Cathelineau’s men also made their way through the camp, and there Cathelineau and Larochejaquelin met each other.
“Well done, my friend; well done,” said Henri, seizing the postillion by the hand, “this is a glorious meeting; the blues are beaten; we have only now to drive them into the river.”
“Or into the road,” said Jacques, who as usual was close to his master, “when once there, M. d’Elbee will not be long in handing them over to providence.”
“Once more, my children, once more said the priest, “drive them out, drive them out, vive le roi quand meme!” and as he spoke, he brandished the crucifix over his head like a tomahawk; the sacred symbol was covered with gore, which appeared to have come from the head of some unfortunate republican.
“Ah, my friends!” hallaoed Cathelineau, advancing on before the others, “look—look there; there is our ‘Marie Jeanne;’ hurry then, hurry;” and there, immediately before them, was their own sacred trophy; their favourite cannon: they wanted no further incentive; the men who had followed Larochejaquelin, and the men of St. Florent who had come with Cathelineau, saw it at the same time, and vieing with each other, rushed onwards to gain the prize.
The republicans were amazed at the impetuosity of their enemies, and at last fled before them; when once these newly-levied troops were turned, their officers found it impossible to recover them; it was then sauve qui peut, and the devil take the hindmost. The passage from the camp towards the town was still open; no attack having been made from that quarter; and through the wooden gate, which had been erected there, the valiant Marseillaise rushed out as quick as their legs could carry them; the officers of the Vendeans offered quarter to all who would throw down their arms, and many of them did so, but most of them attempted to gain the town; they knew that if once they could cross the bridge at Fouchard they would be within the protection afforded by the castle guns—but not one of them reached the bridge.
M. d’Elbee had found that he could not himself take the position which had been pointed out to him, as, had he done so, his men would have been cut to pieces by the cannons from the castle, but he effectually prevented any one else from doing so; not thirty men from the whole encampment got into the town of Saumur, and those who did so, made their way through the river Thoue.
The success of the Vendeans, as far as it went, was most complete; they recovered their baggage and their cannons—above all, their favourite ‘Marie Jeanne;’ they took more prisoners than they knew how to keep; they armed themselves again, and again acquired unmeasured confidence in their own invincibility; they wanted immediately to be led out to attack the walls of Saumur, but Cathelineau and de Lescure knew that this would be running into useless danger. They had now once more plenty of ammunition; they had artillery, and were in a position to bombard the town; they would at any rate make a breech in the walls before they attempted to enter the streets; it was therefore decided that they would that evening remain where they were, and commence the attack on the citadel itself with daylight on the following morning.