W. (William) Harding.

Dreyfus: the prisoner of Devil's Island, a full story of the most remarkable military trial and scandal of the age online

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even in Turkey sent correspondents to tell this story at Eennes. A paper
which I had never heard of in Norway spent $100 a day to give its read-
ers an account of the trial, and a single journal in Vienna expended
more than $20,000 in telegraph tolls at ' urgent ' rates during the five

"Every disposition to facilitate the work of the correspondents was
shown by the authorities. We learned after a few days that each one of us
had been quietly photographed, and full descriptions, with all that could
be learned of our antecedents, had been sent to Paris in a special dossier
by the omnipresent ' agents of the State ' ; but nobody could object to this
harmless and flattering attention. Neither could we find any fault with


the assignment of places in the trial hall, which relegated the foreign cor-
respondents to the seats most distant from the stage, where the testimony
of many witnesses was inaudible. After all, the case to be heard was pri-
marily a domestic French affair, and I doubt if in any other country on
earth the same consideration would have been shown to foreign newspaper
men, whose presence the great majority of Frenchmen regarded as an

" I explained in one of my earlier despatches that each foreign corre-
spondent received half a ticket to the Lyc^e. This was an immense con-
cession from Colonel Jouaust's first dictum, which was : 'Assign one ticket
to each group of ten. That will enable each man to attend one session in
ten, and it will be quite enough for him.' Fortunately, the French mili-
tary idea of journalistic needs did not prevail, and the committee of the
' Presse Judiciare ' was able to induce the doughty president to take a more
liberal view of the situation. Even the half-ticket regulation was modi-
fied to some extent, and each morning admission was granted to as many
of the banished moiety of foreign correspondents as there remained empty
seats after the ticket holders had entered. Finally the difficulty in hear-
ing the evidence was partially overcome by securing reports of the testi-
mony sheet by sheet from French reporters near the witness-stand, and
thus the actual proceedings in the court-room were prepared for readers

" The authorities of Eennes provided also a great hall with a special
telegraph office, for the use of visiting correspondents. The Bourse du
Commerce was transformed into a vast editorial room. One hundred and
fifty writing tables, nailed to the floor to prevent noise and confusion,
comfortable chairs, pens, ink, and paper, and courteous attendants were all
at the disposal of French and foreign writers during the five weeks.

"The problem of quick commimication with the outside world was an
ever-present difficulty from the first day of the trial until the last. There
were available six telegraph and four telephone wires from Eennes to
Paris, two wires to Brest, the landing-place of the French Cable Com-
pany's lines to America, and one wire to Havre, where the Commercial
Company's cables touch. The best apparatus and most skilful operators
in France were assembled at Eennes for the tremendous task of conveying
the news of the trial to the four quarters of the world. Considering the


facilities available, the result was probably the best accomplishment in
telegraphy in this or any other country. On the first day more than
650,000 words were transmitted by telegraph alone. This quantity was
exceeded on the day Labori was shot, and ou other days it varied between
the maximum and a minimum of 350,000 words.

" It would be unfair, perhaps, to criticise the quality of the work in
view of its overwhelming quantity. And operator who sends at highest
speed long messages in any of half a dozen languages which he does not
understand can hardly be blamed if the despatches fail to arrive letter per-
fect at their destination. I confess I groaned in anguish of spirit when
copies of The Sun reached Eennes containing my despatches sent during
the early days of the trial. There was great improvement later — the
French operator would probably be unkind enough to say this was due
solely to my painstaking attempts to write a legible hand. When it is
considered, however, that nearly one-half the matter sent over the wires
from Rennes was written in English, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish,
or Swedish, it must be admitted that the accomplishment of the Rennes
telegraph corps was something stupendous.

" There were some amusing incidents in connection with the sending
of the news of the trial, and one or two will bear repeating. The corre-
spondent of a London evening paper rushed to the telegraph office on the
afternoon of the day Labori was shot, and handed in a despatch of about
nine hundred words. All correspondents had deposited in advance ample
funds to cover the cost of telegrams in order to avoid the delay of frequent
payments. The receiver, therefore, accepted the despatch with the custo-
mary ' Merci, monsieur.' The sender happened to wait for a moment, and
presently saw the telegraph clerk pick up his message, cross the room,
climb on a chair, and carefully place the despatch on top of a cabinet.
The man returned to his seat, received a few more telegrams from the per-
sons waiting at the window, checked them, gave them to a messenger to
take to the operating room, got up again and carried a heavy ledger over
to the cabinet and deposited it on top of the London man's despatch. The
correspondent was mystified, but did not interfere until the clerk had re-
ceived a few more telegrams and had carried a few more miscellaneous
articles across the room and piled them upon the cabinet. Then the Lon-
doner remonstrated gently :


" ' Aren't you going to send my despatch ? '

"' Your despatch has been sent. Monsieur,' was the calm reply.

" ' No, it hasn't. It's over there on top of that cabinet,' insisted the

The clerk looked at him as if lie thought he had been bereft of his

" ' Nothing of the kind. I sent your despatch to the operating-room
as soon as you handed it to me,' was the polite but firm reply.

" The Englishman began to get angry, and in rather peremptory tones
asked the clerk to verify his words by examining the top of the cabinet.
The clerk was sure by this time that his interlocutor was crazy. He mut-
tered something about these English, and sharply asked the insistent dis-
turber to stand aside and not block the line at the window. The enraged
journalist hurried off, and found a French confrere of influence, to whom
he explained the situation. Together they returned to the telegraph office
and sent for the chief. The case was laid before him. He went to the
cabinet, lifted down a heap of things on top, and there at the bottom of
all lay the despatch. Then, naturally, the Londoner began to say things,
but the chief interrupted him :

" ' Now, be reasonable, you mustn't be angry with this poor fellow.
Have a little consideration of the circumstances. He has been in tears all
day ever since he heard Labori had been shot. He doesn't know what he
is doing. Really it isn't fair for you to be cross with him.'

" And what could the correspondent do after that explanation ?

" How to communicate the news of the court-martial's verdict most
expeditiously to the waiting world has, of course, been the problem upper-
most in every correspondent's mind for days past. Many schemes were
devised for securing a few seconds' precedence, and some of them were
sufficiently ingenious to deserve success, but in the end pure chance proved
to be the controlling factor. This applies to the despatches announcing
the judgment filed by the correspondent here after the decision had been
announced in court by Colonel Jouaust. These telegrams poured into the
Rennes telegraph office in a perfect avalanche, and, as usually happens in
times of such excitement, the order of dispatching did not follow the exact
order of receipt. In fact, the last was sometimes first. Those of us who
have had experience of similar confusion at presidential elections at Ver-


sailles and other occasions had prepared for this emergency. We wrote
our despatches in duplicate, filed one at the earliest possible moment, and
waited to slip the other into the distracted clerk's hand at the moment
when he handed over the swelling pile of telegrams for transmission. The
chances were that the top or last message would be sent first.

" It is probable, despite ail the rush at Rennes, tliat the first news of
the verdict reached New York via London. Some of us learned yesterday
morning that the decision would be telephoned to the home ofifice in Paris
a few minutes before it was publicly announced in the court-room at
Eennes. As a matter of fact, at the moment when the decisive words
were being read to the assembled audience in the Lyc^e, the news had
been received at London, and had been transferred to the cable, which de-
livered it in New York three minutes late.

" The fate of two plans of rival American correspondents for beating
their fellows deserves to be recorded. They were not satisfied with con-
veying the news from the court-room to the telegraph office — a distance of
less than a quarter of a mile — by foot or bicycle ; so they arranged sys-
tems of signals. In one case, a series of boys stationed at intervals along
the route was to pass along the signal of ' guilty ' by holding the right
hand high in the air, while both arms in that position would signify ' in-
nocent.' The boys were carefully drilled, and the system worked perfectly
until the fateful moment came. Then the first boy gave the signal pro-
perly, but the second lost his head. Instead of raising his hand he
clapped both arms to his sides and started pell-mell for the telegraph
office. His employer saw him coming and ran to meet him, unable to
imagine what had happened. The boy simply flung himself into the
newspaper man's arms. Too much excited himself to think of any French,
the correspondent shook the little wretch and shouted in English :

"'What is it?'

" Then the boy bethought himself. Up went his right hand high in
the air. ' Coupable,' he yelped, and trotted with his arm still up behind
his employer the rest of the way to the telegraph office.

" The other incident was no less tragic. Another series of boys were to
wave red discs if the verdict was guilty, blue ones for the four-to-three
verdict of dishonorable acquittal, and white for innocent. The correspon-
dent who relied on this scheme made the fatal mistake of stationing a very


small boy at the Lyc^e end of the line. A crowd of more than a hundred
men and boys was waiting at the slot beneath a window through which
the word was to come. All broke and ran at the same moment when the
news was received, and the small boy with a red disc was simply knocked
down and trampled on by the crowd before he could give the signal."



The following Dictionary of the Dreyfus case contains ready references
to the leading actors and documents in the famous drama:

Abeville, Colonel d' — Former Deputy Chief of the Fourth Bureau.

Beaurepaire, M. Quesnay de. — Former President of the Civil Section of
the Court of Cassation, who resigned and bitterly attacked Dreyfus.

Bertillon, M. — Chief of the Identification Department of the Paris Pre-
fecture of Police. He testified at both of the court-martials as an ex-
pert ill handwriting, against Dreyfus.

Bertin, Lieutenant-Colonel — Chief of Dreyfus's bureau at Military
Headquarters, 1894.

Bertulus, M. — The magistrate who made the preliminary examination of
the Esterhazy case. He received the late Lieutenant-Colonel Henry's
confession of forgery.

Billot, General — Minister of War (April, 1896-June, 1898) during the
time of the Henry forgeries. To him Scheurer-Kestner opened up his
doubts on the validity of the conviction of Dreyfus. Billot played him
false, and took his stand on the " authority of the chose jugee. "

Bertrand, M. — Representative of the government at Zola's second trial.
He violated the law for the purpose of saving Du Paty de Clam, the

" Blanche " and " Speranza " Telegrams — Two telegrams forged by Du
Paty de Clam and Esterhazy, and sent to Picquart with the object of
"bluffing" him into the belief that a lady, who was in the "plot," had
given away the "secret" that he forged the Esterhazy "petit bleu."
The " Speranza " despatch was sent to Picquart especially with the object
of inspiring official circles with the belief that he was an agent of the
Dreyfus syndicate.

Boisdeffre, General de — Chief of the General Staff at the time of the
Dreyfus prosecution. He resigned because Henry deceived him. He
was in touch with all the Esterhazy trickeries.


Bordereau — The document found in bits among the waste paper at the
German Embassy, pieced together, and attributed to Dreyfus, though
undoubtedly Esterhazy wrote it. It offers secret information, and is, of
course, unsigned and undated.

BouLANCY, Mme. de — A relation of Esterhazy and an acquaintance of Colo-
nel Picquart. Esterhazy tried to drag her into the conspiracy hatched
against Picquart by suggesting that she wrote certain letters. It was
absolutely false.

Brisset, Major — Government Commissary, or prosecutor, at the court-
martial of 1894.

Brugere, Lieutenant — An officer of the Artillery Reserve; witness in

Carriere, Major — Government Commissary (prosecutor) at the Dreyfus
court-martial of 1899.

Carvalho, Captain — Officer of the Artillery; witness at Rennes.

Casimir-Perier, M. — President of the Republic at the time of the Drey-
fus trial. He had the courage to speak out to the Court of Cassation
and annoimce that the prisoner was convicted on secret evidence.

Castelin, M. — Member of Assembly, from the district of Aisne. He gave
notice of an interpellation of the Government in 1896, which stirred the
authorities to renewed activity and helped to bring about the revision of
the case.

Cavaignac, M. — Minister of War (October, 1895- April, 1896; June,
1898-September, 1898). He announced the discovery of Henry's for-
gery, but reaffirmed his belief in the guilt of Dreyfus. He is a cousin
of Du Paty de Clam.

Cernuschi, Eugene de — An Austro-Hungarian refugee who testified at

" Cette Canaille de D " — A phrase in one of the documents of the

secret dossier. It does not refer to Dreyfus, but to a subordinate, whose
name is said to be known to the French War Office (said to be Dubois).

Chanoine, General — Minister of War (September 18, 1898-October 25,
1898). He was chiefly memorable for his stagy resignation in the

Charavay, M. — Archivist and expert in ancient manuscripts. He testified
at both courts-martial.

Chautemps, M. — Minister of Colonies in 1894. He tried to mitigate Drey-
fus' s sufferings in his exile, but without success.

Cochefort, M. — Chief of the French Detective Department.


CoMMiNGES, Mlle. BLANCHE DE — '' La Dame Blanche '* (The White
Lady"), a wealthy lady who has attended all the court scenes in the
Dreyfus drama.

CoRDiEK, Colonel — Deputy Chief of the Intelligence Department in 1894.

Court de Cassation — The French Court of Appeals. The body which
decreed the re-trial of Dreyfus.

Cuers, Eichard — 'A spy in the Government service.

CuiGNET, Captain — He discovered Colonel Henry's forgery, and was satis-
fied with the rest of the documents of the secret dossier, which he col-
lected and filed.

Darius, M. — Procureur-General of Cayenne, where Dreyfus was in exile.
He first announced to Dreyfus the order for revision of his case.

Darras, General — He commanded the troops and officiated at the degra-
dation of Dreyfus.

Delagorgue, M. — President at the Zola trial. He made history by his stock
saying in favor of the War Office party : " The question shall not be put. "

Demange, Maitre — Dreyfus's counsel at the court-martial and during the
Rennes trial.

" Dixi Article " — Written by Esterhazy in the Eclair, bitterly attacking
Piquart on private information illegally lent him b}^ the War Ofiice.

" Document Liberateur " — The letter beginning " Cette canaille de
D ." This was the famous one which Esterhazy threatened Presi-
dent Faure he would disclose, unless protected against Picquart. He al-
leged it had been stolen by Picquart for a foreign embassy. Esterhazy
eventually returned it to the War Office, after it had served its purpose.

Dossier, The Secret — A collection of more or less private documents bear-
ing on the case, only one of which, unless the War Office has manufac-
tured any more forgeries, mentions Dreyfus by name, and this is abso-
lutely commonplace and innocent.

Dreyfus, M. Mathieu — The brother of the captain, was one of the pio-
neers of the campaign for revision. It was he who first denounced Ester-
hazy as the writer of the bordereau.

Drumont, M. — Editor of the Libre Parole, who first published details of
the discovery of the bordereau.

Du Paty de Clam, Lieutenant- Colonel — The melodramatic villain of

the piece. He set a trap to surprise Dreyfus by dictating to him the

text of the bordereau. He was a warm supporter of Esterhazy, and

acted the part of the "Veiled Lady." He assisted in forging telegrams

to entrap Picquart, and did the dirty work of the War Office.


EcHEMANN, Lieutenant-Colonel — Member of the court-martial of 1894.

EsTERHAZY, CouNT Walsin — One of the chief opponents of Dreyfus. M.
Mathieu Dreyfus having denounced him as the writer of the bordereau,
he was tried and acquitted, amid an anti-Jewish manifestation. He
was subsequently arrested on a charge of forging the " Speranza " and
" Blanche " telegrams, but liberated on a technical point. He was, how-
ever, expelled from the army, and has since gravitated between Hol-
land, London, and Paris, at one time fully admitting he wrote the bor-
dereau by desire of his superiors, and then denying he ever said so.
There is little doubt but what he did write it. With Du Paty de Clam,
he stooped to any anti-Dreyfus trick, no matter how mean, but he played
all parties equally false.

Fabre, General — Former Chief of the Fourth Bureau of the General Staff.

Faure, M. Felix — Ex-President of the French Republic, and an unquali-
fied supporter of the General Staff against Dreyfus.

Florentine, Major — Member of the court-martial of 1894.

Fonds-Lamothes, M. des — A former artillery officer — now an engineer.

FoRziNETTi, Commandant — Director of the Cherche-Midi prison, where
Dreyfus was first confined. He denied the prisoner made any confession,
and eventually, for affirming a belief in his innocence, fell into disgrace.

Freycinet, M. de — Former Premier and former Minister of War, known
as " The Little White Mouse."

Freystaetter, Captain — A member of the court-martial of 1894, and a
fearless defender of Dreyfus at Rennes.

Gallet, Major— a member of the court-martial of 1894.

Gallifet, General the Marquis de — Minister of War at the time of the
Rennes court-martial. Called " The Hope of France," on account of his
fearless adherence to truth and enforcement of strict discipline.

Gallopin, Major— Officer of the Artillery, who testified at Rennes.

Germain, M. — A groom in the employ of Kuhlman, a stable-keeper in

GoNSE, General — Assistant Chief of the General Staff. He was the im-
mediate superior of Picquart, against whom he was, after a moment's
hesitation, a consistently warm supporter of Esterhazy. He had doubts
about Dreyfus' s guilt till the influence of Headquarters made him solid
with the other generals, since when he bitterly opposed revision.

Grandmaison, M. Georges Charles Alfred Marie Mullin de — Deputy
from the Saumur District of Maine-et-Loire, a friend of M. de Beau-
repaire. He made a sensational speech at Rennes.


Gribelin, M. — Principal Archivist of the Headquarters' Staff, and an
abettor of Du Paty de Clam.

GuENEE — A private detective.

GuERiN, M. — Former Minister of Justice.

GuERiN, LiEUTENAN^T-CoLONEL — He was Ordered to attend and report on
the degradation of Dreyfus.

Hadamard, M. — The father-in-law of Dreyfus, a rich Paris diamond mer-

Hanotaux, M. — Pormer Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Hartmann, Major — Officer of the Artillery, witness at Rennes.

Havet, M. Louis — A member of the Institute and a Professor of the Col-
lege of France, who testified at Rennes.

Hennion, M. — A detective; Chief of Secret Police at Rennes.

Hemry, Lieutexant-Colonel — Picquart's successor in the Intelligence
Department. To supply non-existent evidence he forged a telegram
which was inserted in the secret dossier. On discovery and arrest he
cut his throat in Mont Valerien prison.

Henry, Mme — Widow of the late Lieutenant-Colonel Henry.

JouAusT, Colonel — President of the Dreyfus court-martial of 1899.

Kuhlman, M. — An Alsatian livery stable-keeper, who testified at Rennes.

Labori, Maitre Fernand — Counsel of Dreyfus, Zola, and Picquart.

Lebon, M. — Former Minister of the Colonies, during Dreyfus' s exile.

Lebrun-Renault, Captain — An officer to whom, so it was at one time
alleged, Dreyfus made a confession. As a matter of fact he did nothing
of the kind; only the War Office, by purposely distorting the captain's
report on the circumstances, made it appear that he did.

Le Monnier, Captain — One of the Headquarters' Staff.

Le Roxd, Major — A professor at the Military School.

Maurel-Pries, Colonel — President of the Dreyfus court-martial of 1894.

Mercier, General — Minister of War (November, 1893-January, 1895)
when Dreyfus was arrested. He was his bitterest foe, and utterly im-
placable. It was he who laid secret evidence before the court-martial

MuLLER, M. Mertian DE. — A friend of M. de Beaurepaire.

MiTRY, Major de — Officer of the Hussars, who testified at Rennes.

D'Ormescheville, Major Besson — He drew up the "act of accusation"
for the court-martial of 1894. He assumed allegations of guilt to be guilt.

Paleologue, M. — Foreign Office expert, and correct translator of the
Panizzardi telegram, which Henry falsified.


Panizzardi, Major — The Italian military attache, supyc^vH', • - .ily,
to have had relations with Dreyfus. He sent the t-bh ^. - . .0 r,oj-
ernment on which Henry based his forgery.

Paray-Javal, M. — Handwriting expert, who testified ab t^rin-jc .

Pays, Mme. de — The mistress of Esterhazy.

Patrox, Major — Member of the court-martial of 1894.

Pellieux, General — One of the French General Staff. T-' . (;v4i.>oi;ed
Esterhazy and used the Henry forgery in the Zola trial ts eta '''i'.sc
lute proof " of the guilt of Dreyfus.

Pelletier, M. — Handwriting expert.

"Petit Bleu" — A telegram found at the Germany Embassy; \/?it,t6v L7
Colonel von Schwartzkoppen, the German military attache, to ''' ■:tyr V a;:3 ,
inviting him to call. It was torn up and thrown into a waste basket
the writer having changed his mind about sending it. It was founa
there by secret agents. Esterhazy contended that it was a forgery.

PicARD, ]\[. Lemercier — War Office agent and forger of the humbler type.
He laid a trap for the Dreyfus party, which failed. He was imprisoned
and was said to have hanged himself. Other reports say he was mur-

PiCQUART, LiE-uTENANT-CoLONEL — Ex'hcad of the Intelligence Department
He took up the cause of Dreyfus on the ground that the evidence was
insufficient, and he also produced the famous "petit bleu" (telegram) al-
leged to have been written to Esterhazy by the German attache, Cohui'B'
von Schwartzkoppen, making an appointment but which was not sent.
He was removed from the army and imprisoned on a charge of forging
the " petit bleu " himself, but was since liberated.

Polytechnic School — The school where French officers are educated, cor -
responding to \Yest Point in the United States.

Ravary, Major — He drew up the blundering report at the time of 'ne
Esterhazy court-martial.

RiSBOURG, General — Commander of the Republican Guard in Vtirv, xl
. 1894.

Roche, Captain — Member of the court-martial of 1894.

RocHEFORT, M. Henri — Editor of the Intrayisigeant newspaper.

Online LibraryW. (William) HardingDreyfus: the prisoner of Devil's Island, a full story of the most remarkable military trial and scandal of the age → online text (page 34 of 35)