Casabianca, Raphaël

b. 27 November 1738, Vescovato, Corsica

d. 28 November 1825, Bastia

Casabianca was brought up to detest the Genoese rulers of Corsica, and in 1768 he joined the French troops sent to take control of the island by Louis XV, and participated in its invasion and subjugation. He became a captain in the regiment of Buttafuoco in 1770. He went to Paris, but was sent back to Corsica as a captain in the Corsican Provincial regiment (23 August 1772), was given the brevet of major, and was made responsible for various delicate missions among his compatriots by the French governors of the island, Narbonne and Marbeuf. In 1777 he was promoted to lieutenant-colonel of his regiment, and was still commanding it when, in 1789, the Constituent Assembly declared Corsica an integral part of French territory.

Casabianca was one of the four deputies sent to Paris to thank the Assembly for this declaration. He was given the rank of colonel on 15 September 1791, and the command of the regiment of Berry, which became the 49th Line. He was sent to the Army of the North, and commanded Biron's right wing during the attacks on Mons, captured Quiévrain, but had to abandon it after Biron's defeat, though not before having carried out a vigorous counter-attack against the Austrian Uhlans. Casabianca was appointed maréchal de camp (major-general) on 30 May 1792, served in the Army of the Alps, and took part in the invasion of Savoy as far as the Little St Bernard Pass. Casabianca was then sent to Corsica, where Pasquale Paoli (then acting as commander of the island) made him deputy commander of Ajaccio and of one of the corps that was given the task of making the unfortunate expedition to Sardinia. After Paoli's rebellion against French rule, which was supported by the English naval squadron, Casabianca was besieged in Calvi for 39 days, and only capitulated when the town had been half destroyed and the garrison reduced to 80 men. Having been appointed general of division during the siege (19 March 1794), he went to the Army of the Alps, then served in the Army of Italy under Massena, Schérer and Bonaparte. After the evacuation of Corsica by the English, he was sent back there as commander of the department of Liamone, then went to command in Genoa.

Casabianca was with the Army of Rome in 1798, then in Helvetia in 1799, and was then employed with the Army of the West, where he repressed the seditious outbreaks at Rennes. When Bonaparte took power, Casabianca was appointed senator (25 December 1799), Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, received the senatorship of of Ajaccio, and in 1808 was made a Count of the Empire. In 1810 he carried out a political mission in Corsica, to observe the conduct of the Governor, General Morand. This resulted in the the Governor being removed from his post. On the downfall of Napoleon he was made a peer of France by Louis XVIII, and remained such during the Hundred Days, but was removed at the Second Restoration by the order of 24 July 1815. He was rehabilitated on 21 November 1819. He retired on 1 September 1817. In Napoleon's view, Casabianca was not a good general, but he valued his probity.

In 1767 he had married Marie-Ursule Biguglia (1750-1826) who gave him 8 children, of which one son, Pierre-François, born in Vescovato in 1784, was Massena's ADC, colonel of the 11th Light infantry, and was killed in 1812 during the Russian campaign.

Sources: Balteau, J. and others. Dictionnaire de biographie française, 1933-, vol. 7, pp. 1292-3; Michaud. Biographie universelle ancienne et moderne, 1843-?, vol. 7, p. 94.

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