GENERAL DE PREROLLES
The sub-lieutenant had kept his word, and the progress of his career deserves detailed mention.
He was a lieutenant at the taking of Puebla, where he was first to mount in the assault of the Convent of Guadalupita. Captain of the Third Zouaves after the siege of Oajaca, he had exercised, during the rest of the expedition, command over a mounted company, whose duty was to maintain communications between the various columns, continuing, at the same time, their operations in the Michoacan.
This confidential mission, requiring as much power to take the initiative as it demanded a cool head, gave the Marquis opportunity to execute, with rapidity and decision, several master-strokes, which, in the following circumstances, won for him the cross of the Legion of Honor.
The most audacious of the guerrillas who had devastated this fertile country was a chief called Regulas. He pillaged the farms, stopped railway trains, boldly demanding ransom from captives from the municipal governments of large towns. He was continually, active, and always inaccessible.
Warned by his scouts that the followers of this villain menaced the town of Pazcuaro, Captain de Prerolles prepared himself eagerly to meet them. He overtook them in a night march, and fell upon them unexpectedly, just as they were holding up the diligence from Morelia to Guadalajara. His plans had been so well laid that not a man escaped. What was the surprise of the French officer to find, among the travellers, delivered by himself from certain death, Paul Landry, the principal cause of his ruin, who the chances of war now laid under obligations to him!
“This is my revenge,” said the Captain, simply, to Landry, attempting to avoid his thanks, and returning to him intact his luggage, of which the chinacos had not had time to divide the contents.
Reconciled in Algiers with his regiment, Henri de Prerolles did not again quit the province of Constantine except to serve in the army of the Rhine, as chief of battalion in the line, until the promotions which followed the declaration of war in 1870. Officer of the Legion of Honor for his gallantry at Gravelotte and at St. Privat, and assigned for his ability to the employ of the chief of corps, he had just been called upon to assume command of his former battalion of chasseurs, when the disastrous surrender of Metz left him a prisoner of war in the hands of the Germans.
Profoundly affected by this disaster, but learning that the conflict still continued, he refused to avail himself of the offer of comparative freedom in the city, provided he would give his parole not to attempt to escape. He was therefore conducted to a distant fortress near the Russian frontier, and handed over to the captain of the landwehr, who received instructions to keep a strict guard over him.