Davoust, Or Davont, Louis Nicolas, a French marshal, born at Annoux, in Burgundy, May 10, 1770, died in Paris, June 1, 1823. At 15 he was appointed second lieutenant of cavalry. In 1792-'3 he served in the army commanded by Dumouriez, and from 1794 to 1796 was a brigadier general in the armies on the Moselle and the Rhine, where Moreau intrusted him with important commands. He accompanied Bonaparte to Egypt, and greatly contributed to the victory of Aboukir. After his return to France he was appointed general of division in 1800, chief commander of the consular guard in 1801, and marshal of the empire in 1804. He took a distinguished part in the victories of Ulm and Austerlitz; and on the same day that Napoleon defeated the Prussians at Jena (Oct. 14, 1806), he won over them the victorv of Auerstadt, and was re-warded with the title of duke of Auerstadt. In 1809 he was made prince of Eckmuhl for his part in the battle of that name. After Wagram he was appointed military commander in Poland, which country he ruled with an iron hand. In the Russian campaign he defeated Bagration at Mohilev, and was wounded at Borodino. After the disastrous retreat from Russia, he took up his headquarters at Hamburg, where he was soon besieged by the allied armies.
He boldly opposed them, at the same time treating the inhabitants of the city with merciless rigor; and it was only in April, 1814, that he consented to deliver the place into the hands of Gen. Gerard, a commissioner of Louis XVIII. Napoleon on his return from Elba appointed him minister of war. After the defeat at Waterloo he was placed in command of all the troops in and around the capital, and was ready for the contest when he received positive orders from the provisional government to negotiate with the allies; and on July 3, 1815, he signed at St. Cloud the capitulation of Paris. A few days later he retired from active life. On the trial of Marshal Ney, he boldly declared that he would not have signed the capitulation of Paris if it had not, in his opinion, guaranteed the safety of all the military men then in that city. His firmness was not palatable to the Bourbons, and he was not fully reinstated in his position till 1818. His biography, by Che-nier, appeared in 1866.