General Honoré-Théodore-Maxime Gazan, comte de la Peyrière (1765-1845)

General Honoré-Théodore-Maxime Gazan, comte de la Peyrière (1765-1845) was a French general who fought in Austria in 1805, Prussia in 1806 and Poland in 1806-7, before being sent to Spain where he remained to the end of the Peninsula War.

Gazan's military career began before the revolution, but continued during the Revolutionary Wars. He served in Germany, Italy and Switzerland and was present to general de brigade in 1799. Later in the same year he was present at the Third battle of Zurich (25 September 1799) where he was promoted to general de division. In 1800 he was besieged in Genoa.

Gazan commanded a division during the War of the Third Coalition (1805) and the War of the Fourth Coalition (1806-1807).

His division suffered very heavily at Durenstein (11 November 1805), and he thus missed the battle of Austerlitz. His division of around 6,000 men help up around 35,000 Russians, before being relieved by General Dupont. During the battle Gazan's division lost half of its initial strength, 1,700 killed and wounded and 1,300 captured.

He fought at Jena (14 October 1806) where his division formed part of Lannes' corps. His division was one of the least experienced in the Grand Armée during the War of the Fourth Coalition, with more raw recruits than in most of the army. 

During Napoleon's first invasion of Poland, Gazan fought at the battle of Pultusk (26 December 1806), a successful Russian rear-guard action that prevented Napoleon from trapping Bennigsen's army.

In 1808 Gazan was transferred to command a division in Spain. He took part in the second siege of Saragossa (December 1808-February 1809), where he commanded the 2nd Division of V Corps.

Gazan took part in the successful French siege of Badajoz (January-March 1811). He was part of the relief army that disrupted the British siege of Badajoz later in the year, and was wounded leading his division at the costly battle of Albuera.

Early in 1813 Gazan was appointed to replace Marshal Soult as commander of the Army of the South. As Wellington advanced deep into Spain in 1813 the French armies were united under the nominal command of King Joseph Bonaparte. Gazan played a controversial role in the French defeat at Vitoria (21 June 1813). Late in the battle his division was dangerously close to being cut off by Cole's 4th Division. He was forced to withdraw, just as Joseph Bonaparte was forced to order a general withdrawal. Marshal Jourdan, the real French commander at the battle, blamed Gazan for withdrawing without orders. Gazan's wife was with the army at Vitoria, and was captured by the British. After the battle she was returned to her husband in her own carriage.

Marshal Soult clearly didn't share this opinion, and in July 1813 he chose Gazan to serve as his chief of staff. Gazan held this post to the end of the Peninsula War, and it was him who signed the armistice that ended the fighting.

Although Gazan didn't see any active service after 1815 he remained in the army where he served as a staff officer. He retired in 1832 and was made a peer of France as a reward for his long career.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (7 August 2012), General Honoré-Théodore-Maxime Gazan, comte de la Peyrière (1765-1845), http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/people_gazan.html

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