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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Francois Achille Bazaine

BAZAINE, Francois Achille, French soldier, born in Versailles, 13 February 1811. He enlisted as a private at the age of twenty, became lieutenant in Algeria in 1835, captain after two years' service with the foreign legion against the Carlists in Spain, Lieutenant-Colonel in 1848 after nine years' service in Algeria and Morocco, colonel of the foreign legion in 1850, and general of brigade in the Crimean war, acting as commander of Sebastopol after its capture. He became general of division in 1855, and participated in the capture of Kin-burn. Subsequently he was military inspector in France. In the Italian campaign he was wounded, 8 June 1859, while commanding a division in the attack upon Melegnano, and he took a conspicuous part in the battle of Solferino. In 1862 he commanded in Mexico the first division of the French army, and by defeating Comonfort compelled the surrender of Puebla, 18 May 1863, shortly after which the French entered the capital. On 1 October 1863, he succeeded Forey as commander-in-chief, acting as civil administrator of the occupied districts; and the rank of marshal was conferred on him in 1864. In February 1865, he captured the town of Oaxaca, together with a Mexican army of 7,000 men under Diaz. Though he persuaded Maximilian to issue the most rigorous decrees against the Juarists, and he relentlessly executed them, he was generally believed to be engaged in secret plotting with the enemies of the emperor, in pursuance of ambitious personal schemes. He married a rich Mexican lady, whose family espoused the cause of Juarez. In February 1867, he withdrew with his forces from the capital, declaring Maximilian's position to be untenable, and soon afterward embarked at Vera Cruz. On his arrival in France, though exposed to violent public denunciations, he took his seat in the senate, and was appointed commander of the 3d army corps; and in October 1869, after the death of St. Jean d'Angely, he became commander-in-chief of the imperial guard at Paris. At the beginning of the Franco-German war in 1870 he was placed in command, near Metz, of the 3d corps. After the defeats of Worth and Forbach he assumed, on 8 August command of the main French armies, in place of the Emperor Napoleon, and began his retreat from Metz, 14 August hoping to effect a junction with the army near Chalons and with the new forces gathering under MacMahon. But he was attacked on the same day, while still in front of the fortress, and after the bloody battles of Mars-In-Tour (16 August) and Gravelotte (18 August) was forced to retire within the fortifications, and was soon shut in by Prince Frederick Charles. He made several futile attempts to break through the investing army, that of 31 August to 1 September proving very disastrous. After the capitulation of Sedan he renewed these attempts (7, 8 October) to escape from Metz, and then tried to negotiate with the Germans at Versailles through his adjutant, General Boyer, and in the interest, it was thought, of the deposed dynasty; but he was compelled, on 27 October to surrender to Prince Frederick Charles his entire force of 173,000 men, who by the terms of the capitulation all became prisoners of war, Bazaine himself being permitted to join the ex-emperor at Cassel. After the preliminary treaty of peace he removed to Geneva, in March 1871. Having been charged with treason by Gambetta, he defended himself in his "Rapport sommaire sur les operations de l'armee du Rhin du 13 Aout au 29 Octobre." He was placed under arrest 14 May 1872, and at the conclusion of his trial, 10 December 1873, the judges declared him guilty and unanimously sentenced him to degradation and death. But all the members of the court, presided over by the Duke d'Aumale, signed an appeal for mercy, which the duke presented in person to President MacMahon, who commuted the sentence to twenty years seclusion. He was sent to a fortress in the island of Ste. Marguerite; but, through the efforts of his wife, he effected his escape at midnight, 9 August 1874. He took refuge in Spain, where he has since resided, in very reduced circumstances.

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