Marshal Suchet and the Siege of Valencia
French and Allied Officers
By Dominique Contant,
Robert Ouvrard, and Jonathan
Suchet: Louis-Gabriel Suchet, Duke of Albufera, Marshal
of France, Grand Eagle of the Legion of Honor, Peer of France (1770-1826).
Son of a silk-maker, and given a good education, Suchet initially
entered the family business, working in manufacturing. With the Revolution
he enlisted in the National Guard of Lyon (1791), then became a soldier
in a free company, a lieutenant and then a captain. Lieutenant-Colonel
with the Volunteers of Ardeche (September 1793), he was present at
the Siege of Toulon. Assigned to the Army of Italy (1794), he served
under Bonaparte (1796). He was at Arcole and Rivoli, twice wounded,
and finished the campaign as a Colonel. Chief of Staff to Brune in
Switzerland (1798), he was then again assigned to Italy, as a Brigadier
General. Named Lieutenant General and Chief of Staff to Joubert (1799),
he took command of the army after the latter's death at Novi. Cut
off from the army of Masséna, Suchet withdrew to the Var, but retook
Genoa a few days after Marengo.
Inspector General of the Infantry (1801), division commander under
Soult, and again in V Corps under Lannes, he shown at Austerlitz for
which he was named a Grand Eagle of the Legion of Honor. In 1806,
he was at Saalfeld, Jena and Pultusk. The next year, he was in Silesia,
and was made a Count of the Empire in 1808.
Sent to Spain, he was the only senior general to obtain repeated
successes and the only Marshal who won his title in that theater.
He won an impressive series of actions in command of the Army of Aragon:
taking Saragossa, Lerida, Tortose, Tarragona and Mont-Serrat, with
victories at Sagonte and Valencia from which came his title, "Duke
of Albufera". Governor of Catalonia in 1812, with strict discipline
and intolerance of pillage and exactions, he maintained his authority
over the region.
The disaster of Vitoria (1813) obliged Suchet to quit Valencia, and
he displaced to Barcelona, from where he sent reinforcements to the
Emperor in Germany. At the end of the year, he was at Gérone, where
he received Ferdinand VII, but was again the victor at Moulins del
Rey in January of 1814. Suchet defended the frontier in the Eastern
Pyrenees until the fall of the Empire. Retained during the Restoration,
he was named a Peer of France and Commander of the Military Division
at Caen. During the Hundred Days, Suchet rejoined Napoleon, who conferred
on him command of the Army of the Alps, with which Suchet invaded
Savoy. By the time of the second abdication, he was at the gates of
Geneva. Suchet negotiated capably with the Allies, avoiding the occupation
of Lyon, and then retired to his château at Saint-Joseph, near Marseille.
Expelled from the Chamber of Peers, Suchet regained his title in 1819.
He died on the 3rd of January in 1826.
Berthier, Sovereign Prince of Neuchâtel, Prince de Wagram, Marshal of
France, Grand Eagle of the Legion of Honor, Grand Huntsman, Vice Constable
of the Empire (1753-1815)
Berthier received an excellent education as a student Geographical
Engineer. Named an officer of the King, he was in America with Rochambeau
and was promoted to Colonel before the Revolution. Distituted as a
noble, he rejoined the army in 1795, as a Brigadier General. He was
in Italy in 1796, as a Lieutenant General and Chief of Staff to Bonaparte,
to whom he remained loyal through 1814. Berthier excelled at Lodi
and Rivoli and was charged with delivering the peace treaty of Campo
Formino to the Directory. Named commander of the Army of Italy, he
was recalled very soon after by Bonaparte who wanted to retain Berthier
in the headquarters. Berthier followed Bonaparte to the Channel coast
with the Army of England and then to Egypt. He was at The Pyramids,
in Syria, at Aboukir and returned to France with Bonaparte. After
18 Brumaire, Berthier was named Minister of War. He participated in
the second Italian campaign (1800) and the victory at Marengo. Marshal
of the Empire in the first selection, he was awarded the Grand Eagle
of the Legion of Honor the next year and promoted to the unique rank
of Major General of the Grand Army. He was present at Austerlitz and
Friedland. He was honored further as Grand Huntsman, Vice Constable
of the Empire and Sovereign Prince of Neuchâtel. He took command of
the Army of Germany for a short period in 1809, but proved incapable
of managing his troops. Upon the arrival of the Emperor, Berthier
retook his place as Chief of Staff. Made Prince of Wagram after that
battle, he married, under pressure from Napoléon, a princess of Bavaria,
He planned the Russian campaign and departed yet another time with
the Emperor as Major General of the Grand Army. He was at Smolensk,
La Moskowa and Moscow. After the retreat, Napoléon left Murat in command,
and Berthier then quit the army and returned to Paris. He made the
campaigns of Germany and France and followed the Emperor until Fontainebleau.
He joined those who abandoned the Emperor, and, upon Napoleon's return
from Elba, he accompanied Louis XVIII to Gand, but then retired to
Bamberg and the château of the Prince of Bavaria, his father-in-law.
Erased from the roll of Marshals, Berthier was placed under house
arrest by the Allies, to prevent his rejoining the Emperor. He died
on the 1st of June, in a fall from a window of the château. It still
remains unknown whether his fall was an accident, a suicide or an
Marmont: Auguste-Frédéric-Louis Marmont, Duke of
Ragusa, Marshal of France (1774-1852).
A graduate of the Artillery School at Châlons-sur-Marne in 1790
and a Lieutenant Colonel in 1792, Marmont met Bonaparte at the Siege
of Toulon and became his aide-de-camp in 1794. He served in Italy
(1796), then on the Rhine under the orders of Desaix. Upon Bonaparte's
appointment to command the Army of the Interior, Marmont was immediately
called to join him, and participated in the expedition to Egypt (1798).
Promoted to Colonel in the artillery, but remaining still an aide-de-camp
to Bonaparte, he was made a Brigadier General at Malta after having
captured the colors of the Knights of Saint John at Acre. He was at
The Pyramids and, commanding the fleet at Alexandria, repulsed the
British fleet on 3 February 1799. After 18 Brumaire, he became a Counsellor
of State, and then followed Bonaparte to Italy. Distinguished at Marengo
at the head of the artillery, he was promoted to Lieutenant General
in September 1800. Chief Inspector of the Artillery (1802), commander
of the camp at Utrecht in Holland and named Colonel-General of Light
Horse and Hussars (1805), he was nonetheless excluded from the first
selection of marshals.
At the head of II Corps of the Grand Army (1805), Marmont contributed
to the victory at Ulm, but was not present at Austerlitz. Commanding
General and Governor of Dalmatia (1806), he was charged with the region's
pacification and development. He forced the Russian fleet to lift
the siege of Ragusa, for which he received the title of duke of that
city in 1808. In 1809, opposed the Austrians in the north, and earned
victories at Gôspich and Fiume and Graz, shown as the commander of
the Reserves at Wagram and was the victor at Znaim. He was named a
Marshal on 12 July.
Named Governor of the Illyrian Provinces, he was then sent to Portugal
in 1811 to replace. He broke the siege at Ciudad Rodrigo, invaded
Portugal and pursued Wellington to Castelo-Branco, from where he had
to retire. He was defeated at Les Arapiles, where he was wounded.
Marmont did not regain a command until the beginning of 1813. Commanding
VI Corps of the Grand Army in Saxony (1813), he was at Lützen, Dresden
and lead the left wing at Leipzig.
Commanding VI Corps of the Army of Champagne (1814), he was at Brienne,
La Rothière, Champaubert, Vauchamps, and Montmirail, but was defeated
at Laon. He surrendered Paris (30 March), even though it was defensible.
His defection followed upon the abdication of Napoléon. Marmont was
named a Peer of France by Louis XVIII, who he followed to Gand during
the Hundred Days. Marmont voted for "death" at the trial of Marshal
Ney. Minister of State and member of the High Council for War, he
was charged with quelling the Revolution of 1830. Its success terminated
Marmont's career. He spent the last years of his life trying to justify
it - and died 22 July 1852 at Venise.
Reille: Honoré-Charles Reille, General (1775-1860).
Reille had advanced to join Suchet from Navarre, where
he was serving as Governor.
Harispe: Jean-Isidore Harispe, General (1768-1855).
Wounded at Jena, Brigadier
General in 1807, and wounded again at Friedland, Harispe served in
Spain from 1808 through 1814. He was promoted Lieutenant General in
1810, and, under Suchet, commanded the Second Division of III Corps
(7th, 116th and 44th Regiments of the French Line and the 3rd Regiment
of the Vistula Legion). He survived the fall of the Empire to be named
a Marshal of France in 1851, under Napoléon III.
Robert: Louis-Benoit, Baron Robert, General (1772-1831).
Robert was born at Menerbes (Vaucluse) on 7 March
1772, and there he also died, on 16 June 1831. Made a captain in the
13th Battalion of Federes on 3 August 1792, he served with
the Army of the Moselle from 1792 to 1793 and then the Army of the
North from 1793 to 1795. By amalgamation, he passed to the 71st Half-Brigade
of the French Line on 4 April 1794. He served with the Army of the
Sambre-et-Meuse for 1795 to 1797, transferring to the 92nd Half-Brigade
on 20 February 1796. He was with the Army of Germany at the end of
1797, and then the Army of Italy in 1799 and 1800, where he was wounded
in the head by gunfire before Verona on 26 March 1799. He served with
the Army of the West in 1800 and 1801, and the Corps of Observation
of the Gironde in 1801. He was in Batavia under Victor in 1803 and
at the camp of Utrecht under Marmont in 1804 to 1805 and then with
the Army of the North under Prince Louis Bonaparte in October 1805,
passing to II Corps of the Grand Army in 1806 to 1807. He was promoted
to Major in the 70th Regiment of the French Line on 30 May 1807. He
served under Darmagnac at the surprise capture of Pampeluna on 16
February 1808, and continued his service in Spain through 1814. He
was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on the staff of his regiment on
27 June 1808. At the Siege of Saragossa under Verdier, he received
a gunshot wound to the left leg on 5 August. Promoted to Colonel of
the 117th Regiment of the French Line on 28 October, he came under
the orders of Suchet. He was the victor at Barbastro and Alcarras
and joined the Siege of Lerida in April 1810, where he was distinguished
in the action on 23 April. He was at the sieges of Tortose and Balaguer,
defended the camp at Perello on 3 March 1811 and was created a Baron
of the Empire on 10 April. He served before Tarragona from 3 May to
28 June and was promoted to Brigadier General on 6 July 1811. Attached
to the Army of Aragon on 1 September, he served at Sagonte on 25 October
and commanded a brigade at the Siege of Valencia (in Musnier's 1st
Division - composed of the 114th Regiment of the French Line and the
1st Regiment of the Vistula Legion), being named Governor of the City
after its capture, where he remained until February 1812. Commandant
of the Legion of Honor on 16 March 1812, he commanded a division under
Suchet from October, serving at the combat of Castalla on 13 June
1813. Robert was then named commandant of the garrison at Tortose
on 17 July 1812. He did not evacuate that city until May 1814, in
accordance with the peace treaty. He was named by Suchet as commander
of the 3rd Division of the Army of the South and commandant of the
Department of the Eastern Pyrenees on 4 June 1814. He was confirmed
in his departmental command by a royal order of 19 September 1814
and made a Chevalier of Saint-Louis on 13 August 1814, maintaining
this post until his replacement on 1 September 1815. Placed in non-activity
at the beginning of 1816, he was recalled as Inspector of Infantry
for the Army Headquarters at the end of 1818 and was employed in the
same role for the 8th and 9th Military Divisions from June of 1819
through the end of that year. Without assignment thereafter, Robert
was permitted to retire effective 1 January 1825 and he returned to
his birthplace to live out the remainder of his years.
Bugeaud: Thomas-Robert Bugeaud de la Piconnerie,
Major (Limoges 1784-Paris 1849).
After Austerlitz, where he fought as a simple corporal,
Bugeard was commissioned as a lieutenant in the 64th Regiment of the
French line. He served in the campaigns of Prussia and Poland, being
wounded at Pultusk. He was with the Army of Aragon until 1814 under
Suchet, who remarked upon his courage. Bugeaud was distinguished in
the action at Orgal, where he routed a British regiment and for which
Suchet named him a Lieutenant Colonel in the 14th Regiment of the
French Line. But his greatest fame would come later in life: the conquest
of Algeria in 1835. By his death in 1849, the corporal who shone under
the sun of Austerlitz nearly a half century before had risen to become
a Marshal of France and the Duke of Isly.
Boussard: André-Joseph Boussart, General (1758-1813).
Broussard served for seven years in the Austrian
army before entering the French service, where he rose to the rank
of Brigadier General by 1801. He was often wounded. He received three
saber cuts on 21 April 1796, was wounded again at Alexandria on 2
July 1798 and shot twice at Canope on 21 March 1801. In December of
1806, at Pultusk, he was again shot and had his horse killed beneath
him. He was shot yet again at Ostralenka on 16 February 1807. Sent
to Spain, he was shot in the chest at Lerida, in April of 1810. In
total, he received 23 wounds and had 12 horses killed beneath him.
Under Suchet at Valencia, where he was as well gravely wounded, he
commanded the Cavalry Division (composed of the French 4th Hussars,
24th Dragoons and 13th Cuirassiers and the Italian Napoleon Dragoons).
Musnier: Louis Musnier de la Converserie, General
Musnier served at Marengo under Boudet and was promoted
to Lieutenant General in 1805. He served in Spain from 1808 to 1813,
becoming a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor in 1810. He commanded
Suchet's 1st Division at Valencia, composed of Robert's Brigade (114th
Regiment of the French Line and the 1st Regiment of the Vistula Legion)
and Ficatier's Brigade (121st Regiment of the French Line and the
2nd Regiment of the Vistula Legion). He defended Lyon in 1814.
Balathier: Eloi-Charles Balathier de Bragelonne,
Balathier served in Spain from 1810 to 1812, notably
at the Siege of Valencia. He would die, diagnosed as insane, in 1830.
Palombini: Italian General.
Under Suchet, Palombini commanded the Italian Division,
composed of Saint Paul's Brigade (5th and 6th Regiments of the Italian
Line) and Balathier's Brigade (2nd Italian Light Infantry Regiment
and 4th Regiment of the Italian Line).
Habert: Pierre-Joseph Habert, General (1773-1825).
He served in Austria, Prussian and Poland from 1805
to 1807, and in Spain from 1808 to 1813, commanding the rear guard
at the time of Suchet's retreat from the Peninsula. He was named Governor
of Barcelona, which he did not surrender until after peace was concluded.
At Valencia, he commanded Suchet's 3rd Division, composed of Montmarie's
Brigade (5th and 16th Regiments of the French Line) and Bronikowski's
Brigade (117th Regiment of the French Line).
Darmagnac: Jean-Barthélémy-Claude-Toussaint Darmagnac,
Darmagnac was in Spain from 1808 to 1813, where he
was employed in several locations as a Provincial Governor.
Pépé: Guglielmo Pépé,
Neapolitan Colonel (1783-1855).
Promoted later to General, he wrote interesting memoirs
of his career.
Delort: Jacques-Antoine-Adrien Delort, Général (1773-1846).
A National Guardsman at the age of 16 in 1789, he
died a Lieutenant General, aide-de-camp to the King and a Peer of
France. Major of the 9th Dragoon Regiment, his conduct at Austerlitz
gave him command of the 24th Dragoons, at the head of which he covered
himself with glory in Spain (Molins del Rey, Vich, Valls, Sagonte).
Brigadier General in 1811, he held provisional command of the cavalary
of the Army of Aragon through 1813. He beat O'Donell at Castella,
and charged the pass at Ordal. Recalled to France, Delort charged
again at Montereau then, as a Lieutenant General, he commanded the
3rd Division of Reserve Cavalry at Waterloo.
Pannetier: Claude-Marie-Joseph Pannetier, Count
of Valdotte, General (1769-1843).
Created a Count of the Empire in 1808, at Valencia
he commanded the 1st Brigade in Reille's 1st Division (composed of
the 10th and 81st Regiments of the French Line).
Montmarie: Aimé-Sulpice-Victor Pelletie, Baron
of Montmarie, General (1772-1813).
He served in Spain with the Army of the Center before
departing for service in Russia. Wounded at Le Moskowa and again at
Wachau, he died on the field at Leipzig, from the effects of his prior
Saint-Cyr-Nugues: Saint-Cyr, Baron Nugues, General
He had followed Suchet from the camp at Boulogne,
serving in various staff positions. He entered Spain with Suchet in
Caffarelli: Marie-François-Auguste, Count Caffarelli,
Lord Blayney met Caffarelli in January 1811, when
he was serving as the Commandant of Vittoria.
Count Montbrun, General (1770-1812).
Montbrun was the commander of the cavalry of the
Army of Portugal from April 1810. He was detached from that army to
support Suchet in Aragon in late 1811. He left the Peninsula to join
the Russian campaign, under Murat. While out on reconnaissance early
on the morning of 7 September 1812, he was struck by a stray canon
shot prior to the start of the battle of Le Moskowa. He died a few
See also this short Biography
of General Montbrun
Lafosse: Jacques-Mathurin Lafosse, General (1757-1824).
He served in Spain from February 1808 to February
Bernard Meyer de Shauensee, Colonel (1777-1860).
Swiss by birth, he served under Suchet in Spain from
1808 to 1814 and was Suchet's senior aide-de-camp at Valencia.
Judge Don José Maria Manescau: Judge for Criminal Cases of
the Supreme Court of Valencia.
In July 1808, one month after the massacre of French nationals in
Valencia by a frenzied mob, he presided at the trials of those principally
responsible. Baltasar Calbo and 60 of his accomplices (and not "600"
as was incorrectly reported in the document reproduced above) were
condemned to death, some being executed and the others deported to
the Balearic Islands. Some months later the records of these proceedings
were printed and posted throughout the kingdom of Valencia.
Suchet thus did not take any action against these criminals, who
had already been judged and punished, and for which he had reason
three years later to praise the rectitude of Judge Manescau.
This information has been kindly provided to us by Sr. José Luis
Arcon, Staff Historian at the Military and Historical Museum of Valencia,
to whom we extend our most sincere thanks.
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