Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed]

The young American, Francis luger, assisting La Fayette to escape from the Austrian Police,

THE HEROIC ADVENTURE

FRANCIS HU GER,

A YOUNG MAN OF SOUTH CAROLINA, AND." OF HIS COMPANION, DR. BOLLMAN, IN THEID

ATTEMPTED RESCUE OF GENERAL LA FAYETTE, FROM AN

AUSTRIAN PRISON AT OLMUTZ.

DURING the frenzy of the French Revolution, nearly every citizen, eminent for worth or public services, became; in tarn, the object of suspicion and denunciation to the violent men, who for a time controlled the destinies of France. La Fayette, whose devotion to the cause of liberty had been proved by his services and sacrifices in aid of the revolted American Colonies, did not escape the common fate of the patriotic and the good in that dark day of distrust and terror.

He was denounced in the National Assembly, and Danton and Brissot had the extreme satisfaction of procuring a decree of accusation to be passed against him in that body. New commissioners were appointed and dispatched to apprehend him, his property was confiscated, a price was set on his head, and all citizens were charged to assist in apprehending him, and were authorized to kill him wherever he should be found. Finding that no reliance could be placed on his army for protection, but that defection and desertion, through the influence of the Jacobin terror; were increasing.; and seeing, under such circumstances, no prospect of benefiting his country, La Fayette decided on flight as the only means of saving his life.

With this intention, he invited three of his friends, Generals Latour engineers, to come to his tent at midnight on the 19th of August. It was

the 101, the commandant of decided that they would leave an ungrateful country, governed by a faction, which sought for their blood, and that they would cross Brabant and reach Holland, from whence they could embark for the United States of America.

Early the next day, La Fayette, accompanied by his three friends, who had been members of the National Assembly with him, and who alone were in the secret, together with their. aids-de-camp, and a part of their staff, set off on horseback as if to reconnoiter. Having arrived at an inn, two or three leagues from the camp, they dismounted and entered the house, placing sentinels at the door to prevent a surprise from the enemy's patrols. General La Fayette then confided to these officers, twenty-three in number, the state of the country; the feelings of the army; the before unknown facts, that the Jacobin society, and the municipality of Paris, had devoted him to proscription, that the corporation of the same city had caused the dies of the medal, which was to have been struck to his honor, to be broken by the hands of the common executioner, and that he was declared to be an enemy to his country, and a price was set upon his head. He finished, by informing them of his determination to quit the country for a time, and that he should consider as his enemy any man who should propose to march against her.

Notwithstanding this injunction, these young soldiers unanimously declared, that there was but one way left, to save their country and their general, which was to march directly to Paris, and disperse the Jacobin faction at once. But the general soon convinced them that such a step ought not to be thought of, and as none of them had been proscribed except himself, he thought that all had better return peaceably and immediately to the camp, lest their absence should excite suspicion.

Notwithstanding all his rëmonstrances to the contrary, several of them determined to leave France, and share the fate of their general, whatever it might bé. These young men were the two Maubourgs, Bureau de Puzy, Lameth, Masson, Rene, Pillet, and Cardingan. His faithful valet, Pontennier, and Augustuş. one of his servants; who afterward voluntarily shared all his imprisonments from Luxembourg to Olmutz, asked the liberty to follow their master. The rest were persuaded to return, and take with them La Fayette's escort, consisting of one hundred and fifty cavalry.

La Fayette then set out with his seven companions, harassed with the most trying reflections upon his own situation, that of his family and country, and upon the danger which threatened him. After a rapid and uninterrupted journey, they arrived, toward vight, in the neighborhood of an advanced guard of the Austrian army. Here they halted, and deliberamed upon the steps to be taken. It was near éleven o'clock at night, none of them knew the road, and the darkness was such as to make it impossible to find it. In this state of embarrassment, rendered more.so from the fear that the French were in pursuit of them, they determined at all hazards to proceed, and, without discovering their names or rank, to demand permission of the Austrian commander to pass him, with the intention of taking refuge in Holland, at that time a neutral territory. This resolution being taken, Colonel de Puzy, the only individual of the party who spoke German, advanced toward the Austrian officer, who received him very politely. He informed him that he and his companions had deserted from the French army, finding themselves compelled to leave the country, in consequence of intrigue and faction, and that they desired a safe passage into Holland. The officer expressed his regret, that he was unable to give a decided answer, without first consulting his superior; but that, in the meantime, he and his friends were welcome to rest and take refreshments in his tent, as the night was stormy. De Puzy having returned and made his report, they set out for the Austrian headquarters, and finally were conducted to Luxenbourg

Immediately on their arrival at this fortress, they were recognized by a crowd of refugees, who, looking on La Fayette as one of the first promoters of the revolution, treated them with the utmost insolence and contempt. Among the most virulent of these enraged emigrants, was Prince de Lambes, who rendered himself notorious by his abuse of La Fayette.

As soon as the Governor of Luxembourg recognized La Fayette, he con.

manner.

fined each of the party in separate rooms, at the inn where they had stopped, and placed sentinels at their doors. They protested in vain against these proceedings and wrote to the Duke of Saxe Tschen, for the purpose of gainir.g their release, and obtaining passports. His refusal was accompanied with a savage and useless threat of a public. execution; and they remained in a state of close confinement, until the Governor of Luxembourg received orders from the Court of Vienna, to deliver them into the hands of the King of Prussia. They were transported in a common cart, like criminals, under a strong escort of cavalrý, during the nights from Luxembourg to Wesel, being confined in the common jails of the country whenever it was found necessary to stop. La Fayette’s valet, only was permitted to ride in the cart with his master. The Alistrian's sold their horses and arms, and retained the money. At Wesel, the populace were permitted to insult, them in the most savage

Here they were put in irons, placed i separate cells in the castle, deprived of all intercourse with each other and told tlaat the King intended to have thern hanged, as wretches whöridegërved, no favor. From Wesel, they were again transported in a cárt to Magdeburg; where they were confined a year, in a dark subterranean düngeon, kand during this time, all information from their families was denied them.

The King of Prussia now ordered La Fayette to be transported to Silesia ; Here they were confined until about the period when a peắce was settled be

accompany na tween France and Prussia, when they were delivered up to the Austrian government, and were conveyed to Olmutz.

Here they were informed, as they were iriçarcerated in separate cells, that they would never again see anything but the four walls of their prison house, that they would never again hear a hirmån voice; their very names were proscribed, and that in future they would be designated in dispatches to government by the numbers of their respective cells; and lest they should destroy themselves, knives, forks, and everything that could be used for that purpose, would be interdicted.

The three prisoners they abandoned to their miserable reflections, were immured in the dungeons of the ancient castle of the Jesuits

, the walls of which were twelve feet thick, and into which air is admitted through an opening two feet square, which is secured at each end by transverse massive iron bars. Immediately before these loopholes was a broad ditch, which was covered with water only when it rained, and at other times was a stagnant marsh, from which a poisonous effluvium was constantly exhaling; and beyond this, were the outer walls of the castle, which prevented the slightest breeze from passing to the captives. On these outer walls were, in the daytime, four, and at night eight, sentinels, with loaded' muskets, constantly watching the prisoners, and finden, on pain of one hundred lashes, to speak a word with them, and with orders to shoot them dead, if they attempted to escape. The cellar of this castle had a large saloon, two hundred feet long and twelve wide, in which was a guard, consisting of an officer and twenty-five men, and a corporal and four soldiers, who alternately kept guard before the door of the prisoners. These soldiers, while on duty, were forbidden either to speak, sing, or whistle.

[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »