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Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Laurent, Marquis de Gouvion Saint Cyr

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GOUVION SAINT CYR, Laurent, Marquis de (1764- 1830), a French marshal, was born at Toul, 13th April 1764. At the age of eighteen he went to Rome with the view of prosecuting the study of painting, but, although he continued his artistic studies after his return to Paris in 1784, he never definitely adopted the profession of a painter. In 1792 he was chosen a captain in the chasseurs repiilli- cains, and served on the staff of General Custine. His pro motion rapidly followed, and in the course of two years he had become a general of division. In 1796 he commanded the centre division of Moreau s army in the campaign of the Rhine, and by coolness and sagacity greatly aided him in his brilliant defence against superior numbers, and in his subsequent celebrated retreat. In 1798 he was appointed to the command of the army of Italy, the officers of which had revolted against their general Massena, and he was speedily successful in obtaining the complete re- establishment of discipline. In the following year he com manded the left wing of Jourdan s army in Germany; but when Jourdan was succeeded by Massena, he joined the army of Moreau in Italy, where, in face of great difficulties, he was not only completely successful in his defensive tactics, but gained, on the 13th December, an important victory at Albano. When Moreau, in 1800, was appointed to the command of the army of the Rhine, Gouvion St Cyr was named his first lieutenant, and on the 9th May gained a victory over General Krayat Biberach. In 1801 he was sent to Spain to command the army intended for the inva sion of Portugal, and was named grand officer of the legion of honour. When a treaty of peace was shortly afterwards concluded with Portugal, he succeeded Lucien Bonaparte as ambassador at Madrid. In 1803 he was appointed to the command of an army corps in Italy, and he gained in 1805 a victory over the Austrians at Castel Franco. He took | part in the Prussian and Polish campaigns of 1807, and in 1808 he commanded an army corps with some success in Catalonia; but, not wishing to comply with certain orders he received from Paris, he resigned his command, and remained in disgrace till 1811. On the opening of the Russian campaign he received command of the 6th army corps, and on the 7th August 1812 obtained a victory over the Russians at Polosk, in recognition of which he was created a marshal of France. He distinguished himself at the battle of Dresden, 26th and 27th August 1813, but, after a stubborn resistance, capitulated there to the allies on the llth November following, and remained for some time a prisoner in Hungary. On the restoration of the Bourbons he was created a peer of France, and in July 1815 was appointed war minister, but resigned his office in the November following. In June 1817 he was appointed minister of marine, and in September following again resumed the duties of war minister, which he continued to discharge till November 1819. He died 17th March 1830. Gouviou St Cyr was a prudent and cautious rather than a brilliant general, but he would doubtless have obtained better opportunities of acquiring distinction had he shown himself more blindly devoted to the interests of Napoleon.

He is the author of the following works : Journal dcs operations

de I armee do Catalogue en 1808 e^ 1809, Paris, 1821 ; Memoircs stir les Campagnes dcs annees de lihin et de JKhin-et-Mosclle de 1794 a 1797, Paris, 1829; and Memoircs pour servir a I histoiie militaire sous le Dircdoire, le Consnlat, et V Empire, 1831. See Gay de

Vernon s Vic de Gotivion Saint-Cyr, 1857.