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on the struggle in separate valleys, sometimes without knowing each other's fate for weeks together. Their clothing has become rags; they often scale heights on their hands and feet; they are sometimes famishing by lack of provisions. They take many prisoners who have to die; but one of them they discover to be a surgeon; him they spare, providentially for him and themselves; they retain him for their own wounded, and he serves them well, for he knows that instant death would be the consequence of any unfaithfulness. At another time, while Arnaud is praying, the sentinels see the enemy moving to secure a necessary post on the mountain of Vachère; the pastor abridges his prayer, and sends a detachment, who “made such diligence and bore themselves so well that they gained the post in the face of the enemy, slaying a hundred of them without losing a man.” At one time their leader, Arnaud, is separated from them and seems lost, but “after praying three times with six soldiers who remain with him, he is able to rejoin the band on the mountain of Vendalin.” His fellow-pastor, Montaux, is not so fortunate; he is captured and sent to prison in Turin, where he languished till the end of the war.
A sadder trial came upon them; most of the French Vaudois gave up in despair, and retired with Turrel, their chief, down into France. Turrel had been the nominal head of the army, though Arnaud was its real leader, its Leonidas. The retreating band were nearly all captured by the enemy, and killed or sent to the galleys, where they and their leader perished. Smiles can almost apologize for them. “Flesh and blood," he says, “could not endure such toil and privations much longer. No wonder that the faint-hearted began to despair.” But the Italian Vaudois knew no despair. Arnaud prayed and preached on, and their diminished numbers fought on and conquered almost from day to day.
Winter was at hand, and they must provide for it. They cut their way through the enemy toward their ancient stronghold of the Balsille. They never could have reached it again had it not been for their knowledge of the mountain passes, and their ability to climb; the enemy was waiting for them in all the surrounding valleys, but they scaled the intervening heights by night, and stood in the dawn on the Balsille, above all the hostile hosts.
Here they immediately laid in provisions by foraging on the neighboring farms, and prepared for the winter and for their fiercest struggle. They made stronger every point of their naturally strong position by barricades and intrenchments one above the other. The winter begins early in these mountains, and lasts long; it was now November; it is difficult for armies to operate at any time in the valleys; it was now next to impossible; but the honor of two great sovereigns was concerned in the desperate struggle; among their troops were regiments who had won distinction on historic fields; they were led by eminent officers, who were mortified by the superior valor and success of these “devil's barbets;” and, above all, the faith was dishonored. It would not do to give up, and the contest went on more or less amid the indescribable horrors of an Alpine winter. “Through six months the Vaudois beat back every force that was sent against them.” Arnaud “preached twice," says the history, “every Sunday, and once every Thursday, and prayed with them every morning and evening, very seriously, all kneeling with their faces on the earth.” had an unshakable resolution to await with firm foot the enemy, and to no more fatigue themselves in wandering from mountain to mountain, as they had done.” The repeated assaults of the enemy failing, they had to retire to Maneille and Perier for a season, confounded and profoundly chagrined. They burned all the houses and barns around, to deprive the Vaudois of provisions, and cried in departing, “You shall see us again at Easter.” The Vaudois, now only four hundred, by the absence of some of their brethren in a distant valley, “commenced to respire again.” “They could say with reason,” adds Arnaud, “that the eternal God had declared himself for them."
Meanwhile favorable overtures are made to them, but they know too well the treachery of the enemy to accept them. They send out frequent detachments for forage; they slay the enemy at his outposts and burn his outer barracks. At last, on April 30, 1690, while Arnaud is preaching, the foe is seen thronging up the valley and on all the neighboring summits. Their position was entirely surrounded. The struggle was recommenced “under the directions of General Catinat in person.” “The enemy," says Arnaud, "to the number of twentytwo thousand, (ten thousand French, and twelve thousand Ital
ians,) sent a detachment of five hundred men, selected by Catinat to open the attack. On May 2 they reached the first bastion, which had been covered with prostrate trees. They supposed that they had only to draw away the trees and their way would be clear, but they found them made sure by heavy stones. Then commenced so grand a fire from the Vaudois that they prostrated the assailants to the earth. It was a thing surprising, the hail-storm of balls which filled the air ; the younger Vaudois recharged the arms, while the older fired, insomuch that there was a continual fire, abyssing the enemy, “ while a snow-storm played upon them.” At last the Vaudois made a sortie, and slew the whole assaulting column except ten or twelve, who escaped without hats or arms to report their defeat to the mortified Catinat. “We must sleep in these barracks to-night,” had said in the morning their commander, Colonel de Parat; he was now wounded and taken prisoner, and, after being kept some time in the Balsille, was put to death. The enemy lost a colonel, a lieutenant-colonel, and other officers—twenty in all. Not a single Vaudois was killed or wounded on this bloody day," as Amaud calls it. French retreated in astonishment to Macee; the Piedmontese, who had been spectators of the bravery of the Vaudois, holding their only way of escape, retired to Champ la Salse.” Arnaud preached after the victory, the tears flowing from his
eyes, and his flock weeping around him.
General Catinat was not willing to risk his honor by risking another defeat; he was hoping for the marshal's baton, and it evidently could never be earned here; he committed the desperate work to the Marquis de Fenguieres, who determined on thorough measures, and was saluted beforehand as “the conqueror of the barbets." By May 12 the position of the Vaudois was again surrounded; the neighboring mountains were planted with artillery completely commanding it, and threatening to batter it to fragments; all the outletting valleys were occupied. Five corps of disciplined troops bore down upon it, each man preceded by a pioneer, who bore for him a protection against the fire of the Vaudois. The day of consummate trial for the little corps had now come, and they could fully appreciate it; but they swerved not; God had been with them, wonld he now desert them? They could see no way of escape, but
had it not seemed that the angels of heaven had protected them, that the very “stars had fought for them in their courses,” and could they not still expect miraculous deliverance? A French writer, in contemplating their condition, says, “We know not in all history a more striking illustration of the phrase, “Nothing is impossible to him that believeth. Faith transformed them into heroes, and rendered them invincible." Each man knew that defeat now meant death for each. Yet no man spoke of capitulation. The Marquis de Fenguieres, having arranged all his positions for an overwhelming attack, again sent overtures to them. “What is your demand ?” asked the Vaudois of the messenger. “That you surrender at once," was the reply; "if you do so, you shall be accorded passports to a foreign country, and five hundred louis d'or each; if you do not you must all perish.” “That shall be as the Lord will,” was their answer. The commander wrote to Arnaud again, offering favorable terms, but declaring that if they were declined every man taken alive 'should be hanged. Arnaud wrote back: “We are not under your French king; he is not master of this country; we can make no treaty with your messieurs; we are in the heritage that our fathers have possessed in all times, and we shall, by the help of the Lord God of armies, live and die here, should there remain only ten men of us. If your cannon fire, our rocks will not be frightened, and we know how to return your fire.” That very night the Vaudois made a sortie, slaying a number of the enemy. The marquis ordered his guns to be pointed on Mont Guigneverte, his most formidable position, and hung out a white flag, and soon after a red one, to signify that there would be no hope after he began to fire. Finally, on May 14, the guns began to play destructively upon the Vaudois' position; it had been gallantly held for nearly seven months, but the rocky defenses were now crumbling under powerful artillery. The assailing columns attacked the Vaudois at three points, "pouring upon us,” says Arnaud, "an incessant hail-storm, so thick that, after a hundred thousand shot, we had to abandon our lowest terrace.” It was no longer tenable, but they ascended to a higher one, under protection of a thick mist, which saved them froin the fire of a redoubt, which might have swept them to destruction. They fought on till nightfall, but it was now seen that the
stronghold would be battered into ruins and overwhelmed ; they must escape or be lost. How to escape was the question. They were encompassed by tens of thousands of troops and hostile peasants; all known passes were occupied by the enemy; if seen the next day attempting to escape, their little troop could be instantly annihilated. “The night fires of the enemy, " writes Arnaud,“were blazing all around; the obstacles seemed invincible. In fine, we saw that the hand of God could alone deliver us. Committing ourselves to him, we learned very soon that he who had rescued us from so many dangers had now led us into this extremity only the better to show in what manner he could save us." One of their number was a native of this very region; he reported to them that he knew a solitary and very perilous path through which he might be able to guide them. The enemy's watch-fires enabled him to see from the Balsille that there was no other outlet for them. “It was," says the history, " along a frightful precipice.” But how were they to get out of the Balsille and reach it, under the universal fire which they might expect from the enemy? “Precisely,” says Arnaud, “at the moment which seemed fatal with a cruel and appalling death, a thick mist (such is common in these mountains) fell upon them,” and rendered their movements invisible to the enemy. They marched silently out of the Balsille, under their mountain guide, Captain Paulat—"under the protection,” continues Arnaud, "of heaven and the guidance of this brave captain.” Stealthily they crept along the precipice of the ravine, " on hands and knees, taking hold of shrubs to rest at moments and take breath; those in front carefully feeling the way with feet and hands to be sure of safe footing.” Paulat had to order them to take off their shoes, lest the enemy's outposts should hear them, for they had to pass close by some of these. A slight noise actually brought back the challenge of a sentinel, “Who goes there?” It was a critical moment for them; they maintained breathless silence, and the sentinel, hearing no reply, supposed he had deceived himself, and did not repeat his qui vive. They pressed forward, scaling a part of the Guigneverte, and drawing toward Salse the friendly mist still covering them until ten o'clock in the morning, when they were out of danger. They had encountered an outpost of the enemy on a slope of the Guigneverte, but