Gouvion St Cyr

French Marshal
Marquis de St Cyr

Marshal Gouvion St CyrAn idealistic artist, Gouvion St Cyr volunteered for the revolutionary army in 1792 and went on to become a solid soldier for France.

By 1794, St Cyr's war record in Germany had seen him rise to general of division.

He fought at Mainz, Stockach, Novi, Engen, Biberach and won wide acclaim after capturing an Austrian corps at Castelfranco.

A short, but successful, service in Spain was marred in 1809 when he quit his post and suffered Napoleon Bonaparte's anger at his lack of professionalism.

It was three years before his services were called upon and he gladly led the Bavarian Corps into the Russian Campaign.

Despite being wounded at Polotsk (first battle) he went on to beat General Wittgenstein and won promotion to marshal.

At the second battle of Polotsk he again was wounded, but the military the tables were turned and, after the defeat, he resigned his command.

As governor of Dresden, St Cyr played a crucial role in defeating the Allied forces during the battle for that city between 26-27 August 1813.

However, later that year and with the French forces in Germany being pushed towards France, he was forced to surrender Dresden.

Happy to serve the Bourbons, St Cyr did not join Bonaparte for the 100 Days Campaign and, after being Minister for War, retired to his estates.

At the trial of his old friend Marshal Ney, St Cyr tried to persuade the authorities to have him deported rather than executed and appealed to King Louis XVIII for clemency. The bid failed and he once more retired, although returned to transform the French army and bring about changes that would last for decades.


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