French admiral. Born 1 May 1762, at Port-Louis, Morbihan, France, Zacharie Allemand in March 1774 became an apprentice on the India Company vessel Superbe on a voyage to China. He then volunteered for the French navy, and from February 1779 to December 1783 served on the Sévère, participating in Pierre André de Suffren de Saint Tropez’s East Indian campaign.
Three times wounded in the 20 June 1783 Battle of Cuddalore, Allemand was appointed lieutenant. He continued serving in the French navy in Asia until he returned to France in 1786. He then served in the Antilles and off the North American coast from 1787 to 1788 and at Brest from 1788 to 1790. He supported the French Revolution of 1789 and served in the Atlantic and then in the Antilles (1791–1792). Promoted commander in 1792, he took command of the Sans-souci in the English Channel.
Promoted to captain in January 1793, Allemand commanded the frigate Carmagnole, in which he took the English frigate Thames. He commanded the Duquesne during 1794–1797 and cruised against British merchant shipping. With a small squadron he attacked and captured Sierra Leone in September 1794, burning and sinking a large number of English, Spanish, and Portuguese vessels. He then took command of the Censeur.
Promoted to commodore in 1796, Allemand that same year seized an English convoy, which he brought into Cádiz. He then sailed off Labrador, followed by St. Pierre and Miquelon, attacking English shipping. Stripped of his command in March 1797 for having abused his authority, he returned to sea in March 1799 in command of the Tyrannicide in Vice Admiral Eustache de Bruix’s squadron and participated in the latter’s brilliant Atlantic and Mediterranean campaign in 1799–1800. During 1801–1802 he commanded the Aigle in the expedition to San Domingo. He then served ashore at Brest and Rochefort.
In 1805, with his flag in the Majestueux, Allemand undertook a long (160-day) mission in the Atlantic with a squadron of five ships of the line and five frigates, taking several important English prizes, including the Calcutta (50 guns), a brig, a corvette, and a number of merchantmen. His success in eluding the British squadrons that were searching for him led to the nickname of the “invisible squadron.”
Promoted to rear admiral in January 1806 and vice admiral in March 1809, he was made a count of the empire in August 1810. During 1809–1811 he commanded the French Mediterranean Squadron. He had charge of defensive dispositions at Basque and Aix Roads, but should not be blamed for what followed, thanks to precise orders from Napoléon. The English attacked with fireships during 11–12 April 1809, in the course of which a number of Allemand’s ships of the line were burned or captured.
In 1811–1813 Allemand commanded the Atlantic Squadron. Forced to retire in August 1814—a consequence of his irascible nature and problems getting along with subordinates—Allemand died at Toulon on 2 March 1826.
Clowes, William Laird. The Royal Navy: A History from the Earliest Times to the Present. Vols. 4 and 5. London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 1899, 1900.
Jenkins, E. H. A History of the French Navy. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1973.