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First Name: Louis

Last Name: Duportail

Birthplace: Orleans, FRA

Gender: Male

Branch: Continental Army (1775 - 1784)

Middle Name: Lebegue

Date of Birth: 1743

Date of Death: 1802

Rank: Major General

Years Served:
Louis Lebègue Duportail

•  Revolutionary War (1775 - 1783)


Louis Lebègue Duportail
Major General (Brevet), Continental Army

Louis Lebègue Duportail was born near Orléans, France, in 1743. He graduated from the Royal Engineer School in Mézières, France, as a qualified Engineer Officer in 1765. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Corps of Engineers, Duportail was secretly sent to America in March 1777 to serve in Washington's Continental Army under an agreement between Benjamin Franklin and the government of King Louis XVI of France. He was appointed Colonel and Commander of all Engineers in the Continental Army, July 1777; Brigadier General, 17 November 1777; Commander, Corps of Engineers, May 1779; and Major General (Brevet), 16 November 1781. He was captured by the British along with the American Army at Charleston, SC, in May 1780.

Duportail participated in fortifications planning from Boston, MA, to Charleston, SC, and helped General George Washington evolve the primarily-defensive military strategy that wore down the British Army. He also directed the construction of siege works at the Battle of Yorktown, site of the decisive American victory of the Revolutionary War.

Returning to France in October 1783, Duportail became an Infantry Officer and, in 1788, a Field Marshal. He served as France's Minister of War from 16 November 1790 through 7 December 1791, during the beginning of the French Revolution, and promoted military reforms. Forced into hiding by radical Jacobins, he escaped to America and bought a farm near Valley Forge, PA. He lived there until 1802, when he attempted to return to France.


Louis Lebègue Duportail died at sea while returning to France in 1802. He was buried at sea.

Honoree ID: 2445   Created by: MHOH




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