List Of Contents | Contents of Massacres of the South, by Dumas, Pere
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gallop, taking the direction of Nages, hoping to reach the plain
round Calvisson.  But the village, the approaches, the issues were
all occupied by royal troops, and at the same time Grandval and the
marechal joined forces, while Menon collected his men together and
pushed forward.  Cavalier was completely surrounded: he gave the
situation a comprehensive glance--his foes, were five to one.

Rising in his stirrups, so that he could see over every head,
Cavalier shouted so loud that not only his own men heard but also
those of the enemy: "My children, if our hearts fail us now, we
shall be taken and broken on the wheel.  There is only one means of
safety: we must cut our way at full gallop through these people.
Follow me, and keep close order!"

So speaking, he dashed on the nearest group, followed by all his men,
who formed a compact mass; round which the three corps of royal
troops closed.  Then there was everywhere a hand-to-hand battle there
was no time to load and fire; swords flashed and fell, bayonets
stabbed, the royals and the Camisards took each other by the throat
and hair.  For an hour this demoniac fight lasted, during which
Cavalier lost five hundred men and slew a thousand of the enemy.  At
last he won through, followed by about two hundred of his troops, and
drew a long breath; but finding himself in the centre of a large
circle of soldiers, he made for a bridge, where alone it seemed
possible to break through, it being only guarded by a hundred

He divided his men into two divisions, one to force the bridge, the
other to cover the retreat.  Then he faced his foes like a wild boar
driven to bay.

Suddenly loud shouts behind him announced that the bridge was forced;
but the Camisards, instead of keeping the passage open for their
leader, scattered over the plain and sought safety in flight.  But
a child threw himself before them, pistol in hand.  It was Cavalier's
young brother, mounted on one of the small wild horses of Camargues
of that Arab breed which was introduced into Languedoc by the Moors
from Spain.  Carrying a sword and carbine proportioned to his size,
the boy addressed the flying men.  "Where are you going?" he cried,
"Instead of running away like cowards, line the river banks and
oppose the enemy to facilitate my brother's escape."  Ashamed of
having deserved such reproaches, the Camisards stopped, rallied,
lined the banks of the river, and by keeping up a steady fire,
covered Cavalier's retreat, who crossed without having received a
single wound, though his horse was riddled with bullets and he had
been forced to change his sword three times.

Still the combat raged; but gradually Cavalier managed to retreat: a
plain cut by trenches, the falling darkness, a wood which afforded
cover, all combined to help him at last.  Still his rearguard,
harassed by the enemy, dotted the ground it passed over with its
dead, until at last both victors and vanquished were swallowed up by
night.  The fight had lasted ten hours, Cavalier had lost more than
five hundred men, and the royals about a thousand.

"Cavalier," says M. de Villars, in his Memoirs, "acted on this day in
a way which astonished everyone.  For who could help being astonished
to see a nobody, inexperienced in the art of warfare, bear himself in
such difficult and trying circumstances like some great general?  At
one period of the day he was followed everywhere by a dragoon;
Cavalier shot at him and killed his horse.  The dragoon returned the
shot, but missed.  Cavalier had two horses killed under him; the
first time he caught a dragoon's horse, the second time he made one
of his own men dismount and go on foot."

M. de Montrevel also showed himself to be a gallant soldier; wherever
there was danger there was he, encouraging officers and soldiers by
his example: one Irish captain was killed at his side, another
fatally wounded, and a third slightly hurt.  Grandval, on his part,
had performed miracles: his horse was shot under him, and M. de
Montrevel replaced it by one of great value, on which he joined in
the pursuit of the Camisards.  After this affair M, de Montrevel gave
up his place to M. de Villars, leaving word for Cavalier that it was
thus he took leave of his friends.

Although Cavalier came out of this battle with honour, compelling
even his enemies to regard him as a man worthy of their steel, it had
nevertheless destroyed the best part of his hopes.  He made a
halt-near Pierredon to gather together the remnant of his troops, and
truly it was but a remnant which remained.  Of those who came back
the greater number were without weapons, for they had thrown them
away in their flight.  Many were incapacitated for service by their
wounds; and lastly, the cavalry could hardly be said to exist any
longer, as the few men who survived had been obliged to abandon their
horses, in order to get across the high ditches which were their only
cover from the dragoons during the flight.

Meantime the royalists were very active, and Cavalier felt that it
would be imprudent to remain long at Pierredon, so setting out during
the night, and crossing the Gardon, he buried himself in the forest
of Hieuzet, whither he hoped his enemies would not venture to follow
him.  And in fact the first two days were quiet, and his troops
benefited greatly by the rest, especially as they were able to draw
stores of all kinds--wheat, hay, arms, and ammunition--from an
immense cave which the Camisards had used for a long time as a
magazine and arsenal.  Cavalier now also employed it as a hospital,
and had the wounded carried there, that their wounds might receive

Unfortunately, Cavalier was soon obliged to quit the forest, in spite
of his hopes of being left in peace; for one day on his way back from
a visit to the wounded in the cave, whose existence was a secret, he
came across a hundred miquelets who had penetrated thus far, and who
would have taken him prisoner if he had not, with his, accustomed
presence of mind and courage, sprung from a rock twenty feet high.
The miquelets fired at him, but no bullet reached him.  Cavalier
rejoined his troops, but fearing to attract the rest of the royalists
to the place,--retreated to some distance from the cave, as it was of
the utmost importance that it should not be discovered, since it
contained all his resources.

Cavalier had now reached one of those moments when Fortune, tired of
conferring favours, turns her back on the favourite.  The royalists
had often noticed an old woman from the village of Hieuzet going
towards the forest, sometimes carrying a basket in her hand,
sometimes with a hamper on her head, and it occurred to them that she
was supplying the hidden Camisards with provisions.  She was arrested
and brought before General Lalande, who began his examination by
threatening that he would have her hanged if she did not at once
declare the object of her frequent journeys to the forest without
reserve.  At first she made use of all kinds of pretexts, which only
strengthened the suspicions of Lalande, who, ceasing his questions,
ordered her to be taken to the gallows and hanged.  The old woman
walked to the place of execution with such a firm step that the
general began to think he would get no information from her, but at
the foot of the ladder her courage failed.  She asked to be taken
back before the general, and having been promised her life, she
revealed everything.

M. de Lalande put himself at once at the head of a strong detachment
of miquelets, and forced the woman to walk before them till they
reached the cavern, which they never would have discovered without a
guide, so cleverly was the entrance hidden by rocks and brushwood.
On entering, the first thing that met their eye was the wounded,
about thirty in number.  The miquelets threw themselves upon them and
slaughtered them.  This deed accomplished, they went farther into the
cave, which to their great surprise contained a thousand things they
never expected to find there--heaps of grain, sacks of flour, barrels
of wine, casks of brandy, quantities of chestnuts and potatoes; and
besides all this, chests containing ointments, drugs and lint, and
lastly a complete arsenal of muskets, swords, and bayonets, a
quantity of powder ready-made, and sulphur, saltpetre, and
charcoal-in short, everything necessary for the manufacture of more,
down to small mills to be turned by hand.  Lalande kept his word: the
life of an old woman was not too much to give in return for such a

Meantime M. de Villars, as he had promised, took up Baron d'Aygaliers
in passing through Lyons, so that during the rest of the journey the
peacemaker had plenty of time to expatiate on his plans.  As M. de
Villars was a man of tact and a lover of justice, and desired above
all things to bring a right spirit to bear on the performance of the
duties of his new office, in which his two predecessors had failed,
he promised the baron "to keep," as he expressed himself, his "two
ears open" and listen to both sides, and as a first proof of
impartiality--he refused to give any opinion until he had heard M, de
Julien, who was coming to meet him at Tournon.

When they arrived at Tournon, M. de Julien was there to receive them,
and had a very different story to tell from that which M. de Villars
had heard from d'Aygaliers.  According to him, the only pacific
ration possible was the complete extermination of the Camisards.  He
felt himself very hardly treated in that he had been allowed to
destroy only four hundred villages and hamlets in the Upper Cevennes,
--assuring de Villars with the confidence of a man who had studied
the matter profoundly, that they should all have been demolished
without exception, and all the peasants killed to the last man.

So it came to pass that M. de Villars arrived at Beaucaire placed
like Don Juan between the spirits of good and evil, the one advising
clemency and the other murder.  M. de Villars not being able to make
up his mind, on reaching Nimes, d'Aygaliers assembled the principal
Protestants of the town, told them of his plan, showing them its

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