In 1784 he ran away from school to enlist in the artillery, but was brought back and sent to study law at Lyons and Dijon. In 1791 he joined the volunteers of the Ain, and was elected by his comrades successively corporal and sergeant. In January 1792 he became sub-lieutenant, and in November lieutenant, having in the meantime experienced his first campaign with the army of Italy.
In 1793 he distinguished himself by the brilliant defence of a redoubt at the Col di Tenda, with only thirty men against a battalion of the enemy. Wounded and made prisoner in this affair, Joubert was released on parole by the Austrian commander-in-chief, Devins, soon afterwards. In 1794 he was again actively engaged, and in 1795 he rendered such conspicuous service as to be made general of brigade. In the campaign of 1796 the young general commanded a brigade under Augereau, and soon attracted the special attention of Bonaparte, who caused him to be made a general of division in December 1796, and repeatedly selected him for the command of important detachments. Thus he was in charge of the retaining force at the battle of Rivoli, and in the campaign of 1799 (invasion of Austria) he commanded the detached left wing of Bonaparte's army in the Tirol, and fought his way through the mountains to rejoin his chief in Styria.
He subsequently held various commands in the Netherlands, on the Rhine and in Italy, where up to January 1799 he served as commander in chief. Resigning the post in consequence of a dispute with the civil authorities, Joubert returned to France and married (June 1799) Mlle de Montholon. But he was almost immediately summoned to the field again. He took over the command in Italy from Moreau about the middle of July 1799, but he persuaded his predecessor to remain at the front and was largely guided by his advice. The odds against the French troops in the disastrous campaign of 1799 were too heavy.
Joubert and Moreau were quickly compelled to give battle by their great antagonist Suvorov. The battle of Novi was disastrous to the French arms, not merely because it was a defeat, but above all because Joubert himself was amongst the first to fall (August 15, 1799).
Joubert died before it could be shown whether his genius was of the first rank, but he was at any rate marked out as a future great captain by the Napoleon himself, and his countrymen intuitively associated him with Hoche and Marceau as a great leader whose early death disappointed their highest hopes. After the battle his remains were brought to Toulon and buried in Fort La Malgue, and the revolutionary government paid tribute to his memory by a ceremony of public mourning (16 September 1799). A monument to Joubert at Bourg was razed by order of Louis XVIII, but another memorial was afterwards erected at Pont de Vaux.
See Guilbert, Notice sur la vie de B. C. Joubert; Chevrier, Le Général Joubert d'après sa correspondance (2nd ed. 1884).
This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.