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Volunteers 1870 (page 2)


A quantity of objects was essential for him that it knew how to be able to find in England and he could not entrust this journey to anybody. Impossible to pass by Paris or Calais. It was necessary to make fast but to deal with the changes of lines and the frequent stops of train. In Honfleur, the passenger ship for England had left the same morning. He notices a coaster which western south wind should bring quickly to Southampton. The interference of the mayor is necessary so that the captain of Mary-Ann accepts on board. He arrives at dawn at London and notices that: "The biggest concern of the islanders was the attentive observation of the duel opened among the two big peoples of the continent. I would have expected to find more empathy for the loser, so unfortunate then: but it seems that it came only later when a series of misfortunes without example in human traditions had made judge to the English that we must certainly have slept off this pride that they always blame for us. Already, however the satisfaction to see us humbled began to weaken when they realized that it was that for the benefit of Germany more fearsome for them." It is in trunks that he hides special explosive substances diverting the curiosity of the customs officer of London by a golden coin, and embarking, besides, three thousand kilograms of special powders on the steamer Fairy-Queen chartered for Havre at the expense of the Government of national defense.

In France they were in great need of gunpowder. The public did not know it. The 3000 kilograms of powder which himself JJGarnier had been able to get in England as well as the explosive matters were embarked on Fairy Queen urgently and on precarious conditions because 4 or 5 barges of fifty barrels each went on boarding and unloading posthaste on the deck of the steamer under way while the funnel threw spray of sparks, taken immediately, it's true, by the breeze towards the aft. The load contained, besides, several thousand rifles and of revolvers, millions of cartridges, the ammunitions for artillery etc. The multitude of vessels, which crossed the Thames at this same moment, did not seem to worry about the red pavilion hoisted at the top of the mast.
It was necessary indeed to stop in the approach of the mouth of the river because of a fog so dense that one did not see any more sidelights and as the man of quarter had to shake ceaselessly the tongue of the bell.


This fog would have been able to last several days but, fortunately dissipated along the English coast which Fairy-Queen followed as long as possible, by German cruisers having been reported and the fear of "army of spies" being very lively. "Our telescopes question in the horizon the rate of all the vessels and, in the least alert, we are ready to get back in full vapor to waters defenders of England". Towards midnight the vessel reached the most Southern point of the English coast; at 7 in the morning, it cast anchor in Le Havre and on the same day of October 5 a special car left with 54 boxes of explosive materials and 6 of gun powder. Arrived at Tours, he took time to choose weapons and life conditions for his volunteers:

"I choose the small American rifle Spencer system which I already had studied in England: it was not embarrassing for people loaded with other miscellaneous instruments: the center of gravity, very nearby of the breech, would have much influence upon the precision of the shot, especially with young soldiers; finally, it could send in the first minute a real rain of balls to the enemy. I choose besides and in the same purpose excellent revolvers Colt big size: it was too an excellent weapon and I could judge later than its precision was such that a crack shot could not miss his man in 80 steps on condition however that he used two hands to better immobilize at the time of the shot a rather heavy weapon."

"... The government of national defense had decided that the irregulars," the mobiles" and the mobilized men would have a pay of one franc a day without the foods … Convinced, as all those who led people, that it was necessary if one would demand much from them that they had the essentials, I asked for my volunteers a higher pay: 1F50, including the foods. Nevertheless I did not obtain this favor without numerous discussions and I had to make of it a matter of sine qua non. The disaster of Metz had not changed anything to the resolution or the obligation from the French still to defend themselves.

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