Page:Haiti- Her History and Her Detractors.djvu/144

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Haiti: Her History and Her Detractors

secured peace. The apparent devotion of the native officers tended to increase his illusions. As a matter of fact the situation was very critical. Yellow fever had made its appearance. The disease was mowing down officers and soldiers indiscriminately. Generals Debelle and Hardy were among the first to succumb to its effects ; the hospitals were filled to overflowing.

At Plaisance a black man, Sylla, who had never been subdued, was enlisting new followers. In the West Lamour Dérance, who through fetichism knew how to rouse his companions, was threatening Léogane and even Petit-Goave. In the South there were disturbances at Baradères, Saint-Louis, and Torbeck.

Leclerc had no sooner left Tortuga to return to Cap-Français than the blacks rebelled and set fire to the plantations. All these uprisings, though isolated and without cohesion, were nevertheless evidences that great discontent existed among the natives; this unrest was the prologue of the great drama which was in preparation. Insurrection was smouldering in all hearts. For the success of the audacious step which had been planned it was above all necessary to secure an authorized leader and to bring under control the unmanageable energy of the various bands of insurgents who were fighting on their own account: this in itself was a difficult task at a time when the bravery and the jealous independence of all were so quick at resenting the slightest restraint. The leader of the future war of independence was already determined on it was Dessalines, whose heroic defence of the Crête-a-Pierrot, his military rank, and his unquestionable courage designated him for the first place. All that remained was to induce the chiefs of the different insurgent bands to recognize his authority. To attain this end, two men, Pétion and Geffrard, devoted their energy and tact.

However, Charles Belair took upon himself to play the part of liberator. In August, 1802, incited by his wife, the stern and fearless Sannite, he took up arms in the mountains of Verrettes, styling himself "Com-