Kilmaine, Charles Edward Saul Jennings (DNB00)


KILMAINE, CHARLES EDWARD SAUL JENNINGS (1751–1799), general in the French army, was born at Dublin 19 Oct. 1751, accompanied his father, whose surname was Jennings, at eleven years of age to France, and took the name of Kilmaine from a village in Mayo where a branch of the Jennings family had resided. He entered the army as a cavalry officer in 1774, serving in the American war of independence under Rochambeau, and in Senegal under Biron. In August 1791, as a retired captain, he took the civic oath and, being recalled to active service, became brigadier-general in March 1793 and lieutenant-general in the following May. He commanded the vanguard in the Ardennes and Flanders, distinguished himself at Jemappes, and was reported by the convention commissaries as brave, active, and dashing, though they did not think it prudent to allow an Irishman a command-in-chief. ‘He is a foreigner,’ they said; ‘he is Irish; republicanism does not easily penetrate such skulls.’ He was, however, recommended by Dubois-Dubay, though unsuccessfully, for the command in Vendée, as the only general whose ability and energy could be relied on. In August 1793 he temporarily succeeded Custine, against whom he gave evidence before the revolutionary tribunal; but being forced to retreat before the superior forces of the Duke of York, he was superseded, and was imprisoned for eighteen months. Susan Kilmaine, who was also imprisoned, was apparently his wife. In 1795 he helped to defend the convention against the Prairial insurgents. In 1796 he served in Italy under Bonaparte, and by establishing a second blockade contributed to the reduction of Mantua. Summoned to Paris to discuss a descent on Ireland, he was appointed, in the absence of Desaix, to the temporary command of the so-called army of England. On this expedition being abandoned, he had, in June 1798, the command of the territorial (inland) troops, and was for a time general-in-chief in Switzerland, but, not giving satisfaction in that capacity, was superseded by Masséna. He returned to Paris, where he died 15 Dec. 1799. His great failing was rapacity.

[Moniteur, 28 Nov. 1799; Webb's Compendium of Irish Biography; Fieffé's Hist. des Troupes Etrangères, ii. 62, Paris, 1854; Alger's Englishmen in French Revolution, pp. 152–3.]

J. G. A.