La Vendée eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 646 pages of information about La Vendée.
town, every village, and every house—­to put an end to all life in the doomed district, and to sweep from the face of the country man, beast, and vegetable.  The land was to be left without proprietors, without a population, and without produce; it was to be converted into a huge Golgotha, a burial-place for every thing that had life within it; and then, when utterly purged by fire and massacre, it was to be given up to new colonists, good children of the Republic, who should enjoy the fertility of a land soaked with the blood of its former inhabitants.  Such was the deliberate resolution of the Committee of Public Safety, and no time was lost in commencing the work of destruction.

Barrere, one of the members of the Committee, undertook to see the work put in a proper train, and for this purpose he left Paris for the scene of action.  Westerman and Santerre accompanied him, and to them was committed the task of accomplishing the wishes of the Committee.  There was already a republican army in La Vendee, under the command of General Biron, but the troops of which it was composed were chiefly raw levies, recruits lately collected by the conscription, without discipline, and, in a great degree, without courage; but the men who were now brought to carry on the war, were the best soldiers whom France could supply.  Westerman brought with him a legion of German mercenaries, on whom he could rely for the perpetration of any atrocity, and Santerre was at the head of the seven thousand men, whom the allied army had permitted to march out of Valenciennes, and to return to Paris.

It was in the beginning of July that this worthy triumvirate met at Angers, on their road to La Vendee.  Cathelineau had driven the republican garrison out of this town immediately after the victory at Saumur, but the royalists made no attempt to keep possession of it, and the troops who had evacuated it at their approach, returned to it almost immediately.  It was now thronged with republican soldiers of all denominations, who exercised every species of tyranny over the townspeople.  Food, drink, forage, clothes, and even luxuries were demanded, and taken in the name of the Convention from every shop, and the slightest resistance to these requisitions, was punished as treason to the Republic.  The Vendeans, in possession of the same town only a fortnight before, had injured no one, had taken nothing without paying for it, aid had done everything to prevent the presence of their army being felt as a curse; and yet Angers was a noted republican town; it had shown no favours to the royalists, and received with open arms the messengers of the Convention.  Such was the way in which the republicans rewarded their friends, and the royalists avenged themselves on their enemies.

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La Vendée from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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