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List Of Contents | Contents of Massacres of the South, by Dumas, Pere
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M. de Montrevel; leaving the further conduct of the expedition to MM.
de Julien and de Canillac, hastened to Cette with eight hundred men
and ten guns.  The ships were still in sight, and were really, as had
been surmised, two vessels which had been detached from the combined
fleets of England and Holland by Admiral Schowel, and were the
bearers of money, arms, and ammunition to the Huguenots.  They
continued to cruise about and signal, but as the rebels were forced
by the presence of M. de Montrevel to keep away from the coast, and
could therefore make no answer, they put off at length into the open,
and rejoined the fleet.  As M. de Montrevel feared that their retreat
might be a feint, he ordered all the fishermen's huts from
Aigues-Morte to Saint-Gilles to be destroyed, lest they should afford
shelter to the Camisards.  At the same time he carried off the
inhabitants of the district of Guillan and shut them up in the
chateau of Sommerez, after having demolished their villages.  Lastly,
he ordered all those who lived in homesteads, farms, or hamlets, to
quit them and go to some large town, taking with them all the
provisions they were possessed of; and he forbade any workman who
went outside the town to work to take more than one day's provisions
with him.

These measures had the desired effect, but they were terrible in
their results; they deprived the Camisards of  shelter indeed, but
they ruined the province.  M. de Baville, despite his well-known
severity tried remonstrances, but they were taken in bad part by M.
de Montrevel, who told the intendant to mind his own business, which
was confined to civil matters, and to leave military matters in his,
M. de Montrevel's, hands; whereupon the commandant joined M. de
Julien, who was carrying on the work of destruction with
indefatigable vigour.

In spite of all the enthusiasm with which M. de Julien went to work
to accomplish his mission, and being a new convert, it was, of
course, very great.  Material hindrances hampered him at every step.
Almost all the doomed houses were built on vaulted foundations, and
were therefore difficult to lay low; the distance of one house from
another, too, their almost inaccessible position, either on the peak
of a high mountain or in the bottom of a rocky valley, or buried in
the depths of the forest which hid then like a veil, made the
difficulty still greater; whole days were often lost by the workmen
and militia in searching for the dwellings they came to destroy.

The immense size of the parishes also caused delay: that of
Saint-Germain de Calberte, for instance, was nine leagues in
circumference, and contained a hundred and eleven hamlets, inhabited
by two hundred and seventy-five families, of which only nine were
Catholic; that of Saint-Etienne de Valfrancesque was of still greater
extent, and its population was a third larger, so that obstacles to
the work multiplied in a remarkable manner.  For the first few days
the soldiers and workmen found food in and around the villages, but
this was soon at an end, and as they could hardly expect the peasants
to keep up the supply, and the provisions they had brought with them
being also exhausted, they were soon reduced to biscuit and water;
and they were not even able to make it into a warm mess by heating
the water, as they had no vessels; moreover, when their hard day's
work was at an end, they had but a handful of straw on which to lie.
These privations, added to their hard and laborious life, brought on
an endemic fever, which incapacitated for work many soldiers and
labourers, numbers of whom had to be dismissed.  Very soon the
unfortunate men, who were almost as much to be pitied as those whom
they were persecuting, waited no longer to be sent away, but deserted
in numbers.

M. de Julien soon saw that all his efforts would end in failure if he
could not gain the king's consent to a slight change in the original
plan.  He therefore wrote to Versailles, and represented to the king
how long the work would take if the means employed were only iron
tools and the human hand, instead of fire, the only true instrument
employed by Heaven in its vengeance.  He quoted in support of his
petition the case of Sodom and Gomorrah--those cities accursed of the
Lord.  Louis XIV, impressed by the truth of this comparison, sent him
back a messenger post-haste authorising him to employ the suggested

"At once," says Pere Louvreloeil, "the storm burst, and soon of all
the happy homesteads nothing was left: the hamlets, with their barns
and outhouses, the isolated farmhouses, the single huts and cottages,
every species of building in short, disappeared before the swift
advancing flames as wild flowers, weeds, and roots fall before the

This destruction was accompanied by horrible cruelty.  For instance,
twenty-five inhabitants of a certain village took refuge in a
chateau; the number consisted of children and very old people, and
they were all that was left of the entire population.  Palmerolle, in
command of the miquelets, hearing of this, hastened thither, seized
the first eight he could lay hold of, and shot them on the spot, "to
teach them," as he says in his report, "not to choose a shelter which
was not on the list of those permitted to them."

The Catholics also of St. Florent, Senechas, Rousson, and other
parishes, becoming excited at seeing the flames which enveloped the
houses of their old enemies, joined together, and arming themselves
with everything that could be made to serve as an instrument of
death, set out to hunt the conscripts down; they carried off the
flocks of Perolat, Fontareche, and Pajolas, burned down a dozen
houses at the Collet-de-Deze, and from there went to the village of
Brenoux, drunk with the lust of destruction.  There they massacred
fifty-two persons, among them mothers with unborn children; and with
these babes, which they tore from them, impaled on their pikes and
halberts, they continued their march towards the villages of St.
Denis and Castagnols.

Very soon these volunteers organised themselves into companies, and
became known under the name of Cadets de la Croix, from a small white
cross which they wore on their coats; so the poor Huguenots had a new
species of enemy to contend with, much more bloodthirsty than the
dragoons and the miquelets; for while these latter simply obeyed
orders from Versailles, Nimes, or Montpellier, the former gratified a
personal hate--a hate which had come down to them from their fathers,
and which they would pass on to their children.

On the other hand, the young Huguenot leader, who every day gained
more influence over his soldiers, tried to make the dragoons and
Cadets de la Croix suffer in return everything they inflicted on the
Huguenots, except the murders.  In the night from the 2nd to the 3rd
October, about ten o'clock, he came down into the plain and attacked
Sommieres from two different points, setting fire to the houses.  The
inhabitants seizing their arms, made a sortie, but Cavalier charged
them at the head of the Cavalry and forced them to retreat. Thereupon
the governor, whose garrison was too small to leave the shelter of
the walls, turned his guns on them and fired, less in the hope of
inflicting injury on them than in that of being heard by the
neighbouring garrisons.

The Camisards recognising this danger, retired, but not before they
had burnt down the hotels of the Cheval-Blanc, the Croix-d'Or, the
Grand-Louis, and the Luxembourg, as well as a great number of other
houses, and the church and the presbytery of Saint-Amand.

Thence the Camisards proceeded to Cayla and Vauvert, into which they
entered, destroying the fortifications.  There they provided
themselves abundantly with provisions for man and beast.  In Vauvert,
which was almost entirely inhabited by his co-religionists, Cavalier
assembled the inhabitants in the market-place, and made them join
with him in prayer to God, that He would prevent the king from
following evil counsel; he also exhorted his brethren to be ready to
sacrifice their goods and their lives for the re-establishment of
their religion, affirming that the Holy Spirit had revealed to him
that the arm of the Lord, which had always come to their aid, was
still stretched out over them.

Cavalier undertook these movements in the hope of interrupting the
work of destruction going on in Upper Cevennes; and partly obtained
the desired result; for M. de Julien received orders to come down
into the open country and disperse the Camisards.

The troops tried to fulfil this task, but, thanks to the knowledge
that the rebels had of the country, it was impossible to come up with
them, so that Fleshier, who was in the thick of the executions,
conflagrations, and massacres, but who still found time to write
Latin verse and gallant letters, said, in speaking of them, "They
were never caught, and did all the damage they wished to do without
let or hindrance.  We laid their mountains waste, and they laid waste
our plain.  There are no more churches left in our dioceses, and not
being able either to plough or sow our lands, we have no revenues.
We dread serious revolt, and desire to avoid a religious civil war;
so all our efforts are relaxing, we let our arms fall without knowing
why, and we are told, 'You must have patience; it is not possible to
fight against phantoms.'"  Nevertheless, from time to time, these
phantoms became visible.  Towards the end of October, Cavalier came
down to Uzes, carried off two sentinels who were guarding the gates,
and hearing the call to arms within, shouted that he would await the
governor of the city, M. de Vergetot, near Lussan.

And indeed Cavalier, accompanied by his two lieutenants, Ravanel and
Catinat, took his way towards this little town, between Uzes and
Bargeac, which stands upon an eminence surrounded upon all sides by
cliffs, which serve it as ramparts and render it very difficult of
access.  Having arrived within three gun-shots of Lussan, Cavalier
sent Ravanel to demand provisions from the inhabitants; but they,

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