21 Charton: Premiere Division Chief M. de Charton

In Paris, six National Guard divisions or legions of ten battalions were maintained.  Jean de Charton, a native of Lyon, was one of Lafayette’s Lieutenants and the chief of the First Division:  Battalions of Saint-Jacques-du-Haut-Pas, Saint-Victor, Saint-André-des-Arts, Saint-Marcel, Saint-Louis-en-l’lle, Val-de-Grâce, Saint -Etiennedu-Mont, Sorbonne, Saint-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet, and Mathurins.

Charton, who was 42 at the time, led the battalion of Saint Marcel during the Massacre of the Champ de Mars on July 17, 1791 in which the National Guard opened fire on a group of Republican protesters.  Two days prior, the National Assembly had decreed that Louis XVI would retain his throne under a constitutional monarchy; this despite his attempt to flee the country during the Flight to Varennes a month earlier. The Société des Amis des droits de l’homme et du citoyen (Society of the Friends of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen), known as the Cordeliers Club, drew up a petition demanding that the King be removed from his throne and some 50,000 people gathered at the Champ de Mars in support. The Mayor of Paris was able to use the National Guard to disperse the initial crowd but an even larger crowd following one of the Cordeliers Club leaders, Georges Jacques Danton, returned in the afternoon and Bailly ordered the National Guard to fire upon them. The exact number of the wounded and dead are unknown. Charton reported that nine of the National Guard were wounded, two of whom later died.


Bibliography of Sources:

“Champ de Mars Massacre.” Wikipedia:  The Free Encyclopedia. Accessed May 23, 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Champ_de_Mars_massacre.

La Bédollière, Émile de. Histoire de la garde nationale : récit complet de tous les faits qui l’ont distinguée depuis son origine jusqu’en 1848. Paris: H. Dumineray et F. Pallier, 1848. Accessed May 23, 2019. https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k6487209z/texteBrut

Mathiez, Albert. Le Club de Cordeliers Pendant la Crise de Varennes et le Massacre du Champ de Mars:  Documents en grande partie in inédits, publiés avec des éclaircissements et des notes. Genève:  Slatkine-Mégariotis Reprints, 1975.


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