Joseph Gallieni

Nation: France

Military Leader

Birth Date: April 24, 1849
France Joseph Gallieni Military Leader Cover
I. Early Life
II. Service in the Sudan and Indochina
III. Governor of Madagascar
IV. World War I
V. Death
VI. Personal Characteristics
VII. Legacy
I. Early Life
Joseph-Simon Gallieni was born at Saint-Biat, at the foot of the Pyrenees, on April 24, 1849. His father was a soldier, a captain. In his youth Gallieni had his military training at Sainy-Cyr, and served through the Franco-Prussian War. Then, for more than thirty years, he was hunting and exploring in Africa, fighting in the Far East, organizing and governing great territories inhabited by non-European races. He wrote a series of books describing his work and his dreams in these lands.

Gallieni, Governor of Paris. (1920). In M. C. Darnton (Ed.), Harper's pictorial library of the world war (p. 163). Harper & Bros: New York & London.
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II. Service in the Sudan and Indochina
Gallieni served in the French Sudan in 1880-81 and, as Governor, from 1886-88. In 1892, he transferred to Indochina where France ruled a quarter of a million square miles of rich and historically significant territory. In one of his books, he tells us that on February 18, 1896, he left his ship at Marseilles, having just completed a long and arduous campaign in Tonkin. During four consecutive years, the governors of France's great Oriental colony had entrusted to him the mission of guarding the northern boundaries of the colony, and of organizing large, new territories. The achievement of this rough but interesting work resulted in the total disappearance of the pirates who had infested these regions for two centuries.

M. Gallieni also succeeded in establishing the most friendly relations with the mandarins of southern China, notably with Marshal Su, thus opening the way for the building of the colonial railroad. Further, M. Gallieni had a chance to develop administrative ideas which he had first applied in the Sudan, and which he was later to introduce with excellent results in Madagascar.

Gallieni, Governor of Paris. (1920). In M. C. Darnton (Ed.), Harper's pictorial library of the world war (p. 163). Harper & Bros: New York & London.
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III. Governor of Madagascar
After four years passed in active service in French Indochina, he was looking forward with lively satisfaction to the prospect of a long furlough in the bosom of his family, at Saint-Raphael on the Azure Coast between Marseilles and Nice. However, the higher powers ruled otherwise, and General Gallieni was asked to go out to Madagascar.

In his well-written and superbly illustrated book, Nine Years of Madagascar, General Gallieni tells the story of his work there. He enumerates the steps by which he changed anarchy into order, and added to his country a well-ordered and very rich region of a quarter of a million square miles.

Gallieni, Governor of Paris. (1920). In M. C. Darnton (Ed.), Harper's pictorial library of the world war (p. 163). Harper & Bros: New York & London.
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IV. World War I
In World War I, on the day after the defeat of the British and French at Mons-charleroi, Gallieni was made Military Governor of Paris. Well knowing that the old circle of Paris forts was unequal to the task that seemed about to fall to them, he boldly announced that he would defend the city to the last. The following was the proclamation Gallieni issued:

ARMY OF PARIS! INHABITANTS OF PARIS!

The members of the Government of the Republic have left Paris, to give a new impetus to the national defense. I have received the order to defend Paris against the invader. This order I will carry out to the end.

GALLIENI

The last words of the manifesto became a popular French war cry, "Jusqu'au bout". The French Government had removed to Bordeaux, and with it had gone many citizens. Parisians in general, however, remained with their Governor.

Paris was not in a position to defend herself against a German attack. Modern artillery, if nothing else, had rendered her circle of forts little more than a nominal defense. As the public had known nothing of what was being done in preparation for a counterstroke on the Marne, the appointment of Gallieni came as a great relief. It meant a defense to the end. Every morning gangs of laborers left Paris in tourist motor char-a-banes to work in throwing up trench-defenses.

Countless indications showed that Gallieni was preparing to defend the city inch by inch. When finally German General Alexander von Kluck swept down to the southeast across Paris, exposing his flank, Maunoury's army was hurried forward by every available means of transport until, on the Ourcq, it played a momentous part in winning the coming victory. All the organizing and administrative ability of Gallieni was on display in this flanking operation.

The circumstances in which Gallieni did so much to save Paris were capable of two interpretations. Nearly all military critics admitted that he saved the city, but some declared that if he had carried out Joffre's orders exactly he would have done more — he would have captured Kluck. Joffre, with "clairvoyant strategy," had foreseen that the German right would press on until it reached the outer fortifications of Paris and then would swing to the southeast in an attempt to encircle the city. He knew that German lines of communication could not at once supply the necessary men nor the heavy guns for a siege, and that in the interval he could capture Kluck's army. For this eventuality, he had caused Gallieni to prepare a picked body of fighting men — mostly colonials from Tunis — who at the critical moment were to deploy east of the capital in the direction of Chalons, thereby cutting off the Germans south of the line.

The Germans advanced as Joffre had foreseen. They reached the outer fortifications on September 3, 1914, and then swung to the southeast, enveloping La Ferte, Sezanne, and Vitry on September 5th. On the following day Joffre sent an order to division commanders, "Prepare to advance," intending that they should stiffen their lines and await further orders. On that day Maunoury, who commanded the French left north of Paris, sent word to Gallieni that his positions were in jeopardy. Gallieni, collecting every available motor-car in Paris, rushed all his reserve troops to Maunoury's relief, and a fierce attack was made on Kluck's flank at the Ourcq. The French front in the southeast, feeling the pressure of the Germans weakening, not only "stiffened," but through the stroke delivered by Foch rolled the Germans back, and the later phase of the battle, which turned their retreat into a rout, was fought. Paris had been saved, but Kluck's army escaped.

During the first months of the war Gallieni, as the Military Governor of Paris, not only reconstructed the fortifications and prepared defenses for the city from aviation attacks, but as the city became a great clearinghouse for wounded, troops, and supplies, it became his duty to facilitate all things pertaining to movements. In November 1915, when the French Cabinet was reconstructed Gallieni became Minister of War, succeeding M. Millerand. Here his ability as an organizer and administrator was again shown. In February, he took over the direction of the Department of Aviation, but shortly afterward was taken ill and compelled to resign in March 1916.

Halsey, F. W. (1920). General Joseph Simon Gallieni. In The Literary digest history of the world war: Compiled from original and contemporary sources: American, British, French, German, and others (Vo. 10, pp. 123-125). New York: Funk & Wagnalis Company.
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V. Death
Gallieni's death in the midst of the war, while not unexpected for he had long been seriously ill, created a deep impression in France. he had been idolized, particularly by the poor, and was regarded as the Savior of Paris in those critical days of August and September 1914. He died in Versailles on May 27, 1916 after a painful illness that culmuniated in an operation for transfusion of blood, which gave only momentary hope.

Gallieni died in the land he loved so dearly, and his funeral in Paris was a fitting end to his career. In the procession on the Paris boulevards marched a wide variety of nationalities. Among the Parisians were the reckless gamins of the slums, now trained and orderly soldiers. So they bore him to the Chapel of the Invalides with such honor as only the French can show to those they love.

Halsey, F. W. (1920). General Joseph Simon Gallieni. In The Literary digest history of the world war: Compiled from original and contemporary sources: American, British, French, German, and others (Vo. 10, p. 123). New York: Funk & Wagnalis Company.

Gallieni, Governor of Paris. (1920). In M. C. Darnton (Ed.), Harper's pictorial library of the world war (p. 164). Harper & Bros: New York & London.
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VI. Personal Characteristics
Gallieni was a silent man. Summers spent in the Sudan and on the high plains of Madagascar sat lightly on him. Behind a "pince-nez" bridging a pointed nose in a rather gaunt face, he had a cold and penetrating eye. One deciphered energy in his features.

Gallieni's figure, tall and slim, was quite destitute of that corpulence which defined Joffre. He was "elegant," as the French say. A touch of the courtly characterized his every gesture. He spoke the language of the salon, liked flowers and poetry, looked discriminatingly at pictures through eye-glasses set gracefully upon a prominent nose. His eyes were blue, but with a suggestion of green, his voice ingratiating.

He had a cool politeness in his manners, not curt, and yet suggested the man who was master of himself and others. Never was he seen unkempt, bedraggled, or ungroomed. His physical endurance was simply incompatible with the whiteness of his hair, the paleness of his face which tropical suns had failed to tan, and the delicacy of his frame. He wore a uniform like a beau, acting, talking, and seeming the courtier. He looked like a carpet commander such as graced the palace of the "Sun King" on days of grand balls and diplomatic receptions.

Halsey, F. W. (1920). General Joseph Simon Gallieni. In The Literary digest history of the world war: Compiled from original and contemporary sources: American, British, French, German, and others (Vo. 10, pp. 125-126). New York: Funk & Wagnalis Company.
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VII. Legacy
Gallieni was fond of the theater, graceful as a dancer, read poetry, was swift and resourceful, and a dominating figure at a council of war, partly because of his charm, also because of the subtlety and plausibility he showed in defending propositions. He thought Joifre too cautious. "You ought to be in Madagascar, General," said the stout commander to the thin one in 1915, after a discussion of some new conception he had outlined as the War Minister. "No, General," said Gallieni smilingly, "by this time I ought to be in Berlin." He had a pretty little home at La Gabelle, in a rolling French valley near Saint Raphael, where domestic bereavement had not escaped him. Distinguished as was his career, the financial results had been inadequate and he died poor. With him there passed away a fine servant of France whose career embraced three great periods of French history — the tragic moment of defeat in 1870, the Colonial Renaissance, and the First World War.

Halsey, F. W. (1920). General Joseph Simon Gallieni. In The Literary digest history of the world war: Compiled from original and contemporary sources: American, British, French, German, and others (Vo. 10, p. 126). New York: Funk & Wagnalis Company.
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