Amédée Emmanuel François Laharpe

Amédée Emmanuel François Laharpe (1754 – 8 May 1796) fought in the armies of the First French Republic during the French Revolutionary Wars, led a division in Italy under Napoleon Bonaparte, and died after being hit by friendly fire.

Early career

Laharpe was the son of Louis-Philippe de la Harpe; he was born in Château Hutins near Rolle in Vaud Canton, Switzerland in 1754. His cousin was Frédéric-César de la Harpe. Laharpe studied at a school in Haldenstein and served several times as a mercenary in the Netherlands. When he returned home, he commanded a Vaud militia company. When the French Revolution broke out in 1789, he renounced his seigneurial privileges. He organized a party to celebrate the Storming of the Bastille in 1791. The authorities in Berne disapproved of his pro-French activities and forced Laharpe to flee to France where he joined the army.

Military career

Laharpe enjoyed a meteoric rise in the French army, becoming a chief of battalion in 1792. He distinguished himself at the Siege of Toulon, being named general of brigade in 1794. From that year, he served in the Army of Italy. His promotion to general of division came in 1795.[1]

When Bonaparte took command of the Army of Italy in March 1796, his division commanders included Laharpe, André Masséna, Pierre Augereau, and Jean Sérurier. In the Montenotte Campaign, these four divisions rapidly defeated the Austrian army and forced the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont to sue for peace. Laharpe fought at the Battle of Montenotte and the Second Battle of Dego. Thereafter, his troops guarded the east flank of the army against a possible Austrian counterattack.

With the Sardinians subdued, Bonaparte moved against Johann Beaulieu's Austrian army. After marching along the south bank of the Po River, Laharpe's division crossed near Piacenza and thrust north to turn Beaulieu's left flank. Laharpe, with his own division and the army's advance guard, defeated Anton Lipthay's Austrians at the Battle of Fombio during the day on 8 May. After this action, the French pursued as far as Codogno. That evening, another Austrian unit blundered into the French units in the area. Amid a night of confused clashes, Laharpe was accidentally shot to death by his own men as he returned to camp after a reconnoitre.[2]

He is honored on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. An inscription on column 24 reads LAHARPE.



  1. Fiebeger, p 8
  2. Chandler, p 80
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