Изображения страниц

had adopted. The corps of artillery at St. Amand bestowed on him the same marks of approbation and attachment. He slept at that place, in order to manifest his confidence in them. Here it was notified to him, that on the morning of the 4th of April, the prince de Cobourg, the archduke Charles, and colonel Mack, would meet him between Brumi and Condé, to regulate the movements of the two armies. But this interview was very unexpectedly interrupted, by an account, that the garrison of the latter place were in such a state of fermentation, as to render it dangerous for him to enter it; while a body of French volunteers, whom he overtook in his way, attempted to seize him; and it was with difficulty, and by the aid of a very swift horse, that he escaped from the fire of their musquetry. The general being persuaded that it was not practicable for him to return immediately to the camp, proceeded along the banks of the Scheldt, which he passed at a ferry, and gained the Imperial territory. He then continued his route on foot to Bury, where a division of Austrian dragoons were quartered. Here he passed a part of the night with colonel Mack, in preparing a proclamation for the prince de Cobourg: it was dated the 5th of April, and was written to accompany his own, which may be seen at large among the state papers collected in this volume. The imperial commander in chief declared, in this proclamation, that he acted only as an auxiliary to general Dumourier, that the intention of his sovereign was not to attempt any conquest, but to restore peace and good order in France,

and to co-operate with that officer, the principles of whose proclamation he had himself adopted. On the 5th of April, at day-break, Dumourier proceeded with an escort of fifty Imperial dragoons, passed the advanced post of his camp at Maulde, and was received with very decided marks of regard. He harangued the different corps, who answered him with affection. At the same time, he could not but observe some symptoms of discontent and faction among them. He then proceeded towards St. Amand, to make some alteration in his camp, and to hasten those movements to Orchies, which the event of the preceding evening had retarded: but, at the entrance of the town, one of his aides-de-camp arrived in great haste to inform him, that, during the night, the corps of artillery, instigated by some emissaries from Valenciennes, who had spread a report, that their general was drowned in the Scheldt, had sent commissaries to that city; and, on their return, had risen against their commanders, and were marching thither. The military chest, and the equipages of the officers, which remained without a guard, he ordered to be removed to Rumegies, a village on the road to Orchies, about a league from the camp, and which was protected by a part of his advanced guard.

It was no sooner known in the army, that the corps of artillery were departed for Valenciennes, than confusion and disorder appeared in every part of it. Several general officers repaired with their entire divisions to that city, and the spirit of defection seemed to be general throughout the camp. Dumourier


was at Rumigies, when he was informed of this disorganized state of the army: what therefore remained for him to do, but to consult his own safety? He accordingly mounted his horse, and, accompanied by general and colonel Thouvenot, the duke de Chartres, colonel Mountjoye, colonel Barrois, some officers of his staff, and his aides-decamp, but without any escort, retreated to Tournay, where he met with general Clairfait. He was soon followed by some corps of his late army, and the whole regiment of Berchiny, amounting altogether to about 700 horse and 800 infantry. The military chest, which contained two millions of livres, and had been removed to Furnes, was, after some contest, borne away to Valenciennes.

In reviewing this strange reverse of fortune, we cannot but express our astonishment, that general Dumourier should be so entirely deceived respecting the temper and state of his army. Success, which may, in some degree, be said to give equal fame to the wise and to the fool, had raised him, in a very short time, to an elevated pinnacle of military fame. But the hero of Gemappe, and the conqueror of Belgium, had been driven back with great loss and discomfiture to the frontiers of France: his vaunted conquest of Holland had ended in defeat, and as his laurels faded, the enthusiasm of his army for their general may be supposed to have diminished: and it was by enthusiasm alone, that his designs on France could have been crowned with success, as we cannot suppose him to have been unacquainted with the emotions of the human heart, and the charac

ter of his countrymen, we must conclude, that he was the dupe of his vain-glory and ambition. He has been branded by some with the title of traitor; he has also been accused of receiving bribes from the Imperial court, and of having formed a design to betray his country. It does not, however, appear to us, that there is sufficient testimony to justify such a suspicion, unless the sentiments of his declaration, his hatred of the Jacobins, and his wish to restore the son of Louis XVI. to the throne of his fathers. The convention had denounced him as a public enemy, and threatened him with its vengeance: he had, therefore, no other means of serving his country, but by promoting the views of the combined powers, and endeavouring to persuade the army, which he commanded, to co-operate with them, in restoring order and good government to France.

After a short conference with general Clairfait, Dumourier left Tournay for Mons, in order to settle a plan with the commander of the Austrian advanced posts, to cover the retreat of those of his late army who might be disposed to follow him. It was now determined, by the prince de Cobourg, to form the blockade of Condé, and it was agreed that Dumourier should hold the rank of general of artillery in the Imperial army. In the mean time, a congress of the ministers and general officers of the combined powers was held at Antwerp, when it was determined to enter France. A second proclamation was published by the prince de Cobourg, which annulled the first, and particularly specified the design of keeping whatever places


[ocr errors]

he should take, by way of indem- still doing in France, can adopt nity to his sovereign. Dumourier, them. Is it possible that any one when he was informed of this who has examined the state of change in the Imperial system of those factions which agitate that military operations, declared to the devoted country; is it possible that prince de Cobourg, that he could he can seriously declare such sennot with honour, serve against timents as these? Read the lanFrance; and, having obtained as- guage of the convention; consider surances of protection for his un- the spirit of their decrees; look to happy followers, he demanded and the conduct of the clubs; enquire received a passport for his safe re- into the character of their leaders; treat into Germany. survey the disorganized state of the country; reflect on the horrors of their tribunals; reflect on the ferment of the public mind; and then let us ask, whether this was a moment for a foreign power to request of regicides, to exercise justice and compassion to the remaining persons of the royal family; to ask of military plunderers to restore the territories they had seized from the unoffending and neutral possessors, or public robbers to give back the property that terrified loyalty had deserted? Neither Brissot nor Robespierre had a wish for peace; and if they had possessed the wish, they had not the power to maintain it. Was not the government of France, if government it may be called, at this moment rioting in plunder and confiscation? Was not the convention ruling the people by terror and bloodshed? Did not the spirit of requisition stalk abroad throughout the land? and was not the executive power actually strengthened by the fidelity of the northern army, who had just deserted a favourite commander, to support the ruling power, whoever or whatever it might be? It must, however, be acknowledged, that Dumourier, and the principal emigrants of every party, have blamed the prince de Cobourg for with

It has been the opinion of some men. whose opinions cannot be treated with disregard or inattention, that this was the propitious moment, when the combined powers might have proposed such terms of peace to France, as would have been accepted with equal readiness and gratitude. They do not hesitate to declare their belief, that the following declaration might have been made to the convention with the happiest effects. "Arrange your interior government as you please, we do not wish to intermeddle with it. We only desire you to establish the ancient boundaries of the Netherlands, to restore your other conquests; to liberate the queen and the royal family; and to allow the emigrants a moiety of their property: we will then withdraw our forces, and be your friends."-Had such propositions as these been made, there can be little doubt, say these politicians, but that a stop would have been immediately put to the effusion of blood; France would, at this time, have been under a regular and established government, and Europe would have been at peace. In reply to these sentiments, we can only express our astonishment, that men, who know what has been done, and what is


[ocr errors]

drawing the proclamation, published at the moment when the French general hoped to have induced his army to attack the convention; and to have published another, which annulled all the pacific declarations of the former. Nay, it has been asserted, that, on the publication of the first of these proclamations, the interior parts of France had began to move, and that this spirit of revolt immediately subsided on the appearance of the second. But to prove the exaggeration of this statement, it will be sufficient to observe, that the first proclamation was signed on the 5th of April; and the next at so short a distance as the ninth; and that, in so short an interval as four days, all that could possibly have reached the ears of the allies, was the total failure of Dumourier's influence over his army, and the horror with which the attempt to march against the convention was, to all appearance, received in France. Since the proclamation. seemed to have no effect on the minds of Frenchmen, it could not be expected that the allies should continue to be bound by it, and renounce the power of acting as circumstances might require.

When the national convention was informed, that the commissioners whom they had sent to seize Dumourier, and conduct him to Paris, had been arrested, and sent to the Austrian army, they decreed a permanent sitting, and proclaimed a large reward for taking him alive or dead. They then made every arrangement necessary to preserve the tranquillity of the capital, as well as to defend the frontiers against the armies that threatened them. By the activity of the com

missioners sent from Paris, the northern army was in some degree re-organized; and general Dampiere was appointed the provisional commander in chief; nor did he wait many days before he had an opportunity of displaying his military talents. He had already reoccupied the camp of Famars; and on the 8th of May, made an attack on the Austrian and Prussian posts, which brought on a very serious engagement, that ended in favour of the allies. Their loss, in killed and wounded, amounted to 800 men, and that of the French to 4000. The duke of York took a very decided part in this action ; and the success of it was very much promoted, by the bravery of the English troops. In this battle, general Dampiere finished his short career; and thus escaped the disgraceful exit of the guillotine, to which so many brave men, whose success did not answer to the wild demand of the convention, were devoted. He lost his thigh by a cannon ball, and died of his wound on the following day, leaving the command of the army to general La Marche.

On the 23d, it was determined by the allies, to make an attack upon the fortified camp at Famars, in order to dislodge the French from a situation which commanded the city of Valenciennes; and, after a severe contest, this important object was obtained. The enemy were obliged to abandon a position on which they placed great reliance, as it was fortified with great care, and to leave Valenciennes and Condé to their fate. The loss sustained by the English was very trifling, and that of the Austrians and Prussians by no


means considerable. The allied army was accordingly encouraged to proceed to the siege of Valenciennes, and the conduct of it was committed to the care of his royal highness the duke of York. In the mean time, the town of Condé had been in a state of siege since the beginning of April, and being ill-stored with provisions, obliged to capitulate on the 10th of July, to prince Ferdinand of Wirtemberg, lieutenant-general in the Imperial army.


Valenciennes was now closely invested, and though general Custine was arrived from the Rhine to take the command of the army of the north, he could not afford it any effectual relief. The siege, therefore, continued with great vigour, and a considerable part of the town was reduced to ashes. The garrison does not appear to have been sufficient for its defence; and after repeated summons, general Ferrand surrendered the city to the duke of York on the 26th of July, who took possession of it, in the name of the emperor of Germany.

With this important event, we shall, for the present, leave the affairs of Flanders, and just glance at those of the armies on the Rhine. Of skirmishes, slight engagements, and advantages mutually obtained, some account might be given, if such details were either interesting or instructive. The most important circumstance of the campaign was the surrender of Mentz, which, after a very tedious siege, capitulated on the 22d of July, to the king of Prussia.

In no point of view did the affairs of France wear, at this time, a promising aspect. The government was distracted by parties, and Paris in a frequent state of disorder

and uproar. The army on the Rhine had not been able to prevent the capture of Mentz; and that of the north had beheld, in a compelled state of inactivity, the capture of Condé and Valenciennes. But it was not only an invading enemy, which the convention had to fear, but internal foes: very formidable insurrections reared their heads in different parts of France, and very considerable bodies of loyalists were assembled, particularly in Britanny and Poitou, now distinguished by the names of La Vendee and Le Loire. The convention considered these commotions, in their early state, as arising merely from an indisposition in the people to submit to the arrangements of the new government; which were so different from their former customs, and so contrary to their ancient prepossessions. But their numbers, and their conduct, plainly evinced, that these insurrections did not proceed from any sudden impulse, or temporary grievance; but were the result of preconcerted design. They were distinguished with counter revolutionary symbols, assumed the name of the Christian army, professed to act under the authority of Monsieur, as regent of France; and, excited to action by the harangues of their priests, and the symbols of their religion, they were successful in several encounters with the national guards. On the 20th of March, the commissioners, who had been sent to examine the nature and conditions of these insurrections, stated to the convention; that the insurgents, in the department of the Lower Loire, had attacked general Marcee, with some advantage, that the city of Nantz was besieged by them;


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »