I. Henri Du Verger, count de, a French royalist, born in the chateau of La Durbeliere, near Chatillon-sur-Sevres, Poitou, in August, 1772, killed at Nouaille, March 4, 1794. He was educated at the military school of Soreze, and after the outbreak of the French revolution entered the constitutional guard of Louis XVI.; but after the massacre of the Swiss guards, Aug. 10, 1792, he retired to Poitou, and joined the marquis de Lescure in the movement organized among the people of La Vendee for the reestablishment of the monarchy. The peasantry having determined to select their leaders from the provincial nobility, the parishes around Chatillon chose La Rochejaquelein, who joined his followers at St. Aubin in March, 1793, and addressed them in a brief speech, ending with these words: "I am young and without experience; but I burn to show myself worthy to be your commander. Let us meet the enemy. If I advance, follow me; if I retreat, kill me; if I fall, avenge me!" The peasants, animated by his example, on the succeeding day attacked the republicans at Aubiers with irresistible force; and having effected a junction with the royalists of Anjou, they defeated the enemy in several encounters.
At the attack upon Thou-ars, May 4, La Rochejaquelein, mounted upon the shoulders of Texier de Courlai, helped to detach with his own hands some of the stones from the wall, and was the first to mount it. At the battle of Fontenay, May 16, and the siege of Saumur in June, he showed equal intrepidity. In a short time the royalist troops had taken 80 pieces of cannon and 12,000 prisoners, with the loss of fewer than 500 killed and wounded. In the less fortunate engagements at Lucon and Cholet, at which the chief Vendean leaders were killed or disabled, La Rochejaquelein performed prodigies of valor; and upon the assembling of a new army at Varades, on the northern bank of the Loire, whither the Vendeans had fled after their defeat at Cholet, he was chosen generalissimo, as the only one capable of reviving the spirits of the troops. Accepting with reluctance this responsible trust, which seemed incompatible with his extreme youth, he marched toward the coast of Brittany in the expectation of meeting there promised succors from England. In October he occupied Laval, driving out a large body of national guards, and immediately after sustained an attack by the republicans under Lechelle, which resulted in one of the most glorious victories for the Vendeans during the war.
The enemy were driven in scattered parties as far as Nantes and Rennes, losing 12,000 men and 19 pieces of cannon. Elated by their success, the royalists, 30,000 strong, attacked Granville, Nov. 14; but having no artillery with which to breach the ramparts, they received an unexpected check and were obliged to fall back with the loss of 1,800 men. This disaster disconcerted the plans of La Rochejaquelein, who was about to advance to Caen; and to add to his embarrassment a revolt broke out among his hastily assembled levies, whom it required all their commander's powers of persuasion to prevent from returning at once to their homes. As it was, a retrograde march toward the Loire had to be conceded to them. On their way they defeated a large body of republicans at Pontorson; but the latter, having rallied at Dol, Nov. 21, where they were largely reenforced, opposed the royalists with 35,900 men and a numerous park of artillery.
The first attack of La Rochejaquelein's troops was irresistible, and the republicans were driven several leagues beyond the town. But here the left wing of the royalists, disordered in pursuit, was assailed in turn by the republican right and driven back in confusion into the town. A panic seized the whole royalist army, and their leader, after vain endeavors to stay their flight, threw himself in despair in front of a hostile battery in the hope of finding an honorable death. But a Vendean priest holding a crucifix in his hand succeeded by an appeal to their religious enthusiasm in rallying 2,000 of the fugitives; the combat was renewed, and the republicans were routed in all quarters and fled toward Rennes, leaving 6,000 killed and wounded on the field. They, however, almost immediately concentrated at a strongly fortified position before Antrain, where another battle ensued, resulting in a complete victory for the Vendeans. On this occasion La Rochejaquelein interfered to prevent his troops from retaliating upon their prisoners the acts of cruelty perpetrated by the republicans.
Again the Vendean leaders projected an advance toward the coast for the purpose of opening communications with the English, and again they were compelled by open mutiny among their followers to continue their march toward the Loire. Arriving at Angers Dec. 3, they made a desperate but unsuccessful attack upon the place; and, wearied, disheartened, and encumbered by an immense and fast increasing train of sick and wounded, they retreated toward La Fleche, which La Rochejaquelein entered by a coup de main, and thence proceeded to Le Mans. Here they were attacked, Dec. 12, by 40,000 republicans under Marcean, Westermann, and Kleber, and, although reduced to about 12,000 men fit for duty, they confronted their enemies with unflinching resolution. Owing to the skilful dispositions of La Rochejaquelein, the republicans were for a long time held in check outside the walls; but gradually they forced their way into the town, and for hours a terrible night conflict was maintained within the streets. Finally the royalists were overpowered and forced out of the town in a confused mass.
Their leader, who had two horses killed under him and was wounded and overturned in the tumult, endeavored in vain to bring them to a final stand, and was borne off with his followers, who dispersed in various directions, leaving their baggage and almost all their artillery in the hands of the victors. La Rochejaquelein assembled the small remnant of his troops at Laval, Dec. 14, whence they moved to Ancenis to attempt the passage of the Loire.. Here he embarked in a small boat with a few of his men for the purpose of seizing some large vessels on the opposite side of the river; but being attacked by a numerous party of republicans, his men were killed or dispersed, and he was obliged to gain refuge in a neighboring forest. Thenceforth he led the life of a partisan chief, gathering around him a band of followers, with whom he frequently sallied forth from his lurking places upon the republican posts. On one of these occasions, his men being about to fall upon two republican grenadiers, he ran forward exclaiming: "Surrender! I give you quarter," and was immediately shot dead by one of them.
His comrades buried him upon the spot, but his body was afterward interred in the cemetery of St. Aubin. Although not 22 years of age at the time of his death, he was recognized as the main support of the royalist cause in western France.
II. Louis Du Verger, marquis de, commander of the last Vendean army, brother of the preceding, born Oct. 30, 1777, killed at Pont-des-Mathis, June 4, 1815. He emigrated with his father, the marquis de La Rochejaquelein, at the commencement of the revolution, and, after being employed in the military service of Austria and England, returned in 1801 to France and married the widow of the marquis de Lescure, one of the bravest of the Vendean leaders. He aided in the restoration of the Bourbons in 1814, and after protecting the flight of Louis XVIII. to Ghent in March, 1815, landed at St. Gilles on the Vendean coast, and aroused the ancient enthusiasm of the inhabitants in behalf of the royal cause. With a few thousand men he encountered an imperial division under Gen. Travot near the village of Mathis, and was killed at the commencement of the action. - His son Henri Auguste Georges (1805-'67) was conspicuous during the reign of Louis Philippe and the second republic as leader of the democratic legitimists, but abandoned his party after the coup d'etat of Dec. 2, 1851, and was made a senator by Napoleon III.
III. Marie Louise Victoire De Donnissan, marchioness de, wife of the preceding, born in Versailles, Oct. 3, 1772, died in Orleans, Feb. 15, 1857. With her first husband, the marquis de Lescure, she shared in the horrors attending the war in La Vendee, and, after the final rout of the royalists at Savenay, escaped almost by a miracle. After the death of the marquis de La Rochejaquelein she resided in Orleans. Her Memoires (Bordeaux, 1815) present a vivid picture of the revolution in the west of France, derived from her personal experiences.