Page:Haiti- Her History and Her Detractors.djvu/132

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Haiti: Her History and Her Detractors.

martinière[1] as his first assistant, occupied the fort, which the French troops under the command of General Debelle tried to storm on the night of March 4, 1802. They were repelled and the French General was severely wounded. In order to avenge this defeat Leclerc, assisted by General Dugua, Boudet, and Pamphile de Lacroix, marched against the fort. But Dessalines had had time to arrive and to assume the command of La Crête-à-Pierrot. On the morning of March 11, 1802, an attack was made on the fortress by some of the best soldiers of France. Torch in hand, Dessalines threatened to blow up the powder rooms and to bury the whole garrison under the ruins of the fort should his officers and soldiers show the slightest hesitation in the performance of their duty. The fight was stubborn and desperate. The hitherto invincible regiments of France were compelled to fall back before the courage and valor of their black opponents. Generals Boudet, Dugua, and Leclerc were wounded during the attack, which ended in the retreat of the French. The latter being unable to storm the stronghold, decided to lay siege to it. Before the investment could be completed Dessalines succeeded in leaving the fort under Magny's command with the intention of mustering sufficient forces to go to the relief of the besieged. Surrounded on all sides, perpetually under fire, and suffering from the pangs of hunger and thirst, the native soldiers entertained no thought of surrendering; knowing the impossibility of longer keeping up the defense of the fort entrusted to them, they made up their minds to fight their way through the hostile army. At the dead of night on March 24 they abandoned La Crête-à-Pierrot, and, falling on the left of Rochambeau's division, they made their way by a bayonet charge through the lines of the besieging troops. "The retreat" says General Pamphile de Lacroix, "which the Commandant

  1. Lamartinière died at the end of the year 1802 whilst fighting on behalf of France. Despatched to subdue a band of rebels, he fell, in the mountains of l'Arcahaie, in the power of one Jean Charles Courjolles, who beheaded him.