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FrRevol_351-400.indd 13 3/16/12 1:09 PM CHAPTER XVII The French Army During the Reign of Terror; the Federalists and La Vendee. The conduct of the French army during the period of terror was truly patriotic. No generals were seen violating their oath to the state; they repulsed foreigners while they were themselves threatened with death upon the scaffold, at the slightest suspicion that might be excited against their conduct. The soldiers belonged not to any particular chief, but to France. France no longer existed but in the armies; there, however, at least, she was still beautiful: and her triumphant banners served, ifwe may so say, as a veil to the crimes committed in the interior. Foreigners were compelled to respect the rampart of iron which was opposed to their invasion ; and, although they advanced within thirty leagues ofParis, anational feeling, still in full strength, did not permit them to arrive there. The same enthusiasm displayed itself in the navy. The crew ofa man of war, Le Vengeur, struck by the English,1 repeated, as with one voice, the cry of Vive Ia ripublique while they were sinking in the ocean; and the songs of a funereal joy seemed still to re-echo from the bottom of the deep. The French army was then unacquainted with pillage, and its chiefs sometimes marched like private soldiers at the head oftheir troopsbecause they did not have money to purchase the horses which they needed. Dugommier ,2 commander in chiefofthe army ofthe Pyrenees, at the age of sixty, set out from Paris on foot to rejoin his troops on the frontiers of r. The incident occurred not far from Brest on June 1, 1794, and was reported by Barere in the Convention. 2. Dugommier (1738-94), a French marshal who served in Guadeloupe and the Pyrenees. FrRevol_351-400.indd 14 3/16/12 1:09 PM PART III Spain. The men, on whom military glory has since conferred so much renown, distinguished themselves also by their disinterestedness. They wore, without blushing, uniforms which had become threadbare in the service, a hundred times more honorable than the embroidery and decorations of every kind with which, at a later period, we have seen them bedizened. Honest republicans, mingled with royalists, courageously resisted the Conventional Government at Toulon, at Lyons, and in some other departments . This party was known by the name ofFederalists; but I do not believe that the Girondists, or their partisans, ever conceived the project of establishing a federative government in France. Nothing would be less suitable to the character of the nation, which loves splendor and bustle; for both of these require a city, which may be the focus of the talents and the riches of the empire. We may with reason complain of the corruption of a capital, and of all great assemblages of men in general; such is the condition of mankind: but in France we could scarcely bring back men's minds to virtue, but by the diffusion of knowledge and the need to obtain the votes of the public. The love ofconsideration or glory, in its different degrees, is the only thing that is able to raise us gradually from egoism to conscientiousness. Besides, the political and military state of the great monarchies which surround France would endanger her independence if the strength of her union were weakened. The Girondists never thought ofany such plan; but, as they had many adherents in the provinces, where, by the simple effect of a national representation, political knowledge was beginning to be acquired, it was in the provinces that opposition to the factious tyrants of Paris displayed itself. It was about this time, also, that the war ofLaVendee3 began, and nothing does more honor to the royalist party than the attempts at civil war which were then made. The people ofthese departments were able to resist the Convention and its successors for nearly six years, being headed by some gentlemen who drew their principal resources from their own minds. 3· The revolt began on March ro, 1793, as a refusal to submit to conscription and ended nine months later. On the Vendee rebellion, see Furet's entry in A Critical Dictionary ofthe French Revolution, 165- 76; and Tilly, The Vendee. FrRevol_351-400.indd 15 3/16/12 1:09 PM cHAPTER X vI I . French Army During Reign ofTerror The republicans, as well as the royalists, felt a profound respect for these warrior citizens. Lescure, La Roche Jacquelin...


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