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Pierre François Charles Augereau, duc de Castiglione

Pierre François Charles Augereau, duc de Castiglione (October 21, 1757 - June 12, 1816) was marshal of France, a hero of both the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars.

Born in Paris to an undistinguished family, at the age of seventeen he enlisted in the carabineers and thereafter came into note as a duellist. Having drawn his sword on an officer who insulted him, he fled from France and travelled in the Levant. He served in the Russian army against the Ottoman Empire; but afterwards escaped into Prussia and enlisted in the guards. He deserted and reached the border of Saxony. Service in the Neapolitan army and a sojourn in Portugal took up the years 1788 - 1791; but the events of the French Revolution brought Augereau back to France.

He served with credit against the revolt in the Vendée and then joined the troops opposing the Spaniards in the south. There he rose rapidly, becoming general of division on December 23, 1793. His division distinguished itself even more when transferred to the army of Italy; and under Bonaparte he was largely instrumental in gaining the Battle of Millesimo (1796) and in taking the castle of Cosseria (April 14, 1796). At the Battle of Lodi (May 10, 1796), the turning movement of Augereau and his division helped to decide the day. But it was at the Battle of Castiglione (August 5, 1796) that he rendered the most signal services. General Marcellin Marbot described him as encouraging even Bonaparte himself in the confused situation that prevailed before that battle. There is no doubt that Augereau largely decided the fortunes of those critical days. Bonaparte summed up his military qualities: "Has plenty of character, courage, firmness, activity; is inured to war; is well liked by the soldiery; is fortunate in his operations."

In 1797 Bonaparte sent Augereau to Paris to encourage the Jacobinical Directors. Augereau and the troops led by him coerced the "moderates" in the councils and carried through the coup d'état of 18 Fructidor (September 4) 1797. He was then sent to command French forces in Germany. Augereau took little part in the coup d'état of Brumaire (November 1799), and did not distinguish himself in the Rhenish campaign which ensued. Nevertheless, owing to his final adhesion to Bonaparte's fortunes, he received a marshal's baton at the beginning of the First French Empire (May 19, 1804).

In the campaign of 1805 Augereau did good service around Constance and Bregenz, and at the Battle of Jena (October 14, 1806) his corps distinguished itself. Early in 1807 he fell ill with fever, and at the Battle of Eylau (February 7, 1807) he had to be supported on his horse, but directed the movements of his corps with his usual bravery. His corps was almost annihilated and the marshal himself received a wound from which he never quite recovered. He became Duke of Castiglione on March 19, 1808.

When transferred to Catalonia, Augereau gained some successes but tarnished his name by cruelty. In the campaign of 1812 in Russia and in the Saxon campaign of 1813 his conduct was little more than mediocre. Before the Battle of Leipzig (October 1813), Napoleon reproached him with not being the Augereau of Castiglione; to which he replied, "Give me back the old soldiers of Italy, and I will show you that I am".

In 1814 Augereau had command of the army of Lyon, and his slackness exposed him to the charge of having come to an understanding with the Austrian invaders. Thereafter he served the restored King Louis XVIII, but, after reviling Napoleon, went over to him during the Hundred Days. The Emperor repulsed him and charged him with being a traitor to France in 1814. Louis XVIII, when re-restored to the throne, deprived him of his military title and pension. Augereau died at his estate of La Houssaye.

References

  • Kock, Mémoires de Masséna
  • Bouvier, Bonaparte en Italie
  • Count A. F. Andrbossi, La Campagne sur le ..., 1800 - 1801
  • Baron A. Ducasse, Précis de la campagne de ... de Lyon en 1814
  • Marbot, Mémoiresde:Pierre-François-Charles Augereau

fr:Charles Pierre François Augereau

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