Jean Erdman, Baron Dieskau

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Jean Erdman
Baron Dieskau
Dresden, Saxony
Died8 September 1767 (aged 65–66)
Allegiance Kingdom of France
Service/branchFrench Army
Years of service1733–1755
RankMajor General
Battles/warsWar of the Austrian Succession
Seven Years' War
AwardsOrder of Saint Louis

Jean Erdman, Baron Dieskau or Jean-Armand Dieskau, Baron de Dieskau or Ludwig August von Dieskau (1701 – 8 September 1767) was a German-born soldier remembered mostly as a French general and commander in America for a part of the French and Indian War.


He was the aide-de-camp of Marshal Maurice de Saxe and visited St. Petersburg in that officer's interest in 1741. He also served in the Netherlands and in 1748 became major general of infantry and commander of Brest. He was sent to Canada on 20 February 1755 as the head of French troops to conduct the campaign against the British.[1]

His forces comprised 600 Canadians, the same number of Indians, and 200 regular French troops. He ascended Lake Champlain to its head, designing to attack Fort Edward, but the guides took the road to Lake George by mistake[citation needed]. On 8 September, he was informed by scouts that a detachment of 1,000 men under Colonel Ephraim Williams of Massachusetts, had been sent against him, and disposing his men in ambush in the form of a horseshoe, he surprised the enemy and put it to flight.[1]

Benjamin West's depiction of William Johnson sparing Baron Dieskau's life after the Battle of Lake George.

After pursuing their opponents to the British camp, the Indians halted; the Canadians became alarmed; and Dieskau, with his 200 regulars, was forced to sustain the fight. For five hours, the New England militia "kept up the most violent fire that had yet been known in America." Almost all the French regulars perished[dubious ][citation needed], and Dieskau himself was wounded three times but refused to retire and seated himself on a stump exposed to the bullets. Finally, seeing a soldier approaching as if to capture him, Dieskau put his hand into his pocket for his watch, which he intended to give to his captor, but the man, supposing that he was drawing a pistol, shot him and inflicted a wound that ultimately caused Dieskau's death over a decade later.[1]

The event became known as the Battle of Lake George. Dieskau was kept a prisoner until 1763, when he was exchanged and returned to France, where he was given a pension.[1] Command in Canada passed to Louis-Joseph de Montcalm.



  • Turnbull, J.R. (1974). "Dieskau, Jean Armand, Baron de Dieskau". In Halpenny, Francess G (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Vol. III (1741–1770) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  • Wilson, J. G.; Fiske, J., eds. (1900). "Dieskau, Jean Erdman" . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.

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