The 1792 events are known today mostly as a result of the work of Professor Alfred Lacroix carried out after the eruption of 1902. There was absolutely no recollection of that minor eruption among the population of Martinique.
The awakening of Mount Pelee in January 1792 is described in the testimony of the "citizen" Dupuguet, published in the "Journal des Mines" in 1795.
"The Soufriere of Martinique is located in the mount Pelée whose highest peak has been assessed by citizen Dupuguet, reaching 736 toises. Since the discovery of America, no eruption had occurred in that place. However, at a height of 500 toises, many craters can be observed, and prove the action of subterranean fires. The eruption which took place on January 22nd 1792, was followed by a rather violent earthquake. Soon a strong sulfur smell could be felt as far as the estate of citizen Montaval, who had the courage to go to the scene.
The ground was riddled with vents from which the eruption had occurred. The trees were scorched, nineteen possums (Didelphis opossum) and many birds, caught in the radius of the explosion were laying there dead.
Some inhabitants of the region returned to the scene five months later. They found the possums who seemed to be dead from the first explosion. Two months before, Citizen Montaval had heard a noise like a canon shot coming from there, then we might think that another eruption took place at that time.The trees, and specially the ferns, were abundantly sprinkled with sulfur; all the rocks were coated with it." (*)
(*) Personnal translation from French
Judging from the behaviour of the neighboring populations, the phenomena were not very alarming and were quite limited. But the next eruptions will definitely raise other concerns...