Louis Grignon (August 15, 1748 – December 25, 1825) was a général de brigade of the second Infernal Column of the French Republic's army during the French Revolution and Reign of Terror, and one of those involved with the latter event's massacres during the Vendée rebellion. Most infamously, he had ordered to his troops that "everyone they met was to be immediately killed, even if they were Republicans", as a result of his own men having an immense amount of bloodlust.
Born in Louerre, he first joined the French Royal Army in 1767 as a rifleman for the French Guards. He was a second lieutenant at the time the French Revolution broke out in 1789. In 1792, he acted as the assistant adujant-general in the National Guard at Saumur, before ultimately being promoted a year later on October 12, 1793 during the Height of the Reign of Terror to adjutant-general brigade chief of the army of the coasts of La Rochelle. He was later involved in the Vendeean war on January 1794, where he applied via the second Infernal Column the most genocidal orders from General Louis Marie Turreau. Aug. Chavin later recalled that Grignon ordered that they were to slaughter everyone in Vendee, even those who were Republican patriots, with Joseph Lequino later recalling this in his memoirs. Specific massacres he had personally ordered included the January 22, 1794 massacre of 79 Saint-Aubin-du-Plain individuals via the third Infernal Column, where he repeated exactly the same speech as before, as well as carrying out similar massacres against the parishes of Bressuire and La Flocelliere as well as in between, with Chavin also noting that this particular march burned sustenance. Another massacre he was responsible for was the burning of all villages between La Flocelliere and Les Herbiers, even destroying the grain and fodder that were to be seized, with the Mayor of Fontenay-le-Comte at the time, Mariteau, attempted to talk Turreau out of this action. Yet another massacre he was responsible for was the January 26 massacre of Cerizay, which Grignon boasted that he slaughtered 300 people in the village as well as those in between, which included women and children. He also was responsible for the massacre at Le Boupère on January 28, which entailed ordering for 19 prisoners to be shot, as well as the January 30 Pouzauges massacre, which he had 30 Vendee prisoners killed in the dungeon of the castle by his men, and also ordering them to be raped immediately beforehand. He also was responsible for the April 9 Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay and Gonnord massacres, which he admitted that he killed many people there. He was later promoted to Major General on April 14, although he was later arrested and suspended two days after the promotion. Despite this and his various war crimes in Vendee, he was ultimately allowed to resume his duties on October 25, 1970 and continued his service until retiring on June 28, 1810. He eventually died on Christmas Day of 1825 at Angoulême.
Notes and references
- von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Erik (October 1989). "Operation Parricide: Sade, Robespierre & the French Revolution". Fidelity magazine. Retrieved from Culture Wars website on May 22, 2015.
- Nicolas Delahaye et Pierre-Marie Gaborit, Les 12 Colonnes infernales de Turreau, p. 104-105.
« Je dois dire d'abord, que le jour de son départ d'Argenton-le-Peuple, Grignon ayant réuni sa colonne, lui fit à peu près cette harangue : « Mes camarades, nous entrons dans le pays insurgé, je vous donne l'ordre exprès de livrer aux flammes tout ce qui sera susceptible d'être brûlé et de passer au fil de la baïonnette tout ce que vous rencontrerez d'habitants sur votre passage. Je sais qu'il peut y avoir quelques patriotes dans ce pays ; c'est égal, nous devons tout sacrifier » [...] Le jour de son départ, il répéta, à la tête de sa colonne, la harangue qu'il avait faite à Argenton-le-Peuple ; ce fut vraiment une armée d'exterminateurs qui sortit de Bressuire ; les paroisses comprises entre Bressuire et La Flocellière, sur une longueur de plus de deux lieues et demie, furent entièrement sacrifiées. Le massacre fut général, et on ne distingua personne ; et c'est surtout dans cette marche que Grignon brûla une immense quantité de subsistances. » (Translation: "I must say first of all that the day of his departure from Argenton-le-Peuple, Grignon having assembled his column, made him nearly this harangue: " My comrades, we enter the insurgent country, I give you the express order to deliver to the flames all that will be likely to be burned and to pass over the bayonet all that you meet of inhabitants on your way. I know there may be some patriots in this country; it is the same, we must sacrifice everything " [...] The day of his departure, he repeated at the head of his column the speech he had made at Argenton-le-Peuple; it was really an army of exterminators who left Bressuire; the parishes between Bressuire and La Flocelliere, over a distance of more than two and a half leagues, were entirely sacrificed. The massacre was general, and no one was distinguished; and it is especially in this march that Grignon burned an immense quantity of sustenance. " )
- Reynald Secher, Vendée : du génocide au mémoricide, p. 130.
« Le général Grignon arrive avec sa colonne dans Les Herbiers. Nous allâmes le trouver pour conférer avec lui ; nous lui fîmes observer que la loi défendait expressément de brûler les grains et les fourrages. Nous l'engageâmes à les ménager pour les opérations ultérieures. Il nous dit que les ordres étaient tels, mais qu'ils n'étaient pas exécutés. Il ajouta, quant aux Herbiers, que nous étions heureux que son collègue Amey y fut, que sans cela tous les habitants sans distinction de patriotes ou autrement auraient été fusillés parce que les ordres du général en chef portaient de massacrer, fusiller et incendier tout ce qui se trouvait sur son passage, qu'il avait fait fusiller des municipalités entières, revêtues de leurs écharpes. Nous devons observer que la commune des Herbiers avait été entièrement purgée de tous les aristocrates et aux horreurs que nous avons décrites nous devons ajouter que les portefeuilles de tous les individus ont été pris, tous les volontaires allaient dans les métairies prendre des chevaux, moutons, volailles de toutes espèces. » (Translation: "General Grignon arrives with his column in Les Herbiers. We went to find him to confer with him; we pointed out to him that the law expressly forbade the burning of grain and fodder. We urged him to spare them for subsequent operations. He tells us that the orders were such, but they were not executed. He added, as to the Herbiers, that we were happy that his colleague Amey was there, that otherwise all the inhabitants without distinction of patriots or otherwise would have been shot because the orders of the general-in-chief were to massacre, shoot and burn all this who was in his way, that he had shot whole municipalities, dressed in their scarves. We must observe that the commune of Herbiers had been completely purged of all aristocrats and the horrors we have described we must add that the portfolios of all individuals were taken, all the volunteers went to the farms to take horses, sheep, poultry of all kinds.")
- *Nicolas Delahaye et Pierre-Marie Gaborit, Les 12 Colonnes infernales de Turreau, p. 45.
- Louis-Marie Clénet, Les colonnes infernales, p. 156-157.
- Site de la mairie de Cerisay [archive]
- Laurent Dingli, Robespierre, p.400.
- Nicolas Delahaye et Pierre-Marie Gaborit, Les 12 Colonnes infernales de Turreau, p. 45.
- Jean Julien Michel Savary, Guerre des Vendéens et des chouans, par un officier supérieur de l'armée de Vendée (1824-1827), t. III, p. 383.