"Florvil Hyppolite Takes Command" by Rodolphe Charmant

An excerpt from Charmant’s La vie incoyable d’Alcius (1946). Charmant was a physician in the Faculté de Médecine in Port-au-Prince. Back in 1889, his grandfather, Alcius, was in exile in Jamaica, but returned to Haiti to help Hyppolite overthrow President Légitime. Below, Rodolphe explains how Hyppolite’s lieutenant, St. Martin Dupuy, proclaimed the news sent by his comrade, Edmond Paul, that General Dumourier Numa Rabel had betrayed Légitime and helped Hyppolite and his other lieutenant, Chicoye, beat the president’s last military commander, Dardignac.

Alcius discovered in Jamaica more than one hundred of his old friends from Jacmel. Edmond Paul, who was directing the revolution, organized them into an expedition that went to the Turkish islands and then on to Cap Haïtien on 20 April [1889].

Alcius wrote in his notes, "When we arrived in Cap Haïtien, the war in the north was seriously in jeopardy, so much so that the [revolution’s] leader, General Florvil Hyppolite, believed it prudent to retreat to Ouanaminthe on the border [with the Dominican Republic]. When we landed, we were taken to the Hotel [controlled by] General St. Martin Dupuy, the sole minister who was entrusted with every portfolio since the other with titles were either absent or [preoccupied]. After he read the letters that were sent by Edmond Paul, he provided us with a detailed explanation of the situation…Thanks to the help from the inhabitants of Jacmel, [Hyppolite’s lieutenants] Mompoint Jeune et Jean-Jumeau were able to continue the war in the Artibonite and harass the enemy troops all the way to the border of Arcahaie. In Saltrou, Dumourier Rabel sided with the revolution. General Hyppolite sent a Jacmel company led by Chicoye to help him. The expedition arrived in a city in ruins, bombarded by Dardignac. The army from Saltrou marched on Jacmel via Marigot [a town in the south]. When it arrived… it stumbled into Dardignac’s army and [charged] out to meet it. A violent battle ensued in which Dardignac was killed at three o’clock in the afternoon, 3 August, 1889.

This was Légitime’s last stronghold and it fell. For folklore, we wrote this song… to [commemorate] the fall and the death of Dardignac. "Dardignac, where did you go? I went to Carrefour Cap-Rouge. I met Numa Rabel. He was too strong. My jaw is swollen!"

The government proposed peace and on August 22nd Légitime abdicated power. The revolutionary army arrived at the capital. At its head was General Florvil Hyppolite who established a provisional government.