Gustave Paul Cluseret

Gustave Paul Cluseret        Gustave Paul Cluseret was born in Paris, France on June 13, 1823. He studied at the Military School of Saint-Cyr, then the West Point of France, from which he graduated in 1843 as a second lieutenant. In 1848, with the rank of lieutenant, he took a very active part in suppressing the workers revolt in Paris (the June Days). Within six hours he took eleven barricades and captured three banners. For this heroic deed he was awarded the Order of the Legion of Honor. With the return to power of the Bonapartists, he was temporarily retired but soon reinstated. In 1855, now a captain, he fought in Algeria and the Crimean campaign, and then retired. Cluseret joined Garibaldi in 1860, and commanded the French legion in his army, receiving the brevet of colonel in November of that year for gallantry at the siege of Capua, where he was wounded. 

        Among many military adventurers who flocked to the United States at the outbreak of the Civil War, he came to New York in January, 1862, entered the Union army, and was appointed aide-de-camp to General McClellan, with the rank of colonel. He was soon afterward assigned to General Fremont, who placed him in command of the advanced guard. He was in several engagements, and was brevetted brigadier-general of volunteers on 14 October, 1862, for gallantry in the battle of Cross Keys. After service in the Shenandoah, he was reported in arrest (charges un-stated) in January, 1863, when General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck (in responding to William S. Rosecrans' request that Cluseret be detailed to him) telegraphed: "If you knew him better, you would not ask for him. You will regret the application as long as you live. . . ." Cluseret resigned on 2 March, 1863, and in 1864 edited in New York City the "New Nation," a weekly journal advocating Fremont for the presidency, and vehemently opposing the re-nomination of Lincoln. 

        Returning to Europe in 1867, Cluseret soon had a price placed upon his head by the British government for his alleged complicity in the Fenian uprisings. In the same year Cluseret wrote for the "Courrier Francais" a series of articles on "The Situation in the United States." On his return to France he proclaimed himself a Socialist, opposed militarism, and became a member of the Association internationale des travailleurs, a cosmopolitan Socialist organization, known as the Internationale. In 1868 he received a prison term for his articles in the newspaper LArt. In Sainte-Pelagie prison he became connected with leaders of the International. His sharp military criticisms in the newspapers resulted in his deportation as an American citizen. Upon the proclamation of the Republic (September 4, 1870), he returned to Paris and took part in the attempts at a revolt in Lyons and in Marseilles against the provisional government. His energy, his oratorical gifts, and his military experience gave him great influence among the working classes. On April 3, 1871, he was appointed Minister of War of the Commune. On April 16, he was elected a member of the Commune. Disagreements with the other communist leaders led to his arrest on the 1st of May, on a false charge of betraying the cause.

        On the 24th of the same month the occupation of Paris by the Versailles troops restored him to liberty, and he succeeded in escaping from France to England. and after a short visit to this country settled near Geneva. Switzerland, in 1872. He was condemned to death in his absence by a council of war on 30 August of that year. After the amnesty of 1881 he returned to France and contributed to the newspapers La Commune and La Marseillaise. He was sentenced to two years imprisonment for inciting the army to insubordination and fled from France. In the 1888 elections to the Chamber of Deputies he was a candidate of the Revolutionary Party. He waged a zealous campaign against parliamentarism and the Clemencist Radical Party. In 1889 he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies by the second arrondissement of Toulon. Belonged to the Socialist Labor group.

        Cluseret published a pamphlet on "Mexico and the Solidarity of Nations" (1866), "L'Aree et la de Inocratie" (1869), assisted to prepare the "Dictionnaire historique et geographique de l'Algerie" and wrote a book "The Army and Democracy" (1869) and two volumes of Memoirs (1887) dealing with the Commune. General Cluseret died near Hyeres, Department of the Var, August 22, 1900. He was buried in the Old Cemetery of the Commune in Suresnes.