1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bourmont, Louis Auguste Victor

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18411091911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 4 — Bourmont, Louis Auguste Victor

BOURMONT, LOUIS AUGUSTE VICTOR, Comte de Ghaisne de (1773–1846), marshal of France, entered the Gardes Françaises of the royal army shortly before the Revolution, emigrated in 1789, and served with Condé and the army of the émigrés in the campaigns of 1792 and 1793, subsequently serving as chief of staff to Scépeaux, the royalist leader, in the civil war in lower Anjou (1794–1796). Bourmont, excepted from the amnesty of April 1796, fled into Switzerland, but soon afterwards, having been made by Louis XVIII. a maréchal de camp and a knight of St Louis, he headed a fresh insurrection, which after some preliminary successes collapsed (1799–1800). He then made his submission to the First Consul, married, and lived in Paris; but his thinly veiled royalism caused his arrest a few months later, and he remained a prisoner for more than three years, finally escaping to Portugal in 1804. Three years later the French army under General Junot invaded Portugal, and Bourmont offered his services to Junot, who made him chief of staff of a division. He returned to France with Junot after the convention of Cintra, and was promptly re-arrested. He was soon released, however, on Junot’s demand, and was commissioned as an officer in the imperial army. He served in Italy for a time, then went on the staff of the viceroy Eugène (Beauharnais), whom he accompanied in the Moscow campaign. He was taken prisoner in the retreat, but escaped after a time and rejoined the French army. His conspicuous courage at the battle of Lützen in 1813 led Napoleon to promote him general of brigade, and in 1814 his splendid defence of Nogent (February 13) earned him the rank of general of division. At the first Restoration Bourmont was naturally employed by the Bourbons, to whose service he had devoted his life, but he rejoined Napoleon on his return from Elba. On the eve of the campaign of 1815, and at the urgent request of Count Gérard, he was given a divisional command in the army of the north. On the first day of the Waterloo campaign Bourmont went over to the enemy. It is not probable that he gave information of French movements to the allies, but the best that can be said in exculpation of his treachery is that his old friends and comrades, the royalists of Anjou, were again in insurrection, and that he felt that he must lead them. He made no attempt to defend his conduct, and acted as the accuser of Marshal Ney. A year later he was given command of a division of the royal guard; and in 1823 he held an important position in the army which, under the command of the duc d’Angoulême, invaded Spain. He commanded the whole army in Spain for a time in 1824, became minister of war in 1829, and in 1830 was placed in command of the Algiers expedition. The landing of the French and the capture of Algiers were directed by him with complete success, and he was rewarded with the bâton of marshal. But the revolution of 1830 put an end to his command, and, refusing to take the oath to Louis Philippe, he was forced to resign. In 1832 Marshal Bourmont took part in the rising of the duchesse de Berri, and on its failure retired to Portugal. Here, as always, on the side of absolutism, he commanded the army of Dom Miguel during the civil war of 1833–1834, and after the victory of the constitutional party he retired to Rome. At the amnesty of 1840 he returned to France. He died at the château of Bourmont on the 27th of October 1846.

Charles de Bourmont, a son of the marshal, wrote several pamphlets in vindication of his father’s career.