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Haxo, Francois Nicolas Benoit, Baron

HAXO, FRANCOIS NICOLAS BENOIT, BARON (1774-1838), French general and military engineer, was born at Luneville on the 24th of June 1774, and entered the Engineers in 1793. He remained unknown, doing duty as a regimental officer for many years, until, as major, he had his first chance of distinction in the second siege of Saragossa in 1809, after which Napoleon made him a colonel. Haxo took part in the campaign of Wagram, and then returned to the Peninsula to direct the siege operations of Suchet's army in Catalonia and Valencia. In 1810 he was made general of brigade, in 1811 a baron, and in the same year he was employed in preparing the occupied fortresses of Germany against a possible Russian invasion. In 1812 he was chief engineer of Davout's I. corps, and after the retreat from Moscow he was made general of division. In 1813 he constructed the works around Hamburg which made possible the famous defence of that fortress by Davout, and commanded the Guard Engineers until he fell into the enemy's hands at Kulm. After the Restora- tion Louis XVIII. wished to give Haxo a command in the Royal Guards, but the general remained faithful to Napoleon, and in the Hundred Days laid out the provisional fortifications of Paris and fought at Waterloo. It was, however, after the second Restoration that the best work of his career as a military engineer was done. As inspector-general he managed, though not without meeting considerable opposition, to reconstruct in accordance with the requirements of the time, and the designs which he had evolved to meet them, the old Vauban and Cormontaigne fortresses which had failed to check the invasions of 1814 and 1815. For his services he was made a peer of France by Louis Philippe (1832). Soon after this came the French intervention in Belgium and the famous scientific siege of Antwerp citadel. Under Marshal Gerard Haxo directed the besiegers and completely outmatched the opposing engineers, the fortress being reduced to surrender after a siege of a little more than three weeks (December 23, 1832). He was after this regarded as the first engineer in Europe, and his latter years were spent in urging upon the government and the French people the fortification of Paris and Lyons, a project which was partly realized in his time and after his death fully carried out. General Haxo died at Paris on the 2Sth of June 1838. He wrote Mimoire sur le figure du terrain dans les cartes topographiques (Paris, N.D.), and a memoir of General Dejean (1824).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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