François Joseph Lefebvre

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François Joseph Lefebvre
Francois-Joseph Lefebvre.png
Born(1755-10-25)25 October 1755
Rouffach, Alsace
Died14 September 1820(1820-09-14) (aged 64)
Paris, France
Buried
Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France
AllegianceFlag of France.svg  France
Rank Marshal of France
Battles/wars French Revolutionary Wars, Napoleonic Wars
AwardsFirst Duc de Dantzig

François Joseph Lefebvre ( /ləˈfɛvrə/ lə-FEV-rə, French:  [fʁɑ̃swa ʒɔzɛf ləfɛvʁ] ; 25 October 1755 – 14 September 1820), Duc de Dantzig , [1] was a French military commander during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and one of the original eighteen Marshals of the Empire created by Napoleon.

Siege of Danzig (1807)

The Siege of Danzig was the French encirclement and capture of Danzig during the War of the Fourth Coalition. On 19 March 1807, around 27,000 French troops under Marshall Lefebvre besieged around 14,400 Prussian troops under Marshall Kalckreuth garrisoning the city of Danzig.

French Revolutionary Wars series of conflicts fought between the French Republic and several European monarchies from 1792 to 1802

The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of sweeping military conflicts lasting from 1792 until 1802 and resulting from the French Revolution. They pitted France against Great Britain, Austria, Prussia, Russia and several other monarchies. They are divided in two periods: the War of the First Coalition (1792–97) and the War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802). Initially confined to Europe, the fighting gradually assumed a global dimension. After a decade of constant warfare and aggressive diplomacy, France had conquered a wide array of territories, from the Italian Peninsula and the Low Countries in Europe to the Louisiana Territory in North America. French success in these conflicts ensured the spread of revolutionary principles over much of Europe.

Contents

Early life

Lefebvre was from Rouffach, Alsace, the son of a Hussar. He enlisted in French army at the age of 17 [1] and like his close friend, Michel Ordener, he embraced the French Revolution. In 1783 he married Cathérine Hübscher with whom he had 14 children, although none living to survive him (his last son died in battle in 1812).

Rouffach Commune in Grand Est, France

Rouffach is a commune in the Haut-Rhin department in Grand Est in north-eastern France.

Alsace Place in Grand Est, France

Alsace is a cultural and historical region in eastern France, on the west bank of the upper Rhine next to Germany and Switzerland.

Hussar light cavalry specialized in scouting and raiding

A hussar was a member of a class of light cavalry, originating in Central Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries. The title and distinctive dress of these horsemen were subsequently widely adopted by light cavalry regiments in European armies in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

Revolutionary Wars

In 1789 he was a Sergeant in the Gardes Françaises, [1] and like most of the regiment, he joined the revolution. Promoted to Brigadier General in 1793, he took part in the Battle of Fleurus (24 June 1794). [1] After General Louis Lazare Hoche's death he commanded the Army of Sambre-et-Meuse (September 1797). He then commanded the vanguard of the Army of the Danube under Jourdan in March 1799, although for the first week of the campaign he was incapacitated with ringworm and Dominique Vandamme replaced him temporarily. He was later injured at the Battle of Ostrach where the Advance Guard bore the brunt of the early fighting. In November 1799, Lefebvre commanded the Paris troops and agreed to support Napoleon Bonaparte in his coup d'état . [1] In the year 1800, Bonaparte appointed him senator. [1]

Sergeant Military rank

Sergeant is a rank in many uniformed organizations, principally military and policing forces. The alternate spelling, "serjeant", is used in The Rifles and other units that draw their heritage from the British Light Infantry. Its origin is the Latin "serviens", "one who serves", through the French term "sergent".

Gardes Françaises regiment

The French Guards were an infantry regiment of the Military Household of the King of France under the Ancien Régime.

Battle of Fleurus (1794) battle in 1794

The Battle of Fleurus, on 26 June 1794, was an engagement between the army of the First French Republic, under General Jean-Baptiste Jourdan and the Coalition Army, commanded by Prince Josias of Coburg, in the most significant battle of the Flanders Campaign in the Low Countries during the French Revolutionary Wars. Both sides had forces in the area of around 80,000 men but the French were able to concentrate their troops and defeat the First Coalition. The Allied defeat led to the permanent loss of the Austrian Netherlands and to the destruction of the Dutch Republic. The battle marked a turning point for the French army, which remained ascendant for the rest of the War of the First Coalition. The French use of the reconnaissance balloon l'Entreprenant was the first military use of an aircraft that influenced the result of a battle.

Napoleonic Wars

Napoleon made him a Marshal of the Empire in 1804. [2] Lefebvre commanded a division of the Old Guard in the German campaign of 1805. At the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt, on 14 October 1806, Lefebvre commanded the infantry of the Imperial Guard. [1] In command of the X Corps He besieged and took Danzig in 1807, which won him the title of Duc de Danzig (Duke of Danzig). [1]

Old Guard (France) Unit of the French Army, 1804–1815

The Old Guard were the elite veteran elements of the Emperor Napoleon's Imperial Guard. As such it was the most prestigious formation in Napoleon's Grande Armée. French soldiers often referred to Napoleon's Old Guard as "the Immortals".

The X Corps of the Grande Armée was the name of a French military formation that existed during the Napoleonic Wars. The corps was first formed in 1807 and placed under the command of Marshal François Joseph Lefebvre. The unit was responsible for bringing the 1807 Siege of Danzig to a successful conclusion. During the French invasion of Russia in 1812, the corps was reconstituted and Marshal Jacques MacDonald appointed to lead it. The corps contained the Prussian contingent that went on to form the core of the reconstituted Prussian army in 1813. After the retreat from Russia, the corps was given the assignment of holding Danzig under the leadership of General of Division Jean Rapp. The Siege of Danzig lasted from January until November 1813 when the garrison surrendered to a contingent of the Sixth Coalition.

Gdańsk City in Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland

Gdańsk is a city on the Baltic coast of northern Poland. With a population of 466,631, Gdańsk is the capital and largest city of the Pomeranian Voivodeship and one of the most prominent cities within the cultural and geographical region of Kashubia. It is Poland's principal seaport and the centre of the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area.

In 1808 Lefebvre took part in the Peninsula War. [1] In 1809 he commanded the Bavarian army at the battles of Eckmühl [1] and Wagram. Defeated by Tyrolean patriot Andreas Hofer in the same year, he was replaced. He commanded the Old Guard in the French invasion of Russia, Battle of Borodino (1812), [1] and in the German (1813) and French campaigns (1814) of the War of the Sixth Coalition.

Battle of Eckmühl battle

The Battle of Eckmühl fought on 21 April – 22 April 1809, was the turning point of the 1809 Campaign, also known as the War of the Fifth Coalition. Napoleon I had been unprepared for the start of hostilities on 10 April 1809, by the Austrians under the Archduke Charles of Austria and for the first time since assuming the French Imperial Crown had been forced to cede the strategic initiative to an opponent. Thanks to the dogged defense waged by the III Corps, commanded by Marshal Davout, and the Bavarian VII Corps, commanded by Marshal Lefebvre, Napoleon was able to defeat the principal Austrian army and wrest the strategic initiative for the remainder of the war.

Battle of Wagram battle

The Battle of Wagram was a military engagement of the Napoleonic Wars that ended in a costly but decisive victory for Emperor Napoleon I's French and allied army against the Austrian army under the command of Archduke Charles of Austria-Teschen. The battle led to the breakup of the Fifth Coalition, the Austrian and British-led alliance against France.

County of Tyrol Former county of Austria

The (Princely) County of Tyrol was an estate of the Holy Roman Empire established about 1140. Originally a jurisdiction under the sovereignty of the Counts of Tyrol, it was inherited by the Counts of Gorizia in 1253 and finally fell to the Austrian House of Habsburg in 1363. In 1804 the Princely County of Tyrol, unified with the secularised Prince-Bishoprics of Trent and Brixen, became a crown land of the Austrian Empire in 1804 and from 1867 a Cisleithanian crown land of Austria-Hungary.

He voted for the Emperor's deposition at the Senate and during the First Restoration he was made Peer of France by Louis XVIII (4 June 1814), but rallied to Napoleon during the Hundred Days.

Bourbon Restoration Period of French history, 1814-1830

The Bourbon Restoration was the period of French history following the first fall of Napoleon in 1814, and his final defeat in the Hundred Days in 1815, until the July Revolution of 1830. The brothers of the executed Louis XVI came to power and reigned in highly conservative fashion. Exiled supporters of the monarchy returned to France. They were nonetheless unable to reverse most of the changes made by the French Revolution and Napoleon. At the Congress of Vienna they were treated respectfully, but had to give up nearly all the territorial gains made since 1789.

Louis XVIII of France Bourbon King of France and of Navarre

Louis XVIII, known as "the Desired", was King of France from 1814 to 1824, except for a period in 1815 known as the Hundred Days. He spent twenty-three years in exile, from 1791 to 1814, during the French Revolution and the First French Empire, and again in 1815, during the period of the Hundred Days, upon the return of Napoleon I from Elba.

Hundred Days Period from Napoleons escape from Elba to the second restoration of King Louis XVIII

The Hundred Days marked the period between Napoleon's return from exile on the island of Elba to Paris on 20 March 1815 and the second restoration of King Louis XVIII on 8 July 1815. This period saw the War of the Seventh Coalition, and includes the Waterloo Campaign, the Neapolitan War as well as several other minor campaigns. The phrase les Cent Jours was first used by the prefect of Paris, Gaspard, comte de Chabrol, in his speech welcoming the king back to Paris on 8 July.

After the war

He was excluded from the House of Peers during the Second Restoration. However, he retained his rank of marshal. Louis XVIII restored his peerage on 5 March 1819. He died in 1820 and was buried near André Masséna at the Père-Lachaise Cemetery, Paris.

He never forgot the hard work that brought him rank and wealth. When a friend expressed envy of his estate, Lefebvre said "Come down in the courtyard, and I'll have ten shots at you with a musket at 30 paces. If I miss, the whole estate is yours." The friend naturally declined this offer, and Lefebvre then added, "I had a thousand bullets shot at me from much closer range before I got all this."

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Alvin K. Benson (2001). "Francis Joseph Lefebvre". In John Powell (ed.). Magill's Guide to Military History. 3. Salem Press, Inc. p. 883.
  2. R. P. Dunn-Pattison, Napoleon's Marshals, (Empiricus books, 1909), viii.