Joseph Ignace art illustration

Ignace gives his life

GUADELOUPE – may 25, 1802

To die rather than be captured. On May 25, 1802, Joseph Ignace, after heroically fighting with his troop of 200 soldiers in Basse-Terre, takes his own life. A fate that foreshadows that of another iconic figure in this struggle against the reinstatement of slavery, that of Louis Delgrès…

On May 6, 1802, when the French troops secretly tasked with reinstating slavery landed in Pointe-à-Pitre, Captain Joseph Ignace was the first to oppose their plan. He refused them entry into Fort Victoire. During the night, he fled with other officers, Massoteau, Palerme, and Codou, along with around 200 soldiers.

And so begins his epic journey…

At dawn on May 7, he arrives in Le Lamentin, his objective being to join Delgrès in Basse-Terre. Along the way, in Sainte-Rose, Deshaies, Pointe-Noire, Bouillante, and Vieux-Habitants, he incites the cultivators to rise up. And it is a much larger group than the one that left Pointe-à-Pitre that arrives in Basse-Terre on the 8th…

Two days later, on the 10th, fierce battles erupt in the surrounding areas and then in the city of Basse-Terre, lasting for 12 days. Eventually, the resistance fighters, caught under the fire of the French soldiers, evacuate Fort Saint-Charles.

Some, led by Delgrès, head towards Matouba, while others, led by Ignace, depart towards Pointe-à-Pitre. Due to a lack of sufficient troops, Ignace does not attack the city of Pointe-à-Pitre and retreats to the fortifications of Baimbridge. On the 25th, French troops surround Ignace and his men, who are engulfed in a veritable deluge of gunfire.

And as evening falls, the assault begins. Ignace, amidst several assailants, shoots himself in the head. 425 of his comrades are killed, and 250 are captured before being executed by firing squad. Ignace’s body is decapitated, and his head is displayed in the Place de la Victoire in Pointe-à-Pitre. This fate foreshadows that of Delgrès and his men three days later. (Translated from source below)



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