Notwithstanding the difficulties of the place, it was decided that Larochejaquelin should take two hundred of his men and endeavour to make his way through the water, and while he was doing this, de Lescure was to force his passage over the bridge at Fouchard, and if possible, carry the gate of the town; in doing this he would pass under the heights of Bournan, and to this point M. d’Elbee was to accompany him with the great bulk of the army, so as to secure his flank from any attack from the republican force, which still retained their position there, and which had hitherto kept up an intercourse with the town across the bridge of Fouchard.
At five o’clock the greater portion of the army left the camp with d’Elbee and de Lescure. When they came within two furlongs of the bridge, the army separated, the chief body remaining with M. d’Elbee and the remainder going on with M. de Lescure towards the town.. The road turns a little before it reaches the bridge over the Thoue, and up to this point, the Vendeans, in their progress, were tolerably protected from the guns of the town; but immediately they turned upon the bridge, they became exposed to a tremendous fire. The men at once perceived this and hesitated to cross the river; two of the foremost of their men fell as they put their feet upon the bridge.
De Lescure had marched from the camp at the head of his men. Father Jerome was on his right hand, and Stofflet and Adolphe Denot at his left. Henri had asked his friend to accompany him in the attack which he was to make near the river, but Adolphe had excused himself, alleging that he had a great dislike to the water, and that he would in preference accompany Charles de Lescure. Henri had not thought much about it, and certainly had imputed no blame to his friend, as there would be full as much scope for gallantry with his cousin as with himself. When de Lescure saw that his men hesitated, he said, “Come my men, forward with ‘Marie Jeanne,’ we will soon pick their locks for them,” and rushed on the bridge alone; seeing that no one followed him he returned, and said to Denot:
“We must shew them an example, Adolphe; we will run to the other side of the bridge and return; after that, they will follow us.”
De Lescure did not in the least doubt the courage of his friend, and again ran on to the bridge. Stofflet and Father Jerome immediately followed him, but Adolphe Denot did not stir. He was armed with a heavy sabre, and when de Lescure spoke to him, he raised his arm as though attempting to follow him, but the effort was too much for him, his whole body shook, his face turned crimson, and he remained standing where he was. As soon as de Lescure found that Adolphe did not follow him, he immediately came back, and taking him by the arm, shook him slightly, and whispered in his ear:
“Adolphe, what ails you? remember yourself, this is not the time to be asleep,” but still Denot did not follow him; he again raised his arm, he put out his foot to spring forward, but he found he could not do it; he slunk back, and leant against the wall at the corner of the bridge, as though he were fainting.