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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Revolutionary War in Western France
By Adolphe Thiers (1797–1877)
 
From the ‘History of the French Revolution’: Translation of Frederic Shoberl

ANOTHER much more general revolt had broken out in the Marais and the department of La Vendée. At Machecoul and Challans, the recruiting was the occasion of a universal insurrection. A hair-dresser named Gaston killed an officer, took his uniform, put himself at the head of the troop, took Challans, and then Machecoul,—where his men burned all the papers of the administrations, and committed murders of which Bocage had furnished no example. Three hundred republicans were shot by parties of twenty or thirty. The insurgents first made them confess, and then took them to the edge of a ditch, beside which they shot them, to spare themselves the trouble of burying the bodies. Nantes instantly sent several hundred men to St. Philibert; but learning that there was a disturbance at Savenay, it recalled those troops, and the insurgents of Machecoul remained masters of the conquered country.  1
  In the department of La Vendée,—that is, to the south of the theatre of this war,—the insurrection assumed still more consistence.  2
  The national guards of Fontenay, having set out on their march for Chantonnay, were repulsed and beaten. Chantonnay was plundered. General Verteuil, who commanded the eleventh military division, on receiving intelligence of this defeat dispatched General Marcé with twelve hundred men, partly troops of the line and partly national guards. The rebels, who were met at St. Vincent, were repulsed. General Marcé had time to add twelve hundred more men and nine pieces of cannon to his little army. In marching upon St. Fulgent he again fell in with the Vendeans in a valley, and stopped to restore a bridge which they had destroyed. About four in the afternoon of the 18th of March, the Vendeans, taking the initiative, advanced and attacked him. Availing themselves as usual of the advantages of the ground, they began to fire with their wonted superiority; and by degrees surrounded the republican army, astonished at this destructive fire, and utterly unable to reach an enemy concealed and dispersed in all the hollows of the ground. At length they rushed on to the assault, threw their adversaries into disorder, and made themselves masters of the artillery, the ammunition, and the arms, which the soldiers threw away that they might be the lighter in their flight.  3
  These more important successes in the department of La Vendée, properly so called, procured for the insurgents the name of Vendeans; which they afterwards retained, though the war was far more active out of La Vendée. The pillage committed by them in the Marais caused them to be called brigands, though the greater number did not deserve that appellation. The insurrection extended into the Marais, from the environs of Nantes to Les Sables; and into Anjou and Poitou, as far as the environs of Vihiers and Parthenay. The cause of the success of the Vendeans was in the configuration of the country; in their skill and courage to profit by it; and finally in the inexperience and imprudent ardor of the republican troops, which, levied in haste, were in too great a hurry to attack them, and thus gave them victories and all their results,—military stores, confidence, and courage.  4
  Easter recalled all the insurgents to their homes, from which they never would stay away long. To them a war was a sort of sporting excursion of several days; they carried with them a sufficient quantity of bread for the time, and then returned to inflame their neighbors by the accounts which they gave. Places of meeting were appointed for the month of April. The insurrection was then general, and extended over the whole surface of the country.  5
 
 
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