List Of Contents | Contents of Massacres of the South, by Dumas, Pere
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at first had issued from full hearts in a universal chorus grew to be
nothing but an expression of party hatred, so that on the 21st
February, 1815, M. Daunant the mayor, by a decree, prohibited the
public from using it, as it had become a means of exciting sedition.
Party feeling had reached this height at Nimes when, on the 4th
March, the news of the landing of Napoleon arrived.

Deep as was the impression produced, the city remained calm, but
somewhat sullen; in any case, the report wanted confirmation.
Napoleon, who knew of the sympathy that the mountaineers felt for
him, went at once into the Alps, and his eagle did not as yet take so
high a flight that it could be seen hovering above Mount Geneve.

On the 12th, the Duc d'Angouleme arrived: two proclamations calling
the citizens to arms signalised his presence.  The citizens answered
the call with true Southern ardour: an army was formed; but although
Protestants and Catholics presented themselves for enrolment with
equal alacrity, the Protestants were excluded, the Catholics denying
the right of defending their legitimate sovereign to any but

This species of selection apparently went on without the knowledge of
the Duc d'Angouleme.  During his stay in Nimes he received
Protestants and Catholics with equal cordiality, and they set at his
table side by side.  It happened once, on a Friday, at dinner, that a
Protestant general took fish and a Catholic general helped himself to
fowl.  The duke being amused, drew attention to this anomaly,
whereupon the Catholic general replied, "Better more chicken and less
treason."  This attack was so direct, that although the Protestant
general felt that as far as he was concerned it had no point, he rose
from table and left the room.  It was the brave General Gilly who was
treated in this cruel manner.

Meanwhile the news became more disastrous every day: Napoleon was
moving about with the rapidity of his eagles.  On the 24th March it
was reported in Nimes that Louis XVIII had left Paris on the 19th and
that Napoleon had entered on the 20th.  This report was traced to its
source, and it was found that it had been spread abroad by M. Vincent
de Saint-Laurent, a councillor of the Prefecture and one of the most
respected men in Nimes.  He was summoned at once before the
authorities and asked whence he had this information; he replied,
"From a letter received from M. Bragueres," producing the letter.
But convincing as was this proof, it availed him nothing: he was
escorted from brigade to brigade till he reached the Chateau d'If.
The Protestants sided with M. Vincent de Saint-Laurent, the Catholics
took the part of the authorities who were persecuting him, and thus
the two factions which had been so long quiescent found themselves
once more face to face, and their dormant hatred awoke to new life.
For the moment, however, there was no explosion, although the city
was at fever heat, and everyone felt that a crisis was at hand.

On the 22nd March two battalions of Catholic volunteers had already
been enlisted at Nimes, and had formed part of the eighteen hundred
men who were sent to Saint-Esprit.  Just before their departure
fleurs-de-lys had been distributed amongst them, made of red cloth;
this change in the colour of the monarchical emblem was a threat
which the Protestants well understood.

The prince left Nimes in due course, taking with him the rest of the
royal volunteers, and leaving the Protestants practically masters of
Nimes during the absence of so many Catholics.  The city, however,
continued calm, and when provocations began, strange to say they came
from the weaker party.

On the 27th March six men met in a barn; dined together, and then
agreed to make the circuit of the town.  These men were Jacques
Dupont, who later acquired such terrible celebrity under the name of
Trestaillons, Truphemy the butcher, Morenet the dog shearer, Hours,
Servant, and Gilles.  They got opposite the cafe "Isle of Elba," the
name of which indicated the opinion of those who frequented it.  This
cafe was faced by a guard-house which was occupied by soldiers of the
67th Regiment.  The six made a halt, and in the most insulting tones
raised the cry of "Long live the king!"  The disturbance that ensued
was so slight that we only mention it in order to give an idea of the
tolerance of the Protestants, and to bring upon the stage the men
mentioned above, who were three months later to play such a terrible

On April 1st the mayor summoned to a meeting at his official
residence the municipal council, the members of all the variously
constituted administrative bodies in Nimes, the officers of the city
guards, the priests, the Protestant pastors, and the chief citizens.
At this meeting, M. Trinquelague, advocate of the Royal Courts, read
a powerful address, expressing the love, of the citizens for their
king and country, and exhorting them to union and peace.  This
address was unanimously adopted and signed by all present, and
amongst the signatures were those of the principal Protestants of
Nimes.  But this was not all: the next day it was printed and
published, and copies sent to all the communes in the department over
which the white flag still floated.  And all this happened, as we
have said, on April and, eleven days after Napoleon's return to

The same day word arrived that the Imperial Government had been
proclaimed at Montpellier.

The next day, April 3rd, all the officers on half-pay assembled at
the fountain to be reviewed by a general and a sub-inspector, and as
these officers were late, the order of the, day issued by General
Ambert, recognising the Imperial Government, was produced and passed
along the ranks, causing such excitement that one of the officers
drew his sword and cried, "Long live the emperor!"  These magic words
were re-echoed from every side, and they all hastened to the barracks
of the 63rd Regiment, which at once joined the officers.  At this
juncture Marshal Pelissier arrived, and did not appear to welcome the
turn things had taken; he made an effort to restrain the enthusiasm
of the crowd, but was immediately arrested by his own soldiers.  The
officers repaired in a body to the headquarters of General Briche,
commandant of the garrison, and asked for the official copy of the
order of the day.  He replied that he had received none, and when
questioned as to which side he was on he refused to answer.  The
officers upon this took him prisoner.  Just as they had consigned him
to the barracks for confinement, a post-office official arrived
bringing a despatch from General Ambert.  Learning that General
Briche was a prisoner, the messenger carried his packet to the
colonel of the 63rd Regiment, who was the next in seniority after the
general.  In opening it, it was found to contain the order of the

Instantly the colonel ordered the 'gineyale' to sound: the town
guards assumed arms, the troops left the barracks and formed in line,
the National Guards in the rear of the regular troops, and when they
were all thus drawn up; the order of the day was read; it was then
snatched out of the colonel's hands, printed on large placards, and
in less time than seemed possible it was posted up in every street
and at every street corner; the tricolour replaced the white cockade,
everyone being obliged to wear the national emblem or none at all,
the city was proclaimed in a state of seige, and the military
officers formed a vigilance committee and a police force.

While the Duc d'Angouleme had been staying at Nimes, General Gilly
had applied for a command in that prince's army, but in spite of all
his efforts obtained nothing; so immediately after the dinner at
which he was insulted he had withdrawn to Avernede, his place in the
country.  He was awoke in the night of the 5th-6th April by a courier
from General Ambert, who sent to offer him the command of the 2nd
Subdivision.  On the 6th, General Gilly went to Nimes, and sent in
his acceptance, whereby the departments of the Gard, the Lozere, and
Ardeche passed under his authority.

Next day General Gilly received further despatches from General
Ambert, from which he learned that it was the general's intention, in
order to avoid the danger of a civil war, to separate the Duc
d'Angouleme's army from the departments which sympathised with the
royal cause; he had therefore decided to make Pont-Saint-Esprit a
military post, and had ordered the 10th Regiment of mounted
chasseurs, the 13th artillery, and a battalion of infantry to move
towards this point by forced marches.  These troops were commanded by
Colonel Saint-Laurent, but General Ambert was anxious that if it
could be done without danger, General Gilly should leave Nimes,
taking with him part of the 63rd Regiment, and joining the other
forces under the command of Colonel Saint-Laurent, should assume the
chief command.  As the city was quite tranquil, General Gilly did not
hesitate to obey this order: he set out from Nimes on the 7th, passed
the night at Uzes, and finding that town abandoned by the
magistrates, declared it in a state of siege, lest disturbances
should arise in the absence of authority.  Having placed M. de
Bresson in command, a retired chief of battalion who was born in
Uzes, and who usually lived there, he continued his march on the
morning of the 8th.

Beyond the village of Conans, General Gilly met an orderly sent to
him by Colonel Saint-Laurent to inform him that he, the colonel, had
occupied Pont Saint-Esprit, and that the Duc d'Angouleme, finding
himself thus caught between two fires, had just sent General
d'Aultanne, chief of staff in the royal army, to him, to enter into
negotiations for a surrender.  Upon this, General Gilly quickened his
advance, and on reaching Pont-Saint-Esprit found General d'Aultanne
and Colonel Saint-Laurent conferring together at the Hotel de la

As Colonel Saint-Laurent had received his instructions directly from
the commander-in-chief, several points relating to the capitulation
had already been agreed upon; of these General Gilly slightly altered

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