Serurier, Jean Mathieu-Philbert, 1st Comte Serurier

Rather sarcastic 1797 LS to General Dumas (father of the novelist), who has complained that his troops lack meat, during the Siege of Mantua

Price: $350.00

Description:
(1742-1819) French soldier, led a division in the First Coalition War and became Marshal of France under Napoleon. Born into the minor nobility, he fought in the Seven Years' War. After transferring to the regular army, he was wounded at Warburg in 1760 and fought in the Spanish-Portuguese War in 1762. He was a new major in 1789 when the French Revolution sped up promotions and was a regimental colonel in 1792. After leading Army of Italy troops in a number of actions, he became a brigade general in 1793 and a division general in 1794. He led a division in Napoleon's 1796 Italian campaign except during bouts of illness. He especially distinguished himself at the Battle of Mondovi and the Siege of Mantua. On June 10, 1796, Bonaparte put Sérurier in charge of the Siege of Mantua. At the end of July, he became feverish with malaria and returned to France to recuperate. After his recovery he took command at Livorno (Leghorn). On 27 Dec. 1796 he resumed command of the Mantua siege corps, 10,000 men in 2 divisions under Thomas-Alexandre Dumas and Claude Dallemagne. Sérurier blocked Austrian general di Provera from joining the Mantua garrison and he surrendered to Sérurier with 7,000 men, 22 field guns, a pontoon train and a food convoy. Afterward, Sérurier got into a dispute with Dumas, who had commanded armies but was now a mere division commander. Angry that his contributions were not recognized, Dumas sent an abusive note to the Army Chief of Staff (later Marshal) Berthier and was demoted by Bonaparte. Mantua capitulated Feb. 2, 1797. In 1799, he again fought in Italy during the War of the Second Coalition at Verona, Magnano and Cassano. He supported Napoleon's rise to political power in the 18 Brumaire Coup in late 1799. On 19 May 1804, Napoleon appointed him a Marshal of the Empire. His active military career over, Sérurier served in the French Senate and was ennobled by Napoleon. In 1814 as the First French Empire was crumbling, he burned all the many flags captured by the French armies. His troops called him the "Virgin of Italy" for his rigorous standards of discipline and honesty in an army known for generals who enriched themselves by plundering conquered territories. Louis XVIII made him a Peer of France, but joining Napoleon during the Hundred Days caused the loss of his post at Les Invalides and his Marshal's salary after Napoleon's second downfall. Despite his Bonapartist sympathies, as Peer Sérurier voted in favored the death penalty for Marshal Ney. He was restored to Marshal in 1819. His surname is inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 24. Sarcastic LS, 1-1/2pp (both sides of folded sheet with integral address leaf), Roverbella (in Province of Mantua, Italy), 20 Nivose Year 5 (Jan. 10, 1797), to Division General Dumas in Marmirolle who has complained to General Serurier that his troops lack meat. Serurier's own troops in Verona do as well, and Serurier, for want of a better solution, has ordered the Commissary of War to deliver rice instead. He chastises Dumas, stating: "One is never bored, general, when one takes care of the soldier. Those who have served with me know that I take care of mine." He explains that the number of troops has increased by thousands but his efforts to get more clothing and equipment have been ignored. Very nice association of two famed French military greats! With translation that misspells Dumas' name. THOMAS-ALEXANDRE DUMAS (1762-1806) Army general in Revolutionary France, highest-ranking man of African descent ever in a European army, He was the 1st person of color in the French military to become brigadier general, divisional general, and 1st to become general-in-chief of a French army. He was one of the two highest-ranking officers of sub-Saharan African descent (other, Toussaint L'Ouverture) in the Western world until 1975, when "Chappie" James became 4-star general in the US Air Force. Born in Saint-Dominique the son of a white French nobleman and an enslaved mother of African descent, his father took him to France in 1776, had him educated and helped him enter the French military as a private at age 24. Dumas rose by age 31 to command 53,000 troops as the General-in-Chief of the French Army of the Alps. His strategic victory in opening the high Alps passes enabled the French to initiate their 2nd Italian Campaign against Austria. He was a commander of French cavalry forces in Egypt. On the march from Alexandria to Cairo, he clashed verbally with Napoleon under whom he had served in Italy. In March 1799, Dumas left Egypt on a ship which went aground in the Kingdom of Naples, where he was taken prisoner and thrown into a dungeon until spring 1801. Returning to France after his release, he and his wife had a son, Alexandre, who became one of France's greatest authors. One of Dumas Junior's most famous characters, the Count of Monte Cristo, was inspired by his father's life. The general’s grandson, Alexandre Dumas fils, became one of France's most celebrated 19th century playwrights.

Condition: Very good, faint scattered foxing, light folds
Type:Letter






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