Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Général ARTHUR COMTE DE DILLON (1750-1794).jpg

14 April 1794 General Arthur Dillon, a French soldier of Irish descent, was guillotined in Paris on this day. The Dillon family were amongst the most famous of the ‘Wild Geese’ who served in the armies of France in the 17th and 18th Centuries. He was born in 1750 and had a distinguished military career, seeing action in the West Indies and in the American Revolutionary War.

In 1778, he sailed with his regiment to the Caribbean to campaign against Britain. He served at Grenada; Savannah, Georgia (where he was promoted to brigadier); and elsewhere. After the Treaty of Paris, he became governor of Tobago. His first wife having died, he married a wealthy French Creole widow from Martinique, Laure de Girardin de Montgérald, the Comtesse de la Touche, by whom he had six children. His daughter Fanny married General Bertrand and was with Napoleon on Elba and St Helena.

 He was briefly Governor of the Caribbean island of St Kitts as well as Tobago. He was the representative of the island of Martinique in the National Assembly.

In June 1792 he received command of the Army of the North but fell into political disfavour with the Jacobins and was reduced to a subordinate position where he distinguished himself. However he compromised his security by offering the Austrians a chance to withdraw unhindered and was arrested and imprisoned. He was eventually accused of being involved in a plot behind bars called the Luxembourg Prison Plot. He was executed with 20 others including his intimate friends Lucile Desmoulines whose own husband was executed just days before.  In his final moments he mounted the scaffold shouting, "Vive le roi! (Long live the king)"

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