The Vendée—Description of the Counterrevolution

The first groups of "brigands" formed in the west in mid–1792, in response most immediately to the call to all citizens to volunteer for the army. In this letter, a local government official, Choudieu, informs the National Convention that the detachment of soldiers it sent to the region has failed to dispel the brigands and asks for more forces, at just the moment when the Prussians have invaded from the north.


Niort, 25 August, 1793, Year IV [sic] of Freedom

The departmental adviser reported to you, in the last mail, the troubling events which occurred in the district of Châtillon. New information shows us that the crowd is continuing to gather, that the leaders of bandits, far from scattering them, every day battle with them anew and retreat anew. The council meanwhile has taken strong measures, and at this moment there are three thousand national guardsmen in the region to establish order. It is with the greatest of sorrow that we inform you that six patriots have already fallen victim to this rabble, but at least forty of their number were killed.

We had reason to hope that these gatherings would cease as soon as the public troops arrived. Our hopes were misguided, and this causes us the greatest of worries. Having already dispatched all of the armed force that was at our disposal, the departments of the Vendée, Loire-Inférieure, and Maine-en Loire showed us unequivocal proof of their fraternity and neighborliness by coming to our aid during these circumstances. Without these departments, this unfortunate region would today have fallen to the rebels. . . .

We can not hide from you sirs, that a severe and swift example needs to be set. Already several of these bandits have been arrested, and the departmental adviser requests that you issue a decree whereby the criminal court of Niort judges this case as the last resort. It is the only way to bring peace back to this unfortunate region. We hope that you will not refuse us this request.

Source: Philippe-Joseph-Benjamin Buchez and Prosper-Charles Roux, Histoire parlementaire de la Révolution Française, vol. 17 (Paris: Paulin, 1834), 138–39. Translated by Exploring the French Revolution project staff from original documents in French found in John Hardman, French Revolution Documents 1792–95, vol. 2 (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1973), 7–8.