01 December 2006

Louis-François, Baron Lejeune captivity

Usted!’ (Surrender, surrender!) My horse, which was very strong, was the last to fall. He had already been hit some thirty times, and at last, covered with wounds, and no longer able to feel the spur, he rolled over dead amongst his comrades. I managed to struggle out of the crowd of fallen horses and men, and had defended myself for a short time with my sword, when I received a blow from a spear which was quite enough to kill me, but it only cut open my right hand, causing me such terrible pain as to paralyse my sword arm. My weapon fell, I was disarmed, and my assailants, athirst for blood and plunder, flung themselves upon me and began to tear off my clothes. In four seconds I was stripped naked from head to foot, but I was fortunately unwounded except for a few cuts from spears. Those of the brigands who were not too much encumbered with the spoil they had taken from me, now raised their muskets above the shoulders of their comrades and pointed them at my breast. I made no effort to shield it, but rather exposed myself as much as possible, my only hope being that I might die at the first discharge, and not have to endure a lingering anguish. But, strange to say, though seven or eight primings flashed, the charges did not go off! In their rage at having missed me, four of the brigands, threatening to have done with me in a moment, took fresh cartridges from their belts, and having loaded again they pointed their weapons at my breast, which I once more presented to them without flinching. But the primings hung fire again! Recognising the divine protection in this extraordinary incident, I seized with both hands one of the muskets which were being banged about my head, and with it parried the blows which would otherwise have killed me, for they bent out of shape the weapon which protected me. The terrible struggle sent a rush of blood to my heart, my strength failed me, and I was on the point of succumbing, when a man on horseback,

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