SENEZERGUES DE LA RODDE, ÉTIENNE-GUILLAUME DE, officer in the French regular troops; b. 29 Aug. 1709 at Aurillac, France, son of Louis de Senezergues, governor of Aurillac; d. 14 Sept. 1759.
Étienne-Guillaume de Senezergues entered his father’s old regiment, La Sarre, as a supernumerary half-pay lieutenant at the age of 14 and was commissioned an ensign on 1 Oct. 1726, a lieutenant the following year, and captain in 1734. He saw action in Italy during the War of the Polish Succession and campaigned in Germany and Italy in the War of the Austrian Succession. By 1747 he commanded the second battalion of his regiment, the titular lieutenant-colonel being unfit for active service.
When, in 1756, one battalion of the La Sarre was posted to Canada Senezergues, now breveted lieutenant-colonel of the second battalion, was not obliged to go. His patrimony of some 10,000 livres a year made him financially independent and his family ardently desired him to remain in France. But he was an ambitious career soldier, sought advancement, and was motivated by a stern sense of duty. Thus he sailed from Brest on 3 April 1756, arriving at Quebec 13 May.
In June his battalion was ordered to Fort Frontenac (Kingston, Ont.) for garrison duty and then took part in the capture of Oswego [see Montcalm]. For his role in this campaign he was awarded a pension of 500 livres. In 1757 he distinguished himself at the siege of Fort William Henry (also called Fort George, now Lake George, N.Y.). The Chevalier de Lévis* wrote that although it had not been Senezergues’s turn to march, he had volunteered to serve with the advance assault since he was the only lieutenant-colonel fit for such arduous duty. He was awarded a second pension of 500 livres after this campaign.
The following year Governor General Vaudreuil [Rigaud*] organized a force of 1,600 men, comprising colonial regular troops, Canadian militia, an élite force of French regulars, and allied Indians, for an assault on Schenectady, New York. Lévis was given the command and again Senezergues offered to accompany him as second in command, an offer that Lévis was glad to accept. No sooner had the expedition left Montreal, however, than it was recalled and sent post-haste to Lake Champlain. Word had been received that Major-General James Abercromby* had massed 25,000 men for an assault on the French forts.
Lévis and Senezergues arrived at Carillon (Ticonderoga, N.Y.) with their relief force of 400 Canadian regulars and militia on the night of 7 July. Montcalm’s army was entrenched behind a hastily constructed barricade on the crest of the slope west of the fort. Next day the British attacked in four columns. Senezergues and his battalion on the left flank under Colonel Bourlamaque’s command came under heavy assault by two of the columns. When Bourlamaque was severely wounded Senezergues took over the command. Three assaults were beaten back with heavy losses to the British who broke and fled in disorder. In reports to the minister of War both Montcalm and Lévis singled out Senezergues for praise; they urged strongly that he be promoted brigadier without regard for seniority. Montcalm declared that he was the senior officer most often called on for active duty, was better qualified than any of the other battalion commanders to command a corps with dignity, and the only one fit to remain in Canada to command the battalions that might stay in the colony at the end of hostilities. He was duly promoted brigadier on 10 Feb. 1759.
The same year, at the siege of Quebec, Senezergues was again in the thick of the fighting. After the departure of Lévis for the Montreal front on 9 August he became Montcalm’s second in command. On 13 September when Montcalm belatedly became aware that the British army was massed on the Plains of Abraham, Senezergues was ordered to hold the Beauport flank until the enemy’s intentions became clear, then to bring his battalion to the heights on the far side of Quebec. He and his men thus arrived on the battlefield after a forced march. With hardly a pause for breath they were ordered to charge the left of the enemy line. In that brief fateful clash Senezergues fell, mortally wounded. When the smoke of battle cleared he was taken on board a British warship. He died the next day. On receiving word of the outcome of the battle Colonel Bourlamaque wrote: “We have lost in M. de Senezergues an officer of distinction, as virtuous as he was brave; I am terribly sorry.”
SHA, A1, 3417, 3498–99, 3540. Doughty and Parmelee, Siege of Quebec. “Étienne-Guillaume de Senezergues de la Rodde,” APQ Rapport, 1922–23, 266–73. Guerre du Canada: relations et journaux (Casgrain). Journal du chevalier de Lévis (Casgrain). Lettres de M. de Bourlamaque (Casgrain). Hozier, Armorial général de France (1738–68), I, pt.ii. Frégault, La guerre de la conquête. Stanley, New France.