Historical Dictionary of the French Second Empire, 1852-1870

By William E. Echard | Go to book overview

M

MACMAHON, MARIE EDME PATRICE MAURICE, COMTE DE ( 1808- 1893), duc de Magenta, marshal of France, governor of Algeria, disastrously defeated at Sedan in the Franco-Prussian War; born at Sully (Saône-et-Loire), 13 July 1808, to a royalist family of Irish origin. MacMahon's father was a peer of France and a personal friend of Charles X. Destined for the priesthood, he studied briefly at the seminary of Autun, but soon left to begin a military career. He graduated fourth in his class from Saint Cyr ( 1827) and took part in the Algiers expedition of 1830, the siege of Antwerp ( 1832), and various Algerian campaigns. A captain in 1833, MacMahon was named to the Legion of Honor in 1837 for his part in the assault on Constantine. His energy and bravery through twenty years in Algeria brought him a rapid advancement: general of brigade, 12 June 1848; commander of the Legion of Honor, 1849; general of division, 6 July 1852; and grand officer of the Legion of Honor, 10 August 1853.

It was the Crimean War, however, that established MacMahon's reputation as France's outstanding soldier. Sent to the Crimea in August 1855 to command the First Division in the corps of General Pierre Bosquet ( 1810-1861), he found his forces at the most advanced angle of the siege lines. On 8 September he personally led the assault that took the Malakov Tower, Sebastopol's key defense. MacMahon then defended the position against repeated counterattacks ("J'y suis, j'y reste"), forcing the Russians to yield the city. For this exploit he was named grand cross of the Legion of Honor (22 September) and, somewhat later, senator ( 24 June 1856). More sympathetic to the monarchy than to the Empire, uninvolved in the coup d'état of December 1851, MacMahon was nevertheless willing to serve whatever regime existed. He was not entirely subservient, however. In February 1858, he was the only senator to vote against the sweeping general security law passed following the attempt on Napoleon III's life by Felice Orsini.

After a brilliant role in Marshal Jacques Louis Randon's campaign against insurrection in the Kabylia ( Algeria) in 1857 (he commanded the Second Division), MacMahon was named military commander of the colony ( 31 August 1858), but soon he was recalled to participate in the Italian War of the following year as commander of the Second Corps of the Army of Italy. He led the first

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Historical Dictionary of the French Second Empire, 1852-1870
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Historical Dictionaries of French History ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Contributors vii
  • Preface ix
  • Abbreviations of Journals in References xv
  • The Dictionary 1
  • A 3
  • B 27
  • C 67
  • D 161
  • E 205
  • F 220
  • G 253
  • H 280
  • I 298
  • J 320
  • K 324
  • L 325
  • M 370
  • N 423
  • O 439
  • P 459
  • Q 531
  • R 534
  • S 585
  • T 643
  • U 673
  • V 676
  • W 700
  • Z 707
  • Chronology of the French Second Empire 711
  • Index 777
  • About the Editor 831
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