After the death of Robespierre, Turreaux, then a governor at Belleisle, was arrested as a terrorist, and shut up at Du Plessis until the general amnesty released him in 1795. During his imprisonment he amused himself with writing memoirs of the war of La Vendee, in which he tried to prove that all his barbarities had been perpetrated for the sake of humanity, and to save the lives of republicans. He had also the modesty to announce that, as a military work, his production would be equally interesting as those of a Folard and Guibert. These memoirs, however, proved nothing but that he was equally ignorant and wicked, presumptuous and ferocious.
During the reign of the Directory he was rather discarded, or only employed as a kind of recruiting officer to hunt young conscripts, but in 1800 Bonaparte gave him a command in the army of reserve; and in 1802, another in the army of the interior. He then became one of the most assiduous and cringing courtiers at the Emperor’s levies; while in the Empress’s drawing-room he assumed his former air and ton of a chevalier, in hopes of imposing upon those who did not remember the nickname which his soldiers gave him ten years before, of Chevalier of the Guillotine.
At a ball of the Bonaparte family to which he was invited, the Emperor took the fancy to dance with his stepdaughter, Madame Louis. He, therefore, unhooked his sword, which he handed to a young colonel, D’ Avry, standing by his side. This colonel, who had been a page at the Court of Louis XVI., knew that it would have been against etiquette, and even unbecoming of him, to act as a valet to Napoleon while there were valets in the room; he therefore retreated, looking round for a servant. “Oh!” said the Emperor, “I see that I am mistaken; here, generals,” continued he (addressing himself to half a dozen, with whose independent principles and good breeding he was acquainted), “take this sword during my dance.” They all pushed forward, but Turreaux and La Grange, another general and intriguer, were foremost; the latter, however, received the preference. On the next day, D’ Avry was ordered upon service to Cayenne.
Turreaux has acquired, by his patriotic deeds in La Vendee, a fortune of seven millions of livres. He has the highest opinion of his own capacity, while a moment’s conversation will inform a man of sense that he is only a conceited fool. As to his political transactions, he has by his side, as a secretary, a man of the name of Petry, who has received a diplomatic education, and does not want either subtlety or parts; and on him, no doubt, is thrown the drudgery of business. During a European war, Turreaux’s post is of little relative consequence; but should Napoleon live to dictate another general pacification, the United States will be exposed, on their frontiers, or in their interior, to the same outrages their commercial navy now experiences on the main.