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The Real Renée Bordereau

There is a character in my novel, Silence in the Mist, named Renee Bordereau.  In my book, she is a bold, brave solider in the Army of the Vendee and the mentor of my heroine, Francoise Despres.

In real life, Renee was a larger character than I sketched. 


"Renée Bordereau, whose father was butchered before her eyes, and who lost forty-two relatives in the civil war of La Vendee; during the course of six years fought in more than two hundred battles, on foot and on horseback, with the most determined intrepidity. In one battle she killed twenty-one of the enemy. She liberated fifty priests at one time and eight hundred at another, all of whom would have been executed. A price of 40,000 francs was set on her head. She was thrown into prison for a crime for which she could only prove her innocence by a discovery of her sex, where she remained five years, until the accession of Louis Eighteenth to the throne of France."  From Hit by Mary E. Walker, M. D., pp. 130, 131, New York:The American News Company: 1871.

Renee participated in all wars of Vendée: Saint Florent, Fontenay, Saumur, Angers, Nantes.  She fought on horseback and on foot, often fighting with knives or her bare knuckles. Once, she was shot in the leg, but resumed fighting after only a few days convalescence.  She killed and killed 11 Viziers hussars in her next battle.

Accompanied by a band of 15 fearless riders,Renee conducted a guerilla war, harassing the republican armies.

Renee was captured several times throughout the Revolutionary wars but always managed to escape. Finally, she was arrested at Beaupréau in 1809 and taken to his cell at the Château Dodgers where she was kept for three years and deplorable, brutal conditions. She dug a hole out of her cell and climbed a 60 foot wall to escape. Just captured again and moved to Mont Saint Michel where she remained until she was released at the end of the rain of Napoleon.


Renee Bordereau: "I then found in Saint Lambert, where the enemy was encamped on the hills of Beaulieu, close to the bridge Barre; ... I took four that I killed with my own hand. One had a child about six months old dangling from the end of his bayonet along with two chickens ... Coming from the Loire, I destroyed five of my enemies, and ending my day, I broke my sword on the head of the latter in the Rue des Ponts de Cé .. To me alone, I killed 21 on that day ... There, we ate soup and the two chickens that I took in the from the Republican. " 

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