Page:Memoirs of Vidocq, Volume 1.djvu/55

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given tokens of an intention to proceed to Poperingue, and the 2d battalion of the Pas-de-Calais was placed in the first rank. The night after our arrival the enemy surprised our outposts, and penetrated to the village of Belle, which we occupied, and we formed in battle array in the greatest haste. In this nocturnal manœuvre our young recruits evinced that intelligence and alacrity which are only to be found in Frenchmen. About six o'clock in the morning, a squadron of Wurmser hussars debouched on our left, and charged us without being able to break through our ranks. A column of infantry which followed them, attacked us at the same time with the bayonet; and it was only after a brisk encounter that our inferiority of numbers compelled us to fall back upon Stinward, our head-quarters.

On arriving there I received the congratulations of general Vandomme, and a billet for the hospital of St Omer, for I had had two sabre cuts in fighting with an Austrian hussar, who was killed whilst crying "Ergib dich! ergib dich! (surrender, surrender.)"

My wounds were not very severe, since at the end of two months I was enabled to rejoin the battalion which was at Hazebrouek. I then saw the strange corps called the Revolutionary Army.

The men with pikes and red caps, who composed it, took with them everywhere the guillotine. The convention had not, they said, found any better way of securing the fidelity of the officers of the fourteen armies which it had on foot, than by placing before their eyes the instrument of punishment reserved for traitors. All that I can say is, that this mournful sight almost killed with fear the inhabitants of the country through which it passed. It did not much flatter the military, and we had many quarrels with the Sans-culottes, who were called the body guard of the guillotine. I beat one of the party, who took upon himself to censure my gold epaulettes, when the regulation only ordered those of worsted. My fine array would have