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had banded them together. Even in a town so obnoxious as this had become, from the massacre of the prisoners, there were no executions, and no pillage. Some of the men were expressing a great desire for some tobacco, and, upon being asked whether there was none in the place, answered, quite simply, that there was plenty, but they had no money to buy it.
272.—THE WAR IN LA VENDÉE.
In giving a short view of the whole insurgent force, which she estimates at about 80,000 men, Madame de L. here introduces a short account of its principal leaders, whose characters are drawn with a delicate, though probably too favorable hand. M. de Elbée, M. de Bonchamp, and M. de Marigny were almost the only ones who had formerly exercised the profession of arms, and were therefore invested with the formal command. Stoffet, a native of Alsace, had formerly served in a Swiss regiment, but had long been a gamekeeper in Poitou. Of Cathelineau we have spoken already. Henri de Larochejaquelein and M. de Lescure were undoubtedly the most popular and important members of the association, and are painted with the greatest liveliness and discrimination. The former, tall, fair, and graceful, with a shy, affectionate, and indolent manner in private life, had in the field all the gayety, animation, and love of adventure that he used to display in the chase. Utterly indifferent to danger, and ignorant of the very name of fear, his great faults as a leader were rashness in attack, and undue exposure of his person. He knew little, and cared less, for the scientific details of war, and could not always maintain the gravity that was required in the councils of the leaders. Sometimes, after bluntly giving his opinion, he would quietly lay himself to sleep till the end of the deliberations, and, when reproached with this neglect of his higher duties, would answer, “What business had they to make me a general ?-I would much rather have been a private light horse-man, and taken the sport as it came.” With all this light-heartedness, however, he was full not only of kindness to his soldiers, but of compassion for his prisoners. He would sometimes offer, indeed, to fight them fairly hand to hand, before accepting their surrender, but never refused to give quarter, nor ever treated them with insult or severity.
M. de Lescure was in many respects of an opposite character. His courage, though of the most heroic temper, was invariably united with perfect coolness and deliberation. He had a great theoretical knowledge of war, having diligently studied all that was written on the subject, and was the only man in the party who knew anything of fortification. His temper was unalterably sweet and placid ; and his never failing humanity, in the tremendous scenes he had to pass through, had something in it of an angelic character. Though constantly engaged at the head of his troops, and often leading them on to the assault, he could never persuade himself to take the life of a fellow-creature with his own hand, or to show the smallest severity to his captives. One day a soldier, who he thought had surrendered, fired at him, almost at the muzzle of his piece. He put aside the musket with his sword, and said, with perfect composure, “ Take that prisoner to the rear." His attendants, enraged at the perfidy of the assault, cut him down behind his back. He turned round at the noise, and flew into the most violent passion in which he had ever been seen. This was the only time in his life in which he was known to utter an oath. There was no spirit of vengeance, in short, in his nature; and he frequently saved more lives after a battle than had been lost in the course of it.
The discipline of the army, thus commanded, has been already spoken of. It was never even divided into regiments or companies. When the chiefs had agreed on a plan of operations, they announced to their followers—M. Lescure goes to take such a bridge -who will follow him ? M. Marigny keeps the passes in such a valley–who will go with him ?—and so on. They were never told to march to the right or to the left, but to that tree or to that steeple. They were generally very ill supplied with ammunition, and were often obliged to attack a post of artillery with cudgels. On one occasion, while rushing on for this purpose, they suddenly discovered a huge crucifix in a recess of the woods on their flank, and immediately every man of them stopped short, and knelt quietly down, under the tire of the enemy. They then got up, rap right forward, and took the cannon. They had tolerable medical assistance, and found admirable nurses for the wounded in the nunneries nnd other religious establishments that existed in all the considerable towns.
Their first enterprise, after the capture of Bressiure, was against Thouars. To get at this place, a considerable river was to be crossed. M. de Lescure headed a party that was to force the passage of a bridge; but, when he came within the heavy fire of its defenders, all his peasants fell back, and left him for some minutes alone. His clothes were torn by the bullets, but not a shot took effect on his person. He returned to the charge again with Henri de Larochejaquelein. Their followers, all but two, again left them at the moment of charging. But the enemy, scared at their audacity, had already taken flight; the bridge was carried by these four men, and the town was given up after a short struggle, though not before Henri had climbed alone to the top of the wall by the help of a friend's shoulders, and thrown several stones at the flying inhabitants within. The republican general, Queti. neau, who had defended himself with great valor, obtained honorable terms in this capitulation, and was treated with the greatest kindness by the insurgent chiefs. He had commanded at Bressiure when it was finally abandoned, and told M. Lescure, when he was brought before him, that he saw the closed window-shutters of his family well enough as he marched out; and that it was not out of forgetfulness that he had left them unmolested. M. Lescuro expressed bis gratitude for his generosity, and pressed him to remain with them. “You do not agree in our opinions, I know ;and I do not ask you to take any share in our proceedings. You shall be a prisoner at large among us: but, if you go back to the republicans, they will say you gave up the place out of treachery, and you will be rewarded by the executioner for the gallant defence you have made.” The captain answered in terms equally firm and spirited. “I must do my duty at all hazards. "I should be dishonest if I remained voluntarily among enentries; and I am ready to answer for all I have hitherto done.” It will surprise some violent royalists among ourselves, we believe, to find that this frankness and fidelity to his party secured for him the friendship and esteem of all the Vendean leaders. The peasants, indeed, felt a little more like the liberal persons just alluded to. They were not a little scandalized to find a republican treated with respect and courtesy, and, above all, were in horror when they saw him admitted into the private society of their chiefs, and discovered that M. de Bonchamp actually trusted himself in the same chamber with him at night! For the first two or three nights, indeed, several of them kept watch at the outside of the door, to defend him against the assassination they apprehended; and once or twice he found in the morning, that one, more distrustful than the rest, had glided into the room, and laid himself down across the feet of his commander.
From Thouars they proceeded to Fontenay, where they had a still more formidable resistance to encounter. M. de Lescure was again exposed alone to the fire of six pieces of cannon charged with grape, and had his hat pierced, a spur shot off, and a boot torn by the discharge; but he only turned round to his men, who were hanging back, and said, “You see these fellows can take no aim ;-come on!” They did come on, and soon carried all before them.
The republicans had retaken, in the course of these encounters, the first piece of cannon which had fallen into the hands of the insurgents, and to which the peasants had fondly given the name of Marie Jeanne. After their success at Fontenay, a party was formed to recover it. One man, in his impatience, got so far ahead of his comrades, that he was in the heart of the
before he was aware. Fortunately, he had the horse and accoutrements of a dragoon he had killed the day before, and was taken by the party for one of their own company. They welcomed him accordingly, and told him he was just come in time to repulse the brigands, who were advancing to retake their Marie Jeanne. “Are they?" says he; “follow me, and we shall soon give a good account of them;" and then, heading the troop, he rode on till he came within reach of his own party, when he suddenly cut down the two men on each side of him, and welcomed his friends to the victory. At another time four young officers, in the wantonness of their valor, rode alone to a large village in the heart of the country occupied by the republicans, ordered all the inhabitants to throw down their tricolored cockades, and to prepare quarters for the royalist army, which was to march in, in the evening, 100,000 strong. The good people began their preparations accordingly, and hewed down their tree of liberty—when the young men laughed in their faces, and galloped unmolested away from upwards of a thousand enemies! The whole book is full of such feats and adventures. Their recent successes had encumbered them with near 4000 prisoners, of whom, as they had no strong places or regular garrisons, they were much at a loss how to dispose. To dismiss such a mob of privates, on their parole not to serve any more against them, they knew would be of no avail ; and, after much deliberation, they fell upon the ingenious expedient of shaving their heads, at the same time that their parole was exacted; so that, if they again took the field against them within any moderate time, they might be easily recognized, and dealt with accordingly. Madame Lescure's father had the merit of this happy invention.
The day after the capture of Fontenay, the greater part of the army thought it was time to go home for awhile to look after their cattle, and tell their exploits to their wives and children. In about a week, however, a considerable number of them came back again, and proceeded to attack Saumur. Here M. de Lescure received his first wound in the arm; and Henri, throwing his hat over the intrenchments of the place, called to his men, Let us see now who will bring it back to me!” and rushed at their head across the glacis. A vast multitude of the republicans fell in this battle; and near 12,000 prisoners were made, who were all shaved and let
go. The insurgents did not loose 400 in all. In the castle they found Quetineau, the gallant but unsuccessful defender of Thouars, who, according to M. de Lescure's prediction, had been arrested and ordered for trial in consequence of that disaster. He was again pressed to remain with them as a prisoner on parole, but continued firm in his resolution to do his duty, and leave the rest to fortune. He was sent, accordingly, to Paris a short time after—where he was tried, condemned, and executed !
The insurrection had now attained a magnitude which seemed to make it necessary to have some one formally appointed to the