1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Augereau, Pierre François Charles

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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 2
Augereau, Pierre François Charles

AUGEREAU, PIERRE FRANÇOIS CHARLES, duke of Castiglione (1757–1816), marshal of France, was born in Paris in a humble station of life. At the age of seventeen he enlisted in the carabineers and thereafter came into note as a duellist. Having drawn his sword upon an officer who insulted him, he fled from France and roamed about in the Levant. He served in the Russian army against the Turks; but afterwards escaped into Prussia and enlisted in the guards. Tiring of this, he deserted with several others and reached the Saxon frontier. Service in the Neapolitan army and a sojourn in Portugal filled up the years 1788–1791; but the events of the French Revolution brought him back to his native land. He served with credit against the Vendeans and then joined the troops opposing the Spaniards in the south. There he rose rapidly, becoming general of division on the 23rd of December 1793. His division distinguished itself even more when transferred to the army of Italy; and under Bonaparte he was largely instrumental in gaining the battle of Millesimo and in taking the castle of Cosseria and the camp of Ceva. At the battle of Lodi (May 10, 1796), the turning movement of Augereau and his division helped to decide the day. But it was at Castiglione that he rendered the most signal services. Marbot describes him as encouraging even Bonaparte himself in the confused situation that prevailed before that battle, and, though this is exaggerated, there is no doubt that Augereau largely decided the fortunes of those critical days. Bonaparte thus summed up his military qualities: “Has plenty of character, courage, firmness, activity; is inured to war; is well liked by the soldiery; is fortunate in his operations.” In 1797 Bonaparte sent him to Paris to encourage the Jacobinical Directors, and it was Augereau and the troops led by him that coerced the “moderates” in the councils and carried through the coup d’état of 18 Fructidor (4th of September) 1797. He was then sent to lead the united French forces in Germany; but peace speedily ensued; and he bore a grudge against the Directors and Bonaparte for their treatment of him at that time. He took no part in the coup d’état of Brumaire 1799, and did not distinguish himself in the Rhenish campaign which ensued. Nevertheless, owing to his final adhesion to Bonaparte’s fortunes, he received a marshal’s baton at the beginning of the Empire (May 19, 1804). In the campaign of 1805 he did good service around Constance and Bregenz, and at Jena (October 14, 1806) his corps distinguished itself. Early in 1807 he fell ill of a fever, and at the battle of Eylau he had to be supported on his horse, but directed the movements of his corps with his wonted bravery. His corps was almost annihilated and the marshal himself received a wound from which he never quite recovered. When transferred to Catalonia, he gained some successes but tarnished his name by cruelty. In the campaign of 1812 in Russia and in the Saxon campaign of 1813 his conduct was little more than mediocre. Before the battle of Leipzig (October 16, 18, 19, 1813), Napoleon reproached him with not being the Augereau of Castiglione; to which he replied, “Give me back the old soldiers of Italy, and I will show you that I am.” In 1814 he had command of the army of Lyons, and his slackness exposed him to the charge of having come to an understanding with the Austrian invaders. Thereafter he served Louis XVIII., but, after reviling Napoleon, went over to him during the Hundred Days. The emperor repulsed him and charged him with being a traitor to France in 1814. Louis XVIII., when restored to the throne, deprived him of his military title and pension. He died at his estate of La Houssaye on the 12th of June 1816. In person he was tall and commanding, but his loud and vulgar behaviour frequently betrayed the soldier of fortune.

As authorities consult: Kock’s Mémoires de Masséna; Bouvier, Bonaparte en Italie; Count A. F. Andréossi, La Campagne sur le Mein, 1800–1801; Baron A. Ducasse, Précis de la campagne de l’armée de Lyon en 1814; and the Memoirs of Marbot.  (J. Hl. R.)