Empire marshal François Christophe Kellermann or de Kellermann, 1st Duc de Valmy (28 May 1735 – 23 September 1820) was a French military commander, later the Général d'Armée, and a Marshal of France. Marshal Kellermann served in varying roles throughout the entirety of two epochal conflicts, the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars.
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He came from a Saxon family, which was long settled in Strasbourg and ennobled. He entered the French army as a volunteer, and served in the Seven Years' War and in Louis XV's Polish expedition of 1771, on returning from which he was made a lieutenant-colonel. He became brigadier in 1784, and in the following year marechal-de-camp.
François was the only son of two Germans living in the French department of Alsace. His father was François de Kellermann and his mother baroness Marie von Dürr.
In 1789 Kellermann enthusiastically embraced the cause of the French Revolution, and in 1791 became general of the army in Alsace. In April 1792 he was made a lieutenant-general, and in August of the same year there came to him the opportunity of his lifetime. He rose to the occasion, and his victory of Valmy over the Prussians, in Goethe's words, "opened a new era in the history of the world". Napoleon later commented that: "I think I'm the boldest general that ever lived, but I daren't take post on that ridge with windmill at Valmy (where Kellermann took post)in 1793."
Transferred to the army on the Moselle, Kellermann was accused by General Custine of neglecting to support his operations on the Rhine; but he was acquitted at the bar of the National Convention in Paris, and placed at the head of the army of the Alps and of Italy, in which position he showed himself a careful commander and excellent administrator.
Shortly afterwards he received instructions to reduce Lyon, then in revolt against the Convention, but shortly after the surrender he was imprisoned in Paris for thirteen months. Once more honourably acquitted, he was reinstated in his command, and did good service in maintaining the south-eastern border against the Austrians until his army was merged into that of General Bonaparte in Italy.
Kellermann was then sixty-two years of age, still physically equal to his work, but the young generals who had come to the front in the previous two years represented the new spirit and the new art of war, and Kellermann's active career came to an end. But the hero of Valmy was never forgotten. When Napoleon came to power Kellermann was named successively senator (1800), president of the Senate (1801), honorary Marshal of France (19 May 1804), and title of Duke of Valmy (1808). He was frequently employed in the administration of the army, the control of the line of communications, and the command of reserve troops, and his long and wide experience made him one of Napoleon's most valuable assistants. In 1814 he voted for the deposition of the emperor and became a peer under the royal government of Louis XVIII. After the "Hundred Days" he sat in the Chamber of Peers and voted with the Liberals.
Tomb of Kellermann in Père Lachaise cemetery
Marshal Kellermann died in Paris on 23 September 1820, and is buried in Père Lachaise cemetery.
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