Friday, October 28, 2011

French Army at Yorktown

Of all the French forces that fought in the American War for Independence, General Rochambeau's French expeditionary corps are probably the most famous in the United States, contributing greatly to the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown. Rochambeau had over 6,000 troops with him from these infantry regiments (listed in order of precedence):

  • Bourbonnois

  • Royal-Deux-Ponts (German)

  • Soissonois

  • Saintonge

  • Agenois

  • Gatinois

  • Touraine

  • Metz Artillery Regiment

Rochambeau also had the exotic 2nd Legion of Volontaires-Etrangers de la Marine, better known as Lauzun's Legion. The Duc de Lauzen had 600 men, of whom half were hussars armed with lances, and the other half were infantry.

So why did the French fare so poorly in the Seven Years War, yet were able to pound the British twenty years later? Lord willing, I hope to answer this question next time I write.

Soldiers (above) from Gatinois Regiment, picture from Note the red plumes on the hats: these point out that the wearers are grenadiers, the elite of the regiment.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Poem--The Loyalist of the Vendee

In the deadly chaos of the French Revolution, one dauntless group stood for God, King, Church, and Country: the Catholic and Royal Army. Drawn mostly from the regions of Vendee and Poitou, the Vendeans fought the revolutionaries for eighteen months until they were finally crushed. The Honorable George Sydney Smith wrote an excellent poem (especially the dauntless resolution present in XII.) about the youngest and best of the Vendean generals, Henri de la Rochejacquelein.

The Loyalist of the Vendee


Now, as there is a God in Heaven, and Jesu is his son,

And to Our Lady grace is given, and to the Holy One;

Now, as in sooth, the Church is truth; and if it be her will,

That false shall fail, and right prevail, and good outlast the ill


Then by this Heart, and by this Cross, and by our own Vendee;

By every feeling man can feel, or prayer that man can pray,

By hope in Him, round whom we kneel, I charge you all to swear

One last oath with Rochejacquelein, to dare as he will dare.


And if my words vaunt overmuch, and if I seem to say

That I shall be the boldest, or the foremost in the fray,

Full many a name of older fame, there are around, I know,

Talmont, Foret, Lescure, D'Elbee, and brave Cathelineau.


And many a gallant dalesman, and many a mountaineer,

To whom their Church, and King, and France, and Gentlemen are dear;

Not strong like theirs my strength shall be, my zeal shall be more

For they have only heard of that Paris I have seen.


Where Fraud, and Crime, and Marat reign, and the Triple Colours wave

O'er the Churches of Our Lady, and the Blessed Genevieve;

Where Agnus, Pix, and Crucifix, are made the wanton's spoil

And the bells which called to vespers, now call to blood and broil.


The Priest, those gentle Priests and good, your fathers loved to hear,

Sole type below, 'midst work and woe, of the God whom we revere.

There's not a street, trod under feet, they have not dyed with gore;

There's not a stone that does not own one martyrdom, or more.


The King, I saw the Accursed Cap on his anointed head;

And scoff, and scorn, and gibe, and jest, and mocking words were said;

But he took the nearest hand, and he laid it on his breast,

And he bade it count the pulses, and bade it thence learn rest.


The Queen, her proud lip curled with scorn, through all those fierce alarms,

Till Santerre came beside her with the Dauphin in his arms;

Then, her mien grew still and stately, though she shook in every limb;

Her fear was for her infant, her calmness was for him.


And then and there I swore Santerre should rue that bitter wrong;

And then and there I swore Santerre should learn my name ere long;

And that, this year, should Paris hear, of the loyal hearts and true,

In the Vendee, and the Bourbonnais, and the woodlands of Poitou.


Now, swore I right, or swore I wrong, it is for you to show,

For here is the white standard, and yonder is the foe:

And by your aid, that oath I made, oh, keep it as your own,

May yet restore, (like Joan's of yore,) the Lilies and the Throne.


Your pardon, Sirs, the rebel stirs, his vanguard is at hand,

Let others will, let me fulfill, what orders you command;

What if my years are but nineteen, oh, think what I have seen

O, think of that insulted King, and of that Hero Queen.


Then follow me, where'er it be, I make within the foe,

And if I flinch, or fail one inch, there straightway strike me low;

And if I fall, swear one and all, ye will avenge my loss.

Now, Charge! for de la Rochejacquelein, for the Heart, and for the Cross!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Madame de Montcalm

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies--Proverbs 31:10

"She was as tender a wife as she was a devoted mother"--Abbe H. R. Casgrain

Louise-Angelique, Madame de Montcalm was born in 1709 or possibly early in 1710. I do not yet know the exact date of her birth; however, she was born after her father died, and he died on July 10, 1709. On October 3, 1734, she married a young soldier named Louis-Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm. Montcalm dearly loved his wife and six children, and his wife reciprocated this love. In 1756, as the Seven Years' War broke out, the Minister of War sent Montcalm to Canada to command French troops there. Madame de Montcalm did not wish to see him so far away, but she let him go--and never saw him again. Even through the rigors of campaign, and the battles with Governor Vaudreuil, he never forgot his wife and six children who were waiting in France for him. "Adieu, my heart, I believe I love you more than ever!" is the affectionate closing to one of his last letters home. Montcalm died shortly after the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. One of his last acts was to write a letter for every member of his family.

She died on March 12, 1788, thirty-nine years after her beloved husband.

I have not yet found any portrait, engraving, illustration, or any other picture of Madame de Montcalm, so I drew one.

Apparently Montcalm liked green coats, so in my drawing, he wears one, while Madame de Montcalm has a green dress. His two sons (one as colonel of the Regiment de Montcalm) are represented, as well as his four daughters. The one in green is Mirete, who died while Montcalm was fighting in Canada. Under magnification, one might notice a bird on the left. That is a tribute to Montcalm's verse, written when some said the number of his children was too many for such a small fortune: "Small birds He (God) gives the pasture, And His goodness extends to all nature."

An excellent tribute to the faith of Montcalm and his wife.