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Simon Bernard

BERNARD, Simon, French soldier, born in Dole, France, 28 April 1779; died in Paris, 5 November 1836. He was educated by charity in his native town, and was appointed to the polytechnic school of Paris, whither he went on foot and would have died of cold in the streets but for the kindness of an humble woman who sheltered him and took him to his destination. His instructors were Laplace, Haity, De Fleury, Fourcroy, and Monge, and he obtained the second position in the class of engineering. He was appointed in the corps de Snie, and first served in the army of the Rhine, under Napoleon, where he soon became a captain, and, having accomplished an important mission, was put at the head of the topographical bureau and made aide-de-camp to the emperor. He led the assault upon Ivrea in 1800. When a colonel he was engaged in fortifying Antwerp, and his leg was shattered in the retreat of the grand army from the field of Leipsic in 1813. The same year he threw himself into Torgau with 8,000 men, superintending the defense of that place for three months during a terrible siege. Napoleon conferred on him the title of lieutenant-general of engineers, in which capacity he attained distinction. He gave in his adherence to Louis XVIII. in 1814, and was appointed Brigadier-General; in 1815 he again fought on the side of Napoleon at Waterloo, and once more entered the service of Louis XVIII. ; but, having been ordered to leave Paris for Dole, he obtained permission from the king to go to the United States. Under a resolution of congress, which resolution was approved 29 April 1816, President Madison issued a commission, dated 16 November 1816, appointing Bernard an "assistant in the corps of engineers of the United States, with the rank of Brigadier-General by brevet." Some bitter feeling was naturally engendered in military engineering circles by this invitation of a foreigner, and one of the results was the resignation of General Joseph G. Swift, chief engineer, and of another distinguished officer, Colonel William McRee. In 1-824 General Bernard arrived with Lafayette, and soon entered upon duty as chief engineer of the army, although his title was "assistant engineer," as in the congressional resolution. He had as an associate Colonel Joseph G. Totten, and the two constituted a permanent board upon whom devolved the labor of working out the fundamental principles of the system, and of elaborating the project of defense for the great seaports. Naval officers of rank were associated with them whenever required, and resident engineer officers had a voice in relation to their own particular works. The principal work planned and executed by him was the building of Fort Non-roe at the mouth of James river. He also had a prominent part in the inauguration of some of the mammoth civil engineering works of the day, notably the Chesapeake and Ohio canal, and the Delaware breakwater. On the breaking out of the revolution of 1830, he returned to France, and was entrusted by Louis Philippe with the preparation of plans for the fortification of Paris, as lieutenant-general of engineers. He was strongly in favor of the system of detached forts that was afterward carried out. In 1834 he was minister of war. and ad interim of' foreign affairs, and he was minister of war a second time from 1836 till 1839.

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