Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Bazaine, François Achille

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Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography
Bazaine, François Achille
Edition of 1900. See also François Achille Bazaine on Wikipedia, and our Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography disclaimer. The 1891 edition omits his date of death and notes at the beginning "He enlisted as a private at the age of twenty."

BAZAINE, François Achille, French soldier, b. in Versailles, 13 Feb., 1811; d. in exile in Madrid, Spain, 23 Sept., 1888. He became lieutenant in Algeria in 1835, captain after two years' service with the foreign legion against the Carlists in Spain, lieutenant-colonel in 1848 after nine years' service in Algeria and Morocco, colonel of the foreign legion in 1850, and general of brigade in the Crimean war, acting as commander of Sebastopol after its capture. He became general of division in 1855, and participated in the capture of Kinburn. Subsequently he was military inspector in France. In the Italian campaign he was wounded, 8 June, 1859, while commanding a division in the attack upon Melegnano, and he took a conspicuous part in the battle of Solferino. In 1862 he commanded in Mexico the first division of the French army, and by defeating Comonfort compelled the surrender of Puebla, 18 May, 1863, shortly after which the French entered the capital. On 1 Oct., 1863, he succeeded Forey as commander-in-chief, acting as civil administrator of the occupied districts; and the rank of marshal was conferred on him in 1864. In February, 1865, he captured the town of Oaxaca, together with a Mexican army of 7,000 men under Diaz. Though he persuaded Maximilian to issue the most rigorous decrees against the Juarists, and himself relentlessly executed them, he was generally believed to be engaged in secret plottings with the enemies of the emperor, in pursuance of ambitious personal schemes. He married a rich Mexican lady, whose family espoused the cause of Juarez. In February, 1867, he withdrew with his forces from the capital, declaring Maximilian's position to be untenable, and soon afterward embarked at Vera Cruz. On his arrival in France, though exposed to violent public denunciations, he took his seat in the senate, and was appointed commander of the 3d army corps; and in October, 1869, after the death of St. Jean d'Angely, he became commander-in-chief of the imperial guard at Paris. At the beginning of the Franco-German war in 1870 he was placed in command, near Metz, of the 3d corps. After the defeats of Worth and Forbach he assumed, on 8 Aug., command of the mam French armies, in place of the Emperor Napoleon, and began his retreat from Metz, 14 Aug., hoping to effect a junction with the army near Chalons and with the new forces gathering under MacMahon. But he was attacked on the same day, while still in front of the fortress, and after the bloody battles of Mars-la-Tour (16 Aug.) and Gravelotte (18 Aug.) was forced to retire within the fortifications, and was soon shut in by Prince Frederick Charles. He made several futile attempts to break through the investing army, that of 31 Aug. to 1 Sept. proving very disastrous. After the capitulation of Sedan he renewed these attempts (7, 8 Oct.) to escape from Metz, and then tried to negotiate with the Germans at Versailles through his adjutant, Gen. Boyer, and in the interest, it was thought, of the deposed dynasty; but he was compelled, on 27 Oct., to surrender to Prince Frederick Charles his entire force of 173,000 men, who by the terms of the capitulation all became prisoners of war, Bazaine himself being permitted to join the ex-emperor at Cassel. After the preliminary treaty of peace he removed to Geneva, in March, 1871. Having been charged with treason by Gambetta, he defended himself in his “Rapport sommaire sur les opérations de l'armée du Rhin du 13 Août au 29 Octobre.” He was placed under arrest 14 May, 1872, and at the conclusion of his trial, 10 Dec., 1873, the judges declared him guilty and unanimously sentenced him to degradation and death. But all the members of the court, presided over by the Duke d'Aurnale, signed an appeal for mercy, which the duke presented in person to President MacMahon, who commuted the sentence to twenty years seclusion. He was sent to a fortress in the island of Ste. Marguerite; but, through the efforts of his wife, he effected his escape at midnight, 9 Aug., 1874. He took refuge in Spain, where he ever after resided, in very reduced circumstances.