1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Galliffet, Gaston Alexandre Auguste, Marquis de
GALLIFFET, GASTON ALEXANDRE AUGUSTE, Marquis de, Prince de Martignes (1830–1909), French general, was born in Paris on the 23rd of January 1830. He entered the army in 1848, was commissioned as sub-lieutenant in 1853, and served with distinction at the siege of Sevastopol in 1855, in the Italian campaign of 1859, and in Algeria in 1860, after which for a time he served on the personal staff of the emperor Napoleon III. He displayed great gallantry as a captain at the siege and storm of Puebla, in Mexico, in 1863, when he was severely wounded. When he returned to France to recover from his wounds he was entrusted with the task of presenting the captured standards and colours to the emperor, and was promoted chef d’escadrons. He went again to Algeria in 1864, took part in expeditions against the Arabs, returned to Mexico as lieutenant-colonel, and, after winning further distinction, became in 1867 colonel of the 3rd Chasseurs d’Afrique. In the Franco-German War of 1870–71 he commanded this regiment in the army of the Rhine, until promoted to be general of brigade on the 30th of August. At the battle of Sedan he led the brigade of Chasseurs d’Afrique in the heroic charge of General Margueritte’s cavalry division, which extorted the admiration of the old king of Prussia. Made prisoner of war at the capitulation, he returned to France during the siege of Paris by the French army of Versailles, and commanded a brigade against the Communists. In the suppression of the Commune he did his duty rigorously and inflexibly, and on that ground earned a reputation for severity, which, throughout his later career, and in all his efforts to improve the French army, made him the object of unceasing attacks in the press and the chamber of deputies. In 1872 he took command of the Batna subdivision of Algeria, and commanded an expedition against El Golea, surmounting great difficulties in a rapid march across the desert, and inflicting severe chastisement on the revolted tribes. On the general reorganization of the army he commanded the 31st infantry brigade. Promoted general of division in 1875, he successively commanded the 15th infantry division at Dijon, the IX. army corps at Tours, and in 1882 the XII. army corps at Limoges. In 1885 he became a member of the Conseil Supérieur de la Guerre. He conducted the cavalry manœuvres in successive years, and attained a European reputation on all cavalry questions, and, indeed, as an army commander. Decorated with the grand cross of the Legion of Honour in 1887, he received the military medal for his able conduct of the autumn manœuvres in 1891, and after again commanding at the manœuvres of 1894 he retired from the active list. Afterwards he took an important part in French politics, as war minister (22nd of June 1899 to 29th of May 1900) in M. Waldeck-Rousseau’s cabinet, and distinguished himself by the firmness with which he dealt with cases of unrest in the army, but he then retired into private life, and died on the 8th of July 1909.