First Battle of Châtillon

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First Battle of Châtillon
Part of the War in the Vendée
Date 5 July 1793
Location Châtillon
Result Vendéen victory
Belligerents
France First French Republic Kingdom of France Vendéens
Commanders and leaders
François-Joseph Westermann Henri de La Rochejaquelein
Jean-Nicolas Stofflet
Louis Marie de Lescure
Charles de Bonchamps
Gaspard de Marigny
Strength
6,500 men
8 cannons
25,000 men
Casualties and losses
2,000 killed
3,000 prisoners
(of which 2,000 wounded)

The First Battle of Châtillon took place on 5 July 1793 during a French Civil war known as the War in the Vendée, and saw the Vendéens forces defeat the Republican army.

Prelude[edit]

The general François-Joseph Westermann had managed to reach the heart of Vendée. Châtillon, the capital of the Vendéens, had been taken. Most of the Catholic and Royal Army had been pushed back during the Battle of Nantes, and the chief general Jacques Cathelineau was severely wounded. Nonetheless, the Vendéens had to react to the upcoming raid, Charles de Bonchamps, Nicolas Stofflet and Gaspard de Bernard de Marigny grouped their troops at Cholet. On the morning of 5 July, they joined Henri de La Rochejaquelein and Louis Marie de Lescure in front of Châtillon.

The battle[edit]

At 10 in the morning, the cannon of Marie-Jeanne gave the signal of the attack. After having approached silently, a first column of Vendéens led by Bonchamps, Lescure and La Rochejaquelein attacked the republicans on the Western plateau of Château-Gaillard. Taken by surprise and frightened by the shouts and the number of their enemies, the republicans fled and ran in disorder down the steep plateau. While pulling back to Châtillon, they fell on the second column of Vendéens, led by Stofflet and Marigny, and soon the battle spread into the town. The general Westerman didn't have time to organize his troops, he took his horse and joined the cavalry, fleeing towards Bressuire.

Some republican soldiers gave themselves up but the fires they had started pushed the Vendéens' will for vengeance and some were massacred. Some officers, like Marigny who killed a few prisoners with his own hands, even encouraged the massacres. Others like Lescure tried to stop them and approximately 1,000 prisoners were saved.

Consequences[edit]

Among the over 6,000 men, 2,000 republican soldiers were killed in combat or massacred, 3,000 others were made prisoners, and the entire artillery was lost. Only Westermann and 500 cavalry men had managed to escape, but they were attacked by Vendéens in their way home to Parthenay, where he only brought back 300 men.

The expedition of Westermann had started well but finished in disaster. Westermann was called to Paris by the National Convention, who sent him to Niort where he was trialed in front of the war counsel. He was acquitted, only barely escaping the guillotine.