Louis-Gabriel Suchet, Duc d'Albuféra, Marshal (1811)
(Born Lyon, 1770 - Died Marseille, 1826)
The perfect soldier.
Rather than going into the family silk business, Suchet enlists in the cavalry of the National Guard in September 1793. During the siege of Toulon, he captures the English general O'Meara and meets Bonaparte.
Suchet joins the Corsican general in 1796 for the Italian campaign. A major under Masséna's orders, he takes an active part in the battles of Dego, Lodi, Rivoli, Castiglione, Bassano and Arcola, but he is wounded at Cerea.
In 1798, Suchet fights under Brune during the short Swiss campaign. He is the one who presents the enemy flags to the Directory. Promoted to brigadier general, Suchet becomes Brune's chief of staff in the Army of Italy. He then befriends Joubert, Brune's successor, who appoints him major general and chief of staff in July 1799. When Joubert is killed at Novi, on August 15, 1799, Suchet takes command until Masséna's arrival. Suchet then wins fame during the march on Alessandria.
In 1802, Suchet is inspector general of the infantry, then in command of a division of the Boulogne camp, which wins fame during the Austrian and Prussian campaigns. Having received the title of count in March 1808, he arrives in Spain late that year. After the siege of Saragossa, in April 1809, he is put at the head of the Army of Aragon and subjugates the area. In June 1809, he defeats general Blake, then O'Donnell at Lerida in May 1810.
Napoleon promotes him to marshal on July 8, 1811. In January 1812, he receives the title of Duc d'Albufera and becomes governor of the Valencia region. After Joseph is defeated at Vitoria on June 21, 1813, Suchet retires to Barcelona, where the army of Catalonia is joined to his. In November 1813, he replaces Bessières as colonel-general of the Guard.
In March 1814, Ferdinand VII is reinstated and Suchet returns to France. On April 14, having reached Narbonne, he rallies to the Restoration. Louis XVIII names him military commander, then peer of France on June 4, 1814.
Suchet returns under Napoleon's orders when the latter comes back from Elba. He defends the Italian border. Entrenched in Lyon when Louis XVIII is reinstated, he surrenders honorably and retires. On March 5, 1819, Suchet is once again made peer of France. Already ill, he is unable to attend Charles X's coronation. He dies in January 1826.