Guillaume Mathieu, Count Dumas - Encyclopedia

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GUILLAUME MATHIEU DUMAS, Count (1753-1837), French general, was born at Montpellier, of a noble family, on the 23rd of November 1753. He joined the army in 1773, and entered upon active service in 1780, as aide-de-camp to Rochambeau in the American War. He had a share in all the principal engagements that occurred during a period of nearly two years. On the conclusion of peace in 1783 he returned to France as a major. He was engaged from 1784 to 1786 in exploring the archipelago and the coasts of Turkey. He was present at the siege of Amsterdam in 1787, where he co-operated with the Dutch against the Prussians. At the Revolution he acted with Lafayette and the constitutional liberal party. He was entrusted by the Assembly with the command of the escort which conducted Louis XVI. to Paris from Varennes. In 1791 as a marechal de camp he was appointed to a command at Metz, where he rendered important service in improving the discipline of the troops. Chosen a member of the Legislative Assembly in the same year by the department of Seine-et-Oise, he was in the following year elected president of the Assembly. When the extreme republicans gained the ascendancy, however, he judged it prudent to make his escape to England. Returning after a brief interval, under the apprehension that his father-inlaw would be held responsible for his absence, he arrived in Paris in the midst of the Reign of Terror, and had to flee to Switzerland. Soon after his return to France he was elected a member of the Council of Ancients. After the 18th Fructidor (1797) Dumas,. being proscribed as a monarchist, made his escape to Holstein,, where he wrote the first part of his Précis des evenements militaires (published anonymously at Hamburg, 1800).

Recalled to his native country when Bonaparte became First Consul, he was entrusted with the organization of the "Army of Reserve" at Dijon. In 1801 he was nominated a councillor of state. He did good service at Austerlitz, and went in 1806 to Naples, where he became minister of war to Joseph Bonaparte. On the transfer of Joseph to the throne of Spain, Dumas rejoined the French army, with which he served in Spain during the campaign of 1808, and in Germany during that of 1809. After the battle of Wagram, Dumas was employed in negotiating the armistice. In 1810 he became grand officer of the Legion of Honour and a count of the empire. In the Russian campaign of 1812 he held the post of intendant-general of the army,, which involved the charge of the administrative department. The privations he suffered in the retreat from Moscow brought on a dangerous illness. Resuming, on his recovery, his duties as intendant-general, he took part in the battles of 1813, and was made prisoner after the capitulation of Dresden. On the accession of Louis XVIII., Dumas rendered his new sovereign important services in connexion with the administration of the army. When Napoleon returned from Elba, Dumas at first kept himself in retirement, but he was persuaded by Joseph Bonaparte to present himself to the emperor, who employed him in organizing the National Guard. Obliged to retire when Louis XVIII. was restored, he devoted his leisure to the continuation of his Precis des evenements militaires, of which nineteen volumes, embracing the history of the war from 1798 to the peace of 1807, appeared between 1817 and 1826. A growing weakness of sight, ending in blindness, prevented him from carrying the work further, but he translated Napier's Peninsular War as a sort of continuation to it. In 1818 Dumas was restored to favour and admitted a member of the council of state, from which, however, he was excluded in 1822. After the revolution of 1830, in which he took an active part, Dumas was created a peer of France, and re-entered the council of state. He died at Paris on the 16th of October 1837.

Besides the Precis des evenements militaires, which forms a valuable source for the 'history of the period, Dumas wrote Souvenirs du lieut.-general Comte Mathieu Dumas (published posthumously by his son, Paris, 1839).

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