Let's resume in a few lines the different phases of this History:
Once war has begun, we can distinguish two major phases:
(1) The War
from March to December 1793, two armies clashed, the army of the French republic, "the republicans", and an armed resistance: a local and rural insurrection covering the Mauges, the Vendée, the north of the two sèvres and the south Loire of the Loire-Atlantique, called the "Vendée" army. This first phase ends with the annihilation of the Vendée army at Savenay on December 25, 1793.
(2) The Genocide
from December 1793 to the end of 1794, planning, setting up and carrying out a system of systematic depopulation in the revolted territory.
The Vendée Genocide has been carried on in several forms:
1. The Extermination of the "Impure Race" by the Republican Army - The Republican Columns
On January 21, 1794, Turreau organizes six divisions divided into two columns each. These columns cross the Mauges, the North of the Deux-Sèvres, the Vendée and the south of the Loire Atlantique from East to West. Commissioned by Grignon, Huché, Du Four, Caffin, Amey, Charlery, Beaufranchet, Chalbos, Gramont, Cordelier, Commaire and Dalliac, the infernal columns have for mission to exterminate the "brigands" without voluntary distinction between armed brigands or simply inhabitants, women and children included. The Republican columns first cross the towns and massacre the inhabitants encountered, sometimes systematically or sporadically according to the head / general column. The local people understand that this war became an enterprise of extermination and consequently, from February 1794, the inhabitants take refuge in the forests and in the woods surrounding their communes. These refuges can be permanent (Forêt de Princé, Gralas, Vezins ...) or punctual during the passage of the columns. Understanding that towns are emptied, the columns evolve their tools of destruction by raking wider: The columns can extend over two kilometers wide to cover also the brooms, the woods, the villages / metairies, where could take refuge the "rebels". Once the country crossed from East to West, the columns continue their exactions until the end of 1794 and the communes undergo several passages of columns: Torfou (44), Tiffauges (85) 4 times? Saint-Aubin-du-Plain (79) 3 passages ... Only the communes of Clisson, Machecoul, Bressuire, Saint-Florent, Chalonnes, Argenton-the-People, Montaigu, Chantonnay, Fontenay-the-People, La Châtaigneraie, St. Vincent, St. Hermine, Chollet will be officially preserved from the ravages of the Republican army. However, even some of these communes suffered the exactions of the military: Clisson, Cholet March 11, 1794.
2. The Vendée Genocide in Nantes
The Vendée Genocide is translated in two ways in Nantes: through the drownings and the first extermination camps
L'Entrepôt de Bouffay/Warehouse of Bouffay is one of the Nantes Jail during the extermination.
According to Alain Gérard in "Vendée - the Extermination Archives - Feb. 2013", the Warehouse is "the first in date of the extermination camps".
600 to 700 children are imprisoned in Bouffay. 300 of these children come from the battlefield of Savenay between December 23rd and December 26th.
On 5-6 January 1794, the Military Commission of Nantes asked the Committee of General Security (Comité de sûreté générale) to decide the fate of these children. The committee is careful not to answer and no one dares to make the decision to release them or kill them. The children therefore remain in the warehouse, in appalling conditions, of human excrement. Those who have not succumbed to disease and hunger, have all drowned, probably works of Fouquet and Lamberty.
L'Entrepôt des cafés / Warehouse of coffees was located on the edge of the port of Nantes. After the battle of Savenay (December 23, 1793 - 3 Nivose year II), 8000 to 9000 men, women and children are locked up there. Drownings and shootings added to the cold, hunger and typhus empty the place in a few weeks. The record will be terrible: in February 1794, only a few of the thousands of people imprisoned at the warehouse will have escaped death.
Source : Alfred Lallié, Les prisons de Nantes, p. 53
The drownings of Nantes
The drownings are used to eliminate the "suspects" of the Republic ... "The drownings in Nantes are an episode of the Terror which took place between November 1793 and February 1794 in Nantes During this brief period, thousands of people, suspect in the eyes of the Republic (political prisoners, war, common law, churchmen ...) were drowned in the Loire by order of Jean-Baptiste Carrier, Representative in mission of the Comité of Public salut. Men, old men, women and children die in what Carrier calls the "national bathtub" "Text from Wikipedia
3. The Vendéen Genocide in Angers
At the beginning of January 1794, more than two thousand people, men and women of all ages, were waiting in the prisons of Angers, time to be driven to death. To get rid of these "eaters of God, those brigands who did not want to submit to the laws of the Republic one and indivisible" as quickly as possible, it was resolved to employ a great means: mass shooting. Desvallois, an exalted farmer and patriot, proposed one of his fields, in the park of the old monks of Grandmont, as place of execution. On the 12th, 15th, 18th, 20th, 21st, and 22nd of January, 1st and 10th of February, and on the 16th of April, the unfortunates destined for the fusillade were fastened in pairs, forming long chains which marched to the field of death. The weaker ones were thrown away like "dirty laundry packages" in requisitioned carts. The still-hot corpses were then stripped and buried in such haste that several victims would have been buried alive
4. The extermination of prisoners A witness to the massacres of 1794
A young fighter of twenty, named Vallée, almost died there. His testimony is edifying. General Legros had ordered the massacre. He had come early in the morning, at the head of the garrison in arms, and was followed by a cart loaded with ropes. Two by two, at the end of the church, fastened by another cordage which served as a chain, the prisoners were thrown then among the soldiers, and arranged in order in the square. More than a thousand poor victims, half of whom were women and children , formed this funeral cortege. In no hurry to add to it, I had retired into the choir, and thus found myself the last to leave the church. At that moment, the ropes were missing from the executioners; the drum beats the charge, and the whole column goes on the road to Marillais [Near Ancenis].
Arrived in front of the old church, at the edge of the Loire, in a meadow on the right which one names today the Pré (field) of the Martyrs, we let ourselves be placed like sheep that are led to the butchery. Pioneers dug near the hedge, in the highest part, a huge pit ... At the sight of this gaping pit, a sudden resolution crosses my mind; we were there twelve young men doomed to death, but free from our movements [...] A glance is exchanged between my comrades, and at the same time, by a sudden momentum, we all cross the pit, and take our race across the fields ... In the confusion, hundreds of shots are fired. Eight fugitives are shot, the rest succeeds in escaping. No other prisoner will have a chance.
Vendée People :
"an execrable race"
When you kill so many people, not for what they did, but for who they are, to protect you, to warn you of remorse, the best is to lock these victims into a group on the verge of humanity:
From the beginning of the conflict, the Vendée insurrection is "racialized" . By the authorities of the time, The Republic, at the highest level, the Vendeans are described as "rebellious race" (August 1, 1793 - Bertrand Barere de Vieuzac, Committee of Public Safety), of "execrable race" (December 31, 1793 - A. Minier, Journal of Paris), of "abominable race" (Francastel, deputy of the Eure), of "cursed race" (general Beaufort, January 30, 1794), "the race is bad" (Hentz deputy of the Moselle, Francastel, Garrau deputy of the Gironde, commissioned by the Committee of Public Safety) "race which must be annihilated" (May 26, 1794, Garnier de Saintes). General Commaire announces to the Ministry of War the dispatch of generals Boucret and Caffin to Cholet "to exterminate the rest of this impure race " (December 26, 1793). The Vendeans are no more than "animals with a human face" (Camille Desmoulins, MP).
It is by principle of humanity that we must purge the land of the freedom of these monsters [the Vendeans] (Carrier, French deputy).
The Genocidaires defined the Vendeans as a people, a race in their own right, and this race was to be exterminated to preserve the Republic. Despite the fact that the Vendée army was destroyed in Savenay on December 24, 1793, a massive and systematic extermination plan, the Vendéen Genocide, was set up by the Republic.
The convention votes measures against the "brigands" of the Vendée Militaire:
The Decree of March 19, 1793 which declares outlawed the insurgents, both royalists, Vendeans, counter-revolutionaries and republican-federalists
The decree of August 1st, 1793 relating to the measures to be taken against the rebels of Vendée or law of annihilation of the Vendée
Speech by Barere: "... We shall have peace the day that the interior will be peaceful, the rebels will be submissive, that the "brigants" will be exterminated.
The conquests and perfidy of foreign powers will be null the day that the department of the Vendée will have lost its infamous denomination and parricide and guilty population.
More Vendée, more royalty, more Vendée, more aristocracy, more Vendée, and the enemies of the republic disappeared ... "
Law of the Suspects September 17, 1793. This law valid for all France tilts the Republic to totalitarianism. This decree ordered the arrest of all enemies declared or likely to be of the Revolution (nobles, parents of emigrants, officials dismissed, officers suspected of treason, and hoarders)
The law of October 1, 1793 called the extermination law of the Vendée - Proclamation of the Convention:
"Soldiers of Liberty: It is necessary that the brigands of the Vendée be exterminated before the end of October; the safety of the country demands it, the impatience of the French people commands it, and his courage must accomplish it. National recognition awaits, at this time, all those whose value and patriotism have secured, without return, freedom and the Republic. "
On January 24, 1794, Turreau, commander-in-chief of the Army of the West: "I began the execution of the plan I had designed to cross the Vendée on 12 army columns [...]. Finally, if my intentions are well seconded, there will no longer be in the Vendee, in fifteen days, neither houses, subsistence, arms, nor inhabitants, but those who have escaped the most scrupulous searches [...] ".
On February 6, 1794, Lazare Carnot, a member of the Committee of Public Salut, replied to Turreau: "You complain, citizen general, of not having received from the Committee a formal approval of your measures. They seem to him good and pure, but far from the theater of operations, he expects the great results to decide in this matter on which he has already been deceived so many times as well as the National Convention [...] ".
Law of Prairial of June 10, 1794 removed any guarantee to the accused. There was now no questioning before the hearing, no lawyer, no optional hearing of witnesses. The Court could pronounce its verdict on mere moral presumptions.