By definition, a mercenary is a person who fights for personal gain or money instead of fighting for the ideological interests of a country. Since this individual also could serve in several foreign army’s, he could also be considered a professional soldier. Gustave Cluseret does not fit into this classic definition. While, as a soldier he served in foreign armies, his professionalism came from his academic background at St. Cyr, rather than from battle. He did not fight for personal gain or money and he did fight for the ideological interests of the armies he joined. Throughout his military career, he fought for the good: with the Irish to gain their freedom from England, with Garibaldi to unify Italy, and with the North in the American Civil War in their struggle against secession and slavery. It was not that he was without ambition, he wished to command at the highest levels, he was trained for the task, and he was an excellent soldier. He was additionally a multifaceted individual. He was also: a newspaper editor, a writer, a spy, and finally an elected official. And all of this spanned much of the nineteenth century, from his birth in 1823 to his death in 1900.
The Democratic Soldier: The life of General Gustave P. Cluseret
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