Lissagaray: History of the Paris Commune of 1871
Major Ségoyer was captured by the scoundrels who were defending the Bastille, and, without respect for the laws of war, was immediately shot. (Thiers to the Prefects, 27th May.)
The soldiers continuing their nocturnal surprises, got hold of the deserted barricades of the Rue d'Aubervilliers and the Boulevard de la Chapelle. On the side of the Bastille they occupied the barricade of the Rue St. Antoine at the corner of the Rue Castex, the Gare de Lyons, and the Mazas prison; in the third, all the abandoned defences of the market and of the Square du Temple. They reached the first houses of the Boulevard Voltaire, and established themselves at the Magasins Réunis.
In the darkness of the night a Versaillese officer was surprised by our outposts of the Bastille and shot; without respecting the laws of war, said M. Thiers the next day. As though during the four days that he had been mercilessly shooting thousands of prisoners, old men, women, and children, M. Thiers obeyed any other law than that of the savages.
The attack recommenced at daybreak. At La Villete the Versaillese, crossing the Rue d'Aubervilliers; turned and occupied the abandoned gasworks; in the centre, they got as far as the Cirque Napoléon; on the right, in the twelfth arrondissement, they invaded the bastions nearest the river without a struggle: One detachment went up the embankment of the Vincennes Railway and occupied the station, while another took possession of the Boulevard Mazas, the Avenue Lacuée, and penetrated into the Faubourg St. Antoine. The Bastille was thus close pressed on its right flank, while the troops of the Place Royale attacked it on the left by the Boulevard Beaumarchais.
The sun did not shine forth. This five days cannonade had drawn on the rainfall that usually accompanies great battles. The firing had lost its sharp, quick voice, but rolled on in muffled tones. The men, harassed, wet to the skin, hardly distinguished through the misty veil the point whence the attack came. The shells of a Versaillese battery established at the Gare d'Orléans disturbed the entrance of the Faubourg St. Antoine. At seven o'clock the presence of soldiers at the top of the faubourg was announced. The Federals hurried thither with their cannon. If they do not hold out, the Bastille will be taken.
They did hold out. The Rue d'Aligre and the Avenue Lacuée vied with each other in devotion. Entrenched in the houses, the Federals fell, but neither yielded nor retreated; and, thanks to their selfsacrifice, the Bastille for six hours still disputed its shattered barricades and ruined houses. Each stone had its legend in this estuary of the Revolution. Here encased in the wall is a bullet launched in 1789 against the fortress. Leaning against the same wall the sons of the combatants of June fought for the same pavement as their fathers. Here the conservatives of 1848 gave vent to their rage; but what was their fury compared with that of 1871? The house at the corner of the Rue de la Roquette, the angle of the Rue de Charenton, disappeared like the scenery of a theatre, and amidst these ruins, under these burning beams, some men fired their cannon, and twenty times raised up the red flag, as often overthrown by the Versaillese balls. Powerless as it well knew to triumph over an entire army, the old glorious place will at least succumb honourably.
How many were there at mid-day? Hundreds, since at night hundreds of corpses lay around the chief barricade. In the Rue Crozatier they were dead; they were dead too in the Rue d'Aligre, killed in the struggle or after the combat. And how they died! In the Rue Crozatier an artilleryman of the army, gone over to the people on the 18th March, was surrounded. We are going to shoot you, cried the soldiers. He, shrugging his shoulders, answered, We can only die once! Farther on an old man was struggling; the officer by a refinement of cruelty wanted to shoot him upon a heap of filth. I fought bravely, said the old man; I have the right not to die in the mire.
Indeed they died well everywhere. That same day Millière, arrested on the left bank of the Seine, was taken to Cisseys staff. This Imperialist general, ruined by the vilest debauchery, and who terminated his Ministerial career, by treachery,  had made of his headquarters at the Luxembourg one of the slaughter-houses of the left bank. Millières role during the Commune had been one of mere conciliation, and his polemic in the journals entirely one of doctrine, and of a most elevated character; but the hatred of the officers for every Socialist, the hatred of Jules Favre, lay in wait for him. The assassin, the staff-captain Garcin, has recounted his crime, head erect. Before history we must let him speak.
Millière was brought in when we were breakfasting with the general at the restaurant De Tournon, near the Luxembourg. We heard a great noise, and went out. I was told, It is Milière. I took care that the crowd did not take justice into its own hands. He did not come into the Luxembourg; he was stopped at the gate. I addressed myself to him, and said, You are Millière?' Yes, but you know that I am a deputy. That may be, but I think you have lost your character of deputy. Besides, there is a deputy amongst us, M. de Quinsonnas, who will recognize you.
I then said to Millière that the generals orders were that he was to be shot. He said to me, Why?
I answered him, I only know your name. I have read articles by you that have revolted me [probably the articles on Jules Favre]. You are a viper, to be crushed underfoot. You detest society. He stopped, saying, with a significant air, Oh, yes! I indeed hate this society. Well, it will remove you from its bosom; you are going to be shot. This is summary justice, barbarity, cruelty. And all the cruelty you have committed, do you take that for nothing? At any rate, since you say you are Millière, there is nothing else to be done.
The general had ordered that he was to be shot at the Panthéon, on his knees, to ask pardon of society for all the ill he had done. He refused to be shot kneeling. I said to him, It is the order; you will be shot on your knees, and not otherwise. He played a little comedy, opening his coat, and baring his breast before the firing party. I said to him, You are acting; you want them to say how you died; die quietly, that will be the best. I am free in my own interest and for the sake of my Cause to do as I like. So be it; kneel down. Then he said to me, I will only do so if you force me down by two men. I had him forced on his knees, and then his execution was proceeded with. He cried, Vive l'humanité! He was about to cry something else when he fell dead. 
An officer ascended the steps, approached the corpse, and discharged his chassepôt into the left temple. Millières head rebounded, and, falling back, burst open, black with powder, seemed to look at the frontispiece of the monument.
Vive l'humanité! The word implies two causes. I care as much for the liberty of other people as for that of France, said a Federal to a reactionary. In 1871, as in 1793, Paris combats for all the oppressed.
The Bastille succumbed about two o'clock. La Villette still struggled on. In the morning the barricade at the corner of the boulevard and of the Rue de Flandre had been surrendered by its commander. The Federals concentrated in the rear along the line of the canal, and barricaded the Rue de Crimée. The Rotonde, destined to support the principal shock, was reinforced by a barricade on the quay of the, Loire. The 269th, which for two days had withstood the enemy, recommenced the struggle behind the new positions. This line from La Villette being of great extent, Ranvier and Passedouet went to fetch reinforcements in the twentieth arrondissement, where the remnants of all the battalions took refuge.
They crowded round the mairie, that distributed lodgings and orders for food. Near the church the wagons and horses were noisily put up. The headquarters and different services were established in the Rue Haxo at the Cité Vincennes, a series of constructions intersected by gardens.
The very numerous barricades in the inextricable streets of Ménilmontant were almost all turned against the boulevard. The strategical route, which on this point overlooks the Père la Chaise, the Buttes Chaumont, and the exterior boulevard, was not even guarded.
From the heights of the ramparts the Prussians were discernible in arms. According to the terms of a convention previously concluded between Versailles and the Prince of Saxony, the German army since Monday surrounded Paris on the north and east. It had cut off the Railway of the North, manned the canal line from St. Denis, posted sentinels from St. Denis to Charenton, erected barricades on all the routes. From five o'clock in the evening of Thursday 5,000 Bavarians marched down from Fontenay, Nogent, and Charenton, forming an impenetrable cordon from the Marne to Montreuil; and during the evening another corps of 5,000 men occupied Vincennes, with eighty artillery pieces. At nine o'clock they surrounded the fort and disarmed the Federals, who wanted to return to Paris. They did still better-trapped the game for Versailles. Already during the siege the Prussians had given an indirect support to the Versaillese army; their cynical collusion with the French conservatives showed itself undisguised during the eight days of May. Of all M. Thiers crimes, one of the most odious will certainly be his introducing the conquerors of France into our civil discords, and begging their help in order to crush Paris.
Towards mid-day fire broke out in the west part of the docks of La Villette, an immense warehouse of petroleum, oil and combustible matters, set alight by the shells from both sides. This conflagration forced us to leave the barricades of the Rues de Flandre and Riquet. The Versaillese, attempting to traverse the canal in boats, were stopped by the barricades of the Rue de Crimée and the Rotonde.
Vinoy continued to ascend the twelfth arrondissement after having left the few thousand men necessary for the perquisitions and executions at the Bastille. The barricade of the Rue de Reuilly, at the corner of the Faubourg St. Antoine, held out a few hours against the soldiers who shelled it from the Boulevard Mazas. At the same time the Versaillese, marching along the Boulevard Mazas and the Rue Picpus, moved towards the Place du Trône, which they tried to outflank by the ramparts. The artillery prepared and covered their slightest movement. Generally they charged the pieces at the corner of the roads they wanted to reduce, advanced them, fired, and drew them back again under shelter. The Federals could only reach this invisible enemy from the heights; but it was impossible to centralize the artillery of the Commune, for each barricade wanted to possess its gun without caring where it carried.
There was no longer authority of any kind. At the headquarters there was a pell-mell of bewildered officers. The march of the enemy was only known by the arrival of the survivors of the battalions. Such was the confusion, that in this place, mortal to traitors, there might be seen, in a generals uniform, Du Bisson, turned out of La Villette. The few members of the Council to be met with in the twentieth arrondissement wandered about at random, absolutely ignored; but they had not foregone deliberating. On the Friday there were twelve of them in the Rue Haxo, when the Central Committee arrived and claimed the dictatorship. It was given them, in spite of some who protested, Varlin being added to their number. The Committee of Public Safety was no longer heard of.
The only one of its members who played any part was Ranvier, splendidly energetic in the combats. During these days he was the soul of La Villette and Belleville, urging on the men, watching over everything. On the 26th he issued a proclamation: Citizens of the twentieth arrondissement! if we succumb you know what fate is in store for you. To arms! Be vigilant, above all in the night. I ask you to execute our orders faithfully. Lend your support to the nineteenth arrondissement; help it to repulse the enemy. There lies your safety. Do not wait for Belleville itself to be attacked. Forward then. Vive la République!
But very few read or obeyed. The shells from Montmartre, which from the day before crushed BelIville and Ménilmontant, the cries, the sight of the wounded, dragging themselves from house to house in search of succour, the too evident signs of the approaching end, precipitated the ordinary phenomena of defeat. The people became fierce and suspicious. Any individual without a uniform ran the risk of being shot if he had not a well-known name to recommend him. The news that came from all points of Paris augmented the anguish and despair. It was known that the soldiers gave no quarter; that they despatched the wounded, killing even doctors;  that every individual taken in a National Guards uniform, shod with regulation boots, or whose clothes showed traces of stripes recently unstitched, was shot in the street or in the yard of his house; that the combatants who surrendered, under the promise of having their lives spared, were massacred; that thousands of men, women, children, and aged people were taken to Versailles bareheaded, and often killed on the way; that it sufficed to be related to a combatant, or to offer him a refuge in order to share his fate; the numberless executions of so-called petroleuses were recounted.
About six o'clock forty-eight gendarmes, ecclesiastics, and civilians marched up the Rue Haxo between a detachment of Federals. At first they were supposed to be prisoners recently taken, and marched on in the midst of perfect silence. But the rumour spread that they were the hostages of La Roquette, and that they were being led to death. The crowd grew larger, followed, harangued, but did not strike them. At half-past six the cortege reached the Cité Vincennes; the gates closed upon them, and the crowd dispersed in the neighbouring grounds.
The escort tumultuously pushed the hostages against a kind of trench at the foot of a wall. The chassepôts were being levelled, when a member of the Council said, What are you doing? There is a powder-magazine here; you will blow us up. He thus hoped to delay the execution. Others, quite distracted, went from group to group, attempting to discuss, to appease the wrath. They were repulsed, menaced, and their notoriety hardly sufficed to save them from death.
The chassepôts went off on all sides; by degrees the hostages fell. outside the crowd applauded. And yet for two days the soldiers taken prisoners passed through Belleville without exciting a murmur; but these gendarmes, these spies, these priests, who for fully twenty years had trampled upon Paris, represented the Empire, the bourgeoisie, the massacres under their most hateful forms.
The same morning Jecker, the accomplice of Morny, had been shot. The Council had not known how to punish him; the justice of the people alighted upon him. A platoon of four Federals went to fetch him at La Roquette. He appeared to resign himself quietly, and even chatted on the way. You are mistaken, said he, if you think I did a good piece of business. Those people cheated me. He was executed in the open grounds adjoining the Père la Chaise from the side of Charonne.
During this day the troops did not execute any great movements. The corps Douay and Clinchant were stationed on the Boulevard Richard-Lenoir. The double barricade in the rear of Bataclan stopped the invasion of the Boulevard Voltaire; a Versaillese general was killed in the Rue St. Sébastian; the Place du Trone still held out by means of the Philippe-Auguste barricade. The Rotonde and docks of La Villette also prolonged their resistance. Towards the close of the day the conflagration spread to the part of the docks nearest the mairie.
In the evening, the army hedged in the defence between the fortifications and a curved line which from the slaughter-houses of La Villette extended to the gate of Vincennes, passing by the St. Martin Canal , the Boulevard Richard-Lenoir, and the Rue du Faubourg St. Antoine-Ladmirault and Vinoy occupying the two extremities, Douay and Clinchant the centre.
The night of the Friday to Saturday was sombre and feverish in Ménilmontant and Belleville, ravaged by the shells. At the turning of each street the sentinels demanded the watchword (Bouchotte-Belleville), and often even that did not suffice, and one had to prove being sent upon an errand. Every leader of a barricade claimed the right to stop your passage. The remainder of the battalions continued arriving in disorder, and encumbered all the houses. The majority, finding no shelter, rested in the open air amidst the shells, always saluted with cries of Vive la Commune!
In the Grande Rue de Belleville some National Guards carried coffins on their crossed muskets, men preceding them with torches, the drums beating. These combatants, who amidst the shells silently interred their comrades, appeared in touching grandeur. They were themselves at the gates of death.
In the night the barricades of the Rue d'Allemagne were abandoned. A thousand men at the utmost had for two days kept in check Ladmiraults 25,000 soldiers. Almost all these brave men were sedentary guards and children.
The humid glimmer of the Saturday morning discovered a sinister prospect. The fog was dense and penetrating, the soil steeped in moisture. Clouds of white smoke rose slowly above the rain, it was the firing. The Federals shivered under their drenched cloaks.
Since daybreak barricades of the strategic route, the gates of Montreuil and Bagnolet, were occupied by the troops, who without resistance invaded Charonne. At seven o'clock they established themselves in the Place du Trône, whose defences had been abandoned. At the entrance of the Boulevard Voltaire the Versaillese erected a battery of six pieces against the mairie of the eleventh arrondissement. Henceforth certain of victory, the officers wanted to triumph noisily. This barricade against which they fired during the whole day of the 27th, had but two pieces of the most irregular projection. Many a Versaillese shell strayed to the legs of the statue of Voltaire, who, with his sardonic smile, seemed to remind his bourgeois descendants of the beau tapage he had promised them.
At La Villette the soldiers deviated from the line on all sides, passed by the fortifications and attacked the Rues Puebla and De Crimée. Their left, still engaged in the upper part of the tenth arrondissement, endeavoured to gain possession of all its streets leading to the Boulevard de la Villette. Their batteries of the Rue de Flandre, of the ramparts and the Rotonde united their fire to that of Montmartre, and overwhelmed the Buttes Chaumont with shells. The barricade of the Rue Puebla yielded towards ten o'clock. A sailor who had remained alone, hidden behind the paving-stones, awaited the Versaillese, discharged his revolver at them, and then, hatchet in hand, dashed into the midst of their ranks. The enemy deployed in all the adjacent streets up to the Rue Ménadier, steadily held by our tirailleurs. At the Place des Fêtes two of our pieces covered the Rue de Crimée and protected our right flank.
At eleven o'clock nine or ten members of the Council met in the Rue Haxo. One of them, Jules Allix, whom his colleagues had been obliged to shut up as mad during the Commune, came up radiant. According to him, all was for the best; the quarters of the centre were dismantled; they had only to descend thither. Others thought that by surrendering themselves to the Prussians, who would deliver them up to Versailles, they might put an end to the massacres. One or two members demonstrated the absurdity of this hope, and that besides the Federals would allow no one to leave Paris. They were not listened to. A solemn note was being drawn up, when Ranvier, who wandered about in all corners picking up men one by one for the defence of the Buttes Chaumont, broke in upon their deliberations, exclaiming, Why do you not go and fight instead of discussing! They dispersed in different directions, and this was the last meeting of these men of everlasting deliberations.
At this moment the Versaillese occupied Bastion 16. At mid-day the rumour spread that the troops were issuing by the Rue de Paris and the ramparts. A crowd of men and women, driven from their houses by the shells, beset the gate of Romainville, asking with loud cries to be allowed to flee into the neighbouring fields. At one o'clock the drawbridge was lowered in order to give passage to the fugitives. The crowd dashed out and dispersed in the houses of the Village des Lilas. As some women and children attempted to push on further and to cross the barricade thrown up in the middle of the road, the sergeant of gendarmerie of Romainville threw himself upon them, crying to the Prussians, Fire! come, fire on this canaille! A Prussian soldier fired, wounding a woman.
Meanwhile the drawbridge had been raised. About four o'clock Colonel Parent, on horseback, and preceded by a trumpet, dared on his own authority to go and ask the Prussian troops for permission to pass. Useless degradation. The officer answered that he had no orders, and that he would refer to St. Denis.
The same day the member of the Council, Arnold, who still believed in an American intervention, went to take a letter for Mr. Washburne to the German outposts. He was conducted from one officer to another, received rather rudely, and sent back with the promise that his letter would be forwarded to the ambassador.
Near two o'clock several Versaillese battalions, having swept the strategic route, reached the Rue de Crimée by the Rue des Lilas and the open grounds of the fortifications, but were stopped in the Rue de Bellevue. From the Place du Marché three cannon joined their fire to that of the Place des Fêtes in order to protect the Buttes Chaumont. These pieces were the whole day served by only five artillerymen, their arms bare, without witnesses, needing neither a leader nor orders. At five o'clock the cannon of the Buttes were silent, having no more ammunition, and their gunners rejoined the skirmishers of the Rues Méandier, Fessart, and Des Annelets.
At five o'clock Ferré brought up to the Rue Haxo the line soldiers of the Prince Eugène Barracks, removed since Wednesday to the prison of La Petite Roquette, which had just been evacuated, as also the Grande Roquette. The crowd looked at them, not uttering a single threat, for they felt no hatred for the soldiers, who belonged, like themselves, to the people. They were quartered in Belleville church. Their arrival caused a fatal diversion. The people ran up to see them pass, and the Place des Fêtes was dismantled. The Versaillese came up, occupied it, and the last defenders of the Buttes fell back on the Faubourg du Temple and the Rue de Paris.
While our front was yielding we were attacked from the rear. Since four o'clock in the afternoon the Versaillese had been laying siege to the Père la Chaise, which enclosed no more than 200 Federals, resolute, but without discipline or foresight. The officers had been unable to make them embattle the walls. Five thousand Versaillese approached the enceinte from all sides, while the artillery of the bastion furrowed the interior. The pieces of the Commune had scarcely any ammunition since the afternoon. At six o'clock the Versailese, not daring, in spite of their numbers, to scale the enceinte, cannonaded the large gate of the cemetery, which soon gave way, notwithstanding the barricade propping it up. Then began a desperate struggle. Sheltered behind the tombs, the Federals disputed their refuge foot by foot; they closed in with the enemy in frightful hand-to-hand scuffles; in the vaults they fought with side-arms. Foes rolled and died in the same grave. The darkness that set in early did not end the despair.
On the Saturday evening there only remained to the Federals part of the eleventh and twentieth arrondissements. The Versaillese camped in the Place des Fêtes, Rue Fessart, Rue Pradier up to Rue Rebeval, where, as on the boulevard, they were detained. The quadrilateral comprised between the Rue de Faubourg du Temple, the Rue Folie Méricourt, the Rue de la Roquette and the exterior boulevard was in part occupied by the Federals. Douay and Clinchant awaited on the Boulevard Richard-Lenoir the moment when Vinoy and Ladmirault would have carried the heights, and thus forced the Federals against the guns.
What a night for the few combatants of the last hours! It rained in torrents. The conflagration of La Villette lit up this gloom with its blinding glare. The shells continued to pound Belleville; they even reached as far as Bagnolet and wounded some Prussian soldiers.
The wounded arrived in large numbers at the mairie of the twentieth arrondissement. There were neither doctors, nor medicines, nor mattresses, nor blankets, and the unhappy people expired without succour. Some spies, surprised in the dress of National Guards, were there and then shot in the court. The Vengeurs de Flourens arrived, headed by their captain, a fine, handsome young fellow, reeling in his saddle. The cantinière, delirious, a handkerchief tied round her bleeding brow, swore, called the men together with the cry of a wounded lioness. From between the convulsive hands the guns went off at random. The noise of the wagons, the threats, the lamentations, the fusillades, the whizzing of the shells, mingled in a maddening tumult, and who in those frightful hours did not feel his reason giving way? Every moment brought with it a new disaster. One guard rushed up and said, The Pradier barricade is abandoned! another, We want men in the Rue Rebeval, a third, They are fleeing in the Rue des Près. To hear these deathknells there were but a few members of the Council present, among whom were Trinquet, Ferré, Varlin and Ranvier. Desperate of their powerlessness, broken down by these eight days, without sleep and without hope, the strongest were lost in grief.
From four o'clock Vinoy and Ladmirault launched their troops along the ramparts on the defenceless strategic route, and soon effected a junction at the Romainville gate. Towards five o'clock the troops occupied the barricade of the Rue Rebeval in the Boulevard de la Villette, and by the Rue Vincent and the Passage du Renard attacked the barricades of the Rue de Paris from behind. The mairie of the twentieth arrondissement was not taken till eight o'clock. The barricade of the Rue de Paris at the corner of the boulevard was defended by the commander of the 191st and five or six guards, who held out till their ammunition was exhausted.
A column set out from the Boulevard Philippe-Auguste, penetrated into the Roquette towards nine o'clock, and released the hostages who were there. Masters of the Père la Chaise from the day before, the Versaillese might at least from nine o'clock in the evening have penetrated into the abandoned prison. This delay of twelve hours sufficiently shows their contempt for the lives of the hostages. Four of the latter — among whom was the Bishop Surat who had made their escape in the afternoon of Saturday, had been retaken at the neighbouring barricades and shot before the Petite Roquette.
At nine o'clock the resistance was reduced to the small square formed by the Rues du Faubourg du Temple, Des Trois Bornes, Des Trois Couronnes, and the Boulevard de Belleville. Two or three streets of the twentieth arrondissement still struggled ion, among others the Rue Ramponeau. A small phalanx of fifty men, led by Varlin, Ferré, and Gambon, their red scarfs round their waists, their chassepôts slung across their shoulders, marched down the Rue des Champs, and from the twentieth arrondissement came out on the boulevard. A gigantic Garibaldian carried an immense red flag in front of them. They entered the eleventh arrondissement. Varlin and his colleagues were going to defend the barricade of the Rue du Faubourg du Temple and of the Rue Fontaine au Roi. From the front it was inaccessible; the Versaillese, masters of the St. Louis Hospital, succeeded in turning it by the Rues St. Maur and Bichat.
At ten o'clock the Federals had almost no cannon left, and twothirds of the army hemmed them in. What mattered it? In the Rue du Faubourg du Temple, Rue Oberkampf, Rue St. Maur, Rue Parmentier, they still wanted to fight. There were barricades not to be overturned and houses without exits. The Versaillese artillery shelled them till the Federals had used up their ammunition. Their last cartridge spent, overwhelmed by shells, they threw themselves upon the muskets bristling around them.
By degrees the firing was lulled, all was silent. About ten o'clock the last Federal cannon was discharged in the Rue du Paris, which the Versaillese had taken. The piece, charged with double shot, with a terrible crash exhaled the last sigh of the Paris Commune.
The last barricade of the May days was in the Rue Ramponeau. For a quarter of an hour a single Federal defended it. Thrice he broke the staff of the Versaillese flag hoisted on the barricade of the Rue de Paris. As a reward for his courage, this last soldier of the Commune succeeded in escaping.
At eleven o'clock all was over. The Place de la Concorde had held out two days, the Butte aux Cailles two, La Villette three, the Boulevard Voltaire two days and a half. Of the seventy-nine members of the Council filling functions on the 21st of May, one, Delescluze, had died on the barricades; two, J. Durand and R. Rigault, had been shot; two, Brunel and Vermorel (who died some days after at Versailles),100 were severely wounded; three, Oudet, Protot, Frankel, slightly. The Versaillese had lost few men. We had 3,000 killed or wounded. The losses of the army in June, 1848, and the resistance of the insurgents had been relatively more serious. But the insurgents of June had only to face 30,000 men; those of May combated against 130,000 soldiers. The struggle of June lasted only three days; that of the Federals eight weeks. On the eve of June the revolutionary army was intact; on the 21st May it was decimated. The most valiant defenders had fallen at the advance posts. What might not these 15,000 men, uselessly sacrificed outside the town, have done within Paris? What might not the brave men of Neuilly, Asnières, Issy, Vanves, Cachan, have done at the Panthéon and Montmartre?
The occupation of the fort of Vincennes took place on Monday the 29th. This fort, disarmed in conformity with the stipulations of the treaty of peace, had been unable to take any part in the strife. Its garrison consisted of 350 men and twenty-four officers, commanded by the chef-de-légion Faltot, a veteran of the wars of Poland and of Garibaldi, one of the most active men on the 18th March. He was offered a perfectly secure asylum, but answered that honour forbade his deserting his companions in arms.
On the Saturday a Versaillese staff colonel came to negotiate a capitulation. Faltot demanded free passes, not for himself, but for some of his officers of foreign nationality, and on the refusal of the Versaillese, Faltot committed the fault of applying to the Germans. But MacMahon, foreseeing a siege, had solicited the assistance of the Prince of Saxony, and the German was on the lookout on behalf of his brother officer . During the negotiations General Vinoy had managed to hold communication with the place, where a few disreputable individuals offered to reduce the intractable Federals. Among the latter was Merlet, garde-général of engineering and artillery, ex-noncommissioned officer, able, energetic, and quite resolved to blow up the place rather than surrender it. The powder-magazine contained 1,000 kilogrammes of powder and 400,000 cartridges.
On Sunday, at eight o'clock in the morning, a shot sounded in Merlets chamber. His room was entered, and he was found lying on the ground, his head pierced by the ball of a revolver. The disorder of the room attested a struggle; and a captain of the 99th, released later on by the Versaillese, B — , admitted that he had dispersed the elements of the electric battery by means of which Merlet intended to spring the fort.
On Monday towards mid-day the Versaillese colonel renewed the proposal for a surrender. For twenty-four hours the struggle had been over in Paris. The officers deliberated; it was agreed that the gates should be opened, and at three o'clock the Versaillese entered. The garrison, having laid down their arms, had drawn up at the end of the court. Nine officers were incarcerated apart.
In the night, in the ditches, a hundred yards from the spot where the Duke of Enghien had fallen, these nine officers formed a line before a firing party. One of them, Colonel Delorme, turned to the Versaillese in command with the words, Feel my pulse; see if I am afraid.