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“Next after the greatest military personage of the century, Napoleon I., the most perfect is Marshal Bugeaud.”
Originally published following the disastrous Franco-Prussian War of 1870, and soon after translated into English, these memoirs form a fascinating portrait of the famous “Père Bugeaud”. Marshal Bugeaud had a long and varied career in the French Army; initially volunteering as a young Vélite of the Imperial Guard he followed Napoleon and his eagles to Austerlitz, Jena and Eylau before a long sojourn in Spain under Marshal Suchet. As a colonel he rallied to Napoleon during the Hundred Days and fought with distinction under his former chief Suchet in the Alps; with the restoration of the Bourbons after Waterloo, Bugeaud like many of his fellow officers retired from the service.
Bugeaud happily busied himself with agriculture and local improvements in his native region; however the July revolution of 1830 catapulted him back into the army with the rank of Brigadier. His disapproval of the conquest of Algeria was overcome by his devotion to the new king, Louis Philippe, and he sailed to Africa in 1836. Bugeaud instituted a rapid, brilliant campaign of flying columns to subjugate the native forces under Abd-el-Kader and signed what was intended to be a lasting peace in 1837 before returning to France. Bugeaud returned to Algeria in 1840 as Governor-General, as conflict loomed large; he proceeded with brutal but successful tactics for supressing the incipient revolt and crushed the last opposition to French rule at the battle of Isly in 1844. Promoted to Maréchal de France for his great victory he left a lasting legacy among the officers and men that served under him and across the map of the French Empire.
“Marshal Bugeaud, Duke of Isly, was certainly a more remarkable man than nine out of ten who have been the idol of a biographer, and his career is fertile in episodes or incidents characteristic of the times, and throwing light on history”