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regiment, whose insubordination and marauding instincts had to be checked by summary measures. Culprits were hoisted up to the top of a tree and thence allowed to fall three times to the ground, the third, if not an earlier, fall being fatal. “This punishment,' observes Tercier briefly, 'is cruel.' At the sack of Thuin the bodies of the slain burnt in a horrible bonfire, nourished with faggots and the town records, round the tree of liberty : ' it was our Croats and Wallachians who had had this pretty idea,' comments Neuilly. In its own ranks, unknown to most of its members, the Légion de Damas numbered a woman, the 'Chevalier de Haussey,' fighting with her husband, M. de Bennes, and passing for his brother, surviving his death by her side at the defence of the canal of Louvain, and escaping, with a man disguised as a woman, from the Republican prisons after Quiberon. A French foot soldier whom the Comte de Neuilly cut down in self-defence before Thuin turned out to be a woman too.
Nor did the émigrés run merely the customary risks of battle. Their countrymen refused to treat them as prisoners of war, shooting them out of hand when captured, and always exempting them from the capitulation of a surrendered town. After the garrison of Nieupoort had marched out (July 19, 1794) Moreau kept the thirty wounded volunteers of Loyal-Emigrant whom he found in the town until he could hunt out the rest for a completer hecatomb. Between 150 and 180 were shot in cold blood on the dunes. Some days earlier Vandamme had poured what he himself called 'un feu d'enfer’into three boatloads who were trying to escape, before the surrender, to Flushing. The wounded of the same regiment, after their magnificent sortie from Menin in April, were despatched by the Republicans. Warned by these massacres the defenders of Bois-le-Duc, when that fortress surrendered to Pichegru in October, arranged that the émigrés of the Légion de Béon amongst them should go out with the garrison disguised as carters and servants, or even wearing the uniform and marching in the ranks of the two regiments of Hesse-Philippsthal. The stratagem was unavailing, for nearly all were discovered and cut to pieces, in spite of Pichegru’s frantic efforts to save them. After this the Prince of Orange gave his word that no émigrés should be
left in a besieged post.
Not sieges, however, so much as outpost duty or the covering a retreat fell to the lot of the Légion de Damas. After the abandonment of the siege of Maubeuge they were stationed along the VOL. XXVIII.-NO. 167, N.S.
Meuse, engaged in daily exchanges of shots with the French on the other bank. In the spring of 1794 they were in a similar position between Dinant and Givet, in cantonments damp with rain and [Inow, on the banks of the little river Lesse. The hussars of Béon, posted nearer the enemy, were several times surprised by the patrols of the French cavalry brigade, especially as the young émigrés of the corps constantly amused themselves by fishing for trout in the river. In such cases they at once paid the penalty on the further bank, in view of their comrades. But at the end of May Damas was called to more active work. The army of the Meuse under Jourdain had succeeded in rolling back the army corps of the Austrian general Beaulieu, and General Riese, in whose division was Damas, resolved to hold Dinant as long as possible to protect their retreat. The town had no fortifications, and stood high. Posted behind the hedges of a large farm on the south Dinant, which rose steeply at their backs, Catoire and his regiment saw Beaulieu retreating towards them in good order. The émigrå had twice to be ordered to retire from their position, for the Comte de Damas did not hasten to obey the first summons, a piece of rashness which nearly cost his men dear. Some of the French infantry were already in the lower town when Damas passed through, the last regiment to cross the Meuse--and during the long march on Namur which followed the enemy harassed them, en nous poursuivant,' says Catoire, 'd'une rude manière, et nous accablant de boulets et de cartages (sic).' Indeed, his regiment was nearly always holding some untenable position. In July it was the château of Hougoumont, with Béon behind them occupying Mont St. Jean. They were replying as best they could without artillery to artillery fire, when behind a screen of cavalry Lefebvre's whole division was suddenly descried, and on the émigrés fell the task of covering as long as possible the consequent retreat of the Prince of Orange's main body on Brussels. Or it was the canal of Louvain, a week later. Here Damas and Béon, 600 strong, kept 12,000 men in check for four hours. Even the Moniteur, in acknowledging the loss of 1500 men, praised their bravery. When the two regiments were ordered to draw off they had not a single cartridge left, and one of the companies of chasseurs nobles in Damas was reduced to half its strength. Their wounded, unable to follow the dangerous retreat along the canal, were taken to Brussels by the Republicans and shot.
It was not only the enemy who praised the Légion de Damas.
In March 1794, when it was bivouacked near Thuin, its gallantry in surprising the village of Erquelines on the further side of the Sambre had won from the Prince of Orange a warm eulogy in the orders of the day. Catoire had in fact his share in battles---even in victories : in early June in that which temporarily beat off the French from the walls of Charleroi, in mid-June in the Austrian success won in a fog on the plain of Gosselies, and sometimes called the first battle of Fleurus. Of the second battle, ten days later, on which the legion were already congratulating themselves as on a victory which, in Tercier's words, 'allait enfin terminer cette horrible Révolution,' Catoire plainly shared Haddick's opinion.
Twenty-five years have I served, exclaimed the Austrian general to the disgusted émigrés, ' and I have never yet seen a victorious army beating a retreat.'
But henceforward, as though in retribution for a neglected opportunity, retreat was the constant portion of the Allies. By the end of June the Austrian Netherlands were abandoned ; a month later came the final parting of the Austrian and British forces. In August it was clear that neither English nor Dutch were strong enough to stop the victorious advance of Pichegru. After York had fallen back on Bois-le-Duc Damas was sent to join Béon there, but, more fortunate than the sister regiment, it had left before the surrender. The same good fortune befell it at Venloo. Yet it had suffered severely enough. On the very day of the fall of Venloo it was reviewed at Arnheim by the Stadtholder. It had lost 302 men since August 1, and had now only 343 under arms; for one thing, it was found that the neighbourhood of the English army, with its better pay and rations, attracted the Irish soldiers to
Arnheim saw Damas there once again, after the fall of Nimeguen. By this time the end was approaching. After a fortnight's welcome rest at Utrecht-a rest seasoned even with a little gaiety-Damas went, with other regiments under the command of Harcourt, into unhealthy cantonments in the lines of Grebbe, which separated the provinces of Utrecht and Guelders, where it was quartered in miserable marshy villages, with no hospital and about half the strength, fever-stricken, always on guard. Already, indeed, retiring as they had been since the battle of Fleurus, the legion had begun the terrible retreat of the winter of 1794-5. Rain had fallen since the beginning of November, and in the middle of December there set in the severest frost of the century. Canals and rivers existed no
longer as barriers, but as roads. Infantry, cavalry and artillery maneuvred on the ice as they might have done in July on the Belgian plains. The sentries were frozen at their posts. Later, when the Légion de Rohan was retreating through Friesland, and nightly building themselves huts of snow with their sabres, their patrols and those of the French would meet and be unable even to challenge each other, so stiffly were their moustaches frozen to the fur of their pelisses. The French crossed the Meuse and the Waal on the ice--the latter river three times—and the Dutch fleet in the Texel afterwards surrendered to the light artillery of a cavalry division. At last, in the middle of January, Walmoden, left in joint command with Harcourt by the recall of the Duke of York, ordered a further retreat from the north bank of the Waal.
The days that followed are amongst the most tragical in the history do Army. ... The country to the north of Arnheim is at the best of times an inte pitable waste, and there were few dwellings and few trees to give shelter or fri after a dreary march through dense and chilling mist over snow twice that and refrozen. . . . When the day was ended, the troops of different nations four for such scanty comforts as were to be found. ... Day after day the cold steadily increased ; and those of the army that woke on the morning of January 17 sat about them such a sight as they never forgot. Far as the eye could reach ofer the whitened plain were scattered gun-limbers, waggons full of baggage, stores
, or sick men, sutlers' carts and private carriages. Beside them lay the horses, dead ; around them scores and hundreds of soldiers, dead ; here a straggler who had staggered on to the bivouac and dropped to sleep in the arms of the frost; there a group of British and Germans round an empty rum-cask; here forty English guardsmen huddled together about a plundered waggon ; there a pack-horse with a woman lying alongside it, and a baby, swaddled in rags, peeping out of the pack, with its mother's milk turned to ice upon its lips-one and all stark, frozen, dead. Had the retreat lasted but three or four days longer, not a man would have escaped : and the catastrophe would have found a place in history side by side with the destruction of the army of Sennacherib and with the still more terrible disaster of the retreat from Moscow.'
So fared the main body. The Légion de Damas, with Abercromby, had its own Odyssey. But Catoire, who has not a descriptive pen, cannot summon up a picture a tithe as vivid as this, which the historian of our army has evoked from the records of eyewitnesses. His patient little chronicle says merely, “ Nous fumes en route pendant le froid rigoureux des mois 9bre, xbre, janvier et fevrier .. non sans beaucoup de peine et de fatigues, ayant été obligé (sic) de passer dans les nèges, et meme d'avoir été contraint (sic) de passer le Rhin à la nage étant poursuivis par l'ennemie (sic).' The cold on January 16 was, says Tercier, the most terrible
Hon. J. W. Fortescue, History of the British Army, vol. iv., part i., p. 320.
he ever experienced before or after, and on that day the legion marched from eight in the morning till midnight, along ways strewn with corpses--many of them English--to Apdthorn, a little frontier town of Hanover. The snow was falling ; the country was a plain without a village ; they dared not loiter. Apdthorn, when they got there, was crammed with the allied troops. A dilapidated barn was with difficulty obtained for shelter, but no food was to be procured till the morrow at midday--the fatal 17th of January. At Groenloo the French were on their heels. The frost had broken ; and in the night the legion set out again, often wading in water to the waist. Two hours longer in Groenloo and they would have been captured. But as they dragged themselves along next day, knee-deep in mud, some of the younger men, spent and disheartened, threw themselves down by the wayside and cried, like Chateaubriand during Brunswick’s retreat through the mire of Champagne, that it was better to die than to endure such misery.
Marching under such conditions, it is small wonder that Catoire should at last lose himself. The ultimate destination of the legion was Harburg on the Elbe, but the Lorrainer, having traversed with his comrades, as he says, nearly all the province of Munster, got separated from them somewhere in Hanover, very possibly at Quakenbruck, whence, instead of following them eastward to Diepenau, he seems to have gone due north. At any rate, after wandering' from town to town, from village to village,' he stumbled at last into the little town of Kloppenburg in Oldenburg. By good fortune it was occupied by another émigré regiment—that of Comte Archambault de Périgord, recently raised by him, and commanded by his brother Bozon de Périgord. The Comte de Périgord, to whom Catoire was personally known,' allowed the straggler to enter his corps, and the latter finally found himself, with the rest of the émigrés à cocarde noire, in garrison at Stade, at the mouth of the Elbe. Here, in English pay, the exiles waited until fate should beckon them over, to engulf them, on the sands of Brittany, in disaster more irrevocable than had ever stared them in the face behind the walls of Bois-le-Duc or among the snows of Friesland.
' His uncle, the Cardinal Alexandre-Angélique de Talleyrand-Périgord, had. been Grand Vicaire of Verdun, and was Archbishop-Duke of Rheims when Catoire received the tonsure there. Archambault and Bozon de Talleyrand-Périgord were younger brothers of the great diplomatist,