Louis-Joseph Oudart, a Downright Scoundrel
Louis-Joseph Oudart (Houdard) was born on November 22, 1788 in Versailles, to Joseph Oudart and Marie Joseph Flahaut. He served as an infantry corporal in Napoleon’s Grande Armée.
Oudart became a chevalier of the Legion of Honour on October 3, 1814, during the First Restoration. It’s not clear what he did during Napoleon’s brief return to power in 1815, but he remained loyal enough to King Louis XVIII to obtain the commission of sub-lieutenant during the Second Restoration. Unfortunately, Oudart used his new position to steal tableware from the officers’ mess, as well as items from his corps’s master tailor. He was discharged without a pension on June 4, 1817. (1)
On September 18, 1817 Oudart sailed from Antwerp for New York, arriving in November. He was on the same ship as General Antoine Rigaud and Rigaud’s children, Narcisse and Antonia. Oudart accompanied the Rigauds to Philadelphia, then joined them on the Huntress as they set off to found the Champ d’Asile, an ill-fated colony of ex-Bonapartists in Texas (for details, see my post about the Rigauds).
General Charles Lallemand organized the officers at Champ d’Asile into three companies, called cohorts. Oudart was in the same cohort as Louis Lauret – thus their familiarity with each other in Napoleon in America. Narcisse Rigaud was also in this cohort. (2)
After the collapse of the Champ d’Asile in 1818, Oudart returned to France. In 1821 the police investigated him in regard to several thefts. He was then living in Paris in a house of prostitution, where it was said “he played a disgraceful role.” (3)
During the July Revolution of 1830, Oudart led some 500 insurgents in the taking of the Louvre, for which he regained his commission as a sub-lieutenant. Oudart’s previous record was so bad, however, that this commission was later revoked and he had to return to civilian life. (4) He settled in Lille and petitioned to be reinstated, without success. At some point he married a woman named Augustine Vitoux. They had at least one daughter, Joséphine Adélaïde Josephe, who was listed as Oudart’s sole heir (and still a minor) when he died on May 10, 1839 at Houplin, near Lille in northeast France. Louis-Joseph Oudart was 50 years old.
Kent Gardien writes:
Champ d’Asile snared people of all qualities – those of the best, like the Rigauds…; men of a more usual mixture of strength and weakness, such as Lauret…; and downright scoundrels such as Oudart. (5)
If you’re curious about what happened to other French veterans after the Battle of Waterloo, see my post about demi-soldes, the half-pay Napoleonic War veterans.
You might also enjoy:
General Charles Lallemand: Invader of Texas
General Jean Joseph Amable Humbert: Soldier, Lothario, Filibuster
What happened to the Bonapartists in America? The story of Louis Lauret
What did Americans think of the Napoleonic exiles?
- Kent Gardien, “Take Pity on our Glory: Men of Champ d’Asile,” The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Vol. 87, No. 3 (Jan. 1984), p. 246.
- Hartmann and Millard, Le Texas, ou Notice historique sur le Champ-d’Asile (Paris, 1819), p. 55.
- Gardien, “Take Pity on our Glory: Men of Champ d’Asile,” p. 264.
- Ibid., p. 265.
- Ibid., p. 265.
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Champ d’Asile snared people of all qualities – those of the best, like the Rigauds…; men of a more usual mixture of strength and weakness, such as Lauret…; and downright scoundrels such as Oudart.
Are there any more of such examples?
A number of Napoleon’s soldiers went to the United States after 1815. Louis Lauret was a more honourable example than Oudart. You can read about him here: http://shannonselin.com/2014/04/happened-bonapartists-america-story-louis-lauret/.