Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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FERRAND, Marie Louis, Baron and Count de, governor of Santo Domingo, born in Besancon, France, 12 October 1753; died in Palo Hincado, Santo Domingo, 7 November 1808. After finishing his military studies he joined his brother, who was pharmacist-in-chief of the French army, then on its way to the United States under the command of Rochambeau. As a volunteer, he fought through the war of American independence, and became a member of the Society of the Cincinnati. On his return to France he entered a regiment of dragoons. In 1792 he was promoted to a lieutenancy, and in 1793 was made captain. Shortly afterward; he was arrested and imprisoned as a royalist, but was liberated and made brigadier general, serving with distinction in the army of the west. After the peace of Amiens in 1802, he was made governor of Valenciennes. When Bonaparte resolved to reconquer Santo Domingo, the Spanish part of which had just been ceded to France, Ferrand requested to be allowed to join the expedition. After a four months' campaign the French army under General Leclerc had succeeded in completely conquering the island, when the arrest of Toussaint L'Ouverture caused the insurrection to break out afresh. General Leelerc died of the yellow fever after a few hours' illness, and the French, demoralized by disease and divided by the quarrels of their generals, were fleeing before the Negroes under Dessalines.
General Ferrand tried to defend the French part of the Island with his brigade, but was forced to retire to the City of Santo Domingo, the command of which was unanimously offered to him. Dessalines, at the head of an army of 22,000 men, soon invested the City, but after several bloody combats Perrand obliged him to raise the siege, 18 March 1803, and for three days pursued the wreck of his army. Perrand, holding thenceforward-undisputed possession of the Spanish part of the island, devoted himself to improving the condition of the unfortunate Spanish colonists. He was made by Napoleon in 1804 lieutenant general, and then captain general, of the island, and had full authority to carry out all his plans for reform.
He abolished the system of tithes and ecclesiastical rents which until then had been collected for the profit of the state, and by this means encouraged the reclaiming of uncultivated lands. He also fitted out numerous privateers for the purpose of preying on English commerce. He was also created successively baron, count of the empire, and grand commander of the Legion of Honor. At this time news arrived of great political changes in Spain. The governor of Porto Rico first enlightened Ferrand on this point by a declaration of war. The latter, depreeating the useless shedding of blood, tried to persuade the Spaniard that it was to their mutual interest to live in peace, and to avoid espousing the dissensions of the mother countries. The governor of Porto Rico, however, proceeded to incite an insurrection at Barahonda in October 1808, and Ferrand was forced to take arms in defense. His army at this time was reduced by disease to about 900 men. He dispatched two successive detachments of 125 men each to put down the rebellion, and in the mean time decided to meet the troops just disembarked by the governor of Porto Rico. This movement was strongly opposed by the inhabitants of Santo Domingo, who feared for his safety, but he persisted, and met the enemy, 7 November 1808, at Palo Hincado, with but 500 men to oppose to their 3,000. The first attack was favorable to Ferrand, but an assault of the enemy's cavalry turned both wings of the French corps, and a complete rout ensued. The greater part of the French was killed, and Ferrand, who was on the point of falling into the hands of the enemy, shot himself in despair. His head was cut off on the battlefield and borne in triumph on a pike. Later the Spanish government repudiated this treatment, and paid suitable honors to the remains of the French general. The death of Ferrand was a mortal blow to the prosperity of Santo Domingo. It never again enjoyed a government so capable and at the same time so beneficent. The body of Ferrand was taken to France by his aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Colonel Gilbert Guillermin, who in 1815 was one of the seventeen survivors of the 42,000 men that General Leclerc took with him to Santo Domingo in 1802. See "Histoire du Comte Ferrand," by A. de Lacaze (1855), and a similar work by Ferdinand Denis (1850).
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