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ARNOUX, ANDRÉ, surgeon, surgeon-major; b. at Saint-Paul-de-Vence (dept. of Alpes-Maritimes), France, and baptized 22 Dec. 1720, son of Alexandre Arnoux, master-surgeon, and Lucresse Masson (Musson); d. 20 Aug. 1760 at Montreal.

André Arnoux was the son of a surgeon-major of the “king’s hospitals,” and took up the same career as his father. Until 1739 he worked in various hospitals; he then served as a surgeon on the king’s ships, taking part in 12 campaigns at sea, during which he is believed to have made a small fortune buying drugs and medicaments and then reselling them at a good profit, a common practice at the time. On 17 June 1743 he married Suzanne Levret in the church of Saint-Louis de Toulon. In 1751, having been transferred from Rochefort and given an appointment in New France as assistant-surgeon, Arnoux settled in Quebec.

On 10 July 1755 he was attached to the Régiment de la Reine, stationed at Quebec. This regiment was scheduled to proceed by land to Montreal on 29 July; however, the accidental death of the surgeon-major of the troops, Jean-Baptiste Polemond, drowned in the Rivière du Chêne on 18 July, suddenly changed Arnoux’s career. Arnoux, one of Polemond’s assistants, succeeded him on 20 July, the same day the surgeon-major was buried at Deschambault. The commissary of wars, André Doreil, justified this choice in a letter to Machault, the minister of Marine, saying that he had cast “his eyes on the Sieur Arnoux . . . whose talents and good sense . . . were not unknown to him.” Along with his commission, signed by Doreil and countersigned by Intendant François Bigot*, Arnoux received an order to leave Quebec on 21 July and to proceed “with all possible dispatch to the place where the other surgeons were, and from there to Montreal to put himself at the disposal of M. le Baron de [Dieskau].” He was instructed to set up mobile hospitals wherever there was a troop concentration. He took part in the battle at Lac Saint-Sacrement (Lake George) on 8 Sept. 1755 [see Dieskau], “having been, as it turned out, exposed to the same danger as the soldiers.”

After the baron’s army was defeated, Arnoux was stationed at Fort Saint-Frédéric (Crown Point, N.Y.), “where he finished treating the wounded” who could not be transported to Montreal. According to his instructions, he was to move with the troops; but it is rather difficult to follow the surgeon-major, since official documents are virtually silent about his activities. In a report dated October 1756 the surgeon tells us that his “talents have had less occasion to be used on the wounded, whose number does not exceed 50 . . . than on the maladies which the hardships, dirty food, and various encampments in the woods have caused in the small army.” He added that “putrid fevers, scurvy, dysenteries and inflammations of the lower abdomen have caused the number of sick to reach 500 at one time.” In 1758 Arnoux was at the battle at Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga, N.Y.) on 8 July. In 1759 he accompanied Bourlamaque, who had been instructed by Montcalm to carry out defensive works to bar the road to the enemy at three points, Carillon, Fort Saint-Frédéric, and on the Île aux Noix. It has been proven that at the time of General Montcalm’s death on 13 Sept. 1759 Arnoux was at Île aux Noix. It was one of his two brothers, the surgeon Blaise or the apothecary Joseph, who attended Montcalm and assisted him at his death.

Having followed the regiments commanded by Bourlamaque to the outskirts of Quebec, Arnoux remained there until 28 July 1760. It was during this period that he suffered heavy financial losses. According to his contemporaries, after the battle at Sainte-Foy on 28 April 1760 [see Lévis*] the surgeon-major was ordered to stay at Quebec and to supply “medicaments and provisions” to all the wounded, “English as well as French,” who were being treated at the Hôpital Général. “Sieur Arnoux provided not only for the subsistence and the necessary medicaments for the sick who were able to get into the aforementioned hospital, but he set up mobile hospitals at his own expense; made considerable purchases on all sides, at excessive cost, of all necessary and indispensable provisions; hired surgeons’ assistants and hospital attendants; paid for expensive transport, and employed to this end much beyond his fortune to bring the sick the relief they needed.” On 28 July Arnoux went to Montreal, where less than a month later, on 20 August, he died of an “inflammation of the lungs.”

In a report dated 12 Sept. 1760 the commissary of wars, Benoît-François Bernier*, paid a posthumous tribute to the surgeon-major: “He died of the consequences and fatigues of the siege of Quebec, at which he exerted himself unstintingly, to the great admiration of everyone. He supported the sick with his own money and dies without resources, leaving a widow and young children. Public opinion is unanimous that the king should take an interest in this family. But Intendant Bigot is unwilling to do anything for them.” Montcalm and Bourlamaque also spoke in high terms of Arnoux’s career. The commissary of wars Doreil wrote: “He exceeded my expectations.” Arnoux was a friend of Montcalm; the latter was even godfather to one of the surgeon’s children, and he had complete confidence in Arnoux’s skill. Out of this friendship grew the legend according to which the surgeon-major was present at Montcalm’s last moments. Since Arnoux was also a friend of Bigot, who speedily forgot him, and of Joseph-Michel Cadet* and Michel-Jean-Hugues Péan*, who refused to help his widow recover the sums advanced by her husband, it has been conjectured that if it had not been for his unexpected death the surgeon-major might have been incriminated in the Bigot affair. Pierre-Georges Roy* hints at this possibility on the sole evidence that in 1752 Arnoux is supposed to have paid in ready money 30,000 livres for Péan’s house. According to the surgeon’s contemporaries, Arnoux already had “a well-established fortune” when he arrived in New France. It was thanks to it that in 1759 he had been able to make considerable advances for the purchase, ordered by Bigot, of medicaments used for treating the wounded in an army of 18,000 men. These medicaments, stored in the vaulted cellars of Montcalm’s house, were destroyed at the time of the capture of Quebec.

After her return to France in 1760 Arnoux’s widow was justified, according to her contemporaries, in claiming more than “1,727,839 livres” to settle her husband’s debts, which he had guaranteed by his personal fortune and the promise of repayment made by Intendant Bigot. For several years she vainly called upon the government to pay her husband’s creditors. Louis XV deigned only to grant her and her six living children a pension of 3,000 livres, plus reimbursement of a quarter of the sum of 30,970 livres for which she was able to present some bills of exchange saved when the colony was lost. Sieur Arnoux had died without having had time to put his accounts in order.

Raymond Douville

AD, Alpes-Maritimes (Nice), État civil, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, 22 déc. 1720; Var (Draguignan), État civil, Saint-Louis de Toulon, 17 juin 1743. AN, Col., B, 125, f.32v; 127, f.223v; 152, f.74; E, 9 (dossier Arnoux) (copies at PAC). ANQ, “Inventaire analytique des Archives de la guerre concernant le Canada (1755–1760),” compilé par J.-É. Labignette et Louise Dechêne. Journal du marquis de Montcalm (Casgrain). “Lettres de Doreil,” APQ Rapport, 1944–45, 25, 64, 67, 68, 83, 85, 124. Lettres du marquis de Montcalm (Casgrain). P.-G. Roy, Inv. contrats de mariage, I, 37; Bigot et sa bande, 304–8; Hommes et choses du fort Saint-Frédéric. “Biographies canadiennes,” BRH, XX (1914), 373–74. P.-B. Casgrain, “La maison d’Arnoux où Montcalm est mort,” BRH, IX (1903), 3–16, 33–48, 65–76. Gabriel Nadeau, “Les trois blessures de Montcalm,” Canada Français, 2e sér., XXVII (1939–40), 639–42.

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Cite This Article

Raymond Douville, “ARNOUX, ANDRÉ,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed December 9, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/arnoux_andre_3E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/arnoux_andre_3E.html
Author of Article:   Raymond Douville
Title of Article:   ARNOUX, ANDRÉ
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1974
Year of revision:   1974
Access Date:   December 9, 2023