From 1847 to 1852 he was employed in the Algerian campaigns, and in 1854 and 1855 in the Crimea. At the assault on the Malakoff (8 September 1855) he greatly distinguished himself at the head of a battalion. During the 1859 campaign he won promotion to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and as a colonel he served in the French intervention in Mexico. He was made general of brigade in 1866, and led a brigade of the Army of the Rhine in 1870. His troops were amongst those shut up in Metz, and he passed into captivity, but soon escaped.
The government of national defence made him general of division and put him at the head of the 20th corps of the Army of the East. He was under Bourbaki during the campaign of the Jura, and when Bourbaki attempted to commit suicide he succeeded to the command (23 January 1871), only to be driven with 84,000 men over the Swiss frontier at Pontarlier. In 1871 Clinchant commanded the 5th corps operating against the Commune. He was military governor of Paris when he died in 1881.
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