Paper no. 39 (Washington, D.C., 1964), 147,149,150–152, 159; F. Forest and H. Noalhat, Les bateaux sous-marins (Paris, 1900), 21–23; H. J. Paixhans, Nouvelle force maritime et application de cette force à quelques parties du service de l’armée de terre (Paris, 1822), 6–7, 41, 136, 294; G. L. Pesce, La navigation sous-marine (Paris, 1906), 7, 15, 242–254; A. Pralon, Les fusées de guerre (Paris, 1883), 46–48; and [Louis Auguste Victor Vincent] Susane, Les fusées de guerre (Metz, 1863), 48–49.

Frank H. Winter

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