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MessageSujet: Re: LES OFFICIERS D'ORIGINE FRANCAISE   Mar 6 Sep - 9:08

Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville

(1785 - 1868) (also known as Bernard de Marigny) was a French-Creole American nobleman, playboy,[1] politician, and President of the Louisiana Senate between 1822-1823

Early life

The son of Count Pierre Enguerrand Philippe de Mandeville Ecuyer, Sieur de Marigny and Chevalier de St. Louis, Bernard was born in New Orleans in 1785. In 1798, Louis-Philippe, Duc d'Orleans (who became King Louis Philippe in 1830) and his two brothers, the Duke de Montpensier and the Count of Beaujolais, visited the Marigny plantation, in Fontainebleau.[2] By all accounts, they were lavishly entertained by the Marignys. One story recounts that special gold dinner ware was made for the occasion of the Duc d'Orleans visit and was thrown into the river afterward because no one would be worthy of using it again.

The visit of the French royals apparently had a big impact on Marigny as it is reported as one example of the spoiled life in which he was reared. When he was 15, his father died and Marigny inherited his father's plantation just below the city gates, east of New Orleans' Vieux Carré. According to historians, "His every whim [was] indulged while his father was alive, he became as wild and headstrong after his death as an unbacked mustang, and his guardian, abandoning all idea of control, finally shipped him to England, hoping that life abroad might mend his manners; but in London Bernard's dissipations became only more pyrotechnic, and he spent most of his time at Almack's and other famous gambling places."[3]


One of the things Marigny brought back to New Orleans from England was the dice game Hazard[4] which became popular in a simplified form, known in local dialect as "Crapaud". Different theories argue as to the exact origin of the term. One states that it was due to its popularity among the French Creole residents, who were called "Frogs" by the English-speaking residents.[5] Another suggests that the name came from the hunched over position of the players, squatting like toads so to speak, as they threw dice on the ground.[6] Later, the names was shortened by English-speakers to craps. The game became vastly popular with African-American slaves who spread it throughout the country, its popularity even spreading across color lines.

Faubourg Marigny

Main article: Faubourg Marigny

On reaching his majority in 1806, Marigny at once had his plantation subdivided and began to develop the Faubourg Marigny. Marigny had many gambling debts and the smaller the land parcels the more there was to sell. The area grew rapidly and lots were sold all the way into the 1820s.[7] Marigny's development was immediately popular. He spent most of 1806 and 1807 at the office of notary Narcisse Broutin selling sixty-foot lots or emplacements to prospective homebuilders.[8] Marigny has famously named the streets of his neighborhood whimsically (Peace, History, Poets, Frenchman, Greatmen, Music, Love and Craps (after the game of chance he introduced to America). "Though said to be poorly educated in the classics, he christened the main thoroughfare to his house Elysian Fields after Virgil's "Deathless Residence of the Spirits of the Blessed."[9]

As more English-speaking Americans arrived in New Orleans, tensions between them and the settled Creoles began to grow. When two American developers approached Marigny about future commercial development of the city in the area of the Faubourg Marigny, the Creole first agreed, and then reneged by instructing Madame Marigny to stay away from the notary office, thus effectively killing the deal; this was reportedly due to his notorious dislike of the American settlers who were considered uncouth parvenus. This act was seen as extremely bad faith on the part of Marigny, and not only ensured that housing development grew uptown instead of east of the city, but also affected both his finances and his political career: "Marigny was severely blamed by the rest of the Creole population for thus yielding to his anti-American prejudices. This feeling ultimately worked his political destruction. Thereafter he was not looked on as a safe leader, and when he became a candidate for the governorship, they refused to support him."[10]

Strapped for cash, Marigny later sold his lots not only to his fellow Creoles, but to French-speaking gens de couleur to whom he was also related through a half-sister, the businesswoman Eulalie de Mandeville Macarty, thus helping to create a traditional enclave of the New Orleans Creoles of color.

Battle of New Orleans

Main article: Battle of New Orleans

During the battle, General Andrew Jackson established his headquarters at Marigny's plantation on Victory Street.[11] Nevertheless, Marigny and Edward Livingston were unable to convince the American General to meet and seek the support of the pirate Jean Lafitte whom the British had reached out to, but who according to Marigny was inclined to support the Americans. Lafitte did eventually meet and persuade Jackson of their support, which proved useful during the campaign.

Political career

In 1811, and again in 1814, Marigny was elected to the New Orleans City Council to represent the Fifth Ward.[12] From 1822 to 1823, Marigny served as President of the Louisiana Senate, and, as there was no Lieutenant Governor, he was next in line of succession to Governor Thomas B. Robertson. In 1828, Marigny ran for Governor of Louisiana and was defeated by Pierre Derbigny whom he had supported in the 1820 election. He ran again in the tumultuous gubernatorial election of 1830, which was called early due to the death of Governor Derbigny and the resignation of the next two acting Governors. Marigny was unsuccessful and Andre B. Roman was elected.

Marigny eventually lost his fortune gambling and died impoverished in 1868. He was buried at St. Louis Cemetery #1 in New Orleans[13]
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MessageSujet: Re: LES OFFICIERS D'ORIGINE FRANCAISE   Lun 14 Mai - 15:40

Gabriel René Paul

(March 22, 1813 – May 5, 1886) was a career officer in the United States Army most noted for his service as a Union Army general in the American Civil War.

Birth and early years

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Paul was the grandson of one of Napoleon's officers. He graduated in 1834 from the United States Military Academy, 18th of 36 cadets in his class. He served as an officer in the 7th U.S. Infantry during the Seminole Wars and the Mexican-American War. He was wounded at the Battle of Cerro Gordo, but recovered to serve in the campaign to capture Mexico City. He led an assault party that captured a Mexican flag during the storming of Chapultepec.

Military career

Paul began the Civil War leading an infantry regiment at Fort Union in the New Mexico Territory. He led a brigade as a brigadier general in 1st Division, I Corps during the Battle of Chancellorsville. He was transferred to a brigade in 2nd Division, fighting at the Battle of Gettysburg, where he was seriously wounded in the left eye during the defense of Oak Ridge on the first day of the battle.[1] His injuries left him totally blind and with severely impaired senses of hearing and smell. Unable to perform anything except some administrative duties, he was kept on the Army's roll until February 1865, when he was officially retired from the service.

Death and burial

Paul died in Washington, D.C., and was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery. His grave can be found in Section 1, Lot 16.


January 1999

... Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so
conceived and so dedicated can long endure..... Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address -

Two years into the Civil War, survival of the nation was very much in question as
Confederate and Union troops clashed in the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
The resulting battle was the largest and bloodiest ever held in North America resulting in
51,000 casualties during the first Three days of July 1863.

The July 4, 1863 Cincinnati Daily Enquire was filled with news from the war and
included in their Newport News section the following: “Brigadier General Paul - This
officer who was killed in the Battle near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was a resident of
Newport. His wife and family are now here.”

The report of Gabriel Rene Paul’s death was incorrect but understandable. The July-
August 1996 issue of Military Images magazine includes information from a descendant
who explained that on July 1, 1963, at about two p.m., Paul’s brigade was attacked from
three directions by elements of four Confederate brigades and, after a stiff fight, was
overwhelmed. A musket ball struck General Paul’s right temple an inch and a half
behind his eye. It severed the right optic nerve, passed through his head and exited
through the left eye socket removing the eye. Paul fell unconscious and was left for dead
on the field, a dispatch from General Meade to Halleck reporting him killed. He was
found alive by Union prisoners working as stretcher bearers, carried to a local residence
and placed under the care of the surgeon of the 11th Pennsylvania.

The general was not prepared to surrender the biggest battle of his life. One can
imagine his contemplating the long road that led him to the bloody field in Gettysburg
and drawing strength from the memories.

The Paul family can be traced to grandparents Eustache Paul and Marie Anne
Scholastique Masse. Eustache Paul was a native of France who settled at Cape Francais,
Santo Domingo. His son Rene Paul was a Colonel of engineers under Napoleon, serving
on the French flag ship at Trafalgar where he was severely wounded. Rene Paul
immigrated to Philadelphia, Pa., and then moved to St. Louis, Mo. where Gabriel Rene
Paul was born on March 22, 1813. Gabriel Paul’s mother was Eulalie Chouteau,
daughter of August Chouteau and Marie Therese Cerre.

Gabriel Rene Paul began his military career by obtaining an appointment to West
Point from which he graduated in July 1834. He was assigned to frontier duty in the
Seventh Infantry and stationed at Fort Gibson in present day Oklahoma. On March 24,
1835 he married Mary Ann Whistler, daughter of Colonel William Whistler. Mary’s
father and Grandfather were both military men previously stationed in the Newport
Barracks and Mary Whistler was probably born in Newport about 1815. Gabriel and
Mary would have 3 daughters and a son over the next several years.

Gabriel R. Paul served several years of recruiting duty and went to war in 1842
fighting the Seminole Indians in Florida. He then served in the Mexican War taking part
in the defense of Fort Brown, the battle of Monterey, siege of Vera Cruz, and several
other battles including Cerro Gordo where he was wounded. He lead a storming party at
Chapultepec, which captured the enemy flag and for this act he was brevetted major.
The citizens of St. Louis presented him a sword for his service in the Mexico campaign.

The 1850s included tours in Texas and the 1852 Rio Grande expedition in which he
captured Carvajal and his gang of desperadoes. In 1854 William Whistler moved his
family back to Newport, possibly bringing the Paul family with him. Available records
do not indicate when the marriage of Mary Whistler Paul and Gabriel R. Paul broke up
but Mary lived until 11 November 1871 and is buried in Kansas while Campbell County
marriage records show G. R. Paul married Louise Rodgers on April 13, 1858. Louise
Rogers/Rodgers was daughter of John and Elizabeth (Neland) Doxon and widow of
Alfred H. Rogers of Cincinnati. Gabriel and Louise went on to have two daughters. It
appears Gabriel served in the Utah expeditions from 1858 to 1860 during which he was
engaged in the surprise and capture of a camp of hostile Indians.

Gabriel was promoted to Major and transferred to the 8th infantry in April 1861,
serving as acting inspector general of the Department of New Mexico from July to
December 1861. He was then appointed Colonel, commanding Fort Union and the
Southern military district of New Mexico. He was promoted lieutenant-colonel in April
1862 and brigadier-general of volunteers in September 1862. He then transferred to the
Army of the Potomac in March 1863, taking part in the battles of Fredericksburg and

It appears that at the time Gabriel transferred east, his wife Louise returned to
Newport. She first appears in the 1863 tax list with a town lot valued at $6,000. Gabriel
may have returned to Newport to recover from his Gettysburg wounds since the 1864 and
1865 tax lists list both Louise and G. R. Paul and indicate they had two slaves. The 1866
tax list shows only Louisa Paul after which they disappear from the tax lists.

The July 19, 1888 Kentucky State Journal, a Newport based newspaper, reported on
page 4: “The following, from the Courier-Journal, will be found of interest to our
Newport Readers, insomuch as it gives an insight to why one of our elderly and highly
esteemed citizens has not been able to obtain a well deserved pension: For two years the
widow of General G. R. Paul has been asking congress to grant her a pension. So far she
has been unsuccessful. The eyesight of Gen. Paul was destroyed at Gettysburg, and for
over 20 years it was an every-day sight in Newport, Ky., their home, to see Mrs. Paul,
with the hero on her arm, walking the streets of that city.” The article goes on to accuse
a couple of Republican representatives of “keeping the widows of officers out of their
pensions because the bills were introduced by Democrats.”

The above article indicates the Paul family remained in Newport but they have not
been found in tax lists or city directories. The widow’s pension papers show General
Paul was absent from duty on account of wounds until February 1865 when he was
retired from active military service “for disability resulting from wounds received in the
line of duty.” Despite being totally blind, suffering violent attacks of pain in the head
and having epilepsy, he was at that time made deputy governor of the Soldiers’ Home
near Washington, D.C. In June 1865 he was placed in charge of the military asylum at
Harrodsburg Ky where he served until December 1866. He was reported as unemployed
from 1866 until his 1886 death. Statements in support of the widow’s pension indicates
the wound left him “so helpless as to constantly need attention” with necessary expenses
that took up all his pay. A Resolution of Congress granted him full pay and allowances
of brigadier-General on April 12, 1870. Records show his seizures increased over the
years occurring several times per day in the later years.

Death records show General Paul died “at his residence” in Washington, D.C. at 10
a.m. on May 5, 1886. The listed cause of death was “coma following on an epileptiform
convulsion, the result of a wound received at the battle of Gettysburg, Pa.” He was
given a heroes burial in Arlington National Cemetery with a monument erected over his
grave by his comrades of the Grand Army.

His widow was granted a pension of $50 per month August 4, 1886 but applied for an
increase because of financial hardship. The pension was increased to $100 per month on
August 21,1888 and remained at that amount until Louise Paul died in December 1898.

The photo of Gabriel Rene Paul shown earlier was copied from a Civil War Generals
web site which seems to have now been discontinued. The photo and any copyrighted
information for this article are used under the fair use provision of the copyright law
allowing use for non profit educational purposes.

Special thanks go to Cheryl Whistler Garrison who provided numerous documents
relating to Gabriel Rene Paul and his family. Copies of all submitted documents can be
found in the family files at the historical society research office. Readers with Internet
access are encouraged to visit her web page at <
a/r/Cheryl-W-Garrison/index.html> which includes information on ancestors including
the Whistler, Paul and Helm families of Campbell County. This page can also be
accessed from the historical society web page researcher links. Cheryl is interested in
exchanging information on the above families and encourages researchers to contact he
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MessageSujet: Re: LES OFFICIERS D'ORIGINE FRANCAISE   Lun 14 Mai - 15:52

S'il n'est pas français, ni d'origine ni de naissance, il fût proche de la France, et son histoire prouve son attachement à ce pays:

Philip Kearny

Early Life:

Born June 2, 1815, Philip Kearny, Jr. was the son of Philip Kearny, Sr. and Susan Watts. Leading one of New York City's richest families, the Harvard-educated Kearny, Sr. had made his fortune as a financier. The family's situation was bolstered by the immense wealth of Susan Watts' father, John Watts, who had served as New York City's last Royal Recorder in the years before the American Revolution. Raised on the family's estates in New York and New Jersey, the younger Kearny lost his mother when he was seven. Known as a stubborn and temperamental child, he showed a gift for horsemanship and was an expert rider by age eight. As patriarch of the family, Kearny's grandfather soon took responsibility for his upbringing. Increasingly impressed with his uncle's, Stephen W. Kearny, military career, the young Kearny expressed a desire to enter the military.

These ambitions were blocked by his grandfather who desired that he pursue a career in law. As a result, Kearny was compelled to attend Columbia College. Graduating in 1833, he embarked on a tour of Europe with his cousin John Watts De Peyser. Arriving back in New York, he joined the law firm of Peter Augustus Jay. In 1836, Watts died and left the bulk of his fortune to his grandson. Freed from his grandfather's constraints, Kearny sought assistance from his uncle and Major General Winfield Scott in obtaining a commission in the US Army. This proved successful and his received a lieutenant's commission in his uncle's regiment, the 1st US Dragoons. Reporting to Fort Leavenworth, Kearny aided in protecting pioneers on the frontier and later served as an aide-de-camp to Brigadier General Henry Atkinson.

Philip Kearny - Kearny le Magnifique:

In 1839, Kearny accepted an assignment to France to study cavalry tactics at Saumur. Joining the Duke of Orleans' expeditionary force to Algiers, he rode with the Chasseurs d'Afrique. Taking part in several actions during the campaign, he rode into battle in the style of the Chasseurs with a pistol in one hand, a saber in the other, and the reins of his horse in his teeth. Impressing his French comrades, he earned the nickname Kearny le Magnifique. Returning to the United States in 1840, Kearny found that his father was terminally ill. Following his death later that year, Kearny's personal fortune again expanded. After publishing Applied Cavalry Tactics Illustrated in the French Campaign, he became a staff officer in Washington, DC and served under several influential officers, including Scott.

Philip Kearny - Mexico:

In 1841, Kearny married Diana Bullitt whom he had met earlier while serving in Missouri. Increasingly unhappy as a staff officer, his temper began to return and his superiors reassigned him to the frontier. Leaving Diana in Washington, he returned to Fort Leavenworth in 1844. The next two years saw him become increasingly bored with army life and in 1846 he decided to leave the service. Putting in his resignation, Kearny quickly withdrew it with the outbreak of the Mexican-American War in May. Kearny was soon directed to raise a company of cavalry for the 1st Dragoons and was promoted to captain in December. Based at Terre Haute, IN, he quickly filled the ranks of his unit and used his personal fortune to purchase it matching dapple gray horses. Initially sent to the Rio Grande, Kearny's company was later directed to join Scott during the campaign against Veracruz.

Attached to Scott's headquarters, Kearny's men served as the general's bodyguard. Unhappy with this assignment, Kearny lamented, "Honors are not won at headquarters...I would give my arm for a brevet (promotion)." As the army advanced inland and won key victories at Cerro Gordo and Contreras, Kearny saw little action. Finally on August 20, 1847, Kearny received orders to take his command to join Brigadier General William Harney's cavalry during the Battle of Churubusco. Attacking with his company, Kearny charged forward. In the course of the fighting, he received a severe wound to his left arm which required its amputation. For his gallant efforts, he was given a brevet promotion to major.

Philip Kearny - Back to France:

Returning to New York after the war, Kearny was treated as a hero. Taking over the US Army recruiting efforts in the city, his relationship with Diana, which had long been strained, ended when she left him in 1849. Having adjusted to life with one arm, Kearny began to complain that his efforts in Mexico had never been fully rewarded and that he was being ignored by the service due to his disability. In 1851, Kearny received orders for California. Arriving on the West Coast, he took part in the 1851 campaign against the Rogue River tribe in Oregon. Though this was successful, Kearny's constant complaining about his superiors along with the US Army's slow promotion system led to him resigning that October.

Leaving on an around-the-world trip, which took him to China and Ceylon, Kearny finally settled in Paris. While there, he met and fell in love with New Yorker Agnes Maxwell. The two openly lived together in the city while Diana became increasingly embarrassed back in New York. Returning to the United States, Kearny sought a formal divorce from his estranged wife. This was refused in 1854 and Kearny and Agnes took up residence at his estate, Bellegrove, in New Jersey. In 1858, Diana finally relented which opened the way for Kearny and Agnes to marry. The following year, bored with country life, Kearny returned to France and entered the service of Napoleon III. Serving in the cavalry, he took part in the Battles of Magenta and Solferino. For his efforts, he became the first American to be awarded the Légion d'honneur.

Philip Kearny - The Civil War Begins:

Remaining in France into 1861, Kearny returned to the United States following the outbreak of the Civil War. Arriving in Washington, Kearny's initial attempts to join the Union service were rebuffed as many remembered his difficult nature and the scandal surrounding his second marriage. Returning to Bellegrove, he was offered command of the New Jersey Brigade by state officials in July. Commissioned a brigadier general, Kearny joined his men who were encamped outside Alexandria, VA. Stunned by the unit's lack of preparation for battle, he quickly commenced a rigorous training regime as well as used some of his own money to ensure that they were well-equipped and fed. Part of the Army of the Potomac, Kearny became frustrated by a lack of movement on the part of its commander, Major General George B. McClellan. This culminated in Kearny publishing a series of letters which severely criticized the commander.

Philip Kearny - Into Battle:

Though his actions greatly angered the army leadership, they endeared Kearny to his men. Finally in early 1862, the army began moving south as part of the Peninsula Campaign. On April 30, Kearny was promoted to command the 3rd Division of Major General Samuel P. Heintzelman's III Corps. During the Battle of Williamsburg on May 5, he distinguished himself when he personally led his men forward. Riding ahead with a sword in his hand and his reins in his teeth, Kearny rallied his men yelling, "Don't worry, men, they'll all be firing at me!" Ably leading his division throughout the doomed campaign, Kearny began to earn the respect of both the men in the ranks and the leadership in Washington. Following the Battle of Malvern Hill on July 1, which ended the campaign, Kearny formally protested McClellan's orders to continue withdrawing and advocated for a strike on Richmond.

Philip Kearny - Final Actions:

Feared by the Confederates, who referred to him as the "One-Armed Devil", Kearny was promoted to major general later in July. That summer Kearny also directed that his men wear a patch of red cloth on their caps so that they could rapidly identify each other on the battlefield. This soon evolved into an army-wide system of insignias. With President Abraham Lincoln tiring of McClellan's cautious nature, the aggressive Kearny's name began to surface as a potential replacement. Leading his division north, Kearny joined in the campaign that would culminate with the Second Battle of Manassas. With the beginning of the engagement, Kearny's men occupied a position on the Union right on August 29. Enduring heavy fighting, his division almost broke through the Confederate line. The next day, the Union position collapsed following a massive flank attack by Major General James Longstreet. As Union forces began fleeing the field, Kearny's division was one of the few formations to stay composed and helped cover the retreat.

On September 1, Union forces became engaged with elements of Major General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's command at the Battle of Chantilly. Learning of the fighting, Kearny marched his division to the scene to reinforce Union forces. Arriving, he immediately began preparing to assault the Confederates. As his men advanced, Kearny rode forward to investigate a gap in the Union line. Encountering Confederate troops, he ignored their demand to surrender and attempted to ride away. The Confederates promptly opened fire and one bullet pierced the base of his spine and instantly killed him. Arriving on the scene, Confederate Major General A.P. Hill exclaimed, "You've killed Phil Kearny, he deserved a better fate than to die in the mud."

The next day, Kearny's body was returned under a flag of truce to the Union lines accompanied by a letter of condolence from General Robert E. Lee. Embalmed in Washington, Kearny's remains were taken to Bellegrove where they laid in state before being interred in the family crypt at Trinity Church in New York City. In 1912, following a drive led by New Jersey Brigade veteran and Medal of Honor winner Charles F. Hopkins, Kearny's remains were moved to Arlington National Cemetery.
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MessageSujet: Re: LES OFFICIERS D'ORIGINE FRANCAISE   Lun 14 Mai - 16:05


Gustave Paul Cluseret né à Suresnes le 13 juin 1823, décédé à Hyères le 21 août 1900 est un général et homme politique français. Sa tombe se trouve au cimetière de Suresnes.

Les premières années

Fils d’un colonel d’infanterie de l’armée royale[1], Gustave Cluseret entre à 18 ans à l’école de Saint-Cyr dont il sort officier deux ans plus tard. Lieutenant en 1848, sa carrière militaire connaît avec les événements de juin un infléchissement notable. Marquée par une évidente instabilité, elle lui donnera l’occasion de connaître une destinée aussi exceptionnelle que controversée.

Cluseret profite de la révolution de 1848 pour quitter le service régulier. Il devient commandant d’un bataillon de la garde mobile qui, sous les ordres de Louis Eugène Cavaignac, participe à la répression de juin. Il reçoit la croix de la Légion d'honneur pour avoir, selon ses propres propos, enlevé onze barricades et pris plusieurs drapeaux aux ouvriers insurgés, mais ces exploits ne lui évitent pas de se retrouver sans emploi après le licenciement de son corps.

Cluseret réintègre l’armée sans parvenir à conserver son grade précédent. Resté lieutenant, son parcours s’interrompt provisoirement en mars 1850 lorsqu'il fait l'objet d'un retrait d'emploi de la part de la République. Pour autant, le nouveau régime bonapartiste le remet en selle en lui offrant en février 1853 une entrée au 58° régiment d'infanterie de ligne et ensuite un commandement en Algérie en février 1854. Adjoint du futur général Chanzy, alors capitaine, Cluseret rejoint les affaires indigènes à Tlemcen dans les territoires nouvellement conquis par la France.

En 1855, il part en Crimée pour prendre part aux combats contre la Russie tsariste. Blessé deux fois, il est nommé capitaine pour sa bonne conduite au feu. De retour en France, il repart aussitôt en Algérie pour participer à la conquête de la Grande Kabylie. Attendant sa nomination au grade d’officier de la Légion d’Honneur, il apprend que l’Empereur Napoléon III l’aurait rayé de la liste pour ses opinions républicaines, ce qui provoque, selon ses dires, son départ définitif de l’armée régulière.

L'expédition des Mille, la Guerre civile américaine, l'aventure irlandaise

Après s’être adonné à divers travaux d’agriculture et surtout après avoir voyagé aux États-Unis, Cluseret cherche d’autres activités plus en rapport avec ses capacités et son tempérament.

L’expédition des Mille menée par Garibaldi en 1860 lui donne l’occasion de reprendre les armes. Il rejoint avec d’autres volontaires l’expédition des Deux-Siciles. Blessé au siège de Capoue, il est versé avec le grade de lieutenant-colonel à l’État-Major de l’armée italienne.

L’attrait de l’aventure et sans doute aussi l’ambition le poussent en janvier 1862 à rejoindre un autre théâtre de guerre. La sécession des États confédérés et la Guerre Civile qui s’ensuit, donnent en effet à Cluseret l’occasion de rejoindre l’état-major du général George McClellan, officier qu’il avait peut être rencontré en Crimée quand celui-ci y avait été envoyé en mission d’observation par le gouvernement fédéral.

Le jeune Napoléon américain a trois ans de moins que Cluseret, et commande l'Armée du Potomac, la plus grande unité de l’Union en ce début du conflit. Son organisation, sans doute appuyée sur l’expertise des étrangers qui ont rejoint ses troupes, reprend le modèle napoléonien de la Grande Armée avec ses divisions, ses brigades et ses effectifs.

Colonel, passé au service du général Frémont dont il commande l’avant-garde, Cluseret prend part à plusieurs engagements. Il reçoit, après sa participation courageuse à la bataille de Cross-Keys en juin 1862, le brevet de général de brigade au mois d’octobre suivant.

Après avoir commandé diverses actions dans la vallée de la Shenandoah contre le général confédéré Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, Cluseret démissionne en mars 1863. Il aurait été poussé au départ à la suite d’accusations de malversations portées contre lui mais aucune source ne permet de connaître avec exactitude les motivations de ces attaques. Quoi qu’il en soit, il se lance peu après dans le journalisme à New York. Son journal, The New Nation, prépare la campagne présidentielle du général Frémont, républicain radical opposé à la réélection du président Lincoln. L’abandon du candidat en novembre 1864 et le ralliement au sortant obligent Cluseret à changer ses plans.

De retour en Europe en 1867, avec l’appui des immigrants irlandais nombreux à New York, anciens combattants de la Guerre Civile, il se rend en Irlande pour soutenir le mouvement Fénian. Il dirige plusieurs actions armées relativement violentes (notamment l’attaque de Chester Castle en février 1867) qui lui valent de la part de la justice anglaise une condamnation à mort par contumace tandis qu’une partie de ses camarades est exécutée.

Le Délégué à la guerre de la Commune de Paris

Ayant pu rentrer en France, Cluseret publie des articles dans le Courrier Français sur la situation américaine mais mène surtout une opposition décidée au Second Empire, effectuant des allers-retours avec les États-Unis, au gré des expulsions et des condamnations du régime. En 1868, il est interné à Sainte-Pélagie pour ses articles, publiés dans le journal qu’il a fondé, l'Art, avant d’être finalement banni du pays du fait de sa citoyenneté américaine, statut qui se révélera une protection efficace à maintes occasions. Ce court séjour en prison, durant lequel il fera la connaissance de Varlin, fera de lui un membre reconnu de l'Internationale.

Ses offres de services, lors du conflit franco-prussien qui débute en juillet 1870, sont refusées par le pouvoir. Il suit alors, selon ses propres mots, « la campagne en amateur ». La chute du régime le 4 septembre parait pour Cluseret l’occasion de jouer enfin le rôle politique de premier plan auquel il aspire. D’abord à Paris, puis à Lyon avec Mikhaïl Aleksandrovitch Bakounine, puis enfin à Marseille, il se démène avec le même insuccès, en dépit d’une appartenance à l’Internationale plusieurs fois mise en avant. Sans perdre espoir, il se présente aux élections législatives de février 1871. Cette tentative tourne court, comme celle du 26 mars organisée dans la capitale par la Commune de Paris. Pour autant, le nouveau pouvoir parisien, sans doute au titre de son expérience militaire, le nomme délégué à la guerre, ce qui fait de lui le chef de toutes les armées communalistes. Ce poste lui offre une notoriété suffisante pour être enfin élu au Conseil de la Commune par le Ier et le XVIIIe arrondissements lors des élections complémentaires du 16 avril.

Le rôle de Cluseret dans cette courte période – du 6 au 30 avril - est sujet à controverse. Certaines sources signalent son incompétence, d’autres son ambition teintée de malhonnêteté voire de déloyauté. Sa nomination prouve qu'il disposait de soutiens parmi les Communards. À l'inverse, certains lui sont très hostiles, en premier lieu Charles Delescluze. Il est patent que ses résultats, en termes d’action militaire, sont restés limités. Il y avait sans doute peu de points communs entre la guerre de siège menée à Paris et le conflit américain dont il tirait prestige et expérience. Il est révélateur de savoir qu’en dépit de sa position d’officier français, Cluseret ne quittera pas, comme le montrent les clichés pris à cette période, son frockcoat de Brigadier General à 16 boutons.

Ses détracteurs les plus fermes reconnaissent toutefois que la tâche était fort difficile, notamment à cause du partage complexe du pouvoir entre le Comité de Salut public, les groupes de soldats autonomes et l’état-major isolé tiraillé entre diverses factions politiques. Cette situation quasi insoluble menait à une direction incohérente. Une des décisions marquantes du général Cluseret, le service obligatoire des Parisiens, s’est révélée, selon certains historiens de la Commune, une mesure à double-tranchant. Les adversaires incorporés "de force" ne soutenaient pas le régime, alors même que l'objectif d'amélioration du rapport de force entre les deux armées ne sera jamais atteint. Plus encore, le manque de temps – la commune a duré 73 jours - a rendu toute décision stratégique aléatoire, mais surtout illusoire quant à ses effets réels sur un terrain en évolution rapide.

Remplacé par Louis Rossel le 1er mai, Cluseret est incarcéré à Mazas à la suite de la perte du fort d’Issy, laissé sans troupes par décision des chefs des Fédérés, ce qui est reproché au délégué à la Guerre. Cluseret répond à l’accusation de trahison par de multiples plaidoyers écrits qui resteront évidemment sans effets. La chute de la Commune, le 24 mai, lui donne la possibilité de s’enfuir et d’échapper aux rigueurs de la répression versaillaise, à l’inverse de son collègue Rossel fusillé le 28 novembre.

L'exil, la députation sous la III° République

Condamné à mort le 30 août 1871 par le tribunal militaire de Satory, Cluseret passe en Grande-Bretagne, puis aux États-Unis pour revenir ensuite en Europe. Etabli en Suisse en 1872 non loin du peintre Gustave Courbet dont il est l'ami et qui lui enseigne alors l’art de la peinture, il écrit dans divers journaux britanniques avant de rejoindre les Balkans du côté de la Turquie, acteur et spectateur du conflit qui embrase alors cette région.

La loi d’amnistie en juillet 1880 lui permet de rentrer en France mais la violence de ses articles lui vaut encore une fois de subir les rigueurs de la justice et l’exil. Cluseret consacre alors son temps à la peinture, au point de pouvoir en 1884 présenter dans une galerie de la rue Vivienne plus d’une centaine de tableaux, de gravures et de pastels, d’une facture assez correcte comme on peut en juger aujourd’hui[2].

En 1887, à 64 ans, Cluseret publie ses Mémoires. Il y justifie son action tout en critiquant assez violemment ses anciens compagnons de lutte. L’année suivante, il est élu député du Var, classé à l’extrême gauche. Régulièrement réélu sous l’étiquette socialiste révolutionnaire[3], il participe une dernière fois aux élections en 1898, réussissant à vaincre de justesse son adversaire, Stroobant, émissaire du Parti ouvrier français.

Avec Cluseret, c’est un des députés les plus anti-dreyfusard de France qui est alors envoyé à la chambre représenter le département du Var, offrant un syncrétisme étonnant de positions radicales au plan politique – ses plus fermes soutiens sont les ouvriers des chantiers navals de La Seyne, il prône la création d’une retraite pour les paysans indigents – et d’antisémitisme virulent mâtiné d’une xénophobie absolue[4]. Il meurt à Hyères le 21 août 1900.

Personnage inclassable, discutable par beaucoup de ses engagements, Gustave Paul Cluseret reste cependant un témoin essentiel, par les aspects extraordinaires, au sens propre, de sa destinée, d’un XIXe siècle français qui prépare et annonce les contradictions politiques et sociales du siècle suivant.

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