Take Pity on Our Glory: Men of Champ d'Asile
EAN-PIERRE DE BERANGER, THE ARDENT NAPOLEONIC POET WHOSE
song Le Champ d'Asile was written to raise money in aid of the
French filibusters in Texas, had them address the natives of the forest
then bordering the lower Trinity River: "Savages, we are Frenchmen;
take pity on our glory." Who were the pitiable soldiers of Champ
d'Asile? The lives of the generals who led the expedition are easily
found in standard French biographical dictionaries.' But the others?
Where did they come from? Why were they in Texas? Where did they
go? What were they personally like? This essay makes a beginning at
answering these questions.
Whatever each individual had as a personal motive for being in
Texas, few if any understood the ultimate objective of the expedi-
tion, which was the secret of their leader, General Charles Lallemand.
The first contingent of Napoleonic exiles arrived at Galveston in
January, 1818, and all had left Texas well before the end of the year.
They were at their encampment Champ d'Asile only about four and
a half months. With the exception of James Long's incursion, they
were the last in a series of armed expeditions into Spanish Texas prior
to Mexican independence. All of these expeditions, including very
probably Lallemand's, had the objective of setting up independent
governments and attracting to themselves Mexican insurgents.2
*Kent Gardien is a grass-roots historian of Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico.
1Jesse S. Reeves, "The Napoleonic Exiles in America: A Study in American Diplomatic
History, 1815-1819," Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science,
Series XXIII (Sept.-Oct., 1905), 112-113 (quotation). [J. Fr.] Michaud (ed.), Biographie
universelle, ancienne et moderne . . . (reprint ed., Graz, Austria, 1966), XXII, 616-624,
gives a detailed biography of the Lallemand brothers. For Antoine Rigau see [J. C. F.]
Hoefer (ed.), Nouvelle biographie gdndrale, depuis les temps les plus reculds jusqu'd nos
jours (46 vols.; Paris, 1862), XLII, 287-288.
2For a comprehensive history of filibustering in Texas see Harris Gaylord Warren, The
Sword Was Their Passport: A History of American Filibustering in the Mexican Revolu-
tion (Baton Rouge, 1943).
Frangois-Antoine (called Charles) Lallemand (1774-1839) and his brother Henri-
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 87, July 1983 - April, 1984. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117150/. Accessed January 30, 2015.