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Louis-Nicolas Davout
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Military Personnel
    (May 10, 1770-June 1, 1823)
    Born in Annoux, France
    French general
    Appointed Marshal of France when Napoleon became Emperor
    Commanded the III Corps of the Grand Armée
    Named Duke of Auerstadt (1808) and Prince of Eckmuhl (1809)
    Minister of War during Napoleon’s return from exile (1815)
    Mayor of Savigny-sur-Orge (1822-23)
    Nicknamed ‘the Iron Marshal’
    Last name also spelled ‘Davoust’
    He was the youngest and least experienced of the generals promoted to Marshal of France, leading to hostility from other generals.
    He challenged Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte to a duel, which was averted only by Napoleon’s intervention.
    During the retreat from Russia, he was replaced as commander of the rear guard by Marshal Michel Ney for being too slow.
    During the Siege of Hamburg (1813-14), he expelled 25,000 of the poorest residents from the city during winter, with most of them dying from cold and starvation.
    He forbade his troops from looting conquered villages and enforced the policy with the death penalty when necessary.
    Because his troops were considered the best disciplined in the French army, his III Corps was often entrusted with the most difficult assignments.
    At the Battle of Auerstadt (October 14, 1806), he defeated a Prussian army twice the size of his own.
    Four of his eight children died in childhood.
    Napoleon’s biggest complaint about him: ‘I thought that Davout loved me, but he loved only France.’

Credit: C. Fishel

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