Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 372 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PIERRE FRANCOIS JOSEPH LEFEBVRE, duke of Danzig (1755-1820), marshal of France, was born at Rouffach in Alsace on the loth of October 1755. At the outbreak of the Revolution he was a sergeant in the Gardes francaises, and with many of his comrades of this regiment took the popular side. He distinguished himself by bravery and humanity in many of the street fights in Paris, and becoming an officer and again distinguishing himself—this time against foreign invaders—he was made a general of division in 1794. He took part in the Revolutionary Wars from Fleurus to Stokach, always resolute, strictly obedient and calm. At Stokach (1799) he received a severe wound and had to return to France, where he assisted Napoleon during the coup d'etat of 18 Brumaire. He was one of the first generals of division to be made marshal at the beginning of the First Empire. He commanded the guard infantry at Jena, conducted the siege of Danzig 18o6-,8b7 (from which town he received his title in 1808), commanded a corps in the emperor's campaign of 1808-1809 in Spain, and in 1809 was given the difficult task of commanding the Bavarian contingent, which he led in the containing engagements of Abensberg and Rohr and at the battle of Eckmuhl. He commanded the Imperial Guard in Russia, 1812, fought through the last campaign of the Empire, and won fresh glory at Montmirail, Areis-sur-Aube and Champaubert. He was made a peer of France by Louis XVIII. but joined Napoleon during the Hundred Days, and was only amnestied and permitted to resume his seat in the upper chamber in 1819. He died at Paris on the 14th of September 1820. Marshal Lefebvre was a simple soldier, whose qualifications for high rank, great as they were, came from experience and not from native genius. He was incapable of exercising a supreme command, even of leading an important detachment, but he was absolutely trustworthy as a subordinate, as brave as he was experienced, and intensely loyal to his chief. He maintained to the end of his life a rustic simplicity of speech and demeanour. Of his wife (formerly a blan(hisseuse to the Gardes Frangaises) many stories have been told, but in so far as they are to her discredit they seem to be false, she being, like the marshal, a plain " child of the people."

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