**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Boy Commander Of The Camisards
by [?]

When Louis XIV. was King of France, that country was generally Catholic, as it is still, but in the rugged mountain region called the Cevennes more than half the people were Protestants. At first the king consented that these Protestant people, who were well behaved both in peace and in war, should live in quiet, and worship as they pleased; but in those days men were not tolerant in matters of religion, as they are now, and so after a while King Louis made up his mind that he would compel all his people to believe alike. The Protestants of the Cevennes were required to give up their religion and to become Catholics. When they refused, soldiers were sent to compel them, and great cruelties were practised upon them. Many of them were killed, many put in prison, and many sent to work in the galleys.

When this persecution had lasted for nearly thirty years, a body of young men who were gathered together in the High Cevennes resolved to defend themselves by force. They secured arms, and although their numbers were very small, they met and fought the troops.

Among these young men was one, a mere boy, named Jean Cavalier. His home was in the Lower Cevennes, but he had fled to the highlands for safety. This boy, without knowing it, had military genius of a very high order, and when it became evident that he and his comrades could not long hold out against the large bodies of regular troops sent against them, he suggested a plan which in the end proved to be so good that for years the poor peasants were able to maintain war against all the armies that King Louis could send against them, although he sent many of his finest generals and as many as sixty thousand men to subdue them.

Cavalier’s plan was to collect more men, divide, and make uprisings in several places at once, so that the king’s officers could not tell in which way to turn. As he and his comrades knew the country well, and had friends to tell them of the enemy’s movements, they could nearly always know when it was safe to attack, and when they must hide in the woods.

Cavalier took thirty men and went into one part of the country, while Captain La Porte, with a like number, went to another, and Captain St. John to still another. They kept each other informed of all movements, and whenever one was pressed by the enemy, the others would begin burning churches or attacking small garrisons. The enemy would thus be compelled to abandon the pursuit of one party in order to go after the others, and it soon became evident that under Cavalier’s lead the peasants were too wily and too strong for the soldiers. Sometimes Cavalier would fairly beat detachments of his foes, and give them chase, killing all whom he caught; for in that war both sides did this, even killing their prisoners without mercy. At other times Cavalier was worsted in fight, and when that was the case he fled to the woods, collected more men, and waited for another chance.

Without trying to write an orderly history of the war, for which there is not space enough here, I shall now tell some stories of Cavalier’s adventures, drawing the information chiefly from a book which he himself wrote years afterwards, when he was a celebrated man and a general in the British army.

One Sunday Cavalier, who was a preacher as well as a soldier, held services in his camp in the woods, and all the Protestant peasants in the neighborhood attended. The Governor of Alais, whose name was De la Hay, thought this a good opportunity not only to defeat Cavalier’s small force, but also to catch the Protestant women and children in the act of attending a Protestant service, the punishment for which was death. He collected a force of about six hundred men, cavalry and infantry, and marched towards the wood, where he knew he should outnumber the peasants three or four to one. He had a mule loaded with ropes, declaring that he was going to hang all the rebels at once.