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Suchet, Louis Gabriel

SUCHET, LOUIS GABRIEL, Due D'ALBUFERA DA VALENCIA (1770-1826), marshal of France, one of the most brilliant of Napoleon's generals, was the son of a silk manufacturer at Lyons, where he was born on the 2nd of March 1770. He originally intended to follow his father's business; but having in 1792 served as volunteer in the cavalry of the national guard at Lyons, he manifested military abilities which secured his rapid promotion. As chef de balaillon 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 Cerea on the nth of 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 1 797-98, were recognized by his promotion to the rank of general of brigade. He took no part in the Egyptian campaign, but in August was made chief of the staff to Brune, and restored the efficiency and discipline of the army in Italy. In July 1799 he was made general of division and chief of staff to Joubert in Italy, and was in 1800 named by Massena his second in command. His dexterous resistance to the superior forces of the Austrians with the left wing of Massena'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 the 14th of June. He took a prominent part in the Italian campaign till the armistice of Treviso. In the campaigns of 1805 and 1806 he greatly increased his reputation at Austerlitz, Saalfeld, Jena, Pultusk and Ostrolenka. He obtained the title of count on the 19th of March 1808, married Mile de Saint Joseph, a niece of Joseph Bonaparte's wife, 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 the province, which, by wise and (unlike that of most of the French generals) disinterested administration no less than by his brilliant valour, he in two years brought into complete submission. He annihilated the army of Blake at Maria on the 14th of June 1809, and on the 22nd of April 1810 defeated O'Donnell at Lerida. After being made marshal of France (July 8, 1811) he in 1812 achieved the conquest of Valencia, for which he was rewarded with the title of due d'Albufera da Valencia (1812). When the tide set against the French Suchet defended his conquests step by step till compelled to retire into France, after which he took part in Soult's defensive campaign. By Louis XVIII. he was on the 4th of June made a peer of France, but, having during the Hundred Days commanded one of Napoleon's armies on the Alpine frontier, he was deprived of his peerage on the 24th of July 1815. He died near Marseilles on the 3rd of January 1826. Suchet wrote Mtmoires dealing with the Peninsular War, which were left by the marshal in an unfinished condition, and the two volumes and atlas appeared in 1820-1834 under the editorship of his former chief staff officer, Baron St Cyr-Nogues.

See C. H. Barault-Roullon, Le Marechal Suchet (Paris, 1854); Choumara, Considerations militaires sur les mbmoires du Marshal Suchet (Paris, 1840), a controversial work on the last events of the Peninsular War, inspired, it is supposed, by Soult; and Lieutenant - General Lamarque's obituary notice in the Spectateur militaire (1826). See also bibliography in article PENINSULAR WAR.

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

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