Field Marshal (France)
Maréchal de camp was a general officer rank
Military rank
Military rank is a system of hierarchical relationships in armed forces or civil institutions organized along military lines. Usually, uniforms denote the bearer's rank by particular insignia affixed to the uniforms...

 used by the French Army
French Army
The French Army, officially the Armée de Terre , is the land-based and largest component of the French Armed Forces.As of 2010, the army employs 123,100 regulars, 18,350 part-time reservists and 7,700 Legionnaires. All soldiers are professionals, following the suspension of conscription, voted in...

 until 1848.

The rank originated from the older rank of sergeant major general
Sergeant Major General
Sergeant major general is a now extinct military rank that can trace its origins to the Middle Ages. Originally simply sergeant major, the title—unlike the modern military rank of the same name—signified a general officer, commander of an army's infantry and typically third in command of the army...

French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

: sergent-major général). Sergeant Major General was third in command in an army, after the General
A general officer is an officer of high military rank, usually in the army, and in some nations, the air force. The term is widely used by many nations of the world, and when a country uses a different term, there is an equivalent title given....

 and the Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General is a military rank used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages where the title of Lieutenant General was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a Captain General....

. One of his tasks was to dispose the troops on the battlefield. It was also known in the French army as the "Battle Sergeant" (fr: sergent de bataille). In English-speaking countries, the rank of Sergeant Major General became known as simply Major General
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

. In France, it became Field Marshal, where "field" means "battlefield".

Background and history

The Maréchal de camp rank was the junior of the two officer general ranks of the French Army, the senior being Lieutenant General. The rank of brigadier
Brigadier is a senior military rank, the meaning of which is somewhat different in different military services. The brigadier rank is generally superior to the rank of colonel, and subordinate to major general....

 was intermediate between those of Colonel and Field Marshal, but was not considered a general officer rank. Nevertheless, when rank insignia were introduced in the 1770s, the brigadier insignia was one star, that of the Maréchal de camp two stars (as its foreign equivalent the rank of Major General).

When the rank of brigadier was abolished in 1788, Maréchals de camp assumed command of brigades in the French army, but kept their two-star insignia. In 1793, during the French Revolution, the rank was renamed Brigade General
Brigade General
Brigade General is a rank used in many armies to denote the lowest rank of general, corresponding to command of a brigade. The rank is mostly used in countries where it is used as a modern alternative to a previous older rank of Brigadier or Brigadier General...

(général de brigade), as the brigade was its normal command. In 1815, the rank of Brigade General became once again Maréchal de camp, but was changed back again to Brigade General in 1848.
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