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Louis Lebègue Duportail facts for kids

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Louis Lebègue de Presle Duportail
Duportail exb.jpg
1st Minister of War
In office
25 May 1791 – 7 December 1791
Monarch Louis XVI
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by Louis de Narbonne-Lara
41st Secretary of State for War
In office
16 November 1790 – 25 May 1791
Monarch Louis XVI
Preceded by Jean-Frédéric de la Tour du Pin-Gouvernet
Succeeded by Office abolished
2nd Chief of Engineers
In office
22 July 1777 – 10 October 1783
Preceded by Rufus Putnam
Succeeded by Stephen Rochefontaine
Personal details
Born (1743-05-14)14 May 1743
Pithiviers, Kingdom of France
Died 12 August 1802(1802-08-12) (aged 59)
Military service
Allegiance  Kingdom of France
 United States
Branch/service French Army, US Army
Years of service 1765–1790
Rank Major general
Battles/wars American Revolutionary War

Louis Antoine Jean Le Bègue de Presle Duportail ( 14 May 1743 – 12 August 1802) was a French military leader who served as a volunteer and the chief engineer in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He also served as the last French Secretary of State for War and first Minister of War during the beginning of the French Revolution.

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, November 17, 1777; commander, Corps of Engineers, May 1779; and major general (Brevet), November 16, 1781.

Duportail participated in fortifications planning from Boston, Massachusetts to Charleston, South Carolina, where he was captured following the surrender of the city in May 1780, and helped Washington evolve the primarily defensive military strategy that wore down the British Army. Subsequently exchanged, he also directed the construction of siege works at the Battle of Yorktown, site of the decisive Franco-American victory of the Revolutionary War. During the encampment at Valley Forge in late-1777 and early-1778, his headquarters was at Cressbrook Farm.

Returning to France in October 1783, Duportail became an infantry officer and in 1788 a Marechal-de-Camp (Brigadier General). He served as France's minister of war from November 16, 1790, through December 7, 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, Pennsylvania. He lived there until 1802, when he died at sea while attempting to return to France.

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