Antoine Louis Targe (1865 - 1942)

Captain Targe



An investigator for the Ministry prior to the second review of the Dreyfus trial, Antoine Targe was born in Saint-Chamond in the Loire on 2 August 1865.

The son of an oil manufacturer, he studied science and law, and was accepted at the Ecole Polytechnique in 1885. He was made captain in 1896, and was an aide-de-camp to the governor-general in Dijon and then in Dunkerque in 1898-99. He performed the same duties under General André, the War Minister, starting on 30 May 1900.

In April 1903, the minister entrusted him with a personal investigation and his search of the ministry's offices provided him with material for the complete dossier, with which the members of the Court of Cassation would proceed to the second review. He established the fact that several forgeries still existed in the War Ministry's offices, that some documents had clearly been altered, that there were erroneous commentaries, that exonerating documents had been hidden, and that others were "receptacles for every sort of gossip from dismissed servants and malicious concierges." His assessment from 1903 testifies to the "considerable work to which he has devoted his days and nights (…) called to have considerable repercussions," but also pointed out that he "had much to complain about from the disloyal behavior of comrades who have turned against him," and that he "has tolerated everything for the greater good of the service and in the interest of the republican cause to which he is deeply attached."

In 1904, his record stated: "the future will tell of the colossal work to which Captain Targe has given himself for six months, and which is enough to honor his career." Given a merit promotion to squadron leader in 1904, he made documents relating to the Dreyfus Affair available to the Court of Cassation throughout the whole of 1905. On 20 July 1906, Targe was made an Officer in the Legion of Honor, while Dreyfus was made a knight. From 26 October of that year until 1909, he was the head of Office of the Private Secretary to Picquart, who hailed him as "a right-hand man who is indispensable to a minister."

Promoted to colonel in 1912, he served in Morocco, where Franchet d'Espérey noticed this "robust, cheerful and energetic fellow [… who] is not afraid of either taking responsibility or giving his advice." Before he went to the front in 1915, Lyautey hailed his exceptional qualities and his unquenchable energy. He was made a brigadier general in December 1915 and a major general in June 1917. He received the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor in 1926, and was appointed Chief Inspector for Recruitment of Career Military by Paul Painlevé in May 1927. In July 1928, he was awarded a military medal for distinguished service. He became a reservist in August 1930, and died in Vichy on 28 August 1942.