On This Day in Napoleonic History – 5 October 1795

bonaparte_vendemiaire_pt13 Vendémiaire

Napoleon played a major role in suppressing the Royalist insurrection against the Convention. As the second in command of the Army of the Interior, he was told by Paul François Barras to use all means necessary to disperse the insurgents. Napoleon sent Captain Joachim Murat of the 12 regiment of Chasseurs à Cheval with 100 cavalry men to the plain of Sablons with orders to secure the cannon before the mob got to them. Sending the reserves to defend the Tuileries Palace where the convention sat, he positioned his cavalry on the Place de la Révolution, today Place de la Concorde. Napoleon, who never liked the mob, said, ‘Good and upstanding people must be persuaded by gentle means. The rabble must be moved by terror.’ He was more than ready to resort to terror if the insurrectionists didn’t comply.

Napoleon had 5,5000 men against 30,000 people from the sections. He didn’t want to be the first to open fire, but as soon as the first musket shots were sounded by the rebels, he unleashed a devastating response. The bullet holes from that terrible day can still be seen on the walls of the Church of St Roch in the Rue Saint-Honoré. Napoleon’s ‘whiff of grapeshot’ dispersed the rabble, saving the Republic and preventing the civil war. The Paris mob played no further role in French politics for the next three decades.

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