Friday, 30 April 2010

Plaque on South Uist recalls French commander

From the BBC News website:

A plaque is to be unveiled later to an 18th Century French military commander in the South Uist village where his father was born.

The memorial recalls Etienne Alexander MacDonald, a trusted member of Napoleon's army.

Marshal MacDonald's father Neil was born in Howbeg, on the west coast of the Hebridean island.

Herve Bouche, the French Consul General in Scotland, has been invited to attend the unveiling.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar convenor Alex MacDonald said it was important to acknowledge Marshal MacDonald's island roots.

He said: "In 1825 Marshal MacDonald visited South Uist for the only time in his life.

"His meteoric rise through the ranks of the French Napoleonic army is nothing short of incredible, and I am delighted that we are commemorating his life and visit to South Uist in this way."

Louvre statue

Neil MacDonald, a Jacobite, played a key role in Charles Edward Stuart's escape following his defeat at Culloden in 1746.

His son became a highly regarded military officer and following Napoleon's defeat he became a minister in the French government, a Peer of the Realm and was elevated to Arch-Chancellor of the order of the Legion d'Honneur.

His statue stands on the side of the Louvre, his name is inscribed on the Arc de Triomphe and one of the boulevards of Paris was named after him.

Marshal MacDonald returned from his trip to South Uist in 1825 with soil from the land at Howbeg. It was buried with him when he died.

When he died in 1840 at the age of 70 he was given a state funeral and buried in the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

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