The battle of Torfou-Tiffauges was a battle on 19 September 1793 during the War in the Vendée. It pitted many Royalist military leaders against Republican troops under Jean-Baptiste Kléber and Canclaux.
|Bataille de Torfou-Tiffauges|
|Part of the War in the Vendée|
Battle of Torfou: the women of Tiffauges block the path of the Vendéens fleeing at the sight of the troops from Mainz led by Kléber, painting by Alfred de Chasteignier.
|Commanders and leaders|
Jean-Baptiste de Canclaux |
Maurice d'Elbée |
Charles de Bonchamps
Louis de Lescure
François de Charette
|40 000 men||40 000 men|
|Casualties and losses|
|2 000 dead||1 000 dead|
15,000 men, detached as the Armée de Mayence from the Armée du Rhin after the fall of Mainz, were sent to reinforce Kléber's force. On 18 September, Charette and the Armée catholique et royale gathered again at Torfou, on the northern borders of Tiffauges.
The following day, at 9 am, fire was exchanged for the first time. Kléber launched one battalion to the right of Torfou and one to its left, attempting to encircle the town. The Vendéens under Charette coming towards them were discovered, fired on and forced into retreat. However, the women in the rear blocked the fleeing troops and convinced them to regroup and fight on the plateau were the Republicans were advancing.
François Henri d'Elbée de La Sablonière entered the line and Bonchamps tried to outflank the Republican left. Engulfed in Royalist troops, Kléber advanced four cannons but was shot in the shoulder before realising his centre had collapsed.
The Royalists decided to profit from the victory by pursuing the enemy and attacked Montaigu, where general Beysser was defeated. On 2 September, the Royalist leaders decided they must support Bonchamps and his attack on Kléber. However, Charette and Lescure decided to march on Saint-Fulgent, where the Republican army had arrived. This disobedience had one immediate result – on his return to Montaigu, Charette learned that Kléber had escaped to Bonchamps. He grouped his army and returned to Legé.
The Army of the Coasts of La Rochelle (French: Armée des côtes de La Rochelle) was an army of the French Revolution which was created on 30 April 1793 and responsible for defending a region from the mouth of the Loire River south to the Gironde. Despite its relatively short existence, the army fought numerous battles during the War in the Vendée including Thouars, Fontenay-le-Comte, Saumur, First Châtillon, Vihiers, Luçon, Chantonnay, Coron and Saint-Fulgent. Many of the battles resulted in Republican defeats at the hands of the Vendean Royalists. Of the two principal army commanders, Armand Louis de Gontaut, Duke of Biron was dismissed and later executed by guillotine while Jean Antoine Rossignol was a political appointee who was generally acknowledged to be incompetent. The army was absorbed by the Army of the West on 5 October 1793.Charles Aimé de Royrand
Charles Aimé de Royrand (14 March 1726 – 5 December 1793) became a Vendean leader in the War in the Vendée, a revolt against the French Revolution. He joined the French Royal Army and served in an infantry regiment during the American Revolutionary War before retiring to his estates in 1780. When the Vendean insurrection broke out in 1793 he was chosen as the leader of the southern army. He led rebel forces at Luçon, Cholet and Entrames. He was fatally wounded at Entrames on 26 October and died at Baugé-en-Anjou.Charles de Bonchamps
Charles-Melchior Artus de Bonchamps, Marquis de Bonchamps (10 May 1760 – 18 October 1793) was a French politician and leader of the Vendéan insurrection of Royalists against the Republic during the French Revolution.
Born at Juvardeil, Anjou, he gained his first military experience in the American War of Independence, and on his return to France was made a captain of grenadiers in the French royal army. He was a staunch defender of the French monarchy, and at the outbreak of the Revolution, resigned his command and retired to his château at Saint-Florent-le-Vieil. Shortly before the revolution broke out, Bonchamps feared for his king and country and requested to be reinstated. In the spring of 1793 he was chosen leader by the insurgents of the Vendée, and his directives were able to secure a large amount of supplies and weapons that would greatly aid the counterrevolution.
He was present at the taking of Bressuire, Thouars, and of Fontenay-le-Comte - where he was wounded but recovered. Dissensions among their leaders weakened the insurgents, and at the bloody battle of Cholet (October 1793) the Vendéans sustained a severe defeat and Bonchamps was mortally wounded. He died the next day.
His last act was the pardoning of five thousand Republican prisoners, whom his troops had sworn to kill in revenge for his death. Bonchamps was one of the best tactical leaders of the Vendéans and his death was an important victory for the republican forces. He was admired by the Christian monarchists and revolutionaries alike. A statue of him by Pierre Jean David stands in the church of Saint-Florent-le-Vieil.François de Charette
François Athanase de Charette de la Contrie (2 May 1763 – 26 March 1796) was a French Royalist soldier and politician. He served in the French Royal Navy during the American Revolutionary War and was one of the leaders of the Revolt in the Vendée against the revolutionary regime. His relative Athanase-Charles-Marie Charette de la Contrie was a noted military leader.Jean-Baptiste Kléber
Jean-Baptiste Kléber (IPA: [ʒɑ̃ batist klebɛʁ]) (9 March 1753 – 14 June 1800) was a French general during the French Revolutionary Wars. His military career started in Habsburg service, but his plebeian ancestry hindered his opportunities. Eventually, he volunteered for the French Army in 1792 and quickly rose through the ranks.
Kléber served in the Rhineland during the War of the First Coalition, and also suppressed the Vendee Revolt. He retired to private life in the peaceful interim after the Treaty of Campo Formio, but returned to military service to accompany Napoleon in the Egyptian Campaign in 1798–99. When Napoleon left Egypt to return to Paris, he appointed Kléber as commander of the French forces. He was assassinated by a student in Cairo in 1800.
A trained architect, Kléber, in times of peace, designed a number of buildings.Jean Baptiste Camille Canclaux
Jean Baptiste Camille de Canclaux (2 August 1740, in Paris – 27 December 1817, in Paris) was a French army commander during the French Revolution and a Peer of France. He joined a cavalry regiment the French Royal Army in 1756 and fought at Minden in the Seven Years' War. He attained the rank of maréchal de camp (brigadier general) in 1788 and lieutenant general in 1792. He commanded the Army of the Coasts of Brest from May until October 1793 fighting several actions during the War in the Vendée. Replaced for political reasons, he led the Army of the West in 1794–1795. He held interior posts during the rest of the French Revolutionary Wars and under the First French Empire of Napoleon.Louis Marie de Lescure
Louis-Marie de Salgues, marquis de Lescure (13 October 1766 – 4 November 1793) was a French soldier and opponent of the French Revolution, the cousin of Henri de la Rochejaquelein.Louis d'Elbée
Maurice-Joseph-Louis Gigost d'Elbée (pronounced [mɔʁis ʒɔzɛf lwi ʒiɡo dɛlˈbe]; 21 March 1752 – 6 January 1794) was a French Royalist military leader. Initially enthusiastic about the Revolution, he became disenchanted with the disestablishment of the Catholic Church and retired to his estates in Brittany. He was the second commander in chief of the Royal and Catholic Army formed by Royalist forces of the Vendean insurrection against the Republic and the French Revolution.War in the Vendée
The War in the Vendée (1793; French: Guerre de Vendée) was an uprising in the Vendée region of France during the French Revolution. The Vendée is a coastal region, located immediately south of the Loire River in western France. Initially, the war was similar to the 14th-century Jacquerie peasant uprising, but quickly acquired themes considered by the Jacobin government in Paris to be counter-revolutionary, and Royalist. The uprising headed by the newly formed Catholic and Royal Army was comparable to the Chouannerie, which took place in the area north of the Loire.
The departments included in the uprising, called the Vendée Militaire, included the area between the Loire and the Layon rivers: Vendée (Marais, Bocage Vendéen, Collines Vendéennes), part of Maine-et-Loire west of the Layon, and the portion of Deux-Sèvres west of the River Thouet. Having secured their pays, the deficiencies of the Vendean army became more apparent. Lacking a unified strategy (or army) and fighting a defensive campaign, from April onwards the army lost cohesion and its special advantages. Successes continued for some time: Thouars was taken in early May and Saumur in June; there were victories at Châtillon and Vihiers. After this string of victories, the Vendeans turned to a protracted siege of Nantes, for which they were unprepared and which stalled their momentum, giving the government in Paris sufficient time to send more troops and experienced generals.
Tens of thousands of civilians, royalists, Republican prisoners, and sympathizers with the revolution or the religious were massacred by both armies. Historians such as Reynald Secher have described these events as "genocide", but most scholars reject the use of the word as inaccurate. Ultimately, the uprising was suppressed using draconian measures. The historian François Furet concludes that the repression in the Vendée "not only revealed massacre and destruction on an unprecedented scale but also a zeal so violent that it has bestowed as its legacy much of the region's identity ... The war aptly epitomizes the depth of the conflict ... between religious tradition and the revolutionary foundation of democracy."