A unit of 900 Swiss had been enlisted for the sole purpose of guarding the Tuileries Palace.
Perhaps Louis wanted Swiss because of their past experience with defending the Vatican.
During the storming of the Palace, the French National guard joined forces with the mob and turned on the firm Swiss.
"Surrender to the Nation," they told the Swiss guard.
"We should think ourselves dishonored," was the reply. "We are Swiss and the Swiss only lay down their arms with their lives."
The mob succeeded in dragging five of the guard from the stairs and butchered them before the others.
At this time the king was in the assembly and committee members urged the him to command the Swiss to cease fire. He agreed and sent an old Swiss retainer at the peril of his life to reach Captain Durler and command him to surrender.
Captain Durler refused to accept the order and went himself to the assembly to beg the king to allow the Swiss to continue to defend themselves. The king was firm with his earlier order and here, to Captain Durler, Louis XVI made his last decision as King of France.
He ordered the Swiss to place their arms into the hands of the National guard. "And so the drums of the Swiss Guard beat the retreat before the Revolution." The treacherous national guardsmen opened fire on the unresisting Swiss.
More than 600 Swiss guards died during that night and the few that did not die during the attack, died either in prison or at the hands of the mob during the September Massacres. The main commander during this stand, Major Karl Josef von Bachmann was tried and guillotined, still wearing his uniform.