Page:Haiti- Her History and Her Detractors.djvu/129

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113
Christophe Sets Fire to Cap-Français.

camp sent by Leclerc, nor the entreaties of the municipality, represented by César Télémaque, a black man, who begged him to spare to Cap-Français the horrors of a battle, succeeded in moving Christophe, who remained firm in his resolution not to allow the landing of the French army before receiving instructions from Toussaint Louverture, his official superior. It was only on the 3d he consented to authorize a deputation to go and ask Leclerc for a sufficient delay to enable him to communicate with Toussaint. On Leclerc's refusal to grant the request, Christophe made his final preparations for the inevitable struggle; on the 4th he instructed the soldiers to compel the inhabitants to leave the town. At that very moment Rochambeau was taking possession of Fort Liberté, which was able to show but little resistance. All the native soldiers who fell into the hands of the French General were put to death. The struggle began thus with an act of savagery which could not fail to provoke reprisals.

On the night of February 4 Christophe heard of what had occurred at Fort Liberté. He immediately gave orders to set fire to Cap-Français, which he was unable to defend against the superior forces of the French. Setting the example, he himself applied a torch to his richly furnished house. Early in the morning of the 5th Christophe abandoned the town and withdrew to Haut-du-Cap. Leclerc was then able to land; he found the town in ashes. General Hardy, whose troops had been disembarked at L'Acul-du-Limbé, stormed, on his way to Cap-Français, a fortification located at Rivière Salée. Following Rochambeau's example he put to death the unfortunate native soldiers taken prisoners, and who, in resisting, had but obeyed orders from their superiors. Decidedly, the French were bent on waging a war of extermination.

General Boudet occupied Port-au-Prince on February 5. On that day Toussaint, who, on receiving the news of the arrival of the French fleet, had left Santo Domingo in great haste, arrived at Grand Boucan, whence he witnessed the burning of Cap-Français. He