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Mémoires du Général J. D. Freytag, 1824

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Captor’s perspective on life in Guyana penal colonies

Jean-David Freytag; Auguste Couvray de Beauregard.

Mémoires du Général J. D. Freytag, ancien commandant de Sinnamary et de Conamama, dans la Guyane française, contenant des détails sur les déportés du 18 fructidor, a la Guyane; la relation des principaux événemens qui se sont passés dans cette colonie pendant la révolution, et un précis de la retraite effectuée par l'arrière-garde de l'armée française en Russie; ses voyages dans diverses parties de l'Amérique, l’histoire de son séjour parmi les Indiens de ce continent.

Paris, Nepveu; Imprimerie de Hocquet, 1824.

2 volumes in 1. 8°. [4], XVI, 306, [4], 335, [1 blank] pp.

Slightly later half vellum with marbled sides, title label on spine.

First edition of a Guyana penal colony commander’s memoires. In 1797, following a coup in France, sixteen royalists were captured and summarily deported to French Guiana. Six months later, the government continued to deport potentially troublesome persons from France, this time sending some 313 to join the earlier deportees. Once in the South American colony, the deportees were moved about from capital Cayenne, to remote Sinnamary, to the even more inaccessible banks of the Conamama River. Jean-David Freytag, commander of Sinnamary and Conomara, was responsible for overseeing the deportees in French Guiana. Many died there, and some held out until Napoleon pardoned the remaining deportees after 1799, with a small handful managing to escape. Some who returned published their accounts of their time in the colony, including General Freytag, whose perspective as a captor contrasted starkly with that of the captives. This account of French Guiana has often been overlooked in favour of the narratives at the end of the book surrounding Napoleon’s Russian campaign. For instance, Tulard's work, while describing the plight of the deportees from Guyana, primarily focuses on events following Bonaparte's rise to power and the subsequent Russian expedition. The accompanying Notes Historiques were written by Auguste Couvray de Beauregard.

Condition: edges rubbed, some foxing throughout. Otherwise in good condition.

Literature: Sabin 25823; Tulard, Napoleon 564.


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