Suchet, Louis-Gabriel, Marshal of France, Duc d’Albufera


Marshal Suchet seeks funds for returning the horse and effects of battalion commander Miocque killed at Tarragon in Spain


Type: Letter
Description: (1772-1826)  Duke of Albufera, Marshal of the Empire, one of the most successful commanders in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

A volunteer in the Lyon National Guard cavalry, he showed abilities which led to rapid promotions. In 1793, he was a chef de bataillon (major) when he captured British General Charles O’Hara at Toulon. Severely wounded at Cerea during the 1796 Italian Campaign, he was promoted to command a demi-brigade (Lieut. Colonel). In May 1797, one of 3 Lieut. Colonels of the 18th Infantry Demi-brigade, and with little hope of advancement, he was sent to Venice to procure uniforms for the troops. Suchet and an aide were treated like royalty and Bonaparte ordered his promotion to Colonel. Later in 1797, his service in the Tyrol under Joubert and in Switzerland under Brune in 1798 led to promotion to Brigadier General, becoming Brune’s chief of staff in August.

In July 1799, he was promoted to Division General (Major General) and made Joubert’s chief of staff in Italy. In 1800, he was named 2nd -in-command to Massena. His skillful resistance to superior Austrian forces with the left wing of Masséna’s army prevented an invasion of France and aided the success of Napoleon’s crossing of the Alps leading to the June 14 Battle of Marengo. He was prominent in the rest of the Italian campaign up to the armistice of Treviso. In the 1805-06 campaigns, he enhanced his reputation at Austerlitz, Saalfield, Jena, Pultusk, and Ostrolenka, where he led an infantry division.

He became a Count 19 March 1808 and married a niece of Joseph Bonaparte 16 November. In Spain, he fought in the Siege of Saragossa then named commander of the Army of Aragon and Governor of that region; within 2 years, the area was in complete submission. Beaten by the Spanish at Alcaniz, he soundly defeated the army of Blake y Joyes at Maria 14 June 1809 and on 22 April 1810, defeated O’Donnell at Lledia. After the siege of Tarragona, he was named Marshal of France 8 July 1811. In 1812, he captured  Valencia, rewarded with the dukedom of nearby Albufera 24 January. Suchet defended his territorial occupations one by one until forced to withdraw from Spain, then took part in the 1814 defensive campaign.

King Louis XVIII made him a peer of France 4 June 1814, forfeited by his support of Napoleon during the Hundred Days when he commanded an army on the Alpine frontier.

9 ¼ x 7 ½ LS in French signed as “Marshal, Duc d’Albufera”, Imperial Army of Aragon, Valencia, November 9, 1812, to M. Salance, Inspector of the Army at Valencia, concerning sums due the commander of the Battalion Miocque, killed June 7, 1811 after being wounded in the capture of Fort Oliva at Tarragon, seeking 869 francs scheduled to forward his horse and effects.

The 3 May-28 June 1811 siege of Tarragona was the 2nd of 3 sieges of the last major cities in the east of Spain in a 12 month period. By 1811 the port city of Tarragona was the most important part of Catalonia still in Spanish hands. Suchet had 20,000 men for the siege, incl. 1,400 cavalry, 2,000 artillerymen and 750 engineers. In 1811 Tarragona was protected strong natural and man-made defenses. The only geographical weakness was a hill named Monte Olivo overlooking the lower town, the southern edge of the summit protected by Fort Olivo. Suchet arrived near Tarragona on 2 May, and on 3 May drove the Spanish out of their outposts and into the fortifications.

The French concentrated their efforts against the lower town, but had to drive off the Anglo-Spanish fleet and capture the outlying Spanish forts of Francoli and Olivo. The fleet was the easiest to deal with. On 8 May the French began to build a fort on the shore, and by 13 May the fort was able to open fire, the fleet forced to pull back. Fort Olivo was reinforced, and large sorties were carried out. Suchet decided to attack Fort Olivo with a direct assault on the fort before there was a practicable breach, taking advantage of its relatively open southern front with its 9’ high wall and palisade, and a small gap where the aqueduct carrying water into the city passed through the walls. On May 29, troops sent to attack the rear wall clashed with a Spanish regiment. In the dark the units became mingled which prevented the Spanish from firing onto the attackers, and the French fought their way to the back of the fort. The frontal assault also met with success. Despite fierce resistance within the walls, the French eventually took possession of the place, losing 325 dead ( apparenty including Miocque) and wounded. On May 30, the Spanish tried to recapture the fort, but their attack was beaten off and Fort Olivo remained in French hands for the rest of the siege.

Condition: Very good, likely overall lightly trimmed

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