“It grieved me to think,” said Jacques Chapeau, as he pulled the huge baskets down from the carts, from which the republicans had not yet had time to move them, “it grieved my very heart to think, M. Henri, that this good wine from the cellars of Durbelliere should have gone down republican throats; the thoughts of it lay heavy on my heart last night, so that I could not sleep. Thank heaven, I am spared that disgrace.”
It was with the utmost difficulty that Cathelineau and de Lescure were able to get sentries to remain at the necessary positions during the night; the peasants had gained the battle, and were determined to enjoy themselves that evening; they would be ready they said to fight again, when the sun rose the next morning. The officers themselves had to act as sentinels; and after having been the first during the day to rush into every danger, and after having led the attack and the pursuit, and having then arranged the operations for the morrow, they had to remain on the watch during the night, lest the camp should be sacrificed by an attack from the republican forces, stationed at Bournan, or in the town—such is the lot of those who take upon themselves the management of men, without any power to ensure obedience to their orders.
In the next three days the Vendeans bombarded the town, and during that time fired against it everything they could cram into their cannons, in the shape of warlike missiles; and they did not do so in vain, for the walls, in portions, began to give way and to crumble into the moat, which ran round the town, and communicated with the river Loire on each side of it. The town is built on the Loire, and between the Loire and the Thoue. After passing over the latter river at the bridge of Fouchard, the road in a few yards came to the draw-bridge over the moat; and from the close vicinity of the two rivers, no difficulty was found in keeping the moat supplied with water in the driest weather. About a mile below the town, the Thoue runs into the Loire.
Cathelineau found the men very impatient during the bombardment; they did not now dream of going home till the work was over, and Saumur taken; but they were very anxious to make a dash at the walls of the town; they could not understand why they should not clamber into the citadel, as they had done, over the green sods into the camp at Varin. On the fourth morning they were destined to have their wish. A temporary bridge over the Thoue had been made near Varin, over which a great portion of the cannon had been taken to a point near the Loire, from which the royalists had been able to do great damage to the walls; they had succeeded in making a complete breach of some yards, through which an easy entrance might be made, were it not for the moat; much of the rubbish from the walls had fallen into it, so as considerably to lessen the breadth; but there was still about twenty feet of water to be passed, and it was impossible, under the immediate guns of the castle, to contrive anything in the shape of a bridge.