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About General Count Richard Debaufre Guyon



Richard was the third son of  John Guyon, an officer 
in the Royal Navy.  He was born on 31 March 1803 at Walcot, Bath.   The 
family eventually moved to Richmond, Surrey, but how long they were in 
Somerset is uncertain.  Having been educated from an early age for an 
army career,  he went on to hold a commission in the Surrey Militia.

Before the age of 20, he studied at an Austrian military academy, obtaining a commission in the Austrian army and by 1823, he had received an appointment in Prince Joseph's second regiment of Hungarian hussars, where he attained the rank of captain.

He married Marie, Baronne de Spleny in November, 1838. She was the daughter of Field Marshal Baron de Spleny, commander of the Hungarian life-guards. His wife owned a large country estate near Pesth and Richard left the service soon after their marriage and retired to work on the property, cultivating the farms.

The couple had three children, Victor, Edgar and Marianne. We do not have a date of birth for Victor and as we know Edgar retained the family title, it is possible Victor died young.

Edgar Joseph Richard was born in Hungary in 1848. After his father's death, the title regained by his grandfather, was passed to him.

There are no dates for Marianne, but she was obviously named after Richard's aunt,

Marianne, who married Colonel J. Lawrence Prendergast and from whom our part of the family is descended - she was James Albert Joy's mother-in-law and is buried in the little Chapel cemetery in Matfield, Kent.

Hungary, in the middle of 1848, had declared itself a new state, independent of Austria and openly hostile to her. For centuries political and economical ties had united them to the German hereditary possessions of their ruling house. They now demanded independence which they had lost to Suleiman in 1526, the Battle of Mohacs.

Ferdinand I., at the dissolution of the old Reichstag, on 10 April, 1848 had recognised the existing rights of the Kingdom of Hungary; he was eventually compelled to abdicate in favour of Francis Joseph I on 2 December, 1848.

Louis Kossuth was a political agitator and fanatic; a type of revolutionary apostle and martyr. When the Hungarian Revolution broke out, it was he, along with other Magyar leaders, who asked Richard to take command of the landsturm and the bonveds. In spite of having been a cavalry officer, Richard soon mastered his new position. By the middle of September, 1848, Hungary and Austria were at war.

The Banace of Croatia was a dignity in the gift of the king, though his nominee was responsible to Hungary. This position had been held since the Revolution broke out, by an Austrian general, Jellacic. He formed a Croatian army of 40,000-50,000 men and though they were not great militarists, their extraordinary armament and size made them a formidable force.

Archduke Stephen attempted to induce Jellacic to evacuate Hungarian territory but the latter refused. At the same time, he was informed that Field-Marshal Lamberg had been appointed CIC of the Imperial troops in Hungary and that, he, the banus was under the Field-Marshal's orders. This went strictly against the constitution and recognizing this the Archduke secretly fled the country to Schaumberg. Count Lamberg attempted to take up his post in Budapest, the Hungarian capital, and fell into the hands of some of Kossuth's desperate men. On 28 September, 1848, he was murdered at the suspension bridge which united Pesth and Ofen; civil war had begun.

At the battle of Sukoro, 29 September, along with the Hungarian troops under General Moga, Richard defeated Jellacic, forcing him and his men to retreat. At the end of the following month, 30 October, at the battle of Schwechat, he led the advance-guard of the right of the Hungarian army against Jellacic again. On this occasion, he repulsed them three times and after a bloody fight, with a brilliant charge, drove the "Austrian" army from the village of Mannsworth. He was made a colonel in the field and given command of the First Division, which formed the advance-guard of the upper army, led by Gorgey.

On the same day as the abdication various Austrian forces advanced. General Count Franz Schlick, with 8000 men, started from Galicia and after a series of conflicts and a victory by Schlick at Kaschau the provisional Government under Kossuth was forced to abandon Pesth and to retire to Debreczin.

Richard, again, distinguished himself; this time by storming the pass at Branitzlo, held by Schlick. Richard Debaufre Guyon had just 10,000 men against 25,000, but he made the union of the upper forces and the Theiss army possible. For these services, the Hungarian diet decreed that his name be inscribed on a bronze pillar.

The battle of Kaplona, on 26 February 1849, was regarded as a tactical victory for Schlick. Richard also fought at this battle with his detachment, covering Dembrinski;s corps as they retired on the second day of the engagement.

The town of Komorn was important to the Austrians as a secure base for further operations of the imperial army and they besieged it. On Richard's promotion to general, he was sent by Kossuth to make an entry into Komorn and take command of the town. This he did on 21 April and three days later was instrumental in raising the siege.

He resigned his command of Komorn in June, joining up with Vetter's forces and on 14 July, defeated in a skilful engagement Jellacic at Hegyes and drove him out of the Banat.

10 August, General Guyon took part in the battle of Temeswar but the combined forces of the Russian and Austrian armies were against them. The following day. Kossuth fled from Arad to Turkey and Gorgey was appointed dictator. On 13th Gorgey surrendered to the Russians, sacrificing himself, allowing others to escape. Richard, along with Bem, and Kmety, and others, escaped to Turkey. Russia and Austria, on 16 September 1849, demanded their extradition but the sultan continued to give the Hungarian leaders his protection.

Some time after this, Richard was residing at Konish, in Karamania and his wife, Marie, was kept prisoner, by the Austrians, at Presburg.

In 1852, the Turks approached Guyon, offering him a command with the rank of lieutenant-general and the title of Kurschid* (the Sun) Pasha. He steadfastly refused to embrace the Mahometan faith, even though he was starving from want and only after all efforts were abandoned as hopeless, did the Turks accept his services on his own terms. He thus became the first Christian to obtain the rank of Pasha and hold Turkish military command without betraying his religion. He was sent to Damascus where his wife eventually joined him.

He went to Anatolia in November, 1853, joining the Turkish army there. He was not the only foreigner fighting with the Turkish army. Associated with him were Perchat Pasha (Stein), Osman Bey (Zashitzkey) and Fehti Bey (Coleman) - a German, Pole and an Irishman. There were other European officers of minor ranks, refugees, Poles and Hungarians, and a few Irish officers. He was stationed, initially, at Batoum and was nominated to command along with the others mentioned but held the highest position.

"As a dashing horseman and brilliant sabreur, he would be more highly appreciated by the Turkish soldiery than for his superior attainments as a strategist and tactician. He seemed to unite all qualities desirable for a general in such a command. If he failed subsequently to effect what was expected, the fault was not his; the corruption and incapacity of the Turkish pashas, and the intrigue of the divan, paralysed his efforts. His counsels were slighted, his orders counteracted, his remonstrances overruled at the seat of government. He did all a man in such circumstances could do, and more than most men would have attempted."

This sums up the whole of his 'career' in the Turkish army. The indigenous officers were jealous of his command and their religious scruples against obeying 'infidel commanders' proved costly in their war against Russia.

                    "Cowardice, pride, obstinacy, stupidity, 
peculation, characterised the conduct of the Tutrkish generals.  General
 Guyon was the life and soul of the army, everything would have gone to 
ruin but for him, and the few European officers who seconded his 
exertions".
 

They seemed unbelievably naive, too.

August, 1853, Mustapha Zarif Pasha had attacked and been repulsed by General Bubatoff near Kars and the following day, the Russian had, at Kurukdar, assumed the offensive and defeated Mustapha. General Guyon had recommended a plan of action to Selim Pasha, the general-in-chief, which would have probably been decisive of the campaign. However, Selim refrained from advancing for three days as they were Turkish religious holidays ! Naturally, by the time the move was made, the Russians had placed themselves in an advantegeous position. The generals, including Selim, panicked, gave impossible orders and fled the field and though Guyon (and Stein) could have rectified the situation, not one of the high-ranking Turks heeded his advice and though the soldiery fought bravely, eventually they fled in every direction; 30,000 Turks routed by half their number.

At the close of 1853, he was at the head of 30,000 men near Akhaltzick. He was mindful of the common soldiery and succoured and encouraged them; something the Turkish officers would never do. They respected him and he could have made the army a superior one. Even the Russians had 'a salutary apprehension of the energy, bravery, and military skill of Guyon, but they regarded the Turkish pashas with undisguised contempt,'.

In 1854, despite the cholera and fever which swept through the encampments, the ordinary Turkish soldiers were ready to fight. If the Porte (government) had authorised him, Guyon could have fought his way to the foot of the Caucasus. Riding amongst the tents, he was often implored: "Why do we not march?". The answer was simple - the pashas were luxuriating in their tents, smoking tobacco and opium and languishing in their harem. This gave the Russians time to recuperate and reinforce.

Even when there was a medglis, a meeting of a council of pashas, willing to discuss tactics, their actions were aborted. The spies in and around the camp, not only made sure all the common soldiery knew, but, also the Russians. On many occasions, Churschid Pasha put forward strategy, only to discover that, inspite of his request for secrecy, the Russians were taking evasive action before he had even briefed his commanders.

The pashas continued to denounce General Guyon, petitioning the Porte for his removal and eventually, he was recalled to Constantinople on half pay. It was an incredible situation; Colonel Thorne wrote: "had he command of the army not a Russian would have retained a foot of land even in Georgia".

General, Sir William Williams was not only an English counterpart to Guyon but also a friend. He suffered at the hand of his superiors, like Lord Stratford, as Guyon did with the high-ranking Turks. Guyon regarded Sir William Williams as a close friend; they felt a close sympathy for one another.

Nolan wrote in his 'Illustrated History of the War with Russia', that he had seen personal letters from Guyon to his friends and they tell of an incident where The British Ambassador refused to present him to the sultan but presented instead, a French cook ! He states- "Whatever the merits of the latter, in his way, they were not of so much importance to the Turkish empire as the soldier whose genius baffled Austria and Russia on the plains and in the passes of Hungary, until the treachery of Georgey paralysed his arm and thwarted his skill". His praises are highly sung as a commander who led with great dignity and foresight and who was a patriot and a gentleman according the book written about him by Kingslake.

He fell a victim to cholera and within 48 hours died, on 13 October at Scutari. (At this time, Florence Nightingale had a hospital at Scutari for the wounded from the Crimea, but we cannot confirm whether General Guyon was in a hospital before his death.) He had a funeral with full military honours on 15 October 1856, performed by Mr. Blackstone, the Embassy chaplain and buried in the English burial ground at Scutari Point overlooking the cliffs. Present were many of his old companions in arms during the Hungarian war.

The history of his family halts here also, except from information gleaned from a French Heraldry book, from which we can confirm that Edgar held the title and was still alive in 1887 (the date of the book).

At present, the whereabouts of the bronze plaque dedicated to General Guyon is unknown, but in Budapest, in the Pasaret district, there are two roads:

Guyon koz koz meaning passage &

Guyon Richard u. u. meaning street/lane.

There is also a book entitled, "The Patriot and the Hero General Guyon" written by A.W. Kinglake in 1856, but a copy of this is not yet attainable.

GENTLEMEN'S MAGAZINE - OBITUARY. 1856

                         

RICHARD DEBAUFRE GUYON

OCT. 13 of Cholera, the renowned General Guyon (Kurschid Pasha). He was born at Bath, his father being a captain in our English navy, descended from a French family. In 1821, being then eighteen, he got a commission in the Austrian army; he subsequently married a Hungarian lady with considerable landed property, and became a Hungarian country gentleman in which capacity he took up arms at the head of a section of the revolutionists of 1848, to oppose Jellachich. His career from this point is historical - the brilliant engagements he led, and his overthrow, with Bem, Kmety, through the patriotism of Gorgey sacrificing himself rather than his men. He fled with the rest of the Hungarian leaders to Turkey. Guyon, however, although offered a command in Damascus, with the rank of lieutenant-general and the title of Kurschid (the sun) Pacha, stedfastly refused to embrace the Mahometan faith, and this at a time when he was actually starving from want. It was only when every effort had been abandoned as hopeless, that the authorities at Constantinople accepted Guyon's services on his own terms. He was the first Christian who obtained the rank of Pacha and Turkish military command without betraying his religion. His subsequent career in the Eastern war is fresh in the minds of all readers of the newspapers. The funeral took place in the English burial-ground at Scutari, on the 15th inst., with all due military honours. Mr.. Blackstone, the Embassy chaplain, performed the solemn service. Very many of his old companions in arms during the Hungarian war were present at the sad ceremonial.


Linked toGeneral Comte Richard Debaufre Guyon

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