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EDMOND LEBEUF (1809-1888)

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Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 351 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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EDMOND LEBEUF (1809-1888), marshal of France, was born at Paris on the 5th of November x809, passed through the Ecole Polytechnique and the school of Metz, and distinguished himself as an artillery officer in Algerian warfare, becoming colonel in 1852. He commanded the artillery of the 1st French corps at the siege of Sebastopol, and was promoted in 1854 to the rank of general of brigade, and in 18J7 to that of general of division. In the Italian War of 1859 he commanded the artillery, and by his action at Solferino materially assisted in achieving the victory. In September 1866, having in the meantime become aide-de-camp to Napoleon III., he was despatched to Venetia to hand over that province to Victor Emmanuel. In 1869, on the death of Marshal Niel, General Lebceuf became minister of war, and earned public approbation by his vigorous reorganization of the War Office and the civil departments of the service. In the spring of 1870 he received the marshal's baton. On the declaration of war with Germany Marshal Lebceuf delivered himself in the Corps Legislatif of the historic saying, " So ready are we, that if the war lasts two years, not a gaiter button would be found wanting." It may be that he intended this to mean that, given time, the reorganization of the War Office would be perfected through experience, but the result inevitably caused it to be regarded as a mere boast, though it is now known that the administrative confusion on the frontier in July 187o was far less serious than was supposed at the time. Lebceuf took part in the Lorraine campaign, at first as chief of staff (major-general) of the Army of the Rhine, and afterwards, when Bazaine became commander-in-chief, as chief of the III. corps, which he led in the battles around Metz. He distinguished himself, whenever engaged, by personal bravery and good leadership. Shut up with Bazaine in Metz, on its fall he was confined as a prisoner in Germany. On the conclusion of peace he returned to France and gave evidence before the commission of inquiry into the surrender of that stronghold, when he strongly denounced Bazaine. After this he retired into private life to the Chateau du Moncel near Argentan, where he died on the 7th of June 1888. LE BON, JOSEPH (1765-1795), French politician, was born at Arras on the 29th of September 1765. He became a priest in the order of the Oratory, and professor of rhetoric at Beaune. He adopted revolutionary ideas, and became a cure of the Constitutional Church in the department of Pas-de-Calais, where he was later elected as a depute sup pleant to the Convention. He became maire of Arras and administrateur of Pas-de-Calais, LE 351 and on the 2nd of July 1793 took his seat in the Convention. He was sent as a representative on missions into the departments of the Somme and Pas-de-Calais, where he showed great severity in dealing with offences against revolutionaries (8th Brumaire, year II. to 22nd Messidor, year II.; i.e. 29th October 1793 to loth July 1794). In consequence, during the reaction which followed the 9th Thermidor (27th July 1794) he was arrested on the 22nd Messidor, year III. (loth July 1795). He was tried before the criminal tribunal of the Somme, condemned to death for abuse of his power during his mission, and executed at Amiens on the 24th Vendemiaire in the year IV. (loth October 1795). Whatever Le Bon's offences, his condemnation was to a great extent due to the violent attacks of one of his political enemies, Armand Guffroy; and it is only just to remember that it was owing to his courage that Cambrai was saved from falling into the hands of the Austrians. His son, Emile le Bon, published a Histoire de Joseph le Bon et des tribunaux revolutionnaires d'Arras et de Cambrai (2nd ed., 2 vols., Arras, 1864).
End of Article: EDMOND LEBEUF (1809-1888)
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