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Papers of Louis Dieudonne Gaillard (1824-1888)


Louis Gaillard's papers include many significant documents pertaining to French history. There are several letters from General Trochu (President of France in 1871) both of a personal and professional nature. Trochu was a close friend of Louis and, on the occasion of his engagement to Mary wrote to James Bowdoin Bradlee testifying to Louis' unblemished qualities as a gentleman and a soldier. Louis' letters from Madame de Missy are rather familiar considering she was his future mother-in-law (her daughter, Julie Marie de Bionneau, married Louis in 1853). A large collection of Louis' letters can be found in Mary Gaillard's papers. These letters, written to her during his military campaigns, contain valuable information on his career and personality. Louis' legal papers are complex in nature. The documents are based on the Code Napoleon which differs substantially from American law, particularly with regard to inheritance. There is considerable concern in the papers about the safety of Mary Gaillard's money. The marriage contract states that whatever each party brought into the marriage does not become communal property. This is also true for future inheritances. Article two states that neither would be responsible for the other’s debts. Article four describes Mary's possessions. Some $42,000 was deposited with Bradlee's attorney, William Minot, Jr., to be held in trust in Boston, the interest only to be sent to Mary annually. A specific contractual provision is that Mary's money should return to her parents should she die without heirs. A year and a half later James Bowdoin Bradlee changed his mind and allowed Mary to will to Louis the interest from her trust for life. Louis' continued concern for his wife's money can be seen in his own will. He specifies in the first article that his own children have no right to Mary's estate; there are several references to his son Lucien, on whom an endowment of 40,000 francs was settled at the time of his marriage. This money had been left by Louis' first wife. As stipulated in the marriage contract with Julie Marie de Bionneau, Louis had the right to use half of his first wife's estate for life. All of the endowment, as a result of his son's needs, was paid to Lucien previous to Louis' own death. Although the term "loan" is used to refer to this inheritance, strictly speaking, it was not borrowed money but a pre-payment of his father's estate. Louis' son-in-law, Léonce Boy, also had financial difficulties. Letters received from Louis' daughter, Louise Boy, concern these problems. Léonce Boy owned two sardine factories in France and Portugal. When they failed, he was forced to go into debt and in 1897 declared bankruptcy. In the United States, Mary received notification of her son-in-law's business failure from A. Rigoulet, a notary in Pau, France.

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Collection Name
Codman family papers
Collection Code
1842-1889, undated
Collection Type
Description Level
Reference Code

Historical/Biographical Note

Louis Dieudonne Gaillard was born at Meaux, Seine et Marne, in 1824, the son of Jean-Marie Pierre Joseph Gaillard and Denise Angelique Alexandrine Cordier. He entered Saint Cyr in 1842, and after graduating rose through the ranks to become a captain in 1850 and a lieutenant colonel in 1870. Between 1852 and 1856, he served in Africa and Annam (Vietnam). He married Julie Marie de Bionneau in 1853 who bore him two children, Lucien and Louise. Julie died in 1862 leaving Louis with two young children. He met Mary May Bradlee in 1867, and they were married in St. Clothilde's Church in Paris on 28 May 1868. Mary bore him two children: Louis James Gaillard, born in 1869 and died in infancy, and Jules Bowdoin Bradlee, born in 1870 and died in 1874. When the Franco-Prussian War broke out in 1870, he joined the Army of the Rhine. He was severely wounded in the head by a Prussian saber at the Battle of Regonville on 16 August 1870, though his bravery saved his commanding officer's life. He became a prisoner of war and was held in Cologne during the winter of 1870-1871. In 1871, Louis was appointed to the tribunal at Versailles. He served on the Court of Military Justice, which tried the Communards who had seized Paris in the spring of that year. With Louis rested the ultimate decision to free those proven innocent. A few years later he was appointed military attaché to the French Embassy at the court of Alexander II. His military as well as his social savoir faire won him the sympathy of the czar as well as high Russian military and civilian officials. During the campaign against Turkey in 1878, he was attached to the high état\-major, and when called back to France the Czar awarded him, among other distinctions, the Grand Cordon de Saint Anne. Louis had won the respect of both Prussian and Romanian heads of state. His friendship with the Skobelev family contributed to the diplomatic understanding between France and Russia in the late nineteenth century. Louis was raised to the rank of general in April 1879. He became commander of the 72nd Brigade of Infantry at Pau. In November 1879, he retired from active service for health reasosn, having amassed almost every decoration and honor in Europe, including the three highest French honors: the Chevalier, Officier, and Commandeur de la Legion d'Honneur, as well as numerous military decorations from major European countries. The Gaillards retired to Villa Bogdane in Pau, a home they purchased in 1881 in a region known for its brilliant and hospitable entertainments. Louis died of a stroke on 19 January 1888.


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