Jules Brunet


August 14, 2022

Jules Brunet (January 2, 1838 – August 12, 1911) was a French military officer who served in Japan in the Tokugawa Shogunate's army during the Boshin War. He was originally sent to Japan in 1867 as an artillery instructor with the French military mission, but refused to leave the country after the Shogun was defeated. He played a leading role in the separatist Republic of Ezo and its struggle against Imperial forces during the Meiji reforms. After the defeat of the rebellion, he returned to France, where he fought in the Franco-Prussian War, later reaching the rank of major general and working in the Ministry of War.

Youth and career

Brunet was born in the east of France in the Alsatian town of Belfort. He was the son of Jean-Michel Brunet, a military veterinarian. In 1855 he was admitted to the officer school of Saint-Cyr, which he left after two years to enter the École polytechnique. After graduation, Brunet joined the artillery and completed his education at the artillery school in the city of Mety, where he excelled in his studies and graduated in fourth place in 1861. Shortly after graduation, Brunet was sent to Mexico together with the expeditionary force. As a second lieutenant in the Imperial Guard's Mounted Artillery Regiment, he served with distinction for most of the war; he distinguished himself especially during the siege of Puebla in 1863, for which he received from Emperor Napoleon III. Order of the Legion of Honor. During his stay in Mexico, Brunet created a number of sketches, some of which were subsequently published in the French newspaper Le Monde illustré.

Mission in Japan

In 1866, the French government decided to send a group of military advisers to Japan to help modernize the bakufu army. Because of his excellent results in the school of artillery and in the war in Mexico, Brunet was the main choice for the artillery corps of the mission. Napoleon III. he was even recommended by Count Émilien de Nieuwerkerke, who noted Brunet's drawing skills and his "greatest desire to lead a military mission in Japan". The mission consisted of fifteen members, including five officers, and was commanded by Captain Charles Chanoine. All preparations were completed on November 3, 1866, and a few days later the mission left for Japan aboard the ship Péluse. They arrived in January 1867 and spent about a year training the shogun's troops. During his stay in Japan, Brunet was promoted to captain in August 1867. At the end of the same year, there was a coup and the resignation of Shogun Yoshinobu Tokugawa, and the power was subsequently taken over by Emperor Meiji and his government. As a result of these events, the Bosnian War began. At the end of September 1868, the French government ordered its military mission to leave Japan. Captain Chanoine arranged to leave the country on board two ships which sailed on the 15th and 28th of October. Brunet, however, decided not to leave the country and remain standing by the shogun's side. He thus decided to aid the Óuecu reppan dômei coalition, known as the "Northern Alliance", in its resistance against the emperor. He resigned from the French army on October 4 and informed the then Minister of War Adolphe Niel of his decision in a letter: In another letter, addressed to Napoleon III himself, Brunet explained the plan of the alliance and his role in it: On the day of his resignation, October 4, Brunet left the French headquarters in Yokohama under the pretext of going to visit the Franco-Japanese arsenal at Yokosuka. Instead, he made his way to the shogunate fleet anchored off Shinagawa in Tokyo Bay, where he joined André Cazeneuve, a compatriot who remained loyal to the shogun.

Bošin War

Brunet was active in the Bosnian War. In January 1868, before the mission was recalled to France, he and Cazeneuve took part in the battles of Toba and Fushimi near Osaka. However, the imperial army won the battle and Brunet and