Monsieur René and Captaine Redd were duly thrown in jail for trying to sell counterfeit jewelry to a local woman, who also happened to be the paramour of the Chief Gendarme. René worked his charm on the cook, and soon passed us a message that all was ready on the inside. As our next step, one of our most ravishing cantinières, Mademoiselle Anne, took to visiting the prison, flirting with the guards, under the guise of a laundress. She soon had the run of the place, and was able to signal René that the break was for that night.
The first element of our strategy was Anne; with this delightful person visiting the salle de garde, teasing and flirting her best, the guards would be much inclined to neglect their boring duties of watch and ward. Meanwhile, we were going to blow open the front gate of the prison with one of our cannons. I had a number of the ex-royalists dress up in their old uniforms; this band of supposed émigrés loomed suddenly out of the darkness, nearly frightening the goggle-eyed sentry out of his wits, and shouted: "Open in the name of the King! We come to free the Duc du Touquet!” (The Duc was the only prisoner of note held at the Montréal Prison). I was with a group of the Africans, leading them over the back wall of that Prison, while this spectacular distraction riveted the attention of the guards at the front. We found our way to the place where we had arranged to meet with the cantinières Anne, who then led us to the cell shared by the cook and René also Captaine Redd. The Africans rendered the turnkey unconscious, and we soon had our men free! Returning over the wall with them all, we made our escape at the same time, as the gunners were blowing open the gate with the cannon, sending the terrified guards scurrying for cover.
The tocsin was sounding, and the village was in an uproar; we knew that we did not have long before reinforcements of mounted gendarmes and the National Guard would be on us. We made a quick escape though the nearby woods to a prearranged place, where we changed into our regular uniforms, then headed back for the town, to appear as if we were there to help. Once we reached the Prison, the chief gendarme asked us, "What is a large detail of mounted Artillerymen doing this far from the camp?” We solemnly explained to the policier that we were out on night maneuvers, and showed him an order from our commanding officer for us to do it in this area. The prison guards, now freed from their earlier terror, were puffing out their chests and claiming they had beaten off an attack by a whole battalion, no, a regiment of the émigré army, with a battery of enormous siege-guns, and prevented the royalist devils from freeing the Duc du Touquet; surely they should all receive medals and commendations?
We now had our cook and Captaine; he was to prove that he had well deserved his prestigious former employment in the Royal kitchens. (One can tell, looking at the portraits of Louis XVI, that our late monarch had appreciated good food.) One of the best cooks around! Perhaps you are wondering why we went to so much trouble just to get a cook? You see, the second most important thing in an Army, after ammunition, is the science of cooking!
Join us next month as the journey continues!!