GENERAL ROCHAMBEAU AND THE FRENCH
EXPEDITION TO HAITI IN 1802
HERMAN RAUKE DeHOOP
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
This thesis is a study of the role of the French expedition to
Haiti in 1802, The emphasis is placed on the actions of General
Rochambeau who was an important commanding officer in the expedition.
The thesis is also an elucidation of the interpretation of Haitian
history in 1802. The basic documentation consists of the private
papers of Rochambeau.
The name Saint-Domingue is used in this study to denote Haiti,
while Santo Domingo refers to what is today the Dominican Republic.
Saint-Domingue was used by the French and the inhabitants until the
achievement of independence when the name Haiti was adopted. Port-
au-Prince until 1803 was also called Port-Republicain, but the
former name is retained in this thesis. Fort Dauphin was also called
Fort Liberte until 1803, but Fort Dauphin is used in the paper.
Cap Frangais, or today Cap Ha'itien, also called Le Cap; the latter is
employed in this study. The insurgent forces are often referred to as
brigands by the French, and the author has at times used brigand
synonymously with rebel. The usage of-brigand does not necessarily
reflect a value judgement on the part of the author.
It is difficult to acknowledge all those who have made this study
possible. Special thanks are due to the chairman of the supervisory
committee, Dr, L. N. McAlister. His suggestions and challenging
seminar in Hispanic American History were invaluable. The author is
indebted to the other members of the committee, Dr. D. L. Dowd and
Dr. M. J. Wallace, whose criticisms were very helpful in the final
stages of the thesis. He also appreciated very much the cooperation
and attention of the Special collections staff of the University of
Florida Library. Finally, much credit goes to my parents, Dr. and
Mrs. W. de Hoop, and to Mr. H. E. Nutter.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. INTRODUCTION ........
II. JANUARY TO APRIL: THE FRENCH CONQUEST . .
III. APRIL TO SEPTEMBER: THE LOSS OF POSSESSION .
IV. SEPTEMBER TO DECEMBER: RENEWAL OF REBELLION. .
V. CONCLUSION . . . . . .......
BIBLIOGRAPHY . .. . .........
. . .
In late 1801 Lieutenant-General Donatien Marie Joseph de Vimeur,
Vicomte de Rochambeau-was "-appointed as General de Division in the
------ ~~"'~`~~~~` --~-~-~- ----;------- ------
French military expedition to Haiti under command of General Victor
Emmanuel Leclerc, who was the brother-in-law of the First Consul of
France, Napoleon Bonaparte. In secret instructions to Leclerc,
Napoleon named Rochambeau second-in-command of the expedition.1
Because of his high position, Rochambeau played an important role in
the French forces to Haiti. The purpose of this paper therefore,
is to examine the French expedition in the light of the events and
actions with which Rochambeau was concerned.
The military education of Rochambeau was impressive. Born in
Paris in 1755, he was the son of the Marechal de Rochambeau, under
whom he served as aide de camp during the American Revolution. In 1792
(he then went by the name of Citizen Rochambeau), he served as the
French military commander in Haiti. In 1796, Rochambeau held a
similar post, but was sent to Martinique a few months later on account
of a quarrel with his civilian superior Sonthonax. After the defeat
of the French military expedition in 1803, Rochambeau surrendered to
iCarl L. Lokke (ed.), "The Leclerc Instructions," Journal of Negro
History, X (January, 1925), 88. Journal of Negro History is hereafter
cited as JNH,
the British and remained a prisoner of war until 1811. In 1813, he
was killed in the battle of Leipzig in Germany.2
For an understanding of the French expedition to Haiti, a short
discussion of the people and the events leading to the invasion is
helpful. Saint-Domingue prior to 1789 was a prosperous French colony
that thrived on the export of sugar, coffee, cocoa, cotton, and dyes.
Sugar in particular, provided the main source of income on the island.
It was exported to France and parts of continental Europe. The
United States was also becoming an increasingly important customer of
the island. France and the United States in turn supplied the colony
with manufactured goods. The cultivation of sugar was done on large
plantations. The latter was concentrated in the Northern Plain
around Le Cap, in the Artibonite Valley along the Artibonite River,
in the Cul-de-Sac area around Port-au-Prince, Jacmel, and Leogane,
and in the South province around Jeremie.
The population of the colony was comprised of three major racial
groups. The first consisted of the European population, which numbered
around 30,000 people. The second and largest was the Negro population.
This group, made up almost exclusively of slaves, was the backbone
of economic life, and it numbered around 400,000 people. The third
and smallest was the mulatto population, which was generally free
but restricted to certain occupations and possessed limited political
rights. It numbered around 15,000 people. Many of the mulattoes,
2Georges Six, Dictionnaire biographique des generaux et amiraux
franyais de la revolution et de l'empire: 1792-1814. (2 vols.; Paris:
Georges Saffroy, 1934), II,.378.
well educated in contrast to the slave population, were the artisans
and the small merchants of the colony.3
The white population, which controlled the political life, was
a conglomeration of individuals of different stratas of society in
France and Europe. The majority of the Europeans came to Saint-
Domingue with the intention of getting rich quickly in order to retire
in comfort in their homelands. Often these persons had been forced
to leave Europe because of trouble with the legal authorities or
poverty. Most whites never rose above the position of overseer on
a plantation or the post of a small government official. Yet many
of the lesser dignitaries of the government were able to amass more
wealth than in similar positions in Europe. A small white minority
successfully acquired and held most of the property which consisted
of large extensive plantations. Despite their humble origins, they
aspired to titles of nobility. The whites controlled the darker-
skinned population through a series of laws the Code Noir, which
restricted the actions of mulattoes and Negroes. The wealthier
mulattoes were at times able to escape the restrictions of the Code
Noir by buying certificates of whiteness, which gave them the legal
status of a Creole, or by leaving the colony for France.
The French Revolution in 1789, brought an end to the rigid '
S social and racial structure of the colony. Many of the larger
\ plantationIowners and high administrative government officials were 1
3C.L.R. James, The Black Jacobins (2nd rev. ed.; New York:
Vintage Press, 1963), p. 35.
4M.L.E. Moreau de Saint-Mery, Description topographique, physique,
civil, politique et historique de la parties franpaise de 1'isle Saint-
Domingue (3 vols.; new ed. by Blanche Maurel; Paris::Societe de
1 Histoire des Colonies Francaises, 1958), I, 100-106.
determined to maintain the royalist pattern of government. The
mulattoes and poorer whites, or petits blancs, were supporters of
the Revolution, and attempted to bring about a government to their
satisfaction through a rebellion. The mulattoes were strong supporters
of the Revolution because it offered equality for them. The petits
blancs saw the Revolution as a chance to free themselves from the
rule of the aspirants towards nobility and other wealthy officials.
They refused to cooperate with the mulattoes, however, and joined the
royalists in surpressing a mulatto revolt. The mulattoes had also
sent a delegation of representatives to the French National Assembly;
where, after some discussion, they were invited to represent the colony.
An official delegation,appointed by the white Colonial Assembly, was
refused seats in the National Assembly. In 1791, all slaves in the
French colonies in accordance with the French revolutionary creed, were
The struggle between the revolutionaries and the royalists, and
the mulattoes and whites, left the slave population as the pawns of
both sides. In 1791, Negro slaves of the plantations in the North
province rose against their masters and burned and destroyed the area
around Le Cap, the Northern Plain. Many of the white settlers fled
to Le Cap and other cities which were able to defend themselves
against the slave uprising. The mulattoes were generally not perse-
cuted by the slaves, although there was little cooperation between
the two groups. The uprising meant the ruin of many plantations in
5Adolphe Cabon, Histoire d'Ha'iti (3 vols.; Pott-au-Prince:
Petit Skminaire Collhge Saint-Martial, 1937-1941), III, 63.
the prosperous Northern Plain, and a consequent decline in the
exports from Saint-Domingue. Many of the colonists left the colony
for the United States and Cuba an estimated 20,000 by 1797.
The confusion and destruction in Saint-Domingue continued until
1800. In order to quell the rebellions, institute a revolutionary
government, and to provide protection against attacks from England
and Spain, France sent commissioners and troops to Saint-Domingue.
These reinforcements replaced the royalist factions, although bickering
among the mulattoes and whites continued to some extent. In 1793,
an invasion of the Spanish from Santo Domingo complicated the tense
situation on the island. The Spanish invasion was under the leader-
ship of a former French slave, Toussaint Louverture. He had received
military training in Santo Domingo. In 1795, Toussaint joined the
French after a peace treaty was made with the Spanish at Basel.
Toussaint Louverture became the commander of the French forces
when the English invaded in 1795. The British troops were unable
to conquer the island on account of the strong defense put up by
the forces of Toussaint. The English were pushed back to Mble-de-
Saint-Nicolas on the Northern tip of Saint-Domingue. A high rate of
mortality from tropical diseases also helped to break their morale
and resistance. In 1799, they were forced to surrender unconditionally
to Toussaint. By this action, the English recognized Toussaint as
the de facto ruler of the island, despite the presence of Governor
General Hedouville. The French government had to recognize Toussaint
6Rayford W. Logan, The Diplomatic Relations of the United States
with Haiti: 1776-1891 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina
Press, 1941), p. 46.
as governor general, because he controlled the island. Hedouville
was also powerless to stop his own imprisonment. The mulatto elements
under the leadership of General Rigaud refused to accept the Negro
government of Toussaint. A civil war ensued, which ended with the
annihilation of the mulatto forces and full subjection of the colony
to the rule of the Negro governor general in 1800.7
Toussaint controlled the whole French colony in 1800. He had
been recognized as the commander of all forces in Saint-Domingue by
the French, and later governor general. But the constant warfare
over the last decade of the eighteenth century wreaked havoc on the
economy. Many of the important cities were burned, and the exports
of Saint-Domingue were drastically reduced. Toussaint forced his
Negro armies to settle on the deserted plantations in order to restore
the economic life of the island. He did not reinstitute slavery,
although the peasants were not allowed to move from their domiciles
without special passports.
The independent actions of Toussaint were not in accordance with
the contemporary French policies. Thus, Toussaint maintained re-
lations with England, despite a war between England and France. The
political situation in France had become more conservative; Napoleon
represented a movement away from the Revolutionary period of earlier
years. The Negroes were regarded as an inferior race, and there was
7Erwin Rtsch, Die Revolution von Saint Domingue (Hamburg:
Friederichsen, de Gruyter & Company, 1930), pp. 104-108.
talk of reinstituting slavery. Napoleon was also incensed by the
threat of Toussaint to declare independence from France.8 Napoleon
was strongly influenced by the views of refugees from the colony and
by his wife Josephine, a Creole from Martinique; they all desired
restoration of French control. As early as 1800, an expedition to
Haiti by the French was planned. By October, 1801, an expedition
was secretly prepared for the restoration of direct French authority
over the island.
8Georges Lefebvre, Napoleon (4th ed.; Paris: Presses Universitaires,
1953), p. 158.
9Napoleon I, Correspondance de Napoleon ler; public par ordre
de 1'Empereur Napoleon III (32 vols.;Paris: Henri Plon, 1858-1870),
VII, 278. Hereafter cited as Napoleon.
JANUARY TO APRIL: THE FRENCH CONQUEST
The French Expedition
The object of the expedition
The main purpose of the French expedition under General Leclerc
was to secure Saint-Domingue for the French, and to establish order
and economic productivity. The restoration of the sugar trade with
France would be an important part of the colony's economy. England,
Spain, and the United States had replaced France in the import of
sugar and other tropical products. The reestablishment of French
control would also serve as a steppingstone towards control of the
Caribbean area and for intrusions into North America through Louisiana.
France, through her alliance with Spain and the Netherlands had
virtually isolated the British possessions in the West Indies.
The success of the French expedition was dependent on cooperation
with the United States and Great Britain. The United States had
carried on a major portion of the trade with Saint-Domingue during the
revolutionary years. It was the major source of staples and manu-
factured products to the colony. The French were under the impression
that the Americans would welcome their return to the colony and provide
ILefebvre, Napoleon, p. 158.
supplies for the expedition. Pichon, the French Minister to
Washington, wrote to Napoleon and Leclerc that the American Govern-
ment was favorably disposed towards a French expedition to Saint-
Domingue, and that it would encourage American merchants to trade With
the French.2 This information was inaccurate, because President
Jefferson actually opposed any French intrusion.3
The expedition could not leave France until the peace of
Amiens was concluded with the British in October, 1801. The English
control of the seas had prevented any regular communication between
France and the colonies. Napoleon, hoping that the British would
support the expedition to Saint-Domingue, on November 13, instructed
Talleyrand, the French Foreign Minister, to warn the English of its
purpose. Napoleon stressed that the force was sent to set an example
to any colonies that tried to attain independence or self-rule. There
was always the threat that the independence of Saint-Domingue might
incite troubles in the British West Indian colonies. The English
reaction apparently was favorable, because Napoleon, in his instruc-
tions to Leclerc, even advised him to go to Jamaica, if necessary, for
Napoleon instructed Leclerc to subjugate Saint-Domingue in three
stages. In the first fifteen days, the French were to establish their
3Logan, Diplomatic Relations . ., p. 143.
4Napoleon, Correspondance . ., VII, 319 320.
5Lokke, JNPH, 93.
forces on the island. Napoleon advised that cooperation with the
troops of Toussaint Louverture would enable the expedition to gain
control of strategic areas. At the end of the allotted time, on the
assumption that the French then occupied the island, Toussaint and
all military and administrative personnel under his command over
the rank of captain were to be arrested. They would then be deported
to France and to Devil's Island in Guyana. In the last step, the Negroes
would be disarmed, and they would be put back to work in the fields
in order to restore the sugar production. Napoleon was unaware that
Toussaint Louverture already utilized his army for the purpose of
sugar production. On the restoration of slavery, Napoleon explicitly
stated: "Never will the French Nation give chains to men whom it
has once recognized as free."
The general staff
The leadership of the French expedition was made up of experi-
enced commanders. General en Chef Victor Emanuel Leclerc, although
only 29 years old, had served as general under Napoleon in the Italian
and Portuguese campaigns. In 1797, he married the sister of Napoleon,
Pauline, who accompanied Leclerc to Saint-Domingue. His relationship
to the Bonaparte family probably helped to give Leclerc the commanding
position of the expedition, because he had never been to the island.
Besides Leclerc and Rochambeau, about forty other generals held major
positions of leadership. Many of them had previously seen service in
6Lokke, JNH, 94-95.
Saint-Domingue. General Brunet, a General de brigade, was the
commander of the"avant-garde"of Rochambeau. At the age of 36, he
was one of the older generals in the expedition. Brunet spent his
whole army career in West Indian colonies in various posts. In
earlier years, he had also served under General Rochambeau. General
de division Desfourneaux was another veteran of the colony. He
had seen service only in Saint-Domingue, where he acquired a reputa-
tion for extreme cruelty. His unwillingness and inability to follow
Leclerc's commands, and his harsh treatment of the local population
later caused Leclerc to write to Napoleon: "Ce general est bien
t r I 7 I
mediocre, je manque de generaux. General de division Boudet had
some experience in the Italian and Egyptian campaigns. He served
in Guadeloupe in 1798, and was very active in the establishment of
a government of French Jacobins under Victor Hugues. The commander
of his "avant-garde" of the division, Pamphile de Lacroix, also a
capable general, is better known today for his memoirs, which pro-
vide an important source of information for this period.8
The naval detachment was headed by Admiral Villaret-Joyeuse.
Leclerc in his earlier letters had nothing but praise for Villaret;
but in a letter to Napoleon on the 17th of February, he wrote: "I
am not satisfied with Admiral Villaret; he retarded our arrival in
Saint-Domingue too much, because of waiting excessively at points of
rendez-vous for the fleet." Leclerc further wrote in a classic
statement: "Voulez-vous sauver votre marine, retirez-la de ses mains."
7paul Roussier (ed.), Lettres du general Leclerc (Paris: Societd
de l'Histoire des Colonies Frangaises, 1937), p..95.
8Cabon, Histoire d'Ha'iti, III, 229.
9Roussier, pp. 100-101.
Leclerc had considerable praise for the naval Captain Magon, whose
ships carried the Rochambeau division. Captain Magon, on the recom-
mendation of Leclerc and Rochambeau, was promoted to contre-amiral for
his cooperation with Rochambeau and for his brave behavior at Fort
Dauphin in February, 1802.
The generals chose their own staffs, although nominations were
subject to approval of Leclerc. On the staff of Leclerc was General
de division Dugua who was third-in-command. He provided the link with
the other commanding officers and coordinated their actions.
Rochambeau had, besides his aides, several generals on his staff.
General Brunet initially commanded the "avant-garde." General Lavalette,
a soldier of fortune with few abilities outside of being able to
impress his superior officers, commanded a regiment and he later
became an important advisor to Rochambeau. Among the former veterans
of Saint-Domingue, Rochambeau was popular among the officers on
account of his indulgence of men who conducted other business than
that of military affairs. General Pageot asked Rochambeau to write
a letter of recommendation for.him to General Leclerc, which would
permit Pageot to join the Rochambeau division. He complained that
his family fortune, which consisted of plantations on the island,
had been burned by the brigands; Pageot wanted a position under
Rochambeau that would enable him to restore his wealth. In July,
Pageot was stationed in Jacmel under Rochambeau's command.10 By
O0Letter of General de brigade Pageot, to General de Division
Rochambeau, Le Cap, July 17, 1802 (28 messidor An X), Rochambeau
Papers, 1802-1803 (University of Florida Libraries, Gainesville,
Florida), hereafter cited as Rochambeau Papers. Unless otherwise
indicated, letters in the Rochambeau Papers were sent General
June, 1802, Generals Lavalette, Quantin (a general who joined the
Rochambeau division in June), and Desbureaux (this general joined
the division in May) could all be considered wealthy on the basis of
the size of their personal possessions and of their staff.11
The organization of the armies
The French expeditionary force was taken from armies throughout
Europe, but was sent in demi-brigades, the French tactical units.
Most of the troops consisted of trained volunteers who had been in
the Italian and Portuguese campaigns with Leclerc. Later regiments
assigned to Saint-Domingue by Napoleon consisted primarily of Polish
and German troops. There were also some regiments composed of
deserters and other undesirables of the French Army. The estimates
of the strength of the troops varied by about 1,000 men. According
to Leclerc in a letter to Decr'es, the Minister of the Navy, the
initial expedition which embarked from Brest and Rochefort, consisted
of 9,400 men.12 These men were augmented by an additional 4,000
soldiers in mid-February, and periodically after this date reinforce-
ments arrived. The expedition was joined by about 2,000 Negroes and
mulattoes, who remained loyal to the French; this force grew con-
siderably through defections from the insurgents under Toussaint.
The defectors were incorporated into regiments with their own com-
manders and were called colonial troops. Local planters and their
subordinates were formed into National Guard units. These groups,
11Letter from Chef de l'Etat-Major, General Dugua, to Leclerc,
Le Cap, June 12, 1802 (23 prairial An X), Rochambeau Papers.
12Roussier, p. 79.
generally very undependable, were useful only in the fringe areas
around the mountains. Their activity was confined to their home
areas. The National Guard was primarily commanded by whites and
mulattoes, although many Negroes were included in the rank and file.
A Gendarmerie was formed, which was designed to serve as a general
patrolling and policing force; later in the year the Gendarmerie was
also used as a tactical force. This unit incorporated colonial as
well as regular troops. The initial composition was one-third
European men, one-third colonial troops, and one-third local recruits.13
The French expedition consisted of five divisions: The South
and West provinces (initially under command of General Boudet);
the division of the left in the North province (initially under com-
mand of General Desfourneaux); the division of the right in the North
province; the Spanish part of Saint-Domingue; and the Artibonite
region, which was later incorporated into the South and West provinces.
The divisions were made up of demi-brigades, which were subdivided
into three or more battalions. The cavalry, artillery, and the
engineering dorps were divided among the various brigades. The
lack of horses, carriages, wagons, and cannons made the artillery and
cavalry less effective. The engineering corps was almost inoperative,
because the mortality was so much higher than that of the other units;
Leclerc continually asked for more officers and men.
The insurgent forces were divided into a division of the North
13Letter from Andrieu, Port-au-Prince, June 14, 1802 (25 prairial
An X), Rochambeau Papers.
14Roussier, p. 116.
province and of the South and West provinces. These troops formed
the Gendarmerie, Garde Nationale (former colonial European troops),
and the regular army, which had a special elite corps, le Garde
d'Honneur. The number of the rebels was uncertain, but Toussaint
probably had about 10,000 men under his immediate control and another
eight thousand men spread throughout the country. These forces
also used farmers from the areas occupied by their units to supply
recruits. The revolutionary army was headed by Toussaint Louverture.
Although the rebels retained the original divisions of the acien /
regime for administrative purposes, the real-force was the local
bands and their leaders. These groups followed their leaders blindly.
Besides Toussaint, the other major leaders were: Christophe, stationed
at Le Cap; Dessalines, stationed near Saint-Marc; Charles Belair,
stationed in the interior.
14Roussier, p. 116.
The Landing of the French
The capture of Le Cap and Fort Dauphin
On December 14, 1801, the fleet with the French expedition departed
from Brest and Rochefort. The ships did not all reach the Bay of
Samana in Santo Domingo until January 29, 1802, because of the incompe-
tent seamanship of Admiral Villaret, and of the adverse winds in the At-
lantic. Villaret and Leclerc were soon at odds with each other over
the slow progress of the fleet. Lemonnier-Delafosse, an officer
with the French expedition indicated that ten days were lost because
Villaret, who was in command as long as the expedition was still
embarked on his ships, could not decide on the time to land in Saint-
Domingue. He refused to permit the competent Captain Magon to continue
immediately with the Rochambeau division and land at Fort Dauphin.1
On January 29, 1802, the ships gathered for the attack in the Bay of
Samana. Admiral Gravina and General Kerverseau and 400 men were dis-
patched to Santo Domingo from there. General Boudet with 3,000 men
was sent ahead to Port-au-Prince from whence he would proceed North
through the Artibonite Valley. Generals Rochambeau, Humbert, and
Leclerc marched along the North coast in order to drive the insurgents
towards Boudet. The forces would then encircle the rebels near Gonalves.17
16J. B. Lemonnier-Delafosse, Seconde champagne de Saint-Domingue
du ler decembre 1803 au 15 juillet 1809. . (Le Havre: H. Brindeau
et Co., 1846), pp. 37-38.
Leclerc had been led to believe by pilots taken abroad at Montecrist
in Santo Domingo that the forces of Toussaint would allow the French
to land without resistance. Minister Pichon in the United States held
similar views on the basis of the news that was reported in the
American newspapers, which were believed to be the best informed
sources concerning Haiti at that time.18 The delay of Admiral Villaret
gave the forces of Toussaint adequate warning to prepare plans for
resistance. Prior to the arrival of Leclerc, Christophe had had some
disagreements with Toussaint. The differences occurred because of
jealousy, on the part of Christophe and the Negro generals who
supported him, of the commanding position of Toussaint. Napoleon,
in a letter on November 19, 1801, warned Leclerc of this situation
and he advised him to take advantage of the discord by befriending
Christophe.19 Pichon, the French Minister to America, had advised
Napoleon of this situation. When Leclerc arrived on the shores of
Santo Domingo, Christophe was willing to surrender to the French in
order to spite Toussaint. The delay of the French landing gave
Toussaint time to persuade Christophe to join in fighting against
On February 2, General Rochambeau was left with 1,900 men at
Fort Dauphin, which was defended by three forts one at the mouth of
the bay, and two near the city. The ships were under command of
Captain Magon. Without any prior proclamation of war, Rochambeau's
18Letter of Minister Pichon, to General Leclerc, New York,
February 2, 1802, Rochambeau Papers.
19Napoleon, VII, 301.
20Thomas Madiou, Histoire d'Ha'iti (3 vols.; Port-au-Prince:
Department de 1'Instruction Publique, 1922-1923), II, 127.
men landed at the mouth of the bay. The troops were unable to gain
adequate foothold because of heavy enemy fire, but the son of the
Duke de La ChAtre, son of a prominent French family, rallied the
troops and secured the fort at the cost of his life. General Brunet
commanded the landing. The next day, the city forts were taken,
after Captain Magon ordered his ships to bombard the forts with their
cannon. After only two broadsides, Fort Dauphin was French. The
landing cost twelve casualties and forty wounded men. The soldiers
found a considerable amount of ammunition and food supplies.21
Rochambeau, leaving a garrison of naval forces behind, marched
immediately towards Le Cap. Christophe threatened to burn Le Cap,
when the French ships appeared in the harbor. Under heavy fire,
Leclerc landed at the nearby Bay of Acul. Christophe carried out
his threat, and he then retreated into the hills.2 In order to
prevent any further destruction and pillage of the area, both
Rochambeau and Leclerc quickly occupied the Northern Plain surrounding
Le Cap, a rich agricultural area. The French were successful;and
by February 9, the NorthernPlain and the coast from Fort Dauphin to
Le Cap were in French hands. The quick landing by Rochambeau at
Fort Dauphin had helped considerably in driving away the brigands from
the coastal area. On the other hand, Rochambeau's arrival without
any proclamation of his intent could also have been construed as an
act of provocation by the French against the brigands, contrary to
22Madiou, II, 127.
the promises of amnesty that were made by Leclerc a few days later
at Le Cap.2 The occupation of the Northern coast around Le Cap
was carried out with a force of less than 7,000 men. In order to
impress the brigands in Le Cap, Leclerd had declared in his proclama-
tion, that he had 12,000 men with him. He was afraid of rebel attacks
on his troops, if the enemy discovered the actual size of his force.24
The French met with more opposition from the Americans and
British than they had expected, when the expedition finally reached
Saint-Domingue. The troops were forced to embark as early as
October, 1801, in ports along the Atlantic Ocean, although plans
for provisions and supplies had not been adequately carried out.
Much hope therefore, was placed on the aid from the British and
Americans by the French. Cooperation between the French and the
British proved to be disappointing. In a letter to Leclerc before
his departure, Napoleon had advised him that the English had promised
supplies for the expedition, which would be provided from Jamaica.
He instructed Leclerc to remember: 'Mettez dans vos relations avec
le commandant anglais beaucoup d'ame'nite, mais toute la dignite
qu'exige la grandeur de la nation."25 General Leclerc, however, lost
his "dignity" when Admiral Duckworth of Jamaica refused to give help.
He claimed all supplies had been taken away by an English fleet that
had left Jamaica earlier that year. Nor did the English permit Leclerc
25Napoleon, VII, 325.
to use banks in Jamaica for the purpose of borrowing money to pay
off debts already incurred in Saint-Domingue.26 The cause of English
opposition was not clear; the more likely reason appeared to be
mistrust of the French.
Napoleon and Leclerc expected that the Americans would provide
most of the supplies. But in a letter on February 9, Leclerc had
written indignantly to Napoleon that there were about twenty American
ships in Le Cap at his arrival, but that the Americans supplied the
insurgents rather than the French: "Ces juifs avec lesquels il est
impossible de traiter."27 The Americans apparently tried to steer
clear from a commitment to the French cause.
Spanish cooperation was more generous than expected. A small
detachment under General Kerverseau and the Spanish Admiral Gravina
had been sent to Santo Domingo. This part of the island was held by
the rebel general, Paul Louverture, a brother of Toussaint, and Clairveau,
a mulatto general. Leclerc praised the actions of Admiral Gravina,
whose ships carried the troops. On leaving Saint-Domingue, Gravina
left behind all his extra supplies, and made a trip to Havana in Cuba
to secure men and money for Leclerc. Napoleon later asked the Spanish
King to commend Gravina for his services to the French Republic.28
26Madiou, II, 173-174.
28Napoleon, VII, 173.
The Campaign of Crgte-'a-Pierrot
The capture of Le Cap and Fort Dauphin in the North gave the
French a firm foothold. In the West, General Boudet had established
himself in Port-au-Prince, which had been partially burned by the
brigands. General Leclerc, through negotiations, tried to entice
Toussaint to his side. He returned Toussaint's sons who had been
students in France, but the brigand leader refused to yield to the
French. Leclerc then resumed his campaign, after he had given the
brigands a four-day period of grace during which time they could have
surrendered without punishment. On February 17, the date of the
resumption of the operations, the expedition was augmented by 20,000
men from Cadiz.29
General Leclerc intended to push the troops of Toussaint and
Christophe towards Gonalves, but he wanted to prevent the rebels from
entrenching at any particular location. The forces of Boudet were to
head North along the Artibonite River, in order to encircle the brigands.
Boudet first had to defeat Dessalines, however, who was in the Leogane
area in the Southern part of the West province. Rochambeau, who was
in close pursuit of the troops of Toussaint, would push forward to
St. Raphael. Generals Hardy and Desfourneaux would flank him, while
29H. de Poyen, Histoire militaire de la revolution de Saint-
Domingue (Paris:: Berger-Levrault, 1899), p. 142.
Leclerc and 1,500 men who had embarked for Port-au-Prince, would
march from the South together with the Boudet division. General
Humbert was sent by sea to subjugate Port-de-Paix, which was defended
by General Maurepas and a well-trained brigand regiment.30
Leclerc's plan partially failed, on account of the delays of
General Boudet and General Humbert. Humbert, through his incompetence
in military strategy was defeated at Port de-Paix. In order to
rescue the remnants of the French forces there, and to attempt the
reduction of Maurepas, General Desfourneaux and troops from General
Hardy's division were sent to Port-de-Paix. These troops were also
defeated by Maurepas. He was finally forced to surrender when General
Debelle and his troops arrived. Altogether, more than 4,000 men
were used in this battle. The diversion of these troops gave the
brigands under Christophe a chance to move away from the Gonaives
area. Toussaint only had to deal with the troops of Rochambeau,
instead of a combined force of General Hardy and Rochambeau. The
battle of Port-de-Paix caused a delay of time in the plans of
In the South, another delay took place. General Boudet was
unable to contain or contact Dessalines. Dessalines, in a daring
forced march through the mountains around Port-au-Prince, captured
Leogane and burned the city. After circling around Boudet, who had
in the meantime arrived in Leogane by sea, Dessalines tried to attack
31Ibid., p. 116.
32poyen, p.: 142.
the Port-au-Prince garrison under General Pamphile de Lacroix, but
instead Dessalines lost 1,000 men of his"avant-garde"in a French
ambush. Dessalines with the remnant of his forces then marched
Northward into the Cahos Mountains to join with Christophe and Toussaint.33
Rochambeau was successful in making contact with Toussaint and
his forces in the mountains near Gona'ives. Rochambeau advanced from
Dondon, from where his forward columns fought several skirmishes
with troops of Toussaint. No major engagements were possible because
of the brigand's elusiveness and knowledge of the area. On February 10,
Rochambeau sighted the brigands at Coup-a-Pintades, and he pursued
them into a ravine.3 On February 23, a battle took place. Toussaint
withdrew in good order, however, and he then marched towards the South
into the Cahos Mountains near Crete-b-Pierrot. Leclerc and his forces
from Port-au-Prince had also arrived at Cr~te-a-Pierrot, where the
troops of Dessalines had entrenched themselves in the fort, which
overlooked the pass into the Cahos Mountains. Both Christophe and
Toussaint remained nearby with their men.35
At Crite-a-Pierrot, Dessalines and Toussaint combined some of
their troops, after which the latter withdrew into the mountains.
Rochambeau had tried to continue the pursuit of Toussaint, but had
been led towards Mirebalais on a false trail. In order to reinforce
the forces under Leclerc, Rochambeau was recalled to Crfte-'a-Pierrot,
33poyen, p. 143.
34Letter of Commandant Miguel, Habitation Moyse, February 19, 1802
(30 pluviase An X), Rochambeau Papers.
35Roussier, p. .106.
and by March 9, the forces of Hardy and Boudet were also concentrated
there. Dessalines remained in Crite-b-Pierrot with about 1,200 men.
He later left to direct outside attacks on the French, while General
Lamartini're was left in command of the fort. Leclerc had to capture
Crite-la-Pierrot that guarded the gateway to the mountains. Defeat of
the brigands at this fort would hurt the moral of the enemy and destroy
a large portion of his armies. The French also regarded defeat of
the brigands as a necessary demonstration of the superiority of the
European troops over the native forces.36
Generals Boudet and Leclerc immediately directed a charge on
Cr'te-1-Pierrot, and lost several hundred men and a large number of
wounded, including Generals Dugua, Leclerc, Boudet, and Debelle. On
March 10, Rochambeau arrived. After directing heavy artillery fire
on the fort from a hilltop, which had been considered inaccessible by
the other generals, Rochambeau also tried a charge; he lost 300 men.
The French then decided on keeping the fort under siege, rather than
risk more lives. A heavy bombardment of the fort was maintained, which
killed about 600 brigands. Lamartiniere and the remaining rebels, at
nijht, brol' through the cordon of French troops escaping with 500 men,
and joinJrd with thef forces iof Dessalines in the mountains.
The battle of Crete--'Pierrot was the culmination of the struggle
againLt the rebels in early 1802. Dt-spite the 2,000 casualties of
dI;> 1 fieVr'ttr, 1i4W110,1E3^j'lr scrvilr ^ 1'igstoire de -a
revoi uti-n ,.e -,Rio -0-'u.gIc, (2 vols.; Paris: Pillet Aine, 1819),
the French, the brigands had received a set back in moral. Many of
the brigands returned to their farms, rather than suffer through the
continual pursuit by the French armies. Only the personal followers
of the brigand leaders remained with them. Desertion among the rebels
was encouraged by a decree of Leclerc on February 17, 1802, which
declared Toussaint and Christophe and their collaborators outlaws,
but provided a pardon for those who surrendered to the French. All
farmers that would return to their lands and lay down their arms would
be exempt from punishment.38 To the French the battle of Crlte-l-
Pierrot demonstrated that the quality of the Negro armies was much
higher than they expected, and that conventional European tactics of
charging en masse did not work against the guerrilla tactics of the
brigands. Maurepas, at Port-de-Paix, surrendered only after being
overwhelmed and his army threatened with extinction. Dessalines,
through skillful maneuvers, had been able to escape the French pursuing
The French were also in a weak position. Leclerc had started the
campaign against the brigands on February 17, with about 13,000 men.39
Yet, by the first of April, he had lost close to 3,000 men in the
various campaigns. Some reinforcements arrived, but in a letter to
the First Consul on April 1, Leclerc reported that with 3,000 men in
the hospitals, there were only 7,000 soldiers left. The French were
reinforced by an additional 7,000 colonial troops, but they were not
39Ibid., p. 94.
considered reliable by Leclerc.40 The manpower of the French was
inadequate to defeat the remaining insurgent forces. The brigands
stayed in the mountains rather than on the plains or coast where
French battle tactics were superior to those of the rebels. The
divisions of the French were stationed along the mountains in the
Cahos region and in the North. General Hardy, who was garrisoned
at Le Cap on the Northern Plain, was defeated in two battles by
Christophe, however, and only barely managed to hold Le Cap against
the brigand onslaught. The near success only demonstrated the ability
of the rebels to break through the French cordon of soldiers in the
General Rochambeau, since the landing at Fort Dauphin, had
consistently followed the orders of Leclerc. He had landed at
Fort Dauphin and through prompt action saved an important plantation
region from complete destruction by the brigands of Christophe. By
pursuing the troops of Toussaint, he reduced the strength of these
forces to the extent that Toussaint was unable to face the French for
a full-scale battle or confrontation. Rochambeau's bombardment of
Cr@te-a-Pierrot had also helped to reduce the brigand forces there.
In the letters from Leclerc to Napoleon, Rochambeau was praised for
40Roussier, p 99.
41Madiou, II, 228.
4Roussier, pp. 65-120.
The need for reinforcements
Leclerc received promises of new troops in early April from
France. Napoleon, in a letter to the Minister of War during this
period, ordered new regiments to be sent from Italy.43 These promised
troops did not provide any immediate aid, since it required about a
month and a half for an ocean voyage to the colonies. On April 7, 2,500
men who should have arrived with the original expedition, finally
came from ports in the Netherlands, while another 1,400 men soon
followed.44 The troops were welcomed by Leclerc; they were needed
against attacks by brigands on Le Cap, and for replacement of the
high losses that were incurred.
When General Leclerc landed in Saint-Domingue, Toussaint decided
on a policy of complete destruction of goods and provisions which might
fall into the hpnds of the French.45 The destruction of towns was
effective,- as these areas and their surroundings contained many materials
that were necessary to the expedition. Christophe burned Le Cap, and
only prompt action of Generals Rochambeau and Leclerc saved the sur-
rounding area from complete obliteration. In early February, Port-au-
Prince was partly burned by the brigand General Lamartiniere before
43Napoleon, VII, 225
44Lemonnier Delafosse, pviii.
45Madiou, II, 129.
General Boudet was able to prevent it. Boudet also failed to stop
Leogane from being sacked by Dessalines. Archaye, Saint-Marc, and
Gona'ives were destroyed at the approach of French divisions in
late February. Leclerc needed the food that could be acquired from
the local farmers, but many were unwilling to supply the armies.
They often destroyed their crops rather than have them fall into the
hands of the French. Maurepas was permitted to join the colonial
forces of the French after his capitulation, because of his value
in persuading the farmers around Port-au-Paix to remain and produce
their crops. Rochambeau even sent out patrols around Verettes to
persuade farmers to return to their lands.46
Another problem that faced the French was inadequate finances.
The Americans would sell only on a cash basis, but Leclerc had a
comparatively small amount of money available. Need for money remained
constant; throughout Leclerc's correspondence in 1802, requests were
included. The Spanish Admiral Gravina was able to secure credit and
supplies in Havana, which provided enough to keep the expedition in
operation. With an increasing number of defectors of the brigands,
heavier demands were made on the treasury. At the same time, the
policy of complete destruction by the rebels prevented the French from
living off the land. The confiscation of rebel property therefore
brought in an important amount for the treasury.47
A record of the port of Bordeaux, from which the supplies were
46Letters of Commandant Cyprien, Verettes, April, 1802, Rochambeau
4Roussier, pp. 65-120.
sent, showed that ships left regularly for Saint-Domingue with wine and
flour. By late March, 14,229 quintaux of flour had been exported.48
Much of this amount, however, was lost in the process of being trans-
ported. The irregularity of the arrival of the ships, and the poor
quality of flour caused a shortage. There were very few animals and
carts to move materials, because they had not been brought from France
by the expedition. Thus, there was much accumulation of provisions
in the port cities that could not be transported into the interior.
The importation of Cuban draft animals later alleviated the problem.
After the battle of Cr@te-a-Pierrot, Rochambeau's troops were marching
with rations for two days only, due to the lack of adequate transporta-
tion to distribute the provisions.
Restoration of French rule
The establishment of the French in the major cities and strategic
locations gave Leclerc an opportunity to institute some semblance of
civil administrative positions. Under the previous brigand governments,
only at the local level had civil government operated at all; and even
then, the commander of the local National Guard usually predominated
over civilian officials. This practice was continued, but the civil
.authorities got more jurisdiction. The local governments were organized
in administrative units.headed by a maire or mayor who also was the
judge of the area. The French generals in charge of the provinces still
constituted the highest authority. Plans were made for the establish-
ment of a national judiciary and for a civilian administrative unit
48Bordeaux Flour Record, March 17, 1802, Rochambeau Papers, a
quintal is 100 kilograms.
49Letter of General Hardy, Mirebalais, March 15, 1802 (24 vent~se
An X), Rochambeau Papers.
headed by an executive officer, the prefet colonial. A committee
in France was formed to define the legal status of the colony and
the place of the Negro in it.50
Until full order was restored, no reliable French civil ad-
ministration could be established. The military therefore worked
in close cooperation with the few civilian directors or commissaires,
who supervised the logistical aspects of the colony. Rochambeau,
after he was stationed in the area of the Artibonite River, and
later in April when he became commander of the West and South
provinces, was besieged with letters which asked favors from him.
Most of the requests dealt with recommendations, applications for
positions to administrative posts, and other similar inquiries. There
were several letters of former colonists who wanted information on
their former estates, or who made inquiries about lost husbands and
families. Rochambeau received various gifts ranging from commissions
on sales of land to a case of liqueur from Martinique.51 On leaving
France, Rochambeau was also given the powers of attorney for several
people in order to secure property for them. These groups were
interested in the development of the sugar trade between France and
In the correspondence of Rochambeau, there were several letters
from a treasurer of a Genoa hospital, General Hauterome, who had been
in the Italian campaigns with Rochambeau. The general had also spent
50Napoleon, VII, 430.
51Letter from Malespine, Fort-de-France, Martinique, April 3,
1802, Rochambeau Papers.
some time in Saint-Domingue. Hauterome proposed a plan for the
restoration of slavery by importing Negroes from Africa. The existing
population was to remain free and to live in a separate area from the
European population. The plan was interesting as it revealed the
thinking of a former inhabitant of Saint-Domingue, and because
similar ideas were expressed by other friends of Rochambeau.52
Behavior of the armies
In the war between the French and the brigands, much violence
was inflicted; particularly the civilian population suffered. Haitian
historians have judged Rochambeau more severely than they have the other
generals. Thomas Madiou, a prominent historian, recorded that while
in pursuit of Toussaint in late February, Rochambeau's men "raped,
disemboweled and killed several women,and they hung the children and
elderly by the ears."53 This statement, although not based on any
documentary evidence, was probably accurate in view of the severe
methods that Rochambeau endorsed in later months. Rochambeau also
demonstrated an acute hatred for the mulattoes. This probably
explained the condemnation of his actions by the Haitian historians
Thomas Madiou and Beaubrun Ardouin who were mulattoes. The other
French generals were not blamed for so many atrocities. An exception,
however, was General Desfourneaux, who on an earlier tour of duty in
Saint-Domingue, had earned a reputation for violence, which he con-
tinued in the same fashion when he returned with the Leclerc expedition.
52Letter from Hauterome, treasurer of hospitals, Genoa, Italy,
November 15, 1801 (23 brumaire An X), Rochambeau Papers.
53Madiou, II, 142.
On the other hand, the atrocities committed by the brigands
on the white colonists were even more extreme. Dessalines on leaving
Leogane, murdered several hundred white inhabitants. Only those who
were able to board American ships escaped his wrath.5 He also
relentlessly pursued his own countrymen for infractions of his orders.
At Cr@te-a-Pierrot, General Lacroix complained of the stench created
by the bodies of dead white civilians murdered by Dessalines as an
example to the French. Subordinates of Rochambeau reported dis-
coveries of bodies of women and children, who had been mutilated.
Christophe and Toussaint were equally violent. Toussaint had not
been afraid to have his own nephew hanged, and Christophe, on leaving
Le Cap, committed several atrocities against the population.57
The courage of both sides in battle was exemplary since mountain-
ous terrain and tropical climate imposed strong barriers. The
regiments in the French divisions behaved well, except for the two
regiments consisting of felons and deserters. Both of these
regiments were under Rochambeau's command, and it was due to Rochambeau's
generalship that he managed to keep his division an effective fighting
force. Rochambeau praised the National Guard of Verettes under
Commandant Repussard for their bravery. This detachment was to perform
many more outstanding deeds for the French. The brigands were a brave
55"Decrit succinct des evenements arrives a Leogane," Rochambeau
5Lacroix, II, 94.
57Madiou, II, 132.
58Roussier, p. 101.
fighting force, and behaved in almost foolhardy fashion against a
better-trained enemy. The auxiliary units of the brigands, consisting
of farmers, were less dependable.
APRIL TO SEPTEMBER: THE LOSS OF POSSESSION
Surrender of the Brigands and French Reorganization
Surrender of the brigands
The battle of Cr@te-1-Pierrot proved to be the decisive blow to
brigand resistance in early 1802. The battle showed that the brigands
were not strong enough to dislodge the French from the island without
a sustained effort. The farmers who made up the majority of the army
were already deserting because of the desire to go home and the
discouragement with continual defeats. The return of many brigands
to their farms left only the generals with their corps of personal
followers that ranged from small bands of twenty men to more than 1,500
men under Christophe and Dessalines. The return of the farmers was
noted in reports to Rochambeau by the local commanders of the outlying
posts near the mountains. Repussard, Commandant of the National Guard
of Verettes, reported the return of many brigands to their farms
and the fact that the small bands in the mountains intensified their
raids for plunder.l These small bands were made up of maroons,
descendants of escaped slaves that refused to recognize any law.
1Letter of Commandant Repussard, Verettes, April 1, 1802 (11 germinal
An X), Rochambeau Papers.
The French troops were in a disorganized state because they had
concentrated forces at Crete-a-Pierrot. This left the northern coast
protected by nominal forces and sailors from the ships. Toussaint,
in order to take advantage of the situation, tried to cut the French
army off and ordered Christophe to attack Le Cap; but timely reinforce-
ments, the courage of the sailors, and the successful return of General
Hardy with his troops overland prevented the execution of this plan.
Leclerc and some troops left for Port-au-Prince, from which he later
returned to Le Cap. Rochambeau was stationed at Saint-Marc, where he
commanded the Artibonite River region.
Toussaint and his personal guards, after an armistice with the
French, settled down on plantations near Ennery, while Dessalines
and Charles Belair, who had combined their troops, also remained in
that vicinity. Christophe was located in the mountains in the North,
and he was under constant attack by the French. Toussaint. had
decided that only patience would permit the rebel forces to survive
against French domination of Haiti. In a letter to Dessalines which
was captured by the French, he wrote: "Do not forget while waiting,
the rainy season, which will rid us of our enemies; we have only for
resources destruction and fire . .2 Rochambeau received regular
reports from his troops stationed in and near Saint-Marc and Gona'ives,
on the activities of the rebels in the area: but the French had been
2Beaubrun Ardouin, Etudes sur l'histoire d'Ha'iti (11 vols.;
Port-au-Prince: Dalencour, 1959), V. The original work was written
so weakened by the high casualty rate of battle and disease that
Leclerc and Rochambeau did not want to start a counter-offensive.
While Toussaint was planning another attack, Christophe decided
to capitulate to the French on April 26, after which Toussaint gave
up any immediate hope of regaining control of Saint-Domingue. On
May 1, Toussaint capitulated and was allowed to settle at Ennery with
a large guard, which was to prevent any French attempt to capture him
on his plantation. Toussaint and Christophe, as well as any other
surrendering brigand general, were given amnesty by Leclerc. This
action was later confirmed by Napoleon. Dessalines and Charles
Belair capitulated on May 6, but chose to join the French army as
Christophe had done.
The insurgent generals were incorporated with their troops in the
colonial army. Dessalines and Belair were stationed at Saint-Marc
under the close supervision of Rochambeau, who was then commander
of the South and West provinces. The troops of Dessalines were
assigned to patrol the mountain areas for, despite the surrender of
the leaders of the rebellion, small brigand groups remained active.
These small bands were more interested in plunder than in the pursuit
of freedom. The colonial troops were used for actual repression of
the brigands, since they were more effective than the French troops
who, diminished through lack of reinforcements and disease, remained
on garrison duty.
Because of the slow action on the part of the French generals in
Madiou, Histoire d'Haiti, II, 113.
Napoleon, Correspondance, VIII, 23.
recapturing the island, Napoleon's instructions to Leclerc on the
conquest of Haiti were not followed. Napoleon had expected Leclerc
to be ready to send back to France the brigand generals in fifteen
days.5 In April, only Rigaud, the former mulatto opponent of Toussaint,
who had come with the French expedition to lure the mulatto generals to
the French, was sent to France. His departure caused some stir among
the mulattoes, but as he had also made many enemies, this move was
generally looked upon with some favor by the mulattoes. In early
June, Toussaint was lured from Ennery to Le Cap by General Brunet,
former commander of the "avant garde" of Rochambeau. On June 7, he
was secretly abducted and sent to France, where he died in prison.
As early as May 10, General Pageot, then with the general staff in
Le Cap, wrote to Rochambeau that Toussaint was to be deported because
of his color, his revolutionary activities in earlier years, and his
order of the execution of his brother Moyse without recourse to a
trial. Moyse was hanged for his indiscriminate cruelties towards the
white population among other things. Leclerc did not dare do the
same to the other brigand generals because they were all protected by
well-armed troops that controlled strategic areas. The reaction of the
other Negro generals was mild. Dessalines had actually been part of
the plot to capture Toussaint by urging him to visit Le Cap. The
colonial troops received the news without much notice.
Reorganization of administration
In April and May, the French began preparation for the establish-
5Lokke, JNH, 90.
6Letter of General de Brigade Pageot, Le Cap, May 10, 1802 (20
floral An X), Rochambeau Papers.
ment of civil French rule. In France, an advisory council to Napoleon
was formed. The council was ordered to determine the judicial organ-
ization of the colony.7 This committee, made up of officials of the
Ministry of the Navy and Colonies and former colonists, recommended the
restoration of slavery, and a legal order similar to that of the ancien
regime. In a note to Consul Combaceres, Napoleon proposed that all
blacks free prior to 26 Pluviose An II (date of the earlier abolition
of slavery) and those who had served the Republic should remain free.
All other Negroes would be re-assigned to proprietors by the police.
The importation of slaves and restoration of the code noir were also
part of this plan.8 When the orders were proposed to Leclerc by
Napoleon in August, the general feared the consequences and did not
execute them. They were not carried out until 1803. He explained
to Minister of the Navy Decres on August 25:
Do not think of re-establishing slavery here for some time.
I believe that it is possible to do it so that my successor
will have to do no more than execute the decree of the
Government, but after the numerous proclamations that I have
made here to ensure the liberty of the Negroes, I will not
contradict myself. But assure the first consul that my
successor will find all disposed of.9
On April 25, Leclerc issued a proclamation in Saint-Domingue, in
which he announced the appointment to a council of some citizens from
the North province and several from the South and West Provinces. These
appointments were made by the commanding officers of the provinces. The
council was to serve inAan advisory capacity on problems dealing with the
7Napoleon, VII, 430.
8Ibid., VII, 444-447.
9Roussier, Lettres du general Leclerc, p. 219.
establishment of a constitution and the restoration of property to
promote cultivation. The council was abolished on June 20, however,
when a state of siege was declared by Leclerc on account of the French
losses. To head the civil administration, a prefet colonial was sent
with the French expedition. The Prefet, Benezech, a former revolution-
ary in France, worked in close cooperation with Leclerc. The prefet
and his staff were to head the police as well as the civilian adminis-
tration. A commissaire de justice and his staff were also sent to
erect a judicial system. The commissaire and prefet held only that
power allocated to them by the captain-general, because the military
controlled the colony. This fact is well demonstrated in a reply
of Benezech to Rochambeau on the question of civilian patronage:
Do not forget, general, that the organization that the govern-
ment has given to the colony has not yet been activated;
presently I have no positions at my disposition, they are
all nominated by the general-en-chef.10
The prefet and his assistants or sous-prefets were distributed to
the departments (West, South and North), quarters and communes
which were the basic subdivisions of the political administration. The
civilians simply were assigned military functions. Each district had
a military officer as its commander. The military also supplied
passports, that were required of all who travelled outside of their
Napoleon felt that cultivation of sugar and coffee had to be
encouraged because the economy of the colony rested on it. Special
inspectors for the promotion of cultivation were appointed who regu-
larly toured the country-side. The taxation of property was made as
10Letter from Prefet Colonial Benezech, Le Cap, May 14, 1802 (24
floral An X), Rochambeau Papers.
light as possible. Local commanders encouraged peasants to return
from the hills. Napoleon personally ordered plans to be drawn up
to permit immediate restoration of land to colonists who had fled
in earlier years, and who returned to find their lands taken away or
occupied by others.11 This problem involved many suits of law that
were still pending in late 1802.
The expedition remained in constant need of greater financial
resources. The only income came from custom duties and the confisca-
tion of brigand property. The income from the former was inadequate
because only the foreign ships yielded profitable revenues; the
French ships paid only half rates but their products were given
preferential treatment over foreign ones. The latter was dubious
because it was difficult to pinpoint valuable rebel property. An
exception .to this was the confiscation of Toussaint's extensive estates
near Gonaives, and the capture of a payroll for his troops by
When Rochambeau became commander of the South and West provinces
in late April, many problems faced him. Besides his military duties,
he had to execute administrative functions as well. Most of his
concern was with the West province, because the South province was
put under command of Genaral de Division Desbureaux who was responsible
in turn to Rochambeau. The South province also played a less important
role because of the poor communications and small isolated communities
11Napoleon, VIII, 18.
12Madiou, II, 225.
that could adequately be reached only by sea. The South province
had active National Guard units who were able to provide some
degree of defense against brigands in the mountains. In the West
province, Rochambeau had troops patrolling from Gonaives to
Mirebalais and Port-au-Prince. The soldiers of Dessalines were used
extensively for this purpose. The patrolling of areas also involved
the disarmament of peasants, which Dessalines performed perfunctorily.
The brigand activities were few in May and June. The heavy losses of
the French due to disease, forced them to incorporate colonial troops
into their ranks.13
13Letter from General de Brigade Martial-Besse, June 30, 1802
(11 messidor An X), Rochambeau Papers.
From April to September, coinciding with the rainy season, the
French expedition was plagued by an exceedingly high fatality rate of
tropical diseases. The high death incidence among Europeans was a
normal occurrence in Saint-Domingue; many Europeans had lost their
lives in earlier years during the rainy season. The English army in
the 1790's had been forced to withdraw, an event that was accelerated
by the high mortality rate. Napoleon, warned about this phenomenon
by his advisors, had ordered the fleet to leave in November, 1801,
so that it would arrive before the start of the rainy season.4
The predominant diseases were yellow fever and dysentery. Dysentery
was not so deadly, or at least not so rapid a killer, because of the
length of the disease; but yellow fever developed in epidemic pro-
protions. As early as March 18, Leclerc reported "I fear the many
sick. I am afraid of the influence of the climate."5 In earlier
letters to Napoleon, Leclerc intimated that there were many in the
hospitals, of which few came from the battlefields. On the first of
April, Leclerc reported to Napoleon that 5,000 soldiers were in the
hospitals, while about thirty to fifty men a day were dying. By this
14Napoleon, VII, 320.
15Roussier, p. 282.
time about 5,000 men had died, of which only about one-third had
died on the battlefields.16 The early figures that Leclerc gave for
his casualties were conservative in comparison to the estimates of
Pamphile de Lacroix. Lacroix's figures on casualties were 2,000
men higher than those of Leclerc. By September, close to 10,000
men had died from the diseases that were rampant, and there were few
signs of abatement.18 The deaths in the hospitals were all blamed on
yellow fever; but prior to March, many soldiers were sick of
malnutrition and of other diseases incurred during the five-month
voyage from France. Another problem that the hospitals faced was
that the soldiers preferred to feign sickness to fighting. The
rations in.the hospital were better and more liberal, and General
Urbain complained in March to Rochambeau about the laxity with which
opportunists were tolerated.19
The descriptions of yellow fever varied. Leclerc, in June,
wrote to Minister of the Navy Decres that he was having the disease
The disease shows itself with some people through signs,
such as slight headaches, or upset stomach or the shakes.
With others it strikes them suddenly; but one does not
find more than one-fifth that escape death.20
In the same letter, he continued, "Mortality in the other cities is
16Roussier, p. 150-151.
17Lacroix, Memoires . ., II, 72.
18Roussier, p. 217.
19Letter from General de Brigade Urbain, Saint-Marc, March 31, 1802
(10 germinal An X), Rochambeau Papers.
20Roussier, pp; 154-155.
not equal to that of Le Cap, and the disease is not contagious."
Other descriptions of yellow fever varied. Gilbert, a physician on
Leclerc's staff, felt that the action of the hot sun "blood wants
to boil," the damp and pestilent atmosphere, and the lack of public
hygiene were causes, and he cites several case studies in support
of this theory.21 He also found that the best cure was the excellent
care provided by the mulatto women. Gilbert noted that the incidence
of yellow fever on troops that were active in the mountains was
negligible. Another physician, who studied the high disease mortality
of yellow fever in the French expedition and on the other islands of
the Antilles, felt that yellow fever was an epidemic disease. However,
he did not pinpoint the mosquito as its carrier. The physician noticed
that among the English there was a lower incidence, which he attributed
to better hygiene regulations of English generals.22
There were many other dramatic descriptions of yellow fever.
One anonymous writer in a pamphlet, Dissertation sur la fievre jaune,
attributed the cause of yellow fever to eating unripened foods, humid
public places, lack of constant winds, debauchery in liquor, bad food,
and very surprisingly, insects. He also noted that Le Cap had less
trouble with yellow fever, prior to 1792, when it was first burned.23
As noted by Leclerc, the fever did not affect the South and West
21C.N.P. Gilbert, Histoire mndicale de l'armee frangaise a Saint-
Domingue en l'an dix ou memoire sur la fievre jaune. (Paris: Imprimerie
de Guilleminet, 1803, pp. 54-71.
22Alexandre Moreau-de-Jonnes, Observations pour servir "a 1'histoire
de la fievre jaune des Antilles. (Paris: Imprimerie Mignuet, 1808), pp. 6-10.
23France, Archives Nationales, Section outre-mer, biblioth'eque Moreau
de Saint-Mery, deuxieme serie, "Dissertation sur la fievre jaune."
provinces so severely, but by late June, General Lavalette, commander
of Port-au-Prince, in his daily reports to Rochambeau, referred to
the increasing number of deaths from fever. Many of the sick from
Gonaives and Saint-Marc were sent to Port-au-Prince. As early as
May 12, Lavalette forbade the entry of more sick from ships into the
hospitals of Port-au-Prince, because "the germ might affect the whole
population . .24 Because of this danger and inadequate hospital
facilities, it was decided to send the worst cases to the island
of Gonave, where a colony was established. In the North, Tortuga
served a similar purpose.
Rochambeau received a report by his medical staff in May on the
state of health, from which it was concluded that there was no yellow
fever in the West, but only various dysenteries and other fever-producing
ailments. There were only 710 hospital cases, of which 400 were men
wounded on the battlefield. There were about 3,000 troops stationed
in the West province at that time.25 The official death register of
Port-au-Prince showed a high of 241 deaths at the time the report was
made, a number which compared favorably to years before the French
occupation. These figures only indicated that there was no excessive
mortality rate among the local population.
The effects of the epidemic on the French troops were demoralizing.
The high rate of mortality and the long periods of convalescence of
the survivors seriously impeded the effectiveness of the fighting
24Letter of General Lavalette, Port-au-Prince, May 12, 1802 (22
floreal An X), Rochambeau Papers.
25Haiti, Archives Nationales, Registre de Port-au-Prince (Port-
forces. Because of the higher resistance of the colonial troops to
the diseases, many were combined with the remaining regiments, but
in most cases, the French simply depended upon the colonial troops to
keep order. Leclerc ordered severe reprisals for activities of
brigands, and surprisingly the native troops executed these orders
with the utmost severity.26 Among the leadership there was also a
high death toll. Generals Hardy and Debelle died in June; Prefet
Benezech died in August; and many generals were incapacitated by
constant illness. Leclerc, Rochambeau, and Burnet, veterans of Saint-
Domingue, also suffered from fever.
The French were unable to start a new offensive, because there
were inadequate fighting forces. Reinforcements were useless, since
they suffered even higher mortality rates as is aptly illustrated and
exaggerated in a description by a contemporary planter, Peter Chanzotte:
Ten days after the landing of these two beautiful regiments,
more than half of their number were carried off by the yellow
fever; they fell down as they walked, the blood rushing out
through their nostrils, mouth and eyes; they died without any
apparent sufferings; their bodies grew yellow, they could not
move they were dead. And yet there was not at this time,
a single country soldier or planter on the sick list within
Few effective measures for protection against yellow fever were
taken by Leclerc. The report made by his physicians in May, recommended
that excess troops were to be moved out of Le Cap, that wet clothes
were to be dried after the rain, and that better hygienic measures
26Roussier, p. 217.
27Peter Chazotte, Historical Sketches of the Revolutions, and the
Foreign and Civil Wars in the Island of Santo Domingo, with a Narrative
of the entire Massacre of the White Population of the Island (New York:
Applegate, 1840), p..31.
were to be taken.2 These measures were not put into effect by
Leclerc, although he did advise commanders in other areas that these
measures would be helpful in combatting the diseases. Thus Leclerc
ordered General Boudet in September to give special treatment to
some new European troops:
Save your European troops by marching them only in the morning
or evening, except if under attack. You should have today the
first battalion of the Polish Legion, 745 men strong at Haut
du Cap: Forbid these men to imbibe in drink.29
28'Rapport du Conseil de Sante Colonial." Le Cap, May 31, 1802
(11 prairial An X), Rochambeau Papers.
29poyen, Histoire militaire . ., p. 261.
Troops and Supplies
When Leclerc and the expedition left France, reinforcements of
two thousand to three thousand men.per month were promised. It was
believed that an army with a strength of about 20,000 men was
necessary to subdue Saint-Domingue. Yet Leclerc never had more than
thirteen thousand European troops in fighting condition available,
and usually part of that number included sick or colonial troops.
The reinforcements that did arrive, were cancelled by the high
casualty rate. From April to June, 5,000 men died.30 On Leclerc's
arrival in Saint-Domingue, there were 9,000 men who were soon increased
to 13,000. In late September, there were 24,000 men. Of these troops,
about 7,000 were in the hospital and at least 6,000 were colonial
troops.31 Leclerc in a letter to Napoleon added that by October 7,
he expected to have only 4,000 fighting men left with an equal number
in the hospital or dead.32 The French in the period of February to
September lost about 10,000 men, of which less than twenty per cent
died on the battlefield.
There were some curious comparisons in the hospitalization rates
of the divisions. In Rochambeau's division of the South and West,
3Roussier, p. 155.
31"Tableau general des forces de l'armee de St. Domingue,"
Archives Nationales, serie AF IV, dossier 1213.
32Roussier, p. 233.
about 1,200 men out of 7,300 were in the hospital, while in the two
divisions in the North, 3,000 men out of 8,500 men were in the hospital.
These figures apparently indicated a lower mortality rate in the West,
as might be expected from Rochambeau's comments. In early September,
reinforcements arrived from France. These 6,700 men were part of a
twelve-thousand man expedition that was destined for Louisiana.
Napoleon had ordered Minister of the Navy Decres to prepare this
expedition on which he said:
My intention, citizen minister, is that we will take posses-
sion of Louisiana in.the shortest possible time; prepare this
expedition with the greatest secrecy; let it appear as if it
will be sent to Saint-Domingue.33
Apparently the dire need for reinforcements in Saint-Domingue prevented
the expedition from being sent to Louisiana, since the troops remained
The supply situation of the expedition improved very little over
that of April. Leclerc continued to lack adequate finances. After
the initial Spanish contributions in early April, Leclerc received
very small additional sums of money. In despair, Leclerc wrote to
Napoleon in early October, that he had received a cumulative total of
only 6,300,000 francs, while the English in a comparative period
of occupation in the 1790's had received 200,000,000 francs.34 Custom
duties and taxes did not produce adequate income. Leclerc, because of
his bad credit record, was forced to pay in silver specie. Unfortu-
nately for him, half of his money was in the form of promissory notes.
33Napoleon, VII, 485.
34Roussier, p. 257.
The Americans, English, and Spanish in Mexico who also raised their
prices for the French, refused to sell on credit; the French Navy
was unable to supply adequate quantities of supplies for the expedition.
The dire need for funds reflected itself among the local commanders
who resorted to confiscation of American ships, imposition of illegal
taxes and other irregularities in order to pay the troops.35
The French reinforcements generally came poorly equipped.
Clothing and footwear were hard to get and many troops apparently
had little to wear as was indicated in.a letter of a subordinate of
Rochambeau who requested equipment for his troops: "They are absolutely
naked. Please give the order that they may be issued equipment . .
The supply of food was not so pressing. Adequate quantities were
imported, but in many cases the quality was so low that the food had
to be thrown into the ocean. A considerable amount of graft went on
so the food that was rejected was salvaged by enterprising characters
who resold it to the army. The rations were divided on the basis of
cost per soldier. Leclerc gave the officers extra rations, since he
felt that their pay was too low.3 The generals obviously had less
trouble with their pay; Rochambeau ordered two carriages and several
horses while he was in Port-au-Prince during that same period.
35Letter of Andrieu, Port-au-Prince, June 20, 1802 (1 messidor
An X), Rochambeau Papers.
36Letter of chef de brigade Drouin, May 22, 1802 (2 prairial
An X), Rochambeau Papers.
37Roussier, p. 157.
Continuing Opposition to the French
Renewal of brigand activity
With the capitulation of the brigand leaders in early May, most
of the fighting ceased in the West and South provinces. The raids of
small brigand groups continued, but these groups were motivated by a
desire for plunder rather than the expulsion of the French. On May 12,
General Lavalette, commander of Port-au-Prince, reported brigand
activities close to the city, and warned Rochambeau that further
attacks might be forthcoming.38 No attacks were again reported for
two months. On orders from Rochambeau, General Dessalines disarmed
the peasants in the Artibonite region.39 Another problem that faced
the French was desertion of their colonial regiments; General Lavalette
in the latter part of May, reported to Rochambeau that more than 100
men had deserted from Port-au-Prince.40 This high rate of desertion
was apparently due to the cessation of hostalities with the brigands.
The abduction of Toussaint Louverture on June 6 raised few distur-
bances in the West province. Rochambeau had kept Toussaint under
continual surveillance during May, and had also received from officers
38Letter from General de Brigade Lavalette, Port-au-Prince, May 12,
1802 (22 floreai An X), Rochambeau Papers.
39Letter from General de Brigade Martial-Besse, Saint-Marc,
July 6, 1802 (17 messidor An X), Rochambeau Papers.
40Letter from General Lavalette, Port-au-Prince, May 29, 1802
(9 prairial An X), Rochambeau Papers.
stationed in Saint-Marc reports on the activities of Dessalines and
Charles Belair. On orders of General Rochambeau, French officers
were put in responsible commands and positions in the colonial forces.
There were no reports of agitation among the high colonial officers
on account of the abduction of Toussaint. Letters from Chef de
Battalion Margaret and General Martial-Besse, who were stationed in
Saint-Marc for surveillance purposes, indicated that Dessalines left
for Le Cap on June 5, where he helped the French with the deportation
In the South, this event created some disturbances. Supporters
of Toussaint fled to the South, where they instigated some minor
peasant rebellions. In late June, Delpech, the commander in Petite
and Grande Goave, reported a peasant insurrection in the mountains.
Chancy, a former aide de camp of Toussaint, escaped to the West province.
Ironically, Chancy was arrested in Port-au-Prince when he walked into
the general headquarters and demanded a passport for further travels.
He was promptly seized and sent to Le Cap. When General Rochambeau
made an inspection tour of the South province in June and July, he
found everything in order. But three hours after he left Leogane,
sixty men of the third Colonial Demi-Brigade deserted to the brigands.43
41Letter of Chef de Battalion Margaret, Saint-Marc, June 6, 1802
(16 prairial An X), Rochambeau Papers.
42Letter of General de Brigade Lavalette, Port-au-Prince, June 24,
1802 (5 messidor An X), Rochambeau Papers.
43Letter of Chef de Battalion Poyer, Leogane, July 6, 1802 (17
messidor An X), Rochambeau Papers.
Despite the small insurrections, most of the South remained
peaceful. There were occasional threats of disturbances. General
Desbureaux reported to Rochambeau that a plot was uncovered in
Jeremie and asked for more reinforcements on July 17. Further rumors
of plots were circulated in Les Cayes and Jeremie, but only a few
small brigand raids took place. In September, however, a major
The West remained free of any large-scale brigand activity until
late July. General Lavalette did report to Rochambeau on the execution
of brigands, but these were local bandits and prisoners sent from the
South province. In the mountain sections, there were increasingly
bolder raids towards Archaye and towards the border communities of
Mirebalais, Petite Riviere, and Verettes. These attacks were to some
extent discouraged by constant patrols of the National Guard units
stationed there, but the colonial troops under Charles Belair provided
Belair's inefficiency in the mountain area came to light in late
August. Repussard, commander of the National Guard in Verettes, had
been forced to relinquish his arms when Belair became the commanding
general. Repussard, in a letter to Rochambeau, protested the loss of
arms, which made defense of the area impossible. His case lost some
validity when it was discovered that men of his unit had been actively
plundering in the area. Repussard's men, however were each allowed
to retain one rifle. On August 21, Duquesne, Commandant of the French
44Letter of Commandant Repussard, Verettes, July 23, 1802,
troops in Saint-Marc, reported an accusation of Repussard against
Belair. The accusation contained evidence that Belair had been
dealing with the enemy troops for some time, and that several of
the brigand chieftains were officers in Belair's detachment.45 This
evidence was verified by a letter from Barzelais, Chef d'Etat-Major
of Dessalines, who confirmed the evidence that Belair was dealing with
An ardent admirer of Toussaint, Belair had been dissatisfied
with French rule ever since the abduction of Toussaint. The news of
the possible defection of Belair came as a surprise to Rochambeau,
who relied upon information from Belair's secretary, a Frenchman.
To silence him, Belair had ordered him executed. On August 23,
Duquesne reported to Rochambeau that Belair had changed his allegiance:
The traitors have finally shown themselves; yesterday at
ten o'clock in the evening, Charles Belair with the
Battalion of the 8th Colonial left Verettes. He killed
his own secretary who was a soldier of the 5th light
Demi-Brigade, fearing that he would tell us his plans.
Dessalines, General Jablonowski, a Polish general who had arrived with
later reinforcements from France, and Repussard encircled Belair and
his troops. Repussard reported to Rochambeau that they received the
major brunt of the attack, while Dessalines' troops saw little or
no action. Belair was evidently afraid to fight his commanding general
45Letter of Commandant Duquesne, Saint-Marc, August 21, 1802
(3 fructidor An X), Rochambeau Papers.
46Letter to Chef d'Etat-Major Barzelais, Saint-Marc, August 23,
1802 (5 fructidor An X), Rochambeau Papers.
47Letter from Commandant Duquesne, Verettes, August 23, 1802
(5 fructidor An X), Rochambeau Papers.
or Dessalines may have tried to aid Belair. In early September,
Belair was forced to surrender to Repussard, who sent him to Le Cap.
There Belair was executed on orders of Leclerc by troops of Dessalines,
probably a convenient way of getting rid of a competitor for national
With the exception of Belair's defection, the months from April
to September were relatively free from any serious military conflict.
At the same time, a state of agitation continued among the population.
Rumors circulated about possible brigand plots, which at times were
uncovered, and about increased punitive measures by the army. The
faith of the French in the colonial troops was completely lost after
three quarters of the colonial forces had to be dismissed because of
lack of funds, on which occasion the remaining forces immediately
demanded their pay.48 This sudden demand jeopardized Leclerc's treasury
that was too low to maintain the whole colonial army.
48Roussier, p. 201.
Increase in Punitive Measures
The high mortality rate from disease, the increasing comparative
size of the colonial troops, and renewed brigand activities helped
to promote severe punitive measures on the part of the French as the
only answer to the problem of restoration of order. Suspicions of
the loyalty of the colonial troops became more prevalent. Leclerc
mistrusted Dessalines and Christophe; Toussaint was deemed unimportant
only when he was safely jailed in France. The rebellion of Belair
created some suspicion of Dessalines, who had once been one of
Belair's closest allies. General Jablonowski accused Dessalines of
permitting Belair to escape and of preventing him from capturing
When Leclerc named General Rochambeau commander of the South
and West provinces in April, the old colonists rejoiced, but the
mulattoes opposed it. Rochambeau, despite his activities in the French
Revolution, had approved of the policies of the ancien regime towards
Saint-Domingue. Rochambeau held the mulatto in very low esteem,
evidence of which is cited by Pamphile de Lacroix in a letter written
by Rochambeau in 1795 in the United States:
You can see, citizens, that in my view I have little regard
for the mulattoes, whereas I have a high degree of confidence
in the Negroes; the latter.are less vicious, more brave,
more sober, and above all, more aware of the merit of
liberty than the first.49
Although there was little evidence in his latter correspondence of
any discrimination against mulattoes, his subsequent actions did
confirm this charge. Yet he was quite able to recognize the services
of Repussard, who was a mulatto.
Haitian historians, such as Thomas Madiou and Beaubrun Ardouin,
delighted in describing the many atrocities performed on the local
population by the French troops. Ardouin cited the many prisoners
killed by Rochambeau's troops on his orders at the capture of Fort
Dauphin in February.50 These remarks are often exaggerated. Many
of the men shot were regarded as rebels by the French. The troops
did receive orders to make severe reprisals. Correspondence of
Rochambeau indicated a large number of executions from July on, but
there was little evidence of indiscriminate and baseless murders.
prior to August.
49Lacroix, II, 187.
50Ardouin, V, 8.
RENEWAL OF REBELLION
Defection of the Negro Leaders
The increase of brigand activity
In September there was an increase in brigand activities, par-
ticularly in the South and West provinces. In the West the French
troops were conducting operations in the Cahos Mountains against
supporters of Charles Belair. General Dessalines, who was in charge
of these operations, was also ordered to continue the disarmament
of peasants in this area. He conducted this task with.efficiency
but a great deal of bloodshed. The brigands were still able to
concentrate their forces in the Matheux Mountains near Archaye,
where they cut communications overland between Saint-Marc and Port-
au-Prince. The forces were led by Leroux, Destrade, and Larose, who
had been subordinates of Charles Belair. They had also conducted
brigand operations while Belair still served as a French officer.
Chef de Battalion Lamartiniere, who had been an ardent follower
of Toussaint Louverture but had surrendered with him in June, was
despatched to the Archaye area by General Pageot with the Third
Colonial Demi-Brigade. In correspondence with his direct superior,
General Lavalette, Lamartiniere reported the capture and execution
of several brigands, and that the area appeared quiet. In order to
find the main body of the brigands, Lamartiniere decided to pursue
them into the mountains. On September 16, Roy, Commander of Archaye
reported sounds of shooting there; he surmised that the shots were
fired by Lamartiniere and his men. By this time, Lamartinikre's
communications with Roy were broken off. Roy's dispatches contained
no indications of laxity of Lamartiniere towards his duties. According
to the Haitian historian Thomas Madiou, Lamartiniere had intended to
surrender to the brigands when he would be able to contact them in the
mountains. Because of a misunderstanding with Larose, the brigand
leader there, Lamartiniere and his battalion were ambushed. Lamartiniere
was murdered by one of the brigand officers. The remainder of his
battalion surrendered to the brigands, however, while the other battalions
of the Third Demi-Brigade surrendered shortly afterwards. In later
French operations, the men belonging to Lamartiniere's regiment were
recaptured by the French and executed for desertion.
Lamartiniere's action stopped an immediate attack on Archaye,
which at the time was defended by only a skeleton force. This decision
gave the French time to send more troops into Archaye. The intensification
of French forces concentrations in Archaye, drove many of the rebels
to the South. One column under Larose also marched towards Verettes
1Chef de Bataillon Lamartiniere, to General de Brigade Lavalette,
Archaye, September 13, 1802 (26 fructidor An X), Rochambeau Papers.
2Madiou, Histoire d'Haiti, II, 296.
3Letter from Commandant Roy, September 16, 1802 (29 fructidor
An X), Rochambeau Papers.
but was driven back by Repussard. The brigands aroused the peasants
in the areas they marched through and were not adverse to using terror
to force the peasants to join their bands. Thomas Madiou estimated
that they numbered about 3,000 men.4 The brigands concentrated around
Leogane, while they instigated several insurrections throughout the
South province. At the time Leogane was cut off from French support,
the brigands also threatened the Jacmel area.
Raids by the insurgents were made into the Cul-de-Sac valley as
far as Port-au-Prince according to Panisse, commander of Port-au-
Prince who reported the destruction of plantations in this rich
valley, and the flight of inhabitants into the city. Among the
destroyed plantations were those belonging to General Lavalette and
Vice-Admiral Latouche-Treville. On September 23, brigands even
approached the hospital in Port-au-Prince, but the attack was warded
off by the French. Commandant Panisse's task of defending Port-au-
Prince was made more difficult by the increasing number of desertions
from the colonial troops to the brigands. The high rate of deserters
probably explained the bold attacks of the brigands on the city.
Most of the troops stationed in Port-au-Prince had been despatched
to Jacmel, where Generals Rochambeau, Pageot, and Lavalette were
conducting operations against the brigands.
In the Leogane area, an insurrection had broken out on September 12.
This had been fostered by the extreme behavior of the local French
4Madiou, II, 296.
5Letter from Commandant Panisse, Port-au-Prince, October 16, 1802,
commander, General Pageot and his subordinates. The French had
attempted to disarm the peasants, and rumors of the reestablishment
of slavery were rampant. The insurrection was aided by brigands under
Destrade, who had come from the Archaye area.6 General Lavalette was
sent to the area with French reinforcements. General Rochambeau,
who had just started a tour of the Southern part of Saint-Domingue,
personally directed part of the campaign to eradicate the brigands.
Serious rebellions, which were probably instigated by brigands from
the Leogane area broke out in the Grande Goave area. These insurrections
were eventually quelled by Delpech, the local commander, with a great
deal of bloodshed, and only by late October did Delpech fully suppress
the uprising. In Saint-Louis, General Desbureaux had to suppress an
insurrection, which had been started by an officer of the local
Gendarmerie. The rebels spread rumors that slavery was to be
reestablished and that the French were going to disarm and slaughter
In Jeremie, attempts to rebel were made by local peasants, but
despite the death of the commander General Jablonowski, the local
officers of the National Guard and European regiments were able to
prevent the rebellion from coming to fruition. The major culprit was
Captain Dommage, who was caught with documents that proved his complicity
with the brigands. According to the French Interim Commander of Jeremie,
Bernard, Dommage had terrorized the plantation owners and their workers
in order to switch their support to the brigands. He also spread
6Ardouin, Etudes . ., V, 59.
Letter from General de Division Desbureaug St. Louis, September
8,.1802 (21 fructidor An X), Rochambeau Papers.
rumors among the Negro population and mulattoes that the French
intended to establish slavery again. Dommage also provided arms for
his followers and had contacts with other brigand groups in the
mountains. He thus alarmed the country-side for several weeks under
pretense of being a strong French supporter. Dommage was brought to
trial in Le Cap, and later executed.8 Bernard also imprisoned
several other prisoners, among whom there were a judge and several
officers of the National Guard; Je'remie was generally a stronghold of
mulattoes, which indicated the suspicions that many mulattoes held
towards the intentions of the French in the colony. Les Cayes also
suffered from insurrections in the surrounding areas, but the mulatto
commander Berger kept tight reign on the city and was not afraid of
terrorizing the local farmers .into supporting the French cause.
The insurrections throughout the South and the Cahos Mountains
were motivated in many cases by the example of neighboring areas.
Much blame for the apparent discontent came from the arrogant and
rude behavior of the local commanders when the peasants resisted any
attempts to disarm them. Similar insurrections took place in the North;
but because the French never fully controlled the mountains in that
area, these insurrections were more difficult to suppress. In the
Plaisance area brigands, led by Sans Souci who fought under Toussaint
Louverture against the French, formed a confederation of rebels called
the "Congos" which was patterned after the African tribal organization.
8Letter from Interim Commandant of Jeremie, Bernard, Jeremie,
October 2, 1802 (10 vendemiaire; An XI), Rochambeau Papers.
The "Congos," aroused little enthusiasm among other brigands. They
were of little importance in the eyes of brigands of the other districts,
yet Christophe and Dessalines pursued them even more intensively
than other rebels.
The loss of control over Haiti
With the increase of rebellious activity on the part of the
brigands, the French suffered a sharp: decline in morale. Yellow
fever did not abate as expected and, particularly in the North, many
perished or were convalescent. Because of the serious losses of
European troops, many regiments were augmented by colonial forces,
among whom there was a high rate of desertion. The deserters pro-
vided an excellent source of information for the brigands on the morale,
organization, and strength of the troops stationed in the various areas.
In Port-au-Prince, in late September, about thirteen men per day
deserted.10 Because of the loss of soldiers and the illnesses of
many, the French concentrated their forces in the cities along the
seaboard, while they withdrew from the countryside and interior
In the face of brigand attacks and occupation many plantations
were left by their owners as the native laborers deserted or remained
only to cultivate their own little plots of land. The French civilians
and French supporters suffered even more heavily, and many were forced
9Madiou, III, 303.
10Letter from Commandant Panisse, Port-au-Prince, October 7, 1802
(15 vendemiaire An XI), Rochambeau Papers.
to flee their homes for the cities. The threat of loss of lands
made the civilian population sensitive to the threat of brigands.
Even in the relatively isolated area around Les Cayes, where there
was less of a problem in guarding the countryside, the population
complained about inadequate protection by the troops. In a personal
letter to Rochambeau, a civilian in Les Cayes complained about the
small number of troops and the apprehension of the native inhabitants.11
The fear of many inhabitants and destruction of the plantations helped
to decrease production for exportation to France and the United'States.
A commercial embargo on foreign ships was received with little
opposition in November.
The high rate of desertion to the brigands and the increasing
intensity of brigand attacks further encouraged the French to resort
to excessive violence to quell the rebellions. In order to punish
raids the French retaliated through hostages. Deserters who were
caught again met with instant execution, and many brigand prisoners
were shot. Rochambeau had 100 men of a colonial battalion drowned in
retaliation for some desertions from that regiment.12 General
Desbureaux in a letter to Rochambeau wrote that he had established
a crack battalion which was ordered "to shoot the brigands on sight."13
11Letter from Pellissiere, Les Cayes, September 7, 1802 (20
fructidor An X), Rochambeau Papers.
12Ardouin, V, 59.
13Letter from General de Division Desbureaux, St. Louis,
September 8, 1802 (21 fructidor An X), Rochambeau Papers.
Commandant Panisse in Port-au-Prince reported to Rochambeau that he
was sending prisoners to the "ponton."4 The pontonn" was used
repeatedly for imprisoning men, and because none of the prisoners
sent there ever survived the French occupation, it probably served
as a device to drown prisoners. The French reacted severely against
their own countrymen, particularly the Creoles. In order to levy
taxes for the support of his forces, Rochambeau ordered the five
reputedly richest men in Port-au-Prince to contribute a certain amount
of money. A wealthy man by the name of Fedon, who was one of the m
asked to contribute, refused to do so and was threated with the
death penalty for his refusal. Despite the threats, Fedon refused
to pay. He was convicted of treason and officially sentenced to death.
A last minute reprieve was given minutes after Fedon was hanged.15
The French were also faced with a lack of qualified commanding
generals. Many of the officers were more concerned with adding to
their personal fortunes; General Lavalette and General Rochambeau had
extensive property around Port-au-Prince, .although much of it was
destroyed by brigands. Vice-Admiral Latouche-Treville also owned
property there. General Leclerc complained to Napoleon that he had
been unable to attend to his own income and asked for the island of
14Letter from Commandant Panisse, Port-au-Prince, October 27,
1802 (5 brumaire An X), Rochambeau Papers.
15Ph-Albert de Lattre, Campagnes des frangais a Saint-Domingue et
refutation des reproches faits au capitain-general Rochambeau (Pakis:
Locard, 1805), p. 121.
16Roussier, Lettres du general Leclerc, p. 147.
The pre-occupation of the commanding officers with their own affairs,
often drew them away from their military responsibilities. Thus,
General Fressinet complained to Rochambeau that General Quantin was
preoccupied with his personal business at the time that Saint-Marc,
where both generals were stationed, was actually under attack by
Dessalines.17 The example of the commanding officers was often followed
by their subordinates as well. Leclerc wrote to Napoleon as early as
The Minister sends me the rejects of the army as far as officers
are concerned; he has sent me about 150 . How can one think
of sending men who have been sent away from their corps because
of defects in morality or ability in order to employ them as
commanders of cities or officers of the gendarmerie in a land
that does not know any God but money.18
The emergence of the organization of the brigand forces
There was no national organization of the brigand forces after the
surrender of Toussaint Louverture. By August several large bands had
been formed in the Cahos Mountains and other groups had formed in the
Plaisance region. Sans Souci became the leader there and by declaring
himself commander in chief tried to assert himself over other brigand
In the Cahos Mountains, brigands led by Larose, Leroux,and
Destrade tried to organize their bands into a larger force. Destrade
also declared himself commander in chief after the execution of Charles
Belair. Destrade, however, was never able to enforce his claim to the
17Letter from General de Brigade Fressinet, Saint-Marc, November
2, 1802 (11 brumaire An XI), Rochambeau Papers.
18Roussier, p. 163.
command of the brigands. The forces under Destrade were about 3,000
men. Including brigands outside of the Cahos Mountains, there were
General Dessalines actively pursued Charles Belair for the French,
and he later promptly executed Belair. Apparently, Dessalines was
afraid of the power and influence that Belair had over the local
population. Dessalines' loyalty was questioned, later, in a letter
from General Pageot to Rochambeau in which, on the basis of hearsay
evidence, a fisherman claimed that Dessalines had aroused all the
Negroes of the Artibonite region to combine with Charles Belair.20
However, Leclerc wrote to Napoleon on September 16, that Dessalines
had asked him for assurance that he would be welcomed in France if
the French were unable to remain on Saint-Domingue. In a letter to
Rochambeau on October 4, Dessalines protested his loyalty to the
French, but he did warn Rochambeau, "I see, General, that you have
opened your eyes to the position in which we find ourselves. And
all those who tell you that it is good, are enemies of tranquility."22
In the North, the commanding colonial Generals Petion, Christophe,
and Clairveaux repeatedly assured the French of their loyalty. The
colonial troops outnumbered the European forces considerably,
particularly since the larger part of the European armies was inca-
19Roussier, p. 255.
20Letter from General Pageot, Archaye, September 2, 1802 (15
fructidor An X), Rochambeau Papers.
21Roussier, p. 234.
22Letter from General de Division Dessalines, Grand Bois, October 4,
1802, Rochambeau Papers.
pacitated by yellow fever. After a revolt of some colonial troops,
the French, suspicious of the other colonial troops and their
intentions towards them, sent the larger part of the colonial regi-
ments out of Le Cap, while restrictions were imposed on the Negro
generals and their retinue. An attempt which failed was made by the
French to arrest the Generals Petion, Christophe, and Clairveaux. On
October 15, the generals and their troops joined the brigands. Clairveaux,
who was later caught by the French, was drowned with his troops in the
harbor of Le Cap.23
The actions of the French precipitated the defection of Dessalines.
Events in the Northern province, aroused the suspicions of the French
in the West and South as well. Dessalines, who had been sent into the
mountains in order to disarm the peasants there, had actually provided
them with arms. General Quantin, stationed at Saint-Marc, ordered
Chef de Brigade Andrieu to arrest Dessalines. Andrieux enlisted the
help of a priest, Abbe Videau, who invited Dessalines for a dinner at
Crete-a-Pierrot. When they sat down at the meal, a mulatto girl warned
Dessalines that the French had surrounded the house. Dessalines
was able to escape the French by jumping through a window. He joined
the insurgent forces on October 17.2
Dessalines marched immediately for Verettes, where he tried to
surprise Repussard. He had already evacuated Verettes and left for
Saint-Marc because of a warning given by Abbe Videau, who had also
23Ardouin, V, 65.
24Madiou, II, 338.
fled immediately after the failure of the French to capture Dessalines.
Crete-a-Pierrot, which had been commanded by Andrieu, was also evacuated.
Dessalines then concentrated his troops for an attack on Saint-Marc
and Gona'ives. Gona'ives was eventually evacuated by the French, and
Saint-Marc was almost captured by a ruse of the brigands. With
the many retreating troops, a battalion of the Twelfth Colonial Demi-
Brigade also returned. The officers, with the exception of the
commanding officer, had been instructed to attack Saint-Marc from within.
Generals Fressinet and Quantin were warned of the plan by an informer.
A roll was called, and the battalion was surrounded by loyal troops
and ordered to surrender its arms. When the rebellious troops re-
fused to lay down their arms, General Quantin ordered the surrounding
troops to execute :the battalion. According to a report from
General Fressinet, only four men escaped alive from the massacre.25
An attack by Dessalines followed promptly; but he was unable to
dislodge the French from Saint-Marc, although he did cut all overland
communications with the rest of the island.
The failure of Dessalines to secure the West province for the
brigands, did not deter their forces. But internal dissent among the
brigands in the West, and the desire of Dessalines to become the
national leader of Saint-Domingue temporarily stopped further intensi-
fication of brigand activities against the French. The failure to
capture Saint-Marc meant that the French still controlled an important
harbor and the entrance of the Artibonite valley.
25Letter from G~ndral de Brigade Fressinet, Saint-Marc, October 31,
1802 (9 brumaire An XI), Rochambeau Papers.
The Death of General Leclerc
As early as March 25, Leclerc complained of his poor health to
Napoleon, and for the next few months he suffered intermittently from
a feverish condition.26 Leclerc left several times for the island
of Tortue, which was a place for recuperation of convalescing troops.
In late October, Leclerc came down with yellow fever and after several
days of suffering died on November 1, in Le Cap.27 Leclerc, who
had been able to give orders until a few hours before he died named
Rochambeau as his successor. Because Rochambeau was in Port-au-Prince
at the time, Prefet Colonial Daure became Interim Captain-General until
Rochambeau's arrival in Le Cap, where the latter was to be invested
with the powers of his office.
The problem of a successor had weighed heavily on Leclerc. In
his correspondence with Napoleon, he repeatedly had asked for a
successor to be appointed. He did not feel that any of the commanding
officers in Haiti were capable of succeeding him, and even about
Rochambeau he wrote:
The General Rochambeau, brave and a good commander in war
does not know anything when it comes to his appearance to
others or to tact in his behavior. Besides he lacks character
and allows himself to be led easily by others.28
26Roussier, p. 117.
27Prefet Colonial Daure to General Rochambeau, Le Cap, November
2, 1802 (11 brumaire An XI), Rochambeau Papers.
28Roussier, pp. 234-235.
In the same letter, Leclerc wrote his opinion of the other senior
officers in Haiti: "Boudet thinks only of money, Desbureaux is
afraid of dying, Quantin can not assemble two ideas, and Dugua is
too weak to direct." He finished the letter stating:
Rochambeau has served well here; it would not be necessary to
be dissatisfied with him and I would be at ease if before my
departure you give him a recognition of satisfaction and
place him in France or the colonies. I believe that he has
earned and appointment to the Legion of Honor.29
Napoleon never replied as to his intentions for a successor for
Leclerc. According to the instructions of Napoleon to Leclerc,
Rochambeau had been designated as second-in-command.30 The positive
response of Rochambeau to the increase of brigand activities in the
South and West had impressed Leclerc greatly and a month later he
wrote to Napoleon, "The Generaux de Division, whom you have sent
me are with the exception of Rochambeau very uncapable."31
The personal life of Leclerc has been the subject of much
scrutiny by the colony and by later historians. Leclerc's wife,
Pauline, who later gained much notoriety on account of her extra-
marital activities, found little excitement in Le Cap. Many rumors
existed about her lovers, the more important one being General Boyer,
later Chef d'Etat-Major.32 In the letters to Napoleon, Leclerc only
cites Pauline as being an excellent wife, and he repeatedly came to
29Roussier, pp. 234-235.
3See Chapter II.
31Roussier, p. 258.
32H. Pauleus Sannon, Le Cap Francais vu par une americaine (Port-
au-Prince: Aug. A Heraux, 1936), p. 11,
Tortue where Pauline resided with her son during the summer season.
The amorous adventures of Pauline were also probably hampered by the
fear of the diseases that rampaged in Le Cap and took such a high toll
The death of General Leclerc came as a shock to the French colony.
The brigands used the confusion to launch an attack on Le Cap, which
was beaten back by the defenders although the city remained closely
surrounded by brigand forces. Yellow fever still took a high toll among
the men stationed in Le Cap, and communications with the rest of the
colony were maintained only by sea. The administrative and high military
personnel were retained in their operating functions by Prefet Daure
and General Clauzel who commanded the area until the arrival of General
Rochambeau. The colonists received the news of the change of commanders
with much optimism, and as the Haitian historian Ardouin noted: "With
the news, the heart of the colonists lit up with joy: Leclerc was
not the man that they needed, they thought; it was Rochambeau"34
Rochambeau had shown considerable ability in surpressing insurrections
in the South, while in earlier years of his career he had earned the
reputation of being a formidable supporter of the policies as they were
before 1789 towards the colony. He was faced with the considerable task
of restoring the colony to order, restoring the morale of the armed
forces, and with reviving a corrupt bureaucracy.
33Roussier, p. 17.
34Ardouin, V, 70.
The body of General Leclerc was sent to France with a fitting
large retinue and was buried with great fanfare. Pauline Leclerc
and her son, Peyre, the chief physician of the colony, and the members
of the staff returned to France on a ship that arrived in early January.
The news of the confirmation of Rochambeau's position by Napoleon
reached the island in February.
A New Agressive Policy
Although Leclerc died on November 1, Rochambeau did not receive
the news until November 6,and did not arrive in Le Cap until November 17.
After he was installed as Captain-General on his arrival by the Cure
Lecun,35 he soon brought about a change in the French military.tactics
against the brigands. Despite inadequate numbers of troops and an
attack by the brigands on Le Cap only two days after Rochambeau's
arrival, he ordered preparations made for an attack on Fort Dauphin.
General Lavalette and General Clauzel were sent to the city. General
Brunet was ordered to make preparations to restore French authority
in M'le-de-Saint Nicolas. The brigand Generals Christophe and Petion
were pushed back into the mountains, while Dessalines failed to
capture Saint-Marc and was defeated by Troy in his attempts to capture
Yellow fever still raged, and in the West General Watrin, who had
been designated by Leclerc as Rochambeau's successor in that area, died
from the disease. Unrest among the remaining colonial troops also
persisted. Just before the death of Leclerc, orders were given to arrest
General Maurepas who was accused of supporting the brigands because some
of his men had defected with his knowledge. Maurepas, according to
35Ardouin, V, 73.
36Letter from Commandant Panisse, Port-au-Prince, November 22, 1802
(1 frimaire An X), Rochambeau Papers.
the Haitian historian Thomas Madiou, was drowned with his family
while being transported to France.37 Madiou also noted that this
act was on orders of the French leaders, but in a letter to General
Rochambeau by Vice-Admiral Latouche-Treville, the drowning was blamed
on the greed of some ship-officers who found money and other valuables
among Maurepas' possessions and baggage. The ships-officers were
punished for their actions.38
The social life of Rochambeau also found more expression in the
colony in comparison to that of Leclerc. Gala balls were given on
his arrival in Le Cap, and were continued regularly. An eyewitness
report of that period indicated:
Leclerc was not inclined to pleasure; he devoted most of
his time to administrative affairs . .But with his
successor, all changed; Mars bowed before Venus, the
feasts, the pleasures triumphed over the cares of war and
politics . The number of mistresses of Donatien de
Rochambeau were uncountable. His private life was a
scandal in all circumstances.39
Despite his private preoccupations, Rochambeau found time to
direct the affairs of the colony. He replaced a number of officials,
among them Prefet Colonial Daure, and he attempted to organize the
administrative sectors. The more drastic changes were in his policies
towards the native population. Negroes and mulattoes were limited,
if possible, in positions of power and influence; on a plantation, they
could only cultivate, while overseers, when possible, had to be
37Madiou, II, 348.
38Letter from Vice-Amiral Latouche-Treville, Le Cap, December 2,
1802 (11 frimaire An XI), Rochambeau Papers.
39Sannon, p. 7.
European. The National Guard was reorganized into units commanded by
European officers. In a letter on December 10, to the Minister of War,
Berthier, Rochambeau pointed out that the Creoles were dissatisfied
and that he was trying to force them to face the real danger to the
French.40 Rochambeau accomplished this by requiring them to attend to
their places and property, rather than to live on their rents.
Rochambeau also tried to cut off the foreign trade with the island.
One reason for coastal reoccupation was to cut off the brigands from
the sea in order to prevent them from receiving supplies from the
Americans and to some extent from the British. At the time of
Rochambeau's new command, supplies were adequate. By late December,
supplies were running low and he was forced to deal with foreign
interests again and lift the embargo on foreign goods. The French
were simply incapable of importing an adequate amount of provisions.41
The strategy of Rochambeau was different from that used by Leclerc.
Leclerc had concentrated on a few strongholds, from which with new
reinforcements he eventually hoped to be able to expand into the country-
side. Rochambeau preferred to concentrate on small objectives, although
he also regarded a large complement of forces necessary to hold the
colony. These ideas were reflected in a letter from Chef de Brigade
Alix who elaborated on this question. Alix felt that because the
40General Rochambeau to General Berthier, Le Cap, December 10,
1802 (20 frimaire An XI), Rochambeau Papers.
41General Rochambeau to Contre-Amiral Decres, Le Cap, December 17,
1802 (27 frimaire An XI), Rochambeau Papers.
conflict between black and white was unsurmountable, the only way
to reconquer the colony was by imposing slavery on the Negroes by
42Letter from Chef de Brigade Alix, Le Cap, October 18, 1802
(26 vendemiaire An XI), Rochambeau Papers.
The Change of Tactics
The successful military campaigns under Rochambeau were aided by
new reinforcements from France in the form of troops, supplies and
money. Leclerc's major problem in getting reinforcements was that
under favorable circumstances, a response from France might arrive
in three months. But unfavorable winds and administrative red tape
often delayed orders even longer. Rochambeau received only reinforce-
ments that had been requested in August when the news of the frighten-
ing mortality rate of troops had barely arrived in France. Money had
been supplied adequately since September, while on December 1,
Napoleon further authorized another 1,500,000 francs.43 Rochambeau
was also able to secure finances from the banks in Mexico and Curagap,
Napoleon on November 27 also despatched another 12,000 men, who
arrived in late January.
Rochambeau used reinforcements that arrived in November to
Launch the attack on Fort Dauphin and Mole-de-Saint Nicolas. .he
battles cost the lives of 1,500 men, however, and some casualties from
yellow fever still occurred. It was estimated by Rochambeau that
although the mortality rate was decreasing, about 2,000 out of 5,400
convalescing men would eventually die from this disease In late
43Napoleon, Correspondance . ., VIII, 119.
44Ibid., VIII, 112.
December, only 6,634 active European combatants remained. There
were about 5,000 men left in the colonial divisions and the National
Guard who consisted of Negroes and mulattoes commanded by white
The French forces were aided by internal dissent among the brigands.
Larose and Dessalines were both eager to become leaders in the West,
and preferred to fight each other rather than the French.46 In the
North, Sans Souci tried to assert himself over Christophe and Petion.
Dessalines, after defeating Larose and subduing Sans Souci, was able
to have himself recognized as commander of the brigand forces. Only in
late December, when Dessalines became a nationally recognized commander,
did the brigand forces choose a flag. Prior to this time, they had
always flown the French revolutionary tri-color flag.47
The brigands in-December began a concerted campaign in the South,
which had returned to normal order after the disturbances in September
and October. On December 10, Leogane and Jacmel were attacked again
by Derance and his troops, but the French repulsed the attackers under
General Pageot. Petion, a few weeks later., met with the same fate
in the Cul-de-Sac region around Port-au-Prince.8 Dessalines, in
another attempt to secure a harbor, was beaten back from Saint-Marc.
The rebels were thus removed from the coastal areas by the French, but
they fully controlled the interior and the overland communication routes.
45General Rochambeau to Contre-Amiral Decres, Le Cap, December 8,
1802 (16 frimaire An XI), Rochambeau Papers.
46Madiou, II, 354.
48General Rochambeau to Contre-Amiral Decres, Le Cap, December 12,
1802 (20 frimaire An XI), Rochambeau Papers.
The occupation of Haiti by the French expedition under the
leadership of General Leclerc was divided into three periods. From
January to April, the island was invaded and occupied by the French
troops at the cost of a high rate of casualties. April to September
was a period during which the French established themselves on Saint-
Domingue, but the occupation cost an exceedingly high number of lives
of Europeans who died from yellow fever. From September to the end
of 1802, the French expedition virtually had to reestablish itself
and assert control over the native population. Altogether, the
French lost more than 10,000 men in one year, and only reinforcements
permitted the French to retain their hold on this island. Reinforcements
at first consisted of colonial troops who were secured through benevolent
treatment of their leaders by the French, but by October, most of
the colonial troops had defected.
The inability of the French to retain the friendship of the
native population of Saint-Domingue was'due to a desire of the
leaders of the expedition to return the colony to the regime under
which it was ruled prior to 1789. This condition was repugnant to
the Negroes and mulattoes who would have to return to their former
positions in society slavery. The rebellions by the native groups
could be attributed to a fear of French rule, which was encouraged
by the excessively cruel behavior the European commanders demonstrated
in the latter part of the year.
The months of September to December witnessed failure of the
French to restore the colony to the old order and to pacify the
native population. The aid sent by sea from outside Saint-Domingue
was highly important to the survival of the expedition because France
was the source of reinforcements. The Americans and English showed a
reluctance to cooperate with the French, and they actually impeded the
French expedition by aiding the brigands at times, or ignoring French
requests for supplies and provisions. The lack of reinforcements
stopped the French from using adequately provisioned and supplied
troops to enforce their control of Saint-Domingue.
The French expedition was sent out on the basis of faulty
intelligence and information. The French expected to land without
opposition, but found immediate opposition. The military ability of
the brigands was underestimated; the campaign of Crete-a-Pierrot showed
that the rebels were able to offer stiff resistance to the European
troops. The tactics of the French, which were according to European
rules, were not suited to the hot climate and the mountainous country.
The French were also unfamiliar with much of the territory they fought
in, because no adequate information was available on the geography
of the interior part of the island. The deadly effects of yellow fever
had not been adequately anticipated, while no action was taken to
lessen the effects of the disease. The supplies and provisions arrived
only sporadically, and anticipated cooperation from America materialized
in the form of resistance towards the French expedition.
General Rochambeau played an important role in Haiti. Because of
the high position he held, Rochambeau was able to influence decisions
on the conduct of policy towards the inhabitants of the island.
Rochambeau wanted a return to the situation as it was under the ancien
regime. By ignoring or persecuting the Negro and mulatto opponents
of this policy, Rochambeau encouraged resistance to the expedition.
Able military leadership by Rochambeau helped to keep the French in
Saint-Domingue, but Rochambeau was unable to do more than recover the
coastal areas. The lack of moderation of Rochambeau's views hurt the
recovery of Saint-Domingue by France. Rochambeau appears to have
been more capable than any of the other ranking commanders. Leclerc's
letters bear witness to this fact. While the North province suffered
under revolts, Rochambeau kept control with a minimum of trouble in the
South and West.
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Herman R. DeHoop was born on January 18, 1944, in Heerenveen,
Netherlands. He attended public schools in the Netherlands in Aruba
and Canada. He was graduated from Gainesville High School, Gainesville,
Florida in 1960. Mr. DeHoop entered the University of Florida in
September of that same year. In April, 1964, he was awarded a
Bachelor of Arts degree in History. From September, 1964 to January,
1965, he worked as a graduate assistant in the Center for Latin
Mr. DeHoop is a member of the American Historical Association
and Phi Alpha Theta Honorary History Fraternity.
This thesis was prepared under the direction of the chairman
of the candidate's supervisory committee and has been approved by
all members of that committee. It was submitted to the Dean of
the College of Arts and Sciences and to the Graduate Council, and
was approved as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the
degree of Master of Arts.
August 14, 1965
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
Dean, Graduate School
Supervis ry Committee: