Louis-Gabriel Suchet

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Louis Gabriel Suchet, 1st Duc d'Albufera
Gault - Le maréchal Suchet, duc d'Albufera (1770-1826).jpg
Born 2 March 1770 (1770-03-02)
Lyon, France
Died 3 January 1826 (1826-01-04) (aged 55)
near Marseilles, France
Allegiance  France
Service/branch army
Years of service 1792–1815
Rank Général de division
Battles/wars

French Revolutionary Wars

Napoleonic Wars

War of the Seventh Coalition
Awards Marshal of France
Other work author

Louis Gabriel Suchet, 1st Duc d'Albufera (2 March 1770 – 3 January 1826) was a Marshal of France and one of Napoleon's most brilliant generals.

Early career[edit]

He was the son of a silk manufacturer at Lyon, where he was born, originally intended to follow his father's business; but having in 1792 served as volunteer in the cavalry of the national guard at Lyon, he manifested military abilities which secured his rapid promotion. As chef de bataillon he was present at the Siege of Toulon in 1793, where he took General O'Hara prisoner.

During the Italian campaign of 1796 he was severely wounded at the battle of Cerea on 11 October. In October 1797 he was appointed to the command of a demi-brigade, and his services, under Joubert in the Tirol in that year, and in Switzerland under Brune in 1797-98, were recognized by his promotion to the rank of général de brigade.

He took no part in the Egyptian campaign, but in August was made chief of the staff to General Brune, and restored the efficiency and discipline of the army in Italy. In July 1799 he was promoted to général de division and chief of staff to Joubert in Italy. In 1800 he was named by Masséna to be his second in command. His dexterous resistance to the superior forces of the Austrians with the left wing of Masséna's army, when the right and centre were shut up in Genoa, not only prevented the invasion of France from this direction but contributed to the success of Napoleon's crossing the Alps, which culminated in the battle of Marengo on 14 June. He took a prominent part in the Italian campaign until the armistice of Treviso.

Napoleonic Wars[edit]

A divisional commander in the campaigns against the Third and Fourth Coalitions, Suchet numbered among the few senior French officers serving in Spain who managed to preserve their reputation intact.

In the campaigns of 1805 and 1806 he greatly enhanced his reputation at the Battles of Austerlitz, Saalfeld, Jena, Pułtusk and Ostrolenka, where he commanded an infantry division. He obtained the title of count on 19 March 1808, married on 16 November of the same year Mlle. Honorine Anthoine de Saint-Joseph (Marseille, 26 February 1790 – Paris, 13 April 1884), a niece of Julie Clary, the wife of Joseph Bonaparte, by whom he had issue, and soon afterwards was ordered to Spain. Here, after taking part in the Siege of Saragossa, he was named commander of the army of Aragon and governor of that region, which he by wise, unlike that of most of the French generals, and adroit administration no less than by his brilliant valour, in two years brought into complete submission. Beaten by the Spanish at the Battle of Alcañiz, he sprung back and soundly defeated the army of Joaquín Blake y Joyes at the Battle of María on 14 June 1809, and on 22 April 1810 defeated Henry Joseph O'Donnell, Count of La Bisbal at Lleida.

He was made Marshal of France (8 July 1811) after the siege of Tarragona. In 1812 he captured Valencia, for which he was rewarded with the ducal victory title (honorary, not attached to an actual fief) of duc d'Albufera da Valencia in 1813. When the tide turned against France, Suchet defended his conquests one by one until compelled to withdraw from Spain, after which he took part in Soult's defensive campaign of 1814.

Suchet's grave in Paris’ Père Lachaise Cemetery, 2005

The restored Bourbon king Louis XVIII made him a peer of France on 4 June, with a seat in the upper house, but, having commanded one of Napoleon's armies on the Alpine frontier during the Hundred Days, he was deprived of his peerage on 24 July 1815. He died in the Castle of Saint-Joseph[1] near Marseille on 3 January 1826.

Personal life[edit]

He married in 1808 Honorine de Saint-Joseph (1790 – 1884) and had 3 children:

  • Louise-Honorine (1811 – 1885)
  • Louis-Napoleon (1813 – 1877)
  • Anne-Marie (1820 – 1835)

Writings and other sources[edit]

  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
  • Suchet wrote his Mémoires dealing with the Peninsular War, which were left by the marshal in an unfinished condition, and the two volumes with an atlas appeared in 1829-1834 under the editorship of his former chief staff officer, Baron St. Cyr-Nogues. An English translation appeared in 1829, a version of which has been reprinted, see below.
  • C.H. Barault-Roullon, Le Marechal Suchet (Paris, 1854); *Choumara, Considerations militaires sur les memoires du Marechal Suchet (Paris, 1840), a controversial work on the last events of the Peninsular War, inspired, it is supposed, by Soult
  • Lieutenant-General Lamarque's obituary notice in the Spectateur militaire (1826).

Further reading[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Castle of Saint-Joseph on Napoleon & Empire website