Make your own free website on Tripod.com

List Of Contents | Contents of Massacres of the South, by Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

near that Cavalier heard the words and saw the motion made by the men
as they made ready; he therefore gave a rapid sign to his men, who
threw themselves on their faces, as did their leader, and the bullets
passed over them without doing any harm M.M. de La Jonquiere, who
believed them all dead, was astonished when Cavalier and his
Camisards rose up and rushed upon the royal troops, advancing to the
sound of a psalm.  At a distance of ten paces they fired, and then
charged the enemy at the point of the bayonet.  At this moment the
sixty men in ambush to the right opened fire, while the thirty
horsemen to the left, uttering loud shouts, charged at a gallop.
Hearing this noise, and seeing death approach them in three different
directions, the royals believed themselves surrounded, and did not
attempt to make a stand; the men, throwing away their weapons, took
to their heels, the officers alone and a few dragoons whom they had
succeeded in rallying making a desperate resistance.

Cavalier was riding over the field of battle, sabring all the
fugitives whom he met, when he caught sight of a group, composed of
ten naval officers; standing close together and back to back,
spontoon in hand, facing the Camisards, who surrounded them.  He
spurred up to them, passing through the ranks of his soldiers, and
not pausing till he was within fifteen paces of them, although they
raised their weapons to fire.  Then making a sign with his hand that
he wished to speak to them, he said, "Gentlemen, surrender.  I shall
give quarter, and in return for the ten lives I now spare you, will
ask that my father, who is in prison at Nimes, be released."

For sole answer, one of the officers fired and wounded the young
chief's horse in the head.  Cavalier drew a pistol from his belt,
took aim at the officer and killed him, then turning again to the
others, he asked, "Gentlemen, are you as obstinate as your comrade,
or do you accept my offer?  "A second shot was the reply, and a
bullet grazed his shoulder.  Seeing that no other answer was to be
hoped for, Cavalier turned to his soldiers.  "Do your duty," said he,
and withdrew, to avoid seeing the massacre.  The nine officers were
shot.

M. de La Jonquiere, who had received a slight wound in the cheek,
abandoned his horse in order to climb over a wall.  On the other side
he made a dragoon dismount and give him his horse, on which he
crossed the river Gardon, leaving behind him on the battlefield
twenty-five officers and six hundred soldiers killed.  This defeat
was doubly disastrous to the royal cause, depriving it of the flower
of its officers, almost all of those who fell belonging to the
noblest families of France, and also because the Camisards gained
what they so badly needed, muskets, swords, and bayonets in great
quantities, as well as eighty horses, these latter enabling Cavalier
to complete the organisation of a magnificent troop of cavalry.

The recall of the Marechal de Montrevel was the consequence of this
defeat, and M. de Villars, as he had anticipated, was appointed in
his place.  But before giving up his governorship Montrevel resolved
to efface the memory of the check which his lieutenant's
foolhardiness had caused, but for which, according to the rules of
war, the general had to pay the penalty.  His plan was by spreading
false rumours and making feigned marches to draw the Camisards into a
trap in which they, in their turn, would be caught.  This was the
less difficult to accomplish as their latest great victory had made
Cavalier over confident both in himself and his men.

In fact, since the incident connected with the naval officers the
troops of Cavalier had increased enormously in numbers, everyone
desiring to serve under so brave a chief, so that he had now under
him over one thousand infantry and two hundred cavalry; they were
furnished, besides, just like regular troops, with a bugler for the
cavalry, and eight drums and a fife for the infantry.

The marechal felt sure that his departure would be the signal for
some expedition into the level country under Cavalier, so it was
given out that he had left for Montpellier, and had sent forward some
of his baggage-waggons to that place.  On April 15th he was informed
that Cavalier, deceived by the false news, had set out on the 16th
April, intending to pass the night at Caveyrac, a small town about a
league from Nimes, that he might be ready next day to make a descent
on La Vannage.  This news was brought to M. de Montrevel by a village
priest called Verrien, who had in his pay vigilant and faithful spies
in whom he had every confidence.

Montrevel accordingly ordered the commandant of Lunel, M. de
Grandval, to set out the next day, very early in the morning, with
the Charolais regiment and five companies of the Fimarcon and Saint-
Sernin dragoons, and to repair to the heights of Boissieres, where
instructions would await him.  Sandricourt, governor of Nimes, was at
the same time directed to withdraw as many men as possible from the
garrison, both Swiss and dragoons, and send them by night towards
Saint-Come and Clarensac; lastly, he himself set out, as he had said,
but instead of going on to Montpellier, he stopped at Sommieres,
whence he could observe the movements of Cavalier.

Cavalier, as M. de Montrevel already knew, was to sleep on the 15th
at Caveyrac.  On this day Cavalier reached the turning-point in his
magnificent career.  As he entered the town with his soldiers, drums
beating and flags flying, he was at the zenith of his power.  He rode
the splendid horse M. de La Jonquiere had abandoned in his flight;
behind him, serving as page, rode his young brother, aged ten,
followed by four grooms; he was preceded by twelve guards dressed in
red; and as his colleague Roland had taken the title of Comte, he
allowed himself to be called Duke of the Cevennes.

At his approach half of the garrison, which was commanded by M. de
Maillan, took possession of the church and half of the citadel; but
as Cavalier was more bent on obtaining food and rest for his soldiers
than of disturbing the town, he billeted his men on the townspeople,
and placed sentinels at the church and fortress, who exchanged shots
all the night through with the royal troops.  The next morning,
having destroyed the fortifications, he marched out of the town
again, drums beating and flags flying as before.  When almost in
sight of Nimes he made his troops, which had never before been so
numerous or so brilliant, perform a great many evolutions, and then
continued his way towards Nages.

M. de Montrevel received a report at nine o'clock in the morning of
the direction Cavalier and his troops had taken, and immediately left
Sommieres, followed by six companies of Fimarqon dragoons, one
hundred Irish free-lances, three hundred rank and file of the
Hainault regiment, and one company each of the Soissonnais,
Charolais, and Menon regiments, forming in all a corps over nine
hundred strong.  They took the direction of Vaunages, above
Clarensac; but suddenly hearing the rattle of musketry behind them,
they wheeled and made for Langlade.

They found that Grandval had already encountered the Camisards.
These being fatigued had withdrawn into a hollow between Boissieres
and the windmill at Langlade, in order to rest.  The infantry lay
down, their arms beside them; the cavalry placed themselves at the
feet of their horses, the bridle on arm.  Cavalier himself, Cavalier
the indefatigable, broken by the fatigues of the preceding days, had
fallen asleep, with his young brother watching beside him.  Suddenly
he felt himself shaken by the arm, and rousing up, he heard on all
sides cries of "Kill!  Kill!" and "To arms!  To arms!"  Grandval and
his men, who had been sent to find out where the Camisards were, had
suddenly come upon them.

The infantry formed, the cavalry sprang to their saddles, Cavalier
leaped on his horse, and drawing his sword, led his soldiers as usual
against the dragoons, and these, as was also usual, ran away, leaving
twelve of their number dead on the field.  The Camisard cavalry soon
gave up the pursuit, as they found themselves widely separated from
the infantry and from their leader; for Cavalier had been unable to
keep up with them, his horse having received a bullet through its
neck.

Still they followed the flying dragoons for a good hour, from time to
time a wounded dragoon falling from his horse, till at last the
Camisard cavalry found itself confronted by the Charolais regiment,
drawn up in battle array, and behind them the royal dragoons, who had
taken refuge there, and were re-forming.

Carried on by the rapidity of their course, the Camisards could not
pull up till they were within a hundred yards of the enemy; they
fired once, killing several, then turned round and retreated.

When a third of the way, back had been covered, they met their chief,
who had found a fresh horse by the wayside standing beside its dead
master.  He arrived at full gallop, as he was anxious to unite his
cavalry and infantry at once, as he had seen the forces of the
marechal advancing, who, as we have already said, had turned in the
direction of the firing.  Hardly had Cavalier effected the desired
junction of his forces than he perceived that his retreat was cut
off.  He had the royal troops both before and behind him.

The young chief saw that a desperate dash to right or left was all
that remained to him, and not knowing this country as well as the
Cevennes, he asked a peasant the way from Soudorgues to Nages, that
being the only one by which he could escape.  There was no time to
inquire whether the peasant was Catholic or Protestant; he could only
trust to chance, and follow the road indicated.  But a few yards from
the spot where the road from Doudorgues to Nages joins the road to
Nimes he found himself in face of Marechal Montrevel's troops under
the command of Menon.  However, as they hardly outnumbered the
Camisards, these did not stop to look for another route, but bending
forward in their saddles, they dashed through the lines at full

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >



Other sites:

db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com