Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Guyon, Richard Debaufre

GUYON, RICHARD DEBAUFRE (1803–1856), general in the Hungarian army, was third son of John Guyon, an officer in the English navy, who, after seeing much service and receiving many wounds, retired with the rank of commander 28 July 1829, and died at Richmond, Surrey, 15 Jan. 1844. Richard Debaufre was born at Walcot, Bath, 31 March 1803, and being educated for the army at an early age held a commission in the Surrey militia. He afterwards studied in an Austrian military academy, and in 1823 received an appointment in Prince Joseph's second regiment of Hungarian hussars, where he in time attained to the rank of captain, and in November 1838 married a daughter of Field-marshal Baron Spleny, commander of the Hungarian life-guards. Soon after his marriage he left the Austrian service, and retired to an estate belonging to his wife near Pesth, where he occupied himself in cultivating his farms. When the Hungarian revolutionary war broke out in 1848, the Magyars called on Guyon to take command of the landsturm and the honveds. Although originally a cavalry officer, he soon mastered his new position, and at the battle of Sukoro, on 29 Sept. 1848, he defeated Jellachich, the ban of Croatia, and his fifty thousand men, and obliged them to retreat. On 30 Oct. at the battle of Schewechat he led the advance-guard of the right of the Hungarian army, where he three times repulsed the serezans of Jellachich, and after a sanguinary struggle by a brilliant charge drove the Austrians from the village of Mannsworth. For this feat of arms he was made a colonel on the field, and put in command of the 1st division, which formed the advance-guard of the upper army, then led by Görgey. Here he again distinguished himself by storming the pass of Branitzko, which was defended by General Schlick, one of the ablest of the Austrian generals. This victory, which he obtained with only ten thousand men against twenty-five thousand, made the union of the upper forces and the Theiss army possible. For these services the Hungarian diet decreed that his name should be inscribed on a bronze pillar. He was present with his detachment at the battle of Kaplona, 26 Feb. 1849, where he covered Dembrinski's corps as they retired on the second day of the engagement. On his promotion as a general he was sent by Kossuth to make an entry into Komorn, then besieged, and to take the command of that place; this he successfully accomplished on 21 April, and three days afterwards was instrumental in raising the siege. Resigning the command of Komorn in June he joined the forces of Vetter, and on 14 July in a brilliant engagement totally defeated the ban of Croatia at Hegyes, and drove him out of the Banat. On 10 Aug. he took part in the battle of Temeswar, but valour could do but little against the united armies of Austria and Russia. The surrender of Görgey on 13 Aug. brought the war to a close, and Guyon, in company with Kossuth, Bem, and others escaped into Turkey, where they were protected by the sultan, in spite of demands for their extradition from Austria and Russia, 16 Sept. 1849. After this date he for some time resided at Konieh in Karamania. In 1852 he entered the service of the Turkish government, and was sent to Damascus, with the rank of lieutenant-general on the staff, and the title of Khourschid Pasha, being the first Christian who obtained the rank of pasha and a Turkish military command without changing his religion. In November 1853 he joined the army in Anatolia, and reached Kars shortly after the Turkish forces had sustained a defeat at Soobaltan. Here he was named chief of the staff and president of the military commission, with authority to remodel the army. The jealousies of the Poles and of the pashas, however, prevented him from doing very much. At the battle of Kurekdere, on 16 Aug. 1855, he fought with his accustomed bravery. His plan of the battle was admirable, but it was defeated by the cowardice of the Turkish commanders, who nevertheless laid the blame of the defeat on him, in consequence of which he was placed on half-pay and denied further employment. Guyon was eminently a man of action, of marvellous personal courage and great daring, and had he been put at the head of a detached corps would have rendered good service to the Turks, but the fact that he was a foreigner and a Christian prevented his effective advancement.

He died from a sudden attack of cholera, after less than twenty-four hours' illness, at Scutari, 12 Oct. 1856, and was buried in the English ground on the cliffs of Scutari Point 15 Oct. His wife, the Baroness Spleny, was for some time kept a prisoner by the Austrians at Presburg, but at length obtaining her liberty resided at Damascus.

[Kinglake's The Patriot and the Hero General Guyon, 1856; Nolan's Hist. of the War against Russia, 1855, i. 293-4, with portrait; Duncan's Campaign with the Turks in Asia, 1855, i. 141, 152, 158-69, 192-204, &c., ii. 123-31, 183 &c., 278-80; Gent. Mag. 1856, pt. ii. p. 780; Times, 29 Oct. 1856, p. 10; Illustrated London News, 29 Dec. 1849, p. 448, and 15 Nov. 1856, p. 489.]

G. C. B.