Joffre, Joseph Jacques Cesaire, a French military officer, hero of the First Battle of the Marne, was born in 1852 at Riversaltes in the Eastern Pyrennes, of humble parentage. He was a hard worker in the military school but showed no brilliance. He took part in the defense of Paris in the Franco-German War in 1870, and later was made lieutenant in the engineer corps. His advancement was slow but steady and due solely to hard work. He was decorated for services in Formosa in 1885, and in the next five years constructed a railroad in the Soudan, took part in the capture of Timbuktu and constructed the fortifications at Madagascar.
When Joffre was made commander-in-chief of the French army in 1911 he was but slightly known, and at the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 only a few had heard of him, but the military strategy he displayed in turning the German advance into a rout won for him the admiration of the world. In 1916 Joffre resigned his command and was made Marshal of France, receiving the highest military rank the French government conferred.
In 1917, in company with a number of other eminent Frenchmen, Joffre visited the United States on an official mission relating to the war. The company proceeded westward as far as Chicago and Saint Louis, and wherever Joffre went he was hailed with the greatest enthusiasm. In 1919 he was made a member of the French Academy, receiving one of the highest civil honors that can be conferred on a Frenchman.