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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17. 1793.
SINCE our last, almost every day has produced events more disastrous to
the ruling powers in France, than the former. Encouraged by the success of the combined armies in the Netherlands, the royalists have taken up arms in many parts in France; numberless skirmishes have taken place in various parts of the kingdom, some that might be called battles, between the patriots and royalists, (for such are the names assumed by the different contending parties,) without any decided advantage on either side, each party telling with exultation the numbers that have been put to death; but still the insurgents, as the royalists are called, seem to be increasing in numbers, and the National Convention are daily fatigued with applications from all quarters for additional supplies of troops to quell these insurgents. But the most formidable force of the royalists is at present in Brittany, where they have taken possession of all the strong posts; have got a train of artillery; and are said to be in arms to the amount of forty or fifty thousand. Great apprehensions are entertained lest they should be able to obtain possession of Brest, and by that means call in the assistance of Britian; for the popular cry is there, vivent les Anglois vive le Roy, vive l' aristocratic.
So much are the ruling powers in France afraid that the English may profit by these internal commotions, that they have put a stop for near a fortnight past to all direct communication with England, so that full eight days elapsed without the smallest intelligence from thence having been received in Britain; a communication, however, is now opened thither by means of the Dutch Netherlands, through which channel news will be transmitted as regularly as before, though a little more slowly; but circumstances have now occurred that render it probable the usual channel of conveyance by Dover and Calais will soon be opened.
Dumourier had, in our last chronicle, suffered a considerable defeat on the 18th last, near Tirlemont. The combined armies pursuing their victories, obtained another decisive victory on the 22d; and on the 23d the French army were once more worsted, though Dumourier still kept his forces together in retreating. Brufsels, Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges, Mons, and Ostend, successively fell into the hands of the Austrians; in all which places the French no sooner were gone than the inhabitants received the combined armies with the most extravagant emotions of joy as their deliverers. At Ostend, where the French had conveyed a great part of the plunder they had ob b
tained in Brabant, intending to transport it by sea to Dunkirk, their design was frustrated by admiral Macbride, who commands a squadron of small vefsels at the Nore, and who immediately on learning this intention, sent a few frigates to intercept these vessels; no sooner did they appear before the town, than the French in that place thought proper to retreat; and the inhabitants having entreated the commanding officer to send afhore some troops to enable them to defend the place against any chance stragglers who might return for the purpose of pillage, a small number of marines were sent on fhore, and the British flag was hoisted on the walls, where it continued till a detachment of the Austrian army came up to relieve them.
Breda and Gertrudenburgh, though now entirely cut off from having any communication with the French armies, were still defended by the French garrisons in these places, until March 26. when having received orders from Dumourier to make the best terms of capitulation they could, both these places were delivered up to the Dutch by capitulation upon honourable terms; the troops being allowed to march out with the honours of war, and to be safely escorted by the Dutch till they reached the French territories. Some demurrage took place about the Brabant corps which had joined them, the Dutch general at first insisting that they should not be included in the capitulation; but at length he wisely agreed that they fhould.
Defeat of Custine.
During this time, Custine having afsembled all the forces he could, attempted to make a diversion on that side, and did push forward a little towards Hefse Cafsel, having compelled an advanced party of Prussians to retire with lofs. But on the 1st of April he was attacked in force by the king of Prussia near Bingen, and obliged to retreat with considerable lofs. General Newingin, with fifty officers and 2000 men were taken prisoners. The Prufsians have taken fifteen cannon, two standards, and a military chest containing 44,000 livres. The enemy have evacuated Worm and Opennheim, and have retired towards Landau. The Prussian army is at present employed in blockading Mentz.
Dumourier ever since his retreat from Brabant, has been evidently much difsatisfied with the conduct of the ruling powers in France, and in particular he disrelished the conduct of the Commifsioners, whom he treated with very little ceremony. After his defeat on the 18th of March he wrote the following letter to the minister at war.
Tirlemont, March 19.
"It is with much grief that I give you an account of the fatal check which I have received. You will have seen by my letters of yesterday, that my presumptions in that respect were too well justified. On intelligence which I received of the danger of Namur, and of the approach of a body of nearly 10,000 men, who were directing their march towards Brufsels and Louvain,
I thought I could not save the public cause, but by disposting the enemy from their camp of Neervinden. I formed the plan of an attack on the left wing of the enemy; the centre division attacked towards Neervinden; and the left wing of our army, commanded by Miranda and Champmorin, attacked towards the village of The right and the centre had some succefs, though the infantry fell back twice, and were driven from the village of Neervinden; the attack on the left was unsuccessful. The retreat was made with confusion, even beyond Tirlemont, and perhaps much farther. Marthal Mielen, the Commandant of the artillery, was killed, and two general officers were wounded in this retreat, or rather flight. We have lost a number of men, and a great many cannon, three of which were twelve pounders. I was ignorant of this defeat; and I was intending to make an attack next morning to complete the victory, when being uneasy that I re ceived no accounts of Miranda, and hearing it whispered that he had retreated, I quitted the victorious part of the army on the approach of night, to get intelligence of the left. I was astonished on proceeding to Tirlemont, that I had fallen in with no corps of the army; I gave orders to Miranda to resume his post on the heights of Sainte-Marguerite, to cover the retreat. I send you, Citizen Minister, a letter from General Valence, who has been wounded, and who has just set out for Brussels.
"I am going to resume the camp at Louvaine, to cover Brufsels and Malines. I cannot conceal from you that misfortune and disorganization are at their height. I dread the fatal effects of this retreat in a country the inhabitants of which we have incensed against us by plundering and want of discipline. I fhall do every thing in my power to save the army, which has fhewn much confidence in me. I refer myself to their opinion. I shall readily submit my conduct to the strictest examination, and I shall myself demand a court martial to try me for what I have done, happy if the sacrifice of my life can be useful to liberty. Whether I lose it in combating for my country, or in consequence of being tried by it, I fear neither the judgement of my fellow citizens, nor that of posterity.
"You may readily judge that our lofs has been considerable; it amounts at least to 2000 men, I must render justice to the bravest soldiers in the universe, but they want experienced officers. I propose that the present mode of electing them may be suppressed. This mode does not produce talents; it commands no confidence, and does not obtain subordination.
In another letter of the 28th, addressed to Bournonville, he gave an account of the retreat of the body of the army under command of generals Neuilly and Ferrand, who, by the desertion of great numbers of volunteers, were obliged to evacuate the city of Mons, during the night of the capitulation of General Marafse, military Commander of Anvers, who by that method, though not the most honourable, yet indispensably necessary, saved a body of 10,000 men. He added, that Colonels St Clair and Thouvenot were attacked without means of defence-that our military convoys were de ́tained at Bruges-that he has sent forces in order to liberate those convoysthat he has given orders to garrison St Omer, Cambrai, and all the places on the line from Dunkirk to Givet.
In these and other letters Dumourier describes the army as in a state of the greatest disorder, and not having provisions for more than ten days: He
says that the pretended succours of men from the departments of the north, consist only of old men and children, who, so far from being useful, serve only to increase the confusion and consume the provisions. He declares, that if order and discipline be not restored-that if "ty authorities, each more absurd than the other, continue to direct all political and military operations, France is lost; he declares, that he, with a small number of brave men, would bury themselves under the ruins of their country. He affirms that it is impossible for him to stop the progress of the enemy, who, without amusing themselves with sieges, may, with an army of 20,000 cavalry, lay waste and reduce to afhes all that part of the country which is in the neighbourhood of Paris. Dumourier concludes this melancholy representation of the state of affairs, with bestowing eulogiums on the clemency and moderation of the Austrians, which were entitled to the more praise, as from the example of cruelty and outrage which the French had exhibited, a very different conduct on their part might have been expected. I, (says he,) have always affirmed, and I repeat it, that a Republic can only be founded on virtue, and that freedom can be maintained only by order and wisdom.
These letters, conjoined with the news of succefsive defeats, and the retreat of the army, occasioned great discontents, and excited much distrust against Dumourier and his officers. An order was issued to bring General Miranda to answer at the bar of the National Convention. Which summons he immediately obeyed; but on the arrival of the Commifsioners from Belgium, they represented the conduct of Dumourier in such terms as set the whole Convention in a blaze.
CAMBACERES gave an account of the proceedings of the Commissioners of the Executive Power. Arrived at Valenciennes, they learned that General Dumourier was at Tournay. They repaired thither, and found him with Madame Sillery, with Pamela Egalite, and Valence. He was surrounded with deputations from the district of Cambrai. The interview was violent. Dumourier exprefsed himself in terms of invective against the Jacobins. They will ruin France, (said he,) but I will save it, though they fhould call me a Cæsar, a Cromwell, a Monk." The Commissioners carried the conversation no further. They departed, and returned next day, determined to dissemble, in order the better to discover the extent of his views. Encouraged by their overtures, Dumourier no longer kept any bounds. He said that the Convention were a herd of ruffians, whom he all equally held in abhorrence. That all the volunteers were poltroons; but all their efforts would be in vain. "As for the rest, (added he,) there still remains a party-the Jacobins have only to cover with their bodies the survivors of the royal family, and to dismiss the Convention. If the queen and her children are threatened, I will march to Paris; it is my fixed intention; and the Convention will not exist three weeks longer." He then details a great many questions and answers in which Dumourier is represented as speaking of the Convention in terms of the highest contempt, and treating the Commissioners with the most haughty insolence.
The Convention instantly took fire at this, and proposed that Dumourier fhould be put under arrest; but before that time he had arranged matters with some of his officers, and carried his army back into France, where
he soon received intimation from his friends of the plots laid to ruin him A decree ordering him to appear at the bar was carried against him in the Convention, and Bournonville, with five of its members, accompanied by a Secretary, were ordered to bring him a prisoner to Paris.
Of this he was informed before the Commifsioners reached his army, and took measures accordingly.
It was the opinion of his friends, that, even independently of the intelligence he had received, the Convention, as a body, had fhewn an imbecility and weakness on almost every occasion, that proved them altogether unqualified to legislate for France, which they had brought to the brink of destruction. It was agreed that means fhould be followed to impress the army with proper sentiments respecting the conduct of the Convention, in numerous instances, and particularly towards their General, who had shared every danger with them, whose valour they had all witnefsed, and whose good conduct alone had preserved them from entire destruction, and enabled them to make a good retreat from a country which had received them as friends and brothers, but which had become their enemy by the exactions levied by order of the Convention, and the constraints put upon their freedom, after the honour of the French nation had been pledged that they should be left at free liberty to choose their own form of government.
The army, by the readiness with which they agreed to support their General, fhewed, that before it was proposed they were almost to a man inclined to put an end to the tyranny of the Convention. Want of individual confidence alone had prevented them from proclaiming their sentiments to each other before.
The general voice was for restoring, with a few modifications, the constitution decreed by the first or constituent afsembly, viz. a limited monarchy.
It is even believed that some of the Commissioners themselves approved of the measure.
When the Commifsioners, on the 1st of April, reached the army, they were put under arrest, and sent next day with an escort to the Austrian army, as prisoners of war, and hostages for the safety of the royal family.
In the letter which Dumourier sent with them to General Clairfait, he calls the dauphin the young king, and offers some of the frontier towns as a security that he would perform the promise he had made, to overthrow the Convention, and restore a monarchical government.- -The following letter puts this transaction beyond a doubt.
Copy of a letter from his Excellency General Clairfait to M. Comte Starenberg, imperial minister at the Hague, dated Tournay, April 2.
"I lose not a moment in communicating to your Excellency what M. Dumourier has just written to me, when he sent to our camp eight or nine prisoners this morning, four of whom, with General Bournonville, he says, were specially commifsioned by the National Convention to arrest and con