War of Knives

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The War of Knives - between Rigaud and Toussaint

Portrait of Toussaint.
Portrait of Rigaud.
The War of Knives (French: Guerre des couteaux) refers to attacks and counterattacks between Toussaint Louverture's troops and forces commanded by André Rigaud during the Haitian Revolution. The armed conflict began in June of 1799. Rigaud had allied himself with the two men that would later become Haitian Presidents: Jean Pierre Boyer and Alexandre Pétion. Toussaint eventually won the conflict and Rigaud retreated.

"In the South and West, from 1793 to 1798, Rigaud played an important role in defeating a British invasion and re-establishing the plantation economy. Although Rigaud respected Toussaint Louverture, the leading general of the former slaves of the North, and his ranking superior in the French army, his refusal to acknowledge Toussaint's superior authority led to the bitter "War of the Knives" in June 1799, when Toussaint's army invaded Rigaud's territory." (Corbett Part III, War of Knives)

The Fight for Jacmel

By November of 1799 the rebels, led by Rigaud, were pushed back to the strategic southern port of Jacmel, the defence of which was commanded by Pétion. Jacmel fell to Toussaint's troops in March of 1800 and the rebellion was effectively over. Pétion and other mulatto leaders went into exile in France.

Rigaud vs. Toussaint as seen by Historians

Some historians have asserted that Rigaud was only interested in serving his class, that of the affranchis, while others see Toussaint as someone rather leaving Saint-Domingue to the French than sharing power with mulattoes. This dispute has been carried out often influenced by the background of the historians, with mulatto writers often siding with Rigaud, while blacks more often side with Toussaint Louverture. (Nicholls p. )


  • Corbett, Bob (not dated). The Haitian Revolution of 1791-1803 An Historical Essay in Four Parts by Bob Corbett. Retrieved 06:52, December 7, 2005 [1].
  • André Rigaud. (2005, December 5). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 07:08, December 7, 2005 [2].
  • Nicholls, David (1996). From Dessalines to Duvalier. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-2239-0