French Revolution 1793

“All the brigands....are finally exterminated.”

Source: Copie de la lettre écrite... Saumur, l’imprimerie de Jean-Michel Degouy, n.d. [1793];
Translated: for by Mitchell Abidor.

Translator’s note: Jean-Baptiste Carrier (1756-1794) was one of the most controversial figures of the Revolution. Sent to Nantes in August 1793 by the National Convention, of which he was a member, to put down the royalist revolt in the region, he did so brutally. Rebels were guillotined, shot by firing squads, killed in prisons, and, most notoriously, drowned en masse in the Loire River. Between December 1793 and February 1794 Carrier had 2600 counter-revolutionaries killed. Marie Pierre Adrien Francastel, the recipient of this letter, was a member of the Committee of Public Safety who Carrier was to accuse of “moderantisme.”

A participant in Robespierre’s fall on 9 Thermidor, a few months later Carrier was himself to be tried for his acts in the west and guillotined in December 1794)

Letter written by the representative of the people Carrier, with the army of the West, to his colleague Francastel; dated 4 Nivos [sic], year two of the French republic one and indivisible and the first of the death of the tyrant.

Dear Colleague:

All the brigands on the right bank of the Loire, who formed the greater part of the nucleus, are finally exterminated. There no longer exists a Catholic and royalist army in this part of the republic. We attacked them on the second and the third and carried out such a slaughter that we no longer hear speak of them. Only a few of them escaped, and we will easily destroy them by flushing them out of the woods. The two combats took place in Savenay.

We took all their cannons, caissons, and carriages, and pushing them as far as the Vilaine, whose bridges I had had removed and docks destroyed, we killed 6,000 of them, the totality of their fugitive band.

On the left bank of the Loire we defeated Charette at Herbiées. We killed 300-400 of his brigands. He fled into the woods in disorder with about 900 brigands.

Nantes is illuminated. The cries of “Long Live the Republic!’ and “Long Live the Mountain!” resound on every street. Joy is universal and inexpressible.

Yes, may our dear Republic live! Its triumph is assured.

Greetings and Fraternity,