François-Joseph d'Offenstein

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François-Joseph Offenstein
Born 27 July 1760
Erstein, Alsace, France
Died 27 September 1837(1837-09-27) (aged 77)
Mouzay, Meuse, France
Allegiance Flag of France.svg French Army
Years of service 1777 - 1816
Rank Major General (Revolutionary Wars)
Brigadier General (First Empire)
Battles/wars French Revolutionary Wars
French Directory
French Consulate
First French Empire
Awards Officer of the Legion of Honor
Baron of the First French Empire

François-Joseph d'Offenstein (27 July 1760 – 27 September 1837), Baron of the Ist Empire, was a French general and military commander during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

Biography[edit]

Offenstein was born in Erstein, French Alsace, on July 27, 1760 to the butcher François-Joseph Offenstein and Catherine Reibel, he grew up in Alsace during the French Ancien Régime before joining the royal army at the age of 16 in 1777.

Major in 1790, then Lieutenant Colonel two years later, he was nominated at age 33 in July 1793 Brigadier General and thanks to his political support, he climbed to the rank of Major General two months later to become the Commandant in chief of Neuf-Brisach, nevertheless, a year later, in 1794, he had been relieved of his command by the leaders of Hentz and Goujon for having confused on a map a river with a road when he was assigned with a division of 18.000 men inside the Army of Moselle. We may easily explain this strategic mistake by the fact his education was botched: indeed, although he was a Major General, he was not able to read correctly. That ignorance in some areas led him to be the abiding source of jokes (even if they were most of the time exaggerated) at the general staff. Despite it, Offenstein considered himself as a soldier and just a soldier. He never disputed a direct order.[citation needed] Further to his demotion, he quit the Army. In 1796 when he was called back, downgraded to the rank of Brigadier Chief.[citation needed]

On July 15, 1804, Napoleon I of France made him Officer de la Legion of Honor during the first awards ceremony of the Legion of Honor at the Invalides of Paris for his participation to nearly all the battles of the Rhine during the French Revolutionary Wars and many fights during the French Consulate.

In 1806, he joined the Grande Armée.

Thanks to his military experience and his faithfulness in France, Napoleon, who liked his officer qualities, nominated him again, in 1807, at the rank of Brigadier General of the Grande Armée after his heroic acts during the battle of Heilsberg. From 1807, he worked at the general-staff with the Marshal Brune

On June 26, 1809, Napoleon gave him the title of Baron of the first Empire. In that way, in 1809, his family name "Offenstein" became "d'Offenstein"

Offenstein died in 1837 at age 77 during the July Monarchy.


Offenstein got married in 1803 with Marie Barbe Lamarcq and got two son : Guillaume François (1804–1865) and Eugène Auguste (1808–1863)

Offenstein has a family connection with the Pr. Paul Rohmer (1876–1977), a French physician considered as the father of the modern paediatrics in the east corner of France.

Honour & Homage[edit]

Service record[edit]

During the Ancien Régime in France[edit]

  • 03.10th.1777 : Joins the "Régiment Royal Deux-Pont dragons", but resigns on 12.23rd.1786
  • 01.01st.1787 : Re-enlists as grenadier in the "Régiment d'Alsace-infanterie"

During the French Revolutionary Wars[edit]

  • 06.14th.1790 : Major in the National Guard of Erstein
  • 10.02nd.1791 : Elected as Lieutenant Colonel in the 1st battalion of voluntaries of the Bas-Rhin
  • 1792 : Elected as Lieutenant Colonel in the 1st battalion of voluntaries of the Moselle
  • 1793 : Elected as Lieutenant Colonel in the 1st battalion of voluntaries of the Rhine
  • 07.30th.1793 : Nominated Brigadier General
  • 09.22nd.1793 : Nominated Major General
  • 10.04th.1793 : Nominated Commandant in chief of Neuf-Brisach
  • 05.09th.1794 : Assigned with a division of 18.000 men inside the Army of Moselle. He served in Saarlouis before occupied Trèves in Germany. He has been destituted by the leaders of Hentz and Goujon for having confused on a map a river with a road. We have to notice that he has been given the rank of Major General despite the fact he was not able to read correctly. Further to that event, he has been unfited to service, nevertheless, in 1796, he has been called back by the army thanks to his military experience and his faithfulness in France.

During the French Directory[edit]

During the French Consulate[edit]

During the First French Empire[edit]

During the first Bourbon Restoration[edit]

  • 24th.12.1814 : Retired temporarily from the Army

During the Hundred Days[edit]

  • 05.01st.1815 : Back in the Army, he was nominated Commandement of two regiments of lancers from the National Guard of the Haut-Rhin and the Bas-Rhin, but after having scoffed at Napoleon, he was relieved from his commandement after only 10 days[citation needed]
  • 05.11th.1815 : Sent to Sélestat

During the second Bourbon Restoration[edit]

  • 07.06th.1816 : Retired definitely from the Army even if he asked to rejoin the army

Sources[edit]

  • NDBA - Nouveau Dictionnaire de biographie alsacienne