Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 8 >> Dance Of Death to Dean >> Davout

Davout

paris, army, napoleon, campaign and marechal

DAVOUT, cli'voo', Louis Nicholas, Duke of Auerstadt, Prince of Eckmiihl and Marshal of France: b. Annoux, Yonne, 10 May 1770; d. Paris, 1 June 1823. He was educated at Bri enne and entered the army as sub-lieutenant of cavalry in 1788. On the outbreak of the Revo lution he embraced its principles. He was chef de bataillon in the campaign of 1792, was promoted general of brigade, but was removed because of his being of noble birth. He served on the Rhine in 1794-97, and accompanied Desaix to Egypt in 1798. His skilful handling of his troops at Aboukir came under the atten tion of Napoleon, and in 1800 he was made general of division and commanded the cav alry in the Marengo campaign. He was next appointed commander of the consular guard and marshal of France in 1804, soon after Na poleon became emperor. He distinguished him self in all of the succeeding campaigns as commander of the Third Army Corps. At Aus terlitz his corps bore the brunt of the fighting, in the Jena campaign with a single corps Da vout won the great victory of Auerstadt against the main Prussian army. His fame was enhanced at Eylau and Friedland. He was ap pointed governor-general of the grand-duchy of Warsaw after the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807, and in 1808 Napoleon made him Duke of Auer stadt. He again distinguished himself in the actions leading to the brilliant victory of Eck Dial, and also in the battle of Wagram. He was made Prince of Eckmiihl in 1810. He helped organize the gigantic army which in vaded Russia in 1812. In this campaign he won the victory of Mobiler and was wounded at Borodino. He was placed in command of the Hamburg military district in 1813, defended that city for several months, only surrendering on the direct order of Louis XVIII after the fall of Napoleon in 1814. His character and

methods were often regarded as cruel and ra pacious, but he doubtless acted on the instruc tions of Napoleon; being a rigid disciplinarian he gave the same precise obedience to superior orders which he exacted from his own subordi nates. His military talents were of the highest, and later judgment has regarded him as perhaps the ablest the all Napoleon's marshals. Al though at the first restoration he made his sub mission, he maintained his hostility to the Bour bons and during the Hundred Days acted as Minister of War, showing extraordinary ability in organizing troops and procuring army sup plies. After Waterloo he directed the hopeless defense of Paris, and was deprived of his es tates and titles after the restoration. He pro tested against the proscription of 1815 and when some of his subordinate' generals were in cluded, Davout demanded to be held responsible for their acts, as executed under his orders. He made every effort to prevent the condemna tion and execution of the gallant Marshal Ney. His rank was restored to him in 1817 and he became a member of the Chamber of Peers in 1819. Consult Blocqueville, 'Le marechal Da vout> (Paris 1879-80); 'Correspondance du marechal Davout> (ed. Mazade, 4 vols., Paris 1885); Chenier, due (ib. 1866); Montegut, 'Le MarEchal Davout' (ib. 1882); Holzhausen, 'Davout Hamburg' (Millheim-on-Rtthr' 1892); Vigier, Davout; Marechal de l'Empire' (2 vols., Paris 1898).