Admitted to the French corps of artillery at a young age. On active service at the age of fifteen.
Through his military studies, came to the attention of Mathurin-Jacques Brisson, and other members of the Académie royale des sciences, whose support enabled him to continue his education, and then procure leave and a brevet captaincy.
Hoped to create a corps of bombardiers in America. When his plans to sail with Du Coudray fell through, obtained an introduction to Franklin from Brisson. Franklin provided him with a letter of recommendation to Richard Peters, secretary of the American board of war (1777).
Sailed to America with the marquis de Brétigney. Captured at sea on the way from Charleston to Philadelphia. Imprisoned at St. Augustine. Transferred to New York, and exchanged.