Villebois-Mareuil was a firm believer in the final success of the Boer arms, and he received the credit of planning two battles second Colenso and Magersfontein which gave the Boers at least temporary success. The Viscount was a writer for the Revue des Deux Mondes, the Correspondant, and La Liberté, the latter of which referred to him as the latter-day Lafayette.
This was the capture of a commando of sixty Boers, or rather of sixty foreigners fighting for the Boers, and the death of the gallant Frenchman, De Villebois-Mareuil, who appears to have had the ambition of playing Lafayette in South Africa to Kruger's Washington.
The free-rein given to the foreign legionaries was withdrawn shortly after Villebois-Mareuil and his small band of Frenchmen met with disaster at Boshof, and thereafter all the foreigners were placed under the direct command of General De la Rey. The man in search of the spoils of war was not so numerous, but he made his presence felt by stealing whatever was portable and saleable.
Viscount Villebois-Mareuil was one of the many foreigners who joined the Boer army and lost their lives while fighting with the Republican forces. While ranking as colonel on the General Staff of the French army, and when about to be promoted to the rank of general, he resigned from the service on account of the Dreyfus affair.
A month after the commencement of the war Villebois-Mareuil arrived in the Transvaal and went to the Natal front, where his military experience enabled him to give advice to the Boer generals. In January the Colonel attached himself to General Cronje's forces, with whom he took part in many engagements.
Colonel Villebois-Mareuil was an exceptionally brave man, a fine soldier, and a gentleman whose friendship was prized. Lieutenant Gallopaud was another Frenchman who did sterling service to the Boers while he was subordinate to Colonel Villebois-Mareuil.
After the death of Villebois-Mareuil, Gallopaud was elected commandant of the French Legion, and before he joined De la Rey's army he had the novel pleasure of subduing a mutiny among some of his men.