Lazarc Hoche, a French soldier, born at Montreuil, a suburb of Versailles, June 25,1768, died Sept. 18, 1797. He was the son of a poor workman, enlisted in the army at the age of 16, and on the breaking out of the revolution was sergeant in the regiment of gardes fran-caises. Being promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 1792, he distinguished himself at the siege of Thionville and in the battle of Neerwinden. After the defection of Dumouriez he was charged with want of patriotism, and arrested; but a plan of a campaign which he was devising being sent to the committee of public safety, Carnot not only liberated him from arrest, but at once promoted him to the rank of brigadier general. He defended Dunkirk against the duke of York, and received the chief command of the army on the Moselle. He was not successful in his first encounters with the duke of Brunswick, and consequently joined Pichegru, who was at the head of the army on the Rhine; he now defeated the Aus-trians at Weissenburg, and after taking Ger-mersheim, Spire, and Worms, forced them to evacuate Alsace in 1793. He was suspected by Marat, who caused him to be arrested and brought to Paris; but on the revolution of the 9th Thermidor he was placed in command of one of the three armies which were to suppress royalist insurrections, routed the Vende-ans, and in July, 1795, defeated the royalists, who had landed on the peninsula of Quibe-ron, with the assistance of an English squadron.
The committee of public safety then gave him the entire control of the troops along the Atlantic coast. He now forced or persuaded the Vendeans into submission, pursued their chiefs with unrelenting activity, took Cha-rette and Stoffiet prisoners, and put an end to the civil war. On Dec. 16, 1796, he sailed from Brest with a fleet carrying 18,000 soldiers, to invade Ireland; but stormy weather scattered his ships. On his return he received the command of the army of the Sambre and Meuse, and made preparations for a great campaign. He crossed the Rhine April 18. 1797, defeated the Austrians in three battles, and reached "Wetzlar before learning of the armistice of Leoben. He now resumed his plans for the invasion of Ireland, and meanwhile aided the revolution of the 18th Fructidor with a part of his troops and with 30,000 francs belonging to his wife; and upon its success the army lately under Moreau was added to his own. With these united forces, which assumed the name of the "army of Germany," he might have accomplished his vast schemes, but he died suddenly. A post-mortem examination showed that he had been poisoned, but by whom or for what object has never been ascertained.
His death was celebrated by a great funeral solemnity in the Champ de Mars, and a statue of him was erected on the spot where he crossed the Rhine. His name was given to a square in Versailles, which contains a bronze statue of him erected in 1832. A life of Hoche, edited from original documents by Du Chatellier, was published at Paris in 1872.