10 August 1792: A First Hand Account (Part 1)

Scottish born John Moore obtained his medical degree in Glasgow, served with the army in Flanders during the Seven Years’ War, and eventually settled in France, where he was attached to the household of the British ambassador. In 1792, he accompanied James Maitland, 8th Earl of Lauderdale, to Paris and witnessed the revolution. Among the events he witnessed was the storming of the Tuileries Palace on 10 August where Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and their children were living at the time. The event became known as “10 August.”

Moore’s observations on 10 August 1792 were published in the Chester Chronicle and said to be an extract taken from his book, Journal During a Residence in France. His account for August 10th is provided below and is almost verbatim:

“Having fallen asleep about three, we were awakened by nine by the firing of cannon — and we heard the cry of ‘To arms! Citizens, to arms! they slaughter your parents, your brother, your sons!” and we saw men running half frantic through the streets, exclaiming in that manner. Lord Lauderdale, being still indisposed, could not go out, and my sons remained at the hotel with him.

10 August 1792

Dr. John Moore. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

As soon as I was dressed I went into the streets; a party of the National Guards, with a number of Citizens armed, were marching towards the Tuileries — another body of men followed soon after, dragging several cannons along the Quai de Mazarin, where I was, to the Pont Royal. Some men, flying from the Tuileries along this bridge, were killed by the National Guards before they reached to that end to which the cannons were advancing. Those cannons, being mounted on the bridge, were repeatedly discharged against that part of the Chateau which looks to the Seine. Some women, who stood near me on the Quai de Voltaire, as soon as they heard the first discharge, fell clapping their hands, and cried, “Bravo! Bravo!’

James Maitland, 8th Earl of Lauderdale, Courtesy of Wikipedia

James Maitland, 8th Earl of Lauderdale. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

In the mean time there was some firing of musquetry from the windows of the Louvre facing the river — a few people were killed and wounded on the quays. Those who were on the side next to the Louvre had run from the quay to the brink of the river, that they might be sheltered from the shot by the parapet. A party of National Guards who marched along the Quai Mazarin, as often as they saw a group of people converting together, dispersed them — the officer, at the same time, advising all who were without arms to retire to their houses.

We were informed, ‘that, in the course of the preceding night, great preparations had been made at the Tuileries to repel the threatened attack from the Fauxbourgs; that several thousands of armed men had been introduced into the Chateau for that purpose, independent of the battalion of Swiss Guards; that many of the National Guards had been practiced on by the agents of the court, to join the Swiss and those of the Chateau, who are distinguished by the names of the Chevaliers du Poignard, against the people; that the people of the Fauxbourgs, with the Marseillois and Bretons, had marched to the square of the Carousel, and demanded admittance into the palace of the Tuileries; that the King, Queen, and Royal Family had retreated from the palace, and had taken sanctuary in the National Assembly; and that, in about three quarters of an hours after they were there, the Swiss Guards, and those within the Chateau, had fired grape-shot and musquetry on the people drawn up in the court of the Chateau, and continued a rolling fire for ten minutes; that the Foederes, supported by the people of the Fauxbourgs had rallied and attacked the defenders of the castle, had driven them out of it into the garden, where, in their flight, they had been slaughtered by the National Guards, who now, both foot and horse, took a decided part against the court, and for the people. That a great number of the Citizens and Foederes had been killed, as well as many of the Chevaliers du Poignard; but that very few of the Swiss Guards were left alive; for those who, instead of flying into the garden or streets, had sought shelter in the apartments of the palace, had been massacred with the domestics of the King and Queen, and all of whatever quality or denomination, who were supposed to favour their cause.’

Face-off between Insurgents (Marseillais, etc.) and the Swiss Guards on the Tuileries Staircase, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Face-off between Insurgents (Marseillais, etc.) and the Swiss Guards on the Tuileries Staircase on 10 August 1792. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Such is the account which, with some variations, we have heard this day.

I have this day been witness to many interesting, and even affecting scenes in the streets. During the cannonade and noise of the musquetry, the grief and anxiety of all for the friends and relations they knew to be then engaged, produced a most expressive silence in some, while the air was rent by the exclamations of others, particularly the women and children, who trembled for the lives of the fathers, husbands, and brothers, who had left their families at the first call to arms, and had not been seen since. When the action was over, and the National Guards returning, many of the women rushed into the ranks to embrace and felicitate their husbands and brothers of their safety. I saw one father of a numerous family met at his own door by his wife and children. After embracing each as they crowded around him, he entered the shop, carrying one of his children in each of his arms, his daughter following his grenadier’s cap in her hand, and his two little boys dragging his musquet.”

Attack upon Palais des Tuileries on 10 August 1792, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Attack upon Palais des Tuileries on 10 August 1792. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

References:

  • “August 10, 1792,” in Chester Chronicle, 7 June 1793

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