- Honoré Théodore Maxime Gazan de la Peyrière
Early life and French Revolutionary Wars
He was born in the small town of
Grasse, France. His lawyer father sent him to College of Sorèzewhere he received military training and eventually joined the French Royal Life Guards in 1786. Afterwards he also joined the Freemasons.
Upon the eruption of the
French Revolution, Gazan returned to Grasse and joined the national guard. In 1790 he became a captain and in 1791 a lieutenant colonel of the local volunteer battalion of the Var. In 1792 he was sent to the 27th regiment as a captain and went with it to the Rhineupon the declaration of war with Austria. The regiment first served as garrisontroops in Strasbourgbut joined the battle in December near Wissembourg.
In May 1794 Gazan became a battalion commander of the new 54th demi-brigade and was promoted to brigade colonel on
July 11. He led his troops to victory against the Prussians at Trippstadt.
In 1796 he took part in many battles in southern
Germany. On July 4he routed the enemy in Kuppenheimby ordering his drummers to beat a charge which fooled Prussians to think they were facing superior odds. Gazan was wounded on November 22, 1796and taken to Strasbourg where he married Marie Madeleine Reiss. He would often take his wife to his campaigns.
April 4, 1799Gazan was promoted to brigade commander and his superior and friend André Massénatransferred him to the Army of Danubewhere he faced Austrian and Russian forces. On September 27, Gazan repulsed Russian outposts at the Limmatriver and pursued the enemy to the defenses of Zürich. He was promoted to division commander and continued a campaign against Allied troops in Switzerland.
ervice during the Napoleonic Wars
Dürrenstein and Jena
When Napoleon declared himself the
First Consul, he assigned Masséna and Gazan to hold the fortress in Genoa. Gazan arrived in Italyin March 1800 and fought in the Austrian siege of Genoa until Masséna capitulated on June 4. Gazan, who had been wounded in the head on May 2, took his troops to Lozanoand joined General Suchet. He was put in command of a division in the Army of Italy and fought in a victorious battle in Pozzolo against the Austrians on December 25.
Gazan returned home but soon received a new assignment as commander of a sub-division in northern Italy where he stayed until the declaration of the
First French Empirein 1804. In 1805 he was assigned as a division commander of Napoleon's Grande Arméein Lillein preparation for the invasion of Englanduntil the idea was abandoned.
In August 1805 Gazan found himself in command of a division that encircled Austrians in
Ulm. On November 11his division was the advance guard in the march against Kutuzov's army under Marshal Mortier but became isolated at Dürenstein. Gazan fought desperately and lost 40% of his troops until he was relieved in the evening. He received the Officer's Grand Crossand his division was sent to Viennato recuperate. When Austria sued for peace, Gazan's division was sent to Würzburgin Bavariawhere they remained until Prussia declared war again in October 1806.
Gazan's division fought in the
battle of Jena-Auerstedton October 14. At Ostrolenkaon February 16, Gazan's troops took three guns and Russian colours. Otherwise his troops stayed in their winter quarters. After the new peace treaty, Gazan's troops were sent to Silesiawhere they ended up mistreating the local population. Gazan was invited to restore order and he was created Count de la Peyriére.
In October 1808 Gazan's 5th Corps went to
Spainwith Lannes and arrived at Saragossain December. Saragossa was under siege and defended by Spanish under José Palafox. Gazan's general Lannes ordered an offensive on January 22, 1809and Gazan's troops joined the effort to capture the city street by street. Palafox surrendered on February 20. The 5th Corps occupied northern Aragon.
In November, Gazan was sent to invade
Andalusiaand set to guard the valleys of Extremadurain July. In September he fought against Spanish general La Romana. In January 1811 he crossed the Sierra Morenato support Marshal Soult in the siege of Badajozto guard supply lines. On January 25he defeated Spanish general Ballesterosin Villanueva de los Castillejos. He also fought in Albueraon May 16, 1811. He was wounded and returned to Sevilleas a chief of staff. In February 1813 Gazan replaced Soult as commander of the army of the South.
After the major offensive by the Duke of Wellington, Gazan's Army of the South held the first line on the heighs of
Puebla. On June 21 General Hilland Morilloattacked his forces in the Battle of Vitoriaand he decided to withdraw and abandon all his artillery. His movement created a gap in French line which lead to loss of 4,000 men. Retreat turned into a routand the Allies captured the supply convoy and took many prisoners, including Gazan's wife and children who later managed to rejoin him.
When Soult took command of the new
Army of the Pyrenees, Gazan became the chief of staff until Napoleon's abdication.
Hundred Days, Gazan hesitated but eventually joined Napoleon. He did not receive a field command. Louis XVIII forced him to retirement in Grasse where he unsuccessfully dabbled in politics. After the 1830 revolution, he was made a peer and received a command of a military division in Marseille. He retired in June 1832 due to ill health.
Gazan de la Peyriére died in Grasse on
April 9, 1845.
* Natalia Griffon de Pleineville: "General Gazan de la Peyriere" ("
History Today", April 2003)
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