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List Of Contents | Contents of Massacres of the South, by Dumas, Pere
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proud of their natural ramparts, and believing their town
impregnable, not only refused to comply with the requisition, but
fired several shots on the envoy, one of which wounded in the arm a
Camisard of the name of La Grandeur, who had accompanied Ravanel.
Ravanel withdrew, supporting his wounded comrade, followed by shots
and the hootings of the inhabitants.  When they rejoined Cavalier and
made their report, the young commander issued orders to his soldiers
to make ready to take the town the next morning; for, as night was
already falling, he did not venture to start in the dark.  In the
meantime the besieged sent post-haste to M. de Vergetot to warn him
of their situation; and resolving to defend themselves as long as
they could, while waiting for a response to their message they set
about barricading their gates, turned their scythes into weapons,
fastened large hooks on long poles, and collected all the instruments
they could find that could be used in attack or defence.  As to the
Camisards, they encamped for the night near an old chateau called
Fan, about a gun-shot from Lussan.

At break of day loud shouts from the town told the Camisards that the
expected relief was in sight, and looking out they saw in the
distance a troop of soldiers advancing towards them; it was M. de
Vergetat at the head of his regiment, accompanied by forty Irish
officers.

The Protestants prepared themselves, as usual, by reciting psalms and
prayers, notice without taking of the shouts and threats of any of
the townspeople, and having finished their invocations, they marched
out to meet the approaching column.  The cavalry, commanded by
Catinat, made a detour, taking a sheltered way to an unguarded bridge
over a small river not far off, so as to outflank the royal forces,
which they were to attack in the rear as soon as Cavalier and Ravanel
should have engaged them in front.

M. de Vergetot, on his side, continued to advance, so that the
Calvinists and the Catholics were soon face to face.  The battle
began on both sides by a volley; but Cavalier having seen his cavalry
emerging from a neighbouring wood, and counting upon their
assistance, charged the enemy at the double quick.  Catinat judging
by the noise of the firing that his presence was necessary, charged
also at a gallop, falling on the flank of the Catholics.

In this charge, one of M. de Vergetot's captains was killed by a
bullet, and the other by a sabre-cut, and the grenadiers falling into
disorder, first lost ground and then fled, pursued by Catinat and his
horsemen, who, seizing them by the hair, despatched them with their
swords.  Having tried in vain to rally his men, M, de Vergetot,
surrounded by a few Irish, was forced in his turn to fly; he was
hotly pursued, and on the point of being taken, when by good luck he
reached the height of Gamene, with its walls of rock.  Jumping off
his horse, he entered the narrow pathway which led to the top, and
entrenched himself with about a hundred men in this natural fort.
Cavalier perceiving that further pursuit would be dangerous, resolved
to rest satisfied with his victory; as he knew by his own experience
that neither men nor horses had eaten for eighteen hours, he gave the
signal far retreat, and retired on Seyne, where he hoped to find
provisions.

This defeat mortified the royal forces very deeply, and they resolved
to take their revenge.  Having learnt by their spies that on a
certain night in November Cavalier arid his band intended to sleep on
a mountain called Nages, they surrounded the mountain during the
night, so that at dawn Cavalier found himself shut in on every side.
As he wished to see with his own eyes if the investment was complete,
he ordered his troops to fall into rank on the top of the mountain,
giving the command to Ravanel and Catinat, and with a pair of pistols
in his belt and his carbine on his shoulder, he glided from bush to
bush and rock to rock, determined, if any weak spot existed, to
discover it; but the information he had received was perfectly
correct, every issue was guarded.

Cavalier now set off to rejoin his troops, passing through a ravine,
but he had hardly taken thirty steps when he found himself confronted
by a cornet and two dragoons who were lying in ambush.  There was no
time to run away, and indeed such a thought never entered the young
commander's head; he walked straight up to them.  On their side, the
dragoons advanced towards him, and the cornet covering him with his
pistol, called out, "Halt! you are Cavalier; I know you.  It is not
possible for you to escape; surrender at discretion."  Cavalier's
answer was to blow out the cornet's brains with a shot from his
carbine, then throwing it behind him as of no further use, he drew
his two pistols from his belt, walked up to the two dragoons, shot
them both dead, and rejoined his comrades unwounded.  These, who had
believed him lost, welcomed him with cheers.

But Cavalier had something else to do than to celebrate his return;
mounting his horse, he put himself at the head of his men, and fell
upon the royal troops with such impetuosity that they gave way at the
first onset.  Then a strange incident occurred.  About thirty women
who had come to the camp with provisions, carried away by their
enthusiasm at the sight of this success, threw themselves upon the
enemy, fighting like men.  One young girl of about seventeen, Lucrese
Guigon by name, distinguished herself amongst the others by her great
valour.  Not content with encouraging her brethren by the cry of "The
sword of the Lord and of Gideon!" she tore sabres from the hands of
the dead dragoons to despatch the dying.  Catinat, followed by ten of
his men, pursued the flying troops as far as the plain of Calvisson.
There they were able to rally, thanks to the advance of the garrison
to meet them.

Eighty dragoons lay dead on the field of battle, while Cavalier had
only lost five men.

As we shall see, Cavalier was not only a brave soldier and a skilful
captain, but also a just judge.  A few days after the deed of arms
which we have just related, he learned that a horrible murder had
been committed by four Camisards, who had then retired into the
forest of Bouquet.  He sent a detachment of twenty men with orders to
arrest the murderers and bring them before him.  The following are
the details of the crime:

The daughter of Baron Meyrargues, who was not long married to a
gentleman named M. de Miraman, had set out on the 29th November for
Ambroix to join her husband, who was waiting for her there.  She was
encouraged to do this by her coachman, who had often met with
Camisards in the neighbourhood, and although a Catholic, had never
received any harm from them.  She occupied her own carriage, and was
accompanied by a maid, a nurse, a footman, and the coachman who had
persuaded her to undertake the journey.  Two-thirds of the way
already lay safely behind them, when between Lussan and Vaudras she
was stopped by four, men, who made her get out of her carriage and
accompany them into the neighbouring forest.  The account of what
then happened is taken from the deposition of the maid.  We copy it
word for word:

"These wretches having forced us," says she, "to walk into the forest
till we were at some distance from the high road, my poor mistress
grew so tired that she begged the man who walked beside her to allow
her to lean on his shoulder.  He looking round and seeing that they
had reached a lonely spot, replied, 'We need hardly go any farther,'
and made us sit dawn on a plot of grass which was to be the scene of
our martyrdom.  My poor mistress began to plead with the barbarians
in the most touching manner, and so sweetly that she would have
softened the heart of a demon.  She offered them her purse, her gold
waistband, and a fine diamond which she drew from her finger; but
nothing could move these tigers, and one of them said, 'I am going to
kill all the Catholics at once, and shall be gin with you.'  'What
will you gain by my death?' asked my mistress.  'Spare my life.'--
'No; shut up!' replied he.   'You shall die by my hand.  Say your
prayers.'  My good mistress threw herself at once on her knees and
prayed aloud that God would show mercy to her and to her murderers,
and while she was thus praying she received a pistol-shot in her left
breast, and fell; a second assassin cut her across the face with his
sword, and a third dropped a large stone on her head, while the
fourth killed the nurse with a shot from his pistol.  Whether it was
that they had no more loaded firearms, or that they wished to save
their ammunition, they were satisfied with only giving me several
bayonet wounds.  I pretended to be dead: they thought it was really
the case, and went away.  Some time after, seeing that everything had
become quiet, and hearing no sound, I dragged myself, dying as I was,
to where my dear mistress lay, and called her.  As it happened, she
was not quite dead, and she said in a faint voice, 'Stay with me,
Suzon, till I die.'  She added, after a short pause, for she was
hardly able to speak, 'I die for my religion, and I hope that God
will have pity on me.  Tell my husband that I confide our little one
to his care.'  Having said this, she turned her thoughts from the
world, praying to God in broken and tender words, and drew her last
breath as the night fell."

In obedience to Cavalier's orders, the four criminals were taken and
brought before him.  He was then with his troops near Saint-Maurice
de Casevielle; he called a council of war, and having had the
prisoners tried for their atrocious deed, he summed up the evidence
in as clear a manner as any lawyer could have done, and called upon
the judges to pronounce sentence.  All the judges agreed that the
prisoners should be put to death, but just as the sentence was made
known one of the assassins pushed aside the two men who guarded him,
and jumping down a rock, disappeared in the forest before any attempt
could be made to stop him.  The three others were shot.

The Catholics also condemned many to be executed, but the trials

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