ページの画像
PDF
ePub

feeble and ill-supported tlieir exertions would prove, in comparison of what they had been on the first breaking out os the resistance to government. They had at that period introduced order and regularity among their people, and had exercised hostilities according to the rules of discipline But those, on whom they now prevailed to Join them, were no longer guided by the same spirit. The generality indeed did not seem inclined to embark in a cause for which they had to greatly suffered, and so vainly displayed the most surprising courage and efforts. The majority of those, who now followed their fortune*, were individuals long determined never to submit to the republic, and to seize the first opportunity os acting openly against it.* They consisted chiefly os the ruined noblesse, clergymen expelled from their living's, and other persons deprived of their employments, either for adhering, or being suspected os adherence to the royal ca ise. The mass of their followers was made up of deserters, peasants, and others of the lower classes, impelled, by the ill-treatment of the ruling party for their difference of opinion in matters of church and stale, to fly from their homes, and betake themselves to the protection of those who were in arms against government, and whose numbers were thus encreased and conslan ly recruited by fresh accessions of the dilcontented and ill-used.

Those who now presided over them were Charette and Sloflet, who ap|>e.ared still determined to encounter new hazards, after having escaped Ib many dangers. The former of these had, in the course of the preceding year, renounced

the engagements he had contracted with the republic, and published a manifesto, wherein he publicly charged its agents with having, under false pretences, inveigled him to lay down his arms and submit to government. They had, he said, given him to understand, that the rulers of the nation had conic* to a fixed resolution os restoring royalty, and of replacing the family of Bourbon upon the throne, as soon as such an event could lake place with security; but the temper os the French, they insinuated, was to be consulted, and a due concurrence os circumstances waited for, before an attempt of such importance could be made. He enumerated a variety of particulars tending to delude him, and concluded by accusing government of having violated its faith with his associates; and, as a consummation of its iniquity, of having taken off. by poison, the innocent child os their murdered sovereign. It was, he said, in consequence of these perjuries and enormities, that he had come to a determination to take up arms again, and never to lay them down till the heir to the crown was restored, and the Catholic religion re-established.

Such were the contents of this extraordinary manifesto, which appeared so strange and unaccountable to numbers, that they were led to doubt its authenticity.

In the mean time, the forces, dispatched by government to suppress this insurrection, met with various difficulties, from the nature of the warfare they were engaged in. The insurgents, conscious or their inferiority in the field, avoided all regular action; and, dividing themselves into a multitude of small

bodies,

bodies, occupied all the narrow
passes and defiles throughout the
country, and harassed the republi-
can troops in their marches and
notions. The inhabitants in those
farts, being generally in the interest
"I ihe insurgents, informed them of.
ifce most convenient places wl)ere to,
lit in ambuscade, and surprise-their
eneijiies. By these means they inter-
cepted the communication between;
tin' republican troops, and often,
k.ztd their convoys of provisions
and stores, and reduced them to
tlie cxiremcst want of ammunition-
and necessaries. Whenever, (hey.
liunJ an .oppo.rtuni(v .of attacking';
thrui to advantage, they never.
imued ii, and occasionally-descaled
trem .with considerable (laughter..-
When these were too well situated,.,
or loo thong in numbers., .as we.II as,;
position, to venture an engagement
with them, the others .kept within .
forests or fallnefles that'-were almost
inaccessible, and wljere, on that ac-
count, they succeeded in defending
themselves. Their general mode*
ol attack was with roulketry, never
coming to close sight, and always .
placing hedges, pales, ditches, and
other imepedimer.ts between, them-
selves and the foe, whom, as muabers
«(" them were excellent marksmen,
the)' contrived by these methods
greatly to annoy, in spite os their
courage and discipline, and their
eagerness to rush upon them through
ail obstacles, and to fight them
under all disadvantages.

The chiefs of the insurgents were to conscious ot the impractibility of encountering the republican troops in any other manner, that their own people, losing all hope of renewing those brilliant successes they hid formerly obtained, gradually abandoned all attempt* of that Voi. XXXVIII.

kind, and gave themselves up to a predatory system of hostilities, accompanied with as many sanguinary executions of their enemies, as they thought requisite for the support of their qwn cause, and the intimidation of their enemies. >

Such had been their .plan of acting since the second insurrection, vvlijch had broken out in the commencement of the foregoing summer, and had continued with varipus success till the approach of wirifej. The disappointment that had befallen the expedition to the coast of France, from England, and the k>£ os so many emigrants, that had. cither fallen in battle, or been taken prisoners, and put to death, had so esiectuaily terrified their-'

. adherents, that, spurn that day, they

, had >n>anitested littse inclination to venture into new dangers, without

, better !groutids of hope, .than-pro*' mifcscrf'allisiance wherein tlœy had • been so much dee.eiv.ed,-and exhort- • atipns to loyalty, liiat only led them to riiin. :.»....'

Disheartened by the<severe and

, atrocious vengeance-executed upon
their country, and the dreadful
slauglrter and chastisement of its in-
habitants, the Vcndeans had not,
w before, crowded to the royal
standards erected among them. The
■airinesty. published afier the former
pacification, and the lenient .treat-
ment they had experienced in con-
sequence of their submission to the
republic, had produced the effect*
tha^ had been expected. The re-
maining majority os that unfortunate
people had returned to their coun-
try, and resumed their former oc- .
cupations, with the* intent of never
leaving them again for the rasti en-
terprises to which thev had been
prompted, by the vain prospect of
[ G ] being

being able to overturn the republic, and restore the monarchy.

But those, who had led themsorth to this desperate attempt, did not despair to excite them to a second undertaking of the same nature. They held out every motive that had formerly been prevalent; attachment to their religion, love of their kings, hatred to she present innovations. Multitudes were induced accordingly to list again under their banners : but the greater part remained quiet in their habitations, and the flower of the insurgents was not, as antecedently, composed ofthe Vendeans, but ofthe mixed and numerous mass of the inhabitants of the several provinces osBritanny.Poitou, Maine, Anjou, and others lying on the banks ofthe Loire.

Those who chiefly figured among them, were that body ot men known by the appellation of Chouans, and whose origin and primitive transitions and character have already been noticed. From these, the whole insurrection now borrowed that denomination; and, as many of their actions had been marked with blood thirstiness, as well as rapacity, those who were united with them, incurred the like imputation; whence they became cquallv dreaded and abhorred, and acquired the general name of plunderers and murderers among the adherents to the republican party, of which their detestation was no less notorious, as well as their zeal and readiness to doom its partisans to extermination.

This reciprocal dilj osition was of courle productive of many atrocious deeds. The republican soldiery shewed (hem little mere)-, considering them in hardly any other light than that of highway robbers, ft became at last a war of reciprocal

destruction, not only of men, but of whatever they possessed. Slaughter and conflagration went hand in band, and the country round presented a picture os death and desolation. No man nor family were safe in their houses: the republican soldiers broke into them, and mastacred all they found. The opposite parties waylayed each other on the roads, ana gave no quarter. Their whole attention was employ* ed in framing and perpetrating those horrors, and executing every scheme of public and private vengeance.

The pretext, for the commission of all those enormities, was the fame on both sides: the royalifls charged the republicans with having violated the late treaty, and these retorted (he accusation. The truth was, that neither party much ap-^ proved of it, and had acceded to it, rather as a suspension of hostilities, than as an absolute pacification, intending to abide by the conditions agreed to, no longer than they found it convenient. Hence no confidence was established on either side, and they both watched each olhcrs motions with equal suspicion os their malevolence.

Aster a long fluctuation ossortune between the contending parties, the principal commander of the royalists, the famous Charcttc, encountered a strong bodv of the republicans near Roche Suryan, on she twenty-eighth of December, 1795, and was totally defeated. His men were so completely routed, that he was unable to rally them. Thev fled from the field in various directions, and were so closely pursued, that (hey dispersed on every side, and he was never able again to embody them. He was. compelled, for his own satiety, lo disguise himself like a peasant. In this dress he wandered about the country without a companion, in hope of escaping his pursuers, and gaining the sea side, where he might find an opportunity of flying to England. But the search made aster him was so strict and incessant, that lie sell into the hands of a patrole that was in quest of him. He was tried and sentenced lo be (hot. His execution took placeat Nanteson the twenty-eighth of April. His associate, the well known Stoflet, who had also been made a prisoner, suffered death in the same manner, about two months bctbre him.

The fall of these two principal chiefs of the insurrection, especially the former, gave it a blow from which it did not recover. Neither the Vendeans, nor the Chouans who had joined them, seemed to have been overcome by despondency on this occasion, and they still continued to maintain their ground with as mueh obstinacy as ever : but whether none of their remaining leaders were of equal ability, or that their people did not repole the fame confidence in them, their defeats became continual, and such numbers were slaughtered, that the generality of the insurgents began to Ioolc courage, particularly aster the losses ot those who commanded them. No less than thirteen of their principal chiefs fell in battle, and ten others were taken and condemned ro be shot.

The death of these officers proved an irreparable loss: they were men <>f conspicuous resolution, and had long conducted the affairs of their party with remarkable ikill and perseverance in the arduous trials they had lo frequently experienced.— Xone at this period seemed capable si supplying their place; bu.t what

chiefly accelerated the submission of the insurgents, was the lenity with which the government came to the resolution os treating all those who laid down their arms. A proclamation had already been issued, during the heat of hostilities, inviting the insurgents to return to obedience, under a solemn promise of burying their revolt in oblivion, and of granting them every just concession they could require: the directory availed itself of Che advantages it had obtained, to convince those who had been concerned in the insurrection, that the only ule the government would make of the situation to which they were now reduced, would be to deprive them os the means of exciting disturbances; and that, provided they acquiefed in the injunctions laid upon them, they would be placed on the fame footing with their fellows citizens, and enjoy similar rights.

So anxious was the directory to impress them with this persuasion, that it publiflied a circular address to the commanders of the troops employed in suppressing the insurrection, strictly enjoining them to keep the intentions of the government in constant view, and not to exceed them by needless acts of severity.

But the animosity os the republicans against the insurgents was such, that they occasionally exercised great rigour over them, to the seriousi concern os the directory1* which reprehended, with marked severity, those who had been guilty of thele excesses. It anxiously reiterated its orders to abstain from all harshness, and to receive all who submitted with a generous forgiveness of the past; considering them as deluded brethren, whole attachment it was the duty oi their conquerors to win

[G 'ij through

[ocr errors]

through mildness and conciliation, which were the only effectual means ot' restoring them to the bosom os their country, and converting them into good citizens.

In pursuance os these maxims, every district that surrendered its arms, and punctually conformed to the conditions'prescribed, was immediately placed under the completest protection of the laws, and nfl infraction of these suffered to their detriment.

The measures thus taken, by the directory, availed them more than military coercion would have done. The dread of punishment had kept several bodies of the insurgents together : but the moment they found that a pardon would be granted to them, on acceding to the terms of the proclamation that had so long been circulated; and to which government was yet willing to adhere, they repaired in crowds to the head quarters of the republican generals declaring their readiness to accept of the conditions proffered to them.

These submissions gradually took place in the course of March and April. By the close of this month, the insurrection was Ib far quelled, that no apprehensions were entertained from the few straggling parties that remained, and which were looked upon as people determined to lead a predatory life, rather than in arms for the cause they had embraced, and of which no hopes anylonger exits ed.

After subduing this dangerous insurrection by force os arms, the next mealure was to pacify the minds of thole who had so obstinately persisted in it, and yielded at length •nly from the impractibility of any farther resistance. To this end, in addition to the punctual observance

of the promises made to the insurgents, to induce them to lay down their arms, a number of publications, suited to the capacity os those for whom they were designed, were distributed in the districts where the insurrection had taken place: and those individuals on whose fidelity and attachment to republican principles the government could depend, were encouraged to take all possible pains to inculcate the propriety of uniting with the majority of their countrymen, and • of unfeignedly abjuring those sentiments that had cost them so many lives, and plunged their families into so much misery.

The necessity os acting conformably to this adVice, became so apparent, that even the royalist generals thought themselves bound no longer to obstruct the submission of the insurgents, convinced that it was the only means left them to escape destruction. A proclamation to this purpose was issued and signed by viseount Scepeaux, the principal in command in the western department. After lamenting the fruitless efforts to restore monarchy and the Catholic religion, it acknowledged that to persist in this.attempt would only be conducting (he insurgents to the slaughter. Jt exhorted them, therefore, to desist, and yield to superior force, in order to secure their lives, and be permitted to dwell in safety at their homes. ■ 1

An exhortation of this kind did not fail in convince them of the ir.utility of any farther opposition: and, by the latter end of July, the country of the insurgents was so thoroughly pacified, that martial law was repealed, and civil government restored.

CHA.PJ

[ocr errors]
« 前へ次へ »