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Title: The Franco-German War of 1870-71
Author: Helmuth, Count, Moltke, von
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Franco-German War of 1870-71" ***





    [_All rights reserved_]


The translation has been thoroughly revised for the sense as well as in
regard to technical military terms and expressions. To the name of every
German general officer mentioned in the text has been affixed, within
brackets, his specific command, a liberty which the reader will perhaps
not resent, since the interpolation is intended to facilitate his
clearer understanding of a narrative condensed by the author with
extreme severity.

In further aid of elucidation there has been occasionally inserted, also
within brackets, a date, a figure, or a word.

A few footnotes will be found, which may perhaps be excused as not
wholly irrelevant. In the Appendix have been inserted the "Orders of
Battle" of both sides, as in the first period of the war.

                                                       A. F.


Field-Marshal von Moltke began this history of the War of 1870--1 in the
spring of the year 1887, and during his residence at Creisau he worked
at it for about three hours every morning. On his return to Berlin in
the autumn of that year, the work was not quite finished, but he
completed it by January, 1888, at Berlin, placed it in my hands, and
never again alluded to the subject.

The origin of the book was as follows. I had several times entreated
him, but in vain, to make use of his leisure hours at Creisau in noting
down some of his rich store of reminiscences. He always objected, in the
same words: "Everything official that I have had occasion to write, or
that is worth remembering, is to be seen in the Archives of the Staff
Corps. My personal experiences had better be buried with me." He had a
dislike to memoirs in general, which he was at no pains to conceal,
saying that they only served to gratify the writer's vanity, and often
contributed to distort important historical events by the subjective
views of an individual, and the intrusion of trivial details. It might
easily happen that a particular character which in history stood forth
in noble simplicity should be hideously disfigured by the narrative of
some personal experiences, and the ideal halo which had surrounded it be
destroyed. And highly characteristic of Moltke's magnanimity are the
words he once uttered on such an occasion, and which I noted at the
time: "Whatever is published in a military history is always dressed for
effect: yet it is a duty of piety and patriotism never to impair the
prestige which identifies the glory of our Army with personages of lofty

Not long after our arrival at Creisau, early in 1887, I repeated my
suggestion. In reply to my request that he would write an account of the
Campaign of 1870--1, he said: "You have the official history of the war.
That contains everything. I admit," he added, "that it is too full of
detail for the general type of readers, and far too technical. An
abridgment must be made some day." I asked him whether he would allow me
to lay the work on his table, and next morning he began the narrative
contained in this volume, and comparing it as he went on with the
official history, carried it through to the end.

His purpose was to give a concise account of the war. But, while keeping
this in view, he involuntarily--as was unavoidable in his
position--regarded the undertaking from his own standpoint as Chief of
the General Staff, and marshalled results so as to agree as a whole with
the plan of campaign which was known only to the higher military
authorities. Thus this work, which was undertaken in all simplicity of
purpose, as a popular history, is practically from beginning to end the
expression of a private opinion of the war by the Field-Marshal himself.

The Appendix: "On a pretended Council of War in the Wars of William I.
of Prussia," was written in 1881. In a book by Fedor von Koppen, "Männer
und Thaten, vaterländische Balladen" (_Men and Deeds: Patriotic Songs_),
which the poet presented to the Field-Marshal, there is a poem entitled,
"_A German Council of War at Versailles_" (with a historical note
appended), describing an incident which never occurred, and which, under
the conditions by which the relations of the Chief of the Staff to his
Majesty were regulated, never could have occurred. To preclude any such
mistakes for the future, and to settle once and for all the truth as to
the much-discussed question of the Council of War, the Field-Marshal
wrote this paper, to which he added a description of his personal
experience of the battle of Königgrätz. It is this narrative which,
shortly after the writer's death, was published in the _Allgemeine
Zeitung_ of Munich, in the somewhat abridged and altered form in which
the Field-Marshal had placed it at the disposal of Professor von
Treitscke, the well-known historian.

                             COUNT HELMUTH VON MOLTKE,
                               Major and Adjutant to his
                                 Imperial Majesty.

Berlin, June 25th, 1891.


  Preparations for War                                              2
  Combat of Weissenburg (4th August)                               12
  Battle of Wörth (6th August)                                     14
  Battle of Spicheren (6th August)                                 19
  Right-wheel of the German Army                                   26
  Battle of Colombey-Nouilly (14th August)                         29
  Battle of Vionville--Mars la Tour (16th August)                  34
  Battle of Gravelotte--St. Privat (18th August)                   49
  New Distribution of the Army                                     64
  The Army of Châlons                                              66
  Battle of Beaumont (30th August)                                 76
  Battle of Sedan (1st September)                                  87


  Sortie from Metz (26th August)                                  102
  Battle of Noisseville (31st August)                             106
  Change of Government in Paris                                   114
  Retreat of General Vinoy                                        116
  March on Paris of IIIrd Army and the Army of the Meuse          119
  Investment of Paris (19th September)                            124
  First Negotiations for Peace                                    129
  Reduction of Toul (23rd September)                              130
  Reduction of Strasburg (28th September)                         131
  Operations round Paris to 15th October                          139
  Action of Artenay (10th October)                                145
  Engagement at Orleans (11th October)                            146
  Reduction of Soissons (15th October)                            149
  Storming of Châteaudun (18th October)                           151
  Sortie against Malmaison (21st October)                         153
  Storming of Le Bourget (30th October)                           156
  Sortie from Metz against Bellevue (7th October)                 162
  Capitulation of Metz (27th October)                             165
  New Distribution of the Army                                    166
  Operations of the XIVth Corps in the South-East (October)       166
  Reduction of Schlettstadt (24th October)                        172
  Reduction of Breisach (10th November)                           174
  Reduction of Verdun (9th November)                              175
  Advance of Ist and IInd Armies (up to mid-November)             177
  Engagement at Coulmiers (9th November)                          181
  Operations of the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg                     187
  Situation of IInd Army (second half of November)                189
  Battle of Beaune la Rolande (28th November)                     192
  Advance of the Army of the Loire to the relief of Paris         197
  Battle of Loigny--Poupry (2nd December)                         199
  Paris in November                                               204
  Attempt of the Army of Paris to break out (30th November and
    2nd December)                                                 207
  Advance of the Ist Army in November                             216
  Battle of Amiens (17th November)                                217
  Reduction of La Fère (27th November)                            221
  Reduction of Thionville (24th November)                         222
  Investment of Belfort in November                               223
  Battle of Orleans (3rd and 4th December)                        224
  Offensive Operations South, East, and West                      233
  Fighting of the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg (7th--10th December)  235
  Interruption of important offensive operations in December      245
  The XIVth Corps in December                                     250
  The Ist Army in December                                        252
  Reduction of Mézières (1st January, 1871)                       257
  Paris in December                                               259
    Combat of Le Bourget (21st December)                          261
    Bombardment of Mont-Avron (27th December)                     264
  The Army of the East under General Bourbaki                     266
  Advance of the IInd Army to Le Mans                             269
  Battle in front of Le Mans (10th--12th January)                 284
  Occurrences northward of Paris during January                   303
    Battle of Bapaume (3rd January)                               305
    Fighting on the Lower Seine (4th January)                     308
    Reduction of Péronne (9th January)                            310
  Battle of St. Quentin (19th January)                            316
  Occurrences in the South-Eastern Seat of War up to 17th January 324
    Siege of Belfort                                              324
    Transfer of the French Army of the East to the South-Eastern
      Seat of War (end of December)                               328
    Action of Villersexel (9th January)                           331
  Battle on the Lisaine (15th--17th January)                      338
  The Artillery Attack on Paris (January, 1871)                   349
  Battle of Mont Valérien (19th January)                          355
  Prosecution of the Artillery Attack on Paris to the Armistice   361
  Operations of the Army of the South under General von
    Manteuffel                                                    366
  General Hann von Weyhern's March on Dijon                       390
  Occupation of the Departments of the Doubs, Jura, and Côte
    d'Or                                                          391
  Prosecution of the Siege of Belfort                             393
  The Armistice                                                   399
  The Homeward March of the German Army                           406


  On the pretended Council of War in the Wars of King
    William I.                                                    413
  "Orders of Battle" of the French and German Armies in the
    first period of the war                                       419



The days are gone by when, for dynastical ends, small armies of
professional soldiers went to war to conquer a city, or a province, and
then sought winter quarters or made peace. The wars of the present day
call whole nations to arms; there is scarcely a family that has not had
to bewail lost ones. The entire financial resources of the State are
appropriated to military purposes, and the seasons of the year have no
influence on the unceasing progress of hostilities. As long as nations
exist distinct one from the other there will be quarrels that can only
be settled by force of arms; but, in the interests of humanity, it is to
be hoped that wars will become the less frequent, as they become the
more terrible.

Generally speaking, it is no longer the ambition of monarchs which
endangers peace; but the impulses of a nation, its dissatisfaction with
its internal conditions, the strife of parties and the intrigues of
their leaders. A declaration of war, so serious in its consequences, is
more easily carried by a large assembly, of which no one of the members
bears the sole responsibility, than by a single individual, however
lofty his position; and a peace-loving sovereign is less rare than a
parliament composed of wise men. The great wars of recent times have
been declared against the wish and will of the reigning powers.
Now-a-days the Bourse possesses so great influence that it is able to
have armies called into the field merely to protect its interests.
Mexico and Egypt have had European armies of occupation inflicted upon
them simply to satisfy the demands of the _haute finance_. To-day the
question is not so much whether a nation is strong enough to make war,
as whether its Government is powerful enough to prevent war. For
example, united Germany has hitherto used her strength only to maintain
European peace; while the weakness of a neighbouring Government
continues to involve the gravest risk of war.

It was, indeed, from such a condition of relations that the war of
1870--71 originated. A Napoleon on the throne of France was bound to
justify his pretensions by political and military successes. Only
temporarily was the French nation contented by the victories of its arms
in remote fields of war; the triumphs of the Prussian armies excited
jealousy, they were regarded as arrogant, as a challenge; and the French
demanded revenge for Sadowa. The liberal spirit of the epoch set itself
against the autocratic Government of the Emperor; he was forced to make
concessions, his internal authority was weakened, and one day the nation
was informed by its representatives that it desired war with Germany.


The wars carried on by France beyond seas, essentially on behalf of
financial interests, had consumed immense sums and had undermined the
discipline of the army. Her army was by no means in thorough
preparedness for a great war, but, in the temper of the nation, the
Spanish succession question furnished an opportune pretext on which to
go to war. The French Reserves were called out on July 15th, and, as if
the opportunity for a rupture was on no account to be let slip, only
four days later the French declaration of war was presented at Berlin.

One Division of the French Army was ordered to the Spanish frontier as a
corps of observation; only such troops as were absolutely necessary were
left in Algiers and in Civita Vecchia; Paris and Lyons were sufficiently
garrisoned. The entire remainder of the army: 332 battalions, 220
squadrons, 924 guns, in all about 300,000 men, formed the Army of the
Rhine, which, divided into eight Corps, was, at any rate in the first
instance, to be under the sole direction of a central head. The Emperor
himself was the fitting person to undertake this weighty duty, pending
whose arrival Marshal Bazaine was to command the gathering forces.

It is very probable that the French reckoned on the old dissensions of
the German races. Not that they dared to look forward to the South
Germans as allies, but they hoped to paralyze their offensive by an
early victory, perhaps even to win them over to their side. It was true
that Prussia by herself was still a mighty antagonist, and that her
armed forces were of superior strength; but peradventure this advantage
might be counterbalanced by rapidity of action.

The French plan of campaign was indeed based on the delivery of sudden
unexpected attacks. The powerful fleet of war-ships and transports was
to be utilized to land a considerable force in Northern Prussia, which
should there engage a part of the Prussian troops, while the main body
of the German army, it was assumed, would await the first French attack
behind the strong defensive line of the Rhine. A French force was to
cross the Rhine promptly, at and below Strasburg, thus avoiding the
great German fortresses; its function being, at the very outset of the
campaign, to cut off the South-German army charged with the defence of
the Black Forest, and prevent it from effecting a junction with the
North Germans. In the execution of this plan it was imperative that
the main body of the French army should be massed in Alsace. Railway
accommodation, however, was so inadequate that in the first instance it
was only possible to transport 100,000 men to Strasburg; 150,000 had to
leave the railway at Metz, and remain there till they could be moved
forward. Fifty thousand men in the Châlons camp were intended to serve
as supports, and 115 battalions were destined for field service as soon
as the National Guard should relieve them in the interior. The various
Corps were distributed as follows:--

      Imperial Guard, General Bourbaki--Nancy.
      Ist Corps, Marshal MacMahon--Strasburg.
     IInd Corps, General Frossard--St. Avold.
    IIIrd Corps, Marshal Bazaine--Metz.
     IVth Corps, General Ladmirault--Thionville.
      Vth Corps, General Failly--Bitsch.
     VIth Corps, Marshal Canrobert--Châlons.
    VIIth Corps, General Félix Douay--Belfort.

Thus while there were but two Corps in Alsace, there were five on the
Moselle; and, so early as the day of the declaration of war, one of the
latter, the IInd Corps, had been pushed forward close to the German
frontier, about St. Avold and Forbach. General Frossard, its commander,
was, however, under strict injunctions to commit himself to no serious

The regiments had been hurried away from their peace stations before the
arrival of their complement of men, and without waiting for their
equipments. Meanwhile the called-out reservists accumulated in the
depôts, overflowed the railway stations and choked the traffic. Their
transmission to their destinations was at a standstill, for it was often
unknown at the depôts where the regiments to which the reservists were
to be sent were for the time encamped. When at length they joined they
were destitute of the most necessary articles of equipment. The Corps
and Divisions lacked trains, hospitals and nearly the whole of the
_personnel_ of their administration. No magazines had been established
in advance, and the troops were to depend on the stores in the
fortresses. These were in a neglected state, for in the assured
expectation that the armies would be almost immediately launched into
the enemy's country they had received little attention. It was of a
piece with this that the French Staff-officers had been provided with
maps of Germany, but not of their own country. The Ministry of War in
Paris was overwhelmed with claims, protestations, and expostulations,
till finally it was left to the troops to help themselves as best they
could. "_On se débrouillera_," was the hope of the authorities.

When the Emperor arrived at Metz eight days after the declaration of
war, the forces were not yet up to their strength, and even the precise
whereabouts of whole bodies of troops was for the time unknown. He
ordered the advance of the army, but his Marshals protested that its
internal plight was so unsatisfactory as to make this impossible for the
time. The general conviction was gradually impressing itself on the
French, that instead of continuing to aim at invasion of the enemy's
country, their exertions would have to be confined to the defence of
their own territory. A strong German army was reported to be assembling
between Mayence and Coblentz; and instead of reinforcements being sent
forward from Metz to Strasburg, much heavier ones would have to be
ordered from the Rhine to the Saar. The determination to invade South
Germany was already abandoned; the fleet sailed, but without carrying a
force to be landed on the north German coast.

Germany had been surprised by the declaration of war, but she was not
unprepared. That was a possibility which had been foreseen.

After the withdrawal of Austria from the German connection, Prussia had
taken upon itself the sole leadership, and had gradually formed closer
relations with the South-German States. The idea of national
unification had been revived, and found an echo in the patriotic
sentiments of the entire people.

The mobilization machinery of the North-German army had been elaborated
from year to year, in accord with the changing conditions, by the
combined exertions of the War Ministry and the General Staff. Every
branch of the administration throughout the country had been kept
informed of all it needed to know in this relation. The Berlin
authorities had also come to a confidential understanding with the
Chiefs of the General Staffs of the South-German States on all important
points. The principle was established that Prussian assistance was not
to be reckoned on for the defence of any particular point, such as the
Black Forest; and that South Germany would be best protected by an
offensive movement into Alsace from the middle Rhine, to be effectively
supported by a large army massed there. That the Governments of Bavaria,
Würtemberg, Baden and Hesse, to all appearance uncovering their own
territories, were ready to place their contingents under the command of
King William, proved their entire confidence in the Prussian leadership.

This understanding enabled the preparations which it entailed to be
proceeded with. The train and march tables were worked out for each body
of troops, with the most minute directions as to the respective
starting-points, the day and hour of departure, the duration of the
journey, the refreshment stations, and points of detrainment. In the
locality of concentration cantonments were assigned to each Corps and
Division, and magazines were established with due regard to the most
convenient sites; and thus, when the stroke of war inevitably impended,
there was required only the Royal signature to start the whole mighty
movement in its smooth, swift course. Nothing needed to be changed in
the directions originally given; it sufficed to follow the plans
previously thought out and prepared.

The aggregated mobile forces were formed into three separate Armies, on
the basis of an elaborate tabular statement drawn up by the Chief of the
Prussian General Staff.

The Ist Army, under the command of General von Steinmetz, consisted of,
in the first instance, only the VIIth and VIIIth Corps, with one
Division of cavalry; 60,000 men all told. It was ordered to assemble at
Wittlich and form the right wing.

The IInd Army, under the command of Prince Frederick Charles, consisted
of the IIIrd, IVth, Xth, and Guard Corps, with two Divisions of cavalry.
Assembling in the vicinity of Homburg and Neunkirchen, it was to form
the centre, with a strength of 134,000 men.

The IIIrd Army, under the command of the Crown Prince of Prussia,
consisted of the Vth and XIth Prussian, and the Ist and IInd Bavarian
Corps, the Würtemberg and Baden Field Divisions, with one Division of
cavalry. Its approximate strength was 130,000 men; it was to constitute
the left wing, and to concentrate about Landau and Rastatt.

The IXth Corps, consisting of the 18th and the Hesse Divisions, was
along with the XIIth Royal Saxon Corps to form a reserve of 60,000 men
in front of Mayence, for the reinforcement of the IInd Army to a
strength of 194,000 men.

The three Armies numbered together 384,000 men.

There still remained the Ist, IInd, and VIth Corps, numbering 100,000
men; but they were not at first included, as railway transport for them
was not available for three weeks to come. The 17th Division and certain
bodies of Landwehr troops were detailed to defend the coasts.

It is apparent that numerically the German armies were considerably
superior to the French. Inclusive of the garrisons and reserves about
one million of men and over 200,000 horses were on the ration list.

On the night of July 16th the Royal order for mobilization was issued,
and when his Majesty arrived in Mayence fourteen days later, he found
300,000 men assembled on the Rhine and beyond.

The plan of campaign submitted by the Chief of the General Staff, and
accepted by the King, proves that officer to have had his eye fixed,
from the first, upon the capture of the enemy's capital, the possession
of which is of more importance in France than in other countries. On the
way thither the hostile forces were to be driven as persistently as
possible back from the fertile southern provinces into the more confined
background to the north. But beyond everything the plan of campaign was
based on the resolve to attack the enemy at once, wherever found, and
keep the German forces always so compact that this could be done with
the advantage of superior numbers. The specific dispositions for the
accomplishment of those objects were left to be adopted on the spot; the
advance to the frontier was alone pre-arranged in every detail.

It is a delusion to imagine that a plan of campaign can be laid down far
ahead and fulfilled with exactitude. The first collision with the enemy
creates a new situation in accordance with its result. Some things
intended will have become impracticable; others, which originally seemed
impossible, become feasible. All that the leader of an army can do is to
form a correct estimate of the circumstances, to decide for the best for
the moment, and carry out his purpose unflinchingly.

The advance of the French troops to the frontier, while as yet
imperfectly mobilized, which was an extremely hazardous measure in
itself, was evidently with the intent of utilizing the temporary
advantage of having a superior force at immediate disposition by taking
at unawares the German armies in the act of developing their
advance-movements. But, notwithstanding, the German commanders did not
deviate from their purpose of promptly effecting this first advance in
front of the Rhine. The railway transport of the Corps of the IInd and
IIIrd Armies, however, ended at the Rhine; thence the troops marched on
foot into the cantonments prepared on the left bank of the river. They
moved in echelon, advancing only so many at a time as would make room
for the body in rear, in the first instance to the line
Bingen-Dürkheim-Landau. The farther advance towards the frontier was not
to be undertaken until the Divisions and Corps were all assembled, and
provided with the necessary trains; and then they were to march forward
in a state of readiness to confront the enemy at any moment.

The massing of the Ist Army appeared to be less threatened, because its
route was protected by neutral territory, and was covered by the
garrisons of Trèves, Saarlouis and Saarbrücken, the German outposts on
the Saar.

The Ist Army, 50,000 strong, was concentrated at Wadern, in the first
days of August. The IInd Army, which meanwhile had been increased to a
strength of 194,000 men, had pushed forward its cantonments to
Alsenz-Günnstadt, at the farther base of the Haardt Mountains, a
position which had been thoroughly inspected by an officer of the
General Staff, and where the troops might confidently await an attack.
The 5th and 6th cavalry Divisions were reconnoitring the country in
front. The IIIrd Army was still assembling on both banks of the Rhine.

The French so far had made no serious attempt at Saarbrücken;
Lieutenant-Colonel Pestel, with one battalion and three squadrons, was
able successfully to withstand their petty attacks. It had meanwhile
been observed that the hostile forces were moving farther to the right,
towards Forbach and Bitsch. This seemed to indicate that the two French
Corps known to be about Belfort and Strasburg, might purpose crossing
the Rhine and marching through the Black Forest. It seemed therefore all
the more important that the IIIrd Army should be set in motion as early
as possible, for one thing to protect the right bank of the Upper Rhine
by an advance on the left; for another, to cover the left flank of the
IInd Army during its advance.

A telegraphic order to that effect was despatched on the evening of July
30th, but the Head-quarters of the IIIrd Army wished to wait for the
arrival of the VIth Corps and of the trains. Whereupon, regardless of
this delay, the IInd Army was put in march towards the Saar, where the
French were beginning to be active.

The time had gone by when they might have taken advantage of their
over-hasty mobilization; the inefficient condition of the troops had
paralyzed every attempt at activity. France had been long waiting for
the news of a victory, and something had to be done to appease public
impatience. So, in order to do something, it was resolved (as is usual
in such circumstances) to undertake a reconnoissance in force, and, it
may be added, with the usual result.

On August 2nd three entire Army Corps were set in motion against three
battalions, four squadrons, and one battery in Saarbrücken. The Emperor
himself and the Prince Imperial shared in the enterprise. The IIIrd
Corps advanced on Völklingen, the Vth through Saargemünd, the IInd on

Saarbrücken was evacuated after a gallant defence and repeated
counter-strokes, but the French did not press across the Saar;
convinced, possibly, that they had wasted their strength in a stroke in
the air, and had nowhere gained any insight into the dispositions of the

The French military chiefs now hesitated for a long while between
conflicting resolutions. Orders were given and recalled on the strength
of mere rumours. The left wing was reinforced because 40,000 Prussians
were supposed to have marched through Trèves, the Guard received
contradictory orders, and the bare apparition of a small German force
about Lörrach in the Black Forest occasioned the order that the VIIth
Corps must remain in Alsace. Thus the French forces were straggled over
the wide area between the Nied and the Upper Rhine, while the Germans
were advancing in compact masses towards the Saar.

This scattered state of their forces finally induced the French leaders
to divide them into two separate Armies. Marshal MacMahon took command,
but only provisionally, of the Ist, VIIth, and Vth Corps, of which the
latter had therefore to draw in to him from Bitsch. The other Corps
remained under Marshal Bazaine, with the exception of the Imperial
Guard, the command of which the Emperor reserved to himself.

It had now become a pressing necessity to protect the left wing of the
advancing IInd German Army against the French forces in Alsace, and the
IIIrd Army was therefore ordered to cross the frontier on August 4th,
without waiting any longer for its trains. The Ist Army, forming the
right wing, was in complete readiness near Wadern and Losheim, three or
four days' march nearer to the Saar than the IInd Army in the centre. It
received the order to concentrate in the neighbourhood of Tholey and
there halt for the present. For one thing, this army, the weakest of the
three, could not be exposed single-handed to an encounter with the
enemy's main force; and for another, it was available to serve as an
offensive flank in case the IInd Army should meet the enemy on emerging
from the forest zone of the Palatinate.

In the execution of this order, the Ist Army had so extended its
cantonments southward that they trenched on the line of march of the
IInd Army, and it had to evacuate the quarters about Ottweiler in favour
of the latter. This involved a difficulty, as all the villages to the
north were full, and as room had also to be found for the Ist Corps, now
advancing by Birkenfeld. General von Steinmetz therefore decided to
march his whole army in the direction of Saarlouis and Saarbrücken. The
IInd Army, on August 4th, stood assembled ready for action, and received
orders to deploy on the farther side of the forest zone of


(August 4th.)

On this day the Corps of the IIIrd Army, consisting of 128 battalions,
102 squadrons, and 80 batteries, which had been assembled in bivouac
behind the Klingsbach, crossed the French frontier, marching on a broad
front to reach the Lauter between Weissenburg and Lauterburg. This
stream affords an exceptionally strong defensive position, but on August
4th only one weak Division and a cavalry brigade of the Ist French Corps
covered this point, the main body of that Corps being still on the march
towards the Palatinate.

Early in the morning the Bavarians forming the right wing encountered a
lively resistance before the walls of Weissenburg, which were too strong
to be stormed. But very soon after the two Prussian Corps crossed the
Lauter lower down. General von Bose led forward the XIth Corps (which he
commanded) with intent to turn the French right flank on the Geisberg,
while General von Kirchbach, with the Vth Corps (which he commanded)
advanced against the enemy's front. Thirty field-guns were meanwhile
massed against the railway station of Weissenburg. It and subsequently
the town were taken, after a bloody struggle.

So early as ten o'clock General Douay had ordered a retreat, which was
seriously threatened by the movement against the Geisburg; and the
château of that name, a very defensible building, was most obstinately
defended to enable the French to retire. The Grenadiers of the King's
Regiment No. 7 in vain assailed it by storm, suffering heavy loss; nor
did its defenders surrender until, with the greatest difficulty,
artillery had been dragged up on to the height.

The French Division, which had been attacked by three German Corps,
effected a retreat after an obstinate struggle, though in great
disorder, having suffered much loss. Its gallant Commander had been
killed. The Germans had to bewail a proportionately considerable loss;
their casualties were 91 officers and 1460 men. General von Kirchbach
had been wounded while fighting in the foremost rank.

The 4th Division of cavalry had met with much delay in the course of a
nineteen miles' march by the crossing of the columns of infantry. It did
not reach the scene of combat, and all touch of the enemy, now retiring
to the westward, was lost.

Uncertain as to the direction whence fresh hostile forces might be
approaching, the IIIrd Army advanced on the 5th of August by diverging
roads in the direction of Hagenau and Reichshofen; yet not so far apart
but that it should be possible for the Corps to reconcentrate in one
short march. The Crown Prince intended to allow his troops a rest on the
following day, so as to have them fresh for a renewed attack as soon as
the situation was made clear.

But already, that same evening, the Bavarians on the right flank and the
Vth Corps in the front had a sharp encounter with the enemy, who showed
behind the Sauer in considerable strength. It was to be assumed that
Marshal MacMahon had brought up the VIIth Corps from Strasburg, but it
remained a question whether he intended to join Marshal Bazaine by way
of Bitsch, or whether, having secured his line of retreat thither, he
meant to accept battle at Wörth. Yet again there was the possibility
that he might himself initiate the offensive. The Crown Prince, to make
sure in any case of a preponderance of force, determined to concentrate
his army in the neighbourhood of Sulz on August 6th. The IInd Bavarian
Corps received separate instructions to watch the road from Bitsch with
one Division; the other Division was to strike the hostile attack in
flank on the western bank of the Sauer, in the event of artillery fire
about Wörth being heard.

Marshal MacMahon was endeavouring with all his might to concentrate his
three Corps, and he really had the intention to make an immediate attack
on his invading foe. A Division of the VIIth Corps, which had but just
been sent to Mülhausen to strengthen the defence of Alsace, was at once
recalled to Hagenau, and early on the 6th formed the right wing of the
strong position which the Ist Corps had taken up behind the Sauer, and
in front of Fröschwiller, Elsasshausen, and Eberbach. On the left,
Lespart's Division of the Vth Corps was expected from Bitsch, of which
the other Divisions were only now on march from Saargemünd by way of
Rohrbach. Meanwhile Ducrot's Division formed a refused flank on the
French left.

Neither the German nor the French leaders expected the collision before
the following day, but when, as in this case, the adversaries are in so
close proximity, the conflict may break out at any moment, even against
the wish of the higher commanders.


(August 6th.)

After a good deal of skirmishing between the respective outposts during
the night, the Commander of the 20th German Brigade[1] thought it
expedient to seize a passage over the Sauer, which flowed just in his
front and constituted a serious obstacle. The bridge leading to Wörth
had been destroyed, but the sharp-shooters waded through the river, and
at seven o'clock pressed into the town, which the French had left

Soon enough they realized that before them was a numerous enemy in a
strong position.

The broad meadows of the Sauer all lie within effective range of the
commanding slopes on the right bank; and the long-ranging chassepôt fire
could not but tell heavily. On the French side of the river the terrain
was dotted with vineyards and hop-gardens, which afforded great
advantages for defensive purposes.

The combat which had begun at Wörth was broken off after lasting half an
hour, but the artillery of both sides had taken part in it, and the
sound of cannon-fire had been the signal prescribed to Hartmann's IInd
Bavarian Corps, acting on which it now advanced from Langensulzbach, and
was soon engaged in a brisk fight with the left flank of the French. The
latter on their side had advanced on their right to the attack of
Gunstett, where they came in contact with the advancing XIth Prussian

The din of battle, rolling from the north and south alike, was heard by
the Vth Corps in its position opposite to Wörth; and it seemed
imperative that it should engage with vigour the enemy's centre in order
to hinder him from throwing himself with all his strength on one or
other of the German flanks.

The artillery was brought up, and by ten o'clock 108 guns were in action
on the eastern slope of the Sauer valley.

Some infantry detachments waded breast-high through the river, but this
dashing attempt, undertaken in inadequate strength, miscarried, and it
was only by strenuous efforts that a foothold was maintained on the
other side.

The Crown Prince sent orders that nothing was to be undertaken that
would bring on a battle on that day. But by this time the Vth Corps was
so seriously engaged that the fight could not be broken off without
obvious disadvantage. General von Kirchbach therefore determined to
continue the contest on his own responsibility.

The frontal attack was an undertaking of great difficulty, and could
scarcely succeed unless with the co-operation of another on the flank.
But at this juncture the Bavarians, who, in position as they were on the
right, could have afforded this co-operation, obeyed the breaking off
command, which had also reached them in the course of the fighting, and
withdrew to Langensulzbach. There was, however, the XIth Corps in
position on the left, eager to strike in. It seized the Albrechts-häuser
farm, and pressed forward into the Niederwald.

In front of Wörth the battle hung, consisting of a succession of attacks
renewed again and again on either side; each assailant in turn getting
worsted, in consequence of the nature of the country. By degrees,
however, the collective battalions, and finally the artillery of the Vth
Corps, were brought over to the west bank of the Sauer; while the XIth
Corps had already won there a firm point of support for further advance.

Just then, near Morsbronn, notwithstanding the evident unfavourable
nature of the ground, two Cuirassier and one Lancer regiments of
Michel's brigade hurled themselves with reckless daring on a body of
German infantry taken in the act of wheeling to the right. But the 32nd
Regiment, far from seeking cover, received in open order the charging
mass of over 1000 horse with a steady fire which did great execution.
The Cuirassiers especially suffered immense loss. Only a few horsemen
broke through the firing line and gained the open ground; many were
taken prisoners in the village, the remainder rode in wild gallop as
far as Walburg. There they encountered the Prussian 13th Hussars,
suffered further loss, and disappeared from the field.

It is true that the infantry of the French right wing succeeded in
driving back the foremost detachments of the Germans about
Albrechts-häuser farm, but the further advance of the former was
shattered by the fire of newly-unmasked artillery.

When finally the last battalions had crossed the Sauer, the XIth Corps
made its way through the Niederwald, fighting its way step by step. The
northern edge of the forest was reached by 2.30, and there a junction
was formed with the left flank of the Vth Corps. The burning village of
Elsasshausen was carried by storm, and the little copse south of
Fröschwiller was also won after a gallant defence.

Thus crowded together in a limited space, the French army was in a
situation of imminent danger. Its left flank, it is true, still held out
against the renewed attack of the Bavarians, who had re-entered the
action, but its front and right flank were terribly hard pressed, and
even its retreat was seriously threatened. Marshal MacMahon therefore
tried to obtain a breathing space by a heavy counter-stroke to the
south. The weak German detachments standing to the east of Elsasshausen,
thrown into confusion by the vehement attack, were in part driven back
into the Niederwald, but were quickly rallied and brought up again. Here
the French cavalry strove once more to change the fortunes of the day.
Bonnemain's Division, notwithstanding the unfavourable nature of the
ground, threw itself on the dishevelled front of the enemy, suffered
terrible losses, and was shattered without having been able effectively
to charge home.

The Würtembergers now came up from the south, and the Bavarians from the
north. General von Bose, though twice wounded, led what of his troops
he could collect to the storm of the burning Fröschwiller, the enemy's
last stronghold. The artillery moved up within case-shot range, and thus
cleared the road for the infantry which was pushing forward from all
sides. After maintaining to the utmost a resolute and gallant resistance
until five o'clock, the French retreated in great disorder towards
Reichshofen and Niederbronn.

At the Falkenstein stream, Lespart's Division, just arrived on the
field, made a short stand, but these fresh troops offered only brief
resistance, and were swept away in the general rout.

This victory of the IIIrd Army had been dearly paid for with the loss of
489 officers and 10,000 men. The loss on the French side is not exactly
known, but of prisoners alone they left 200 officers and 9000 men, and
in the German hands there remained 33 guns and 2000 horses.

The disintegration of the French army must have been so complete as to
throw it altogether out of hand. Only one brigade of Lespart's Division
took the road by Bitsch to join the French main army at St. Avold; all
the rest of the army, following an infectious impulse, rolled
unhaltingly in a south-western direction towards Saverne.

As in the Head-quarter of the IIIrd Army it had not been intended to
fight on August 6th, the 4th Division of cavalry had not left its
quarters in the rear, and was therefore not available to take up the
pursuit; it did not reach Gunstett until nine o'clock in the evening.
But, in order to be at hand at any rate for the next day, Prince Albert
marched his command on during the night as far as Eberbach; after three
hours' rest he started again, and after covering thirty-six miles,[2]
came up in the evening with the rearguard of the enemy near Steinberg,
at the foot of the Vosges. Without infantry it would have been
impossible for the Division to push farther, but the sight of it gave
the enemy a fresh impulse of flight. The Ist Corps stampeded again in
the night and reached Saarburg, where it joined the Vth Corps. Thus the
French had a start of twenty-three and a half miles, and continued their
retreat on Lunéville, unmolested by the Germans.


[1] General Walther von Montbary. It is Molkte's custom throughout this
work, except in regard to his prime aversion, Prince Frederick Charles,
to refrain from naming an officer whom by implication he is censuring,
but this is simply a _nuance_, since he specifies the culprit's military

[2] Throughout the miles are English miles.


(August 6th.)

Let us now turn to the events which occurred, on this same 6th of
August, in another part of the theatre of war.

The IInd Army, its southern (left) flank covered by the IIIrd Army, had
been moving to the westward, while the Corps it still lacked were being
brought up by railway. Its leading Corps, having traversed unmolested
the long defiles of the forest-belt of Kaiserslautern, reached on the
5th the line Neunkirchen-Zweibrücken. The cavalry, scouting into French
territory, reported that the enemy was retreating. Everything seemed to
indicate that the French would await the attack of the Germans in a
strong defensive position. The nearest position of the kind that offered
was that on the farther bank of the Moselle, of which Metz protected one
flank, Thionville the other. It was decided that if the French were
found in that position, the Ist Army should hold the enemy in front,
while the IInd made a circuit south of Metz, and so the enemy be forced
either to retire or to fight. In case of disaster the IInd Army was to
fall back on the IIIrd, now advancing over the Vosges.

The protrusion to the south-westward[3] of the Ist Army towards the
Saar, which had not been intended by the supreme Command, had brought
its left wing in upon the line of march laid down for the IInd, and
detachments of the two armies had to cross each other at Saarbrücken on
the 6th. Thus there was indeed no lack of strength at that point; but as
a battle on that day was neither expected nor probable, the synchronous
arrival of troops had not been pre-arranged, and so detachments could
only come up by quite unprescribed routes and arrive one after the other
at different hours.

The 14th Division of the VIIth Corps was the first to reach Saarbrücken,
towards noon on the 6th.

General Frossard, considering his position there very hazardous, had
left the night before, without waiting for permission, and had fallen
back with the IInd Corps on Spicheren, where it had entrenched itself.
The IIIrd, IVth, and Vth Corps were behind, at distances of from nine to
nineteen miles, and the Imperial Guard was about twenty-three miles
rearward. The Emperor, therefore, had it in his power to collect five
Corps for a battle in the vicinity of Cocheren, or, on the other hand,
to support Frossard with at least four Divisions, if that General were
confident that his position was strong enough to hold.

The range of heights which upheaves itself immediately behind
Saarbrücken is capable of affording a serious obstacle to a hostile
passage of the Saar. It was known that the French had evacuated those
heights, but General von Kameke thought it prudent to seize them at
once, in order to secure the debouche of the columns following him.
When, in the forenoon, two squadrons of the 5th Cavalry Division showed
themselves on the drill-ground on the ridge above the farther bank, they
were greeted with a hot fire from the Spicheren heights. But as it
seemed highly probable, from the previous behaviour of the French, that
the force seen there was only the rear-guard of the retiring enemy,
General von Kameke (commanding 14th Infantry Division) ordered an
immediate attack, since he had the promise of reinforcements. General
von Zastrow (commanding VIIth Corps), as soon as he recognized that the
14th Division had involved itself in a serious engagement, allowed the
13th to go forward. General von Alvensleben (its commander) also ordered
up to Saarbrücken all the available troops of the IIIrd Corps, and with
equal promptitude General von Goeben (commanding VIIIth Corps) hurried
thither the entire 16th Division. Generals von Döring (commanding 9th
Infantry Brigade) and von Barnekow (commanding 16th Infantry Division),
belonging respectively to these two Corps (IIIrd and VIIIth), had
besides already struck forward from Tudweiler and Fischbach in the
direction of the cannon-thunder, even before receiving orders to that

The position occupied by the French was one of exceptional advantage. In
the centre projected the Red Hill (der Rothe Berg), a precipitous and
almost inaccessible cliff; and the steep slopes on either side were
densely wooded. On the left the massive buildings of the Stiering-Wendel
ironworks furnished a separate defensive position.

Had the strength of the enemy been fully known the attack would
certainly have been delayed until the whole of the 14th Division had
arrived. As a matter of fact, at the beginning of the fight, about noon,
only von François' Brigade (27th) had come up, and this force, in the
effort to facilitate an attack on the naturally strong position held by
the enemy's front, assailed in the first instance both his flanks.

At first it succeeded in making progress. On the left the 39th Regiment
drove the swarms of hostile skirmishers out of the wood of Gifert, but
then became exposed to the bitter fire of a French battalion lining the
farther side of a deep hollow. On the right flank its 3rd Battalion,
together with the 74th Regiment, seized the wood of Stiering. But the
enemy's superior strength soon displayed itself in violent
counter-attacks, and when Von Woyna's[4] Brigade (28th) reached the
field it had to furnish reinforcements to both flanks. Thus, at an early
stage, intermingling of battalions and companies began, which increased
with every subsequent rush, and made the control of the combat a matter
of extraordinary difficulty. Added to this was the circumstance that
three Commanding Generals in succession came up to the scene of the
conflict, and one after the other took the chief control.

At about one o'clock, simultaneously with the flanks, the Fusilier
Battalion of the 74th Regiment pushed forward in front, under a severe
fire across the open ground towards the Red Hill, and, under such
trivial cover as offered, established itself at the foot of the cliff.
When at about three o'clock the Prussian artillery compelled the foe to
move his guns farther up the hill, the Fusiliers, with General von
François at their head, began to climb the cliff. The French Chasseurs,
evidently taken by surprise, were driven from the most advanced
entrenchments with clubbed rifles and at the point of the bayonet. The
9th company of the 39th Regiment followed close, and the gallant
General, charging farther forward along with it, fell pierced by five
bullets. Nothing daunted, the small body of Fusiliers made good its grip
of the narrow spur of the cliff.

Nevertheless, a crisis was imminent. The 14th Division was extended over
a distance of about three and a half miles, its left wing had been
repulsed by greatly superior forces in the wood of Gifert, its right
wing was hard pressed at Stiering. But now, at four o'clock, the heads
of the 5th and 16th Divisions simultaneously struck in, shortly after
their batteries, which had been sent on ahead, had come into action.

The left wing, strongly reinforced, now again pressed forward. General
von Barnekow[5] led trusty succours up on to the Red Hill, where the
Fusiliers had almost entirely exhausted their ammunition, and drove the
French out from all their entrenchments. As the result of a fierce
struggle the Germans also succeeded in taking possession of the western
part of the wood of Gifert. The right wing with sharp fighting had
pressed on to Alt Stiering and was approaching the enemy's line of
retreat, the Forbach highway. General Frossard had, however, recognized
the danger threatened at this point, and reinforced his left wing to the
strength of a Division and a half. This force advanced to the attack at
five o'clock. On the German side there was no formed force to oppose to
it, so all the previously gained advantages were lost.

If the 13th Division[6] had here struck in with a resolute attack, the
battle would have ended. This Division after, indeed, a march of nearly
nineteen miles had reached Puttlingen at one o'clock, where it was
little more than four miles distant from Stiering. When the fighting
about Saarbrücken was heard it is true that at four p.m. the advanced
guard moved forward to Rossel. It would seem that the roar of the cannon
was not audible in that wooded region; the impression was that the
combat was over, and the Division bivouacked at Völkingen, which place
had been previously named as the end of its march by the Corps Commander
at a time when he was, of course, unable to foresee the change in the

The French offensive movement had meanwhile been brought to a stand by
the seven batteries in position on the Folster height; the infantry then
succeeded in making fresh progress, under the personal leadership of
General von Zastrow.

The nature of the ground entirely prohibited the twenty-nine squadrons
of cavalry which had arrived from all directions and were drawn up out
of the range of fire, from taking part in the action. The Hussars tried
in vain to ride up the Red Hill, but in spite of incredible
difficulties Major von Lyncker finally gained the summit with eight
guns, amid the loud cheering of the hard-pressed infantry. The guns, as
each one came up, at once came into action against three French
batteries; but quite half of the gunners were shot down by sheltered
French tirailleurs, at a range of about 800 paces. A small strip of
ground in front was indeed won, but the narrow space allowed of no
deployment against the wide front of the enemy.

But effective assistance was coming from the right. General von Goeben
had despatched all the battalions of the 16th Division not yet engaged,
in the decisive direction toward Stiering. While one part of these
troops made a frontal attack on the village, the rest climbed from the
high-road up the defiles of the Spicheren woods, in a hand-to-hand
encounter drove the French from the saddle leading to the Red Hill, and
pushed them farther and farther back towards the Forbach height.

Even as late as seven o'clock on the French right wing Laveaucoupet's
Division, supported by part of Bataille's, advanced to the attack and
once more penetrated into the oft-contested Gifert wood, but the danger
threatening the French left wing from the Spicheren wood paralyzed this
effort. By nightfall the French were falling back over the whole

At nine o'clock, when their "Retreat" call was sounding from the
heights, General von Schwerin (commanding 10th Infantry Brigade) made
sure of night quarters by occupying Stiering, where resistance was only
quelled, at many points, after a hand-to-hand fight. The advanced guard
of the 13th Division advanced on Forbach, but did not occupy it, having
allowed itself to be hoodwinked by some French Dragoons in possession.

Apart from this, General Frossard had abandoned the line of retreat by
the so seriously threatened Forbach-St. Avold road, and fell back with
all his three divisions on Oetingen. The darkness, and the impossibility
of handling large bodies of cavalry in such a country, saved him from
further pursuit.

General von Steinmetz ordered the reorganization of the dislocated
bodies of troops that same night. Some of them had marched more than
twenty-eight miles; two batteries, arriving from Königsberg by rail, had
immediately set out for the battle-field. But it remains that the
Germans at no time of the day attained the numerical strength of the
enemy in this engagement, which had been begun with insufficient forces.
Only thirteen batteries could be brought into action in the limited
space, and the cavalry remained excluded from all participation. It was
only natural, under the circumstances, that the losses of the assailants
were greater than those of the defence. The Prussians lost 4871, the
French 4078 men. The fact was significant that a considerable number of
unwounded French prisoners were taken in this early action.

In strong contrast to the comradeship and mutual helpfulness displayed
by the Prussian Generals, and the eagerness of their troops to hurry
into the fight, was the strange vacillation of the Divisions in General
Frossard's rear; of which three, indeed, were sent forward to his
support, but only two came up, and that when the fight was already

It has been vehemently asserted that the battle of Spicheren was fought
in an ill-judged locality, and that it interfered with more important
plans. It certainly had not been anticipated. But, generally speaking, a
tactical victory rarely fails to fit in with a strategic design. Success
in battle has always been thankfully accepted, and turned to account. By
the battle of Spicheren the IInd French Corps was prevented from
withdrawing unharmed; touch of the enemy's main force was obtained, and
to the supreme Direction of the armies was afforded a basis for further


[3] South-eastward.

[4] There were two Major-Generals of this name, both commanding
Brigades; one the 28th, VIIth Corps, the other 39th, Xth Corps.

[5] Commanding 16th Division, VIIIth Corps.

[6] Commanded by General Glümen.


Marshal MacMahon in his retreat had taken a direction which entirely
severed his touch with Marshal Bazaine.

As he was not pursued, he could have used the Lunéville-Metz railway to
effect his union with the French main army; for up to the 9th it was
still open. But rumour had it that the Prussians had already appeared in
Pont à Mousson, and the state of his troops did not permit him thus
early to risk another engagement.

His Ist Corps, therefore, marched southwards on Neufchâteau, whence
Châlons could be reached by railway. The Vth Corps was being shifted to
and fro by contradictory orders from the Emperor's head-quarters. First
it was to proceed to Nancy, then to take an opposite direction towards
Langres. On arriving at Charmes it was ordered to Toul, but from
Chaumont it was finally directed to proceed to Châlons. General Trochu
had there located the newly-formed XIIth Corps, and behind this
gathering point the VIIth Corps also managed to get away from Alsace and
reach Rheims by rail by way of Bar sur Aube and Paris.

Thus by August 22nd a Reserve Army was formed, consisting of four Corps
and two Cavalry Divisions, under the command of Marshal MacMahon, who,
however, at a distance, as he was, of about 120 miles, was unable to
render timely assistance to Marshal Bazaine, who stood directly in the
line of the advancing enemy.

When the news of the double disaster of August 6th reached the Imperial
Head-quarter, the first impression there was that it would be necessary
to retreat immediately on Châlons with Bazaine's army; and the VIth
Corps, a portion of which was already being transported thence to Metz,
was ordered to retrace its steps. But this resolution was presently
retracted. The Emperor had not merely to consider the foreign enemy,
but public opinion within his own realm. The sacrifice of entire
provinces at the very beginning of a war which had been undertaken with
such high anticipations, would have provoked the unbounded indignation
of the French people. There were still 200,000 men who could be brought
together in front of the Moselle, supported by a large fortress, and
though the enemy would still have the superiority in numbers, his army
was holding a line nearly sixty miles long. It had yet to cross the
Moselle, and this would necessitate a dislocation which might create a
weakness at the critical moment.

In the IIIrd German Army the disorderly condition of the defeated enemy
was not known, nor even the direction of his retreat. It was expected
that MacMahon's Army would be found rallied on the farther side of the
Vosges for renewed resistance; and as it was impossible to cross the
mountains except in detached columns, the German advance was very
cautious, and by short marches only. Though the distance between
Reichshofen and the Saar is not more than about twenty-eight miles in a
straight line, that river was only reached in five days. Nothing was
seen of the enemy, except in the fortified places, small indeed, but too
strong to be taken by storm, which command the highways in the
mountains. Bitsch had to be avoided by a fatiguing circuit, Lichtenberg
was captured by surprise, Lützelstein had been abandoned by its
garrison, the investment of Pfalzburg was handed over to the approaching
VIth Corps, and Marsal capitulated after a short resistance.

The German left wing had no enemy before it, and could be brought into
closer connection with the centre. To bring the three armies abreast of
each other a wheel to the right was requisite. The advance of the Ist
and IInd Armies had, however, to be delayed, as the IIIrd did not reach
the Saar until August 12th. The whole movement was so arranged that the
IIIrd Army was to use the roads by Saarunion and Dieuze, and to
southward; the IInd those by St. Avold and Nomény and to southward; the
Ist those by Saarlouis and Les Etangs, the last also taking the
direction of Metz.

The cavalry Divisions which were reconnoitring far to the front,
reported the enemy as retreating all along the line. They ranged close
up to Metz, and across the Moselle both above and below the place,
forcing the detachments of Canrobert's Corps, which had again been
ordered up from Châlons, to return thither. All their information
indicated that very large masses were encamped in front of Metz. From
this it might equally be inferred that the enemy intended to retreat
further, or, with his whole force concentrated, to strike hard at the
right wing of the German Army, at the moment when the impending crossing
of the Moselle should make its severance from the left wing unavoidable.

The chief Head-quarter restricted itself in ordinary course to issuing
general directions, the execution of which was left in detail to the
army commanders; but in this instance it was deemed necessary in the
momentary circumstances to regulate the movements of each separate corps
by specific orders. On August 11th the Head-quarter of his Majesty was
therefore transferred to St. Avold, in the front line, and midway
between the Ist and IInd Armies, so as, by being in the immediate
vicinity, to be able to exercise timely authority to either hand. The
three Corps of the Ist Army advanced towards the German Nied on August
12th, only to find that the French had evacuated that position. Three
Corps of the IInd Army on the left of the Ist also moved forward in
prolongation of the same front by Faulquemont and Morhange, while two
others followed.

On the next day the IInd Army reached the Seille, without encountering
the enemy, and occupied Pont à Mousson with infantry.

The strangely inactive attitude of the French made it seem quite
probable that they might not make any stand in front of Metz, a
probability strengthened by the reports of the German cavalry, which was
scouting as far as Toul and on to the Verdun road. But there always
loomed the possibility that the enemy would throw himself with 200
battalions on the Ist Army, now in his immediate front. The two Corps
forming the right wing of the IInd Army were therefore ordered to halt
for the present, a little to the south of Metz, ready to deliver a
shattering blow on the flank of any such attack. If the enemy preferred
to assail these Corps, then would devolve on the Ist Army on its part
the prompt assumption of the offensive.

Meanwhile the other Corps of the IInd Army were pursuing the march
towards the Moselle farther to the southward; if the enemy should attack
them with superior forces after they had crossed the river, it would be
possible for them, in case of need, to fall back on the IIIrd Army.

So much caution was not universally deemed essential; it was argued that
the French seemed already committed to full retreat, they ought not to
be allowed to get away without punishment, and it followed that the
German Army should strike without delay. The French had, indeed, already
committed themselves to a further retreat; but when in the afternoon (of
the 14th) the VIIth Corps discerned their retrograde movement, a fight
began on the hither side of the Moselle, which, by the voluntary
intervention of the nearest bodies of troops, developed into a battle in
the course of the evening.


(August 14th.)

The Commandant of Metz had declared his inability to hold that place for
a fortnight, if left to his own resources; but the chosen and intrenched
position on the Nied, taken up to cover the fortress, had been found
locally defective, and the French Head-quarter hoped to find a more
favourable defensive position in the vicinity of Verdun.

Military necessity outweighed even a politic regard for public opinion,
and the Emperor, although he had transferred the command-in-chief to
Marshal Bazaine, still remained with the army, for it would have been
impossible for him to return to Paris in existing circumstances.

Very early in the morning of the 14th August the multitudinous trains
were being withdrawn through the city, and towards noon the IInd, IVth,
and VIth Corps got in motion, while the IIIrd Corps remained in position
behind the deep valley of the Colombey brook, to cover the retirement.

When, at four in the afternoon, the break-up of the enemy was perceived,
General von der Goltz (commanding 26th Infantry Brigade) with the
advanced guard of the VIIth Corps struck him in the act, and wrenched
from him Colombey and the Château d'Aubigny on his right flank. But, at
the first cannon sound, the French columns immediately turned about,
fully equipped for fighting, and eager, after their many previous
disasters, to break the spell by a desperate effort. Castagny's Division
threw itself in greatly superior force upon the weak German detachment
in the isolated position of Colombey, which held its own only by the
utmost exertion.

Already the advanced guard of the Ist Army Corps was approaching by both
the high-roads from Saarbrücken and Saarlouis; and its batteries having
pushed on ahead, at once took part in the engagement. Passing through
Lauvallier, the infantry followed close, climbed the eastern slope of
the plateau of Bellecroix, and farther to the right drove the enemy out
of the wood east of Mey. But the presence at this point of the main body
of the French IIIrd Corps gave pause to the German offensive for the

The 13th, 1st, and 2nd Divisions had meanwhile followed their respective
advanced guards, the two latter having been held in full readiness by
General von Manteuffel ever since his outposts had reported that the
enemy was moving. General von Zastrow, too, arrived on the field, and
took over the command of the left wing. Soon sixty field-pieces were in
action against the enemy. General von Osten-Sacken hurried forward the
25th Brigade through the hollow of Coincy, and climbed on to the edge of
the upland. The clump of fir-trees on the road to Bellecroix was taken
by storm, was surrounded on three sides, was lost again in a bloody
conflict, and was once more recaptured. Soon afterwards two batteries
succeeded in establishing themselves above Planchette, whose fire drove
the French back as far as Borny; yet still the conflict raged on both
sides with the utmost fury.

But now there threatened the German right the danger of being
out-flanked. General Ladmirault, on learning that Grenier's Division had
been driven out of Mey, immediately set out to its support with his
other two Divisions, retook the village, and pressed farther forward by
the Bouzonville road. General von Manteuffel had meanwhile given the
necessary orders for holding, at all hazards, the deep-cut trough of the
Vallières brook which covered the flank. The 1st Brigade was posted
behind Noisseville as general reserve, the 4th, and part of the
artillery of the Ist Corps, marched by the Bouzonville road to confront
General Ladmirault near Poix, while the remaining batteries from the
southern slopes to the eastward of Nouilly enfiladed his advance. On the
left, Glümer's Division (13th) had all this time been holding its ground
at Colombey, and now, at seven o'clock in the evening, Woyna's Brigade
came to its assistance, and took possession of the copses westward of
Colombey. A very welcome reinforcement now arrived from the IInd Army
remaining halted on the Seille.

The 18th Infantry Division, after a heavy march, had bivouacked near
Buchy in the afternoon, but when General von Wrangel (its commander) was
informed that fighting was audible from the locality of the Ist Army, he
promptly set his Division in motion in that direction. He drove the
enemy out of Peltre, and then in conjunction with Woyna's Brigade
occupied Grigy, somewhat in rear of the French position in front of

On the right wing of the fighting line, the 2nd Division had also pushed
on towards Mey, by way of Nouilly and through the adjacent vineyards;
and, as darkness was setting in, that village and the adjoining woods
were wrenched from the enemy. The French had not advanced beyond Villers
L'Orme, and they now withdrew all along their line from that village to
Grigy. The Prussians, as they followed up after dark, were molested only
by the fire of the heavy guns of the forts, more especially Fort St.

The engagement of August 14th cost them the heavy loss of 5000 men,
inclusive of 200 officers; while the French lost only 3600 men, their
IIIrd Corps being the heaviest sufferer. The vicinity of a great
fortress of course prevented the reaping of the fruits of victory by an
immediate pursuit. It was for the same reason that a battle on the part
of the Ist Army on that day had not been included in the concerted plan
of action, though the possibility of such an occurrence had been
foreseen. Although it was true that but one Division of the IInd Army
(the 18th) had been able to hasten to the aid of the Ist, and that after
the late opening of the fight, its assault on the left[7] flank of the
enemy had not failed of its effect.

The manner in which the battle originated rendered unity of direction

It was but the advanced-guards of four Divisions which were the troops
principally engaged; and the daring attacks made on greatly superior
hostile forces by small bodies unfollowed by immediate supports
occasioned many critical moments, which might have been dangerous if the
enemy had pushed forward more energetically in closely concentrated
strength. But while, for instance, his IIIrd Corps received no support
from the Imperial Guard standing close behind it, the contrast presented
itself that on the Prussian side, in this as in the previous battles,
there shone forth, along with their ready acceptance of personal
responsibility, the eager mutual helpfulness of all the commanders
within reach of the battle-field.

An essential share of the success of the day must be attributed to the
artillery. Hurrying along in front, leaving the responsibility of
covering it to the advanced guards which reached forward before the main
bodies of the Divisions had time to come up, it drove the French
completely out of their positions before Metz, and back under the guns
of the defences of the place.

The protection so afforded to the enemy rendered it impossible that the
victory of Colombey-Nouilly should yield any trophies, but the supreme
Command was quite content with the results obtained. The retreat of the
enemy had been arrested, and a day had been gained for the crossing of
the Moselle by the IInd and IIIrd Armies.

_August 15th._--In the early morning of the 15th the cavalry had ridden
forward to the outworks of Metz, but found none of the enemy on this
side of the fortress. A few shells scared away the Imperial Head-quarter
from Longeville on the further side of the Moselle.

As King William was riding over to visit the Ist Army, immense clouds of
dust were observed rising on the further side of the fortress; and it
was no longer doubtful that the French had begun their retreat, and that
the IInd Army was henceforth free to follow across the Moselle with all
its Corps.

The Ist Corps of the Ist Army was necessarily left at Courcelles, south
of Metz, to protect the railway, the other two were brought up leftward
towards the Seille; and they were also by-and-by to cross the Moselle
higher up, so as to avoid interference from the fortress.

The French had started again on the retreat interrupted on the previous
day, but proceeded little more than four miles[8] beyond Metz on August
15th. Their cavalry only went somewhat farther ahead, by both the roads
to Verdun.

The IIIrd Corps of the German IInd Army crossed the Moselle at Novéant,
by the bridge which was found intact, and by a flying pontoon bridge;
its artillery, however, was forced to make a détour by Pont à Mousson.

It was not until late at night that the troops were all across and in
bivouac close to the left bank. One Division of the Xth Corps remained
at Pont à Mousson and the other advanced to Thiaucourt. The cavalry
scouted farther forward towards the Metz-Verdun road, and struck in on
the French cavalry near Mars la Tour. Several small engagements took
place, but when early in the afternoon twenty-four Prussian squadrons
had assembled, the French retired on Vionville. The Guard Corps and the
IVth Corps crossed at Dieulouard and Marbache, higher up the river.

The IIIrd Army advanced to the line Nancy-Bayon. On this day an attempt
to seize the fortress of Thionville by surprise proved a failure.


[7] Clearly should be "right."

[8] On the night of 15th, four of Bazaine's five Corps (less one
Division) bivouacked at distances of from eight to ten miles westward of
Metz; viz., from beyond Rezonville rearward to Gravelotte.


(August 16th.)

In the Head-quarter of the IInd Army there was the belief that serious
fighting with the French was no more to be anticipated on the Moselle,
and therefore two Corps, the IIIrd and the Xth, were ordered to march on
August 16th, northwards toward the road to Verdun by way of Gorze and
Thiaucourt, while the other Corps were directed to advance by forced
marches westwards towards the Meuse.

The French retreat from Metz was, however, not completely effected on
this day. The trains blocked every road, and in the forenoon three
Divisions still remained behind in the Moselle valley. The Emperor,
however, escorted by two brigades of cavalry, had departed at an early
hour by the road through Etain, which was still comparatively safe. As
the right wing of the army could not yet follow, the prosecution of the
retreat was postponed until the afternoon, and the left wing, which had
already begun the march, was sent back again into its bivouacs. But so
early as nine o'clock Prussian shells startled the troops from their

Major Körber had advanced with four batteries close up to Vionville
under cover of the cavalry, and the French troopers, surprised by their
fire, fled in utter confusion through the camp of the infantry. The
latter, however, briskly got under arms in good order, and the artillery
opened a heavy fire. Destitute at first of infantry supports, the
Prussian guns were withdrawn. Matters soon became serious.

General von Alvensleben, fearing lest he should fail to overtake the
enemy, had started again with the IIIrd Corps after a short night's
rest. The 6th Division marched on the left, by Onville; the 5th, on the
right, followed the long forest valley on the way to Gorze. This valley
so capable of defence was found unoccupied by the enemy, who indeed had
taken very few precautions. The advanced-guard presently encountered
Bergés' French Division on the open plateau south of Flavigny, and
General von Stülpnagel (commanding 5th Infantry Division) soon
discovered that he had before him an enemy whom it would take all his
strength to beat. At ten o'clock he began operations by sending forward
the 10th Brigade (commanded by General von Schwerin); and opened fire
with twenty-four guns.

Both sides now assumed the offensive. The Prussians, on the right,
fought their way with varying fortunes through the wood, often in
hand-to-hand encounter, and, towards eleven o'clock, succeeded in
reaching the spur of the wood of St. Arnould projecting in the direction
of Flavigny. Their left wing, on the contrary, was repulsed; even the
artillery was in danger; but the 52nd Regiment hurried forward and
re-established the fight at the cost of bloody sacrifices. Its 1st
Battalion lost every one of its officers, the colours passed from hand
to hand as its bearers were successively shot down, and the commander of
the 9th Brigade, General von Döring, fell mortally wounded. General von
Stülpnagel rode up into the foremost line of fire, inspiriting the men
with brave words, while General von Schwerin collected the remnants of
troops bereft of their leaders, and, reinforced by a detachment of the
Xth Corps from Novéant, carried the height in front of Flavigny, whence
the French presently retired.

On the assumption that the French were already prosecuting the retreat,
the 6th Division had been ordered forward towards Etain by way of Mars
la Tour, to bar the enemy also from the northern road to Verdun. When it
reached the height of Tronville, whence could be seen how things really
stood, the brigades wheeled to the right in the direction of Vionville
and Flavigny. The artillery going on in advance, formed a formidable
line of batteries, the fire of which prepared the way for a farther
advance, and by half-past eleven the 11th Brigade had taken possession
of Vionville in spite of heavy losses. From thence, and from the south,
in conjunction with the 10th Brigade, an attack was then directed on
Flavigny, which had been set on fire by shell-fire. The different
detachments were hereabouts very much mixed, but by skilfully taking
advantage of every fold of the ground, the individual regimental
officers succeeded in getting their men steadily forward, in spite of
the heavy fire of the hostile infantry and artillery. Flavigny was taken
by assault, and one cannon and a number of prisoners fell into the hands
of the brave Brandenburgers.

Vionville, Flavigny and the northern end of the forest of St. Arnould
constituted the points of support of the Prussian front now facing to
the east; but this front was more than four miles long, and the whole
infantry and artillery were engaged up to the hilt all in one line. The
second line consisted only of the 5th and 6th Cavalry Divisions and half
of the 37th Brigade near Tronville.

The position of the French was one of great advantage. Their left flank
leaned on Metz, their right was protected by formidable batteries on the
old Roman road and a strong force of cavalry; and so they could await
with confidence a frontal attack on the part of a venturesome enemy.

The possibility of continuing the march to Verdun on this day, under the
protection of a strong covering rearguard, was, no doubt, out of the
question. Supposing the Marshal earnest above everything to effect his
retreat, he could do so only by fighting hard for his right of way, and
by so freeing himself from the enemy blocking his path.

It is not easy to discern, from a purely military standpoint, why this
course was not resorted to. There was the full certainty that only part,
and probably only a small part, of the German host could as yet have
reached the left side of the Moselle, and when in the course of the day
the Divisions detained about Metz arrived, the French had greatly the
superiority in strength. But it seems that the Marshal's chief
solicitude was lest he should be forced to relinquish his touch of
Metz; and he gave almost his whole attention to his left wing.
Constantly sending fresh reinforcements thither, he massed the whole
Guard Corps and part of the VIth Corps opposite the Bois des Ognons,
whence an attack was exceptionally improbable. One is tempted to assume
that political reasons alone thus early actuated Bazaine in his resolve
to cling to Metz.

Meanwhile the Prussians slowly but surely made their way beyond Flavigny
and Vionville, and, assisted by a heavy fire from the artillery,
compelled the right wing of the IInd French Corps to retire on
Rezonville, a movement which became a flight when the French Generals
Bataille and Valazé were killed.

To regain the lost ground the French Guard Cuirassier Regiment threw
itself resolutely on the pursuers. But its attack was cut short by the
rapid fire of two companies of the 52nd Regiment drawn up in line, which
reserved their fire till the enemy were within 250 paces. The horsemen
sweeping right and left rushed into the fire of more infantry behind;
243 horses strewed the field, and only the remnants of the regiment
wheeled about in swift flight, pursued by two Hussar regiments which had
dashed forward from Flavigny. A French battery in front of Rezonville
had hardly time to discharge a few shots before it was surrounded. For
want of teams the Prussians could not, indeed, carry off the captured
guns; but the Commander-in-Chief of the French army, who had himself
brought them up, was for several minutes in imminent danger of being
taken prisoner.

The 6th Prussian Cavalry Division had also been ordered to the front.
After passing through the line of artillery and deploying as well as the
limited space permitted, it found itself face to face with fresh and
completely formed troops. Marshal Bazaine had taken the precaution of
substituting for the routed bodies of the IInd Corps the Guard Grenadier
Division, which he had at last prevailed on himself to bring up from
his unengaged left wing, but not without filling the vacancy by a
Division of the IIIrd Corps. Thus the Prussian cavalry was received with
such an overwhelming musketry and artillery fire that it halted, and
deliberately retired, its retreat being covered by two squadrons of
Uhlans, which time after time showed a front against the enemy. The
cavalry had not actually engaged, but its advance had gained time and
opportunity for the artillery to move further forward in one line from
the spur of the wood to Flavigny.

It was now two o'clock. So far General von Alvensleben had deceived the
enemy with regard to the slenderness of his force by acting incessantly
on the offensive. But the battle was now at a standstill, the battalions
were visibly thinned, their strength was sapped by four hours of hard
fighting, and the ammunition of the infantry was almost exhausted. Not a
battalion, not a battery remained in reserve behind the fighting line
standing there in the fire. It was now required to conserve the success
won with so much blood by acting thenceforth on the defensive.

The left wing was in especial danger, being under the fire of the
powerful artillery deployed on the Roman road. Their greatly superior
numbers enabled the French to extend farther and farther to the right,
threatening thus completely to envelop the Prussian flank.

Marshal Canrobert, in the French centre, had discerned the right moment
to press forward against Vionville with all his might. At this critical
instant there was on the German side only a small detachment of the 5th
Cavalry Division available to check this effort. Two brigades had
necessarily been sent to strengthen the left flank, and of the 12th
Brigade remaining in rear of Vionville two squadrons had been detached
to the Tronville copses. The two regiments ordered to undertake the task
of charging the advancing enemy--the Magdeburg Cuirassiers and the
Altmark Uhlans--were consequently each but three squadrons strong, in
all 800 horses.

General von Bredow, commanding the 12th Cavalry Brigade, first traversed
in column the shallow hollow sinking down from Vionville, then wheeled
to the right and mounted the slope to the eastward, both his regiments
on one front. Received immediately with heavy artillery and infantry
fire, he threw himself on the hostile ranks. The first line is ridden
over, the line of guns is broken through, gunners and teams are put to
the sword. The second French line is powerless to resist this vigorous
onslaught, and even the more distant batteries limbered up to drive

But the rapture of victory and the impetuosity of the charge carried the
handful of troopers too far, and after a gallop of 3000 paces they found
themselves surrounded by the French cavalry, which attacked them from
all sides. There was no scope for a second charge, and so after several
encounters with the French horse the brigade was forced to cut its way
back through the French infantry, whose bullets accompanied it home.
Only one-half of the command returned to Flavigny, where it was
reorganized into two squadrons. The devoted self-sacrifice of the two
heroic regiments effected the result, that the French entirely
discontinued their attack on Vionville.

At three o'clock four of their Divisions advanced towards the Tronville
copses. Barby's cavalry brigade (11th), watching the western verge, had
to retire before the enemy's fire, and the German infantry occupying the
wood also had to yield to a strength so superior; the batteries which
were in action between Vionville and the copses were assailed in rear
from the west through the glades of the copses, and were likewise forced
to retire. But not until the lapse of an hour did the French succeed in
overcoming the obstinate resistance of four staunch battalions.

At the subsequent roll-call near Tronville, it was ascertained that the
24th Regiment had lost 1000 men and 52 officers, and that the 2nd
Battalion of the 20th Regiment had lost all its officers. The 37th
demi-Brigade, which of its own accord had been fighting valiantly in
support since noon, took possession of the village of Tronville and
prepared it for an obstinate defence.

It was not till after three that the IIIrd Corps, which had been
fighting for seven[9] hours almost single-handed, received effective

While the Xth Corps was on the march through Thiaucourt, its advanced
guard heard cannon-fire from the direction of Vionville. The Corps
Commander, General von Voigts-Rhetz, immediately set out for the
battle-field, and having personally ascertained how matters stood, he
sent back the requisite orders to his approaching troops.

In this instance again it was the artillery which, hurrying on in
advance, masterfully struck into the conflict. Its fire, in conjunction
with that of the promptly further advancing batteries of the IIIrd
Corps, checked the French rush made on both sides of the Tronville
copses simultaneously. At half-past three the head of von Woyna's
Brigade (39th) fell on, drove the enemy back into the wood, and finally,
supported by Diringshofen's Brigade (40th), took possession of its
northern outskirts.

The right wing of the IIIrd Corps had also received some reinforcement.

The 32nd Brigade of the VIIIth Corps, on being called upon to assist the
5th Division, fatigued though it was by a long march, immediately
advanced from the Moselle by Arry. The 11th Regiment joined it, and
three batteries were sent ahead to commence operations; this force
emerged at five o'clock from the forest of St. Arnould. It at once made
an assault on the heights in front of Maison Blanche, but, though it
made three strenuous efforts in succession, failed to carry them, since
Marshal Bazaine had greatly strengthened his position in front of
Rezonville. Then the French, in their turn, took the offensive there;
but were equally unable to establish themselves firmly on the heights,
swept as they were by the well-directed fire of the Prussian artillery;
and they had to withdraw from the attempt. Petty struggles for this
position were renewed later on both sides, but those spurts came to
nothing because of the fire of the respective artillery; and the
fighting on the German right became in the main stationary.

That on the German left two French Divisions had retired before a few
newly-arrived battalions, and had evacuated the Tronville copses, can
only be explained by a report having reached Bazaine's head-quarters
that the enemy was coming in upon his right flank in the vicinity of

The enemy referred to was Wedell's Brigade (38th), which, while on the
march in the direction of Etain according to its original orders, had
received counter-instructions while halted at St. Hilaire at noon, to
hurry to the field of battle. General von Schwartzkoppen (commanding
19th Infantry Division) decided to march by the highway to Mars la Tour,
in the hope of falling on the enemy either in flank or in rear. But the
French meanwhile had extended their reinforced right wing to the sunken
valley west of Bruville, where three Divisions of their cavalry were
massed in position.

Thus when General von Wedell advanced to the attack on both sides of
Tronville, which the French themselves had fired, his brigade--only five
battalions strong--found itself in face of the long deployed front of
the 4th French Corps. The two Westphalian regiments advanced steadily
under the storm of shell and mitrailleuse fire till they suddenly
reached the edge of a deep ravine hitherto unseen. This, however, they
soon traversed, and were climbing the farther ascent, when they were met
by a murderous shower of bullets from the French infantry which hemmed
them in closely on every side. After almost every one of the commanders
and regimental officers had fallen, the wreck of the battalions fell
back into the ravine; 300 men were taken prisoners, having no strength
left to ascend the steep southern rise after the fatigue of a
twenty-eight miles march. The remainder rallied at Tronville under the
shot-torn colours which Colonel von Cranach, the only officer who still
had a horse under him, had brought back in his own hand. Seventy-two
officers and 2542 men were missing out of 95 officers and 4546 men--more
than half. The French followed up their success, but were checked on the
right by the headlong charge of the 1st Guard Dragoons, which cost that
regiment 250 horses and nearly all its officers; and on the left by the
4th squadron of the 2nd Guard Dragoons, which attacked three times its
strength of Chasseurs d'Afrique.

But there now imminently threatened the charge of a great mass of French
cavalry, which disclosed itself on the open plateau of Ville sur Yron.
This consisted of Legrand's Division and de France's Guard Brigade in
four compact echelons, overlapping each other to the right. On the
German side, all the still disposable cavalry joined Barby's brigade,
and the body thus made up, consisting only of sixteen squadrons, was
formed for action in two lines west of Mars la Tour. Farther in advance
stood the 13th Dragoons, halted to receive the Guard-squadron on its
return from its recent charge. The 13th galloped forward to meet the
charge of Montaigu's Hussar Brigade, which constituted the first line of
the French cavalry mass, and which broke through the (over-wide)
intervals of the Prussian squadrons. But General von Barby promptly
appeared with the other regiments on the upland of Ville sur Yron, where
at a quarter to seven the cavalry masses came into collision.

A mighty cloud of dust concealed the varying phases of the hand-to-hand
encounter of 5000 horsemen which gradually declared itself in favour of
the Prussians. General Montaigu, severely wounded, was taken prisoner,
and General Legrand fell while leading his Dragoons to the assistance of
the Hussars.

De France's Brigade allowed the enemy to approach within 150 paces, and
then its Lancer regiment rushed impetuously upon the Hanoverian Uhlans;
but the latter outflanked it, and received unexpected assistance from
the 5th squadron of the 2nd Guard Dragoons, which, returning from a
reconnaissance, plunged forward over fences and ditches and fell upon
the enemy in flank, while the Westphalian Cuirassiers at the same time
broke his front. The Chasseurs d'Afrique strove in vain to hinder the
enveloping tactics of the Hanoverian Dragoons; the clouds of dust
drifted farther and farther northward, and the whole mass of French
horse drew away towards the wooded slopes of Bruville, behind which
there were still five regiments of Clérembault's Cavalry Division.
Clérembault permitted one of his brigades to cross the valley, but the
fleeing Hussars and some misunderstood signals threw it into confusion.
It was borne back, and not until the French infantry confronted the
Prussian pursuers in the covering valley did the latter desist from the

The Prussian regiments quietly re-formed and then withdrew at a walk to
Mars la Tour, followed at a great distance by part of Clérembault's

This, the greatest cavalry combat of the war, had the effect of making
the French right wing give up all further attempts to act on the
offensive. The Germans mourned the loss of many superior officers, who
always, at the head of their men, had set them a glorious example.

Prince Frederick Charles had hastened to the field of battle. The day
was nearly at an end, darkness approaching, and the battle won. The
Prussians in the evening stood on the ground which in the morning had
been occupied by the French. Though General von Alvensleben had in the
first instance been under the impression that he would have only the
French rear-guard to deal with, he did not hesitate for a moment to
become the assailant when he found the entire French Army before him.
With his single Corps he maintained the fight till the afternoon, and
drove back the enemy from Flavigny to Rezonville, a distance of more
than two miles. This was one of the most brilliant achievements of all
the war.

Thanks to the valuable assistance of the Xth Corps it was possible to
carry on the battle through the afternoon on the defensive, but only by
most resolute counter-attacks by the cavalry, and by the unflinching
tenacity of the artillery.

It was clearly most unadvisable to challenge by renewed attacks an enemy
who still outnumbered the Germans; which action, since no further
reinforcements could be hoped for, could not but jeopardize the success
so dearly bought. The troops were exhausted, most of their ammunition
was spent, the horses had been under the saddle for fifteen hours
without fodder; some of the batteries could only move at a walk, and the
nearest Army Corps on the left bank of the Moselle, the XIIth,[10] was
distant more than a day's march.

Notwithstanding all these considerations, an order from Prince Frederick
Charles's Head-quarter issued at seven o'clock, commanded a renewed and
general attack on the enemy's positions. The Xth Corps was quite
incapable of answering this demand; and only part of the artillery went
forward on the right followed by some infantry. The batteries indeed
reached the much-disputed plateau south of Rezonville, but only to be
exposed on two sides to the fire of infantry and artillery. Fifty-four
guns of the French Guard alone, in position on the farther side of the
valley, were taking them in flank. The Prussian batteries were compelled
to retreat to their previous position, but two brigades of the 6th
Cavalry Division still pressed forward. Scarcely able to discern in the
increasing darkness where lay their proper line of attack, they came
under very sharp infantry fire, and withdrew with great loss.

Fighting did not entirely cease until ten o'clock. On either side 16,000
men had fallen. On either side pursuit was out of the question. The
Germans reaped the fruits of this victory solely in its results. The
troops, worn out by a twelve hours' struggle, bivouacked on the
victorious but bloody field, immediately opposite the French position.

Those Corps of the IInd Army which had not taken part in the battle,
were on that day on march towards the Meuse. The advanced guard of the
IVth Corps on the left wing was heading towards Toul. This fortress,
commanding a railway-line of importance to the further progress of the
German Army, was reported to be but feebly held, and it was resolved to
attempt its capture by a _coup de main_. But the bombardment of it by
field-artillery proved quite ineffective. Bastions of masonry and wide
wet ditches made a storm impossible. An attempt to batter down the gates
by shot and thus gain an entrance proved a failure. Finally the
undertaking was given up, and not without some loss on the part of the

At the Royal Head-quarter in Pont à Mousson it had become known by about
noon on the 16th that the IIIrd Corps was engaged in serious conflict,
and that the Xth and IXth were hastening up to its support. The
far-reaching consequences of this information were recognized at once.

The French were arrested in their withdrawal from Metz, but it was to be
presumed as a certainty that they would again make strenuous efforts to
force open their interrupted line of retreat. The XIIth Corps was
therefore ordered to set out for Mars la Tour as early as three o'clock
next morning; the VIIth and VIIIth Corps to stand in readiness at Corny
and Arry. The bridging operations were to be pushed with the utmost
vigour during the night. The Head-quarter of the IInd Army sent from
Gorze the order to the Guard Corps to make a forced march to Mars la
Tour, and there take up a position on the left of the XIIth Corps. The
execution of these orders was facilitated by the foresight of the
Commanders, who had in the course of the day received news of the battle
which was being fought. Prince George of Saxony at once placed his
Division on the march to Thiaucourt, and the Prince of Würtemberg
assembled the Infantry of the Guard in its cantonments farther northward
in readiness for an early march.

_August 17th._--On this morning, at sunrise, the French outposts were
observed still occupying the sweep of front from Bruville to Rezonville.
Behind them were noticed a stir and much noise of signalling, which
might be the indications equally of an attack or of a retirement.

The King arrived from Pont à Mousson at Flavigny as early as six
o'clock. The reports sent in to headquarters until noon by the
reconnoitring cavalry were somewhat contradictory; they left it
uncertain whether the French were concentrating towards Metz, or were
pursuing their retreat by the two still open roads through Etain and
Briey. Preparations for the offensive were nowhere observed. By one
o'clock, after a skirmish on the way, the head of the VIIth Corps had
reached the northern skirt of the Bois des Ognons, over against which
the French subsequently abandoned Gravelotte. The VIIIth Corps stood
ready at Gorze, the IXth, IIIrd, and Xth remained in their positions,
the XIIth and the Guard Corps were on the march. Seven Corps and three
Cavalry Divisions could be counted on for the following day; for to-day
all attacks were forbidden.

In making the dispositions for the impending battle of August 18th, two
possible contingencies were foreseen and had to be provided for. To meet
both the left wing was to be sent forward in a northerly direction
through Doncourt towards the nearest of the routes still open for the
retreat of the French. If the enemy were already retiring, he was to be
at once attacked and detained while the right wing was hurrying up in

In case the enemy should be remaining about Metz, the German left wing
was to swing eastwards and out-flank his farthest north position, while
the right was to hold his left closely engaged until this movement was
accomplished. The battle, under these circumstances, probably could not
be decided until late in the day, owing to the wide-sweeping movement of
a portion of the army. A peculiar feature of the situation was that both
parties had to fight with inverted front, and sacrifice for the time
their respective lines of communication. The consequences of victory or
defeat would thus be greatly enhanced or aggravated, but the French had
the advantage of having as their base a large place of arms with its

A decision having been arrived at, by two o'clock orders were published
at Flavigny for an advance by echelons from the left wing. The guidance
of individual Corps during the battle was to turn on the reports which
should be brought in. The King then returned to Pont à Mousson.

As early as nine o'clock in the morning the Saxon Cavalry Division had
reached the Etain road to the west of Conflans, and had reported no
enemy visible except a few stragglers. Still, this only proved that on
the 17th the French had not yet taken up their retreat.

In rear of its cavalry the XIIth Corps arrived during the day in the
vicinity of Mars la Tour and Puxieux, and left of it the Guard
bivouacked in the evening at Hannonville sur Yron, in accordance with
order. The IInd Corps, which ever since it left the railway had followed
close on the IInd Army, reached Pont à Mousson, and was ordered to march
forward by Buxières at four next morning.


[9] Five; viz. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

[10] The Hessian Division of the IXth Corps was on the left bank, much
nearer the field than the XIIth--so near indeed that portions of it were
actually engaged; and its other Division crossed the river in the night.
The _Staff History_ assigns the proximity of the IXth Corps as a leading
reason for the action of Prince Frederick Charles which Moltke
denounces. Both the VIIth and VIIIth Corps (the latter of which had a
brigade engaged in the battle) were more immediately available than the
distant XIIth.


(August 18th.)

Marshal Bazaine had not thought it advisable to prosecute the march to
Verdun now that the Germans were so close on the flank of such a
movement. He preferred to concentrate his forces near Metz, in a
position which he rightly considered as almost impregnable.

Such an one was afforded him by the range of heights stretching along
the western verge of the valley of Chatel. Their face looking toward the
enemy sloped away like a glacis, while the short and steep decline in
the rear afforded cover for the reserves. Along the flat crown of the
heights from Roncourt to Rozerieulles, a distance of about seven miles,
were posted the VIth, IVth, IIIrd, and IInd Corps in succession from the
north; for which distance there were available from eight to ten men to
the pace (Schritt). A brigade of the Vth Corps stood near Ste. Ruffine
in the valley of the Moselle; the cavalry was in rear of both flanks. In
front of the IInd and IIIrd Corps shelter-trenches had been thrown up,
battery emplacements and covered ways of communication constructed, and
the farmsteads lying out to the front converted into little forts. To
approach this (left) wing from the west it was necessary to cross the
deep ravine of the Mance. The VIth Corps on the other hand was wholly
without an engineer park; and it is indicative of the general
ill-equipment of the French that, for the transport of the wounded to
the rear, in spite of the enormous trains, provision waggons had to be
unloaded and their contents burnt. This Corps was therefore unable to
construct fortified flank defences toward the forest of Jaumont, such as
would have given to the right wing the character of formidable strength.
This would undoubtedly have been the place for the Guard, but in his
apprehension of an attack from the south the Marshal held that Corps in
reserve at Plappeville.

The King returned to Flavigny at six o'clock on the morning of the 18th.
All commanding officers were instructed to send their reports thither,
and officers of the General Staff belonging to the Royal Head-quarter
were besides sent out in different directions to report information as
to the progress of the engagement.

The following were the initial dispositions. The VIIth Army Corps, which
was to form the pivot for the eventual wheel to the right, occupied the
Bois de Vaux and Bois des Ognons; the VIIIth, which the King had
reserved at his own disposition, stood halted near Rezonville ready to
march to the north or to the east, as might be required. The IXth Corps,
on its left, advanced towards St. Marcel, while the IIIrd and Xth
followed in second line. The Guard and XIIth Corps moved in a northerly

In consequence of the Head-quarter of the IInd Army having ordered the
XIIth Corps, although it stood on the right,[11] to form the extreme
left, a serious delay occurred from the crossing of the respective lines
of march. The Saxon troops had not entirely passed through Mars-la-Tour
until nine o'clock, and till then the Guard Corps could not follow.

Meanwhile the advanced guard of the XIIth Corps had already reached
Jarny, and pursued its march as far as Briey without encountering the

Before information to this effect came in, the conviction had been
reached in the Royal Head-quarter that at all events the main forces of
the enemy still remained before Metz; there was, however, a difference
of opinion as to the extension of the French front, which it was assumed
did not reach beyond Montigny. The Head-quarter of the IInd Army was
therefore instructed not to extend further northward, but to attack the
enemy's right wing with the IXth Corps, and push in the direction of
Batilly with the Guard and the XIIth Corps. The Ist Army was not to
begin its frontal attack until the IInd should be ready to co-operate.

In obedience to those instructions Prince Frederick Charles ordered the
IXth Corps to march towards Verneville, and, in case the French right
wing should be found there, to begin the action by promptly bringing a
large force of artillery into action. The Guard was to continue its
advance by way of Doncourt to support the IXth as soon as possible. The
XIIth was to remain at Jarny for the present.

A little later fresh reports came in, which indicated that the IXth
Corps, should it proceed in the manner ordered, would not strike the
enemy on his flank, but full on his front. The Prince, in the discretion
of his high position, therefore determined that the Corps should
postpone its attack till the Guard Corps should have been brought to
bear upon Amanvillers. At the same time the XIIth Corps was to push on
to Ste. Marie aux Chênes.

But while these orders were being expedited, there was heard from
Verneville at twelve o'clock the roar of the first cannon shots.

The two Corps of the left wing had, moreover, of their own accord, taken
an easterly direction, and the IIIrd Corps moved up in rear of the IXth
to the Caulre farm.

General von Manstein, the commander of the IXth Corps, had observed from
Verneville a French camp at Amanvillers, which apparently lay in
negligent repose. From his standpoint it could not be discerned that to
his left about St. Privat great masses of troops were in position.
Thinking that in this camp he had the enemy's right wing before him, he
determined to act on his original orders and at once take the foe by
surprise. Eight of his batteries at once opened fire.

But the French troops showed great alacrity in moving up into their
prepared positions. The isolated initiative of the single Corps
naturally drew upon it not only the fire of the troops opposite to it,
but also that of the hostile Corps to right and left.

In the effort to find a location affording something of shelter, the
Prussian batteries had taken position in a fold of the slope looking
towards Amanvillers, and facing to the south-east, where, however, they
were exposed from the north, on the flank and even in the rear, to the
fire of the enemy's artillery, as well as to the massed fire of his

To meet this, it was necessary to send forward the infantry battalions
nearest at hand. They took possession of the eastern point of the Bois
de la Cusse on the left, and on the right seized the farmhouses of
L'Envie and Chantrenne, and forced their way into the Bois des Genivaux.
Thus the front of the 18th Division in action extended along a distance
of 4000 paces.

It had to endure very heavy loss from the circumstance that the French
with their long-range Chassepôt rifles could afford to keep out of the
effective range of the needle-gun; the artillery suffered exceptionally
severely. One of the batteries had already lost forty-five gunners when
the enemy's sharpshooters swarmed forward on it. Infantry protection was
not available at the moment, and two guns were lost. By two o'clock the
batteries still remaining in position were almost unserviceable, and no
relief arrived till the Hessian Division reached Habonville, and
brought up on the left of the distressed batteries, five batteries on
either side of the railway, which diverted on themselves to a
considerable extent the concentrated fire of the enemy. The batteries of
the 18th Division, which had suffered most, could now be withdrawn in
succession, but even in the act of retreat they had to drive off the
pursuers by grape-shot.

The artillery of the IIIrd Corps and the Guard also came to the aid of
the IXth, and those of the damaged guns of the last, which were still at
all fit for service, were at once brought up again into the fighting
line. Thus there was formed in front of Verneville and as far as St. Ail
an artillery front of 130 pieces, whose fire now opposed the enemy's
artillery with conspicuous success. Now that the IIIrd Corps was
approaching Verneville and the 3rd Guard Brigade had reached Habonville,
it was no longer to be apprehended that the French would succeed in
piercing this line.

The main body of the Guard Corps reached St. Ail so early as two
o'clock. General von Pape (commanding Ist Guard Division) at once
recognized that by wheeling to the east he would not only not strike the
enemy on that right flank of his which had to be turned, but would
expose his own left flank to the hostile force occupying Ste. Marie aux
Chênes. This town-like village, in itself extremely strong, and also
strongly flanked by the main stronghold of the enemy's right, it was
necessary to gain before making any further advance; but, in obedience
to superior orders, the General had to await the co-operation of the
Saxon Corps.

The foremost troops of this Corps had already reached the vicinity of
Batilly, but it was still distant from Ste. Marie more than two miles,
so that its batteries could not be pushed forward into position west of
that place until three o'clock. But as the Guard had sent most of its
own artillery to the support of the IXth Corps the Saxon batteries were
of essential service. Ten batteries now directed their fire upon Ste.
Marie, and by the time its effect was discernible, the 47th Brigade of
the XIIth Corps came up. At half-past three the Prussian and Saxon
battalions hurled themselves on the town from the south, the west, and
the north, with loud hurrahs and without returning the fire of the
enemy. The French were driven from it with the loss of several hundred
men taken prisoners.

The Saxons eagerly followed up, and north of Ste. Marie there ensued a
lively infantry fight, which masked the fire of the artillery. The
brigade having obeyed the order to retire, the batteries immediately
re-opened fire, and the repeated efforts of the French to recover the
lost position were frustrated.

Soon afterwards the IXth Corps succeeded in storming and firmly holding
the farm of Champenois, but all further attempts by isolated battalions
or companies to force their way forward against the broad and compact
front of the French were then manifestly futile. Thus, towards five
o'clock, the infantry fire altogether died out, and the artillery fired
only an occasional shot. The exhaustion of both sides caused for the
time an almost total suspension of hostilities in this part of the

The Royal Head-quarter had firmly maintained the resolution, that the
Ist Army should not commit itself to a serious offensive until the IInd
had grappled with the enemy. But when the day was half-spent and when
about noon heavy firing was heard from Vionville,[12] it was to be
assumed that the moment for action had arrived; still, for the present,
permission was only given to the Ist Army to engage in the artillery

Sixteen batteries of the VIIth and VIIIth Corps accordingly drew up
right and left of Gravelotte on the highway passing through that
village. Their fire was ineffective, because they were too far distant
from the enemy; and furthermore they suffered from the fire of the
French tirailleurs nestling in the opposite woods. It became necessary
to drive those out, and thus there occurred here a premature infantry
fight. The French were cleared out from the eastern declivity of the
Mance ravine, and the artillery line, now increased to twenty batteries,
was able to advance closer up to the western brink and now direct the
strength of its fire against the main position of the enemy.

But the battalions of the 29th Brigade pushed the attack further. They
pressed on leftward into the southern section of the Bois des Genivaux,
but were unable to obtain touch of the IXth Corps in possession of the
northern portion of the forest, since the French firmly held the
intervening ground. On the right sundry detachments took possession of
the quarries and gravel-pits near St. Hubert.

The artillery meanwhile had gained the mastery over that of the enemy,
several of whose batteries were silenced, and others prevented from
coming into position. The French fire was in part directed on the
farm-steading of St. Hubert, to the vicinity of which portions of the
30th Brigade had spurted forward. These formidable premises close under
the face of the enemy's main position, and in spite of a very heavy fire
therefrom, were stormed at three o'clock. The 31st Brigade also now
promptly crossed the ravine, but a further advance against the farms of
Moscou and Leipzig, over a bare stretch of ground encompassed by the
enemy on its wooded edges, did not succeed, and resulted only in heavy
loss. On the extreme right, the 26th Brigade had taken possession of
Jussy, thus securing the connection of the German army towards Metz, but
found it impossible to cross the deep valley of Rozerieulles.

Everywhere the advanced positions of the French had been driven in, the
farms in their front were blazing, their artillery appeared to be
crushed, and, as the situation was viewed from Gravelotte, there needed
nothing but to follow up the success. General von Steinmetz therefore,
at four o'clock, ordered a renewed attack with fresh forces.

While the VIIth Corps occupied the border of the woodland, four
batteries, backed by the 1st Cavalry Division, moved at a trot through
the ravine, about 1500 paces across, which lies east of Gravelotte. But
as soon as the head of the deep column came in sight of the enemy he
redoubled his rifle and artillery fire, which had till now been kept
under. One battery lost in a twinkling the men serving four of its guns,
and it was only by an extreme effort that it was withdrawn to the border
of the wood; another never succeeded in deploying. On the other hand,
Hasse's battery remained in action, in spite of the loss of seventy-five
horses, and Gnügge's battery stood fast near St. Hubert, regardless of
the return fire from the quarries.

The foremost regiment of cavalry bent to the right at a gallop on
leaving the hollow way, and advanced towards Point du Jour, but the
enemy, being completely under cover, offered no mark for an attack.
Clearly there was no field here for the utilization of this arm, so the
regiments withdrew across the Mance ravine under a heavy fire from all

The result of the ill-success of this attempt was that swarms of French
tirailleurs now poured down from Point du Jour, and drove the Prussian
detachments still remaining on the bare plateau backward to the skirts
of the wood. Chassepôt bullets even reached the position of the Royal
Commander-in-Chief and his personal staff, and Prince Adalbert's horse
was shot under him.

Fresh forces pushed forward and drove the enemy back into his main
position. St. Hubert remained in German possession, though the gunners
of the battery in post there were equal to the service of but one gun.
But all partial attempts to advance over the exposed plateau proved a
failure; and here also at about five o'clock in the afternoon there
occurred a lull in the fighting, during which the weary troops on both
sides reorganized themselves and took breath.

About this time King William and his staff rode forward to the swell
south of Malmaison. But from there nothing could be discerned of the
situation of the left flank of the army, at a distance as it was of more
than four miles. The French artillery had almost entirely ceased along
the whole front from La Folie to Point du Jour; but to the northward the
thunder of the cannon fire roared louder than ever. It was six o'clock,
the day was nearly at an end, and it was imperative that the decisive
result should be precipitated. The King therefore ordered the Ist Army
to make a renewed advance in support of which he placed the IInd Corps,
just arrived after a long march, at the disposal of General von

The battalions of the VIIth Corps which were still serviceable, except
five which remained in reserve, were again sent across the Mance ravine,
and in support of them the battalions holding the Bois de Vaux advanced
in the direction of Point du Jour and the quarries.

The IInd Corps of the French Army thus assailed was now reinforced by
the Guard Voltigeur Division. All the reserves were hurried up into the
foremost line. The artillery burst into redoubled fire, and a crushing
musketry fire was concentrated on the advancing enemy. Then the French
themselves took the offensive with a huge swarm of tirailleurs, which
hurled backward upon the wood-fringes the small leaderless bodies of
German troops that had been lying in the shallow folds of the plateau.

There, however, the sally found its limit; and there still remained at
disposition a fresh Army Corps in full strength.

The IInd Corps, the last to come up by rail into the theatre of war,
had hitherto followed in the wake of the army by forced marches, and had
not been able to take part in any engagement. It had started from Pont à
Mousson at 2 a.m. and, taking the road by Buxières and Rezonville,
arrived south of Gravelotte towards evening. The Pomeranians expressed
their eager desire to get at the enemy before the day should end.

It would have been more proper if the Chief of the General Staff of the
Army, who was personally on the spot at the time, had not permitted this
movement at so late an hour of the evening. A body of troops, still
completely intact, might have been of great value the next day; but it
could hardly be expected on this evening to effect a decisive reversal
of the situation.

Hurrying through Gravelotte, the foremost battalions of the IInd Corps
pushed forward to the quarries, and up to within a few hundred paces of
Point du Jour; but those following soon found themselves involved in the
throng of the broken detachments remaining under fire south of St.
Hubert, and the further advance towards Moscou was arrested. In the
growing darkness friend became indistinguishable from foe, and the
firing had to be broken off. Not, however, until ten o'clock did it
entirely cease.

It was, to be sure, an advantage that the fresh troops of the IInd Corps
were available to hold the foremost fighting-line for the night, behind
which the intermixed detachments of the VIIth and VIIIth Corps were
enabled to reorganize themselves.

The whole course of the struggle had conclusively proved that the French
left flank, almost impregnable as it was by nature and art, could not be
forced even by the most devoted bravery and the greatest sacrifices.
Both sides were now facing each other in threatening proximity, and both
in attitude to renew the battle on the following morning. The result of
the day turned on the events evolving themselves on the opposite flank.

The Prince of Würtemberg,[13] then in St. Ail, had judged at a
quarter-past five that the moment was come for an attack on the French
right wing; but that wing extended considerably further north than the
front of the Guard Corps reached; further, indeed, than the French
Commander-in-Chief himself was aware. The Saxons had, indeed,
participated in the seizure of Ste. Marie aux Chênes, but after that
event the Crown Prince[14] deemed it necessary to assemble his Corps in
front of the Bois d'Auboué, before proceeding to attack the enemy in
flank. One of his brigades had to come up from Jarny, another from Ste.
Marie; and, since the Corps had been delayed in getting away from Mars
la Tour, its direct attack could not be expected at the earliest for an
hour to come.

The 4th Infantry Brigade of the Guard Corps, in accordance with orders
received, proceeded in the prescribed direction of Jerusalem,
immediately south of St. Privat. As soon as General von Manstein
observed this movement, he ordered the 3rd Guard Brigade, which had been
placed at his orders, immediately to advance from Habonville direct upon
Amanvillers. Between and abreast of these two brigades marched Hessian
battalions. It was not till half-an-hour later that the 1st Guard
Division leftward of the 2nd moved forward from Ste. Marie against St.
Privat. This combined offensive movement was directed against the broad
front of the French VIth and IVth Corps. Their respective strongholds of
St. Privat and Amanvillers had as yet hardly felt the fire of the German
batteries, which had hitherto found enough to do in combating the
enemy's artillery outside the villages.

In front of the French main position on the crown of the height had been
prepared on the slope behind the hedges and low walls, which rose
terrace-wise backward, tier on tier of shelter trenches. Behind these
defences towered the village named St. Privat, castle-like with its
massive houses, which were garrisoned to the very roofs. The bare slope
stretching in its front was thus exposed to an overwhelming storm of

The losses of the Guard Corps marching forward to attack a front so
formidable were simply enormous. In the course of half an hour five
battalions lost all, the others the greater part of their officers,
especially those of the higher grades. Thousands of dead and wounded
marked the track of the battalions pressing valiantly forward in spite
of their cruel losses. The ranks as fast as they were thinned constantly
closed up again, and their cohesion was not lost even under the
leadership of young lieutenants and ensigns. As they drew nearer to the
enemy the needle-gun came into full utility. The French were driven from
all their foremost positions, in which, for the most part, they did not
await the final struggle. By a quarter-past six the battalions had
advanced to within 600 to 800 paces of Amanvillers and St. Privat. The
troops, weary from the strained exertion, halted under the steeper
slopes offering some, though small, protection, and in the shelter
trenches abandoned by the enemy. Only four battalions now remained in
reserve at Ste. Marie, behind the line which now extended to a length of
4000 paces. Every charge of the French cavalry and of de Cissey's
Division had been steadily repelled with the aid of twelve batteries of
the Guard Corps which had hastened up; but detachments commingled under
stress of untold losses, had to show a resolute front against two French
Corps in close proximity for more than half-an-hour, before relief came
to them.

It was nearly seven o'clock when on the left of the Guard, two brigades
of Saxon infantry reached the scene of strife; the other two were still
assembling in the forest of Auboué; their artillery, however, had for a
considerable time been maintaining a lively fire on Roncourt.

When Bazaine received word that the Germans were stretching out in
constantly increasing extension with intent to outflank his right, he at
three p.m. ordered Picard's Guard Grenadier Division posted at
Plappeville, to march towards the threatened flank. Though the distance
to be covered was little more than four miles, this all-important
reinforcement, having diverged to rightward from the direct road through
the woodland, had not yet arrived; and Marshal Canrobert, who was
fending off with all his might the converging masses of Prussian
assailants, decided to concentrate his troops more closely about the
strong position of St. Privat. The retreat from Roncourt would be
adequately covered by a small rearguard, since the border of the Bois de
Jaumont was being held.

Thus it happened that the Saxons did not find the strong resistance at
Roncourt which they had expected, and after a slight skirmish entered
the village together with the companies of the extreme left of the
Guard; a body of Saxon infantry had previously been diverted to the
right from the road to Roncourt and marched direct on St. Privat to the
support of the Guard.

The fire of twenty-four batteries of the two German Corps wrought awful
havoc there. Many houses were set on fire, or crumbled under the
concentrated crash of the shells. But the French were determined to hold
to the last extremity this point, decisive as it was of the fate of the
day. The batteries of their right flank were hurried into position
between St. Privat and the Bois de Jaumont, whence their fire would
enfilade the further advance of the Saxons on the former place. Other
batteries went southward to confront the Prussians, and the simultaneous
final rush of the German battalions was met by a rattling fire from the
French riflemen under cover in their lines of shelter trenches.

All those obstacles were gradually overcome in the course of the
assault, although again with heavy loss; some detachments halting
occasionally for a moment to pour in a volley, others again never
firing a shot. By sundown the attack had swept up to within 300 paces of
St. Privat. Some detachments of the Xth Corps, which had reached St.
Ail, closed up, and now the final onset was made from every side at
once. The French still defended the burning houses and the church with
great obstinacy, till, finding themselves completely surrounded, they
surrendered at about eight o'clock. More than 2000 men were here taken
prisoners, and the wounded were rescued from the burning houses.

The defeated troops of the VIth French Corps hurriedly retired into the
valley of the Moselle, their retreat covered by the brigade holding the
Bois de Jaumont and by the cavalry. Only then did the Guard Grenadier
Division make its first appearance, and the Reserve Artillery of the
French Army deployed east of Amanvillers. The German batteries at once
took up the fight, which lasted till late in the night, and in the
course of which Amanvillers was burned.

In that quarter the retirement of the IVth French Corps had also already
commenced, masked, however, by repeated heavy attacks to the front. In
the course of these there occurred a hand-to-hand encounter with the
charging battalions of the right wing of the Guard and the left of the
IXth Corps. Amanvillers, however, remained in the hands of the French
for the night. Not until three o'clock on the morning of the 19th did
the IIIrd French Corps evacuate its position about Moscou; and the IInd
Corps held its ground until five o'clock, engaged in constant sharp
frays with the outposts of the Pomeranians, who on its withdrawal took
possession of the plateaus of Moscou and Point du Jour.

The results attained on the 18th of August had been made possible only
by the battles of the 14th and 16th.

The French estimate their losses at 13,000 men. In October 173,000 were
still in Metz, consequently it is certain that the enemy had at
disposition in the battle of the 18th of August more than 180,000 men.
The exact strength of the seven[15] German Corps on that day amounted to
178,818 men. Thus with the forces on either side of approximately equal
strength, the French had been driven out of a position of almost
unrivalled natural advantage.

Naturally the loss of the assailants was much heavier than that of the
defence; it amounted to 20,584 men, among them 899 officers.

Whereas by the war-establishment the average is one officer to every
forty men, in this battle one officer fell to every twenty-three men;
glorious testimony to the example set by their leaders to their brave
men, but also a loss which could not be restored during the course of
the war. Altogether the six battles fought in the first fourteen days of
August had cost the German army 50,000 men.[16] It was naturally
impossible immediately to call out at home a sufficient levy in
substitution for the losses; but reinforcements drawn from the
time-expired cadres were already bespoken.

First of all that same evening the earliest instalment of the trains and
the Field-Hospitals had to be brought up from the right bank of the
Moselle; and the ammunition had to be replenished throughout. In
Rezonville, thronged as it was with the wounded, it was with difficulty
that a little garret for the King and shelter for his General Staff
were found. Its members were engrossed throughout the night in preparing
the dispositions which the new phase of the situation created by the
victory rendered immediately necessary. This exertion enabled all those
orders to be laid before his Majesty for approval on the morning of the


[11] The XIIth Corps never stood on the right. It occupied its assigned
position on the extreme left, and the delay arose from the Guard Corps
having occupied a position other than that designed for it, and having
been allowed to remain there.

[12] Vionville in text seems a slip of the pen for Verneville.

[13] Commanding the Guard Corps.

[14] Of Saxony, commanding XIIth Corps.

[15] These figures represent only the infantry of the eight (not seven)
Corps engaged; they do not include the cavalry, 24,584; the artillery,
at least as strong; nor the officerhood of the two armies, numbering
several thousands. Inclusive of those items the German host "employed"
in the battle of Gravelotte--St. Privat numbered, in round figures,
232,000 combatants. Accepting Moltke's own estimate of ten defenders per
"Schrith" of front, there works out a total of 133,000 men, as the
strength of the French army "employed" in the battle.

[16] During the first fourteen days of August, the German troops were in
conflict with the enemy on five occasions: viz. Saarbrücken, 2nd, loss
79; Weissenburg, 4th, loss 1551; Wörth, 6th, loss 10,642; Spicheren,
6th, loss 4871; Borny, 14th, loss 5000. Total losses during the fourteen
days, 22,143.


The siege of Metz had formed no part of the original plan of campaign;
it had been intended to do no more than merely to maintain an
observation on the place when the main army should have passed it on the
advance towards Paris; and a Reserve Division, consisting of eighteen
battalions, sixteen squadrons, and thirty-six guns, detailed for that
duty, was now near at hand.

Under the altered conditions, however, the regular investment of Metz
was now necessary, and this involved a radical alteration of the
existing arrangements throughout the whole army.

A separate army under the command of Prince Frederick Charles,
consisting of the Ist, VIIth, and VIIIth Corps of the former Ist Army,
the IInd, IIIrd, IXth, and Xth Corps of the IInd Army, the Reserve
Division and the 1st and 3rd Cavalry Divisions, in all 150,000 men, was
assigned to the duty of investing Metz.

The Guard, IVth, and XIIth Corps and the 5th and 6th Cavalry Divisions
were formed into a separate army under the command of the Crown Prince
of Saxony; it was styled "The Army of the Meuse" and was 138,000
strong.[17] This and the IIIrd Army, which numbered 223,000 men, were
directed to advance against the new French army forming at Châlons.

Certainly the army investing Metz was left weaker than the blockaded
enemy. It was to be expected that the latter would renew his efforts to
break out to the westward. Prince Frederick Charles' main forces were
therefore to remain on the left bank of the Moselle.

All these orders received the approval of the King, and were dispatched
to the commanding officers by eleven o'clock on the morning of the 19th.

In accordance with the orders of Prince Frederick Charles, the Xth Corps
occupied the woodland districts of the lower Moselle as far as St.
Privat, while the IInd held the high ridge from that point to Moscou. To
the right of the IInd, the VIIIth and VIIth Corps followed on, the
latter positioned on both sides of the Upper Moselle. The Ist Corps
occupied the Pouilly upland to left and right of the Seille, specially
charged to protect the great magazines which were being established at
Remilly and Pont à Mousson. The 3rd Reserve Division moved to the
vicinity of Retonfay, north-east of Metz. The IXth and IIIrd Corps
cantoned at St. Marie and Verneville as reserve. All the troops
immediately set about the construction of earthworks, and of bridges
over the Moselle above and below the fortress.

Of the Corps now belonging to the Army of the Meuse, the XIIth assembled
at Conflans and the Guards at Mars la Tour; the IVth Corps, which had
not been ordered to Metz, had already reached Commercy.

The IIIrd Army, after crossing the Vosges range, and having left a
Bavarian brigade blockading Toul, was pressing forward in three
columns. Its foremost Corps had already reached the Meuse, but were
obliged to halt there for two days, so as to cross the river
approximately abreast of the Meuse army. Its cavalry meanwhile patrolled
three marches ahead as far as Châlons and Vitry, where, for the first
time since Wörth, it regained touch of the enemy. The French encountered
were only guarding posts on the Marne railway-line, which retired when
the traffic thereon ceased.


[17] These figures are erroneous. It is manifest that three Corps and
two Cavalry Divisions, most of which had been materially weakened by
casualties, could not furnish a strength of 138,000 men; nor could the
IIIrd Army, originally 130,000 strong, swelled by one Corps and
diminished by battle losses of 12,000, approximate a strength of
223,000. As a matter of fact, on August 22nd, the Meuse Army was 86,275
strong, and the IIIrd Army 137,622; the two armies together had a total
strength, in round numbers, of 224,000 men.


Meanwhile at Châlons there had been formed a French army of 166
battalions, 100 squadrons, and 380 guns, consisting of the Ist, Vth,
VIIth, and XIIth Corps.

Of the last the Division which had been left behind on the Spanish
frontier formed the nucleus, to which was added a body of very superior
troops, consisting of four regiments of marines; later the two cavalry
divisions also joined. General Trochu, who had been made Governor of
Paris, had taken back with him thither eighteen battalions of
Gardes-Mobiles, they having already given such proofs of insubordination
that it was thought unsafe to confront them with the enemy.

The Emperor had arrived in Châlons and had placed Marshal MacMahon in
command of the newly-formed army. In the French Head-quarter it was not
unnaturally assumed that Marshal Bazaine was in retreat from Metz. By an
advance of the Army of Châlons merely to Verdun the armies could form a
junction with each other in the course of a few days, and so a fighting
force be formed which might make head against the hitherto victorious
enemy. On the other hand, MacMahon had to concern himself with the duty
of covering Paris, and that capital, no less than his own right flank,
was threatened by the appearance of the Crown Prince of Prussia's army
on the Meuse.

For the attainment of a decision between advancing and retiring, it was
beyond everything necessary to know the direction which Marshal Bazaine
might have taken.

On the 18th tidings had come from him, that he had maintained his
position in a battle about Rezonville, but that his troops had to be
supplied with ammunition and supplies before they could renew the march.
From this it seemed only too probable that the communications of the
Army of the Rhine were already threatened; and MacMahon determined to
march on Rheims, whence he could either reach Paris, though by a
somewhat circuitous route, or move in the direction of the other army.

But when it became known that the Crown Prince of Prussia's army had not
even been near Metz, and that Prussian cavalry had already appeared
before Vitry, the Marshal could not deceive himself as to the danger
involved in the latter alternative. With sound judgment, therefore, he
stood out against the order of the Empress and the Ministry to undertake
that enterprise; he determined against it, and announced his resolution
to march to Paris. Under its walls he could accept a battle with
advantage, since the fortifications, even in the event of defeat,
assured a safe retreat and precluded pursuit.

Further reports from Metz did not afford a clear insight into the
situation there. Also on the 18th, "the army had held its position," the
narrative ran--only the right wing had changed front. "The troops
required two or three days' rest," but the Marshal "counted still on
being able to move out in a northerly direction," and fight his way to
Châlons by the Montmédy--Ste. Menehould route, if this road was not
strongly held by the enemy. In that case, he would march on Sedan, and
even by Mézières, in order to reach Châlons.

Bazaine might already have committed himself to the movement thus
indicated, and therefore Marshal MacMahon, who was not the man to leave
his fellow-soldier in the lurch, instead of marching on Paris, set forth
on the 23rd in the direction of Stenay.

The suddenness of this decision caused all the preparations for the
undertaking to be left unexecuted. At the end of the first day's march
the troops reached the Suippe late in the evening in pouring rain. They
lacked every necessary, and two Corps remained entirely without food.
The Marshal was therefore forced to move his army further northward to
Rethel, where large magazines of provisions had been established, and
where the railway facilitated the bringing up of stores. Even on the
third day's march the army had made little progress eastward. The left
wing remained at Rethel, the right reached the Aisne, near Vouziers. On
August 26th the main army was still standing between Attigny and Le
Chêne on the Ardennes canal, while the VIIth Corps and a regiment of
Hussars lay in front of Vouziers for the protection of the right flank.

While the French army was thus marching eastward by a wide détour, the
German forces, which had been put in motion at the same time, were for
their part marching due westward.

According to orders issued from the supreme Head-quarter at Pont à
Mousson, the advance on the enemy, supposed to be at Châlons, was to be
effected in such manner that the IIIrd Army, marching on the left of the
Army of the Meuse, should have the start by a day's march, so that the
enemy, wherever he might stand halted, could be struck simultaneously in
front and on his right flank, and thus forced away northward from the
direction of Paris. The two armies were to converge as they advanced,
and to reach the line of Ste. Menehould--Vitry on the 26th.

On the first day's march, the armies still on a front some fifty-six
miles long, the Meuse was reached; on the second day, the 24th, they
advanced to the line St. Dizier--Bar le Duc--Verdun. The attempts to
take the latter place and Toul in the by-going proved unsuccessful.

So early as on that day the 4th Cavalry Division, which had pushed far
ahead, sent in important news. The Rhenish dragoons had found Châlons
and the camp at Mourmelon deserted, and notwithstanding the destruction
effected, there still remained in the latter considerable booty. An
intercepted letter written by a French officer, which intimated that the
relief of Metz was in prospect, and another which stated that Marshal
MacMahon was at Rheims with 150,000 men and was fortifying his position
there, were corroborated by the Paris newspapers.

On the 25th the Army of the Meuse formed a line from Sommeille to
Dombasle, while the heads of columns of the IIIrd Army were already
executing the march prescribed for the following day, on the Ste.
Menehould--Vitry road. The small fortress of Vitry, a few hours after a
battalion of Mobiles had left the place, surrendered to the 4th Cavalry
Division. On its march to Ste. Menehould, thence to be forwarded by
train to Paris, this battalion, 1000 strong, fell into the hands of the
6th Cavalry Division as it was moving on Dampierre, and was carried away

The 5th Cavalry Division reached Ste. Menehould, and the 12th followed
on the same road as far as Clermont, patrolling the country up to
Varennes, within nine miles of the French outposts at Grand Pré, but
without learning anything as to the whereabouts of the French army.

The scouting service to any great distance on the right of the army was
hindered by the vicinity of the forest of Argonnes, which it was
difficult for the cavalry to penetrate without the assistance of
infantry. The inhabitants of the country began to show themselves
extremely hostile. The Government had provided them with arms, and
organized a general rising. The Germans, who hitherto had made war on
the Emperor alone, were now forced to use their arms against the
population. The franctireurs, though not affecting operations on a large
scale, were a source of much annoyance to the smaller undertakings, and
as it naturally embittered the soldiers to realize that they were no
longer safe either by day or night, the character of the war became more
stern, and the sufferings of the country were increased.

A Paris telegram, sent by way of London, reached this day (25th) the
Royal Head-quarter at Bar le Duc. It stated that MacMahon was at Rheims,
and sought to effect a junction with Bazaine.

It is always a serious matter to exchange, without the most pressing
necessity, a once-settled and well-devised plan for a new and unprepared
scheme. It would have been unwise and unskilful hastily to alter the
whole direction of the advance because of rumours and information which
might later probably turn out to be unfounded. Endless difficulties must
result from such a course; the arrangements for bringing up baggage and
reinforcements would have to be cancelled, and aimless marches might
impair the confidence of the troops in their commanders.

The orders for the following day, issued at eleven o'clock in the
morning, prescribed therefore for both armies merely a slight alteration
of direction; Rheims instead of Châlons was indicated as the objective.
The cavalry of the right wing, however, was explicitly ordered to
advance to Buzancy and Vouziers, where a thorough insight into the
situation could not but be obtained.

In war it is for the most part with probabilities only that the
strategist can reckon; and the probability, as a rule, is that the enemy
will do the right thing. Such a course could not be anticipated as that
the French army would uncover Paris and march along the Belgian frontier
to Metz. Such a move seemed strange, and indeed somewhat venturesome;
but nevertheless it was possible. The chief of the General Staff,
therefore, that same day worked out a tabular detail of marches, upon
which the three Corps of the Army of the Meuse, together with the two
Bavarian Corps which were nearest that army, could be brought together
in the vicinity of Damvillers, on the right bank of the Meuse, in three
not over-severe marches.

These forces, with the two Corps standing in reserve at Metz, which
could be brought up, would constitute a force of 150,000 men, which
might give battle in the specified vicinity, or compel the enemy to do
so on the march to Longuyon. Without employing this reserve, there was
every prospect that the advance of the French could be brought to a halt
on this side of the Meuse, and then another Corps of the IIIrd Army
could be brought up.

This march-table was soon to be brought into service. Fresh news arrived
in the course of the same afternoon. The newspapers revealed the secret
by publishing vehement speeches delivered in the National Assembly to
the effect "that the French general who should leave his comrade in the
lurch, deserved the execration of the country." It would be a disgrace,
it was protested, to the French nation if the brave Bazaine were left
unsuccoured: from all this, and considering the effect of such phrases
on the French, it was to be expected that military considerations would
give way to political. A telegram from London, quoting the Paris
_Temps_, stated that MacMahon had suddenly resolved to hasten to the
assistance of Bazaine, though the abandonment of the road to Paris
endangered the safety of France.

The King, before night, approved of the march to the right, and the
orders were dispatched that night direct to the respective Army Corps on
the march.

On the 26th his Majesty moved his head-quarter to Clermont. The Crown
Prince of Saxony had set out for Varennes early in the morning with the
XIIth Corps, and had ordered the Guards to Dombasle, the IVth Corps to

The cavalry, sent forward in every direction, found that the enemy had
evacuated the region of the Suippe valley and had not yet entered that
of the Meuse; that Buzancy and Grand Pré were in occupation of the
French, and that a large encampment of their VIIth Corps had been
specifically perceived on the height of Vouziers. The apparition of a
few handsful of cavalry, despatched thither on observation duty,
occasioned an almost unaccountable excitement. General Douay, quartered
at Vouziers, received the most exaggerated reports, and must have
thought that a general attack by the German army was imminent. The VIIth
Corps was kept under arms the entire night in pouring rain, and the
Marshal resolved to advance towards Vouziers and Buzancy with all his
forces on the following morning. Thus the march to the east received a
check as early as the 27th, but the untruthfulness of the reports very
soon became sufficiently apparent.

If the German chiefs were deeply interested in gaining an insight into
the enemy's movements, so on the French side this requisite was
certainly urgent in no less imperative degree. With judicious disposal
of their cavalry on the right flank, a surprise like that above
mentioned would have been impossible, but the 1st French Cavalry
Division was placed on the left flank, where there was no danger
whatever, and the 2nd was rearmost of everything. It seemed as though in
the French army less attention was paid to the repulse of an attack than
to the evasion of one, and to the unobserved attainment of Montmédy,
the point of rendezvous with the other army. When the movement of the
Germans from southward could no longer be doubted, it would certainly
have been best for the French to take the vigorous offensive in that
direction with intent to defeat them, or at least to sweep them out of
the vicinity of their own line of march. If they had failed in this they
would, at any rate, have readily learnt that their undertaking was
impracticable, and that its further prosecution must certainly result in
a catastrophe. It must, however, be admitted that the German cavalry
formed an almost impenetrable screen. The Marshal could not know that
his enemy was écheloned from Vitry to Varennes, a distance of more than
thirty-seven miles, and was not at all in form to attack him just then
in serious earnest.

_August 27th._--The Marshal had cleared up his misconception, and on the
27th he continued his march, at least with part of his troops. The VIIth
and Vth Corps covered the movement at Vouziers and Buzancy, the XIIth
advanced to Le Chêne, and the 1st Cavalry Division to Beaumont, probably
to ascertain the whereabouts of Marshal Bazaine. The Ist Corps and the
2nd Cavalry Division remained behind on the Aisne.

The Saxon Corps, the furthest forward of the German Army, had received
direct orders to march to Dun on the 27th, and secure on the right bank
the passages over the Meuse, as far as Stenay. It reached Stenay at
three o'clock in the afternoon, and threw forward a post on the left

The cavalry clung closely to the enemy and followed his movements, often
engaging in petty skirmishes. The departure of the Vth French Corps from
Buzancy in the direction of Le Chêne was at once detected, as also was
the march to Beaumont; and the Saxon Cavalry Division pushed forward
that evening to Nouart. The Bavarian Corps reached the Clermont-Verdun
road, the 5th Ste. Menehould; the other Corps of the IIIrd Army were
hurrying by forced marches in a northerly direction.

The prospect now seemed certain that the enemy would be overtaken on the
left bank of the Meuse. Word was sent to the blockading army before Metz
that the two Corps asked for were no longer required, but they had
already set out.

The latest dispositions made by Marshal MacMahon clearly betokened a
last effort on his part to persevere in the original direction. He was
écheloned along the northernmost of the roads by which he could reach
Metz, but had left a strong reserve on the Aisne on which he might fall
back. When he now learnt that nothing had been seen of the Army of the
Rhine at Montmédy, but that it actually was still at Metz, he resolved
on retreating, and, after giving orders to that effect for the following
morning, reported his intention to Paris.

From thence during the night came the most strenuous remonstrances. The
Minister of War telegraphed, "If you leave Bazaine in the lurch, the
revolution will break out," and the Council of Ministers issued a
peremptory order to relieve Metz. The troops in front of the Marshal, it
was urged, were nothing more than part of the army investing Metz; he
had the start of the Crown Prince of Prussia by several days' march; and
General Vinoy had already left Paris for Rheims with the newly-formed
XIIIth Corps as a reinforcement to him.

The Marshal silenced his military convictions and issued new orders. But
the troops had started in advance of the promulgation of them. The
change of route gave rise to much confusion; the roads were bad, and
quarters for the night were not reached until darkness had long set in;
the men were weary, wet to the skin, and depressed in spirits.

_August 28th._--Little more than nine miles' distance eastward was
attained. The XIIth Corps reached La Besace, the Ist was on the march
to Le Chêne, the VIIth was halted at Boult aux Bois because of a false
report that two Prussian Corps were occupying Buzancy, further ahead. On
the strength of this report the Vth Corps moved toward that town by way
of Bar, but went on to Bois des Dames in the afternoon. Neither of these
movements was interfered with. The German cavalry had strict orders,
while watching the French as closely as possible, not in any way to
check or press them, and the Saxon cavalry evacuated Nouart on the
approach of the enemy. The Germans had to await the coming up of the
IIIrd Army, the rearmost Corps of which, the VIth, had only just reached
Ste. Menehould.

_August 29th._--For this day also a non-offensive attitude was
prescribed, and the bringing on of decisive operations was postponed
until the 30th.

The Marshal in his head-quarter at Stonne had been informed that the
Germans occupied Dun, and that the bridges over the Meuse had been
destroyed. He had no pontoon-train, and could cross the river only lower
down, at Mouzon and Villers. His XIIth Corps and 1st Cavalry Division
passed over to the right bank unhindered at these points; the Ist Corps
and the 2nd Cavalry Division proceeded to Raucourt. The VIIth Corps,
delayed on march by petty skirmishes on its right flank, did not reach
its destination at La Besace, but went into bivouac at Oches. The Vth
Corps was to have moved to Beaumont, but the staff officer carrying the
order fell into the hands of the Prussian cavalry together with his
escort. General de Failly therefore marched upon Stenay, according to
his original instructions.

Up to this time, apart from the cavalry, the Saxon Corps alone had been
in contact with the enemy, but the Guard now came up to Buzancy in
parallel line, while the Saxon Corps crossed over to the left bank of
the Meuse at Dun. Its advanced guard at once took possession of the
wooded spur to the north-east of Nouart, drove out the French cavalry,
and pressed ahead to Champy, where it encountered a strong force in
Lespart's Division. The purpose of the reconnaissance having been
attained, the advanced guard was called in. The French Division, in
consequence of fresh orders received from the Marshal, withdrew
simultaneously in a northerly direction.

On the German side four Corps of the IIIrd Army were now within nine
miles rearward of the Army of the Meuse. The 5th Cavalry Division stood
at Attigny on the enemy's line of communication; the 6th was hanging on
the heels of the French columns of march, and, among other things, had
taken Boncq with a dismounted party. The Royal Head-quarter was now
advanced to Grand Pré, and, as the result of the various reports which
had poured in, the resolution was taken to attack the enemy on the
following day, before he should cross the Meuse. The Army of the Meuse
was to march towards Beaumont, the IIIrd Army to move forward between
that place and Le Chêne. To bring both armies to a parallel front, the
right wing was not to move until ten o'clock, while the left[18] was to
start before six o'clock. Only the trains absolutely requisite for the
battle were to follow.


[18] The Army of the Meuse constituted the right wing; the IIIrd Army,
the left.


(August 30th.)

On the 30th of August, at ten o'clock, the King set out for Sommauthe by
way of Buzancy. Both the Bavarian Corps were on the march thither, the
Vth Corps advanced in the centre towards Oches, the XIth, together with
the Würtemberg Division, was heading for Le Chêne, the VIth for
Vouziers. The IVth Corps on the right was advancing by Belval, the XIIth
reached to the Meuse, while the Guard Corps followed in rear as a

Marshal MacMahon had issued orders for the attainment of the object that
his entire army should on this day cross to the right bank of the Meuse;
only the baggage trains and sick were to remain behind.

His Ist Corps and the 2nd Cavalry Division had left Raucourt so early as
seven; they crossed the river at Remilly, light bridges having been
thrown over for the infantry. The VIIth Corps at Oches had struck camp
still earlier at four o'clock, but as it took with it in the march all
its waggons, even the empty ones, the trains formed a column more than
nine miles in length, and seven of its battalions were forced to march
alongside the road in the capacity of baggage guard; so that the brigade
bringing up the rear was unable to start until ten o'clock. This long
procession soon came into contact with the Prussian cavalry, was fired
upon by artillery, and compelled to arrest its march. Not till one
o'clock could the movement on La Besace be resumed, and then, as heavy
firing was heard from Beaumont, General Douay conceived it right to
abandon the road to Mouzon and take that to Remilly.

To the Vth Corps had been precautionally assigned the duty of covering
the march of the other two. The troops had reached the vicinity of
Beaumont only at 4 a.m., and were thoroughly exhausted by fighting and
the night-march. General de Failly therefore determined to halt his
Corps for cooking and rest before pursuing the march. Precautionary
measures seem to have been altogether neglected, though it must have
been known that the enemy was now close at hand. While at half-past one
the officers and men were engaged in their meal, Prussian shells
suddenly burst among these heedless groups.

The two Corps of the German right wing had to move through a wooded
tract in four wholly independent columns, by ways sodden with rain. The
Crown Prince of Saxony therefore ordered that no single column should
attempt to enter on an attack before the neighbouring one was ready to

The IVth Corps had started very early, and after a short rest had
pursued its march at ten o'clock. When at noon the head of the 8th
Division emerged from the forest, it discerned from its elevated
position the enemy's camp about 800 paces distant, in the condition as
described. General Schöler (commanding the Division) held that the
opportunity of so complete a surprise was not to be let pass; the
proximity of his force could not long remain undetected by the enemy. He
announced it by his cannon-fire.

The Division soon recognized that it had drawn upon itself an enemy of
immensely superior strength. The French rapidly got under arms, and
dense swarms of riflemen hurried to the front, whose long-range
Chassepôts inflicted great losses, especially upon the artillerymen. The
main body of the 8th Division had meanwhile come up to the assistance of
its advanced guard, and ere long the 7th Division appeared on the right.
The French assailed it too with great impetuosity, and could only be
repulsed at the bayonet-point. Presently, however, the foremost
battalions of both Divisions made their way into the French camp in
front of Beaumont, into the town itself, and finally into a second camp
located northward of it. Seven guns, of which the teams were missing,
and which continued firing up to the last moment, a number of gunners,
waggons and horses, fell into the hands of the assailants.

Whilst now, about two o'clock, a pause occurred in the infantry fight,
fourteen batteries of the IVth Corps engaged in a contest with the
French artillery deployed on the stretch of heights north of Beaumont.
The German artillery mass was presently strengthened by the Saxon
artillery on the right, and by the Bavarian batteries on the left. This
formidable and commanding artillery line, constantly advancing in
echelon, promptly squandered the mitrailleuses, and at three o'clock the
remaining French batteries also were silenced.

The IInd Bavarian Corps, on the left of the Prussian IVth, was advancing
on La Thibaudine, when it was quite unexpectedly attacked from the west
by a strong force of the enemy.

These troops were Conseil Dumesnil's Division of the VIIth French Corps,
which was continuing in march to Mouzon in error, acting on its original
orders. Completely surprised as it was, and attacked in front and flank,
the Division gave up all hope of cutting its way through, and at about
four o'clock beat a hasty retreat northwards, leaving two guns behind.

The Bavarians had in the meantime taken possession of the farm of
Thibaudine, and the Prussians that of Harnoterie. The wooded hills
prevented a clear view of the surrounding country; the enemy had
completely disappeared.

General de Failly was making strenuous efforts to collect his scattered
forces in front of Mouzon, under cover of a rear-guard halted at La
Sartelle; and General Lebrun had left behind on the left side of the
Meuse an infantry and a cavalry brigade and three batteries belonging to
the XIIth Corps, to render him assistance.

At five o'clock the 8th Division, headed by the 13th Brigade, was
pushing toilsomely through the dense forest of Givodeau, on its way to
operate against this new defensive position. On emerging from the wood
the battalions, which had fallen into some confusion, were received by a
brisk fire at short range. The repeated efforts of the riflemen to
advance were unsuccessful, and the dense underwood hindered the clubbed
mass behind them from forming. By the time the Saxon Corps had succeeded
with extreme difficulty in extricating itself from the forest and swamps
of the Wamme stream, and had reached Létanne, the impracticability of
further progress in the Meuse valley became apparent, since numerous
French batteries, in unassailable positions on the opposite side of the
river, commanded all the low ground. The Corps therefore ascended the
plateau, moved in its turn through the Givodeau woods, and debouching
thence swelled the strength of the forces assembled on the northern
border, where, however, their development on a broader front was
impossible. So about six o'clock the infantry engagement came to a stand
for a time in this quarter.

On the left the 14th Brigade had come up into line with the 13th, and
this body (the 7th Division) was followed by the 8th Division in two

The 93rd Regiment had carried the height to the north-east of Yoncq, and
advanced in pursuit of the enemy as far as to the foot of Mont de Brune.
Four mitrailleuses and eight guns, some of them with their entire teams,
fell thus into the hands of the Anhalters.

When, at half-past five, the artillery had come up into position, and at
the same time the 27th Regiment was approaching, General Zychlinski
(commanding 14th Brigade) advanced to the enveloping attack.

The French occupied in strength the summit of the entirely isolated
hill; their batteries faced to eastward against the Bois de Givodeau,
whence an assault threatened; but they swiftly changed front to the
south and directed a heavy fire on the 93rd and the 2nd Battalion of the
27th, as they charged up on this face while the Fusilier battalion was
at the same time pressing forward from the west. Regardless of their
losses, the assailants eagerly scaled the ascent, the brigade and
regimental commanders at their head. Six French guns were seized while
in action, in spite of a brave resistance by the gunners and covering
troops, and the enemy was pursued as far as the Roman road. Here four
more guns, completely horsed, which had been abandoned by the
artillerymen, fell into the hands of the conquerors.

The three battalions[19] hurried on towards Mouzon, without waiting for
the support of the[20] 14th Brigade following in rear, but they suddenly
found themselves threatened by a cavalry-charge.

Marshal MacMahon had recognized the fact that the only thing left him
now to do was to effect as orderly an evacuation as possible of the left
bank of the Meuse; the reinforcements sent across from the right had
already been recalled. The 5th Cuirassier Regiment alone still remained.
When, a little to the north of the Faubourg de Mouzon, it was reached by
the fire of the advancing Prussians, the French regiment hurled itself
upon the enemy with a noble contempt for death.

The shock struck the 10th Company of the 27th Regiment. The soldiers,
without closing their ranks, waited for the word of command of their
leader, Captain Helmuth, and then fired a volley at close range, which
struck down eleven officers and 100 men, the brave commander of the band
of horsemen falling fifteen paces in front of his men. The survivors
rushed back towards the Meuse, and, as all the bridges had been removed,
they strove to gain the other side by swimming.

Considerable masses of the enemy were still in front of Mouzon, and upon
these the batteries of the IVth Corps, as one after another they came
into action, directed their fire. Two Bavarian batteries brought under
their fire the bridge at Villers, lower down the river, and prevented it
from being used. Then the suburb was carried after a fierce encounter,
and here too the bridge across the Meuse was taken and held. The enemy,
deprived of every way of retreat, received with a hot fire the 8th
Division emerging from the valley of the Yoncq, but was gradually driven
back towards the river. The French troops in front of the Bois de
Givodeau were also in a hopeless plight; they were assailed by the 7th
Division and XIIth Corps, and were dispersed after an obstinate
struggle. By nightfall the French had ceased their resistance on the
hither side of the Meuse. Many lagging stragglers were taken prisoners,
others hid themselves in the copses and farmhouses, or tried to escape
by swimming the river.

In this battle, as in the preceding ones, the attack suffered far
heavier loss than the defence. The Army of the Meuse lost 3500
combatants, the preponderating loss falling on the IVth Corps. The
French estimated their loss at 1800; but in the course of the day and on
the following morning, 3000 prisoners, mostly unwounded, fell into the
hands of the victors, with 51 guns, 33 ammunition and many other
waggons, and a military chest containing 150,000 francs. And, what was
of supreme importance, by the result of this battle the French army had
been driven into an extremely unfavourable position.

While the IVth Corps had been chiefly sustaining the day's battle, the
Saxon Cavalry had pushed forward on the right bank of the Meuse, and had
reconnoitred towards Mouzon and Carignan. The Guard Corps reached
Beaumont, and General von der Tann with the 1st Bavarian Corps was at
Raucourt, having marched by way of La Besace with some slight
skirmishing on the way. The IInd Bavarian Corps was assembled at
Sommauthe, the Vth Corps had reached Stonne, the XIth, La Besace. Thus
seven Corps now stood in close concentration between the Meuse and the

The King rode back to Buzancy after the battle, as all the villages in
the vicinity of the battle-field were crowded with the wounded. Here, as
previously at Clermont, was felt the great inconvenience of inadequate
lodging for hundreds of illustrious guests and their suites, when, for
once in a way for military reasons, head-quarters were established in a
small village, instead of in a large town. Shelter for those officers
whose duty it was to prepare the necessary orders for the morrow was
only found late at night, and with considerable difficulty.

These orders instructed that on the 31st two Corps of the Army of the
Meuse should cross over to the right bank of the river, to prevent the
possibility of further progress of the French to Metz by way of
Montmédy. Two Corps of the army besieging Metz were besides already
posted in that direction about Etain and Briey. The IIIrd Army was to
continue its movement in the northward direction.

As the situation had now developed itself, it already seemed within
sight that the Army of Châlons might be compelled to cross over into
neutral territory, and the Belgian Government was therefore asked
through diplomatic channels to concern itself with its disarmament in
that event. The German troops had orders at once to cross the Belgian
frontier, should the enemy not lay down his arms there.

While the Vth French Corps was still fighting about Beaumont, and when
the rest of the army had crossed the Meuse, General MacMahon had ordered
the concentration of his army on Sedan. He did not intend to offer
battle there, but it was indispensable to give his troops a short rest,
and provide them with food and ammunition. He then meant to continue the
retreat by way of Mézières, which General Vinoy was just then
approaching with the newly-formed XIIIth Corps. The Ist Corps, which had
arrived at Carignan early in the afternoon, detached two of its
divisions to Douzy in the evening to check any further advance of the

Though any pursuit immediately after the battle of Beaumont was
prevented by the intervening river, the retreat of the French soon
assumed the ominous character of a rout. The troops were utterly worn
out by their exertions by day and night, in continuous rain and with
but scanty supplies of food. The marching to and fro, to no visible
purpose, had undermined their confidence in their leaders, and a series
of luckless fights had shaken their self-reliance. Thousands of
fugitives, crying for bread, crowded round the waggons as they struggled
forward to reach the little fortress which had so unexpectedly become
the central rallying point of a great army.

The Emperor Napoleon arrived at Sedan from Carignan late in the evening
of the 30th; the VIIth Corps reached Floing during the night, but the
XIIth Corps did not arrive at Bazeilles until the following morning. The
Vth Corps mustered at the eastern suburb of Sedan in a fearfully
shattered state, followed in the afternoon of the 31st by the Ist,
which, after many rear-guard actions with the German cavalry, took up a
position behind the Givonne valley. To pursue the march to Mézières on
that day was not to be thought of. The XIIth Corps had that same evening
to show a front at Bazeilles, where the thunder of their cannon already
heralded the arrival of the Germans. The destruction of the bridges
there and at Donchery was ordered, but the order remained unexecuted,
owing to the worn-out condition of the men.

_August 31st._--Of the army of the Meuse the Guard and 12th Cavalry
Divisions had crossed the Meuse at Pouilly, and by a pontoon bridge at
Létanne, and swept the country between the Meuse and the Chiers.
Following close upon the rear of the French and harassing them in
skirmishes till they reached their new position, they brought in as
prisoners numbers of stragglers. The Guard Corps then crossed the Chiers
at Carignan and halted at Sachy; the XIIth pushed on to about Douzy on
the Meuse,[21] while its advanced guard thrust ahead on the further side
(of the Chiers) as far as Francheval. The IVth Corps remained at Mouzon.

The 4th Cavalry Division of the IIIrd Army reconnoitred in the direction
of Sedan, drove back the French outposts from Wadelincourt and Frénois,
and, moving from the latter place, seized the railroad under the fire of
hostile artillery. The 6th Cavalry Division on the left flank proceeded
on the way to Mézières as far as Poix.

When the Ist Bavarian Corps reached Remilly before noon, it came under
heavy fire from the opposite side of the river, and at once brought up
its batteries in position on the hither slope of the valley of the
Meuse. A sharp cannonade ensued, by the end of which sixty Bavarian guns
were engaged. It was only now that the French attempted to blow up the
railway bridge south of Bazeilles, but the vigorous fire of the 4th
Jäger Battalion drove off the enemy with his engineers, the Jägers threw
the powder-barrels into the river, and at midday crossed the bridge. The
battalion entered Bazeilles in the face of a storm of bullets, and
occupied the northern fringe of the straggling place. Thus the XIIth
French Corps was forced to move up into a position between Balan and
Moncelle, where, having been reinforced by batteries belonging to the
Ist Corps, it had to encounter, and that with considerable waste of
power, the daring little band of Germans.

General von der Tann[22] did not however hold it advisable to commit
himself on that day to a serious conflict on the further side of the
Meuse with a closely compacted enemy, while his own Corps was still
unconcentrated; and, since the weak detachment in Bazeilles had no hope
of being reinforced, it withdrew therefrom at about half-past three
without being pursued.

Meanwhile two pontoon bridges had been laid at Allicourt, without
molestation from the French. These and the railway bridge were
barricaded for the night, while eighty-four guns further secured them
from being crossed. The Ist Bavarian Corps went into bivouac at
Angecourt, the IInd at Hancourt.

To the left of the Bavarians the XIth Corps marched towards Donchery,
followed by the Vth. The advanced guard found the place unoccupied, and
extended itself on the further side of the river. By three o'clock two
other bridges were completed close below Donchery, whilst the railway
bridge above the place, also found unguarded, was destroyed.

On the extreme left the Würtemberg and the 6th Cavalry Divisions came in
contact with the XIIIth French Corps, which had just arrived at

The King removed his head-quarters to Vendresse.

In spite of a succession of occasionally very severe marches in bad
weather, and of being in regard to supplies chiefly beholden to
requisitioning, the Army of the Meuse advancing on the east, and the
IIIrd Army on the south, were now directly in face of the concentrated
French Army. Marshal MacMahon could scarcely have realized that the only
chance of safety for his army, or even for part of it, lay in the
immediate prosecution of his retreat on the 1st of September. It is true
that the Crown Prince of Prussia, in possession as he was of every
passage over the Meuse, would have promptly taken that movement in flank
in the narrow space, little more than four miles wide, which was bounded
on the north by the frontier. That nevertheless the attempt was not
risked was only to be explained by the actual condition of the exhausted
troops; for on this day the French Army was not yet capable of
undertaking a disciplined march involving fighting; it could only fight
where it stood.

On the German side it was still expected that the Marshal would strike
for Mézières. The Army of the Meuse was ordered to attack the enemy's
positions with the object of detaining him in them; the IIIrd Army,
leaving only one Corps on the left bank, was to press forward on the
right side of the river.

The French position about Sedan was covered to rearward by the fortress.
The Meuse and the valleys of the Givonne and the Floing brooks offered
formidable obstructions, but it was imperative that those outmost lines
should be obstinately held. The Calvary height of Illy was a very
important point, strengthened as it was by the Bois de Garenne in its
rear, whence a high ridge stretching to Bazeilles afforded much cover in
its numerous dips and shoulders. In the event of a retreat into neutral
territory in the last extremity, the road thereto lay through Illy.
Bazeilles, on the other hand, locally a very strong point of support to
the Givonne front, constituted an acute salient, which, after the loss
of the bridges across the Meuse, was open to attack on two sides.


[19] Of 27th and 93rd Regiments.

[20] Read in "rest of the."

[21] Douzy is on the north bank of the Chiers.

[22] Commanding Ist Bavarian Corps.


(September 1st.)

In order, in co-operation with the Army of the Meuse, to hold fast the
enemy in his position, General von der Tann sent his Ist Brigade over
the pontoon-bridges against Bazeilles so early as four o'clock in a
thick morning mist. The troops attacked the place, but now found the
streets barricaded, and were fired on from every house. The leading
company pressed on as far as to the northern egress, suffering great
losses, but the others, while engaged in arduous street-fighting, were
driven out of the western part of Bazeilles by the arrival of the 2nd
Brigade of the French XIIth Corps. They however kept possession of the
buildings at the southern end, and from thence issued to repeated
assaults. As fresh troops were constantly coming up on both sides, the
French being reinforced to the extent even of a brigade of the Ist and
one of the Vth Corps, the murderous combat long swayed to and fro; in
particular the struggle for the possession of the Villa Beurmann,
situated in front of the exit, and commanding the main street throughout
its whole length, lasted for a stricken hour. The inhabitants took an
active part in the fighting, and so they inevitably drew fire upon

The fire of the strong array of guns drawn up on the left slope of the
valley of the Meuse naturally could not be directed on the surging
strife in Bazeilles, which was now blazing in several places, but at
eight o'clock, on the arrival of the 8th Prussian Division at Remilly,
General von der Tann threw his last brigades into the fight. The walled
park of the château of Monvillers was stormed and an entrance won into
the Villa Beurmann. The artillery crossed the bridges at about nine
o'clock, and the 8th Division was requested to support the combat in
which the right wing of the Bavarians was also engaged southward of
Bazeilles about Moncelle.[23]

In this direction Prince George of Saxony[24] had so early as five
o'clock despatched an advanced guard of seven battalions from Douzy.
They drove the French from Moncelle, pressed ahead to Platinerie and the
bridge there, and, in spite of the enemy's heavy fire, took possession
of the houses bordering the further side of the Givonne brook, which
they immediately occupied for defensive purposes. Communication with the
Bavarians was now established, and the battery of the advanced guard
moved up quickly into action on the eastern slope; but a further
infantry support could not at first be afforded to this bold advance.

Marshal MacMahon had been struck by a splinter from a shell near
Moncelle at 6 a.m. He had named General Ducrot as his successor in the
chief command, passing over two senior Corps commanders. Apprized of
this promotion at seven o'clock, that General issued the necessary
orders for the prompt assemblage of the army at Illy, in preparation for
an immediate retreat on Mézières. He had already despatched Lartigue's
Division of his own Corps to safeguard the crossing of the Givonne
ravine at Daigny; the Divisions of Lacretelle and Bassoigne were ordered
to take the offensive against the Saxons and Bavarians, to gain time for
the withdrawal of the rest of the troops. The divisions forming the
second line were to start immediately in a northerly direction.

But the Minister of War had appointed General de Wimpffen, recently
returned from Algiers, to the command of the Vth Corps in room of
General de Failly, and had at the same time given him a commission
empowering him to assume the command of the Army in case of the
disability of the Marshal.

General de Wimpffen knew the army of the Crown Prince to be in the
neighbourhood of Donchery. He regarded the retreat to Mézières as
utterly impracticable, and was bent on the diametrically opposite course
of breaking out to Carignan, not doubting that he could drive aside the
Bavarians and Saxons, and so succeed in effecting a junction with
Marshal Bazaine. When he heard of the orders just issued by General
Ducrot, and at the same time observed that an assault on Moncelle seemed
to be taking an auspicious course, he produced--to his ruin--the
authoritative commission which had been bestowed on him.

General Ducrot submitted without any remonstrance; he might probably not
have been averse to be relieved of so heavy a responsibility. The
Divisions of the second line which were in the act of starting
immediately were recalled; and the further advance of the weak Bavarian
and Saxon detachments was soon hard pressed by the impact of the first
stroke of the enemy rushing on to the attack.

By seven in the morning, while one regiment of the Saxon advanced guard
had gone in upon Moncelle, the other on its right had to concern itself
with the threatening advance of Lartigue's Division. With that body it
soon became engaged in a heavy fire-fight. The regiment had laid down
its packs on the march, and had omitted to take out the cartridges
carried in them. Thus it soon ran short of ammunition, and the repeated
and violent onslaughts of the Zouaves, directed principally against its
unprotected right flank, had to be repulsed with the bayonet.

On the left in this quarter a strong artillery line had gradually been
formed, which by half-past eight o'clock amounted to twelve batteries.
But Lacretelle's Division was now approaching by the Givonne bottom, and
dense swarms of tirailleurs forced the German batteries to retire at
about nine o'clock. The guns, withdrawn into a position at a somewhat
greater distance, drove back with their fire the enemy in the hollow,
and presently returned to the position previously occupied.

The 4th Bavarian Brigade had meanwhile pushed forward into Moncelle, and
the 46th Saxon Brigade also came up, so that it was possible to check
the trifling progress made by Bassoigne's Division.

On the right flank of the Saxons, which had been hard pressed,
much-needed supports now arrived from the 24th Division, and at once
took the offensive. The French were driven back upon Daigny, with the
loss of five guns. Then in conjunction with the Bavarians, who were
pushing on through the valley to the northward, the village of Daigny,
the bridge and the farmstead of La Rapaille were carried after a bitter

About ten o'clock the Guard Corps reached the upper Givonne. Having
started in the night, the Corps was marching in two columns, when cannon
thunder from Bazeilles heard afar off caused the troops to quicken their
pace. In order to render assistance by the shortest road, the left
column would have had to traverse two deep ravines and the pathless wood
of Chevallier, so it took the longer route by Villers Cernay, which
place the head of the right column passed in ample time to take part
with the Saxons in the contest with Lartigue's Division, and to capture
two of its guns.

The Divisions ordered back by General Ducrot had already resumed their
former positions on the western slopes, and fourteen batteries of the
Guard Corps now opened fire upon them from the east.

At the same hour (ten o'clock) the 7th Division of the IVth Corps had
arrived near Lamécourt, and the 8th near Remilly, both places rearward
of Bazeilles; the head of the latter had reached the Remilly railway

The first attempt of the French to break out eastward to Carignan proved
a failure, and their retreat westward to Mézières was also already cut
off, for the Vth and XIth Corps of the IIIrd Army, together with the
Würtemberg Division, had been detailed to move northward to the road
leading to that place. These troops had started early in the night, and
at six a.m. had crossed the Meuse at Donchery, and by the three pontoon
bridges further down the river. The advanced patrols found the Mézières
road quite clear of the enemy, and the heavy cannonade heard from the
direction of Bazeilles made it appear probable that the French had
accepted battle in their position at Sedan. The Crown Prince, therefore,
ordered the two Corps, which already had reached the upland of Vrigne,
to swing to their right and advance on St. Menges; the Würtembergers
were to remain behind to watch Mézières. General von Kirchbach then
indicated Fleigneux to his advanced guard as the objective of the
further movement, which had for its purpose the barring of the escape of
the French into Belgium, and the establishment of a junction with the
right wing of the Army of the Meuse.

The narrow pass about 2000 paces long between the heights and the river
traversed by the road to St. Albert, was neither held nor watched by the
French. It was not till the advanced guard reached St. Menges that it
encountered a French detachment, which soon withdrew. The German advance
then deployed against Illy. Two companies moved to the right and took
possession of Floing, where they maintained themselves for the next two
hours without assistance against repeated attacks.

The earliest arriving Prussian batteries had to exert themselves to the
utmost to maintain themselves against the much superior strength of
French artillery in action about Illy. At first they had for their only
escort some cavalry and a few companies of infantry, and as these bodies
debouched from the defile of St. Albert, they found themselves an
enticing object of attack to Margueritte's Cavalry Division halted on
the aforesaid plateau of Illy. It was at nine o'clock that General
Galliffet rode down to the attack at the head of three regiments of
Chasseurs d'Afrique and two squadrons of Lancers formed in three lines.
The first fury of the charge fell upon two companies of the 87th
Regiment, which met it with a hail of bullets at sixty yards range. The
first line charged some horse-lengths further forward, then wheeled
outward to both flanks, and came under the fire of the supporting troops
occupying the broom copses. The Prussian batteries, too, showered their
shell fire into the throng of French horsemen, who finally went about in
confusion, and, having suffered great losses, sought refuge in the Bois
de Garenne.

At ten o'clock, the same hour at which the assaults of the French on
Bazeilles and about Daigny were being repulsed, fourteen batteries of
the XIth Corps were already in action on and near the ridge south-east
of St. Menges; to swell which mass presently came up those of the Vth
Corps. Powerful infantry columns were in march upon Fleigneux, and thus
the ring surrounding Sedan was already at this hour nearly closed. The
one Bavarian Corps and the artillery reserves on the left bank of the
Meuse were considered strong enough to repel any attempt of the French
to break through in that direction; five Corps were on the right bank,
ready for a concentric attack.

The Bavarians and Saxons, reinforced by the head of the IVth Corps,
issued from the burning Bazeilles and from Moncelle, and, in spite of a
stubborn resistance, drove the detachments of the French XIIth Corps in
position eastward of Balan back upon Fond de Givonne.

Once in possession of the southern spur of the ridge sloping down from
Illy, and while awaiting the renewed attacks of the French, the extreme
urgency was realized of reassembling the different Corps and of
re-forming the troops, which had fallen into great confusion.

As soon as this was done, the 5th Bavarian Brigade advanced on Balan.
The troops found but a feeble resistance in the village itself; but it
was only after a hard fight that they succeeded in occupying the park of
the château situated at its extreme end. From thence, soon after midday,
the foremost battalion extended close up to the walls of the fortress,
and exchanged shots with the garrison. There now ensued a stationary
musketry fight with the enemy once again firmly posted about Fond de
Givonne. At one o'clock the French, having evidently been reinforced,
took the offensive, after a preparatory cannonade and mitrailleuse fire.
The 5th Bavarian Brigade was driven back for some considerable distance,
but presently, supported by the 6th, regained its old position after an
hour's hard fighting.

Meanwhile the Saxon Corps had extended itself in the northern part of
the valley against Givonne. There also the foremost detachments of the
Guard Corps were already established, as well as in Haybés. The Prussian
artillery forced the French batteries to change their positions more
than once, and had already caused several of them to go out of action.
To gain breathing space here, the French repeatedly tried to send
forward large bodies of tirailleurs, and ten guns were brought up into
the still occupied Givonne, but these were taken before they could
unlimber. The Prussian shells also fell with some effect among the
French troops massed in the Bois de Garenne, though fired from a long

After the Franctireurs de Paris had been driven out of Chapelle, the
Guard-cavalry dashed through Givonne and up the valley, and at noon the
Hussars had succeeded in establishing direct contact with the left flank
of the IIIrd Army.

The 41st Brigade of that army had left Fleigneux and was descending the
upper valley of the Givonne, and the retreat of the French from Illy in
a southern direction had already begun. The 87th Regiment seized eight
guns which were in action, and captured thirty baggage waggons with
their teams, as well as hundreds of cavalry horses wandering riderless.
The cavalry of the advanced guard of the Vth Corps also made prisoners
of General Brahaut and his staff, besides a great number of dispersed
infantrymen and 150 draught-horses, together with forty ammunition and
baggage waggons.

In the direction of Floing there was also an attempt on the part of the
French to break through; but the originally very weak infantry posts at
that point had gradually been strengthened, and the French were driven
from the locality as quickly as they had entered. And now twenty-six
batteries of the Army of the Meuse[25] crossed their fire with that of
the Guard batteries, in position on the eastern slope of the Givonne
valley. The effect was overwhelming. The French batteries were shattered
and many ammunition waggons exploded.

General de Wimpffen at first took the advance of the Germans from the
north for nothing more than a demonstration, but toward midday became
completely convinced that it was a real attack. He therefore ordered
that the two Divisions of the Ist Corps halted in second line behind the
Givonne front, should now return to the Illy height in support of
General Douay. On rejoining the XIIth Corps he found it in full retreat
on Sedan, and now urgently requested General Douay to despatch
assistance in the direction of Bazeilles. Maussion's Brigade did
actually go thither, followed by Dumont's Division, which latter was
relieved in the foremost line by Conseil Dumesnil's Division. All this
marching and counter-marching was executed in the space south of the
Bois de Garenne dominated by the cross fire of the German artillery. The
recoil of the cavalry heightened the confusion, and several battalions
drew back into the insecure protection of the forest. General Douay, it
is true, reinforced by portions of the Vth Corps, retook the Calvary (of
Illy), but was forced to abandon it by two o'clock; and the forest (of
Garenne) behind it was then shelled by sixty guns of the Guard

Liébert's Division alone had up to now maintained its very strong
position on the heights north of Casal. The amassing at Floing of a
sufficient strength from the German Vth and XIth Corps could only be
effected very gradually. After one o'clock, however, detachments began
to climb the steep hill immediately in its front, while others went
round to the south towards Gaulier and Casal, and yet others came down
from Fleigneux. The complete intermixture of the troops prevented any
unity of command; and a bloody contest was carried on for a long time
with varying fortunes. The French Division, attacked on both flanks and
also heavily shelled, at last had its power of resistance undermined;
and the reserves of the VIIth Corps having already been called off to
other parts of the battle-field, the French cavalry once more devotedly
struck in to maintain the fight.

General Margueritte, with five regiments of light horse, and two of
Lancers, charged to the rescue out of the Bois de Garenne. Almost at
the outset he fell severely wounded, and General Galliffet took his
place. The advance was over very treacherous ground, and even before the
actual charge was delivered the cohesion of the ranks was broken by the
heavy flanking fire of the Prussian batteries. Still, with thinned ranks
but with unflinching resolution, the individual squadrons charged on the
troops of the 43rd Infantry Brigade, partly lying in cover, partly
standing out on the bare slope in swarms and groups; and also on the
reinforcements hurrying from Fleigneux. The first line of the former was
pierced at several points, and a band of these brave troopers dashed
from Casal through the intervals between eight guns blazing into them
with case-shot, but the companies beyond stopped their further progress.
Cuirassiers issuing from Gaulier fell on the hostile rear, but
encountering the Prussian Hussars in the Meuse valley, galloped off
northward. Other detachments cut their way through the infantry as far
as the narrow pass of St. Albert, where they were met by the battalions
debouching therefrom. Others again entered Floing only to succumb to the
5th Jägers, who had to form front back to back. These attacks were
repeated by the French again and again in the shape of detached fights,
and the murderous turmoil lasted for half an hour with steadily
diminishing fortune for the French. The volleys of the German infantry
delivered steadily at a short range strewed the whole field with dead
and wounded horsemen. Many fell into the quarries or down the steep
declivities, a few may have escaped by swimming the Meuse; and scarcely
more than half of these brave troops returned to the protection of the

But this magnificent sacrifice and glorious effort of the French cavalry
could not change the fate of the day. The Prussian infantry had lost but
little in the cut-and-thrust encounters, and at once resumed the attack
against Liébert's Division. But in this onslaught they sustained heavy
losses; for instance, all three battalions of the 6th Regiment had to
be commanded by lieutenants. But when Casal had been stormed, the
French, after a spirited resistance, withdrew at about three o'clock to
their last refuge in the Bois de Garenne.

When between one and two o'clock the fighting in Bazeilles had at first
taken a favourable turn, General de Wimpffen reverted to his original
plan of driving from the village the Bavarians, now exhausted by a long
struggle, and of breaking a way through to Carignan with the Ist, Vth,
and XIIth Corps; while the VIIth Corps was to cover the rear of this
movement. But the orders issued to that effect in part never reached the
Corps; in part did so so late that circumstances forbade their being
carried out.

In consequence of previously mentioned orders, besides Bassoigne's
Division, the Divisions of Goze and Grandchamp were still available.
Now, at about three in the afternoon, the two last-named advanced from
Fond de Givonne, over the ridge to the eastward, and the 23rd Saxon
Division, which was marching up the valley on the left bank of the
Givonne, found itself suddenly attacked by closed battalions accompanied
by batteries. With the support of the left wing of the Guard Corps and
of the artillery fire from the eastern slope, it soon succeeded in
repulsing the hostile masses, and indeed drove them across the valley
back to Fond de Givonne. The energy of the French appeared to be by this
time exhausted, for they allowed themselves to be taken prisoners by
hundreds. As soon as a firm footing had been gained on the heights west
of the Givonne, the German artillery established itself there, and by
three o'clock an artillery line of twenty-one batteries stretching from
Bazeilles to Haybés was in action.

The Bois de Garenne, in which many broken bands of all Corps and of all
arms were straggling in search of refuge, still remained to be gained.
After a short cannonade the 1st Guard-Division climbed the heights from
Givonne, and were joined by Saxon battalions, the left wing of the IIIrd
army at the same time coming on from Illy. A wild turmoil ensued, in
which isolated bands offered violent resistance, while others
surrendered by thousands; nor was it until five o'clock that the Germans
had complete possession of the forest.

Meanwhile long columns of French could be seen pouring down on Sedan
from the surrounding heights. Disordered bodies of troops huddled closer
and closer in and up to the fortress, and shells from the German
batteries on both sides of the Meuse were constantly exploding in the
midst of the chaos. Pillars of fire were soon rising from the city, and
the Bavarian riflemen, who had pushed forward through Torcy, were
preparing to climb the palisades at the gate when, at about half-past
four, the white flags were visible on the towers.

The Emperor Napoleon had declined to follow General de Wimpffen in his
attempt to break through the German lines; he had, on the contrary,
ordered him to enter into negotiations with the enemy. In consequence of
the renewal of the order to that effect the French suddenly ceased

General Reille now made his appearance in the presence of the King, who
had watched the action since early morning from the hill south of
Frénois. He was the bearer of an autograph letter from the Emperor,
whose presence in Sedan was till then unknown. He placed his sword in
the hand of the King, but as this was clearly only an act of personal
surrender, the answer stipulated that an officer should be commissioned
with full powers to treat with General von Moltke as to the surrender of
the French Army.

This painful duty was imposed on General de Wimpffen, who was in no way
responsible for the desperate straits into which the French army had
been brought.

The negotiations were held at Donchery in the night between the 1st and
2nd September. On the part of the Germans it had to be insisted on that
they durst not forego the advantages gained over so powerful an enemy as
France. Since the French had regarded the victory of German arms over
other nationalities in the light of an offence to France, any untimely
generosity might cause them to forget their own defeat. The only course
to pursue was to insist upon the disarmament and captivity of their
entire army, with the exception that the officers were to be free on

General de Wimpffen declared it impossible to accept conditions so hard,
the negotiations were broken off, and the French officers returned to
Sedan at one o'clock on the morning of the 2nd. Before their departure
they were given to understand that unless the offered terms were
accepted by nine o'clock that morning the artillery would reopen fire.

The capitulation was signed by General de Wimpffen on the morning of the
2nd, further resistance being obviously impossible.

Marshal MacMahon was very fortunate in having been disabled so early in
the battle, else on him would have inevitably devolved the duty of
signing the capitulation; and though he had only carried out the orders
forced upon him by the Paris authorities, he could hardly have sat in
judgment, as he afterwards did, on the comrade he had failed to relieve.

It is difficult to understand why we Germans celebrate the 2nd of
September--a day on which nothing memorable happened, but what was the
inevitable result of the previous day's work; the day on which the army
really crowned itself with glory was the 1st of September.

The splendid victory of that day had cost the Germans 460 officers and
8500 men. The French losses were far greater; they amounted to 17,000
men, and were chiefly wrought because of the full development of the
fire of the German artillery.

    During the battle there
      were taken prisoners      21,000
    By the Capitulation         83,000
                    A total of 104,000 sent into captivity.

The prisoners for the present were assembled on the peninsula of Iges
formed by the Meuse. As supplies for them were entirely lacking, the
Commandant of Mézières permitted the unrestricted transport of
provisions by the railway as far as Donchery. Two Army Corps were
assigned to the duty of guarding and escorting the convoys of prisoners,
who were sent off in successive bodies 2000 strong by two roads, one to
Etain, and the other by Clermont to Pont à Mousson, where the prisoners
were taken over by the army investing Metz, and forwarded to various
parts of Germany.

On Belgian territory 3000 men had been disarmed.

The spoils of war taken at Sedan consisted of three standards, 419
field-pieces, 139 fortress guns, 66,000 rifles, over 1000 waggons, and
6000 serviceable horses.

With the entire nullification of this army fell the Empire in France.


[23] Moncelle is northward of Bazeilles.

[24] Now commanding XIIth Corps, since his elder brother's appointment
to command of the Army of the Meuse.

[25] Sense and accuracy alike indicate that "Army of the Meuse" in text
should be "Third Army," _vide_ Staff History, part I. 2nd vol. pp. 361,
367, and 370.--Clarke's authorized Trs.


While one half of the German Army was thus engaged in a victorious
advance, the other half remained stationary before Metz.

The foremost line of outposts of the investment embraced a circuit of
more than twenty-eight miles. An attempt of the concentrated forces of
the enemy to break through would have met at the beginning of the
blockade with but slight opposition. It was therefore extremely urgent
that the several posts should be strengthened by fortifications. These
works, the clearing of the neighbouring battle-fields, the close watch
kept over every movement of the enemy, the construction of a
telegraph-line connecting the quarters of the several Staffs, and
finally the erection of a sufficiency of shelter, kept the troops and
their leaders amply occupied. Besides the care of the wounded, provision
had to be made for the sick, whose number was daily increased by the
unusually severe weather and lack of shelter. The provisioning of the
troops was, however, facilitated by their stationary attitude, and in
addition there now flowed in upon them from their homes a copious supply
of love-gifts.

The first days of the investment went by without any attempts to break
out on the part of the French. They too were busy reorganizing,
collecting ammunition and supplies.

On the 20th of August Marshal Bazaine had written to Châlons: "I will
give due notice of my march if, taking everything into consideration, I
can undertake any such attempt." On the 23rd he reported to the Emperor:
"If the news of the extensive reductions in the besieging army is
confirmed, I shall set out on the march, and that by way of the northern
fortresses, in order to risk nothing."


(August 26th.)

On the 26th of August, when the Army of Châlons was still nearly seventy
miles distant from the Ardennes Canal, and its advance on Metz was as
yet not generally known, Marshal Bazaine collected his main forces on
the right bank of the Moselle.

This movement had not escaped the notice of the German posts of
observation, and the field-telegraph at once disseminated the

To support the 3rd Reserve Division at Malroy, ten battalions of the Xth
Corps crossed from the left bank of the Moselle to Argancy on the right
bank. The 25th Division held itself in readiness at the bridge of
Hauconcourt, and the Ist Corps closed up towards Servigny. In the event
of the success of a breach towards the north, the IIIrd, IVth, and part
of the IXth Corps were available to intercept the enemy's march about

The crossing from the island of Chambière by the field-bridges which had
been built, seriously delayed the French advance; the IIIrd, IInd, IVth,
and VIth Corps, however, by about noon stood closely concentrated
between Mey and Grimont. Advanced detachments had already at several
points driven in the German posts south-east of Metz, but instead of
now entering upon a general attack, Marshal Bazaine summoned all his
Corps Commanders to a conference at Grimont. The Commandant of Metz then
made it known that the artillery ammunition in hand would suffice for
only one battle, that when it was exhausted the army would find itself
defenceless in midst of the German hosts; the fortress, he continued,
was not defensible in its present state, and could not stand a siege if
the army were to be withdrawn from the place. All those things might
certainly have been seen into during the stay in Metz; and much more did
they behove to have been known before the army should cut loose. It was
particularly enforced, "That the preservation of the Army was the best
service that could be rendered to the country, more especially if
negotiations for peace should be entered into." The generals present all
spoke against the prosecution of the proposed movement; and the
Commander-in-Chief, who had refrained from expressing any opinion in the
matter, gave the order to retire at four o'clock.

The whole affair of the 26th of August can only be regarded in the light
of a parade manoeuvre. Bazaine reported to the Minister of War that the
scarcity of artillery ammunition made it "impossible" to break through
the hostile lines, unless an offensive operation from the outside
"should force the enemy to raise the investment." Information as to the
"temper of the people" was earnestly requested.

There is no doubt that Bazaine was influenced, not wholly by military,
but also by political considerations; still it may be asked whether he
could have acted differently in the prevailing confusion of France. From
the correspondence referred to, and his behaviour in the battles before
Metz, his reluctance to quit the place was evident. Under its walls he
could maintain a considerable army in unimpaired condition till the
given moment. At the head of the only French army not yet
shattered,[26] he might find himself in a position of greater power than
any other man in the country. This army must, of course, first be freed
from the bonds which now confined it. Even if it should succeed in
forcibly breaking out it would be greatly weakened; and it was not
inconceivable that the Marshal, as the strongest power in the land,
might be able to offer a price which should induce the enemy to grant
him a passage. Then when at length the time for making peace should
come, the Germans would no doubt ask: "Who in France is the authority
with whom we can negotiate now that the Empire is overthrown, and who is
strong enough to give a guarantee that the obligations which he will
have undertaken shall be performed?" That the Marshal, if his plans had
come to fulfilment, would have acted otherwise than in the interest of
France is neither proved nor to be assumed.

But presently a number of men combined in Paris, who, without consulting
the nation, constituted themselves the Government of the country, and
took the direction of its affairs into their own hands. In opposition to
this party, Marshal Bazaine, with his army at his back, could well come
forward as a rival or a foe; nay, and--this was his crime in the eyes of
the Paris Government--he might restore the authority of the Emperor to
whom he had sworn allegiance. Whether he might not thus have spared his
country longer misery and greater sacrifices may be left undecided. But
that he was subsequently charged with treason obviously arose, no doubt,
from the national vanity of the French, which demanded a "Traitor" as a
scapegoat for the national humiliation.

Soon after this demonstration, for it was nothing more, of the besieged
army, the investing forces were, in fact, reduced by the despatch, on
the 29th, in accordance with orders from the supreme Headquarter, of
the IInd and IIIrd Corps to Briey and Conflans, there to remain. To be
sure, from those positions it was in their power to attack either of the
French Marshals, as might prove requisite; while the XIIIth Corps, newly
formed of the 17th Division, hitherto retained to defend the coast, and
from the Landwehr, was already within a short distance of Metz.

Meanwhile Marshal Bazaine might have realized that he must abandon his
delusion as to a release by means of negotiations; and he now firmly
resolved to cut his way out by dint of force. The troops were served out
with three days' provisions, and the intendance was furnished with a
supply of "iron rations" from the magazines of the fortress. That the
attempt should again be made on the right bank of the Moselle was only
to be expected; since by far the larger portion of the enemy's forces
stood entrenched on the left bank. It would have been very difficult to
traverse that hilly region, intersected by deep ravines; and finally the
army of the Crown Prince on the march to Paris would have had to be
encountered. East of Metz, on the other hand, there afforded ample space
for the full development of the French forces. By bending of the south
the open country was to be reached, offering no effective intercepting
position to the enemy, whose line of investment was weakest in that
direction. The march to the north and along the Belgian frontier
entailed more danger and greater obstacles, yet the Marshal had
explicitly indicated this particular road as that by which he intended
to move. The Army of Châlons was also marching in that direction; its
approach was already reported; and on the 31st of August, on which day,
in fact, Marshal MacMahon's forces reached Stenay[27] in such disastrous
circumstances, Bazaine's army also issued from Metz.


[26] The Army of Châlons was still unimpaired on August 26th.

[27] "Stenay," probably a slip of the pen for "Sedan," where MacMahon's
army was gathered on August 31st. It never reached Stenay.


(August 31st.)

Of the French Corps then located on the right bank of the Moselle,[28]
the IIIrd was to cover on the right flank the advance of the others; one
Division was ordered to move early in a south-easterly direction with
intent to mislead the enemy, its other three Divisions to take position
threatening Noisseville. Three pontoon bridges were constructed for the
crossing of the rest of the army, and accesses to the heights in front
of St. Julien were prepared. The passage of the IVth and VIth Corps was
to begin at six o'clock, and they were to take a position which, linking
on its right with the IIIrd Corps, should extend from the village of Mey
by Grimont to the Moselle; the IInd Corps and the Guard were to follow
and form a second line. With the passage of the artillery reserve and
the cavalry it was expected that the crossing of the Moselle should be
finished by ten o'clock; the trains were halted on the Isle of
Chambière. Thus it was intended that by noon five Corps should be ready
for the assault of the section of the line of investment from Retonfay
(on the French right) to Argancy (on the left), a distance of about
seven miles, which space had for its defenders only two German

So early as seven o'clock Montaudon's Division issued from Fort Queuleu,
and heading eastward drove the opposing outposts back on Aubigny. But
this demonstration did not in the least deceive the Germans. The stir in
the French camp had been observed quite early, and when the mist cleared
off and great masses of French troops were seen in front of Fort St.
Julien, an attempt to break through to the north was anticipated with
certainty, and the necessary dispositions were immediately undertaken to
foil the effort.

The 28th Brigade of the VIIth Corps was dispatched to protect
Courcelles, so that thus the 3rd Brigade of the Ist Corps could be
brought nearer to Servigny. The troops of the Xth Corps which could be
spared from their own section of the line of defence on the left bank
were again set in motion to cross to the right, and the IXth Corps was
held in readiness in anticipation of its having eventually to follow.
The IIIrd Corps and the Ist Cavalry Division were recalled from Briey
and directed to the plateau of Privat; the IInd was to stand ready to
move off.

The attempt of the French to break out proved on this day even less
successful than on the 26th; the IVth and VIth Corps crossed each other
at the bridges, and they only reached their rendezvous position at one
o'clock, though it was little more than three miles further; they then
abandoned the intention of an immediate assault, and set about cooking.
A few skirmishes on the east of Aubigny and on the north towards Rupigny
came to nothing. The Imperial Guard did not come up till three o'clock,
the artillery and cavalry were still behind.

As entire quiescence now supervened, the Germans came to the conclusion
that the attack must be intended for the following day. To save the
strength of the troops, part of the reinforcements ordered up had
already been sent back, when, at about four o'clock, the French suddenly
opened a heavy artillery fire.

The Marshal had again summoned his commanders to assemble at Grimont,
this time to inform them of his dispositions for the attack. It was
evident that the French could not advance towards the north until they
had gained elbow-room by means of an offensive movement in the eastern
direction, and had secured their right flank. For even if they succeeded
in breaking through the Malroy-Charly line, they could get no further so
long as the Germans were at Servigny and swept with their fire the plain
as far as the Moselle, a space not more than 5000 paces broad. The
Marshal could not in any case reckon on carrying through his Artillery
Reserve, which did not reach the battle-field until six o'clock, and the
extrication of the baggage trains which had been left behind on the Isle
of Chambière was clearly impossible. The Cavalry Corps was still
defiling, and could not come up until nine o'clock in the evening.

This unsatisfactory aspect of affairs was in complete accord with the
character of the dispositions of the French commanders.

Marshal Le Boeuf received orders to advance with the IInd and IIIrd
Corps on both sides of the valley of St. Barbe, and outflank from the
south the 1st Prussian Division at Servigny, while the IVth Corps
assailed it in front. The VIth Corps had the task of thrusting forward
against the Reserve Division at Charly-Malroy. Marshal Canrobert was to
command the two latter Corps, and the Guard was to be held back as

Thus General von Manteuffel had at first to confront with a small force
a greatly superior enemy. This opposition might be undertaken either in
the St. Barbe position, to outflank which was by no means easy, or on
the line of Servigny--Poix--Failly, which, though more exposed, afforded
much greater scope for the use of artillery. The latter position was
chosen on the advice of General von Bergmann commanding the artillery,
and the Landwehr Brigade was ordered into it from Antilly, where its
place was taken by the 25th Division. Ten batteries were advanced to a
distance of 1000 paces in front of the line of villages held by the
infantry. Their fire proved so superior to that of the enemy, that the
hostile batteries were soon silenced. The attack on Rupigny by the
French IVth Corps, supported on the flank though it was by three
batteries, remained stationary for a considerable time, and as the
Prussians had not yet been driven back on St. Barbe, the VIth French
Corps meanwhile could not enter upon any serious attack on the Reserve
Division at Malroy-Charly. For the same reason Marshal Canrobert
received the order for the present only to send a detachment of his
force to the attack of the village of Failly, the northern point of
support of the Servigny position.

Tixier's Division therefore moved out at 7.30 in the evening from
Villers L'Orme, but met with a most obstinate resistance at Failly.
Though attacked on two sides, pelted by a storm of projectiles, and, as
regarded a part of them, engaged in hand-to-hand fighting, the East
Prussians stoutly held possession of their ground till the Landwehr
Brigade came to their assistance from Vremy.

Up till now the situation southward of Servigny had worn a more
favourable aspect for the French than in this northern re-entering angle
between two hostile positions; their IInd and IIIrd Corps in the former
quarter had only the 3rd Brigade of the Ist Prussian Corps to deal with
in front of Retonfay. Montaudon's and Metman's Divisions moved down by
way of Nouilly into the valley of the Vallières brook; Clinchant's
Brigade stormed the brewery in the face of strong resistance, and by
seven o'clock the defenders of Noisseville were forced to evacuate the
place. Montoy and Flanville were also taken possession of by the French,
and further south the outposts of the German 4th Brigade were thrown
back through Coincy and Château Aubigny. The batteries of the 1st
Division, after enduring for a long time the fire of strong swarms of
tirailleurs from the deep hollow south of them, were forced about seven
o'clock to retire in echelon to the infantry position on the
Poix--Servigny line, fending off for a time the pursuing enemy with

But to this position the Prussians now held on staunchly, although
completely out-flanked on their left. Potier's Brigade ascended the
northern slope of the Vallières valley, but found it impossible to
reach Servigny. A moment later Cissey's Brigade rushed forward from the
west, and seized the graveyard outside the village. The French IVth
Corps struck at the centre of the Prussian position, but without
success. Its effort to penetrate between Poix and Servigny was
frustrated by the offensive stroke delivered by the battalions of the
2nd Brigade constituting the last reserve--a counter attack in which all
the troops at hand at once joined. With drums beating they hurled
themselves on the French, swept them out of the graveyard, and drove
them back down the slope.

In support of the fierce fight here, the 3rd Brigade about half-past
eight marched on Noisseville, whence it promptly expelled the small
detachment found in possession, but subsequently yielded to superior
numbers, and withdrew to St. Marais.

The din of strife had now fallen silent at all points, and the fight
seemed to be ended. The infantry of the 1st Division were moving into
the villages, and the artillery was going into bivouac, when suddenly at
nine o'clock a great mass of French infantry advanced in the darkness to
an attack on Servigny. This proved to be Aymard's Division; it entered
the village without firing a shot, surprised the garrison, and drove it
out after a fierce hand-to-hand fight. This episode remained unnoticed
for a long time, even by the nearest troops; but these then rushed to
arms, and pouring in from all sides, drove the French back beyond the
graveyard, which thenceforth remained in German possession.

It was now ten o'clock at night. The 1st Division had kept its ground
against an enemy of superior strength; but the French had penetrated
into the unoccupied gap between the 3rd and 4th Brigades, and were a
standing menace to the German flank at Servigny from their position at

_September 1st._--The 18th Division, by a night-march, crossed
from the left to the right bank of the Moselle at four o'clock
in the morning, and reinforced with a brigade both flanks of the line
Malroy--Charly--Bois de Failly. The 25th Division was now able to fall
back from Antilly to St. Barbe, where, with the 6th Landwehr Brigade, it
formed a reserve for the Poix--Servigny position.

On the morning of the 1st of September a thick mist still shrouded the
plain when all the troops stood to arms.

Marshal Bazaine now again indicated to his generals the seizure of St.
Barbe as the prime objective, since that alone could render possible the
march to the north; and he added, "In the event of failure, we shall
maintain our positions." This expression could only indicate the
intention, in the event specified, of remaining under shelter of the
cannon of Metz, and evinced but little confidence in the success of the
enterprise now engaged in.[29]

So early as five o'clock the 3rd Brigade had deployed on the Saarlouis
road to prevent the further progress of the enemy on the left flank of
the 1st Division. It swept the slopes in the direction of Montoy with
the fire of twenty guns, and when Noisseville had been well plied for a
considerable time by the fire of the artillery of the 2nd Brigade, about
seven o'clock the 43rd Regiment carried the village by storm. A fierce
fight ensued in and about the houses: two French brigades struck into
the combat, and after a long whirl of fighting the German regiment was
driven out again. Battalions of the 3rd Brigade came up just as the
fight was over, but the attack was not renewed.

Now that the direction of the French effort to break out was no longer
doubtful, the 28th Brigade had started from Courcelles at six in the
morning to reinforce the Ist Corps. Its two batteries silenced those of
the French at Montoy, and then directed their fire on Flanville. The
enemy soon began to abandon the burning village, which, at nine o'clock,
the Rhinelanders entered from the south and the East Prussians from the
north. Marshal Le Boeuf again sent forward Bastoul's Division on Montoy,
but the extremely effective fire of the Prussian artillery compelled it
to turn back.

The 3rd Brigade had meanwhile taken up a position on the upland of
Retonfay, where it was now joined by the 28th. The 3rd Cavalry Division
was reinforced by the Hessian Horse Brigade, and these troops with the
artillery mass made up presently to 114 guns, formed a rampart against
any further progress of the IInd and IIIrd French Corps.

The fighting had now died out on the right wing of the French army; but
the IVth Corps had been enjoined to await the direct advance of the
troops of that wing before renewing its attack on the artillery-front
and village entrenchments of the line from Servigny to Poix, whose
strength had been proved on the previous day. But towards eleven
o'clock, after Noisseville had been heavily bombarded, the 3rd Prussian
Brigade, supported by the Landwehr, advanced southward of the position,
pushed its attack against that point, and compelled the French to
withdraw from the burning village.

Marshal Canrobert, on the northern front of the sortie, had brought up
his batteries at Chieulles by half-past eight, and their fire, seconded
by that of the artillery of the fortress, caused a temporary evacuation
of Rupigny; but the village was soon reoccupied. Tixier's Division had
made two fruitless attempts to seize Failly, and now, on the other hand,
the 36th Brigade of the 18th Division came up, and taking the offensive
in conjunction with the Reserve Division, at ten o'clock drove the
French back over the Chieulles stream. They made still another
onslaught on Failly, but the flanking fire made this also a failure.

Marshal Le Boeuf, though he still had more than two Divisions to oppose
it, held himself obliged to retreat on account of the approach of the
Prussian 3rd Brigade on his right flank; and in consequence of the
receipt of this intelligence, Marshal Bazaine at mid-day ordered the
fighting to be broken off at all other points.

The Army of the Rhine which issued from Metz on August 31st, with a
strength of 137,000 men,[30] had been successfully opposed by no more
than 36,000 Prussians. In this battle for the first time in the war the
French were the assailants, the Germans had the rôle of the defence.
That the Germans lost 3400 men against the loss of 3000 by the French,
must be attributed to the higher properties of the infantry weapon of
the latter. But the superiority of the Prussian artillery was decisively
proved, and this it was which rendered possible General von Manteuffel's
unshaken resistance.

The VIIth Corps remained on the right bank of the Norelle, where the
line of investment was now further strengthened by the arrival of the
XIIIth Corps under the command of the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg. On the
left bank the IInd and IIIrd Corps were now able to return to their
respective previous positions. On the same day and at about the same
hour when the destruction of one French army was completed at Sedan, the
other was returning to an apparently more and more hopeless detention in
Metz. Thus the issue of the war was already beyond doubt after a
campaign of but two months' duration; though the war itself was far from
being ended.


[28] The IInd and IIIrd Army.

[29] The wording of Bazaine's order dispenses with any speculation on
this point. He wrote, "In the event of failure, we shall maintain our
positions, strengthen ourselves therein, _and retire in the evening
under Forts St. Julien and Queuleu_."

[30] The estimate of the total strength of the Army of the Rhine on the
22nd August is given at 137,728 men in the German Staff History. It
deducts for garrison and normal outpost duty details amounting to over
17,000 men; and reckons the marching out strength for the battle of 31st
August--1st September at "about 120,000 men."


When, in the night of the 4th of September, the news of the disaster of
Sedan and the Emperor's surrender became known in Paris, the Legislative
Body met in a rapidly successive series of sittings for the purpose of
selecting an Administrative Committee. The mob cut those deliberations
short by forcing its way into the Chamber and proclaiming the Republic
there and at the Hôtel de Ville, amidst the acclamations of the people.
Though the troops were under arms in their barracks, the Government till
now in power offered no resistance; the Empress left Paris; General
Trochu and several members of the Minority in the Chamber combined to
form a Government, which they styled "The Government of National Defence
and War." "War to the bitter end" was its motto, and the entire nation
was to be called to arms. Not an inch of territory, not a stone of the
fortresses was to be yielded up to the enemy.

Such a Government, devoid of any legitimate foundation, necessarily
thirsted for results, and could be little disposed to allow the war to
end in peace.

Notwithstanding all the early reverses of the war, France was too rich
in resources to find herself as yet by any means defenceless. General
Vinoy was still in the field. All the scattered Corps, the Marine troops
and the Gendarmerie could gather to him. There was, too, the
"Territorial Militia," numbering 468,000 men, an institution which the
country owed to Marshal Niel, whose far-seeing work of reorganization
had been cut short only too soon. Further, there was available to be
called up the falling-due contingent of 100,000 conscripts, as well as
the National Guard. It followed that France was thus able to put into
the field a million of men, without reckoning Franctireurs and Volunteer
Corps. The reserve store of 2000 guns and 400,000 Chassepôts assured the
means of armament, and the workshops of neutral England were ready and
willing to fulfil commissions. Such resources for war, backed by the
active patriotism of the nation, could maintain a prolonged resistance
if a master will should inspire it with energy.

And such a will was disclosed in the person of Gambetta.

Minister of War, he had at the same time, by the French system of
government, the direction of military operations, and certainly he was
not the man to loosen his grasp of the chief command. For in a Republic,
a victorious general at the head of the Army would at once have become
Dictator in his stead. M. de Freycinet, another civilian, served under
Gambetta as a sort of Chief of the General Staff, and the energetic, but
dilettante, commandership exercised by these gentlemen cost France very
dear. Gambetta's rare energy and unrelenting determination availed,
indeed, to induce the entire population to take up arms, but not to
direct these hasty levies with comprehensive unity of purpose. Without
giving them time to be trained into fitness for the field, with ruthless
severity he despatched them into the field in utter inefficiency as they
were called out, to attempt the execution of ill-digested plans against
an enemy on whose firm solidity all their courage and devotion was
inevitably wrecked. He prolonged the struggle at the cost of heavy
sacrifices on both sides, without turning the balance in favour of

In any event the German chiefs had still great difficulties to overcome.

The battles already won had cost heavy losses; in officers especially
the losses were irreparable. Half the army was detained before Metz and
Strasburg. The transport and guarding of already more than 200,000
prisoners required the services of a large part of the new levies being
formed at home. The numerous fortresses had not indeed hindered the
invasion of the German army, but they had to be invested or kept under
observation to secure the rearward communications, and to safeguard the
forwarding and victualling of troops; and each further advance into the
enemy's country involved increased drafts of armed men. After the battle
of Sedan only 150,000 men were available for further operations in the
field. There could be no doubt that the new objective must be Paris, as
the seat of the new Government and the centre of gravity, so to speak,
of the whole country. On the very day of the capitulation of Sedan, all
the dispositions were made for the renewal of the advance.

To spare the troops, the movement was to be carried out on a very broad
front, which involved no risk, for of the French Corps, the XIIIth alone
could possibly cause any detention. And, indeed, only Blanchard's
Division of that Corps was now at Mézières; its other two Divisions had
but just begun their march when they received orders to halt preparatory
to returning (to Paris).


General Vinoy's most urgent anxiety was--very rightly--to reach Paris
with the least possible loss. This was not very easy to accomplish,
since the VIth Prussian Corps, which had taken no part in the battle of
Sedan, was at Attigny in such a position that as a matter of distance,
as far as to Laon, it could reach any point of any line of the enemy's
retreat before, or as soon as the latter. General von Tümpling,
commanding that Corps, had already taken possession of Rethel with the
12th Division by the evening of September 1st, thus closing the
high-road to Paris. Only extraordinary forced marching and a succession
of fortunate circumstances could save from destruction Blanchard's
Division, which had already wasted its ammunition in small conflicts.

General Vinoy supplied the troops with several days' rations, enjoined
the strictest discipline on the march, and during the night between 1st
and 2nd September set out on the road to Rethel, where he expected to
find Exéa's Division; which, however, availing itself of the section of
railway still undestroyed, had already gone back to Soissons.

It was still early morning (of 2nd) when the French column of march came
in contact with the 5th and presently with the 6th Prussian Cavalry
Divisions, without, however, being seriously attacked. It was not till
about ten o'clock, and within about seven miles of Rethel, that the
French general learnt that place was in hostile possession, whereupon he
decided on turning westward to Novion Porcien. He sent his rear-guard
against the enemy's horse-artillery, but seeing hardly anything but
cavalry in its front, it soon resumed the march. At about four in the
afternoon the Division reached Novion, where it went into bivouac.

General von Hoffmann (commanding the 12th Prussian Division) had taken
up a position at Rethel, and was awaiting the enemy, of whose approach
he had been warned. Having ridden out in person, he became aware of
Vinoy's deviation from the Rethel road, and at four in the afternoon
marched to Ecly, where he arrived late in the evening. Part of his
troops scouted forward toward Château Porcien.

General Vinoy, on learning that this road, too, was closed to him,
quited his bivouac again at half-past one on the morning (of 3rd),
leaving his fires burning, and set out on a second night-march in
pouring rain and total darkness.

At first he took a northerly direction, to reach Laon at worst by the
byways. By tracks fathomless in mud, and with frequent alarms, but
without being reached by the enemy, he trudged into Château Porcien at
half-past seven on the morning of the 3rd, and there halted for a couple
of hours. The trend of the roads now compelled him again to take a
southerly direction, and when the head of his column reached
Séraincourt, the sound of firing told him that his rear had been
attacked by the Germans.

The Prussian cavalry had, early the same morning, discovered the French
departure, but this important information found General von Hoffmann no
longer in Ecly. He had already started thence to search for the enemy at
Novion-Porcien, where he might well be expected to be after his first
night-march, but at half-past nine the Prussian general found the place
empty. Thus, that morning, the German and French Divisions had marched
past each other in different directions at a distance apart of little
more than four miles. The thick weather had prevented them seeing each
other. General Vinoy this day reached Montcornet, in what plight may be
imagined. The 12th Division continued its pursuit in the westerly
direction, but came up only with the rear stragglers of the
fast-retreating enemy, and took up alarm-quarters in Chaumont Porcien.

This march of the enemy ought not indeed to have remained unobserved and
unchecked under the eye of two Cavalry Divisions, but it has to be said
that these were called off at an unfortunate moment.

It was, in fact, in consequence of a report that the French forces were
assembled at Rheims, that the Headquarter of the IIIrd Army had ordered
the immediate return of the VIth Corps and the two Divisions of cavalry.
These at once relinquished the pursuit, and General von Tümpling ordered
his two Infantry Divisions to march at once on Rheims. The 11th, which
had been holding Rethel, set out forthwith. General von Hoffmann, on the
contrary, followed up the French, on his own responsibility, as far as
was possible without cavalry to overtake them. Not till the following
day did the 12th Division reach the Suippe.

_September 4th._--General Vinoy made his way northward again, by way of
Marle, where he received the news of the Emperor's surrender and of the
outbreak of the revolution in Paris. His presence there was now of the
greatest importance, and on the 13th he reached the French capital with
the two other divisions of his Corps from Laon and Soissons.


During these occurrences the German armies, on the 4th September, had
begun their advance on Paris. The first thing to be done was to
disentangle the mass of troops assembled in the cramped space around
Sedan. The IIIrd Army, of which the XIth and the Ist Bavarian Corps were
still remaining there, had to make two long marches forward in order
that the Army of the Meuse should regain its line of supply

The news of a great assemblage of French troops at Rheims soon proved to
be unfounded. Early on the 4th, detachments of Prussian horse entered
the hostile and excited city, the 11th Division arrived that afternoon,
and on the following day the German King's head-quarters were
established in the old city where the French Kings had been wont to be

On the 10th of September the IIIrd Army had reached the line
Dormans--Sezanne, and the VIth Corps had pushed forward to Château
Thierry. The Army of the Meuse, after the failure of a coup-de-main on
Montmédy, was advancing between Rheims and Laon. Cavalry sent far in
advance covered this march executed on a front so exceptionally broad.
The scouts everywhere found the inhabitants in a very hostile temper;
the franctireurs attacked with great recklessness, and had to be driven
out of several villages by dismounted troopers. The roads were in many
places wrecked by the tearing up of the stone pavement, and the bridges
were blown up.

On the approach of the 6th Cavalry Division Laon had capitulated. Small
detachments of troops of the line were taken prisoners, 25 guns, 100
stores of arms and ammunition were seized as prizes, and 2000
Gardes-Mobiles were dismissed to their homes on parole to take no
further part in the war. While friends and foes were assembled in large
numbers in the courtyard of the citadel, the powder-magazine blew up,
having probably been intentionally fired, and did great damage both
there and in the town. The Prussians had fifteen officers and
ninety-nine men killed and wounded; among the wounded were the
Division-Commander and his general-staff officer. The French lost 300
men; the commandant of the fortress was mortally wounded.

On the 16th the Army of the Meuse was between Nanteuil and
Lizy-on-Ourcq; the 5th Cavalry Division had advanced to Dammartin; the
6th to beyond Beaumont, sending patrols up to before St. Denis. The
IIIrd Army was spread over the area from Meaux to Compte Robert. Strong
military bridges had been thrown over the Marne at Trilport and Lagny to
replace the permanent ones which had been blown up, and on the 17th the
Vth Corps reached the Upper Seine.

To secure the draw-bridges at Villeneuve St. Georges, the 17th Brigade
pushed on down the right bank of the Seine towards Paris, and at Mont
Mesly it encountered Exéa's Division, which had been sent out by General
Vinoy to bring in or destroy stores of supplies. The fight which ensued
ended in the French being driven back under shelter of Fort Charenton.

The IInd Bavarian Corps also reached the Seine on this day and bridged
the river at Corbeil. The 2nd Cavalry Division was in observation in
front of Saclay, towards Paris. The Royal head-quarter moved to Meaux by
way of Château Thierry. The complete investment of the French capital
was now imminent.

The works constructed under Louis Philippe effectually protected the
city from being taken by storm. The artillery armament of the place
consisted of over 2627 pieces, including 200 of the largest calibres of
naval ordnance. There were 500 rounds for each gun, and in addition a
reserve of three million kilogrammes of powder. As concerned the active
strength of the garrison, besides the XIIIth Corps which had returned
from Mézières, a new Corps, the XIVth, had been raised in Paris itself.
These 50,000 troops of the line, 14,000 highly efficient and staunch
marines and sailors, and about 8000 gensd'armes, customs officers, and
forest-guards, formed the core of the defence. There were besides
115,000 Gardes-Mobiles, who had been drawn in from outside at an earlier
date. The National Guard was formed into 130 battalions, which, however,
being defective in equipment and poorly disciplined, could be employed
only in the defence of the inner circle of fortifications. The
volunteers, though numerous, proved for the most part useless.

In all the besieged force was over 300,000 strong, thus it was far more
than double the strength of the besiegers as yet on the spot, of whom
there were at the outside only about 60,000 men available, with 5000
cavalry and 124 field-batteries. On the Seine the defence had five
floating batteries and nine section-built gunboats originally intended
for the Rhine; on the railways were some guns mounted on armour-plated

Great difficulties necessarily attended the victualling of two million
human beings for a long period; however, the authorities had succeeded
in gathering into Paris 3000 oxen, 6000 swine, and 180,000 sheep, with
considerable stores of other provisions, so that perfect confidence was
justifiable, that Paris could hold out for six weeks at least.

Orders issued from the head-quarter at Meaux charged the Army of the
Meuse with the investment of the capital on the right bank of the Seine
and Marne,[31] and the IIIrd Army with the section on the left bank of
both rivers. As a general rule the troops were to remain beyond range of
the fire of the fortress, but, short of that, were to keep as close as
possible so as to curtail the circuit of environment. The close
connection of the two armies was to be secured above Paris by several
bridges across both the rivers, and below the city, by the cavalry
occupying Poissy. To the IIIrd Army was to belong the duty of
reconnoitring in the direction of Orleans. In case of any attempt to
relieve the capital it was to allow the relieving force to approach
within a short distance, and then, leaving the investment to be
maintained by weak details, to strike the enemy with its main body.

Without relief from outside, a close passive blockade must inevitably
result in the capitulation of Paris, though probably not for some weeks
or even months. As an ultimate compulsory measure there remained
recourse to a bombardment.

At the time when Paris was fortified it was not foreseen that
improvements in the artillery arm would double or treble the range of
fire. The exterior forts, especially on the south, were at so short a
distance from the enceinte that the city could easily be reached by the
fire of heavy batteries.

The Germans have been blamed for not having had recourse at an earlier
date to this expedient of bombardment; but this criticism indicates an
inadequate appreciation of the difficulties which stood in the way of
its earlier execution.

It may safely be accepted that the attack of a large fortified place in
the heart of an enemy's country is simply impossible so long as the
invader is not master of the railways or waterways leading to it, by
which may be brought up in full quantity the requisite material. The
conveyance of this by the ordinary highways, even for a short distance,
is in itself a herculean undertaking. Up to this time the German army
had the control of only one railway in French territory, and this was
fully occupied in the maintenance of supplies for the armies in the
field: in bringing up reinforcements and equipment; in conveying
rearward wounded, sick and prisoners. But even this much of railway
service ended at Toul; and the attempt to turn that fortress by laying a
temporary section of line found insurmountable difficulties in the
nature of the ground. Further forward there interposed itself a scarcely
inferior obstacle in the complete destruction of the Nanteuil tunnel, to
repair which would probably require weeks.

Even then, for the further transport from Nanteuil up to the Paris front
of 300 heavy guns with 500 rounds for each gun, there were requisite
4500 four-wheeled waggons, such as were not in use in the country, and
10,000 horses. Thus a bombardment was, in the earlier period, not to be
thought of, and in any case the object of it would not be to destroy
Paris, but merely to exert a final pressure on the inhabitants; and this
influence would be more effectual when a long blockade had shaken the
resolution of the besieged than it was likely to be at the beginning of
the investment.

_September 18th._--Corresponding directions communicated to the
respective army commands, ordered the resumption of the march on the
enemy's capital.

On the 18th the Army of the Meuse, swinging leftward, had the XIIth
Corps at Claye, the Guard Corps at Mitry, and the IVth Corps at
Dammartin, one march from Paris.

All the villages in front of St. Denis were occupied by the French. It
seemed as if the investment on the north front of Paris would be
resisted, and the Crown Prince of Saxony took measures for next day to
follow up and support the IVth Corps, which led the advance. The 5th and
6th Cavalry Divisions, hastening on to Pontoise, were given two
companies of Jägers and a pontoon train, and after a bridge had been
laid they crossed the Oise.

The Vth Corps of the IIIrd Army passed over the Seine at
Villeneuve-St.-Georges and advanced to Palaiseau and the Upper Bièvre.
The advanced guard came into collision with Bernis' French Cavalry
Brigade. The 47th Regiment at once proceeded to the attack, and stormed
the walled farmsteads of Dame Rose and Trivaux. But on the southern
skirt of the forest of Meudon the whole of the French XIVth Corps was
drawn up; on its left stood a Division of the XIIIth Corps. The regiment
retired on Petit Bicêtre without being followed, and there took up a
defensive position.

The IInd Bavarian Corps marched from Corbeil by Longjumeau on a parallel
front with the Vth Corps, and on the right the VIth occupied both banks
of the Seine. These Corps, too, had several brushes with the enemy.

The Würtemberg Division at Lagny and Gournay was to cross the Marne
forthwith, and so establish communication between the two armies.


[31] Viz., from the Marne above Paris in a wide half-circle to the Seine
below it. The rayon of the Army of the Meuse subsequently extended to
the right bank of the Seine above Paris.


(September 19th.)

On the 19th September the IVth Corps met with no opposition in its
advance to St. Brice; it drove detachments of the enemy from the
neighbouring villages back under cover of the heavy guns of St. Denis,
and pushed forward towards the Lower Seine. The Guard Corps followed it
as far as Dugny, and lined the Morée brook, which was dammed up at its
mouth, and afforded useful cover for the line of investment along a
considerable distance. Further to the left the XIIth Corps took up a
position extending to the Marne, and on the left bank of that river the
Würtemberg Division advanced to Champigny.

On this day the Vth Corps of the IIIrd Army marched on Versailles in two
columns. The 47th Regiment had again the duty of covering the march
along the hostile front. The French evidently were anxious to remain
masters of the important heights in front of the fortifications of
Paris, and in the early morning two divisions of their XIVth Corps
marched out of the neighbouring forest of Meudon against Petit Bicêtre
and Villacoublay. Supported by a numerous artillery, which set on fire
the farm-buildings of Petit Bicêtre, they drove back the German
outposts; but reinforcements from the Vth Corps presently came up to
Villacoublay, and to Abbaye aux Bois from the IInd Bavarian Corps.

The left brigade of the latter had crossed the columns marching on
Versailles in the valley of the Bièvre; but the sound of fighting from
the field of strife induced General von Dietl[32] to advance with his
detachments as they came up singly, on both sides of the high-road to
Bicêtre. A conjunct assault with the Prussians still fighting in the
Bois de Garenne, was successful in repulsing the French at Pavé blanc.
Meanwhile the enemy by half-past eight had formed an artillery front of
fifty guns, and three regiments of march advanced to renew the attack on
Petit Bicêtre and the Bois de Garenne. They were received with a
destructive musketry fire, and not even General Ducrot's personal
influence could persuade the troops, who were young recruits, to go
forward. The Zouaves posted about the farm of Trivaux were finally
thrown into such confusion by some shells falling among them that they
hurried back to Paris in headlong flight.

General Ducrot had to abandon his attempt. His Divisions retired in
evident disorder on Clamart and Fontenay, under cover of the artillery
and of the cavalry, which had resolutely endured the hostile fire;
pursued at their heels by the German troops. The Bavarians stormed Pavé
blanc under a heavy cannon fire; the Prussians retook Dame Rose after a
trivial skirmish, and pushed on past the farm of Trivaux into the forest
of Meudon. The French still held the heights of Plessis-Piquet, which
were to them of vast importance and very easy of defence, as well as the
redoubt at Moulin de la Tour, where nine field-batteries at once came
into action, the fire from which commanded the whole of the western
field of operations.

The main body of the Bavarian Corps had meanwhile moved southward, and
during its advance on Fontenay aux Roses, about nine o'clock, it came
under a hot fire from the height, as well as a flanking fire from a
redoubt near Hautes Bruyères. Being informed of the situation at the
scene of conflict on the plateau of Bicêtre, General von Hartmann (the
Corps Commander) at once sent thither an artillery reinforcement, and
ordered the 5th Brigade to attempt a junction to his left by way of
Malabry. As soon as this brigade had deployed under a hot Chassepôt and
artillery fire between Pavé blanc and Malabry, General von Walther
(commanding 3rd Bavarian Division) passed to the attack of
Plessis-Piquet. The artillery advanced to a short distance on the hither
side of the park wall, and then the infantry broke out from the wood of
Verrières, and, after a brief but sharp struggle, took possession of the
mill lying to the southward. After half an hour's artillery preparation,
the Bavarians advanced on Hachette by rushes, and broke into the park
of Plessis. The French kept up a hot fire from the redoubt of Moulin de
la Tour on the localities wrenched from them, by which the Bavarian
field batteries suffered severely; but they still effectively supported
the further advance of the infantry, who now got close in under the
earthworks. However, the defenders were already on the point of
retiring, and when about three o'clock one Bavarian company entered, it
found the place deserted and the guns left in position.

Caussade's Division had left Clamart and was on the way to Paris;
Maussion's had abandoned the heights of Bagneux on the pretence of
having received mistaken orders, and Hughes' Division was with
difficulty brought to a halt under cover of Fort Montrouge.

The Bavarian Corps now took up the position it had won on the plateau of
Bicêtre to the right of the Vth Corps. The fight had cost the former 265
men and the latter 178; the French lost 661 killed and above 300

The condition in which the French XIVth Corps returned to Paris caused
such dismay that General Trochu found himself obliged to withdraw a
Division of the XIIIth from Vincennes for the defence of the enceinte.

It was subsequently argued that it would have been possible to capture
one of the forts on this day by forcing an entrance along with the
fugitive enemy, with the result of materially shortening the siege. But
the forts did not need to open their gates to shelter fugitives, to whom
those of the capital stood open. The escalade of masonry escarpments
eighteen feet high can never be successful without much preparation.
Ventures of this character are rarely ordered by superior authority; but
can be attempted only in a propitious moment by those on the spot. In
this case probable failure would have endangered the important success
of the day.

The Vth Corps had meanwhile proceeded on its march to Versailles; a few
National Guards, who had collected at the entrance to the town, were
driven off or disarmed by the German Hussars. The 9th Division held the
eastern exits of the town, the 10th encamped at Rocquencourt, and strong
outposts were pushed out on the Bougival--Sèvres line. The 18th Brigade,
which remained at Villacoubay to support the Bavarians in case of need,
did not reach Versailles until the evening.

The 3rd Bavarian Division remained on the heights in front of Plessis
Piquet, its outposts confronting the forest of Meudon, where the French
were still in possession of the château; and the pioneers at once
altered the redoubt of La Tour du Moulin so as to front north. The 12th
Division was encamped at Fontenay and rearward as far as Châtenay.

The main body of the VIth Corps had taken position at Orly, its outposts
extending from Choisy le Roi past Thiais to Chevilly. Maud'huy's
Division attempted to drive in the outpost line at the last-named
village, but without success. A brigade of the same Corps at Limeil, on
the right bank of the Seine, was engaged in skirmishing with the French
at Créteil. Within touch, further to the right, the Würtemberg Division
held the (left) bank of the Marne from Ormesson to Noisy le Grand,
behind which latter place the pontoon bridge near Gournay assured
communication with the Saxon Corps.

Thus on the 19th of September the investment of Paris was complete on
all sides. Six Army Corps stood in a deployment some fifty miles in
circumference immediately in front of the enemy's capital, in some
places actually within range of his guns, its rear guarded by a large
force of cavalry.


[32] Commanding 1st Bavarian Infantry Brigade.


In full expectation of a battle to the north of Paris, the King had
ridden out to join the Guard Corps, and in the evening his head-quarters
were moved to Ferrières.

Here thus early Monsieur Jules Favre made his appearance to negotiate
for peace on the basis of "not one foot of soil." He believed that after
all their victories and losses, the Germans would come to terms on
payment of a sum of money. It was self-evident that such a proposal
could not be taken into consideration, and only the eventuality of
granting an armistice was seriously discussed.

It was in the political interest of Germany as well, to afford the
French nation the possibility of establishing by its own free and
regular election a government which should have full right to conclude a
peace creditable to the people; for the self-constituted de facto
Government ruling in Paris was the offspring of a revolution, and might
at any moment be removed by a counter-revolution.

From a military point of view it was true that any pause in the active
operations was a disadvantage. It would afford the enemy time to push
forward his preparations, and by raising for a time the investment of
Paris would give the capital the opportunity to reprovision itself at

The armistice could, therefore, only be granted in consideration of a
corresponding equivalent.

To secure the subsistence of the respective German armies, Strasburg and
Toul, which now intercepted the railway communication, must be given
over. The siege of Metz was to be maintained; but with regard to Paris,
either the blockade was to continue; or, if it were raised, one of the
forts commanding the capital was to be occupied by the Germans. The
Chamber of Deputies was to be allowed to meet at Tours in full freedom.

These conditions, especially the surrender of the fortified places, were
absolutely rejected on the French side, and the negotiations were broken
off. Eight days later Toul and Strasburg were in the hands of the


(September 23rd.)

As soon as the German coast seemed no longer threatened by the danger of
a landing of French troops, the 17th Division, which had been left
behind there, was ordered to join the army in France. It arrived before
Toul on September 12th.

This place, in itself exempt from capture by storm but commanded by
neighbouring heights, had till now been invested by Etappen troops of
the IIIrd Army, and shelled by the guns taken at Marsal and with
field-guns, but without any particular effect. The infantry on the other
hand had established a footing behind the railway embankment and in the
suburbs close up to the foot of the glacis, so that sorties by the
garrison were rendered almost impossible. In view of these circumstances
half the Division was presently sent to Châlons, where sixteen
battalions and fifteen squadrons barely sufficed to deal with the
extremely hostile attitude of the people, hold the Etappen-lines and
safeguard the communication with Germany. Thus only seven battalions,
four squadrons, and four field-batteries remained before Toul.

On the 18th there arrived from Nancy by railway ten 15 cm. and sixteen
12 cm. siege guns. The intention was to attack the western face, which
was enfiladed from Mont St. Michel, and then to breach the south-west
bastion; but first an (unsuccessful) attempt was made to reduce the
place by the shorter process of subjecting it to a bombardment with
field artillery.

On the night of the 22nd battery-emplacements for the siege artillery
were constructed by the infantry; three on Mont St. Michel, seven on the
heights on the left bank of the Moselle, and one on the right bank. Next
morning sixty-two guns opened fire, and at half-past three in the
afternoon the white flag was hoisted on the Cathedral.

The handing over of the place followed the same day (23rd), on the
conditions as had been granted at Sedan. A hundred and nine officers
were released on parole, 2240 rank and file were taken prisoners. Six
companies took possession the same evening of the city, which on the
whole had suffered little.

Twenty-one heavy guns, about 3000 stand of arms, and large stores of
provisions and forage were the prizes of success.


(September 28th.)

Immediately after the victory of Wörth, the reduction of Strasburg
became a primary object. This strong fortified position, bridge-head as
it was commanding the Rhine, was a standing menace to Southern Germany.

When Marshal MacMahon evacuated Alsace, only three battalions of the
line were left with the commandant of Strasburg. But with stragglers
from the various regiments engaged at Wörth, with sundry fourth
battalions and reserve detachments, and finally with Mobiles and
National Guards, the strength of the garrison had increased to 23,000
men. There was a complete absence of engineer troops, but 130 marines
formed an excellent nucleus; the armament of the fortress was also

So early as on the 11th August the Baden Division had been detailed to
observe Strasburg. Notwithstanding the smallness of its force the
Division had advanced unchecked by the enemy on the Ruprechtsau as far
as the Rhine-and-Ill Canal; had occupied the village of Schiltigheim,
almost within rifle-shot of the fortifications: and, having promptly
prepared it for defence, pushed forward into the suburb of Königshofen.

In the course of eight days there arrived, under the command of General
von Werder, the Guard Landwehr and 1st Reserve Divisions, and one
cavalry brigade, in all 46 battalions, 24 squadrons, and 18
field-batteries; as well as a siege-train of 200 rifled cannon and 88
mortars, with 6000 foot artillerymen and ten companies of
fortress-pioneers; a total strength of 40,000 men.

The unloading of the guns brought from Magdeburg, Coblentz, and Wesel
was begun on August 18th at the railway station of Vendenheim, by a
detachment of the Railway Battalion.

The engineer-depôt was established at Hausberge, a wagon-park at
Lampertsheim, and provision made for permanent magazines. A complete
blockade was established, and the field-telegraph kept up communication
between all the posts.

To attain the desired end with the least possible delay, an attempt was
made, contrary to the advice of General of Engineers Schultz, though
with the sanction of the supreme Head-quarter, to force the town to
surrender by stress of a bombardment. The request that the women and
children should be allowed to withdraw was necessarily refused.

The erection of the batteries for the bombardment in the dark, wet
nights was attended with great difficulties. Meanwhile only the
field-guns could fire on the city; but the batteries whose armament of
heavy guns was complete opened fire on the night of the 24th--25th; and
soon a great fire was raging. Kehl, on the right bank of the river, was
also set on fire by the shell-fire.

The Bishop of Strasburg came out to the outposts at Schiltigheim to
entreat forbearance for the citizens. Much as damage to this German city
was to be regretted, since the Prelate was not empowered to negotiate
the bombardment was continued through the night of the 25th, when it
reached its height. But the headquarter staff at Mundolsheim became
convinced that this mode of attack would not accomplish the desired
object, and that the more deliberate course of a regular siege would
have to be resorted to. General von Mertens was placed in charge of the
engineer operations, General Decker was given the direction of the

During the night of the 29th--30th August the first parallel was opened
very close to the glacis, and soon was prolonged from the Rhine and
Marne canal, through the churchyard of St. Helena, to the Jewish
cemetery at Königshofen.

The number of batteries on the left bank of the Rhine was soon increased
to 21, on the right bank to 4; so that 124 guns of the heaviest calibre
were ready in protected positions to begin the contest with the guns of
the fortress. The further offensive operations were directed against
bastions Nos. 11 and 12 on the north-west salient of the fortress. In
the night of September 1st--2nd the second parallel was completed, but
not without opposition. A strong sortie of fourteen companies of the
garrison made at daybreak (of 2nd) upon the island of Waken, and in
front of Kronenburg and Königshofen, was repulsed.

The fortress then opened a heavy fire, pouring such a storm of
projectiles on the siege-works that they had to be abandoned, till at
about nine o'clock the artillery of the attack had silenced the guns of
the fortress. A second sortie followed on the 3rd September, which was
not repulsed before it had reached the second parallel.

A short truce was granted at the request of the commandant, to allow of
the burial of the dead lying in front of the works. And on this day a
grand salvo announced to the besieged the victory of Sedan.

Incessant rain had filled the trenches of the second parallel, 2400
paces in length, ankle-deep with water, and it was not till the 9th that
they were completely repaired. Five batteries were moved forward from
the first parallel, as special batteries were required to crush the fire
of lunette No. 44, which took in flank all the approaches. These soon
silenced its guns, and the lunette was abandoned by the garrison.

There were now 96 rifled cannon pieces and 38 mortars in full fire at
very short range. Each gun was authorized to fire twenty rounds a day
and ten shrapnel each night. The large Finkmatt Barracks were destroyed
by fire, and the Stone Gate was so much injured that it had to be
buttressed with sandbags. The garrison withdrew the guns behind the
parapet, and only fired their mortars. However, in order to push forward
the siege-works, sap-rollers had to be brought into use.

When it was discovered that mining galleries were being driven in front
of lunette No. 53, Captain Ledebour let himself down by a rope into the
ditches, and with the help of his pioneers removed the charges of

During the night of the 13th--14th, the crest of the glacis in front of
both the lunettes Nos. 52 and 53 was reached. The crowning was then
begun by means of the double traverse sap, and was finished in four

The attack henceforth was exclusively directed against bastion No. 11.

To run off the water from the ditches of the fortress it was necessary
to destroy the sluices by the Jews' Gate. These were invisible from any
part of the field of attack, and the desired result could only be very
incompletely obtained by artillery fire at a distance of more than a
mile. Detachments of the 34th Fusilier Regiment, therefore, on the 15th,
marched on the sluices under a heavy rifle fire from the besieged, and
destroyed the dam.

The island of Sporen was at this time taken possession of by the Baden

When the mortar-batteries had for the most part been moved up into the
second parallel, the gun-batteries were also advanced nearer, and the
wall-piece detachments did such execution by their accurate practice
that the defenders never more dared to show themselves by day.

The retaining wall of lunette No. 53 could only be reached by indirect
fire; but 1000 shells made a breach, and on the 19th September two mines
were fired, which blew up the counterscarp and brought it down to the
level of the water of the ditch. The pioneers immediately set about
laying a dam of fascines across the ditch. A party sent over in a boat
found the work abandoned. The gorge was closed under heavy rifle fire
from the ramparts of the main fortress, and the parapet reversed so as
to face the place.

The next lunette to the left, No. 52, was merely an earthwork, and the
attack had already been pushed forward as far as the edge of the ditch,
but earth screens had first to be thrown up and covered in with railway
iron, as a protection against the heavy fire of shell from bastion No.
12. The construction of a dam of fascines or earth, more than sixty
paces across, and with the ditch full of water almost fathom deep, would
have taken a long time; so it was decided to make a cask bridge of
beer-barrels, of which a quantity had been found in Schiltigheim. This
work was begun at dusk on the 21st, under no better protection than a
screen of boards to prevent observation, and it was finished by ten
o'clock. Here again the defenders had not waited for the escalade, and
this lunette, too, was immediately prepared for being held. Both
lunettes were now furnished with batteries of mortars and guns to
silence the fire from the ravelines and counter-guards of the front of
attack, against which five dismounted and counter-batteries were also

During the night of the 22nd--23rd the Germans advanced from lunette No.
52, partly by flying sap and partly by the deep sap, and there followed
the crowning of the glacis in the front of counter-guard No. 51. A
breaching fire was immediately opened against the east face of bastion
No. 11, and the west face of bastion No. 12. The splinters of stone
compelled the defenders to abandon the counter-guards. The scarp of
bastion No. 11 fell on the 24th, after a shell-fire of 600 rounds. The
bringing down of the earthwork angle which remained standing, was
postponed till the beginning of the assault.

It was more difficult to breach bastion No. 12, because of the limited
opportunity for observing the effect of the fire. It was not till the
26th that a breach thirty-six feet wide was made, after firing 467 long
shells. And even then, for the actual assault to succeed, the deep wet
ditch at the foot of the bastion had to be crossed.

News of the fall of the Empire had indeed reached Strasburg, but General
Uhrich would not listen to the prayers of the citizens that he would put
an end to their sufferings. The Republic was proclaimed.

The siege had lasted thirty days, but the place was still well supplied
with food and stores; the garrison was not materially weakened by the
loss of 2500 men, but its heterogeneous elements prevented its
effective employment in large bodies outside the walls. From the first
the small blockading force had been allowed to approach close to the
works; and the moment when the artillery of a fortress always has the
advantage over the attack had been little utilized.

The German artillery had proved much the stronger, both as regards
material and in its advantageous employment. Under its powerful
protection the work of the pioneers and infantry was carried on with
equal courage and caution, never swerving from the object in view. The
storming of the main walls was now to be imminently expected, and no
relief from outside could be hoped for.

On the afternoon of September 27th, the white flag was seen flying from
the Cathedral tower; firing ceased and the sapper-works were stopped.

In Königshofen at two in the following morning the capitulation was
settled, on the Sedan conditions. Five hundred officers and 17,000 men
were made prisoners, but the former were free to go on their parole. The
National Guards and franctireurs were dismissed to their homes, after
laying down their arms and pledging themselves to fight no more. All the
cash remaining in the state bank, 1200 guns, 200,000 small arms and
considerable stores proved a valuable prize of war.

At eight o'clock in the morning of the 28th, companies of Prussian and
Baden troops took over the National, Fischer, and Austerlitz gates. The
French garrison marched out at the National Gate, General Uhrich at
their head. At first the march was conducted in good order, but before
long numbers of drunken men broke the ranks and refused to obey, or
threw down their arms. The prisoners were taken in the first instance to
Rastatt, under the escort of two battalions and two squadrons.

The old city of the German Reich, which had been seized by France in
time of peace nearly two centuries earlier, was now restored by German
valour to the German fatherland.

The siege had cost the Germans 39 officers and 894 men. The city
unhappily could not have been spared great suffering. Four hundred and
fifty houses were utterly destroyed, 10,000 inhabitants were roofless,
nearly 2000 were killed or wounded. The museum and picture gallery, the
town hall and theatre, the new church, the gymnasium, the Commandant's
residence, and alas! the public library of 200,000 volumes had fallen a
prey to the flames.

The noble Cathedral showed many marks of shot, and the citadel was a
heap of ruins. Under the wreck of the assailed works in the western
front lay buried burst cannon.

The fall of Toul and of Strasburg produced a not unimportant change in
the military situation. Considerable forces were now free for other
services, and the railway transport could be brought up nearer to the
armies. The material no longer required at Strasburg could not indeed be
at once employed for the artillery offensive against Paris; it needed
considerable re-equipment, and was to do duty meanwhile in the reduction
of several smaller places. The newly-opened railway line was made use of
to bring up the Guard Landwehr Division to the army investing Paris. A
new Army Corps, the XIVth, was created of the Baden Division, a combined
brigade consisting of the 30th and 34th Prussian regiments, and one
cavalry brigade; which, under the command of General von Werder, marched
on the Upper Seine. The 1st Reserve Division remained behind as the
garrison of Strasburg.


The Government in the now closely-blockaded capital, could not make its
behests heard and obeyed throughout France. It therefore decided on
sending a delegation of two of its members out into the provinces, their
seat of direction to be at Tours. They could quit Paris only in a
balloon. One of these delegates was Gambetta, whose restless energy soon
made itself conspicuously felt, and lasted during the continuance of the
war. Monsieur Thiers, meanwhile, had been visiting the European courts
on the errand of inducing them to interpose their good offices in favour
of France.

After the mishap of September 19th the feeling in Paris was against any
great offensive demonstrations for the present; but the troops of the
line still remained outside the walls under protection of the outlying
forts. The Divisions of the XIIIth Corps were encamped on the south
front and on the plateau of Vincennes; the XIVth was at Boulogne,
Neuilly and Clichy behind the loops of the Seine, with Mont Valérien in
its front, which was held by two line-battalions, after the flight, on
the 20th, of the Gardes-Mobiles from that impregnable stronghold, in
great disorder back into Paris. The defence of the northern front of the
city remained entrusted to the Gardes-Mobiles.

On the German side the positions of the Army of the Meuse, which were to
be occupied and defended to the uttermost, extended from Chatou along
the Seine to the heights of Montmorency, and onward along the Morée and
the skirts of the forest of Bondy as far as the Marne. In close touch
with the flank of the Army of the Meuse at the Marne, the lines of the
Würtemberg Division carried on the investment from Noisy le Grand across
the Joinville peninsula to Ormesson. The XIth Corps arriving from Sedan
on the 23rd filled up the interval from Ormesson to Villeneuve St.
Georges, and the 1st Bavarian Corps occupied Longjumeau as a protection
against attempts from the direction of Orleans. The VIth Corps could now
be entirely transferred to the left bank of the Seine, where the line of
defence extended along the wooded heights south of Paris to Bougival.

The Head-quarter of the King and that of the IIIrd Army were at
Versailles, that of the Army of the Meuse was transferred to
Vert-Galant. Numerous bridges facilitated the inter-communication of the
various portions of the forces, telegraphs and signal-lights insured
their rapid concentration, and every movement of the French was watched
from eligible posts of observation.

There was no lack of accommodation for the troops, for every village was
deserted; but this made the difficulty of obtaining supplies all the
greater. The fugitive inhabitants had driven off their cattle and
destroyed their stores; there remained only the apparently inexhaustible
wine-cellars. For the first few days all the food needed had to be drawn
from the Commissariat trains, but ere long the cavalry succeeded in
obtaining considerable supplies. High prices and good discipline secured
a market. Only the troops in advanced positions had to bivouac or build
huts, many within range of the hostile artillery, some even within
rifle-shot of the enemy. Near St. Cloud, for instance, no one could show
himself without becoming a mark for the chassepôts from behind the
shutters of the houses opposite. The outposts here could only be
relieved at night, and sometimes had to remain on duty two or three days
at a time. The advanced positions of the Bavarians at Moulin la Tour
were also much exposed, and the visits of superior officers to them
always drew a sharp cannonade. Le Bourget, standing as it did in advance
of the line of inundation, was especially liable to a surprise. That
village had been seized on 20th (Sept.) by a battalion of the Guard
Corps, at whose approach 400 Gardes-Mobiles had fled, leaving their
baggage. Only one company occupied this post, on account of the heavy
fire of the adjacent forts.

Some petty sorties from St. Denis met with no success; but an attempt by
detachments of the VIth Corps to occupy the village of Villejuif and the
redoubt of Hautes Bruyères proved unsuccessful. They forced their way in
several times, but always had to retire under the fire of the
neighbouring forts of Bicêtre and Ivry, and because of the superior
strength of Maud'huy's Division. The French afterwards armed the
redoubts with heavy guns.

_September 30th._--Early on this day a cannonade of an hour and a half's
duration from the southern forts and batteries announced a sortie in
that direction. By six o'clock two brigades of the XIIIth French Corps
deployed against Thiais and Choisy le Roi. Strong swarms of tirailleurs
drove in the outposts of the VIth Corps, and forced the field-guns in
position between those two villages to retire; but then the fire of the
infantry garrisons checked any further attack on the part of the French.
Further to the west a third brigade got into Chevilly and seized a
factory on the road to Belle Epine; but its determined attack failed to
obtain possession of the whole village. The 11th Division was alarmed in
its rearward quarters, and hurried forward to the support of the 12th.
The factory was recovered from the French, and the Prussian batteries
now opened fire, and worked such havoc among the enemy as he retired on
Saussaye, that, shunning the attack of the infantry, he fled in great
disorder to Hautes Bruyères and Villejuif. A brigade which had forced
its way into L'Hay was in the same way driven back, leaving 120
prisoners for the most part unwounded. In the farmstead at the north
entrance of Chevilly, however, the French still held their ground with
great obstinacy. Not till they were completely surrounded, and had made
an ineffectual attempt to force a passage, did surrender those brave
defenders, who numbered about 100.

The whole series of attacks was entirely defeated by about nine o'clock,
and General Vinoy vainly endeavoured to incite the diminished battalions
at Hautes Bruyères to renew the struggle.

These few morning hours had cost the VIth Corps 28 officers and 413 men;
and the French many more.

Two simultaneous feint-attacks on Sèvres and on Mesly on the right bank
of the Seine, came to nothing. The German outposts, at first driven in,
re-occupied their ground by about nine o'clock.

After thus failing to gain space towards the southward by this sortie,
the besieged proceeded to assure themselves of the ground already in
their possession by the construction of entrenchments. They fortified
Villejuif and extended their lines from Hautes Bruyères past Arcueil to
the Mill of Pichon, so that there the Bavarian outposts had to be drawn
in nearer to Bourg-la-Reine.

Otherwise, throughout the first half of the month of October the
garrison of Paris restricted itself for the most part to daily
cannonades. Guns of the heaviest calibre were directed on the most petty
objects. It was sheer waste of ammunition, just as though the aim was to
get rid of the stores on hand. If one of the gigantic long shells
happened to fall on an outpost, the destruction was of course terrible;
but on the whole they did little execution.

Apart from the noise of the cannonade to which one soon became
accustomed, in Versailles, whence none of the residents had fled, it
might have been thought a time of profound peace. The admirable
discipline of the German troops allowed the townsfolk to pursue their
business undisturbed; the hosts were well paid for the billeting imposed
on them, and the country people could cultivate their fields and gardens
in peace. At St. Cloud every room was kept in the same order as when
the Imperial family had left it, till the shells from Mont Valérien
reduced that delightful palace with all its treasures of art to a heap
of charred ruins. It was the French fire, too, which wrecked the Château
of Meudon, the porcelain factory of Sèvres, and whole villages in the
nearer environs. And it was also the French themselves who, without any
necessity, felled half the Bois de Boulogne.

The investment line was considerably strengthened on the 10th and 16th
of October, when the 17th Division arriving from Toul relieved the 21st
at Bonneuil, and the latter took up a position between the Bavarians and
the Vth Corps, in the Meudon--Sèvres tract; and when the Guard Landwehr
Division came up and occupied St. Germain.

These movements were observed from Paris, and to clear up the situation,
General Vinoy advanced at nine o'clock on 13th October with about 26,000
men and 80 guns, against the position held by the IInd Bavarian Corps.

Four battalions of Gardes-Mobiles, protected by the fire of the nearest
forts and of field batteries, advanced to the attack of Bagneux, and
forced their way over the entrenchments wrecked by artillery fire, into
the heart of the place, whence the defenders retired to Fontenay, when
at eleven o'clock the French 10th Regiment of the line had also come up.
Reinforced by a fresh battalion, and supported by an effective flanking
fire from Châtillon, the Bavarians now made so firm a stand that the
enemy could make no further progress, but began to put Bagneux in a
state of defence. Meanwhile the 4th Bavarian Division had stood to arms,
and by about 1.30 General von Bothmer (its commander) moved it up from
Sceaux and from Fontenay, and proceeded to surround Bagneux. The
barricades erected by the enemy were carried, who however still offered
an obstinate resistance in the northern part of the village.

A French battalion had also made its way into Châtillon, but the
Bavarian battalion in occupation there held its own until assistance
came, and the enemy was driven out of the place after a sharp conflict.

A third brigade seized Clamart, which at that time was not yet included
in the German intrenched lines; but it failed to climb the ascent to
Moulin de la Tour, although the defenders on the plateau above were
exposed to the fire of the forts.

General Vinoy had convinced himself that forces which were a match for
him confronted him at every point, and at three o'clock he decided to
break off the fight. The French bodies of troops gradually disappeared
behind the forts, and had all vanished by dusk. The Bavarians returned
to their former fore-post positions, and the garrison of Bagneux was
increased to two battalions.

All France had meanwhile been arming with eager haste. Armies of
considerable strength were being massed at Rouen and Evreux, at
Besançon, and especially behind the Loire, of very various composition
no doubt, and above all lacking in professional officers to drill and
discipline them. Great battles were therefore in the first instance to
be avoided; the enemy was to be constantly harassed by small
engagements. Thus, towards the end of September, General Delarue
advanced from Evreux with his "Eclaireurs de la Seine" up to the
vicinity of St. Germain. But the 5th Cavalry Division, supported by two
Bavarian battalions, drove these bands back to Dreux behind the Eure.
The woods in front of the 6th Cavalry Division were also full of hostile
parties, who were, however, swept out without much difficulty beyond
Rambouillet to Epernon.

Matters looked more serious to the south of Paris, in front of the 4th
Cavalry Division, which was in observation towards the Loire.

The newly-formed French XVth Corps had assembled at Orleans in three
Divisions with a strength of 60,000 men, and it occupied the whole
forest-belt on the right bank of the river. To counteract the danger
threatening the investment from that direction, the 1st Bavarian Corps
and the 22nd Division of the XIth had been put in march on Arpajon and
Montcléry as soon as they were freed from duty at Sedan; and on the 6th
of October they were placed, with the 2nd Cavalry Division, under the
command of General von der Tann.


(October 10th.)

When General von der Tann received instructions to take the offensive
against Orleans, he marched on the 9th of October to the vicinity of St.
Péravy without meeting any serious opposition, and on the 10th advanced
on Artenay. The 4th Cavalry Division covered the right flank; the 2nd
remained near Pithiviers, where the enemy had collected in great force.

General La Motterouge on the same day also moved out on Artenay with the
XVth French Corps, having the wood in his rear occupied by
Gardes-Mobiles; and so the advanced guards of both sides met at a short
distance to the north of the common objective.

While the Bavarian light horse on the right were driving the French
cavalry before them, the infantry deployed across the road near to
Dambron. The 22nd Division marched forward on Dambron with both Cavalry
Divisions on its flanks. Under the fire of the Bavarian batteries, the
French had gone about to Artenay, where the Germans were ready to
receive them. Attacked in front and threatened by bodies of horse, at
about two o'clock, leaving their tents standing, they began a retreat
which soon degenerated into flight. The cavalry seized four field-guns
and took above 250 prisoners. Six hundred more, who had reached Croix
Briquet, surrendered there to the Bavarian infantry on the arrival of
the latter.

The German troops had made a long march; General von der Tann therefore
allowed them rest for the day in and around Artenay, and only the
advanced guard went on to Chevilly, to pursue the march to Orleans next


(October 11th.)

On this day, the 22nd Division, for the time only 6000 strong, moved to
the right flank of the advance, and drove the French out of several
villages partly prepared for defence; it was not till about ten o'clock
that it met with serious opposition from an intrenched position at

The French Commander after the disaster at Artenay had decided on a
retreat behind the Loire, to cover which he had halted about 15,000 men
on the right bank of the river, in a position which possessed many
essentials towards a good defence.

General von Wittich (commanding 22nd Division) first sent the 44th
Brigade against this position at Ormes, and opened fire from seven
batteries. The troops of his left wing, supported by the Bavarian right,
made their way but slowly over the plain east of the enemy's position,
and various enclosures and buildings had to be stormed and taken as
they advanced. This threatening attitude of the German right, however,
shook the firmness of the defence, and, after some hours' hard fighting,
the French began to retreat. No sooner was this observed by the Germans
than two batteries were brought up to within 800 paces, and the 83rd
Regiment stormed the entrenchments at two in the afternoon, but with
heavy loss. Detachments of the 43rd Brigade had meanwhile reached the
road in rear of Ormes, and took 800 prisoners. But the villages, gardens
and vineyards which line the road to Orleans for more than four miles on
either side, were serious obstacles to the advance of the Germans in
close formation, and the Division did not arrive at Petit St. Jean till
three o'clock, of which the nearest buildings were forcibly taken
possession of.

The Bavarian Corps, which had also met with a stout resistance at Saran,
pushed forward to Bel Air, but with great loss, especially in the
artillery. Here the nature of the ground did not allow of the deployment
of the guns, a further attack came to a standstill, and at half-past
four the French were still stoutly holding their own at Les Aides, till
the advance of the 4th Bavarian Brigade to Murlins threatened their line
of retreat. They made a renewed stand behind the railway embankment,
1000 paces in front of the town, and the railway-station and gas-works
had also to be taken by assault.

It was already five o'clock when General von der Tann led his reserve,
the 1st Bavarian Brigade, to the decisive assault of Grand Ormes. The
32nd Prussian Regiment crossed the embankment on the left flank of the
French, who now retired into the suburb of St. Jean. The 1st Bavarian
Regiment, hurrying in their rear, was received with a hot fire at the
gate of the city; but with its officers marching at its head it reached
the market-place about seven o'clock.

The French hurried across the bridge over the Loire, while the 43rd
Prussian and 1st Bavarian Brigades seized the principal buildings and
the passages across the river; but as darkness fell they desisted from
further advance and bivouacked on the open places of the city.

The day had cost the Germans a loss of 900 men, the 3rd Bavarian Brigade
having suffered most severely. But their hard-won victory promptly
dispelled the disquietude of the investing armies caused by the
threatening attitude of the French; and 5000 rifles, ten locomotives and
sixty railway-carriages were welcome prizes.

The French rear-guard had lost in detached combats and retreats alone
1800 prisoners; but it had covered the retreat of the main body of the
Army of the South for a whole day against superior forces, with
praiseworthy determination. In the open field, where skilful handling of
masses is possible, it would soon have been defeated; but in
street-fighting unflinching personal courage is all that is needed in
the defender, and the latest recruits of the newly created French levies
did not lack that attribute.

On the following day the 1st Bavarian Division took possession of the
suburb of St. Marceau, on the further side of the Loire, and advanced to
the Loiret. The 2nd Cavalry Division scouted through the Sologne, the
4th on the right bank ranged to the westward.

The French XVth Corps had continued its retreat to Salbris and
Pierrefitte, behind the Sauldre.

It was certainly to be wished that its pursuit could have been followed
up to Vierzon and Tours, so that the vast arsenals at the first-named
town might have been destroyed, and the Government Delegation driven
away from the other. But it must not be forgotten that though the French
forces had been discomfited at Artenay, favoured by the nature of the
locality they had escaped utter defeat by retreat. General von der Tann
was disproportionately weak in the infantry arm, and hostile masses
were disclosing themselves on all sides. A new French Army Corps, the
XVIth, appeared at Blois, below Orleans, and at Gien, above that city;
the German cavalry met with resistance in the forest of Marchénoir and
before Châteaudun; and everywhere the inhabitants and volunteers
appeared so full of confidence that the proximity of reinforcements was
to be presumed.

So it behoved the Germans to restrict themselves to the occupation of
Orleans and the line of the Loire; and for this purpose the Bavarian
Corps, with the 2nd Cavalry Division, seemed a sufficient force. The
22nd Infantry and 4th Cavalry Divisions were recalled to the IIIrd Army;
on their return march they were charged to disperse the volunteers who
had made their appearance at Châteaudun and Chartres.

General von der Tann had the bridges over the Loiret and the Loire
prepared for destruction, an Etappen-line was established to Longjumeau,
and the Bavarian Railway Detachment set to work to restore the line to


(October 15th.)

Soissons still hindered the further utilization of the railway, which
had been re-opened at the time of the fall of Toul as far as Rheims.
This fortress had been bombarded by field artillery without success when
the Army of the Meuse passed by it on the march to Paris, and since then
it had only been kept under observation until on October 6th eight
Landwehr battalions, four squadrons, two batteries, two companies of
pioneers, and four of fortress artillery made good the investment.

Soissons, with its walls about 26 feet high, had complete immunity from
escalade, and the damming of the Crise brook made it unassailable on the
south. The south-west front, on the other hand, had only a dry ditch,
with no counterscarp of masonry; here, too, the town was commanded by
Mont Marion, rising to a height of 300 feet at a distance of little more
than a mile. Against this face of the fortress, therefore, the artillery
attack was directed at short range, when on the 11th October there
arrived from Toul 26 Prussian siege-guns with 170 rounds for each, and
10 French mortars. The Grand Duke of Mecklenburg took over the command.

In a clear moonlight night the artillery with the help of the infantry
was brought up on to the heights of Ste. Geneviève; the construction of
the batteries about Belleu and in Mont Marion was completed and the
arming of them effected. At six in the morning of 12th October they
opened fire simultaneously.

The besieged answered with great spirit but with small results, and the
accurate fire of the Prussian artillery soon subdued that of the enemy
in the particular front.

A narrow breach was visible by next day, and the fire from the fortress
was evidently much enfeebled; but the commandant decidedly rejected the
demand that he should capitulate. On the 14th he increased the number of
guns on his south front, so that the batteries on Ste. Geneviève had an
arduous struggle. The French also laboured hard along the front of the
attack to restore the severely damaged works, brought more guns up to
the ramparts, and closed the breach by retrenchment.

But on the 15th these repairs were soon demolished again by the
artillery of the attack, and a breach was made 40 paces wide and amply
spread with earth. As the fortress still kept up a brisk fire, it was
determined to bring up the field-batteries within 900 paces. But at
eight in the evening, when this operation was just begun, the commandant
opened negotiations and surrendered the place on the Sedan terms. The
garrison marched out next morning, for the most part drunk. A thousand
Gardes-Mobiles were dismissed on parole, 3800 regulars were made

The attack had cost 120 men; 128 guns and 8000 small arms became prize
of war, besides vast stores of provisions.


(October 18th.)

In obedience to instructions, General von Wittich marched on Châteaudun
with the 22nd Division on the afternoon of the 18th. The French troops
of the line had already been ordered to retire on Blois, but about 1800
National Guards and volunteers still remained, prepared under cover of
barricades and walls to receive the enemy. The infantry attack was also
made more difficult by the nature of the ground, and four batteries had
to keep up a hot fire for a long time.

It was not till dusk that a general assault was had recourse to. Inside
the town the enemy made a desperate resistance. House after house had to
be won, the fighting lasted until late into the night, and a large part
of the place was set on fire. The volunteers finally escaped, leaving
150 prisoners and abandoning the inhabitants to their fate; and these,
though they had taken part in the struggle, were let off with a fine.

At noon on the 21st the Division arrived in front of Chartres, where
10,000 French were said to have assembled. The marine infantry and
Gardes-Mobiles advanced to the attack, but were repulsed by the fire of
seven batteries. The General commanding the Division had deployed both
his brigades southward of the city, and with the assistance of his
cavalry, which had been joined by the 6th (Cavalry) Division, completely
surrounded it. The fate of Châteaudun had been a warning to the
municipal authorities, and at three o'clock an agreement was come to by
which the troops were to be withdrawn, the National Guards to lay down
their arms, and the gates to be thrown open.

General Wittich's orders were to remain at Chartres for the present,
while the 6th Cavalry Division was to occupy Maintenon, and so cover the
investing army to the west.

Not less fervid was the rush to arms in the north, in Picardy and
Normandy. The Saxon Cavalry Division, supported by detachments of the
Army of the Meuse, had in the early part of October driven the
franctireurs and Gardes-Mobiles beyond the Oise and the Epte on Amiens,
taking some hundreds of prisoners. But fresh swarms were constantly
coming on, and had to be attacked at Breteuil, Montdidier, and
Etrêpagny, so that no less than eleven battalions, twenty-four
squadrons, and four batteries, were by degrees employed in this
direction for the protection of the besieging force. But by the end of
the month the French forces were so systematically organized and in so
great strength, that for the time the Germans had to confine themselves
to holding on the defensive the line of the Epte.

To the south-east also, in the forest-land of Fontainebleau, hostilities
were prosecuted by the volunteers, particularly against
requisition-parties of cavalry; and from Nangis obstruction was
threatened to the transport of the siege-guns. A small force of
Würtemberg troops seized Montereau, which, though barricaded, was not
defended; the inhabitants gave up their arms, and the detachment marched
on Nogent. This town was held by a large body of Gardes-Mobiles. After
breaching the walls of the churchyard, the Würtembergers, in the face
of a hot fire, made their way into the place. The French still offered a
stout resistance in its interior, but finally retired on Troyes, leaving
600 dead and wounded. The small flying column rejoined its Division,
having traversed over 126 miles in six days.


(October 21st.)

The French capital had now been invested for more than four weeks, and
it seemed not impossible, because of the long continuance of inactivity,
that it might be brought to surrender by famine. All the sorties
hitherto attempted had only had for their object to drive the enemy from
the closest vicinity; a new effort was to aim at greater results. The
project was to cross the Seine below Paris at Bezons and Carrières, and
to make a simultaneous attack on the positions of the IVth Prussian
Corps on the heights of Argenteuil from the south, and from St.-Denis
from the east. A march on Rouen by Pontoise was to follow, into a
district not yet altogether exhausted of resources. The Army of the
Loire was also to proceed thither by railway by way of Le Mans, and so
there would be massed in that region an army of 250,000 men.

The Prussian Vth Corps, it was true, stood right on the flank of such an
advance across the Seine; its outposts had several times been seen in
Rueil. As a preliminary step, General Ducrot undertook to force back
this body with 10,000 men and 120 field-guns. Then an intrenched line
from Valérien to Carrières would close the peninsula against
interference from the southward.

Perhaps, in the face of much-dreaded "public opinion" and the growing
restlessness of political parties in Paris, it was more the urgency to
be doing something than any serious hope of success which gave rise to
such far-reaching schemes. Considerable difficulties had to be met in
attacking the enemy's lines, and greater must inevitably arise if the
attack should succeed. It was vain to think of bringing through the
miles-long trains which are indispensable for victualling an army.
Serious embarrassment would ensue when the troops had consumed the three
days' rations they would carry with them. To live on the country the
army must disperse itself; but with the enemy at its heels close
concentration was indispensable. And, in any case, it is hard to see
what would have been gained by withdrawing from Paris the forces which
had been assembled for the defence of the capital. Success could only
have been hoped for if an army from without had been so near as to be
able immediately to give the hand to the troops marching out.

However, on the 21st of October, after Mont Valérien had all the morning
kept up a seemingly ineffective fire, General Ducrot advanced at about
one o'clock to attack the position of the Prussian 19th Brigade whose
supports held the line Bougival--Jonchère--Fohlenkoppel. Fourteen French
field-batteries deployed on either side of Rueil and about the southern
base of Valérien; the infantry advanced in five columns behind this
artillery front.

On the German side only two batteries could at first engage in the
unequal duel, and one of these near the Villa Metternich had very soon
to retire. The French guns advanced rightward to within 1400 paces of
Bougival, and at three o'clock four companies of Zouaves rushed out of
Rueil. Being received with a hot fire, they wheeled into the park of
Malmaison, and without opposition seized the Château of Buzanval and the
eastern slope of the deep-cut ravine of Cucufa. And here one of their
batteries was brought up into the fighting-line to support them.

While the main body of the 9th Division advanced from Versailles on
Vaucresson, the 10th deployed against the ravine and at Villa
Metternich. The infantry fire lasted for a full hour, and wrought the
French much loss. When at about four o'clock they seemed sufficiently
shaken, and a reinforcement of the Guard Landwehr had come up from St.
Germain on the left, the German left wing advanced from Bougival and
over the height of Jonchère, forced its way into Malmaison in spite of
violent opposition, and followed the retreating Zouaves as far as Rueil.
The right wing at the same time having turned the head of the Cucufa
ravine, charged against its eastern slope, drove out the enemy, seized
the battery of two guns, and occupied the Château of Buzanval.

The French now retired on all sides, firing ceased by six o'clock, and
the 10th Division, which had repulsed the enemy's assaults
single-handed, re-established its previous fore-post line.

The struggle had cost the Germans 400 men. The French, on the other
hand, had in this luckless enterprise left 500 dead and wounded, and 120

Soon after this affair the French began to throw up entrenchments within
800 paces of the line of the Guard Corps; and in the early morning of
the 28th, General Bellemare, under cover of the darkness, advanced on Le
Bourget with a force of several battalions.

The German company in occupation there, taken completely by surprise,
could only retire before such overwhelming numbers, to Pont Iblon and
Blanc Mesnil. The French promptly barricaded themselves in the place and
prepared it for an obstinate defence. A German battalion made a vain
attempt that evening to drive them out; it was repulsed with heavy loss.
Equally unsuccessful next day was the fire of thirty field-guns
directed against the place from Pont Iblon. Then, however, the Crown
Prince of Saxony issued imperative orders to the Guard Corps to
recapture Le Bourget without delay.


(October 30th.)

Accordingly on October 30th, nine battalions of the 2nd Guard-Division
and five batteries, under the command of Lieutenant-General von
Budritzki,[33] were assembled at Dugny, Pont Iblon and Blanc Mesnil for
a concentric attack on Le Bourget. The artillery in action along the
bank of the Morée inundation opened the attack at about eight in the
morning, and then the infantry went forward. The terrain was perfectly
open, and the advance was under fire, not merely from Le Bourget, but
also from the heavy guns of the forts. Nevertheless the Grenadier
Battalion of the Queen Elizabeth Regiment, at the head of the central
column, at nine o'clock made a successful assault, charging over the
barricade at the northern end of the village, and entering it through a
breach in the wall promptly made by the pioneers. The Emperor Francis
Grenadier Regiment advanced against its western face and took possession
of the park. A fierce street-fight ensued on a further advance into the
village, in the course of which there fell the commanders of both
regiments, Colonels von Zaluskowski and Count Waldersee. The walled
farmsteads left of the main street, were stormed one after another in
spite of a determined defence; the windows of the church, high up in the
walls as they were, were broken in and scaled, and a hand-to-hand fight
raged furiously inside the sacred building. The Guard Rifle-Battalion
forced its way into the glass-works.

At half-past nine the French attempted to bring up into Le Bourget
reinforcements from Aubervillers and Drancy; but the left German column
had meanwhile seized the railway-embankment, placed a detachment of the
Emperor Alexander Regiment to hold it, and was forcing its way into the
southern quarter of the village. Two batteries had taken up position on
the Mollette brook, and their fire drove back the enemy and even
compelled him to evacuate Drancy.

At ten o'clock the French still held the buildings on the north side of
the Mollette. These were now assailed from the south. The 4th Company of
the Emperor Alexander Regiment crossed the stream and forced its way
through a breach made by the sappers into the farmstead in which the
enemy's main force was gathered. The defenders had to be quelled with
the bayonet and with clubbed arms, and here the French Colonel de
Baroche met his death.

Although by this time--eleven o'clock--all the three attacking columns
had struck hands in the heart of Le Bourget, the enemy continued the
struggle in detached houses and gardens with embittered desperation till
the afternoon, while all the forts on the north front of Paris
overwhelmed the place with shell-fire. It was not till half-past one
that the troops of the attack could withdraw by companies to their
respective quarters. Two battalions remained to garrison Le Bourget.

The desperate resistance of the French showed how important they
considered their retention of this post. Its success had cost the 2nd
(Guard) Division 500 men. The enemy's loss is not known, but 1200
prisoners were taken. This new disaster added to the dissatisfaction of
the inhabitants of Paris. The revolutionary factions, which at all times
lurk in the French capital, came ominously to the front.

Highly-coloured reports could no longer conceal utter lack of results;
the authority of the Government was steadily on the wane. It was accused
of incapacity, nay, of treason. Noisy mobs clamoured for arms, and even
a part of the National Guard took part in the tumult. The Hôtel de Ville
was surrounded by a throng shouting "Vive la Commune!" and though other
troops dispersed these gatherings, the ringleaders, though well known,
went unpunished.

On the 31st of October uproarious masses again paraded the streets. As
General Trochu had forbidden the sentries at the Hôtel de Ville to use
their arms, the rebels forced their way in. The Ministers were their
prisoners till the evening, when some battalions which remained staunch
liberated them.

Monsieur Thiers, who had returned from his fruitless tour among the
European Courts, thought the time had come for re-opening negotiations
with Versailles. On the part of the Germans there was still the
readiness to grant an armistice, but it was naturally impossible to
accede to the condition demanded by the French, that the city should be
re-provisioned, and so hostilities had to take their course.

At this time, towards the end of October, the situation on the Moselle
had assumed an aspect which essentially modified that of the whole war.

      *      *      *      *      *[34]

By the exchange of German prisoners for French who had fought at Sedan,
details of the disaster which had befallen France in that battle were
currently known in Metz. But Marshal Bazaine declared that the Army of
the Rhine would continue to defend the country against the invaders, and
maintain public order against the evil passions of disloyal men--a
resolution which certainly could be interpreted in more ways than one.
It would have been eminently satisfactory to the Germans, politically
speaking, if there had been in France an available power, apart from
the pretentious but feeble Government in Paris, with which to come to an
understanding as regarded the termination of the war. Permission was
therefore given for the admission to Metz of a person representing
himself to have a commission from the exiled Imperial family. As he was
unable to authenticate himself in this capacity to the satisfaction of
Marshal Bazaine, General Bourbaki was allowed to pass through the German
lines that he might betake himself to London, where, however, the
Empress Eugénie declined all intervention in the already so disastrous
affairs of France. The General then placed his services at the disposal
of the National Defence Government at Tours.

Meanwhile the army which had been beleaguered in Metz since the day of
Noisseville maintained a waiting attitude. The necessary supplies for
70,000 inhabitants, including the country-folk who had taken refuge in
the city, had originally been enough to last three months and a half,
those for the regular garrison were calculated for about five months;
but for the Army of the Rhine there was sustenance in store for only
forty-one days, and there was forage for only twenty-five.

Certainly it was possible to supplement the supplies for the troops by
purchase from the abundant stores of the citizens; but ere long smaller
rations of bread were served out and horses were being slaughtered to
furnish animal food, so that most of the cavalry regiments were reduced
to two squadrons.

On the German side, the service of supplying 197,326 men and 33,136
horses was one of great difficulty. The outbreak of cattle-plague in
Germany restricted the importation of live beasts to those purchased in
Holland and Belgium. The meat rations had to be supplemented by tinned
provisions; and increased rations of oats had to take the place of hay
and straw.

The losses of the army had hitherto been made good from the reserves,
but the transport of the prisoners from Sedan alone required the
services of fourteen battalions of the force blockading Metz. Thus it
had not yet been possible to provide sufficient shelter for the troops
near the wide extension of the entrenched line. Raw, rainy weather had
come on early in the season, and a fourth part of the men were still
roofless; so that by degrees the sick in hospital reached the alarming
number of 40,000.

Although fifty heavy guns had been brought up from Germany, they were
useless for the bombardment of Metz, since in consequence of the
superior calibre of the fortress artillery they could only be fired at
night, and with frequent change of position. There was nothing for it
but to hope for the best, and have patience.

For four weeks already had the besieged been consuming their stores. To
replenish those in some degree, and at the same time to revive the
spirit of the troops by active measures, the Marshal decided on fetching
in all the provisions to be found in the villages inside the line of the
German investment, under cover of a sortie.

At noon on September 22nd Fort St. Julien opened a heavy fire on the
outposts of the Ist Corps. Strong bodies of infantry then advanced on
the villages to the eastward, drove in the picquets of the enemy, and
returned to Metz with the stores which had been seized. But a similar
attempt made next afternoon on the villages to the north was less
successful. Most of the waggons had to return empty, under the fire of
the Prussian batteries quickly brought up into position. Finally, on the
27th, a sortie for the same purpose was made to the southward, which led
to a series of small conflicts and the capture in Peltre of a German
company, which was surrounded by a much stronger force. A simultaneous
sally on the left bank of the Moselle was baffled by the fire of the
alert artillery of the besieging force.

Thionville, on the north of Metz, had hitherto only been kept under
observation by a small force, which could not hinder the garrison from
scouring the country as far as the neighbouring frontier, taking many
prisoners, seizing fifty waggon-loads of supplies, and even diverting
into the fortress a whole train of provision-trucks while passing by the
now restored railway from Luxemburg.

In point of fact, the Army of the Rhine would have found in Thionville
an important rallying-point at the end of its first day's march, if the
blockade of Metz could have been broken through. Prince Frederick
Charles, realizing this, took care to strengthen the investing lines to
the north, on the right bank of the Moselle. On October 1st the Xth
Corps took up the position hitherto held by the Reserve Division Kummer,
which was transferred to the left bank of the river. The Ist, VIIth, and
VIIIth Corps closed up to the right, and the IInd occupied the space
between the Seille and the Moselle; the troops before Thionville were
also reinforced.

The Marshal had really once more determined to break out to the
northward, and that on both banks of the river. New bridges were
constructed behind St. Julien and from the island of Chambière, the
nearest German outposts on the north and west of Metz were pushed back
by a series of daily skirmishes. Under cover of the fire of the forts
the French established themselves firmly in Lessy and Ladonchamps. The
troops to be left in Metz were expressly selected; the others tested as
to their marching powers. Light-signals were arranged with Thionville,
and all preparations made for a sortie on the 7th.

Then the French commander suddenly changed his mind, and the proposed
enterprise collapsed into a foraging expedition.

For this, indeed, large forces were set in motion; the Guard Voltigeur
Division, the VIth Corps, and the IVth in the forest of Woippy. The
movement was also to be supported by the IIIrd Corps on the right bank
of the river.

Four hundred waggons were in readiness to carry off the stores from the
large farms lying north of Ladonchamps.


[33] Commanding 2nd Guard-Division.

[34] In text there is at this point no Section-Headline, although the
subject changes; but the succeeding pages till commencement of new
Section are headed: "Die Lage vor Metz im October." This heading is
followed in translation.


(October 7th.)

Although the start from Woippy planned for eleven o'clock, was not
effected till one, the Landwehr companies on outpost duty were driven in
by superior numbers, and as they defended their positions till their
ammunition was exhausted, they also lost a considerable number of
prisoners. But the artillery of the Landwehr Division prevented the
removal of the stores; the 5th Division advancing from Norroy struck the
left flank of the French attack and drove the enemy back on Bellevue,
where a stationary fight developed itself.

The French IIIrd Corps advanced on the right bank of the Moselle against
Malroy and Noisseville. Here, too, the outpost line fell back; but
behind it stood the Xth and Ist Corps, ready for action. The respective
Corps commanders at once perceived that this attack was only a feint.
Although threatened himself, General von Voigts-Rhetz sent his 38th
Brigade across the Moselle at Argancy by half-past two to assist the
Landwehr Division, and when General von Manteuffel forwarded him
supports to Charly, the 37th Brigade followed.

No sooner had the first reinforcements arrived than General von Kummer
on his side took the offensive, recaptured the farmsteads from the
enemy after a sharp struggle just as the latter were about to retire,
and then, supported on the right by part of the 5th Division, moved on
Bellevue at about six in the evening. Ladonchamps, however, still
remained in the hands of the French. Late in the evening the 19th and
Reserve Divisions advanced on this place. The premises of the château,
which were surrounded by a moat, were carefully intrenched and strongly
defended by infantry and guns. The darkness precluded effective
artillery action, and the attack failed; but all the other points
previously held by the Germans were re-occupied.

The day had cost the Prussians 1700 killed and wounded, besides 500
reported missing. The French loss was given out to be no more than 1193.

This attempt on the part of the French might be regarded as tentative,
and preliminary only to a real effort to break through; perhaps it was
so intended. The German troops therefore remained in the positions they
had occupied at the close of the fighting, in expectation of renewed
hostilities on the morrow.

The forts in fact opened a heavy fire on the farm-buildings early on the
8th, while the German batteries directed their fire on Ladonchamps.
Strong columns also advanced along the right bank of the Moselle, but
nowhere attempted a serious attack. The Prussian troops therefore
presently retired to their quarters.

The artillery duel was carried on for the next few days, but with
diminished energy. Constant rain made all field operations very
difficult, and increased the sufferings of the men on both sides. In
Metz the lack of victuals was becoming very painfully felt. So early as
on the 8th the commandant had announced that his stores would not last
longer than for twelve days. A council of war, held on the 10th, was,
however, of opinion that the greatest service the Army of the Rhine
could do to France was to hold out as long as possible, since it thus
continued to detain a hostile army under the walls of Metz.

The Marshal now sent General Boyer to negotiate at Versailles, but his
instructions were to demand a free exit for the army and explicitly to
refuse the terms of the Sedan capitulation.

The state of affairs in Metz was perfectly well known to the Germans.
The number of men who were taken willing prisoners while digging
potatoes increased every day. They reported that disturbances had broken
out in the city, in which even part of the soldiers had taken part, and
that the commander-in-chief had been compelled to proclaim the Republic.
And since the Empress had declared that she would never give her consent
to any diminution of French territory, no further political negotiations
were possible with the chiefs of the Army of the Rhine.

On the 20th the distribution of stores came to an end within the
fortress, and the troops thenceforth for the most part subsisted on
horseflesh. The original stock of 20,000 horses was reduced by a
thousand a day. The want of bread and salt was severely felt, and the
soaked, deep ground made living in camp almost unendurable.

After the failure of the negotiations at Versailles, the imperative
necessity of entering into negotiations with the Headquarter of the
besieging army was recognized by a council of war held on the 24th.

The first interview had no result, as the Marshal still stipulated for
free egress on condition of withdrawing to Algiers, or the alternative
of an armistice with the reprovisioning of Metz. On the German side the
surrender of the fortress and the march out of the garrison as prisoners
of war were insisted on, and on these conditions the capitulation was
signed on the evening of the 27th of October.


(October 27th.)[35]

On the morning of the 29th[35] Prussian flags were hoisted on the great
outworks of Metz. At one o'clock the French garrison marched out by six
roads in perfect silence and correct military formation.[36] At each
specified position a Prussian Army Corps stood to receive the prisoners,
who were immediately placed in bivouacs previously prepared, and
supplied with food. The officers were allowed to keep their swords and
to return to Metz; provisions were immediately sent in.

Marshal Bazaine set out for Cassel.

In the course of the day the 26th Brigade occupied Metz. The city had
suffered no injury, but the state of the camps showed what the troops
had suffered during the siege of seventy-two days.

The Germans during that time had lost 240 officers and 5500 men in
killed and wounded.

Six thousand French officers and 167,000 men were taken prisoners,
beside 20,000 sick who could not be at once removed, about 200,000 in
all.[37] Fifty-six Imperial eagles, 622 field and 876 fortress guns, 72
mitrailleuses and 260,000 rifles fell into the hands of the Germans.

The prisoners were transported by way of Trèves and Saarbrücken,
escorted by Landwehr battalions, and as these would have also to guard
them when in Germany, their return to field service was not to be
reckoned on.


[35] The Protocol embodying the terms of capitulation was signed on the
evening of the 27th; its provisions came into effect at and after 10
a.m. of the 29th.

[36] On the contrary, there were much drunkenness and disorder.

[37] The 20,000 sick were included in the total of 173,000 officers and
men surrendered.


The capitulation of Metz, which Prince Frederick Charles had brought
about under such serious difficulties, materially improved the prospects
of the war for Germany.

At the Royal Headquarter at Versailles, even before the catastrophe but
in confident anticipation of it, decisions had been arrived at as to the
respective destinations of the forces it would release for service, and
communicated in advance to the superior Commanders.

The Ist, VIIth and VIIIth Corps, with the 3rd Cavalry Division, were
thenceforth to constitute the Ist Army, under the command of General von
Manteuffel. Its orders were to advance into the Compiègne region and
cover the investment of Paris on the north. But apart from these orders
it had various other duties to fulfil; it was to occupy Metz and lay
siege to Thionville and Montmédy.

The IInd, IIIrd, IXth and Xth Corps, with the 1st Cavalry Division, were
to constitute the IInd Army under the command of Prince Frederick
Charles, which was ordered to advance on the Middle Loire.



Since the fall of Strasburg the newly-formed XIVth Corps had been
employed in safe-guarding the communications between the German armies
standing fast respectively before Metz and before Paris. General von
Werder had no great battle to look forward to, but a succession of
small engagements. To prepare his four infantry brigades for independent
action under such circumstances, he detailed artillery and cavalry to
each. In this formation the Corps crossed the Vosges by the two roads
through Schirmeck and Barr, driving swarms of hostile Franctireurs out
of the narrow passes without material delay. But on emerging from the
mountains it at once met with serious opposition.

The French General Cambriels had been at Epinal with about 30,000 men
ever since the beginning of October, and under cover of this force
numerous battalions of National Guards and Gardes-Mobiles had been
formed in the south of France.

On the 6th, General von Degenfeld[38] with the advanced guard of the
Baden force approached St. Dié, marching on both banks of the Meurthe.
The weak column was beset on all sides by far superior forces, yet after
repeated attacks it succeeded in taking the villages which the enemy had
been holding.

The struggle, which lasted seven hours, ended with the eccentric retreat
of the enemy to Rambervillers and Bruyères. It had cost the Germans 400
and the French 1400 men. The Baden force bivouacked on the field, and
presently found that the French had evacuated St. Dié. General Cambriels
had, in fact, collected all his available forces in intrenched positions
about Bruyères. The Baden Brigade advanced on these on the 11th, drove
the Gardes-Mobiles and volunteers from the outlying villages, climbed
the heights on both sides of the town, and forced its way into it with
inconsiderable loss. The enemy retired to the southward on Remiremont.

From the small resistance hitherto made by the French, though so far
superior in numbers, General von Werder assumed that they would hardly
make a stand before reaching Besançon, so he immediately countermanded
further pursuit, though somewhat early in the day, and concentrated his
forces on Epinal, which place was taken possession of by the Germans
after insignificant fighting. From thence an etappen-route and
telegraph-line were opened to Lunéville and Nancy, magazines were
formed, and the trains, which were following the Corps from Saverne by
Blamont to Baccarat, were brought up. The railway along the Moselle
remained, however, useless for a long time, in consequence of injury
done to it by the enemy.

General von Werder was now anxious, in accordance with his instructions
of September 30th, to march on the Upper Seine by Neufchâteau, but a
telegram from the supreme Headquarter directed him in the first instance
to complete the rout of the enemy in his vicinity under General

The Corps accordingly put itself in motion forthwith through Conflans
and Luxeuil on Vesoul, and information was received that the enemy had
in fact halted at the Ognon, taken up quarters there, and received
reinforcements. General von Werder determined to attack at once. He
ordered that the passages over the river should be secured on the 22nd;
further decisions were postponed till reports should be brought in. The
1st Baden Brigade came up on the right by nine o'clock, reaching Marnay
and Pin without having encountered the French; it secured the bridges
there, and then halted to await further orders. On the left flank the
franctireurs were driven out of the woods by the 3rd Brigade, which also
stormed Perrouse, and at about half-past two seized the bridge over the
Ognon at Voray. In the centre the head of the advanced guard of the 2nd
Brigade entered Etuz after a slight skirmish, but had to withdraw at
eleven o'clock to the northern bank, before the enemy's flank attack
from out the woods. Afterwards, when the main force came up and the
artillery opened fire, the place was taken for the second time at one
o'clock. But a prolonged fire-fight ensued, the French making an
obstinate stand in front of the passage over the river at Cussey. Orders
had already been sent to the 1st Brigade to move up on the southern bank
from Pin on the enemy's flank and rear. But it could not reach the
ground until six o'clock, when the battle was over. When two batteries
had made good the possession of the bridge over the Ognon under a heavy
fire, the enemy hastily retired, pursued by the Badeners; he was again
driven out of his rearward positions, but when night fell he still
remained in possession of several points in front of Besançon.

The Germans had lost 120 men, the French 150 and 200 prisoners. In
opposition to Gambetta, who was himself in Besançon, General Cambriels
obstinately resisted every order to renew the advance, and would only
consent to maintain his strong position under the walls of the fortress.

Parties sent out to reconnoitre on the right reported the presence of
French forces at Dôle and Auxonne, the advance-guard probably of an
"Army of the Vosges" under Garibaldi, which was assembling on the Doubs.
General von Werder disregarded it, and on the 26th moved his Corps to
Dampierre and Gray. Beyond the Saône all the roads were broken up, the
woods choked with abatis, and the whole population in arms. But the
franctireurs and Gardes-Mobiles were dispersed without difficulty, and a
column marching without any precautions was driven back on the Vingeanne
brook, where 15 officers and 430 men laid down their arms.

From further reports and the information of the prisoners it was known
that Dijon was strongly garrisoned. In expectation, therefore, of an
attack from that side, the XIVth Corps was assembled behind the
Vingeanne, whence early on October 30th General von Beyer[39] marched on
Dijon with the 1st and 3rd Brigades. Filled with apprehension by recent
events, the National Guards in Dijon had already laid down their arms,
the Gardes-Mobiles and the line troops of the garrison had retreated
southwards; but the inhabitants were assured that the forces would be
brought back to defend them. About 8000 men were available, but they
insisted on their commander pledging himself to fight only outside the

The advanced posts on the Tille were driven in by the Baden advanced
guard; the village of St. Apollinaire and the neighbouring heights were
taken with a rush at noon, in spite of a hot fire. Meanwhile the main
body had come up, and at three o'clock six German batteries opened fire.
The vineyards and numerous farmsteads in the neighbourhood of Dijon, and
especially the strongly barricaded park south of the city, gave the
defence a great advantage. Nevertheless, the Baden infantry continued
its steady advance and closed in on the northern and eastern suburbs by
a wide encircling movement.

Here a fierce combat ensued, in which the inhabitants took part. House
after house had to be stormed, but the attack came to a stand at the
deep-cut bed of the Suzon brook, which borders the city on the east. It
was four o'clock, and the impending struggle could not be ended before
dark. General von Beyer therefore broke off the fight; the battalions
were withdrawn and retired to quarters in the adjacent villages; only
the artillery still kept up its fire.

The Germans had lost about 150 and the French 100 men; but of the latter
200 were taken prisoners.

In the course of the night a deputation came out to beg that the town
might be spared; its members undertook to furnish supplies for 20,000
men, and to guarantee the good behaviour of the inhabitants. The Baden
troops took possession of Dijon on the 31st.

Meanwhile fresh instructions had reached General von Werder. They
prescribed that he was to protect the left flank of the IInd Army
advancing to the Loire and at the same time to cover Alsace and the
troops besieging Belfort, where two reserve Divisions had now arrived.
It was intended that the XIVth Corps, while retaining its hold on Dijon,
should also move to Vesoul and hold in check from there the gathering of
hostile troops round Besançon and at Langres. Some offensive movement on
Châlons[40] and Dôle was also insisted on.

General von Werder's position was more difficult than was recognized at
Versailles. At Besançon alone there were 45,000 French troops, under the
command of a new leader, General Crouzat. Garibaldi had collected 12,000
between Dôle and Auxonne; lower down the Saône valley a new Corps was
being formed of 18,000 men, and 12,000 National Guards and
Gardes-Mobiles threatened from Langres the flank of the isolated German
Corps. But the French, instead of attacking this slender force with
overwhelming numbers--spread out as it was over a distance of fifty-six
miles from Lure to Dijon and Gray--were haunted by the apprehension that
the Germans, reinforced from Metz, might be intending an attack on
Lyons. General Crouzat, leaving a strong garrison in Besançon,
consequently marched to Chagny, where up to November 12th he was
reinforced from the south to a strength of 50,000 men. The Garibaldian
volunteers moved up to Autun to protect Bourges.

General von Werder meanwhile had occupied Vesoul, and had the south face
of the city put in a state of defence.

The only event of importance during the course of October which remains
to be mentioned was the action taken against the French forts lying
rearward of the German armies.

At the beginning of the month the newly constituted 4th Reserve
Division, of fifteen battalions, eight squadrons, thirty-six guns, and
a company of fortress-pioneers, had assembled in Baden, and crossed the
Rhine at Neuenburg. The vicinity was first cleared of franctireurs,
Mülhausen was occupied, and, by the express desire of its municipal
authorities, the excited artisan inhabitants were disarmed. General von
Schmeling (commanding the Division) was instructed to besiege
Neu-Breisach and Schlettstadt, and at once set about the investment of
each of these places with a brigade. On October 7th the East Prussian
Landwehr invested Breisach, and the field-batteries shelled the place,
but without effect. The other brigade, having been forced to detach
considerably, reached Schlettstadt very weak, but was reinforced by
Etappen troops to such extent that the place was invested with 8
battalions, 2 squadrons, and 2 batteries. At the same time 12 companies
of fortress-artillery and 4 companies of pioneers arrived from Strasburg
with the necessary siege material, and an artillery park of fifty-six
heavy guns was established at St. Pilt; the engineer park was located at


[38] Commanding 2nd Baden Brigade.

[39] Commanding Baden Division.

[40] Châlons-sur-Saône.


(October 24th.)

At the beginning of the blockade, inundations and marsh-land rendered
Schlettstadt, a fortified town of 10,000 inhabitants, unapproachable on
the east and south, and partly on the north. The place itself, perfectly
safe from storm, with high walls and a wet ditch, was armed with 120
guns, but garrisoned with only 2000 men, for the most part
Gardes-Mobiles. There was a deficiency of safe casemates, and on the
west front vineyards and hedgerows favoured the near approach of
assaults, while the railway embankment was a ready-made protecting wall
for the construction of the first parallel. To divert the attention of
the besieged from this front of attack, a battery was constructed on the
20th at the Kappel Mill on the south-east, from which fire was opened on
the barracks and magazine in the town, and on the sluice which
maintained the inundation. By the evening of the 21st, the infantry
posts had advanced to within 400 paces of the glacis, and the
construction of the first parallel was proceeded with that night,
immediately behind the railway, as well as of emplacements for six
batteries within 1230 feet from the ramparts. The garrison fired in the
dark on the entire field of attack, but almost without effect. By the
morning the trenches were two feet wide and three and a half feet deep,
and 20 heavy guns and 8 mortars were ready to open fire. A hot artillery
duel now began with the fortress, which replied very steadily. The
battery at the mill subjected the west front to a telling reverse fire,
and several guns and embrasures were severely damaged. The town was
fired at several points, and the defenders' fire gradually ceased.
During the night, which was very stormy, the batteries of the attack
kept up their fire, the parallel was widened and two new batteries were

At daybreak of the 24th the white flag was seen flying, and a
capitulation was forthwith signed, by which Schlettstadt surrendered
with its garrison and war-material. The commandant begged the Germans to
take possession at once, as the greatest disorder reigned within the
town. The public buildings were being plundered by the mob and the
drunken soldiery, and a powder-magazine was actually on fire. The German
battalions promptly restored order, extinguished the flames, and took
away the prisoners. Seven thousand stand of arms fell into German
hands, besides the fortress artillery and a large quantity of stores.
The siege had cost the victors only twenty men. Schlettstadt was
occupied by Etappen troops, and the battalions released from duty there
marched into southern Alsace, three of them going to strengthen the
siege of Breisach, which was now being proceeded with.


(November 10th.)

This fortress, lying in the plain and of very symmetrical shape, was
proof against a coup-de-main because of its ditches, which were dry
indeed, but faced with solid masonry. The garrison of over 5000 men had
well-protected quarters in the bomb-proof casemates of the ravelins.
Fort Mortier, standing near the Rhine, and constructed for independent
defence, effectually commanded the ground over which the intended attack
must be made on the north-west front of the fortress. Therefore 12 heavy
guns were brought up from Rastatt to Alt Breisach, where the right bank
of the Rhine commands the fort at effective range.

It was not till near the end of October that the siege-guns arrived
before New Breisach from Schlettstadt, and when the infantry had closed
up and all preparations were complete, fire from 24 heavy guns was
opened on the fortress on November 2nd from Wolfgantzen, Biesheim and
Alt Breisach.

By three o'clock a large part of the town was on fire, and detachments
of infantry were skirmishing with the French posts at the foot of the
glacis. Fort Mortier had suffered exceptionally severely. Nevertheless,
an attempt to storm it was repulsed, but at six o'clock it capitulated,
an utter ruin. Only one gun remained in serviceable condition. Two new
mortar batteries were erected to shell the main fortress, the defence
became perceptibly more feeble, and on November 10th Breisach
surrendered on the same terms as Schlettstadt, but the garrison was
allowed to march out with the honours of war. The fortifications were
almost uninjured, but the town was for the most part burnt down or
severely damaged. The success had cost the Germans only 70 men; 108
guns, 6000 small arms and large quantities of stores fell into their

While these strongholds in Alsace-Lorraine were thus being reduced,
Verdun still intercepted the line of railway which formed the shortest
line of communication with Germany.


(November 9th.)

This place, too, was made quite storm-free by high walls and deep wet
ditches; but, on the other hand, it was surrounded by a ring of heights
whence it could be seen into, and at the foot of these heights villages
and vineyards favoured an approach to within a short distance of the

The fortress was armed with 140 guns and abundantly victualled, and the
garrison, which had been supplemented by escaped prisoners, was 6000
strong. A bombardment by field-artillery had already proved perfectly
ineffectual. For a long time Verdun was only under observation, at first
by cavalry, and afterwards by a small mixed force. At the end of
September the 65th Regiment and twelve companies of Landwehr assembled
under General von Gayl before the east face of the place. It was not
till October 9th that two companies of fortress-artillery brought up
some French heavy guns from Toul and Sedan. The infantry now advanced to
within a few hundred paces of the west and north fronts and there
established itself. Under this cover the construction of the batteries
was begun on the evening of October 12th.

The heavy ground after the rain, and the rocky subsoil very thinly
covered, made the work uncommonly difficult, yet by next morning
fifty-two guns were able to open fire. But the fortress replied with
such effect that before noon two batteries on the Côte de Hayvaux on the
westward were reduced to inaction.

In the course of this three days' artillery engagement, 15 German guns
were placed out of action, the artillery lost 60 men and the infantry
40. The disabled guns on the walls of the enemy were constantly replaced
by fresh ones.

The garrison, which was far stronger than the besiegers, now assumed the
offensive. During the stormy night of the 19th--20th, the picquets on
the Hayvaux were overpowered, and the guns in the battery there were
spiked. On the 28th a sortie in greater force was made. The French
climbed up Mont St. Michel, lying northward of Verdun, and destroyed the
breast-works and bomb-proofs of the batteries, from which, however, the
guns had been withdrawn. Another body pushed up the Hayvaux, and as the
soaked state of the ground prevented the guns from being withdrawn, they
were totally disabled. The villages in the neighbourhood were also
occupied by the French.

It was now evident that the means hitherto brought to bear on the
reduction of Verdun were quite inadequate. But after the fall of Metz
the Ist Army was able to send up reinforcements. At the end of the month
5 battalions and 2 companies of pioneers and several of artillery
arrived, and also a quantity of German material.

The siege park now numbered 102 guns with abundant ammunition, and
preparations were at once made for a regular attack.

But for this the garrison did not wait. After an armistice had been
granted, the place capitulated on November 8th, in virtue of which the
garrison, with exception of the local National Guards, became prisoners
of war. The officers were dismissed on parole with their swords and
personal property, and it was agreed that the war-material in store
should be given back on the conclusion of peace.


The Ist Army having in addition undertaken the siege of Mézières, the
1st Infantry Division moved on that place, and the 3rd Brigade, sent
forward by railway to Soissons, on November 15th set about the siege of
the small fortress of La Fère. The rest of the Ist Corps reached Rethel
on the same day, the VIIIth Rheims, and the 3rd Cavalry Division Tagnon,
between the two places named. The VIIth Corps was still fully engaged in
guarding the prisoners and in besieging Thionville and Montmédy.

Of the IInd Army the IXth Corps and 1st Cavalry Division reached Troyes
on the 10th, the IIIrd Vendeuvre, the Xth Neufchâteau and Chaumont. The
important railway connections there and at Bologne were occupied, and
the injury done to the line to Blesme was repaired, so as to open up a
new line of communication. The health of the German forces had been
materially improved by short marches along good roads and by abundant
supplies; but a telegram from Versailles now ordered an accelerated

The Government in Paris being powerless, the Delegation at Tours was
displaying increased activity. Gambetta, as Minister both of War and of
the Interior, was exercising the power almost of a Dictator, and the
fiery energy of this remarkable man had achieved the feat of placing
600,000 armed men and 1400 guns in the field in the course of a few

In the Arrondissements the National Guards were formed into companies
and battalions; then in each Department these were consolidated into
brigades; and finally the brigades were incorporated along with the
nearest troops of the line and Gardes-Mobiles into the larger

Thus, in the course of October, under cover of the troops of General
d'Aurelle de Paladines which had re-crossed the Loire, a new XVIIth
Corps was made up at Blois, another, the XVIIIth, at Gien, and a third,
under Admiral Jaurès, at Nogent le Rotrou. A large force was in Picardy
under General Bourbaki, another at Rouen under Briand, and a third on
the left bank of the Seine under Fiéreck.

The detachments of the army investing Paris, which were pushed forward
to the south, west, and north, already met in all directions strong
forces of the enemy, which they indeed repulsed in many small
encounters, but could not follow up to the places of their origin. For
such purposes the arrival of the army released from the siege of Metz
was needed, and this was not to be looked for before some time in
November, while now in October there was threatened a general advance of
the French forces on Paris.

Having regard to the inferior strength of General von Tann's Division
holding Orleans, at a French council of war held at Tours it was decided
to recover that important place. The attack was to be delivered chiefly
from the west. The French XVth Corps--two Infantry Divisions and one of
Cavalry--therefore assembled at Mer on the northern bank of the Lower
Loire, and the main body of the XVIth behind the forest of Marchénoir.
The remaining portions of both Corps were to co-operate on the Upper
Loire by way of Gien. Any further advance was not projected, at any rate
for the present; on the contrary, General d'Aurelle's instructions were
to form an intrenched camp about Orleans for 200,000 men.

General von Tann's reconnoitring parties to the westward everywhere met
hostile detachments, which were indeed driven back by restraining
skirmishes into the forest of Marchénoir without much difficulty, but
which betrayed the vicinity of large forces of the enemy. On the whole
an attack from the south-west on the investing army before Paris seemed
the likeliest event, since this would threaten both the German
Head-quarter in Versailles and the siege-park at Villacoublay; while the
German reinforcements from the eastward would have the furthest distance
to reach the quarter indicated.

The French forces to the west of Orleans were already extended over a
wide stretch of country from Beaugency to Châteaudun. The volunteers
grew bolder every day, and the people more hostile.

At last, in quest of some more accurate information, Count Stolberg
(commanding 2nd Cavalry Division) on November 7th made a reconnaissance
in force. Three regiments of the 2nd Cavalry Division, two batteries,
and some companies of Bavarian Infantry advanced by Ouzouer and drove
the enemy out of Marolles, but they found the skirts of the forest
strongly held.

General Chanzy had brought up all his immediately available troops to
St. Laurent des Bois. A sharp fire-fight ensued, lasting about half an
hour, which caused severe losses in the Bavarian infantry; and then, as
the great superiority of the French was evident, the engagement was
broken off.

As a matter of fact, both the French Corps were already in full march on
Orleans. Reaching the forest on the 8th, they occupied it firmly, their
right wing at Messas and Meung, their left at Ouzouer. The XVth Corps
was next to move to the right to the Mauve and the XVIth to the left on
Coulmiers. The heads of those Corps showed themselves at Bardon and
Charsonville respectively. Both the French Cavalry Divisions were
directed northward on Prénouvellon to turn the right wing of the
Bavarians with a force of ten regiments, six batteries, and numerous
volunteer bands, and thus to cut off their retreat on Paris.

To counteract this attempt the Bavarian Cuirassier Brigade started for
St. Péravy, the 2nd Cavalry Division for Baccon, and, further south, the
2nd Bavarian Infantry Division advancing from Orleans held the country
about Huisseau and St. Ay.

But an attack was also threatening the German rear from the considerable
force at Gien. General von der Tann realized that it was now the last
moment when he could hope to extricate himself from so hazardous a
position; and that same evening he issued the necessary orders. However
desirable it was to keep possession of Orleans, he could not accept
battle in so thickly wooded country, where the action of his relatively
strong artillery and cavalry would be seriously impeded, and where
indeed he might be entirely hemmed in. The General, however, determined
to strike at the most immediately threatening hostile force in the open
country about Coulmiers, where he would at the same time be nearer to
the 22nd Division at Chartres, on which he could call for support.

General von Wittich had already asked and obtained permission to fall
back on Orleans, but on the 9th he had only reached Voves, with his
cavalry at Orgères; thus he could not take any direct part in that day's

The IInd Army was in full march from Metz, but on this day its head had
but just arrived at Troyes.


(November 9th.)

Left thus to its own resources, the Ist Bavarian Corps moved out in the
night, and on the morning of the 9th stood concentrated on the skirts of
the forest between Château Montpipeau and Rosières, with the village of
Coulmiers in its front. The Bavarian Cuirassiers on the right wing
protected the line of retreat by St. Sigismond; the 2nd Cavalry Division
was distributed by brigades along the whole front, with detachments well
in advance and infantry posts ready in support. Only a small detachment
remained in Orleans after the bridge over the Loiret had been destroyed,
to protect the numerous sick and wounded in the field hospitals, and
occupy the city at any rate till the result of the fight was decided.

The first reports brought in that morning were of the advance of a
strong hostile column from Cravant on Fontaines and Le Bardon. This was
Rébillard's Brigade, which, as it seemed, aimed at turning the Bavarian
left flank and marching direct on Orleans. To oppose it on the bank of
the Mauve, General von der Tann at about nine o'clock sent the 3rd
Brigade in a southerly direction to Préfort, a little over two miles
distant, and as at the same time a sharp contest had now begun at the
outposts near Baccon, the 1st Brigade marched to La Renardière. The
remainder of the Corps remained in and behind Coulmiers. The General's
intention was to assume the offensive from this point against the
enemy's left flank, if, as seemed probable, the latter should attempt to
push his chief attack across the Mauve. In furtherance of this intention
the cavalry of the right flank was ordered to close in to Coulmiers.

But the superior strength of the French allowed of their fetching a much
wider compass to the left. While General d'Aurelle with the XVth Corps
detained the Bavarians southward of the road from Ouzouer to Orleans,
General Chanzy advanced with Barry's Division against their centre and
directed Jauréguiberry's Division northward against their right; and
finally the strong force of French cavalry under General Reyau moved in
the direction of Patay, thus threatening the German communication with

This movement of the French XVIth Corps compelled General von Tann, at
the very beginning of the engagement, to despatch the 2nd Brigade, which
had constituted his reserve, to prolong his right wing northwards
towards Champs, and thus obtain touch with the 4th Cavalry Brigade. The
Bavarian Cuirassiers, retiring according to orders from St. Péravy to
the southward, about eleven o'clock encountered Reyau's cavalry, which,
however, restricted itself to a mere cannonade.

Meanwhile, after a stout resistance, the advanced posts of the Bavarians
had been driven in by the enemy's superior strength. The 1st Rifle
Battalion, after having retarded the advance of the French
horse-batteries through Champdry for a long time, retreated from Baccon
to La Rivière,[41] where it expected to be received by the 2nd (Rifle
Battalion). But the situation of the latter soon became very critical.
Peytavin's Division closely followed up through Baccon, beset La Rivière
with five batteries, and then attacked the burning village from three
sides at once. After energetic reprisals the Riflemen retired in good
order on the 1st Brigade in Renardière, where General Dietl had taken up
a position for defence.

After the evacuation of Baccon by the Bavarians, Barry's Division had
continued its advance through Champdry, and its batteries deployed
opposite Coulmiers and in front of Saintry, in preparation for an
assault by strong lines of tirailleurs.

The 4th Bavarian Brigade occupied the park extending to the west; the
quarries further in front were occupied by two battalions, two others
were sent to the right to the farmsteads of Ormeteau and Vaurichard, so
as to keep up some sort of communication with the 2nd Brigade. One
battery to the south and four batteries to the north of Coulmiers were
supported by the 5th Cavalry Brigade.

Thus at noon the Bavarian Corps, with only three brigades, held the
ground from Renardière to the front of Gémigny, its front
disproportionately extended to a length of more than four miles. But the
French right wing remained quite inactive, so that the 3rd Brigade which
had been sent to Préfort was recalled to Renardière.

When the French Corps had made good its foothold opposite the thin
Bavarian line, it attacked in earnest at about one o'clock.

The Riflemen in Renardière had indeed repulsed the enemy's first rush,
but this position was no longer tenable with only four battalions
against the whole of Peytavin's Division. At about one o'clock General
Dietl retired unmolested, under cover of an intermediate position, on
the wood of Montpipeau, and occupied its border. Here he was joined by
the 3rd Brigade, which on its retirement from Préfort had found
Renardière already evacuated. The French had followed up from thence but
hesitatingly, came under the fire of six batteries between the points of
the forests at La Planche and Coulmiers, and made no further advance
with their right wing.

In the centre Barry's Division about one o'clock had driven the Bavarian
Riflemen out of the stone-quarries in front of Coulmiers. Not till three
o'clock did it advance to a renewed general attack on the 4th Brigade,
which was repulsed by the fire of the German guns and the repeated
charges of the 5th Cavalry Brigade.

Meanwhile, d'Aries' Brigade of the XVth French Corps, after leaving
Renardière, arrived southward of Coulmiers, and its batteries
strengthened the fire which was being directed on that village. The
Bavarian guns were compelled before the rush of the French tirailleurs
to take ground further in rear, where they resumed their activity, while
the infantry drove the French out of the park at the point of the

But after four hours' fighting the resistance of this single brigade
against three French brigades had become extremely arduous. Of the whole
Corps only two battalions remained intact as a reserve at Bonneville, no
reinforcement was to be looked for from anywhere, and on the right flank
the French threatened the communications with Chartres as well as with
Paris. At four in the afternoon General von der Tann gave orders to
break off the fight and to retire by brigades from the left wing on

Fresh troops of the enemy at this moment forced their way into the park
of Coulmiers. Colonel Count von Ysenburg held the eastern outlets of the
village, and withdrew his troops by alternate echelons through Gémigmy
in good order.

It now proved of the greatest importance that the 2nd Brigade should
have been able to maintain its position in front of this village, thus
covering the further retreat.

At noon, General von Orff (in command of the Brigade), on approaching
Champs and Cheminiers, had found these villages occupied by Deplanque's
French Brigade. First he silenced its artillery, then he deployed his
four battalions for action, with the 4th Cavalry Brigade on the right

Reyau's Cavalry ere long came up between these two villages, after it
had given up its two hours' cannonade against the Bavarian Cuirassiers
and had been driven out of St. Sigismond by dismounted hussars. But this
body of horse soon got out from under the fire of the Bavarian guns and
moved off to the westward, it was said because it mistook Lipkowski's
volunteers, skirmishing further to the north, for German reinforcements
advancing. And when the Bavarian horse-batteries opened fire on Champs
from the north-east, the French abandoned the place at about two
o'clock, in great disorder.

General von Orff now brought the artillery up to within 500 paces of
Cheminiers, and marched the infantry up through the intervals.

Admiral Jauréguiberry, however, arriving in person, succeeded in
rallying the wavering troops, and this attack failed. The French
batteries soon compelled the Bavarian horse-batteries to retire.

When, at about three o'clock, Bourdillon's Brigade and the reserve
artillery of the XVIth French Corps also arrived at Champs, and news was
brought of the state of the fighting at Coulmiers, General von Orff
determined to refrain from all further attack, and confined himself to
maintaining his position in front of Gémigny to the last extremity.
Unshaken by the fire of the numerous hostile batteries, the weak brigade
repulsed the repeated attacks of the enemy.

Thus the 4th Brigade was enabled unmolested to retire from Coulmiers by
Gémigny and St. Péravy, and the 1st, from Montpipeau further eastward,
on Coinces. The 2nd Brigade followed to Coinces, and finally the 3rd
formed the rear-guard as far as St. Sigismond, where it halted and
bivouacked. The cavalry covered the retreat on all sides.

After a short rest the retreat of the main body was continued during the
night, by very bad roads. Artenay was reached by the morning. Orleans
was evacuated, and the garrison which had been left there rejoined its
Corps. The stores were conveyed by railway back to Toury; but one
ammunition column, 150 prisoners, and the sick who could not be moved,
fell into the hands of the French.

This contest of 20,000 Germans against 70,000 French cost the former
about 800 in killed and wounded; the enemy's loss was nearly double.

From Artenay, on November 10th, the 2nd Brigade undertook the duty of
covering the further march on Toury, where close quarters were
available. Thither, too, came the 22nd Division from Chartres, and took
up a position at Janville close to the Bavarians. General von der Tann
had extricated himself from a difficult position with much skill and
good fortune. The enemy did not attempt a pursuit. General d'Aurelle
restricted himself to awaiting further reinforcements in a strong
position before Orleans. The French preparations were, however, in
greater activity on the Upper Loir and the Eure.

On the German side the IInd Army Corps arrived before Paris on the 5th
of November; the 3rd Division was included in the investing line between
the Seine and Marne; the 4th moved on to Longjumeau.

When the Guard Landwehr took possession of the peninsula of Argenteuil,
a brigade of the IVth Corps became available for service on the north
side of the capital. On the south side, the 17th Division at
Rambouillet, the 22nd at Chartres, and the Bavarian Corps, which had
moved to Ablis, with the 4th and 6th Cavalry Divisions, were ultimately
formed into a separate Army-Detachment of the IIIrd Army, under the
command of the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg, and it was ordered to betake
itself in the first instance to Dreux.


[41] According to the _Staff History_, on La Renardière and La Grande


On the 17th of November the 17th Division advanced by Maintenon. On the
left, a French detachment was driven back across the Blaise; and when a
few companies of marines, who attempted to block the high-road, had been
disposed of, General von Tresckow (commanding the Division) marched into
Dreux that evening. The combat had cost the Germans 50 men, the French
150 and 50 prisoners.

Prince Frederick Charles, whose forces were now at length assembled
before Orleans in face of the enemy, expressed the wish that the (Grand
Duke's) Detachment should advance on Tours by way of Le Mans. The Grand
Duke accordingly marched on Nogent le Rotrou, which place, being the
central rendezvous of the French levies, promised to be the scene of an
obstinate resistance.

After several skirmishes the Detachment approached the place, but when
on the 22nd preparations were being made to storm it from three sides,
it was found that the enemy had already evacuated it. At the same time
orders arrived from the supreme Headquarter, instructing the Grand Duke
to fall back at once on Beaugency to join the right wing of the IInd
Army, which it was necessary should immediately be reinforced in view of
the superior strength of the enemy. "The force now massing before
Orleans is to postpone all hostilities until the arrival of the
Detachment. The slight opposition offered by the French on the Eure and
Huisne sufficiently shows that no serious danger threatens on that side;
the enemy in that quarter need only be kept under observation by
cavalry." The Detachment was not to be permitted even a single rest day,
and its march was to be conducted with the utmost speed.

On the 23rd, the Divisions had closed up on their respective heads, and
the Grand Duke on the 24th moved on Châteaudun and Vendôme; but the
Bavarian Corps only got as far as Vibraye, while the two Prussian
Divisions withdrew from the difficult country of the Perche, and the
cavalry found the whole line of the Loir held by the enemy.

In fact, the French had sent a brigade of the troops massed behind the
forest of Marchénoir by railway to Vendôme, expressly to protect the
Government at Tours, while General de Sonis had advanced with the rest
of the XVIIth Corps on Brou. Here on the 25th his advance met an
ammunition column and bridge-train of the Bavarian Corps. At first only
the 10th Cavalry Brigade could engage the enemy, but when presently two
companies and eight guns had occupied the bridge over the Loir at
Yèvres, the waggons were got through Brou in safety, and the enemy could
not enter that place till the cavalry had continued its march.

The Bavarian Corps was meanwhile advancing on Mondoubleau and St.
Calais, not certainly the shortest route to Beaugency, but, on the
contrary, on the direct road to Tours. The two Divisions only reached
the vicinity of Vibraye and Authon.

The appearance of a hostile force at Brou was deemed of sufficient
importance to justify a détour by that place, postponing for the moment
the prescribed march on the Loire. But when the 22nd Division approached
Brou on the 26th, it found that the enemy had already retired during the
night. The Government at Tours had ordered the whole of the XVIIth
Corps to concentrate at Vendôme for their protection. But when the
German cavalry made its appearance at Cloyes and Fréteval, General Sonis
considered that he could not pursue his march further along the Loir,
and made a détour by Marchénoir. But two night-marches so shattered the
levies for the first time collected in mass that whole swarms of
stragglers wandered about the neighbourhood all day and could only with
difficulty be re-assembled at Beaugency.

To imbue the operations with unity of command, the Grand Duke was now,
by instruction from the supreme Head-quarter, placed under Prince
Frederick Charles's orders, and General von Stosch[42] was despatched to
undertake the duties of Chief of the Staff to the Detachment. That force
by the Prince's orders was to come in with all speed to Janville,
whither troops of the IXth Corps would be sent to meet it by way of

The Grand Duke therefore marched, on the 27th, with both his (Prussian)
Divisions (17th and 22nd) to Bonneval, where there was already a
squadron of the 2nd Cavalry Division. The Bavarian Corps, which, after
finding Brou abandoned, had been directed on Courtalin, marched to
Châteaudun. Having thus accomplished a junction with the IInd Army, the
sorely fatigued troops of the Detachment were allowed a day's rest on
the 28th, in quarters on the Loir.


[42] Until then Commissary-General. He succeeded Colonel von Krenski as
the Grand Duke's Chief of Staff.


(Second half of November.)

Prince Frederick Charles had hastened the advance of his army as much as
possible, but it had met with many hindrances. The roads were broken
up, National Guards and franctireurs stood watchful for mischief, and
even the country people had taken up arms. However, by November 14th the
IXth Corps with the 1st Cavalry Division reached Fontainebleau, whence
it pursued its march to Angerville. The IIIrd Corps was following on
Pithiviers. Of the Xth Corps the 40th Brigade was left at Chaumont, to
make connection with the XIVth Corps; the 36th reached Montargis and
Beaune la Rolande on the 21st.[43] The two brigades following in rear
(37th and 39th) had a sharp encounter on the 24th at Ladon and
Maizières. In this combat 170 French prisoners were taken, who belonged
to a corps which, as General von Werder had already reported, was
proceeding under General Crouzat's command from Chagny to Gien by
railway. The order of battle was found on an officer who was among the

That while the Grand Duke's Detachment was marching to join it, the IInd
Army, only now fully concentrated, was in very close proximity to
considerable forces of the enemy, was ascertained beyond doubt by
several reconnoissances.

On the 24th troops of the IXth Corps advanced along the great high-road.
A few shells caused the enemy to evacuate Artenay, pursued by the
cavalry as far as Croix Briquet. Early in the same day a mixed
detachment of all arms from the IIIrd Corps reached Neuville aux Bois.
Two detachments of the 38th Brigade marched on Bois Commun and
Bellegarde, but everywhere those inquisitive reconnaissances were met by
very superior numbers of the enemy.

It was ascertained that the position of the French before Orleans
extended for about 37 miles from the Conie to Loing; and the massing of
troops, especially on their (right) flank, made it highly probable that
they proposed advancing by Fontainebleau on the rear of the besieging
army. Still, this intention was not so evident as to justify Prince
Frederick Charles in leaving the great highways from Orleans to Paris
unguarded. However, to enable him to lend his left wing timely support
in case of need, he moved the 5th Infantry Division of the IIIrd Corps
and the 1st Cavalry Division to Boynes, nearer to the Xth Corps which
was weak, and the 6th Division occupied Pithiviers in their stead. The
quarters at Bazoches vacated by the 6th Division, were assigned to the
IXth Corps. Finally, the Grand Duke received orders to reach Toury with
his heads of columns by the 29th at latest. These dispositions were all
carried out in due course.

Immediately after its success at Coulmiers the French Army of the Loire
seemed for the moment only to have thought of securing itself against a
counter-blow. It retired on Orleans, threw up extensive entrenchments,
for which marine artillery was even brought up from Cherbourg, and
awaited the arrival of further reinforcements. The XXth Corps, already
mentioned, 40,000 strong, joined the XVth, XVIth, and XVIIth at Gien, in
addition to one Division of the XVIIIth newly assembled at Nevers, and
finally the volunteer bands under Cathelineau and Lipowski.

Thus the French Army round Orleans numbered 200,000; the German infantry
opposed to this host for the time reached a strength of not more than
45,000 men.

Gambetta soon became urgent for renewed offensive operations. As General
d'Aurelle raised objections to an advance by Pithiviers and Malesherbes,
the Dictator himself took in hand the dispositions. In the night of the
22nd--23rd he telegraphed orders from Tours that the XVth Corps was at
once to assemble at Chilleurs aux Bois and reach Pithiviers on the 24th;
the XXth to march to Beaune la Rolande; and that then both Corps were to
advance by way of Fontainebleau on Paris. The General pointed out that,
according to his reckoning, 80,000 Germans must be encountered in an
open country, and that it would be more advisable to await their attack
in an intrenched position. Further, that this movement could be of no
service in affording succour to the distressed capital, and that
meanwhile there would remain unperformed the strengthening of the right
wing, where on the 24th the unsteadiness of the XVIIIth and XXth Corps
had caused the loss of the already mentioned fight at Ladon and

In accordance with instructions received from Tours on the 26th, General
Crouzat ordered the advance for the 28th of the two Corps he
commanded--the XVIIIth by the right through Juranville, the XXth by the
left through Bois Commun--for an encompassing attack on Beaune la
Rolande. The XVth Corps in addition was moved up to Chambon in support,
and Cathelineau's volunteers went forward to Courcelles.

As we have seen, on this same day the Grand Duke's Detachment had come
up on the extreme right of the IInd German Army. On the left stood the
Xth Corps with the 38th Brigade at Beaune, the 39th at Les Côtelles; the
37th, with the Corps artillery, had advanced to Marcilly between these
two places.


[43] There seems some confusion here. The 36th Brigade belonged, not to
the Xth, but to the IXth Corps. The 38th Brigade is stated in the _Staff
History_ to have reached Beaune la Rolande on 23rd, the rest of the
Corps (exclusive of the 40th Brigade) still behind at Montargis.


(November 28th.)

The French attack on November 28th failed because of the miscarriage of
the projected combination, the two separate attempts exerting little
reciprocal influence. On the right, the head of the XVIIIth Corps struck
the outposts of the 39th Brigade at an early hour, in front of
Juranville and Lorcy. Not until after a stout resistance were these
driven in by about nine o'clock on Les Côtelles and behind the
railway-embankment at Corbeilles, where they took possession of the

The French could now deploy in the open country in front of Juranville,
and following up with strong lines of tirailleurs preceding them, they
forced their way into Corbeilles and drove the garrison out to the north
and west. But meanwhile, on the other side, a reinforcement from the
reserve at Marcilly reached Les Côtelles, and now Colonel von Valentini
passed to the attack of Juranville with the 56th Regiment. The artillery
could afford no co-operation, the enemy made an obstinate resistance,
and not till noon did he begin to retreat, while bitter fighting still
continued round some detached houses. But when strong columns came up
from Maizières and Corbeilles, the Germans were compelled to abandon the
conquered village, carrying off with them 300 prisoners.

About two o'clock the greater portion of the French Corps deployed near
Juranville for an attack on the position at Long Cour, into which the
39th Brigade had retired. But since the attack had not been prepared by
artillery, it came to nothing under the fire of five Prussian batteries.

The first attack on Les Côtelles was also repulsed, but when it was
repeated an hour later, the Germans had to abandon the place with the
loss of fifty men taken prisoners. A gun, seven of the gunners of which
had fallen, sank so deep in the soft ground that the few men left could
not drag it out.

The XVIIIth French Corps, however, made no further way, but, as dusk
came on, contented itself with an ineffective cannonade, and finally the
39th Brigade was able to maintain its position abreast of Beaune.

On the left wing of the French line of battle the attack had also from
the first been of an encompassing tendency, the 2nd Division of the XXth
Corps having advanced on Beaune, and the 1st on Batilly. But it was near
noon before the arrival of part of its 3rd Division, which had remained
in reserve, enabled the enemy to drive in the German advanced posts from
Bois de la Leu to the cross-roads north-west of Beaune. And here also
the 38th Brigade soon found itself under the artillery and infantry fire
from Pierre Percée, the enemy continually gaining ground from the
northward. The retreat had to be continued along the Cæsar road, whereon
a gun, of which the men and horses had for the most part perished, fell
into the enemy's hands. About the same time the 2nd French Division
ascended the heights to the east of Beaune, and Colonel von Cranach was
first enabled to rally the 57th Regiment further rearward, near La Rue
Boussier, whereby the withdrawal of the batteries hurrying away from
Marcilly was covered, and the further advance of the enemy was then
arrested. Any such effort on his part entirely ceased when he was
suddenly threatened on his own flank by the 1st Prussian Cavalry
Division advancing from Boynes, and came under fire of its

Meanwhile the 16th Regiment found itself completely isolated in Beaune,
and surrounded on three sides by the enemy.

The town, which was surrounded by the remains of a high wall, and the
churchyard were as far as possible prepared for defence. The enemy,
after his first onset by strong swarms of riflemen had been driven back,
set about bombarding the town. His shells burst through the walls of the
churchyard and set a few buildings on fire, but every attempt at an
assault was steadfastly repulsed.

In the meantime, General von Woyna had replenished the ammunition of his
batteries, and while occupying Romainville on the right, he also took up
a position opposite the copses of Pierre Percée, so that by three
o'clock he was able to bring up seven companies on the east side of

About this time assistance came with the arrival of the IIIrd Army
Corps. While the 6th Division was still pressing on towards Pithiviers,
the 5th had already that morning stood to arms in front of that place.
The first news from Beaune had sounded so far from alarming, that the
Corps-artillery retired to its quarters. Nevertheless, in consequence of
the increasing cannon thunder and later information of a serious
encounter, General von Alvensleben gave the word for the Corps to
advance, with the 5th Division of which General von Stülpnagel had
already set out of his own initiative. The 6th followed, and detached a
battalion to observe towards Courcelles; wherein, however, Cathelineau's
volunteers remained inactive.

Part of the 52nd Regiment, which was marching at the head of the column,
turned off to the right, and, supported by artillery, began a fire-fight
about 4.30 against Arconville and Batilly. Another part penetrated into
the Bois de la Leu and the copses near La Pierre Percée, where it
recaptured the gun which had been lost there earlier. Four batteries in
position on the road from Pithiviers, behind Fosse des Prés, directed
their fire on the enemy still holding his ground on the west side of
Beaune, from which he was finally driven by the 12th Regiment, and
pursued as far as Mont Barrois.

After dark the Xth Corps encamped about Long Cour, Beaune and Batilly,
and the 5th Division in its rear; the 6th remained at Boynes, where the
1st Division of Cavalry also found accommodation.

In the battle of Beaune la Rolande General von Voigts-Rhetz had to hold
his ground against the enemy with 11,000 men against 60,000, with three
brigades against six Divisions, until help reached him towards evening.
This action cost the Germans 900 and the French 1300 men in killed and
wounded; and 1800 unwounded prisoners fell into the hands of the

In the evening the French XXth Corps had retreated as far as Bois Commun
and Bellegarde; the XVIIIth, on the contrary, had taken up its position
near Vernouille and Juranville, in fact, directly in front of the Xth
German Corps, on the ground which the former had won. The expectation
was therefore not unnatural that the fighting would recommence on the

Prince Frederick Charles, therefore, directed the Xth and IIIrd Corps to
assemble on the 29th in full preparedness. The IXth received orders to
advance with two brigades towards Boynes and Bazoches, and the remaining
troops were to follow as soon as the Grand Duke's Detachment should have
reached the main road to Paris. Of it in the course of the day the heads
arrived, the 4th Cavalry Division at Toury, the infantry at Allaines and
Orgères. The 6th Cavalry Division, which was marching on the right
flank, met first with opposition at Tournoisis.

Meanwhile General Crouzat had been instructed from Tours by a message
which reached him on the evening of the 28th, to desist for the present
from further offensive attack, and the French right wing was thereupon
drawn further back. On the 30th both Corps moved leftward, in order to
be again nearer to the XVth. For the purpose of disguising this lateral
movement, detachments were sent in a northerly direction and met
reconnoitring parties of the German Xth and IIIrd Corps, with which
skirmishes took place at Maizières, St. Loup and Mont Barrois; and the
movement of the French was soon detected, in the first instance on their
left flank.

The Government at Tours had received news from Paris that General Ducrot
would attempt on the 29th to break through the German investing lines
with 100,000 men and 400 guns, and endeavour to connect with the Army
of the Loire in a southerly direction. The balloon which carried this
despatch had descended in Norway, whence the message had been forwarded.
It was concluded from this that the General was already vigorously
engaged, and that help must be no longer delayed. Commissioned by
Gambetta, M. Freycinet submitted to a council of war called by General
d'Aurelle, a scheme for the advance of the whole army on Pithiviers. In
the event of a refusal by the Commander-in-Chief to accept the same, M.
Freycinet carried an order for his supersession.

It was decided in the first place to execute a wheel to the right with
the left wing, Chilleurs aux Bois forming the pivot of the movement.
While a front was thus being formed against Pithiviers, the Corps of the
right wing on a parallel front were to await the order to move until
this was accomplished. The XXIst Corps was to be sent to Vendôme to
cover the left flank.


As the result of those dispositions, on the 1st of December the XVIth
Corps moved on Orgères, in the direction of the railway; the XVIIth
followed to Patay and St. Péravy.

Opposite to these forces, on the right wing of the IInd German Army the
17th Division of the Grand Duke's Detachment had arrived at Bazoches,
the 22nd at Toury, and the Bavarian Corps reached the vicinity of
Orgères. Thus the hostile shock fell first on the last body. Attacked in
front by a far superior force, and threatened in flank by Michel's
Cavalry Division, the 1st Bavarian Brigade was forced to retreat at
three o'clock to Villepion. The 2nd Brigade approaching from Orgères,
halted to the west of Nonneville, and the 4th marched up to between
Villepion and Faverolles, which position the Bavarians, in spite of
heavy losses, succeeded in holding for a long time. On their right wing
Prince Leopold of Bavaria, with the four guns of his battery still
serviceable, arrested the enemy's advance on Nonneville, but under the
personal leadership of Admiral Jauréguiberry the French forced their way
into Villepion. As night drew on, and the want of ammunition was
becoming serious, the 1st Bavarian Brigade went to Loigny; the 2nd,
however, did not retreat until five o'clock to Orgères, where also the
3rd arrived in the evening, whilst the 4th joined the 1st at Loigny.

The engagement cost both sides about 1000 men, and only the foremost
Bavarian detachments were forced back for a short distance.

This measure of success, and the news from Paris, rekindled in Tours
ardent hopes of victory. As will be seen further on, a sortie from Paris
on 30th November had certainly so far succeeded that the village of
Epinay on the northern section of the line of investment was occupied
for a short time. Thereupon it was summarily concluded that this was the
village of the same name which lay to the south near Longjumeau, and
that there was now scarcely any obstacle to the junction of the Army of
Orleans with that of Paris. Cathelineau's volunteer Corps was directed
at once to occupy the forest of Fontainebleau, and the imminent
annihilation of the Germans was announced to the country.

The head of the Army of Orleans, nevertheless, had barely made half a
day's march in the direction of Paris, and the right wheel of the left
wing remained to be accomplished. The XVIth Corps was to attempt to
reach the line Allaines-Toury by the 2nd of December; the XVIIth was to
follow, and the XVth, marching from Chilleurs through Artenay, was to
close to the right. The Grand Duke, on the report of the great force in
which the enemy was approaching, determined to march to meet him with
the whole strength of the Detachment. The requisite orders were issued
at eight o'clock in the morning to the Divisions, which were already
standing prepared on their respective assembling-grounds. The Bavarian
Corps was directed to take up a position opposite Loigny with its left
wing at Château-Goury; the 17th Division to march immediately from
Santilly to Lumeau, and the 22nd from Tivernon to Baigneaux. The cavalry
was to undertake the protection of both wings.


(December 2nd.)

The Bavarian Corps was still engaged in the advance from Maladerie when
the French ascended the heights to the west of Loigny. The 1st Division,
therefore, marched towards Villeprévost, and the 2nd held the line

At 8 a.m. General Chanzy set out with his 2nd and 3rd Divisions from
Terminiers, for Loigny and Lumeau. The 1st followed in reserve, and
Michel's Cavalry Division covered the left flank. In spite of the strong
fire of the defenders, the 2nd Division by nine o'clock advanced close
upon Beauvilliers, but then it had to give way before the onset of the
Bavarians, who now on their side attacked Loigny. When, however, at
10.30 the whole French Corps advanced, deployed on a broad front from
Nonneville to Neuvilliers, they had to fall back with great losses.
They, however, found a rallying point at Beauvilliers, where the fire of
the Corps artillery gave pause to the advance of the enemy.

The combat surged backwards and forwards until, at 11.30, the 2nd
Bavarian Brigade joined in the fray. The 4th Cavalry Division charged
the left flank of the enemy; and Michel's Division fell back on the
XVIIth Corps, numerous prisoners thus falling into the hands of the
German troopers. In the meantime the Bavarian infantry had marched to
Ferme Morâle with intent to renew the attack, but there found itself
under fire so destructive that it was forced to turn back. Thereupon the
horse-batteries on the flank enfiladed the enemy's wing with such
effect, that the farm was set on fire and General von Orff found himself
able to take possession of it.

At Beauvilliers, meanwhile, the 2nd Division had only with great
difficulty resisted the vigorous onslaughts of the French, whose
rifle-swarms were already so close that the batteries were compelled to
retire to positions further back. But the success of the right wing soon
extended to the left. Breaking out from Beauvilliers, as well as from
Château Goury, the Bavarians drove Jauréguiberry's Division back to

Shortly after noon the firing of the French became again remarkably
energetic, especially against Château Goury. The battalions of the
Bavarian left wing were forced back upon the park.

During these events the two Prussian Divisions had continued their
advance. The artillery of the 17th pressed on in order to engage the
enemy, while the head of the infantry reached Lumeau in time to prevent
its occupation by the opposing forces. Strong swarms of French riflemen
fought their way up quite close to the place, but they were finally
driven back by a well-directed fire of musketry and shell; whereupon the
Division assailed the right flank of the French attack.

The 22nd Division also marched through Baigneaux to Anneux, and joined
in the pursuit of the retreating enemy. A number of prisoners and a
battery were captured, and the enemy, after a vain attempt to make
another stand near Neuvilliers, at last fled towards Terminiers in utter

After this result of the fighting about Lumeau, General von Tresckow was
able to go to the assistance of the hard-pressed left wing of the
Bavarians. Under cover of the fire of eight batteries the 33rd Brigade
moved against the flank of the French masses which were now making a
fierce attack on Château Goury. Taken by surprise, these retired upon
Loigny. But there, too, the Mecklenburg battalions forced in, shoulder
to shoulder with the Bavarians, and it was only in the churchyard on
high ground at the west end of the village, that an obstinate resistance
was made for some time longer. The French, as they retired on Villepion,
suffered from a destructive fire from eighty guns massed near Loigny.

At 2.30 General von der Tann caused the whole of his 1st Division, after
the replenishment of its ammunition, to advance once more; this
movement, however, was arrested by the fire of the enemy.

Michel's Division moved up to oppose the advance of the German cavalry
on the right flank, but went about as soon as it came within range of
the horse-batteries.

Because of the exposed condition of his right flank, General Chanzy had
sent a few battalions to form a refused flank[44] near Terre-noire.
Behind this a brigade of the XVIIth Corps came up near Faverolles, and
to the right of Villepion the Papal Zouaves advanced against Villours.

General von Tresckow now threw in his last reserves. Two battalions of
the 75th Regiment broke into the place at the first charge, and in
conjunction with all the troops fighting in the vicinity, drove back the
French columns to Villepion.

The approach of darkness brought the fighting here to a close.

While the French XVIth Corps had been fighting single-handed with great
persistence all day, the XVth, according to orders, had advanced through
Artenay along the Paris high-road. There it was opposed only by the 3rd
Cavalry Brigade. That force was attacked about mid-day near Dambron by
the 3rd French Division, which formed the left-flank column, while the
other two Divisions held much further to the right.

So soon as this information came in from the cavalry, General von
Wittich moved off with the whole of the 22nd Division from Anneux in the
direction of Poupry. The head of the column reached that place at the
double, and succeeded in driving back the enemy, who had already broken
in there and occupied the forest belts to the north. Six batteries then
came into action, resting on Morâle to the south. The French deployed
between Dambron and Autroches, and maintained a persistent fire while
their remaining Divisions came up. After an encounter with the troops
from Poupry, they occupied with their right wing the small copses which
lay near, in front of the forest-land to the north, placed the artillery
in the intervals, and began at three o'clock an attack from thence.
This, however, withered under a fire of grape-shot from the defenders,
and the menace of a charge by the 3rd Cavalry Brigade, which General von
Colomb had set in motion in the open country to the west of Dambron. An
attack on Morâle by the left wing from Autroches likewise miscarried.
But at four o'clock the French advanced along their whole front,
preceded by great swarms of tirailleurs. They were repulsed at Poupry,
and likewise at Morâle, at which latter place two companies of pioneers
joined in the fight; on the other hand, their right wing pushed into the
forest, and compelled its defenders to retreat. But Prussian battalions
yet remaining in reserve, advanced from Poupry, and drove the enemy back
into the copses, where he had still to defend himself against an attack
by the cavalry.

The fighting was now stopped by the approach of night. The 22nd Division
remained under arms till eleven o'clock in the position which it had
seized, and only then withdrew to Anneux. The 3rd Cavalry Division
quartered for the night in Baigneaux. The 17th Division remained in
position near Lumeau, having Loigny in its front, which it occupied in
concert with the Bavarians, who extended further to the right as far as

The day had cost the French 4000 killed and wounded, and the Germans
fully as many, but 2500 unwounded prisoners, eight guns, one
mitrailleuse and a standard belonging to the enemy were left in
possession of the latter.

On the French side, the XVth Corps retired to Artenay and received
orders, under cover of a Division to be left there, to occupy the
defensive position previously held on the skirt of the forest.

Thus the intended further advance of the left wing of the Army of
Orleans had not succeeded. The XVIth Corps, lacking the support of the
XVIIth, had indeed lost ground, but still maintained itself with its
most advanced line on Villepion, Faverolles and Terminiers. General
Chanzy therefore considered himself justified in making yet another
effort against the German right wing on the following day.

The German strength consisted of five Corps, and stood close in front of
the enemy; further reinforcements could not be immediately expected, but
by the supreme Command it was judged that the moment had now come to put
an end to the standing menace from the south against the investment of

At mid-day of the 2nd, the order came from the Royal Head-quarter to
undertake an attack on Orleans in full strength, and in the course of
that day Prince Frederick Charles gave the requisite instructions to
this end.

It is here necessary to go back a little in order to see how
circumstances developed events during November at various other points.


[44] To the German term "Haken-stellung" there is perhaps no precisely
equivalent expression in our military vocabulary. "Refused flank" is
probably approximate.


The tidings, which became known on the 14th November, of the happy
result of the action at Coulmiers on the 9th, had rekindled in Paris
universal hope. No one doubted that the enemy would find it necessary to
send large forces in the Orleans direction, which would considerably
weaken the investment line, particularly in its southern section.

In order to contribute towards the hoped-for approaching relief by
active co-operation, three separate armies were formed out of the
garrison of Paris.

The first, under General Clément Thomas, consisted of 226 battalions of
the National Guard, in round numbers 130,000 men. Its duty was the
defence of the enceinte and the maintenance of quietude within the city.
The second, under General Ducrot, constituted the most trustworthy
element, especially the troops of the former XIIIth and XIVth Corps.
This army was apportioned into three (Infantry) Corps and one Cavalry
Division, and it consisted of fully 100,000 men and more than 300 guns.
It was designed for active service in the field, and for making sorties
on the investing forces. The third army, under General Vinoy, 70,000
strong, was made up of six Divisions of Gardes-Mobiles and one Cavalry
Division; and to it also Maud'huy's Division of the line was assigned.
It was to aid the more important sorties by diversions on subordinate
fronts. In addition to all these details, 80,000 Gardes-Mobiles were in
the forts, and 35,000 more in St. Denis under Admiral de la Roncière.

The available military strength consequently amounted to above 400,000

The garrison exhibited a lively activity in petty nocturnal enterprises.
The heavy guns of the defences carried to Choisy le Roi, and even as far
as Beauregard, near Versailles. On the peninsula of Gennevilliers
trenchwork was energetically set about, and the task of bridge-building
was undertaken. Many signs pointed to an intended effort on the part of
the French to break out in a westerly direction. But since, as long as
the IInd Army was still incomplete, the greatest danger threatened from
the south, the supreme Command in Versailles, as already mentioned,
ordered the IInd Corps into the position behind the Yvette from
Villeneuve to Saclay. On the north of Paris the Guard Corps extended
itself leftward as far as Aulnay, the XIIth sent one brigade across to
the south bank of the Marne, and the Würtemberg Division moved into the
interval between the Marne and the Seine caused by the shifting of the
IInd Corps.

On November 18th the summons from Tours reached Paris, calling on the
latter with all promptitude to reach the hand to the Army of the Loire;
certainly somewhat prematurely, since, as we know, that army was at the
time concerning itself only in regard to defensive measures.

In Paris all preparations were actually made for a great sortie. But as
the earlier attacks on the front of the VIth Corps had shown that this
section of the investment was materially strengthened by fortifications
about Thiais and Chevilly, it was decided in the first instance to gain
the plateau east of Joinville and from thence to bend rightward towards
the south. The attention of the Germans was to be distracted by attacks
in the opposite direction.

On the 18th,[45] the day on which the Army of Orleans had vainly striven
to press forward to Beaune la Rolande, General Ducrot assembled the IInd
Army of Paris in the neighbourhood of Vincennes, and Mont Avron was
occupied on the following day by Hugues' Division of the IIIrd Army. As,
however, the construction of the bridges (over the Marne) at Champigny
and Bry was delayed, the battle was postponed till the 30th; but it was
left to the commanders of the subordinate affairs to carry them out
simultaneously with the chief enterprise or in advance of it.
Accordingly, Maud'huy's Division assembled in the night of 28th--29th
behind the redoubt of Hautes Bruyères, and advanced against L'Hay before

Warned by the heavy firing from the southern forts, General von Tümpling
(commanding VIth Corps) had early ordered the 12th Division to get under
arms in its fighting positions, and the 11th to assemble at Fresnes.

The French, favoured by the darkness, made their way through the
vineyards into L'Hay; but were successfully driven back by the Germans
with the bayonet and clubbed arms.

After a prolonged fire-fight, the French renewed their onslaught at
8.30, but without success; and then the defenders, reinforced from the
reserve, retaliated with a vigorous counterstroke. At ten o'clock the
enemy retreated to Villejuif.

Admiral Pothuau at the same time had moved up the Seine with Marines and
National Guards. An outpost at Gare aux Boeufs was surprised and
captured, and Choisy le Roi was fired upon by field-guns, fortress
artillery, and gunboats which appeared on the Seine. Just as the
Grenadiers of the 10th (Prussian) Regiment were on the point of making
an attack, General Vinoy broke off the fight.

This demonstration cost the French 1000 men and 300 uninjured prisoners;
the Prussians, remaining under cover, lost only 140 men. The fortress
kept up its fire till mid-day, and then the enemy was allowed a short
truce, to remove his numerous wounded.

Against the front of the Vth Corps also, a strong infantry force
advanced at eight o'clock upon Garches and Malmaison, and drove in part
of the outposts. But it soon found itself opposed by closed battalions,
and at noon retreated to Valérien.


[45] Obvious misprint for 28th.


(November 30th and December 2nd.)

On November 30th the IInd Paris Army opened the battle which was to
decide the fate of the capital.

To hinder the reinforcement of the Germans towards the real point of
attack, almost every section of their line of investment was again
engrossed by sorties.

To the duty of pushing an attack against the southern front, General
Ducrot assigned Susbielle's Division of his IInd Corps. It reached Rosny
so early as three o'clock in the morning, crossed the Marne at Créteil
by a field-bridge, and from thence, briskly supported by the nearest
forts, opened fire on the outpost line of the Würtemberg Division, which
had been pushed forward to Bonneuil and Mesly.

General von Obernitz (commanding the Division) had an extended position
to maintain. His 1st Brigade was at Villiers on the peninsula of
Joinville, his 2nd at Sucy en Brie, and his 3rd at Brévannes. The
Division was placed under the Commander of the Army of the Meuse, who
had been instructed from Versailles to reinforce it strongly by the
XIIth Corps, or even by troops of the Guard Corps.

From the great accumulation of hostile forces on Mont Avron, the Saxon
Corps believed itself directly threatened on the right bank of the
Marne, and requested to be immediately transferred to the left; the
Crown Prince of Saxony gave the order that the whole 24th Division
should assemble there on the following day.

Thus for the present the only aid that could be rendered to the
Würtembergers was from the wing of the IInd Corps at Villeneuve, of
which the 7th Infantry Brigade moved up near Brévannes to Valenton.

The fire of its three batteries hurrying thither, first brought the
advance of the French Division to a stand. The attempt of the
Würtembergers to seize Mont-Mesly failed at first; but after a strenuous
artillery fire they succeeded in carrying the hill by twelve o'clock,
and the Prussian battalions forced their way into Mesly. The Würtemberg
horse cut in upon the enemy's retreating guns with great success. At
1.30 the re-opening of the fire from the forts proclaimed the end of
this sortie. It cost the Germans 350 men, and the French 1200.

During this time the front of the VIth Corps had not been at all
molested. General Vinoy, who had not been informed of the advance of
Susbielle's Division, when its retreat was noticed caused to be opened
from Fort Ivry and the adjoining works a brisk fire, which was augmented
by gunboats on the Seine and armour-plated batteries on the railway.
Then Admiral Pothuau advanced against Choisy le Roi and Thiais. His
Marines, after driving out the Prussian fore-posts, again settled
themselves firmly in Gare aux Boeufs. But the further advance failed,
and General Vinoy recalled his troops, after which the fighting at Mesly
ceased, and only the thunder of artillery continued till five o'clock.

After a preliminary cannonade from Valérien the Gardes-Mobiles advanced
against the front of the Vth Corps about seven o'clock. They were,
however, repulsed by the outposts and supporting troops in readiness,
and retired at eleven o'clock.

On the northern front of Paris there occurred also a sharp fight. At
mid-day Fort de la Briche, supported by field-guns and a floating
battery, opened a heavy fire on the low-lying village of Epinay on the
right bank of the Seine. At two o'clock Haurion's Brigade advanced, two
companies of marines pressed into the place along the bank of the river,
and drove out the garrison, which consisted of only one company. A
second also retired from the defence-works in a northerly direction
towards Ormesson. At three o'clock in the afternoon, the village, up to
some still obstinately defended farms on the further side of the
mill-race, fell into the hands of the French.

Meanwhile the troops of the IVth Corps had assembled, and seven
batteries came into action on the overhanging heights. The infantry
rushed upon the village from all sides with loud cheers, and about four
o'clock, after a fierce street-fight, recovered possession of the posts
which had been lost; and it was this transitory conquest that was to
raise so great hopes in Tours. The losses on both sides amounted to 300

Those affairs were all mere feints to facilitate the chief action; and
whilst the investing troops were thus engaged and held fast at all
points, two Corps of the IInd French Army at 6.30 in the morning crossed
the bridges at Joinville and Nogent which had been completed during the
night. After repulsing the German outposts they both deployed, and
stretched completely across the peninsula between Champigny and Bry. The
IIIrd Corps had taken the road along the north bank of the Marne,
towards Neuilly, to cross the river there, thus threatening to
compromise the position of the Saxon Corps, which therefore still
detained the 47th Brigade on the right bank, though it had been assigned
to the assistance of the Würtembergers. Consequently there were
available to oppose the two French Corps on the left bank, only two
German brigades extended over about four miles, the Saxon 48th about
Noisy, and the Würtemberg 1st from Villiers to Chennevières.

At ten o'clock Maussion's Division advanced against the Park of
Villiers. Supported by Saxon detachments from Noisy, the Würtembergers
repulsed a first attack, but in following it up met with heavy losses.
The French batteries of two Divisions and those of the Artillery Reserve
formed line in front of the park. On their right Faron's Division, not
without heavy losses, succeeded in gaining possession of Champigny, and
had then established itself in front of that village to defend the
occupation of it.

General Ducrot's original idea had been to maintain a stationary fight
on the peninsula until he should be joined at Noisy by his IIIrd Corps.
But as news arrived that at eleven o'clock it was still on the northern
side of the Marne, he ordered an immediate general attack by both his
other Corps.

On the left the advance was checked for a considerable time by the
German batteries which had been pushed forward between Noisy and
Villiers, and when Colonel von Abendroth moved out from both villages
with six companies of the 48th Brigade to an attack in close formation,
the French fell back into the vineyards on the western slope of the
plateau, leaving behind two guns, which, however, the Saxons could not
carry away for want of teams.

In the centre of the line of fight, Berthaut's Division tried to push
forward south of Villiers, but by the fire of five batteries in position
there and at Coeuilly its ranks were so severely thinned that it gave
ground before the advance of a Saxon battalion.

On the right wing, the guns which had been brought up into position in
front of Champigny had at last been compelled by the German artillery to
withdraw, and had sought cover further north, near the lime-kilns. A
body of French infantry had advanced along the riverside to Maison
Blanche, but meanwhile the 2nd Würtemberg Brigade, although itself
attacked at Sucy, despatched a reinforcement of two companies and a
battery to Chennevières. Advancing from the Hunting-lodge, the
Würtembergers took 200 French prisoners at Maison Blanche; though, on
the other hand, an attempt to carry the heights in front of Champigny
with the companies assembled at Coeuilly failed with heavy loss. As the
result, however, of a renewed flank-attack from the Hunting-lodge,
Faron's Division, which had already been severely shaken, was obliged to
retreat to Champigny.

General Ducrot decided to be content, for that day, with having
established a firm footing on the left bank of the Marne, and he brought
up sixteen batteries to a position in his front, to secure the wedge of
ground he had gained. On the following day the attack was to be renewed
by all the three Corps.

The Germans, on their part, had to congratulate themselves on having
maintained their ground against greatly superior numbers. And so in the
afternoon the fight gradually died away, until it broke out again in the

The French IIIrd Corps, marching up the right bank of the Marne, had
occupied Neuilly in force, and had driven in the outposts of the Saxon
47th Brigade. Under cover of six batteries the construction of two
military bridges below Neuilly was begun at ten o'clock, and finished by
noon. But just at this time it happened, as we have seen, that the
French were in retreat from the plateau, so the crossing did not occur
until two o'clock in the afternoon. Bellemare's Division marched down
the valley to Bry, where it closed on the left flank of the IInd Corps.
A regiment of Zouaves, trying to ascend the plateau from Bry, lost half
its men and all its officers. Notwithstanding, General Ducrot decided to
employ his reinforced strength in the immediate renewal of the attack on

Strengthened by four battalions, the Division advanced in this
direction, although the artillery had not succeeded in battering down
the park wall; repeated onslaughts by rifle-swarms were repulsed, and
finally the French retreated into the valley. The simultaneous attacks
of Berthaut's Division along the railway line and of Faron's Division on
the Hunting-lodge also miscarried. Not till darkness had set in did the
firing cease on both sides.

Near Chelles, on the line in which the French IIIrd Corps had been
advancing in the morning, the Crown Prince of Saxony had collected the
23rd Division; but as soon as the enemy's real objective was
penetrated, he despatched part of the 47th Brigade and a portion of the
Corps Artillery to the threatened position held by the Würtembergers.
Not less opportunely had General von Obernitz, as soon as the fighting
at Mesly was over, sent three battalions to the Hunting-lodge. In the
night orders came from the supreme Head-quarter for the IInd and VIth
Corps to send reinforcements to the endangered points of the line of
investment, and the 7th and 21st Brigades arrived at Sucy on the
following day, the 1st of December.

On the French side the attempt to break through without help from
outside was already considered as well-nigh hopeless, and it was only
the fear of popular indignation which caused the IIIrd Army to remain
longer on the left bank of the Marne. Instead of attacking, the French
began to intrench themselves, and in order to clear the battle-field a
truce was arranged. The thunder of the cannon from Mont Avron had to
serve for the present to keep up the spirits of the Parisians. The
Germans also worked at the strengthening of their positions, but,
suffering from the sudden and extreme cold, part at least of the troops
withdrew into quarters further rearward.

The command of the whole of the German Army between the Marne and the
Seine was assumed by General von Fransecky (commanding IInd Corps). The
Head-quarter of the Army of the Meuse had already given instructions
that Prince George (of Saxony) with all the available troops of the
XIIth Corps, should make surprise-attacks on Bry and Champigny in the
early morning of the 2nd.

With this object, on the morning specified the 24th Division assembled
at Noisy, the 1st Würtemberg Brigade at Villiers, and the 7th Prussian
Brigade at the Hunting-lodge.

The foremost battalions of the Saxon Division drove back the enemy's
outposts by a sudden rush, took 100 prisoners, and after storming a
barricade entered Bry. Here ensued an embittered fight in the streets
and houses, in which the 2nd Battalion of the 107th Regiment lost nearly
all its officers. Nevertheless it maintained its hold on the northern
part of the village, in spite of the heavy fire of the forts.

The Würtembergers also forced an entrance into Champigny, but soon met
with fierce resistance from the enemy sheltered in the buildings. The
previously occupied Bois de la Lande had to be abandoned, and General
Ducrot now determined to resort to the offensive. The strong artillery
line on his front came into action at about nine o'clock, and two
Divisions deployed in rear of it.

Meanwhile the Fusilier battalion of the Colberg Regiment marched once
more from the Hunting-lodge on Bois de la Lande, and carried it with the
first onslaught. The French, firing heavily from the railway
embankments, struck down the Pomeranians with clubbed rifles and at the
point of the bayonet. A fierce fight was carried on at the same time at
the lime-pits, where at noon 160 French laid down their arms. When six
Würtemberg and nine Prussian batteries had been by degrees brought into
action against Champigny, General Hartmann[46] succeeded in getting as
far as the road leading to Bry. As, however, the batteries were now
being masked by their own infantry, and were suffering, too, under the
heavy projectiles fired from the forts, they were withdrawn into the
hollow of the Hunting-lodge. At two o'clock the 1st Würtemberg and 7th
Prussian Brigades established themselves firmly in the line from the
churchyard of Champigny to the Bois de la Lande.

Meanwhile the French divisions of Bellemare and Susbielle had reached
the battle-field from the right bank of the Marne. The two Saxon
battalions in Bry, having already lost 36 officers and 638 men, were
compelled by the approach of the enemy in very superior force, to
evacuate the village and retire on Noisy, but not without taking 300
prisoners with them. The rest of the Saxon forces held Villiers, where
the still available batteries also were in position.

While, at two o'clock, the French were bringing up a strong artillery
mass against this point, four batteries of the IInd Corps rushed out of
the hollow near the Hunting-lodge at a gallop upon their flank, and
opened fire at a range of 2000 paces. In less than ten minutes the
French batteries fell back and the Prussian batteries returned to their
sheltered position. Several hostile battalions which, at about three
o'clock, attempted a renewed assault on Villiers, were repulsed with no
difficulty, and at five o'clock the fighting ceased. The French merely
kept up a fire of field and fortress artillery until dark.

General Ducrot had received information in the course of the day, that
the Army of the Loire was marching on Fontainebleau, and he was,
therefore, very anxious to continue to maintain his position outside

During the night of December 2nd--3rd, provisions were procured, and the
teams and ammunition of the batteries were made up; but the approach of
support from without was in no wise confirmed.

The troops were completely exhausted by the previous disastrous
fighting, and the Commander-in-Chief was justified in apprehending a
repulse on the Marne by the enemy's invigorated forces. He therefore
ordered a retreat, the troops being informed that the attack should be
renewed as soon as their preparedness for fighting should have been

Soon after midnight the divisions were assembled behind the outposts,
and the trains were sent back first. At noon the troops were able to
follow over the bridges at Neuilly, Bry, and Joinville. Only one brigade
remained in position to cover the passage.

The retreat was very skilfully covered by a series of small attacks on
the German outposts. The French batteries had opened fire at Le Plant
and Bry by daybreak, and the withdrawal of the enemy's army was
completely hidden by the thick mist.

General Fransecky assembled the Saxon and the Würtemberg Divisions in a
fighting position at Villiers and Coeuilly, the 7th Brigade with the
Corps-Artillery of the IInd Corps and two regiments of the VIth at
Chennevières, intending to wait for the expected reinforcement which the
VIth Corps had agreed to furnish for the 4th. The 23rd Division also
received orders from the Crown Prince of Saxony to cross to the left
bank of the Marne, whilst the Guard Corps had meanwhile extended its
outposts to Chelles.

So remained matters on the 3rd, with the exception of petty frays, and
at four o'clock in the afternoon the troops were able to return to
quarters. When early on the 4th patrols rode forward towards Bry and
Champigny, they found these places vacated, and the peninsula of
Joinville deserted by the enemy.

The IInd French Army, which had been severely reduced and its internal
cohesion much shaken, returned to Paris; on its own report it had lost
12,000 men. The German troops engaged had lost 6200 men, but resumed
their former positions in the investing line.

This energetic attempt on the part of General Ducrot was the most
serious effort that was made for the relief of Paris. It was directed
towards what was at the moment the weakest point of the investment, but
met with any success only at the outset.[47]


[46] Commanding 3rd Infantry Division.

[47] A legend was subsequently circulated that the voice of one general
in a German council of war had, in opposition to all the others,
prevented the removal of the chief head-quarters from Versailles. Apart
from the fact that during the whole course of the invasion no council of
war was ever held, it never occurred to any member of the King's
military suite to set so bad an example to the army. [Moltke.]


The newly-formed levies in northern France were not remaining inactive.
Rouen and Lille were their chief centres. In front of the latter place,
the Somme with its fortified passages at Ham, Péronne, Amiens, and
Abbeville afforded a line equally advantageous for attacks to the front
or for secure retreat. Isolated advances had, indeed, on various
occasions, been driven back by detachments of the Army of the Meuse, but
these were too weak to rid themselves of the continued molestation by
pursuit pushed home.

We have already seen how, after the fall of Metz, the IInd Army marched
to the Loire, and the Ist into the northern departments of France.

A large portion of the Ist Army was at first detained on the Moselle by
having had to undertake the transport of the numerous prisoners and the
observation of the fortresses which interrupted the communications with
Germany. The whole VIIth Corps was either in Metz or before Thionville
and Montmédy. Of the Ist Corps, the 1st Division was detached to
Rethel,[48] the 4th Brigade transported by railway through Soissons to
the investment of La Fère, and the 3rd Cavalry Division sent on towards
the forest of Argonnes. The remaining five brigades followed with the
artillery on the 7th November.[49]

Marching on a wide front, the force reached the Oise between Compiègne
and Chauny on the 20th. In front of the right wing the cavalry,
supported by a battalion of Jägers, came in contact with Gardes-Mobiles
at Ham and Guiscard; in face of the infantry columns the hostile bodies
fell back on Amiens. It was learned that 15,000 men were there, and that
reinforcements were continually joining.

On the 25th the 3rd Brigade reached Le Quesnel. The 15th Division of the
VIIIth Corps advanced beyond Montdidier, and the 16th to Breteuil,
whence it established connection with the Saxon detachments about
Clermont. On the 26th the right wing closed up to Le Quesnel, the left
to Moreuil and Essertaux. The cavalry scouted forward towards the Somme,
the right bank of which it found occupied. The enemy's attitude
indicated that he was confining himself to the defence of that position.
General von Manteuffel thereupon determined to attack, without waiting
for the arrival of the 1st Division, the transport of which from Rethel
was extraordinarily delayed. His intention, in the first instance, was
to utilize the 27th in drawing closer in his forces, which were extended
along a front of some nineteen miles. But the battle was unexpectedly
fought on that same day.


[48] According to statement on p. 177, to Mézières.

[49] The "five brigades" mentioned in the text consisted of the 3rd of
Ist Corps, and the four composing the VIIIth Corps, of which, the Ist
and VIIth, the Ist Army was made up. The 1st Cavalry Division,
originally belonging to the Ist Army, was transferred to the IInd Army
by the reorganization following the capitulation of Metz.


(November 17th.)

General Farre, with his 17,500 men distributed into three brigades,
stood eastward of Amiens on the south bank of the Somme, about Villers
Bretonneux and Longueau along the road to Péronne, holding also the
villages and copses on his front. Besides these troops there were 8000
Gardes-Mobiles occupying an intrenched position about two and a half
miles in front of the city.

In accordance with instructions from the Army Headquarter, General von
Goeben (commanding the VIIIth Corps) had given orders for the 27th that
the 15th Division should take up quarters at Fouencamps and Sains; the
16th at Rumigny and Plachy and in the villages further back; the
Corps-Artillery at Grattepanche. Consequently the VIIIth Corps was to
be assembled before Amiens between the Celle and the Noye, at the
distance, then, of nearly two and a half miles from the Ist Corps,
and divided from it by the latter brook and the Avre. General von
Bentheim (commanding the 1st Division, Ist Corps[50]) on the other
hand, had sent his advanced guard, the 3rd Brigade, into quarters
north of the Luce.

At an early hour that brigade seized the passages of the brook at
Démuin, Hangard, and Domart. At ten o'clock it moved forward in order to
occupy the appointed quarters, and as the enemy were already in
possession, a fight began which gradually increased in magnitude.

The wooded heights on the north bank of the Luce were taken without any
particular resistance, and maintained in spite of several counter
strokes by the French. The artillery pushed forward through the
intervals of the infantry. On the left the 4th Regiment seized the
village of Gentelles, on the right the 44th Regiment rushed up to
within 300 paces of the left flank of the French position, and by a
vigorous onslaught carried by storm the earthworks at the railway
cutting east of Villers Bretonneux. Soon after mid-day heavy hostile
masses drew up at Bretonneux and in Cachy, directly opposite the 3rd
Brigade, which was extended along a front of some four miles.

On the left wing of the Germans the 16th Division had by eleven
o'clock already reached its assigned quarters, and had driven the enemy
out of Hébecourt, as well as out of the woods north of that village
towards Dury. The 15th Division, in compliance with the enjoined
assemblage of the VIIIth Corps on the left bank of the Noye, moved
westward from Moreuil through Ailly to Dommartin, its advance guard
which had been holding Hailles marching direct on Fouencamps. Thus it
happened that before noon the roads from Roye and Montdidier between the
two Corps were left completely uncovered by troops on the German side,
while a French brigade was standing at the fork of these roads at
Longueau, though, in fact, it remained absolutely inactive. This
interval was at first screened only by the numerous retinue and staff
escort of the Commander-in-Chief; and then it was to some extent filled
by the battalion constituting the guard of the headquarter. As, however,
after ten o'clock the French on their side commenced an attack on the
3rd Brigade, General von Manteuffel ordered the 15th Division to join in
the fight as far as possible toward the right wing.

After a staunch defence the companies of the 4th Regiment were driven
back out of the Bois de Hangard towards the declivity of the height in
front of Démuin, and subsequently, having expended all their ammunition,
the defenders of Gentelles were driven back to Domart.

General von Strubberg (commanding 30th Infantry Brigade, VIIIth Corps),
on instructions from the scene of combat in front of the Luce, had sent
four battalions in that direction, which crossed the Avre, but came
under such a heavy fire from the Bois de Gentelles that their further
advance was prevented, and they had to change front against the wood.
Behind them, however, the other detachments of the 30th Brigade pressed
forward to St. Nicolas on the right bank, and to Boves on the left, and
in co-operation with the 29th Brigade drove the French from the
neighbouring Ruinenberg.

Meanwhile a part of the approaching 1st Division came up behind the 3rd
Brigade. The artillery positions were considerably strengthened, and the
cannon fire was directed against the earthworks south of Bretonneux. As
the nearest support the Crown Prince's Regiment went forward, and soon
the French were again driven out of the Bois de Hangard. The East
Prussians following them up, took cover in front of the earthworks;
several detachments of the 4th and 44th Regiments gradually collected
there from the neighbouring woods, and the enemy was then driven back
from this position. Thirteen batteries now silenced the French
artillery, and, after they had fired for some time on Bretonneux, the
place was, at four o'clock, seized by the Prussians pouring in from all
sides with drums beating. The French in its interior made only a weak
defence at isolated points; for the most part they hurried over the
Somme at Corbie under cover of the darkness, and with the loss of 180
unwounded prisoners.

When, somewhat later, the French General Lecointe advanced with the
reserve brigade on Domart, he found that crossing point already in
possession of the 1st Division, and turned back. Cachy only was held by
the French till late in the evening.

The troops of the Ist Corps were distributed for the night in the
hamlets to the south of the Luce; but the outposts were established on
the northern bank of the Somme, and Bretonneux also remained occupied.

On the left wing of the battle-field the 16th Division had advanced to
Dury, and had driven the French out of the neighbouring churchyard, but
had been forced to withdraw from an attack on the enemy's extensive and
strongly defended line of intrenchment. It bivouacked behind Dury.

It was night before General von Manteuffel received information which
proved that the enemy had been completely defeated. Early in the morning
of the 28th the patrols of the Ist Corps found the region clear of the
enemy as far as the Somme, and all the bridges across the river
destroyed. At noon General von Goeben entered Amiens, the citadel of
which capitulated two days later with its garrison of 400 men and 30

One peculiarity of the battle of the 27th November was the
disproportionately great extent of the battle-field to the number of the
troops engaged. General Farre, with 25,000 men in round numbers, covered
a front of about fourteen miles from Pont de Metz south of Amiens to the
east of Villers Bretonneux, and with the Somme close on his rear. The
Germans attacked on approximately the same breadth of front, with the
result that there was a break in the middle of their line. The danger
caused by this gap was not taken advantage of during the morning through
the inactivity of the enemy, and it was then nullified by the occupation
of St. Nicolas.

The superiority of numbers was on the side of the Germans, for, although
of the approaching 1st Division only the Crown Prince's Regiment could
take part in the fighting, they were 30,000 strong. The 3rd Brigade bore
the brunt of the battle, losing 630 men and 34 officers out of a total
of 1300. The French also lost about 1300, besides 1000 reported missing.
Part of the National Guard threw down their arms and fled to their
homes. The main body of the French Corps retired on Arras.

Immediately after the battle the Ist Army was reinforced by the 4th
Brigade, which had been brought from La Fère.


[50] In effect commanding the whole Ist Corps, although nominally
Manteuffel was still chief of it, as well as in command of the Ist


(November 27th.)

This little fortress became of importance since it closed the line of
railway passing through Rheims, both to Amiens and to Paris. Lying in
open, wet, low ground overflowed by the Somme and its tributaries, it
was difficult of approach; otherwise, the fortifications merely
consisted of an isolated wall, with sundry earthworks close in front of
it, and it was entirely seen into from heights on the east at a distance
of not more than 1500 metres.

The brigade (4th of Ist Corps) as a preliminary measure had invested La
Fère on the 15th November, and when the siege-train arrived from
Soissons with thirty-two heavy guns, seven batteries were built and
armed during the night of the 25th on the heights already mentioned. On
the following morning these opened fire, and on the 27th the place
capitulated. Gardes-Mobiles to the number of 2300 were taken prisoners,
and the most serviceable of the 113 guns found were brought away to arm
the citadel of Amiens. The reinforcement of the Ist Army by the VIIth
Corps meanwhile was not yet even in prospect, since the latter still had
further work to do on the Moselle; the greater part of the 14th Division
only arrived before Thionville on November 13th.


(November 24th.)

This fortress, shut in on all sides by hills, was entirely without
bomb-proof protection; direct approach from the south was, on the other
hand, rendered difficult by artificial inundations, and on the west and
north by swamps. General von Kameke therefore decided to await the
result of a heavy bombardment before resorting to a regular attack.
Batteries were erected on both banks of the Moselle, and on the morning
of the 22nd eighty-five guns opened fire. At first the fortress answered
briskly. In the following night the infantry detailed to the task of
throwing up the first parallel, advanced to within 600 paces of the
west front, but, in consequence of pouring rain and the condition of the
ground the work made but small progress. However, on the 24th at mid-day
the commandant proposed negotiations for the surrender of the place. The
garrison, 4000 strong, with the exception of the National Guard
belonging to the place, became prisoners and were sent to Germany; and
199 guns, besides a considerable amount of supplies, arms and
ammunition, fell into the hands of the conqueror.

The 14th Division was now required to lay siege to the northern frontier
fortresses, which would occupy it for some time. The 13th Division, by
orders from the supreme Head-quarter, was assigned to the operations in
southern France.


On the south-east section of the theatre of war Belfort had become the
centre of continual petty enterprises on the part of French flying
detachments in rear of the XIVth Corps, which under General von Werder
stood about Vesoul.

But when the troops previously before Strasburg had been relieved by a
newly formed body from Germany, the troops before Neu-Breisach became
available, and were set in march on Upper Alsace; while the 1st Reserve
Division reached Belfort on the 3rd November, and by the 8th had
effected the preliminary investment of that place. The greater part of
the 4th Reserve Division marched to join the XIVth Corps at Vesoul, a
detachment under General von Debschitz occupied Montbéliard, and the
67th Regiment held Mulhouse and Delle.

Glancing back on the German successes during November and the general
military position at the end of the month, we see the great sortie from
Paris repulsed[51]; in the north the menace to the investment of being
hemmed in done away with by General von Manteuffel's victory at Amiens;
in the east Thionville, Breisach, Verdun, and La Fère taken, Montmédy
and Belfort surrounded; and in the south Prince Frederick Charles ready
to attack the French army before Orleans.


[51] The great sortie to the east of Paris was not repulsed until
December 2nd.


(December 3rd and 4th.)

When soon after noon of 2nd December the telegraphed order to take the
offensive against Orleans reached the headquarter of the IInd Army, the
Prince on the same day assembled the Xth Corps at Beaune la Rolande and
Boynes, the IIIrd at Pithiviers, and the IXth at Bazoches les
Gallerandes. By evening the collected forces had their marching orders.

The attack was to comprise two days of fighting. The IIIrd Corps was
first to advance on Loury by way of Chilleurs aux Bois; the Xth was to
follow to Chilleurs; and the IXth was to attack Artenay at half-past
nine. The 1st Cavalry Division supported by infantry was to be on
observation on the left flank towards the Yonne; the 6th was to follow
the right wing. The Grand Duke, to whom it had been left to arrange the
details of his own march westward of the Paris main road, ordered the
22nd Division to support the attack on Artenay, the Bavarian Corps to
advance on Lumeau, the 17th Division to remain for the present at
Anneux. The 4th Cavalry Division was charged with the duty of scouting
on the right flank.

So early as nine o'clock in the morning on the 3rd of December the IIIrd
Corps met eight battalions and six batteries of the enemy at Santeau.
The 12th Brigade and the artillery of the 6th Division intercalated in
the columns of march in rear of the foremost battalions, thereupon
deployed about La Brosse. After a few rounds a battery of the left wing
had to be withdrawn from the fight which had now commenced; on the
right, on the other hand, the Corps-Artillery gradually came up, and by
noon seventy-eight Prussian guns were in action.

The French, yielding to strength so overwhelming, retired on Chilleurs;
but, when the German batteries had advanced within 2000 paces of that
place, and the right flank of the former was threatened by an assault of
the Jäger battalions, they began a retreat towards the forest, and at
three o'clock part of the 5th Division followed them up through the glen
leading to the southward, and the 6th by the high road. As these had
been obstructed in many places, it was six o'clock in the evening before
the clearing by Loury was reached.

On the right, heavy musketry-firing was heard in the region of Neuville,
and tidings also arrived that on the left the French had occupied

In consequence of this, a reinforcement from the reserve remaining in
Chilleurs was brought up; one regiment was thrown out fronting towards
the west, a second towards the east, and under cover of the outposts
extended toward the south the remainder of the troops went into bivouac
and quarters at Loury.

The IXth Corps had first assembled at Château Gaillard on the main road
to Paris, and then advanced along the chaussée through Dambron against
Villereau. At Assas it met the enemy, who was soon driven back by its
artillery, and disappeared towards Artenay. At about ten o'clock an
obstinate contest was engaged in against the batteries of the 2nd French
Division in position here, in which part of the Corps-Artillery
presently bore part, seconded later by the batteries of the 22nd
Division, which had come up to Poupry. General Martineau retreated
slowly by successive detachments, his artillery leading, before the
overwhelming fire of ninety guns, on La Croix Briquet and Ferme

At twelve o'clock the Germans occupied Artenay, and after half an hour's
rest they renewed the offensive. There occurred a long and obstinate
fire-fight both of infantry and artillery, while the 22nd Division
pushed forward on the enemy's left flank. At two o'clock his guns were
silenced, the left-wing column of the IXth Corps seized the farm of
Arblay, and the centre by hard fighting drove the enemy back along the
high road through La Croix Briquet to Andeglou, where under cover of the
marine artillery resistance was kept up till dark.

General Puttkamer[52] had brought up five batteries to within 800 paces
of Chevilly, and the 22nd Division was advancing on the burning village,
when the chief Command gave the order to halt, the Grand Duke hesitating
to engage in a night attack on the intrenched village. But when, soon
after, a Hussar patrol brought the information that it was already
evacuated, General von Wittich ordered its occupation. The troops
bivouacked in a heavy snowstorm, in and to the rear of La Croix Briquet.

About the time of the first advance the IXth Corps had sent a detachment
of four Hessian battalions leftward against St. Lyé. They met with
opposition at La Tour, drove the enemy back on St. Germain, but could
not dislodge him from that place.

When the Xth Corps, marching round by Pithiviers unmolested, about three
o'clock reached the vicinity of Chilleurs in rear of the IIIrd Corps,
part of the 20th Division went on in the direction of the fighting about
Neuville, the noise of which in the evening was also heard at Loury.
Darkness had already come on and precluded the use of artillery, but the
infantry broke into the village at several points. But it found the
streets barricaded, and met with obstinate resistance, so that the
prosecution of the attack had to be postponed till the following day.

The XVth French Corps had sustained single-handed the onslaught of three
Prussian Corps. Strong masses of the Army of Orleans, to right and to
left of that Corps, made but feeble efforts in the course of the day to
support it. General Chanzy alone, when at about two o'clock he heard
heavy firing from Artenay, ordered forward the 2nd Division of the XVIth
Corps, though he had already that morning begun his retreat on St.
Péravy and Boulay. But this reinforcement encountered the Prussian 17th
Division, which, coming up from Anneux, was on the point of joining in
the fight at Andeglou, and with it the Bavarian Corps advancing from
Lumeau. Their strong united artillery in position at Chameul and Sougy,
soon forced the enemy to retire. Douzy and then Huêtre were taken, and
the château of Chevilly was occupied by the 17th Division. Here too
darkness put an end to the fighting. The troops of the right wing
quartered at Provenchères, Chameul and rearward.

Thus the German army had made its way without very heavy fighting to
within nine miles of Orleans. The French, indeed, had maintained their
ground till evening in the neighbourhood of Neuville, but the forces
holding on there were ordered to retire in the night. They were to gain
the road from Pithiviers by Rebréchien, and make a circuit by Orleans to
Chevilly. But they thus came under the fire of the IIIrd German Corps
quartered in Loury, and fled in disorder back into the forest, whence
they attempted to reach their destination by detachments.

It was only to be expected that the French would stoutly defend their
intrenchments at Gidy and Cercottes on the following day, if only to
keep open their way of retreat through Orleans. Prince Frederick Charles
therefore ordered the Grand Duke's Detachment and the IXth Corps to make
an encompassing attack on both points on the 4th. The IIIrd Corps was to
advance from Loury on Orleans, and the Xth, again forming the reserve,
was to follow to Chevilly.

General d'Aurelle had retired to Saran on the evening of the 3rd. Here
he saw the 2nd Division of the XVth Corps fleeing by in utter rout, and
heard also that the 1st had failed to make a stand at Chilleurs. The
Corps of his right wing were altogether shattered as regarded their
internal cohesion by the battle of Beaune, and those of his left no less
by the fight at Loigny. The French General could not but dread being
driven on the Loire with undisciplined masses, and the consequent block
of the only passage of the river at Orleans. He decided therefore on an
eccentric retreat. Only the XVth Corps was to retire by Orleans; General
Crouzat was to cross the Loire at Gien, General Chanzy at Beaugency. The
reassemblage remained to be attempted behind the Sauldre. The necessary
dispositions were made during the night, and communicated to the
Government. From the Board of Green Cloth at Tours, counter orders of
course came next morning to maintain the Orleans position, which
practically was already wrecked; but the General adhered firmly to his
own determination.

On December 4th the IIIrd Army Corps marched out of Loury in two columns
by the high road and the tracks through Vennecy. Both bodies reached
Boigny by noon, having met only stragglers. A detachment was sent to the
right to Neuville, which made prize of seven derelict guns and many
rifles. To the left, another detachment occupied Chézy on the Loire.
After a short rest the main columns advanced, and by two o'clock the 6th
Division reached Vaumainbert, which was occupied by detachments of the
French XVth Corps. Although the country was not open enough to allow of
the employment of artillery, the place was taken by the Brandenburgers
in spite of the stout resistance of the French Marine Infantry, and the
fire of the batteries on the heights to the north of St. Loup could now
be directed on the suburb of Orleans.

The 5th Division had meanwhile come up behind the 6th and took part in
the fight.

The XXth French Corps, which was still at Chambon, in the eastern part
of the forest opposite Beaune la Rolande, had received orders at four in
the morning from Tours direct, to march on Orleans. Contrary orders had
previously arrived from General d'Aurelle, but nothing subsequently came
to hand. General Crouzat had, as a precaution, sent his train across the
Loire by way of Jargeau, and then marched in the prescribed direction.
When, at half-past two he met at Pont aux Moines the German detachment
despatched to Chézy, he determined to cut his way through by force of
arms; but as General von Stülpnagel reinforced his two battalions with
the rest of his Division, the French general gave up that attempt and
retreated across the river, making the passage at Jargeau.

On the German side the attack on St. Loup[53] was unsuccessful; and
since from the locality of the fighting on the part of the other Corps
no tidings reached him, and darkness was approaching, General von
Alvensleben postponed any further attack on the city till the following

North of Orleans the IXth Army Corps advanced from La Croix Briquet on
the intrenched position of Cercottes. At about one o'clock the foremost
detachments of infantry entered the place. The 2nd Division of the
French XVth Corps was driven back by the fire of the artillery into the
vineyards in front of the city. Here the infantry alone could continue
the struggle. The French defended every tenable spot, and especially in
the railway station close to Orleans held their own with great
persistency. It and the adjacent deep road-cutting were fortified with
barricades and rifle-pits, and armed with naval guns. It was not till
nightfall, about half-past five, that these posts were abandoned, but
the contest was continued further back. To avoid street-fighting in the
dark, General von Manstein broke off the fight for the day at about
seven o'clock.

The advanced guard of the 17th Division of the Grand Duke's Detachment
had found Gidy intrenched and strongly occupied. But at the approach of
the IXth Corps the French about eleven o'clock thought proper to abandon
the position, leaving behind eight guns. The German Division, to avoid
the wood, now moved in a westerly direction on Boulay, whither the 22nd
and the 2nd Cavalry Division followed as a reserve.

Here the Bavarian Corps and the 4th Cavalry Division were already
engaged in a fight, having previously driven the French out of Bricy and
Janvry. When the artillery had for some time been in action, General von
der Tann passed to the assault at about twelve o'clock. But the French
did not wait for this; they beat a hasty retreat, leaving some of their
guns in the defences.

The 2nd Cavalry Division took up the pursuit. The 4th Hussars of the 5th
Brigade, trotting forward through Montaigu, charged a dismounted French
battery and seized all its guns; another near Ormes was left to be
carried off by the horse battery. From thence a strong body of French
horse suddenly appeared on the left flank of the 4th Brigade as it was
crossing the Châteaudun road. But the Blücher Hussars, promptly wheeling
into line, drove the enemy back through the village on Ingré.

The 4th Cavalry Division was placed on observation on the right flank of
the Detachment; and the Hussars of the 2nd Life Regiment here rode down
250 men forming the escort of a waggon column escaping by the road to
Châteaudun, and captured the convoy.

While the Germans were thus converging on Orleans from the east and
north, in the west the XVIIth French Corps and the 1st Division of the
XVIth were still in the field about Patay and St. Péravy. General Chanzy
had assembled the latter about Coinces, and, to protect himself against
its threatened attack on his flank, General von der Tann formed front at
Bricy with his 3rd Infantry Brigade, the Cuirassiers, and the artillery
reserve. The 4th Cavalry Division marched on Coinces, where General von
Bernhardi, clearing a wide ditch with four squadrons of Uhlans, drove a
body of French horse back on St. Péravy without its having been able to
do more than fire one carbine-volley. Other squadrons of the 9th Brigade
rode down the French tirailleurs, and pursued the cavalry till it
reached the protection of strong bodies of infantry. The 8th Brigade was
in observation toward Patay, and after that place had come under the
fire of a battery and been abandoned, General Chanzy gave up all further
attack and retired behind the forest of Montpipeau.

The 2nd Cavalry Division now made for the Loire immediately below
Orleans. Its artillery destroyed a bridge at Chapelle over which a
baggage-train was passing, and compelled the French troops, which were
marching towards Cléry along the further bank, to flee back to Orleans.
Two military railway-trains from thence were not to be stopped by the
firing, but a train coming from Tours, in which, as it happened, was
Gambetta himself, returned thither with all speed.

The Bavarian Corps meanwhile was advancing by the high road, and the
22nd Division, in touch with the IXth Corps, on the old Châteaudun road;
the 17th Division between the two on La Borde. This last Division at
about 3.30 had to carry on its way the strongly defended village of
Heurdy; and when the Bavarians from Ormes turned to the right on Ingré,
it proceeded by the high road towards St. Jean de la Ruelle. Having
overcome all opposition there too, the head of the Division reached the
gates of Orleans at about six o'clock.

General von Tresckow entered into negotiations with the military
authorities there for the orderly occupation of the town. An agreement
was arrived at by ten o'clock, and shortly after midnight the Grand Duke
marched in with the 17th Division, promptly followed by the 2nd Bavarian
Brigade. The bridge over the Loire, which the French had not found time
to blow up, was secured with all speed. The rest of the troops found
quarters for the night, to the west and north of the city.

The peremptory orders from the Government to hold Orleans had shaken
General d'Aurelle's original determination. When the mass of the XVth
Corps arrived there in the forenoon, he was anxious to make a final
stand. But the necessary orders could not be transmitted to the Corps of
the right wing, nor carried out by those of the left; and by five
o'clock the General in command was convinced of the futility of any
further resistance. The artillery of the XVth Corps was in the first
instance forwarded to La Ferté St. Aubin; the infantry followed. The
XXth Corps, as we have seen, was at Jargeau; the XVIIIth recrossed the
Loire at Sully; the XVIth and XVIIth moved off westward in the direction
of Beaugency, but remained on the right bank of the river.

The two days' battle had cost the Germans 1700 men; the French lost
20,000, of whom 1800 were taken prisoners. Their large army lately
massed before Orleans, was now split up into three separate bodies.


[52] Commanding Artillery of IXth Corps.

[53] The northern suburb of Orleans.


The troops were too much exhausted for immediate pursuit in any of these
three directions.

It was ordered that only the 6th Cavalry Division, reinforced by an
infantry detachment of the 18th Division, should follow up the enemy
making to the southward, ascertain his whereabouts, and destroy the
concentration of the railways from Bourges, Orleans and Tours at the
Vierzon junction. This Cavalry was in quarters to the north of the city;
the French XVth Corps had a considerable start of it, and the main body
of the latter had reached Salbris, when, on December 6th, two days after
the battle, General von Schmidt (commanding 14th Brigade, 6th Cavalry
Division) arrived by a forced march at La Ferté St. Aubin. Here he found
a detachment of the 18th Division, which had already driven the French
rear-guard back on La Motte Beuvron, but was now recalled to the Loiret.
Only two companies of the 36th Regiment and one of pioneers joined the
further advance, and followed the cavalry partly in waggons and partly
on gun-limbers.

On the 7th, under direct orders from Tours, the French Corps left the
high road to the south, and made a flank march of twenty miles in an
easterly direction to Aubigny Ville. The cavalry, supported to the best
of their power by its artillery and the small infantry detachment, had a
sharp fight with the French rear-guard at Nouan le Fuzelier, and again
in the evening at Salbris, in which the French finally had the best of
it. The neighbourhood being very thinly populated, the Division had to
return in the night to Nouan, to find shelter from the bitter winter

Long before daybreak on the 8th, the French rear-guard evacuated Salbris
to avoid a further encounter with the enemy, whose strength was greatly
overestimated. After some slight skirmishes the Cavalry Division reached
Vierzon that evening. The telegraph wires were cut and the railway line
torn up in several places, 70 goods vans were made prize of, the
direction of the enemy's retreat was ascertained, and any offensive
movement on the part of the French from that side for the time was
reckoned very improbable.

The Division had fulfilled its task; it was now ordered to leave one
brigade in observation, and to advance in the direction of Blois with
the rest. General (Count) von der Groeben (commanding 14th Cavalry
Brigade) maintained his positions at Vierzon and Salbris till the 14th.

The winter marches of the 6th Cavalry Division were exceptionally
arduous. It was almost impossible to travel excepting by the high roads,
and they were so slippery with ice that it was often necessary to
dismount and lead the horses. The inhabitants of the Sologne were
extremely hostile, and troopers patrolling in advance were fired upon in
every village. The French forces, on the other hand, made but a feeble
resistance. Numerous prisoners and large quantities of abandoned war
matériel bore witness to a hasty retreat, in many cases indicated
panic-flight. Nevertheless, in spite of much desultory marching and
counter-marching, the Corps on December 13th finally succeeded in
joining the right wing of the Army of Orleans at Bourges. The plight in
which it arrived there may be gathered from the telegraphic
_Correspondance Urgente_ of the Tours Government with General Bourbaki,
who, when General d'Aurelle was dismissed from the command in chief, had
assumed command of the three Corps.

The delegate Freycinet, who was no doubt kept well informed by the
country people, assured General Bourbaki that he had only a weak force
of cavalry in his front, and called upon him repeatedly, and in the most
urgent terms, to advance against Blois. The General retorted that if he
were to undertake that operation, not a gun, not a man of his three
Corps would ever be seen again. His intention was to retreat without
delay from Bourges on St. Amand, and if necessary yet further; all he
dreaded was lest he should be attacked before he could accomplish this,
and so be involved in overwhelming disaster.

The Minister of War himself went to Bourges, but he too renounced all
idea of a serious offensive movement when he saw the disorder of the
troops; "I have never seen anything so wretched." It was with difficulty
that he carried his point that the Corps should not retreat, but should
await events under cover of one of them pushed forward towards Vierzon.

On the day when General von Schmidt entered Vierzon, the XVth Corps was
in the vicinity of Henrichemont, at about an equal distance with himself
from Bourges. The XVIIIth and XXth Corps were at Aubigny Ville and
Cernay, from two to three marches away. It can scarcely be doubted that
if the 18th Division had followed the advance of the 6th Cavalry
Division, possession would have been obtained of Bourges and of the vast
military establishments there.

To the east of Orleans the IIIrd German Corps marched up the river
through Châteauneuf. It met only stragglers, till on the 7th two
Divisions of the XVIIIth French Corps attempted to cross to the right
bank of the Loire at Gien. There came about an advanced-guard fight at
Nevoy, with the result that these Divisions retreated across the bridge
in the night, and continued their march on Bourges.


(December 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th.)

The Grand Duke's Detachment stood westward, close to the retreating left
wing of the enemy. In contrast to the disorder of the right wing,
General Chanzy, probably the most capable of all the leaders whom the
Germans had to encounter in the battle-field, had very rapidly in so
great measure restored the discipline and spirit of his defeated troops,
that they were able not only to make a stand, but even to take the
offensive. They had, it is true, been considerably reinforced by the
newly formed XXIst Corps and by Camô's Division. The latter formed the
advanced guard at Meung; behind it were the XVIth Corps at Beaugency,
the XVIIth at Cravant, and the XXIst at St. Laurent on the edge of the
forest of Marchénoir.

On the day after the fight the troops of the Grand Duke were given a
rest-day; only the cavalry pursued the French. The 4th Cavalry Division
reached Ouzouer; the 2nd came upon considerable masses of infantry
behind Meung.

On the 7th, the Grand Duke's forces advanced on a very wide front. The
17th Division, on the left wing, marched on Meung, where its artillery
opened a combat with that of the enemy. The French held possession of
the narrow lanes of the village, which further westward was pierced by
the main road to Beaugency. Towards four o'clock a Mecklenburg battalion
carried Langlochère by storm, but found itself threatened on both sides
by the approach of hostile columns. On the left Foinard was presently
occupied, and a gun captured there, while on the right the 1st Bavarian
Brigade advanced on La Bourie. Here, almost at the same moment, the 2nd
Cavalry Division came up by by-roads from Renardière, having driven the
enemy out of Le Bardon by the fire of its guns. The Bavarians had now to
march out to meet a hostile mass advancing from Grand Chatre. Supported
by the horse batteries, they maintained till nightfall a stubborn fight,
which ended in the retreat of the French on Beaumont.

During this conflict on the left wing of the Detachment, the 1st
Bavarian Division, considerably on the right, were marching on Baccon,
the 22nd on Ouzouer; and finding that the French were offering a
determined resistance, the Grand Duke decided on closing in his forces
to the left.

_December 8th._--To this end the 22nd Division moved southward from
Ouzouer through Villermain. After repulsing the swarms of tirailleurs
which attacked its left flank under cover of a thick fog, General von
Wittich directed his march on Cravant, to effect a junction with the
right wing of the 1st Bavarian Division already engaged in a hot
struggle. They had repulsed an attack of the enemy pushed forward from
Villechaumont, and the 2nd (Bavarian) Division advanced by the road from
Cravant to Beaugency; but when three French Divisions came on afresh, it
retreated on Beaumont. Here it found support from the 1st (Bavarian
Division) and 17 batteries were gradually brought up into the fighting
line. Their fire and an impetuous attack from three Bavarian brigades at
last forced the enemy to fall back, and the position on the high road
was recovered.

The French now, on their side, brought up a strong force of artillery,
and prepared to advance on Cravant with their XVIIth Corps. But the 22nd
German Division having taken Beauvert and Layes by the way, had already
reached Cravant at about one o'clock, and was in position there with the
4th Cavalry Division on its right and the 2nd on its left. So when, at
about three o'clock, dense French columns advanced on Cravant, they were
repulsed by a powerful counter-stroke delivered by the 44th Brigade, in
conjunction with the Bavarians, and were soon driven out of Layes, which
they had entered while advancing. The five batteries nearest to Cravant
had suffered so severely meanwhile that they had to be withdrawn. When
finally at about four o'clock the Bavarian battalions advanced to storm
the height in their front, they were met by fresh troops of the enemy,
and after losing a great part of their officers were compelled to
retreat on the artillery position at Beaumont. Later, however, the
French abandoned Villechaumont.

On the left wing of the Detachment the 17th Division pursued the
retreating French through Vallées and Villeneuve, and then at about noon
made an attack on Messas. The defence was obstinate, and it was not till
dusk that it succeeded in gaining full possession of the place. The
artillery directed its fire on dense masses showing about Vernon, the
infantry stormed the height of Beaugency, and finally forced its way
into the town itself, where a French battery fell into its hand. Camô's
Division then retired on Tavers, and at midnight General von Tresckow
fell upon Vernon, whence the French, taken entirely by surprise, fled to

The Headquarter of the IInd Army had determined to set in march on
Bourges the IIIrd, Xth, and IXth Corps, from Gien, from Orleans, and
also from Blois. But the Detachment in its advance on Blois by the right
bank of the Loire had met with unexpected resistance lasting for two
days. In the supreme Headquarter at Versailles it was regarded as
indispensable that the Grand Duke should immediately be reinforced by at
least one Division. Telegraphic orders to that effect arrived at ten
o'clock on December 9th. The IXth Corps, which was already on the march
along the left bank and had found no enemy in its front, could not give
the requisite support, since all the bridges over the river had been
blown up. The IIIrd Corps was therefore ordered to leave only a
detachment in observation at Gien, and to turn back to Orleans. The Xth
Corps was to call in its detachments standing eastward of the city and
march forward to Meung. Meanwhile on the 9th the Detachment remained
still quite unsupported while actually confronting with four Infantry
Divisions, eleven French Divisions. And early on that morning General
Chanzy took the offensive.

_December 9th._--The two Prussian Divisions at Beauvert and Messas stood
firmly awaiting the hostile onslaught. The two Bavarian Divisions,
because of their severe losses, were held in reserve at Cravant, but
soon had to come up into the fighting line, when at seven o'clock strong
columns of the enemy advanced on Le Mée.

Dense swarms of tirailleurs were repulsed both there and before Vernon,
and were later shattered by the fire of the devoted German artillery,
which silenced the French guns and then directed its fire on Villorceau.
In spite of a stout defence, this village was carried and occupied about
half-past ten by the Bavarian infantry. The French advance on
Villechaumont in greatly superior force was also repulsed, with the
assistance of three battalions and two batteries of the 22nd Division.
The Thüringers[54] then stormed Cernay, where 200 French laid down their
arms, and one of their batteries lost its teams and limbers.

On the right wing of the Detachment, in consequence of a
misunderstanding, the Germans evacuated Layes and Beauvert, and the
French occupied these villages. However, with the assistance of the 2nd
Bavarian Brigade, the 44th (Brigade) drove them out again from both
places. Further to the north, the 4th Cavalry Division was in
observation of a French detachment approaching Villermain.

The French made renewed efforts, advancing again at mid-day on Cravant
in strong columns; but this movement General Tresckow took in flank from
Messas. He left only a weak detachment in Beaugency, and secured
himself towards Tavers in the villages on his left. The main body of the
17th Division advanced on Bonvalet, reinforced the hardly-pressed
Bavarians in Villorceau, and occupied itself Villemarceau in front of
that place. Here the Division had to maintain a severe struggle, at
about three o'clock, with close columns of the French XVIth and XVIIth
Corps. The infantry rushing on the enemy with cheers succeeded, however,
in repulsing him and holding its ground in spite of a hot fire. At the
same time three Bavarian battalions, accompanied by cavalry and
artillery, marched up from Cravant and drove the French out of
Villejouan. Yet further to the right a battalion of the 32nd Regiment
took possession of Ourcelle. A line from thence to Tavers defined the
section of terrain laboriously wrung from the enemy.

The fight ended with the retreat of the enemy on Josnes and Dugny.

On this day the IIIrd Corps was still on the march to Orleans. The IXth
from its position on the left bank, could only take part in the fighting
by the fire of its artillery on Meung and Beaugency. It was not till
near Blois that it met French detachments. Fifty men of one of the
Hessian battalions carried the defended château of Chambord lying
rightward of the line of march, and there took 200 prisoners and made
prize of twelve ammunition waggons with their teams.

Of the Xth Corps only the head of its infantry reached Meung, but it
sent forward a regiment of Hussars with eight batteries, which arrived
at Grand Chatre by about three o'clock in the afternoon.

By order of the Headquarter of the IInd Army the Bavarian Corps was now
to retire to Orleans, to recruit after its heavy losses. But even after
the arrival of the Xth Corps the Grand Duke had still in his front an
enemy double his strength, and instead of engaging in a pursuit he had
rather to study how to maintain himself on the defensive.

_December 10th._--At dawn General Chanzy renewed his attack, which even
the Bavarians were presently required to join in repulsing.

At seven o'clock the French XVIIth Corps rushed in dense masses on
Origny, took there 150 prisoners, and forced its way into Villejouan.
This advance was met directly in front by the 43rd Brigade at Cernay,
and by the 4th Bavarian Brigade with six batteries at Villechaumont;
while on the right flank General von Tresckow pushed forward on
Villorceau and Villemarceau. In this latter village two of his
battalions, supported by four batteries, resisted every onslaught of the
French from Origny and Toupenay. At noon the main body of the 17th
Division advanced to the recapture of Villejouan. Here the French made
an obstinate stand. An embittered and bloody fight in the streets and
houses was prolonged till four o'clock, and then fresh troops of the
enemy came up to recover the post the Germans still held in one detached
farmstead. The artillery mass of the Prussian Division had, however,
deployed to the south of Villemarceau; it was joined by two horse
batteries of the Xth Corps, and the batteries of the 22nd Division also
came into action from Cernay. The concentric fire of this body of
artillery wrecked the subsequent attacks of the XVIIth French Corps.

Beaugency was now occupied by part of the Xth Corps. During the previous
days the left flank of the German fighting position had a secure point
d'appui on the Loire, but on the right such a support had been wholly
lacking. The French had nevertheless hitherto made no attempt to take
advantage of their superiority by a wider extension of their front. For
the first time on this day did they come in on the unprotected left
flank of their enemy. The greater part of the XXIst Corps deployed
opposite to it, between Poisly and Mézierès, and at half-past ten
strong columns advanced on Villermain. The Bavarians were compelled to
take up with their 2nd Brigade the "hook" formation from Jouy to
Coudray. Seven batteries were brought up into that line, and on its
right flank the 4th Cavalry Division stood in readiness to act. By two
o'clock two more horse batteries, and from Cravant four batteries of the
Xth Corps arrived, which massed there with three brigades as a reserve.
The fire of over a hundred German guns compelled the French to hurry
their artillery out of action at three o'clock, and weak independent
attacks by their infantry were repulsed without difficulty by the
Germans persevering staunchly on the defence.

The French losses in this four days' battle are unknown. The Detachment
lost 3400 men, of whom the larger half belonged to the two Bavarian

The Grand Duke had succeeded in holding his own against three Corps of
the enemy till the arrival of the first reinforcement, and this he owed
to the bravery of all his troops, and not least to the exertions of the
artillery. This arm alone lost 255 men and 356 horses. Its material was
tasked to the utmost, so that finally almost all the steel guns of the
light batteries of the 22nd Division, and most of the Bavarian, were
rendered useless by the burning out of their vent-pieces.

The IIIrd Corps had on this day just arrived at St. Denis, and the IXth
at Vienne opposite Blois; but here, too, the bridge over the Loire was
found to be blown up.

On the French side, General Chanzy had learnt from the telegraphic
correspondence of the Government at Tours with General Bourbaki, that
nothing had come of that commander's attempt to divert part of the
German IInd Army upon himself. The long delay gave General Chanzy the
daily apprehension of an attack by it with its full strength; and he
therefore decided on a retreat, which resulted in the removal of the
Assembly from Tours to Bordeaux.

In the Grand Duke's Head-quarter the renewed offensive had been decided
on for December 11th. The villages in his front remained strongly
occupied, and it was only at noon of that day that the enemy's retreat
became known. He was at once pursued on the left by the Xth Corps, and
on the right, south of the forest of Marchénoir, by the Detachment. On
the north, the 4th Cavalry Division took up the scouting.

A thaw had followed the hard frost, making the march equally difficult
for friend and foe. The Germans found the roads littered with abandoned
waggons and cast-away arms; the bodies of men and horses lay unburied in
the fields, and in the villages were hundreds of wounded uncared for.
Several thousands of stragglers were captured.

The directions[55] of the Chief of the General Staff from Versailles
suggested an immediate pursuit, which should render the enemy incapable
of further action for some time to come; but not to be maintained beyond
Tours. The IInd Army was then to assemble at Orleans and the Detachment
at Chartres, and the troops were to obtain the rest they needed. From
the former point constant and strict watch could be kept on General
Bourbaki's army, and to this end a connection was to be made with
General von Zastrow, who with the VIIth Corps was to reach Châtillon sur
Seine on the 13th. But the operations in this quarter were not to extend
beyond Bourges and Nevers.

The IInd Army was accordingly in the first instance marched toward the
Loir, and on the 13th reached the line Oucques--Conan--Blois, which last
town was found evacuated.

On the 14th the 17th Division marched to Morée, and reached the Loir at
Fréteval. A fight occurred at both these points. Though the French had
yielded thus far, they seemed resolved to make a firm stand on the Loir,
and had occupied Cloyes and Vendôme in great strength.

In order to attack with success, Prince Frederick Charles first
proceeded to concentrate all his forces. The IIIrd Corps, which was
hurrying after the army by forced marches, was in the first instance to
come up into the interval between the Detachment and the Xth Corps,
which was to march from Blois and Herbault on Vendôme.

But when, on the 15th, the Xth Corps was moving in the prescribed
direction, its main body encountered so determined a resistance close in
front of Vendôme that it could not be overcome before dark. The troops
therefore retired to quarters in the rear of Ste. Anne. A left-flank
detachment had found St. Amand occupied by heavy masses, and halted at
Gombergean. The IIIrd Corps had advanced in the course of the day on
Coulommiers, in the vicinity of Vendôme, had fought the French at Bel
Essert, driven them back across the Loir and established connection with
the Xth. The Grand Duke, in compliance with instructions, stood
meanwhile on the defensive. The IXth Corps, after the restoration of the
bridge of Blois, was at last able to follow the army, leaving a brigade
in occupation of Blois.

A greatly superior force was now assembled opposite the enemy's
position, and a general attack was decided on; but to give the wearied
troops some rest it was postponed till the 17th, and meanwhile, on the
16th, General Chanzy withdrew.

It had certainly been his intention to make a longer stand in the Loir
angle; but his Generals convinced him that the condition of the troops
did not permit the prolongation of active hostilities. He accordingly
gave the order for the retreat of the army at daybreak by way of
Montoire, St. Calais, and Vibraye to Le Mans.

Thus in the early morning (of the 17th) the Xth Corps found the French
position in front of Vendôme abandoned, and it entered the city without
opposition. On the French left wing only, where the marching orders had
not yet arrived, General Jaurès made an attack on Fréteval, but in the
evening he followed the other Corps.


[54] In the 22nd Division of the XIth Corps--a Corps of a curiously
composite character, there were three Thüringian regiments. The 43rd
Brigade was wholly Thüringian, consisting as it did of the 32nd and 95th
regiments (2nd and 6th Thüringers), and in the 44th Brigade was the 94th
(5th Thüringers). It was the 2nd battalion of this last regiment which
is referred to in the text.

[55] The expression "Directiven" in the text cannot be succinctly
translated. It was rarely, except when actually himself in the field,
that the Chief of the General Staff issued actual "orders" to the higher
commanders. His communications for the most part consisted of
"Directiven"--messages of general suggestions as to the appropriate line
of action to be pursued, leaving a wide discretion to the commanders to
whom they were addressed, and refraining almost entirely from details. A
collection of Moltke's "Directiven" would be perhaps the finest tribute
to his military genius.


On the 17th of December general directions were issued from Versailles
to the Armies both to the north and south of Paris.

Now that General von Manteuffel was across the Somme, and Prince
Frederick Charles had advanced to the Loir, the Germans held possession
of almost a third of France. The enemy was everywhere driven back; and
that the German forces should not be split up, it was thought advisable
that they should be concentrated into three principal groups. The Ist
Army was therefore to assemble at Beauvais, the Detachment at Chartres,
the IInd Army near Orleans, where the troops were to have the needful
rest, and their full efficiency was to be re-established by the arrival
of reservists and equipment. If the French should engage in any new
enterprises, they were to be allowed to approach within striking
distance, and then were to be driven back by a vigorous offensive.

For the IInd Army there was but little prospect at present of overtaking
the enemy beyond the Loir; and the reports from the Upper Loire now
necessitated the bestowal of increased attention in that direction. News
came from Gien that the posts left there had been driven back to Ouzouer
sur Loire; and it seemed not unlikely that General Bourbaki would take
the opportunity of advancing by Montargis towards Paris, or at least
towards Orleans, which for the moment was occupied only by part of the
Ist Bavarian Corps.

Prince Frederick Charles had got quit of his enemy probably for some
considerable time, and he decided, in accordance with directions from
Versailles, to assemble his forces at Orleans and maintain a waiting
attitude. Only the Xth Corps was to remain behind in observation on the
Loir. To secure immediate support for the Bavarian Corps in any event,
the IXth Corps, on its arrival from Blois at La Chapelle Vendômoise on
the 16th December, was ordered to march to Beaugency that same day, and
to Orleans on the morrow. It covered nearly 52 miles in twenty-four
hours, notwithstanding the badness of the weather. The IIIrd Corps
followed it.

However, it was soon known that the enemy's detachment which had been
seen at Gien did not form part of a large body of troops, and was
intrenching itself at Briare for its own safety. So the Germans retired
into comfortable rest-quarters, the Ist Bavarian Corps at Orleans, the
IIIrd there and along to Beaugency, the IXth in the plain of the Loire
up as far as Châteauneuf, with a strong post at Montargis.

The Bavarian Corps was later transferred to Etampes, to recover at its
leisure, to recruit its numbers, and refit as to its clothing and
equipment. Nor was the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg's detachment in a
condition to follow General Chanzy beyond the Loir. Six weeks of daily
marching and fighting had tried the troops to the utmost. The dreadful
weather and the state of the roads had reduced their clothing and
foot-gear to a miserable state. A reconnoissance beyond the Loir showed
that the French could be overtaken by only long and rapid marches. So
the Grand Duke allowed his troops a long rest, from the 18th, in the
villages on the left bank of the river.

Of the IIIrd Army, General von Rheinbaben, on the other hand, occupied
with the three Brigades of the 5th Cavalry Division Courtlain, Brou, and
Chartres, strengthened by five battalions of Guard Landwehr and four
batteries. A letter from the Chief of the General Staff at Versailles
had pointed out that this cavalry might probably be employed with great
success in attacking the flank and rear of the enemy's retreating
columns, and the Crown Prince had already given orders that it should
push forward by way of Brou in full strength on the 15th. Contrary to
these orders, the Division obeyed a subsequent order which reached it on
the 16th from the Grand Duke, under whose command the Division had not
been placed, to take up a position on the Yères.

On this day patrols had found the roads open to Montmirail and
Mondoubleau, except for French infantry in front of Cloyes, which
retired after a short fray. On the left, a connection was opened with
the 4th Cavalry Division. On the 17th, the 12th Cavalry Brigade entered
Cloyes, already evacuated by the French; on the 13th it advanced on
Arrou, and only General von Barby (commanding the 11th Cavalry Brigade)
marched on Droue with a force of all arms, where he surprised the French
at their cooking, and carried off much booty.

On the 18th, the 12th Brigade did make prisoners of a few stragglers
there, but the other two brigades only made a short march to the
westward to La Bazoche Gouet and Arville, whence the enemy had quite
disappeared. To the south of Arville a battalion of the Guard Landwehr
drove the French infantry out of St. Agil.

With this the pursuit ended on the 19th. The Division retired on Nogent
le Rotrou by the Grand Duke's desire, and subsequently undertook the
observation of the left bank of the Seine at Vernon and Dreux.

The Grand Duke's Detachment left its quarters on the Loir on the 21st.
The 22nd Division occupied Nogent le Roi, and the 17th Chartres, till the
24th. The 4th Bavarian Brigade rejoined its own Corps at Orleans.

During the remainder of December only the Xth Corps had any fighting, it
having been detailed to keep watch beyond the Loir from Blois and

Two brigades were set on march towards Tours on the 20th. On the further
side of Monnaie they met the newly-formed troops of General
Ferri-Pisani, 10,000 to 15,000 strong, which were advancing from Angers
and had passed through Tours.

The soaked ground made the deployment of the artillery and cavalry
exceedingly difficult. The cavalry, indeed, could only pursue the
retreating French in deep columns along the high roads, thus suffering
severely from the enemy's fire delivered at very short range.

On the following day General von Woyna (commanding 39th Infantry
Brigade) advanced unopposed with six battalions on the bridge at Tours.
A light battery was brought up on the bank of the river and dispersed
the rabble firing from the opposite shore, but it would have cost too
many lives to storm the city, which, since the removal of the seat of
Government, had ceased to be of any great importance. The detachment was
withdrawn to Monnaie, and the Xth Corps went into quarters, the 19th
Division at Blois, the 20th at Herbault and Vendôme.

From the latter place on the 27th, a detachment of two battalions, one
squadron, and two guns marched through Montoire on Sougé on the Braye,
and there met a greatly superior force. General Chanzy had in fact
marched a Division of his XVIIth Corps towards Vendôme in order to draw
the Prussians away from Tours. Behind St. Quentin the weak Prussian
detachment found itself hemmed in between the river and the cliff,
enclosed on every side, and under heavy fire. Lieutenant-Colonel von
Boltenstern succeeded, however, in cutting his way through. Without
firing a shot the two Hanoverian battalions hurled themselves on the
dense body of tirailleurs blocking their retreat, and fought their way
out fighting hand to hand. Through the gap thus made the guns dashed
after firing one round of grape-shot, and notwithstanding losses to the
teams they ultimately got back safely to Montoire. The squadron also
charged through two lines of riflemen and rejoined the infantry.

As a result of this incident General von Kraatz Koschlau (commanding
20th Division) brought up the remainder of his Division from Herbault,
determined to clear up the situation by a fresh reconnoissance. Four
battalions were to advance from Vendôme, and the 1st Cavalry Brigade
from Fréteval was to scout towards Epuisay. On this same day, however,
General de Jouffroy was marching with two Divisions to the attack of

When, at about ten o'clock, the reconnoitring force from Vendôme reached
the Azay, it came under a hot fire from the further slope of the valley.
Soon after six hostile battalions attacked its flank from the south, and
repeated notice was brought in that considerable forces of the enemy
were marching on Vendôme direct, from north of Azay by Espéreuse.
General von Kraatz perceived that he would have to face a planned attack
made by very superior numbers, and determined to restrict himself to the
local defence of Vendôme. Under cover of a battalion firmly maintaining
its position at Huchepie, he accomplished in perfect order the retreat
of the detachment, which then took up a position on the railway
embankment to the west of the city.

Further to the north the hostile columns, advancing over Espéreuse, had
already reached Bel Air. A battalion hastening up from Vendôme
re-occupied the château, but being outflanked on the right by a superior
force withdrew, and likewise took up a position behind the railway. At
about two o'clock the French attacked this position in dense swarms of
sharpshooters, but came under the quick-fire of six batteries in
position on the heights behind Vendôme, which caused their right wing to
give way. A column of the enemy advanced along the left bank of the Loir
from Varennes against this artillery position, but hastily retreated out
of range of the fire from it.

The attacks directed against the railway from Bel Air and Tuileries were
more serious; but eight companies posted there repelled them. At four
o'clock the French once more advanced in strength; fortune wavered for
some time, and at length, as darkness fell, they retired.

The 1st Cavalry Brigade, accompanied by two companies and a horse
battery, marched on this day on Danzé. Captain Spitz, with a handful of
his Westphalian Fusiliers fell on two batteries halted there, and
captured two guns and three limbers. With these and fifty prisoners
General von Lüderitz (commanding 1st Cavalry Brigade) returned to
Fréteval by about one o'clock, after pursuing the enemy as far as

The attempt of the French on Vendôme had utterly failed, and they now
retreated to a greater distance. General von Kraatz, however, was
ordered, in the prospect of a greater enterprise to be described later,
to remain meanwhile in waiting on the Loir.


In the south-eastern theatre of war the French had at last decided on
some definite action.

Garibaldi's Corps, assembled at Autun, advanced toward Dijon on the
24th (November); its detachments closed up by Sombernon and St. Seine,
with various skirmishes, and subjected to night surprises. Crémer's
Division advanced as far as Gevrey from the south. But as soon as
reinforcements reached Dijon from Gray and Is sur Tille, the enemy was
driven back, and now General von Werder on his part ordered the 1st
Brigade of his Corps to march on Autun. General Keller (commanding 3rd
Infantry Brigade, Baden Division), arrived in front of the town on
December 1st, driving the hostile detachments before him. The
preparations had been made to attack on the following day, when orders
came for a rapid retreat. Fresh troops had become necessary at
Châtillon, to replace the posts which had been stationed to protect the
railway and which had been surprised at Gray, to cope with sorties by
the garrison of Besançon and also to observe Langres.

The Prussian Brigade (26th) marched on Langres, along with two cavalry
regiments and three batteries, and on the 16th it met the French in the
vicinity of Longeau, in number about 2000. They were repulsed, losing
200 wounded, fifty prisoners, two guns, and two ammunition waggons.
General von der Goltz (commanding the Brigade) in the next few days
surrounded Langres, drove the Gardes-Mobiles posted outside into the
fortress, and occupied a position opposite the northern front for the
protection of the railways.

In the country south of Dijon fresh assemblages of French troops had
also now been observed. To disperse these General von Werder advanced on
the 18th with two Baden Brigades on Nuits. In Boncourt, close to the
town on the east, the advanced guard met with lively opposition, but
carried the place by noon. The French, aided by their batteries posted
on the heights west of Nuits, offered an obstinate defence in the deep
railway cutting and at the Meuzin brook. When the main body of the
Brigade came up at two o'clock, General von Glümer (commanding Baden
Division) ordered a general attack. With heavy losses, especially in
superior officers, the infantry now rushed across the open plain at the
double against the enemy, who was under cover, and who, after
maintaining a fire at short range, was driven back on Nuits so late as
four o'clock in the course of a hand-to-hand struggle. At five o'clock
he abandoned the place before the on-coming battalions.

The Germans had had to do with Crémer's Division, 10,000 strong, which
lost 1700 men, among them 650 unwounded prisoners. The Baden Division
had lost 900 men. It encamped for the night on the market-place of the
town and in the villages to the eastward. Next morning the French were
found to have retreated still further, but the Germans were not strong
enough for pursuit. The XIVth Corps had already been obliged to spare
seven battalions for the investment of Belfort. General von Werder
therefore returned to Dijon, where he assembled all the forces still
left to him with those of General von der Goltz from Langres, and waited
to see whether the enemy would again advance against him. But the month
of December ended without any further disturbance.


While the IInd Army was fighting on the Loire, General von Manteuffel,
after the victory of Amiens, marched on Rouen.

General Farre was indeed at Arras, in the rear of this movement, but the
disorder in which his troops had retired after the battle made it
probable that he would do nothing, at any rate for the present. The 3rd
Brigade, too, was left in Amiens, with two cavalry regiments and three
batteries, to occupy the place and protect the important line of railway
to Laon.

The outlook to the west was more serious than to the north, for from
thence at this juncture hostile forces threatened to interfere with the
investment of Paris. General Briand was at Rouen with some 20,000 men,
and had advanced his leading troops up to the Epte, where at Beauvais
and Gisors he came in contact with the Guard Dragoon regiment and the
Saxon Cavalry Division detached from the Army of the Meuse. The
detachment of infantry which accompanied the latter had lost 150 men and
a gun in a night surprise.

When the Ist Army reached the Epte on December 3rd, both bodies of
cavalry joined its further march, and the French retired behind the
Andelles. The VIIIth Corps reached the vicinity of Rouen after petty
skirmishes by the way, and found an intrenched position abandoned at
Isneauville; and on December 5th General von Goeben entered the chief
city of Normandy. The 29th Brigade advanced on Pont Audemer, the Ist
Corps crossed the Seine higher up at Les Andelys and Pont de l'Arche.
Vernon and Evreux were occupied, whence numbers of Gardes-Mobiles had
retreated by railway to Liseux. On the northern bank the Guard Dragoon
Regiment reconnoitred as far as Bolbec, and the Uhlan Brigade found no
enemy in Dieppe.

The French had retired to Havre, and a considerable force had been
conveyed in ships that were in readiness, to Honfleur on the other bank
of the Seine. The 16th Division continued its march on Havre, reaching
Bolbec and Lillebonne on the 11th.

The already-mentioned directions from Versailles had been communicated
in advance by the Chief of the General Staff, and in accordance with
them General Manteuffel now decided on leaving only the Ist Corps on the
Lower Seine, and returning with the VIIIth to the Somme, where the
French in Arras were now becoming active.

Besides making this evident by various small encounters, on December 9th
they had attacked a company detailed to protect the reconstruction of
the railway at Ham, surprising it at night, and taking most of the men
prisoners; while on the 11th several French battalions advanced as far
as La Fère.

To check their further progress, the Army of the Meuse had meantime sent
detachments to Soissons and Compiègne. General Count von der Groeben[56]
(commanding 3rd Cavalry Division) took up a position at Roye with part
of the garrison of Amiens, and on the 16th met the 15th Division at
Montdidier, which immediately moved up to the Somme.

Only the citadel of Amiens now remained in German occupation; but
General von Manteuffel, who had not approved of the evacuation of the
city, ordered its immediate reoccupation. The inhabitants had, however,
remained peaceable, and on the 20th the 16th Division, which had given
up the attack on Havre, arrived by way of Dieppe.

A reconnoissance fight near Querrieux made it certain that great numbers
of French were drawn up on the Hallue, and General von Manteuffel now
drew in the whole (VIIIth) Corps on Amiens. Reinforcements were shortly
to be expected, for the 3rd Reserve Division was on the march, and had
already reached St. Quentin. The Ist Corps was also ordered to send a
brigade from Rouen to Amiens by railway, and the Commanding General
determined to take the offensive at once with 22,600 men, all his
available force at the moment.

General Faidherbe had assembled two Corps, the XXIInd and XXIIIrd. His
advance on Ham and La Fère, intended to divert the Prussians from
attacking Havre, had succeeded. He next turned toward Amiens, advanced
to within nine miles of the city, and now stood, with 43,000 men and
eighty-two guns, fronting to the west behind the Hallue. Two Divisions
held the left bank of this stream for about seven miles, from its
confluence at Daours up to Contay, two standing further back, at Corbie
and Fravillers. The Somme secured the left flank.

On December 23rd General von Manteuffel, with the VIIIth Corps, advanced
on the road to Albert. The 3rd Brigade of the Ist Corps formed his
reserve. His design was to keep the French engaged by the 15th Division
on their front and left wing, and with the 16th Division to outflank
their right. The unexpected extension of the French right wing prevented
this, and it became a frontal battle along the whole line. The greater
height of the eastern bank afforded the French a commanding artillery
position, and the villages lying at the foot had in every instance to be

The French had drawn in their advanced posts to this line when at eleven
o'clock the head of the 15th Division reached the grove of Querrieux,
and brought up a battery. Two battalions of the 29th Brigade took the
village at mid-day at the first onslaught, crossed the stream, and drove
the French on the further bank out of Noyelles; but they now found
themselves overwhelmed by an artillery and infantry fire from all sides.
The East Prussians[57] stormed the acclivity at about four o'clock, and
took two guns which were in action, but were forced to fall back into
the village before the advancing French masses.

Soon after mid-day Féchencourt was won on the left, and Bussy on the
right; and the enemy after a feeble resistance was driven back across
the stream. On the other hand, the German Artillery could at first do
nothing against the strong and well-posted batteries of the enemy.
Vecquemont, however, was stormed, though stoutly defended, and a bitter
street-fight lasted till the afternoon.

The 15th Division, against the intention of General Manteuffel, had
become involved in fighting before the 16th, engaged further to the
left, could afford it any assistance. Not till four o'clock did the 31st
Brigade arrive in front of Béhencourt, when, crossing the river by
flying bridges, it threw the enemy back into the village, where he
maintained a stout resistance, but had ultimately to give way. The 32nd
Brigade, on the extreme left, crossed the Hallue and entered

Thus all the hamlets on the river were in German possession; but the
short December day was closing in, and further progress had to be
postponed till the morrow. Even in the dark the French made several
attempts to recover the positions they had lost, especially about
Contay, where they outflanked the German position. But their attacks
were repulsed both there and at Noyelles. They succeeded, indeed, in
getting into Vecquemont, but were driven out again, and were lost to the
Prussians now following across the stream, who even seized Daours, so
that ultimately the Germans held dominion over every passage of the

The battle was over by six o'clock. The troops moved into alarm-quarters
in the captured villages, their foreposts standing close in front of the

The attack had cost the Germans 900 men; the defence had cost the French
about 1000, besides 1000 unwounded prisoners who were taken into Amiens.

At daybreak on the 24th the French opened fire on General Manteuffel's
position in the angle bounded by the Hallue and the Somme.

It having been ascertained that the enemy's strength was almost double
that of the Germans, it was decided this day on the latter side to
remain on the defensive, pending the arrival of reinforcements, and to
strengthen the defence of the positions gained. The Army-Reserve was
pushed forward to Corbie to threaten the left flank of the French.

But at two o'clock in the afternoon General Faidherbe took up his
retreat. His insufficiently-equipped troops had suffered fearfully
through the bitter winter night, and were much shaken by the
unfavourable issue of the fighting of the previous day. He therefore
drew them back within the area of the covering fortresses. When on the
25th the two Prussian Divisions and the cavalry pursued beyond Albert,
and then close up to Arras and as far as Cambrai, they found no formed
bodies at all in front of those places, and only captured some hundreds
of stragglers.

When General Manteuffel had thus disposed of the enemy, he sent General
von Mirus (commanding 6th Cavalry Brigade) to invest Péronne, while he
himself returned to Rouen.

Since it had detached to Amiens six battalions as a reinforcement, the
Ist Army Corps (at Rouen) now remained only two brigades strong. The
French had 10,000 men on the right bank, and 12,000 on the left bank of
the lower Seine. And these forces had come very close to Rouen;
particularly on the south side within nine miles. Meanwhile, however,
the Commanding-General had ordered back the 2nd Brigade from Amiens, and
on its arrival the hostile bodies were once more driven back.


[56] Lieut.-General, not to be confounded with Major-General of same
name commanding 14th Cavalry Brigade.

[57] Men of the 2nd battalion 33rd Regiment (East Prussian Fusiliers),
belonging to the VIIIth Corps, whose territory is the Rhine Provinces.
It would be interesting to know how an East Prussian Regiment came to be
incorporated into the Rhineland Corps. The Ist is the East Prussian
Corps, and it was also under General v. Manteuffel, who had been the
Corps Commander until the beginning of December, when its command passed
to General v. Bentheim.


(1st January, 1871.)

In the northern section of hostilities, before the end of the year, the
siege of Mézières was brought to an end. After the battle of Sedan the
Commandant had contributed supplies from the magazines of the fortress
for the maintenance of the great mass of prisoners, and it had remained,
therefore, for the time exempt from attack. Later the place precluded
the use of the railroad; still it was only kept under provisional
observation till the 19th of December, when, after the fall of Montmédy,
the 14th Division moved up before Mézières.

The garrison numbered only 2000 men, but it was effectively assisted by
bands of volunteers outside, who displayed extraordinary activity in
this broken and wooded country. The place was not completely invested
till the 25th.

Mézières stands on a mountain-spur which is surrounded on three sides by
the Moselle,[58] but it is hemmed by a ring of heights. The character of
the defences, which had been strengthened by Vauban, with their numerous
salient angles, was not calculated to resist modern long-range
artillery. The place exposed an isolated rampart of masonry in a
circumference of from 2160 to 3250 yards, and although the long delay
had been utilized in repairing the weak points by throwing up
earthworks, a bombardment could not fail to be destructive to the

When Verdun had surrendered, heavy siege guns were brought by rail from
Clermont to a position close in front of the southern face of the
fortress. The only hindrance to the erection of the batteries was the
state of the soil, frozen to a depth of twenty inches; and at a quarter
past eight on the morning of the 31st of December 68 siege guns and 8
field-pieces opened fire. At first the fortress replied vigorously, but
by the afternoon its artillery was utterly silenced, and the white flag
was hoisted next day. The garrison were taken prisoners; considerable
stores and 132 guns fell into the hands of the besiegers. But the chief
advantage gained was the opening of a new line of railway to Paris.


[58] Slip of pen for "Meuse."


In Paris General Ducrot had been busily employed in making good the
losses sustained in the battle of Villiers. A part of the greatly
reduced Ist Corps had to be consigned to the reserve; the IInd Army was
reorganized. A projected sortie by way of the peninsula of Gennevillers
and the heights of Franconville had not been approved by the government.
There was the confident expectation of seeing the Army of Orleans appear
within a short time before the capital, and steps were being taken to
reach it the hand, when on the 6th December a letter from General von
Moltke announced the defeat of General d'Aurelle and the occupation of
Orleans. A sortie to the south would thenceforth be aimless, and after
long deliberation it was at length decided to break through the enemy's
lines in a northern direction by a sortie in great force.

It was true that the Morée brook afforded the besiegers some cover on
that side, but only so long as the ice would not bear. And there were
but three German corps of the gross strength of 81,200, extended over a
front of about twenty-seven miles.[59]

By way of preparation earthworks were begun to be thrown up on the 13th,
between Bondy and Courneuve, the forts of the north front were furnished
with a heavier artillery equipment, and the plateau of Mont Avron was
occupied by batteries. Ninety rounds of ammunition were served out to
each man, with six days' rations; and four days' fodder for the horses.
Packs were not to be carried, but rolled tent-pieces were to be worn as
breast-protection. December 19th was the day first set for the
enterprise, but there was a postponement to the 21st.

Thus, during the larger half of December the investing army had remained
almost wholly undisturbed by the defenders. Regular food, warm winter
clothing, and abundant supplies of comforts which the exertions of the
postal service afforded, had maintained the troops in a thoroughly
satisfactory condition.

The preparations which the garrison was making for a new effort did not
escape the notice of the besieging forces. Deserters brought in reports
of an imminent sortie. On the 20th information came from the posts of
observation that large masses of troops were assembling about Merlan and
Noisy le Sec; and early on the 21st the 2nd Guard Division, by order of
the Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the Meuse, stood in readiness at
the passages of the Morée. Part of the 1st Division remained in reserve
at Gonesse; the other portion was to be relieved by the 7th Division,
and made available for action. On the right wing the Guard Landwehr
Division occupied the section from Chatou to Carrières St. Denis; on the
left a brigade of the Saxon Corps held Sévran. The 4th Infantry Division
of the IInd Corps moved to Malnoue to support, in case of need, the
Würtembergers, to whom was allotted the task of holding resolutely the
advanced position of Joinville opposite the French.

To divert the attention of the Germans from the true point of attack, a
brisk fire was to be opened in early morning from Fort Valérien; strong
bodies were to assail the right wing of the Guard Corps, General Vinoy
was to lead the IIIrd Army against the Saxons, and Admiral de la
Roncière was to fall upon Le Bourget with his Army Corps. This latter
post, projecting as it did so prominently, it was essential to seize
first of all, and not till then was General Ducrot, with the IInd Paris
Army, to cross the Morée near Blanc Mesnil and Aulnay.

(COMBAT OF LE BOURGET, 21ST DECEMBER.)--Le Bourget was held by only four
companies of the Queen Elizabeth Regiment, and one Guard Rifle
battalion. When the mist rose at a quarter to eight, there was rained on
the garrison a heavy fire from the guns of the forts and many batteries,
as well as from armour-clad railway trucks. Half an hour later closed
hostile columns marched on the place from east and west. In the former
direction its outskirts were successfully defended for some time against
seven French battalions, and on the opposite side five more were brought
to a halt by the quick fire of the defenders in front of the
cemetery[60]; but a detachment of marine fusiliers penetrated unhindered
into the village by its northern entrance. Pressed upon on all sides by
overwhelming numbers, the defenders were compelled to fall back into the
southern part of the village. The garrison of the cemetery also strove
to force its way thither, but part of it fell into the enemy's hands.
The French advanced only step by step, suffering heavy loss in bloody
street-fighting, but they did not succeed in obtaining possession of the
buildings or glass-factory. Five fresh battalions of the French reserve
marched up from St. Denis on the gas-works, and battered down the
garden-wall with cannon-fire, but still could not crush there the steady
resistance of the Germans.

At nine o'clock the latter were reinforced by one company, and at ten
o'clock by seven more companies, which in a bloody hand-to-hand
struggle, fought their way to the cemetery and glass-factory. By eleven
the last bodies of assailants were driven out, and Le Bourget, in
expectation of a renewed attack, was occupied by fifteen companies. Two
batteries of field artillery, which had been in brisk action on the
Morée, were brought up to the village.

General Ducrot had meanwhile waited in vain for the signal which was to
have announced the capture of Le Bourget. He had pushed forward the
heads of his columns beyond Bondy and Drancy, when he was warned by the
disastrous issue of the struggle on his left to abandon his intended
attack on the line of the Morée.

The anticipated important enterprise lapsed into a mere cannonade, to
which the German field-guns did their best to reply. In the afternoon
the French retired from the field.

They had lost, by their own account, about 600 men. The troops of the
Prussian Guard Corps lost 400, but 360 prisoners remained in their
hands. In the evening the outposts resumed their previous positions.

The various feigned attacks of the Parisian garrison were without
effect, and produced no alteration in the dispositions made on the
German side. An advance from St. Denis against Stains was repulsed, and
two gunboats on the Seine had to go about in consequence of the fire of
four field batteries on Orgemont. The trivial sortie on Chatou was
scarcely heeded. General Vinoy indeed led forward a large force along
the right bank of the Marne, but that was not till the afternoon, when
the fight at Le Bourget was over. The Saxon outposts retired into the
fighting position near Le Chenay. One of the battalions massed there
drove the enemy out of Maison Blanche that same evening, another made a
grasp at Ville Evrart, where fighting went on till midnight; it lost
seventy men, but brought in 600 prisoners. Next morning the French
abandoned Ville Evrart, under heavy fire from the German artillery on
the heights on the opposite side of the river.

Paris had now been invested for three months. The always distasteful
expedient of a bombardment of a place so extensive could not of itself
bring about a decisive result; and on the German side there was the full
conviction that only a regular siege could accomplish the wished-for
end. But the operations of the engineers had to be delayed till the
artillery should be in a position to co-operate with them.

It has already been shown that the siege-artillery had been first
employed against those fortified places which interrupted the rearward
communications of the army. There were indeed 235 heavy pieces standing
ready at Villacoublay; but it had proved impossible as yet to bring up
the necessary ammunition for the attack which, once begun, must on no
account be interrupted.

By the end of November, railway communication had been restored up to
Chelles, but the greater part of the ammunition had meanwhile been
deposited at Lagny, and from thence would now have to be carried forward
by the country roads. The ordinary two-wheeled country carts proved
totally unfit for the transport of shells, and only 2000 four-wheeled
waggons had been collected by requisitions made over a wide area. There
were brought up from Metz 960 more with horses sent from Germany, and
even the teams of the IIIrd Army were taken into the service, though
they were almost indispensable just then to contribute towards the
efficiency of the army fighting on the Loire. Finally, all the draught
horses of the pontoon columns, of the field-bridge trains, and of the
trench-tool columns were brought into the ammunition-transport service.
A new difficulty arose when the breaking-up of the ice necessitated the
removal of the pontoon bridges over the Seine. The roads were so bad
that it took the waggons nine days to get from Nanteuil to Villacoublay
and back. Many broke down under their loads, and the drivers constantly
took to flight. And moreover, at the instance of the Chief of the Staff
there was now laid upon the artillery yet an additional task to be
carried out forthwith.

Though the besieged had not hitherto succeeded in forcing their way
through the enemy's lines, they now set about widening their elbow room,
with intent that by their counter-approaches the ring of investment
should be further and yet further pushed back, until at last it should
reach the breaking point. On the south side the French entrenchments
already extended beyond Vitry and Villejuif to the Seine; and on the
north, between Drancy and Fort de l'Est, there was an extensive system
of trenches and batteries reaching to within 1100 yards of Le Bourget,
which in part might in a manner be dignified with the title of a regular
engineer-attack. The hard frost had indeed hindered the further progress
of these works, but they were armed with artillery and occupied by the
IInd Army. And further, a singularly favourable point of support for a
sortie to the east as well as to the north, was afforded to the French
in the commanding eminence of Mont Avron, which, armed with seventy
heavy guns, projected into the Marne valley like a wedge between the
northern and southern investing lines.

(BOMBARDMENT OF MONT AVRON, DECEMBER 27TH.)--In order to expel the
French from this position fifty heavy guns from Germany, and twenty-six
from before La Fère were brought up under the command of Colonel
Bartsch. By the exertions of a whole battalion as a working party, two
groups of battery emplacements were erected in spite of the severe frost
on the western slope of the heights behind Raincy and Gagny, and on the
left upland of the Marne Valley near Noisy le Grand, thus encompassing
Mont Avron on two sides at a distance of from 2160 to 3250 feet.

At half-past eight on the morning of 27th December those seventy-six
guns opened fire. A heavy snowstorm interfered with accurate aim, and
prevented any observation of the execution done. Mont Avron and Forts
Nogent and Rosny replied rapidly and heavily.

The German batteries lost two officers and twenty-five gunners, several
gun-carriages broke down under their own fire, and everything pointed to
the prospect that no definite result would be obtained on that day.

But the batteries had fired more effectually than had been supposed. The
clear weather of the 28th allowed of greater precision; the Prussian
fire proved most telling, making fearful havoc in the numerous and
exposed French infantry garrison. Mont Avron was silenced, and only the
forts kept up a feeble fire. General Trochu, who was present in person,
ordered the abandonment of the position, which was so effectually
accomplished in the night by the energetic commander, Colonel Stoffel,
that only one disabled gun was left behind.

On the 29th the French fire was silent, and the hill was found deserted.
The Germans had no intention of continuing to occupy the position. Their
batteries now turned their fire on the forts, which suffered severely,
and on the earthworks near Bondy.

By the end of the year the besiegers had succeeded in collecting the
most indispensable ammunition in Villacoublay. The engineer operations
were entrusted to General Kameke; the artillery was under the command of
General Prince Hohenlohe.[61] The battery emplacements had long been
finished, and with the dawn of the new year 100 guns of the largest
calibres stood ready to open fire on the south front of Paris.


[59] Viz., the section of the investment line on the northern side, from
the Marne above, to the Seine below Paris, held by the Army of the
Meuse, consisting of the IVth, the Guard, and XIIth (Saxon) Corps.

[60] "Kirchhof" seems to stand in German not only for our "churchyard,"
but also for our "graveyard," in which latter there need be no church.
In the case of Le Bourget the church stands in the village street--the
reader will remember de Neuville's striking picture--and the graveyard
lies outside the shabby village, and has the aspect of the modern
"cemetery." That term has therefore been used.

[61] Details as to the personnel of the artillery and engineer commands
of the siege operations will be found on a later page.


While the French forces were engaged in constant fighting, in the north
on the Seine and the Somme, in the south on the Loire and the Saône,
General Bourbaki's army had nowhere made itself prominent. Since the 8th
of December, when the 6th Cavalry Division had reported its presence at
Vierzon, all trace of it had been lost. It was of course of the greatest
importance to the supreme Command that it should know the whereabouts of
so large an army; only the IInd German Army could acquire this
information, and on the 22nd it received instructions to obtain the
required enlightenment by means of reconnaissances.

On this errand General von Rantzau (commanding 25th Cavalry Brigade) set
out from Montargis by the right bank of the Loire towards Briare, where
he found that the French had abandoned their position on the 25th; in
the course of the next few days he met them, and was defeated.

The Hessian detachment was reinforced to a strength of three battalions,
four squadrons and six guns, but was nevertheless driven back to Gien on
the 1st of January. The French had displayed a force of several thousand
Gardes-Mobiles, twelve guns, and a body of marine infantry. A noticeable
fact was that some of the prisoners brought in belonged to the XVIIIth
French Corps, which formed part of the Ist Army of the Loire.

A regiment of the 6th Cavalry Division sent out to reconnoitre into the
Sologne, returned with the report that strong hostile columns were
marching on Aubigny Ville. On the other hand, two waggon-drivers who had
been taken prisoners declared that the French troops had been already
moved from Bourges by rail, and the newspaper reports also pointed to
the same conclusion; still, too much weight could not be attached to
mere rumour as against circumstantial intelligence. It was therefore
assumed at Versailles that the Ist Army of the Loire was still about
Bourges, and that General Bourbaki, when again in a condition to fight,
would act in concert with General Chanzy.

The two armies might attack the Germans at Orleans from opposite sides,
or one might engage and detain them there, while the other marched to
relieve the capital.

This, in fact, was what General Chanzy had in view. Since the 21st of
December he had been resting in quarters in and about Le Mans, where
railways from four directions facilitated the bringing up of new levies.
His troops had no doubt great hardships to contend with there. In lack
of shelter for such great masses part had to camp out under canvas in
the snow, and suffered severely from the intense cold. The hospitals
were crammed with wounded and small-pox patients. On the other hand,
this close concentration was favourable to the reorganization of the
details and the restoration of discipline; and the news from Paris urged
the General to renewed action.

General Trochu had sent word that Paris unaided could not accomplish her
freedom. Even if a sortie should prove successful, the necessary
supplies for the maintenance of an army could not be carried with it,
and therefore nothing but the simultaneous appearance of an army from
without could meet the case. Now General Chanzy was quite ready to march
on Paris, but it was indispensable that he should first know exactly
what Generals Bourbaki and Faidherbe were doing.

It was clearly evident that concerted action on the part of three great
Army Corps could only be devised and controlled by the chief power. The
General therefore sent an officer of his Staff on the 23rd of December
to Gambetta at Lyons, to express his conviction that only a combined and
prompt advance could avert the fall of the capital. But the Minister
believed that he knew better. The first news of a quite different
disposition of Bourbaki's army only reached General Chanzy on the 29th,
when it was already entered upon. Nor in other respects did Gambetta's
reply convey either distinct orders or sufficient information. "You have
decimated the Mecklenburgers," wrote Gambetta, "the Bavarians no longer
exist, the rest of the German Army is a prey to disquietude and
exhaustion. Let us persevere, and we shall drive these hordes from our
soil with empty hands." The plan of the Provisional Government was to be
the one "which would most demoralize the German army."[62]

Under instructions so obscure from the chief authority General Chanzy,
relying on his own strength, determined to make his way to Paris without
other assistance; but he soon found himself in serious difficulties.

On the German side there was no time to be lost in utilizing their
position between the two hostile armies, advantageous as it was so long
as those armies were not too near. The simultaneous attacks on the 31st
December at Vendôme on the Loir, and at Briare on the Loire, seemed to
indicate that the two were already acting on a concerted plan.

On New Year's day Prince Frederick Charles received telegraphic
instructions to re-cross the Loir without delay, and strike at General
Chanzy, as being the nearest and most imminently dangerous enemy. With
this object the IInd Army was strengthened by the addition of the XIIIth
Corps of the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg (17th and 22nd Divisions) and the
2nd and 4th Divisions of Cavalry. And in addition the 5th Cavalry
Division was detailed to the duty of covering the right flank of the

Only the 25th (Hessian) Division was to be left in Orleans as a possible
check on General Bourbaki, and to maintain observation on Gien. But as a
further provision, in case of need against a possible advance of the
IInd Army of the Loire, General von Zastrow was ordered to the Armançon
with the VIIth Corps;[63] and further the IInd Corps from the besieging
lines was set in march to Montargis.

Prince Frederick Charles' arrangement was to have his three corps
assembled on the line Vendôme--Morée by 6th January, and to order the
XIIIth from Chartres on Brou.


[62] "Qui démoralisera le plus l'armée Allemande."

[63] In effect, with only the Corps-headquarter and the 13th
Division--the 14th Division being still in the north-east.


The Germans had hoped to strike the enemy in his winter quarters; but
General Chanzy had provided against surprise by a cordon of strong
advanced positions. Nogent le Rotrou on his left was held by Rousseau's
Division, and numerous bands of volunteers; from thence strong
detachments were posted through Vibraye and St. Calais up to the Braye
brook, where General Jouffroy had made a halt after the last attack on
Vendôme; and on the right were General Barry at La Chartre and de
Curten's Division at Château Renault.

Both wings of the German army came into collision with these forces on
the 5th of January.

General Baumgarth (commanding 2nd Cavalry Brigade), on the German left,
had assembled at St. Amand three battalions, two cavalry regiments and
two batteries. The 57th regiment stormed Villeporcher in the direction
of Château Renault, evacuated it in face of an attack by four French
battalions, and finally recaptured and held it. This much, at any rate,
was thus ascertained, that a not inconsiderable force of the enemy was
assembled in front of the left wing of the German army now marching
westward. While this movement was in prosecution General Baumgarth was
thenceforth to undertake its protection, and with this object he was
reinforced by the addition of the 6th Cavalry Division and the 1st
Cavalry Brigade.

On the right wing the 44th Brigade, in its advance on Nogent le Rotrou,
also had had a sharp encounter. It carried the enemy's position at La
Fourche, and captured three guns, with a large number of prisoners. The
main body of the Corps (the XIIIth) reached Beaumont les Autels and
Brou, but the cavalry failed to penetrate the woods to the north of

_January 6th._--At six in the morning the advanced guard of General
Baumgarth's detachment started on march to Prunay, but the main body
could not follow, since it was attacked in force at about half-past
nine. With the object of observing the enemy, the infantry had been
scattered in detached posts in a wide extension from Ambloy to
Villeporcher, and only a small reserve remained at La Noue. The fight
soon assumed greater expansion, and the defence with difficulty
maintained the line Les Haies--Pias, the turning of the German left
flank being seriously threatened, upon which the 6th Cavalry Division
moved up, but could only enter the fight with one horse battery. The
reserve, however, moved up along the high road to Château Renault and
repulsed the enemy, who had already forced his way into Les Haies. But
when he renewed the attack in strong columns and developed four
batteries against the place, the reserve was obliged to retire behind
the Brenne.

Meanwhile the 16th Regiment, which had already reached Ambloy on its
march to Vendôme, turned back to St. Amand in support, and the just
assembled 38th Infantry Brigade deployed between Neuve St. Amand and St.
Amand with a strong force of cavalry on its flanks. But as by some
mistake St. Amand was evacuated, Duke William of Mecklenburg (commanding
6th Cavalry Division) ordered a further retreat. The infantry, however,
had already come to a halt at Huisseau and took quarters there. The
advanced guard turned into Ambloy; the cavalry fell back partly on that
place and partly on Villeromain.

During the engagement about St. Amand the Xth Corps itself advanced on
Montoire in two columns along the left bank of the Loire, leaving on its
right a battalion in front of Vendôme to secure the debouche of the
IIIrd Corps through that place.

When the 20th Division reached St. Rimay at about one o'clock, it found
the heights on the opposite side of the Loir occupied by General Barry's
troops. The massed German batteries were brought up to the southern
ridge of the valley and soon drove the French off the broad flats; but
the defile of Les Roches in the front remained quite unassailable. The
broken bridge at Lavardin, lower down the stream, was therefore made
practicable by the pioneers. The 19th Division having meanwhile reached
that place, several battalions crossed from the south side to attack Les
Roches, and easily dislodged the French. As darkness came on, preventing
any further advance, the Corps found quarters in and about Montoire.

The Commander of the IIIrd Corps had intended to make a halt on this day
before Vendôme, and only push forward his advanced guard as far as the
Azay brook; but this detachment soon met with so stout opposition, that
the main force was compelled to advance to its assistance. General de
Jouffroy, with intent to disengage General de Curten, had renewed the
attack on Vendôme, and so the advanced guard of the 5th Division,
approaching Villiers at about half-past one, found the 10th Jäger
Battalion, which had accompanied the march of its Corps along the right
bank of the Loir, engaged at that place in a sharp fight which had
already lasted four hours. The advanced guard brought up its two
batteries on to the plateau north of the village, and the 48th Regiment
made its way forward to the slope of the lower Azay valley, the broad
flat meadows of which were commanded by the French long-range rifles and
completely swept by the fire of the artillery. And here then the enemy
came over to the attack in dense swarms of sharp-shooters.

The 8th Regiment presently came up in support, and after a short fight
took possession of Le Gué du Loir on its left flank; then the further
reinforcement arrived of the 10th Infantry Brigade, and by degrees the
number of Prussian guns increased to thirty-six. The French artillery
could not endure their fire, and within half an hour it was possible to
turn it on the hostile infantry. At about half-past four the German
battalions crossed the valley, made themselves masters of the vineyards
and farms on the opposite heights, and finally stormed Mazange. Under
cover of the darkness the French retired to Lunay.

Further to the right the advance guard of the 6th Division, having left
Vendôme at eleven o'clock, found the battalion left by the Xth Corps at
Courtiras fighting hard against a very superior force of the French. The
11th Brigade advanced on the Azay ravine, though not without heavy loss,
and when at about half-past three the 12th also came up, and the
artillery went to work vigorously, Azay was successfully stormed and the
force established itself firmly on the heights beyond. Repeated
counterstrokes of the enemy were repulsed in succession, and by five
o'clock the fighting ended with the retirement of the French.

The IIIrd Army Corps took up quarters between the Azay stream and the
Loir. A detachment occupied Danzé, higher up the river. The Corps lost
thirty-nine officers and above 400 men, but captured 400 prisoners.

In the course of the day the IXth Corps crossed the upper Loir about
Fréteval and St. Hilaire, without opposition, and advanced along the
high road to St. Calais, as far as Busloup. The XIIIth remained at
Unverre, Beaumont, and La Fourche.

Prince Frederick Charles had not been led into any change of purpose by
the attack at St. Amand and the obstinate resistance at Azay. The XIIIth
Corps was expected to reach Montmirail, and the XIth Epuisay, both on
the 7th; the IIIrd was to continue the attack on the deep-cut channel of
the Braye brook. But after the reverse experienced at St. Amand, the
presence of a strong hostile force on the left flank could not be
suffered to remain unregarded. Duke William had already been given
verbal orders at the Head-quarter in Vendôme, to turn back forthwith to
St. Amand with the 6th Cavalry Division, and in addition General von
Voigts-Rhetz was ordered to support General Baumgarth if necessary with
his whole Corps.

The country between the Loir and the Sarthe through which the Germans
had to march, presents peculiar difficulties to an invading force, and
affords marked advantages to the defence.

All the roads leading to Le Mans intersect at right angles, stream after
stream flowing through broad and deeply cut meadow-valleys. Groves,
villages, and châteaux with walled parks cover the highly cultivated
upland; vineyards, orchards and gardens are enclosed by hedges, ditches
or fences.

Hence almost the whole burthen of the impending fighting would have to
be borne by the infantry; nowhere was there space for the deployment of
cavalry, and the use of artillery needs must be extremely limited, since
in a country so greatly enclosed guns could only singly be brought into
action. The enemy's central position could be approached by only four
main roads, and the communications between the marching columns,
starting at the least some thirty miles apart, would be confined to the
cross roads, almost impassable from the severity of the season and the
hostility of the inhabitants. Any lateral mutual support was at first
quite out of the question.

Under such conditions the movements could only be guided by general
instructions, and even the leaders of lower grades had to be left free
to act at their own individual discretion. Specific orders for each day,
though they would of course be issued, could not in many cases be
possibly carried out. In the Army Headquarter it could not be foreseen
in what situation each individual corps might find itself after a day's
fighting. Reports could only come in very late at night, and the orders
drawn up however early would often arrive only after the troops, because
of the shortness of the day, had already set out on the march.

_January 7th._--In obedience to orders from the Army Headquarter,
General Voigts-Rhetz on the 7th sent the part of the 19th Division which
had already reached Vendôme, back to St. Amand in reinforcement. The
38th Brigade had again entered that place early in the day, and General
von Hartmann, taking over its command, advanced along the Château
Renault high road, the cavalry moving on both flanks.

The column first struck the enemy near Villechauve at mid-day. A thick
fog prevented the employment of the artillery, and it was at the cost of
heavy loss that Villechauve, Pias, and various other farmsteads were
captured. Villeporcher and the adjacent villages remained in possession
of the French, who at about two o'clock advanced by the high road to the
attack with several battalions. The weather had cleared, and it was soon
evident that this offensive was only intended to mask the beginning of
the enemy's retreat to the westward. The troops took quarters where they
stood, and the reinforcements forwarded to them remained at St. Amand.

The Xth Corps, awaiting the return of the latter, remained in its
quarters about La Chartre; only the 14th Cavalry Brigade went on up to
La Richardière to establish connection with the IIIrd Corps. But it did
not succeed in taking the village with dismounted troopers.

General von Alvensleben[64] hoped to overtake the French on the hither
side of the glen of Braye, and by turning their left wing to drive them
on to the Xth Corps, whose co-operation had been promised. The IIIrd
Corps advanced in the direction of Epuisay, leaving one brigade to
garrison Mazange, and when tidings reached it on the march that the
French had evacuated Lunay and Fortan, that brigade also followed by way
of the latter village.

Epuisay was found to be strongly held, and in the meantime the advanced
guard of the IXth Corps, advancing from Busloup, also arrived there. But
it was not till half-past one that the French were expelled from the
little town, which they had strongly barricaded; and on the hither side
of the Braye they renewed their resistance in the numerous hamlets and
farmsteads. A long fire fight was kept up in the thick fog; but at
length, at about four o'clock, the 12th Brigade pushed forward to the
edge of the valley. The 9th Brigade took possession of Savigny without
meeting any serious opposition, and Sargé was stormed in the dusk.

The IIIrd Corps had lost forty-five men and had taken 200 prisoners. It
found quarters behind the Braye, but threw forward outposts on its
western bank. The IXth Corps found shelter in and about Epuisay, and
thus, as a matter of fact, two corps were now crowded on one of the few
available roads. The 2nd Cavalry Division went to the right, towards
Mondoubleau, to make connection with the XIIIth Corps. The French
retreated to St. Calais.

The order from the Army Head-quarter that the XIIIth Corps was to march
to Montmirail, had been issued on the presumption that it would have
reached Nogent le Rotrou on the 6th, whereas in fact, as has been
shown, it had remained at La Fourche, Beaumont, and Unverre. The Grand
Duke, who expected to experience a stout resistance, did not pass to the
attack of Nogent till the 7th. When the 22nd Division arrived there, it
found all the villages deserted in the Upper Huisne valley and was able
to enter Nogent without any fighting at two o'clock. It took up quarters
there, the 4th Cavalry Division at Thirion Gardais; and only an advanced
guard followed the enemy. It found the wood near Le Gibet strongly
occupied, and did not succeed in forcing it till after nightfall.

The French had retired to La Ferté Bernard.

The 17th Division had at first followed in reserve. But at one o'clock,
in consequence of the reports brought in, the Grand Duke detached it
southward to Authon; and in order to follow the Head-quarter
instructions as closely as possible he did at least push a detachment of
two battalions, two cavalry regiments, and one battery towards
Montmirail, under the command of General von Rauch.

_January 8th._--Finding on the morning of the 8th that the enemy was not
advancing to the attack of St. Amand, General von Hartmann at nine
o'clock sent back the troops which had crossed the river to his support.
At ten o'clock also he received instructions to join the Xth Corps; but
the French still continued to hold Villeporcher and the forest lying
behind it, and were also drawn up across the Château Renault high road
in a very advantageous position behind the Brenne. The General
recognized the necessity of making a decisive stand here, and took the
best means to that end by acting himself on the offensive. Supported by
the fire of his battery, and accompanied by the cavalry on either flank,
six companies of the 60th Regiment marched on Villeporcher, drove back
its defenders in flight into the forest of Château Renault, and took 100
prisoners. On the left the 9th Uhlans drove the Chasseurs d'Afrique
before them. Not till darkness had set in did General von Hartmann
proceed in the direction of Montoire.

General von Voigts-Rhetz had already set out from thence very early in
the day. The night's frost had covered the roads with ice, which cruelly
impeded all movements of troops. The road on the right bank of the Loir
was in many places broken up. It passed through a succession of narrow
defiles, and on emerging from these the advanced guard found itself face
to face with a force of about 1000 Gardes-Mobiles, who had taken up a
position in front of La Chartre. Their mitrailleuses were soon forced to
a hasty retreat by the fire of two field-guns, but it was only after a
prolonged struggle that the infantry, moving with difficulty, succeeded
at 4 o'clock in entering the town, where it took up quarters. Two
battalions which were sent further on the road, had to fight for their
night's shelter, and all through the night were exchanging shots with
the enemy at close quarters, of whom 230 were taken prisoners.

The 39th Brigade, which left Ambloy in the morning, could follow the
corps only as far as Sougé.

General von Schmidt with the 14th Cavalry Brigade was sent to the right,
to try to make connection with the IIIrd Corps. He was received at Vancé
with a sharp fire. The leading squadron made way for the horse battery,
and a volley of grape-shot from the foremost gun drove the dismounted
hostile Cuirassiers behind the hedges. When two more guns were brought
up into position, their shell fire dispersed in every direction a long
column of cavalry.

Colonel von Alvensleben pursued the French cavalry with the 15th Uhlan
Regiment till he came upon a body of infantry guarding the Etang-fort
brook. The brigade halted at Vancé, after putting about 100 French _hors
de combat_.

Of the IIIrd Corps the 6th Division had moved forward through St.
Calais. The French tried to hold the cuttings on the greatly broken up
roads; but they nowhere awaited a serious attack, and made off, for the
most part in carts which were in waiting. The 5th Division, proceeding
on a parallel front on the left, met with no opposition; but the state
of the roads made the march extremely difficult. The corps halted on the
hither side of Bouloire. The IXth Corps came up behind it into St.

The Grand Duke had moved both Divisions of the XIIIth Corps on La Ferté
Bernard. On their way they came across none but stragglers, but they
found the roads so utterly cut up that not till four in the afternoon
did they reach the place, where they took up quarters. The French had
retired to Connerré. The 4th Cavalry Division was to secure the right
flank on the further advance, but could not get as far forward as
Bellême; on the other hand, General von Rauch's (commanding 15th Cavalry
Division) detachment despatched leftward towards Montmirail, surprised
the French in Vibraye, and took possession of the bridge over the Braye.

By the evening of this day the two flank Corps of the German Army were
at an equal distance from Le Mans, both on the same high road which
crosses the district of the Quere from La Ferté Bernard in a southerly
direction through St. Calais and La Chartre; the IIIrd Corps was further
in advance, separated from each of them by the interval of a long march.
A closer concentration of the forces could be attained only by a further
advance along the converging highways. Prince Frederick Charles
therefore issued an order at ten o'clock that evening, for the Xth Corps
to march next day to Parigné l'Evêque, the IIIrd to Ardenay, and the
XIIIth on to the heights of Montfort, the advanced guard of each to be
pushed forward beyond these respective points. The IXth, in the centre,
was to follow, while General von Hartmann was to protect Vendôme with
the 38th Brigade and the 1st Division of Cavalry.

But the distances prevented the flanking corps advancing from La Chartre
and La Ferté from reaching their respective destinations, and, on the
9th of January, snow-storms, ice-bound roads, and thick fog further
combined to make their progress arduous beyond conception.

_January 9th._--General von Hartmann marched the 38th Infantry Brigade
on Château Renault, and entered the town at one o'clock, to find that
Curten's French Division had started early in the morning for St.

The incomplete Xth Corps moved this day in two columns; the detachment
of General von Woyna (commanding 39th Infantry Brigade) was to march
from Pont de Braye by Vancé, the remainder of the corps from La Chartre
by way of Brives to Grand Lucé.

The 20th Division had scarcely set out by this route from L'Homme, when
it encountered shell and mitrailleuse-fire. Here there happened for once
to be room for three batteries to advance, but in the heavy snow-fall
aim was out of the question. The infantry, however, by degrees drove the
enemy out of sundry hamlets and farmsteads, and back across the Brives.
To pursue him beyond that stream a makeshift bridge needed first to be
thrown across with some loss of time, and then Chahaignes was to be
seized. But in the narrow valley which had to be now traversed a
vigorous resistance was to be counted on. The state of the road was such
that the artillerymen and cavalry had to dismount and lead their horses.
The General in command rode on a gun-carriage; his staff went on foot.
Some horses which had fallen in front presently stopped the way for the
whole column; and it therefore became necessary to send back all the
Corps-artillery, which was to try next day to come on by way of Vancé.

To facilitate the march of the 20th Division, General von Woyna had
been instructed to deviate from his direct road and attack the enemy's
left. When he approached the valley the fighting had fallen silent, and
the detachment turned back to Vancé; but at Brives at about half-past
three the main column met with fresh resistance, being received with a
brisk fire from the heights north-east of the village. Not even the
infantry could move outside of the high road, so there was no
alternative to a frontal advance along it. A closed attack by the 39th
Brigade broke up and routed the enemy. At half-past six in the evening,
when quite dark, Colonel von Valentini set out for St. Pierre with four
battalions, and took there 100 French prisoners and a loaded train of
100 waggons. The Xth Corps spent the night with only its advance in
Brives and Vancé, but its quarters reached back nearly to the valley of
the Loir. Nor had the 14th Brigade of Cavalry been able to make any
further headway.

Of the IIIrd Corps the 6th Division had marched by the high road through
Bouloire, with the artillery corps; the 5th on the left along the
by-roads. The advanced guard of the 6th Division, after a lively
fire-fight, expelled the enemy from his positions in front of Ardenay,
but there at two o'clock had to encounter a determined resistance. After
General de Jouffroy had withdrawn from St. Calais to the southward,
General Chanzy pushed forward Paris' Division to secure the high road
leading from thence to Le Mans. It had taken up a position near Ardenay,
occupying the château on the right, and on the left posting four guns
and two mitrailleuses near La Butte. To oppose these there was only room
on the road for two German guns, which, however, in the course of half
an hour silenced the mitrailleuses, and carried on the unequal contest
with the greatest obstinacy. At about four o'clock five companies of the
12th Brigade stormed the château of Ardenay, while others, crossing the
meadowland to the right, forced their way through a patch of wood
towards La Butte. As night came on the French tried to effect a general
attack along the chaussée; but this was repulsed, and the
Brandenburgers[65] plunged through the heavy fire of the defenders, and
without firing a shot took La Butte and Ardenay with a rush and a cheer.
The French were thrown back into the valley of the Narais, losing many

On the right a detachment of one battalion, two squadrons, and two guns,
accompanied the 6th Division. It drove before it franctireur bodies, but
at La Belle Inutile met with more serious resistance. The post was,
however, carried by the 24th Regiment, which made prize of a large
ammunition and provision train, and took above 100 unwounded prisoners.
Count zu Lynar moved into the village for its defence.

The 5th Division met with no opposition, but the state of the roads
caused extreme delay to its progress. It was not till the afternoon that
its head reached the Narais at Gué de l'Aune and took up quarters there
and rearward to St. Mars de Locquenay. Its advanced guard went on,
however, to La Buzardière, thus forming the absolute head of the whole
army. Parigné l'Evêque, on its left flank, was found to be held by the

The IXth Corps followed the IIIrd to Bouloire.

Orders from head-quarters had not yet reached La Ferté when, at nine in
the morning, the Grand Duke set the XIIIth Corps in motion on Connerré.
Soon after midday the 17th Division came upon the French near Sceaux,
and in a struggle wherein it slowly gained ground, drove them first out
of the village precincts and then off the road. The French, who had
retreated to Connerré by a forced night march, lost above 500 prisoners
in this small affair. But the short day was closing in, and the advanced
guard halted at dusk at Duneau. A detachment going further forward found
Connerré occupied by the French, and many watch-fires blazing in the
valley of the Due. The main body of the infantry found quarters in and
about Sceaux.

Rauch's detachment, ordered to rejoin the Corps, took possession of Le
Croset and of the bridge over the Due in front of that village, and also
expelled the French from Thorigné.

The French stayed in Connerré only till the evening; then, leaving a
company in occupation, they continued their retreat. This necessarily
led from the left bank of the Huisne through the quarters taken up by
the IIIrd German Corps, which was disturbed all night by wandering
detachments of the enemy, even at Nuillé, where the Divisional
headquarters lay.

On the extreme right the 4th Cavalry Division occupied Bellême, after
driving out the French battalion which had been in occupation there.

Thus on this day the centre of the IInd Army had fought its way to
within about nine miles of Le Mans; while the two wings were still some
distance behind. As it was probable that the French would accept battle
in a prepared position behind the Huisne, it seemed advisable to await
the arrival of the Xth and XIIIth Corps; but on the other hand, this
would also give the enemy time to strengthen himself. Were an immediate
attack determined on, the two Divisions which had been delayed
respectively at Château Renault and Le Chartre, could scarcely reach Le
Mans in time, and the rest of the army would be involved everywhere in a
disadvantageous contest with the hostile bodies which were being driven
back concentrically on that place. Prince Frederick Charles therefore
ordered the IIIrd Corps to push on through Ardenay; the Xth was to
advance to Parigné, and the XIIIth on St. Mars la Bruyère, though these
points could scarcely be reached from the positions actually occupied by
the respective Corps this same evening (9th).

As we have seen, the French army now assembled about Le Mans had been
acting on the offensive on January 6th, when General Jouffroy had
advanced on Vendôme, and de Curten on St. Amand. But so early as the 7th
the French found themselves reduced to the defensive along their whole
front, some 50 miles in length. General Rousseau, on the left wing, had
evacuated Nogent le Rotrou, and, without being pressed, began his
retreat by a night march to Connerré. In the centre, the trough of the
Braye was wrested from General Jouffroy; he quitted St. Calais, not
rearward on Le Mans, but southward to join General Barry. On the right,
General Curten had abandoned Château Renault, and set out, unpursued, on
the line through Château du Loir. To effect some concert in the
operations of the three Divisions of his right wing, General Chanzy
placed them under the superior orders of Admiral Jauréguiberry. He
pushed forward the Division Paris on Ardenay by the high road General
Jouffroy had uncovered, and on the left wing he reinforced General
Rousseau by stationing three Divisions more on either side of his line
of retreat. General Jouffroy was to retire to Parigné l'Evêque, and a
Division was sent to meet him there and at Changé.

General de Curten succeeded on the 9th in checking the progress of the
German left wing for some time about Chahaignes; but the Division Paris
was driven back through Ardenay, and General Rousseau, thus beset in
Connerré, evacuated that village the same evening. The two Divisions of
the right wing were behind as far as Jupilles and Neuillé Pont Pierre.

Under these circumstances General Chanzy ordered that on the 10th the
Division Jouffroy should fall back on Parigné l'Evêque, but that the
Division Paris should once more move forward on Ardenay. He sent the
remaining three Divisions of the XXIst Corps to meet General Rousseau,
with instructions that he was to retake Connerré and Thorigné.

The offensive movements thus planned by both sides developed into the
fierce battle which, on the German side, was fought out single-handed by
the IIIrd Corps.


[64] Lieut.-General Alvensleben II, commanding IIIrd Army Corps, not to
be confounded with Infantry-General Alvensleben I, commanding IVth

[65] Brandenburg is the territorial province of the IIIrd Army Corps. It
was the nucleus of the Prussian monarchy, and the Hohenzollerns were
Margraves and then Electors of Brandenburg for 300 years before they
became Kings of Prussia. The IIIrd is unquestionably the most
distinguished Corps of the Prussian line. The late Prince Frederick
Charles long commanded it.


(10th, 11th, and 12th of January.)

_January 10th._--_The Fighting about Parigné and Changé._--Owing to the
peculiar nature of the country, deep columns could not deploy without
great loss of time. General von Alvensleben therefore advanced in the
centre with the 9th and 11th Infantry Brigades on Changé from Gué de
l'Aune and Ardenay, moving on a broad front in comparatively small
separate bodies. On the right the 12th marched by the high road to Le
Mans; on the left the 10th was to start from Volnay when Parigné should
be found abandoned by the French, and leaving that place on its left,
was also to converge on Changé.

Parigné had, in fact, been deserted by the French, but had been
reoccupied before daybreak by a brigade of the Division Deplanque; and
even before the German troops had started, the far-advanced outposts
towards the forest of Loudon were smartly attacked. The greater part of
the 9th Brigade had to be deployed by degrees between Blinières and the
point of the forest, but only seven guns could be brought into action
against the numerous French artillery. General von Stülpnagel decided to
reserve his strength for the struggle at Changé, and to carry on merely
a stationary fight here, which must be inevitably decided as soon as
the 10th Brigade should make its appearance on the left.

That brigade, delayed by the badness of the roads, did not arrive by way
of Challes till noon; but it brought two batteries to reinforce the
German artillery strength, which now vigorously prepared the infantry
attack on the high-lying Parigné. Half an hour later the battalions
rushed on the place with shouts of "Hurrah Brandenburg!" taking a gun
which the enemy had abandoned, and two mitrailleuses still in action.
When the French returned to try to recover them they were again
repulsed, and sacrificed another gun, two colours, and several waggons.
After losing 2150 prisoners they fled to the shelter of the forest of
Ruaudin. General von Stülpnagel left two battalions at Parigné to
maintain observation in that quarter, and hurried on to Changé in two
columns. In front of this village, at about three o'clock, the 11th
Brigade met with a violent resistance at the Gué Perray brook from the
other brigade of Deplanque's Division. The 2nd Battalion of the 35th
Regiment lost nine officers and above 100 men in a severe struggle at
Les Gars. The General in command, who was on the spot, dislodged both
flanks of the enemy from his strong position, and on the left two
companies succeeded in crossing the stream at La Goudrière.

These at four o'clock now fell in with the advanced guard of the 9th
Brigade, which Colonel Count von der Groeben was bringing up from
Parigné, having taken possession of the Château of Girardrie on the way.
When the companies of the 11th Brigade sent to the right reached Auvigné
simultaneously, the "General Advance" was sounded. Auvigné was stormed,
the bridge north of Gué la Hart was crossed, and that village carried
after a hard fight. Over 1000 prisoners more were taken from the flying

It was already dark, but Changé, the goal of the struggle, was not yet
reached. But when a barricade outside the village had been won it was
found that the 10th Brigade was already in possession. This brigade, on
its way along the high road from Parigné, had met with resistance at the
Châteaux Chef Raison and Paillerie. Having only two guns, it failed to
silence the French artillery, but General von Stülpnagel left there only
a battalion in observation, and hurried forward with part of the brigade
to reinforce the fight at Gué la Hart; the other portion was directed
against Changé. Here the French had already been for the most part
dismissed to quarters, but they soon assembled and made a prompt and
determined resistance. There ensued an embittered street-fight, which
ended in about an hour's time in the surrender of the whole garrison of
800 men, who had been crowded together into the market-place.

The 12th Brigade had at last left Ardenay at eleven o'clock; it advanced
along the high road without opposition as far as St. Hubert, where an
abandoned commissariat train was seized. Having there aligned itself
with the rest of the Corps it halted for a while, but after one o'clock
was fired upon by French artillery; and the enemy again advancing along
the highway, General von Buddenbrock[66] on his part passed to the
attack, and drove back the enemy out of Champagné, in part across the
Huisne, and in part to the heights behind the village. Two guns
successfully dealt with the fire of the French artillery near Lune
d'Auvours, and then the infantry expelled the French from that shelter

Further to the right a German battalion had taken St. Mars la Bruyère
after a slight skirmish, and was subsequently joined there by General
Count zu Lynar's detachment.

Fighting thus with equal skill and success the IIIrd Corps had indeed
already lost 450 men; but it had brought in more than 5000 prisoners,
and had won many trophies of which it had a right to be proud.

The Xth Corps had started this day from Vancé and Brives, and
unobstructed indeed by the enemy, but along very heavy roads, reached
Grand Lucé at two o'clock. Here it took up quarters.

The IXth Corps remained at Nuillé.

Of the XIIIth Corps the 17th Division had continued its advance along
the left bank of the Huisne, and found Connerré already deserted by the
French. But on the further side of the river the heights of Cohernières,
the railway station, and the wood to the north, were occupied by the 2nd
Division of the French XXIst Corps. General von Rauch led two battalions
to the attack from the south, in which shared the 22nd Division from the
east, having crossed the Huisne at Sceaux and taken the direction of
Beillé by the right bank. A stubborn resistance was encountered, and the
fight swayed to and fro till darkness fell. The Château of Couléon,
indeed, and several villages at the foot of the wooded heights were
taken, but the French maintained their hold on the heights and their
position at Cohernières.

The 17th Division had meanwhile continued its advance along roads frozen
as smooth as glass, and reached La Belle Inutile; the 22nd passed the
night at Beillé.

This division had in the morning sent a detachment sideward to
Bonnétable, whither the 4th Cavalry Division now proceeded. The 12th
Cavalry Brigade followed to Bellême. Colonel von Beckedorff then
continued his advance to Chanteloup, whence he drove out the French in
spite of an obstinate defence.

General Chanzy had determined to risk a decisive battle in front of Le
Mans. Curten's Division had not yet reached him, and only a part of
Barry's had come up, but on the other hand the army from the camp of
Conlie, in strength some 10,000 men, had arrived. The right wing of the
French position rested its flank on the Sarthe near Arnaye[67]; it
extended for more than four miles along the Chemin aux Boeufs, and
continued in a slight curve leftward to the Huisne. Barry's Division,
already weakened by previous reverses, and General Lalande's National
Guards--undisciplined and badly armed troops--were posted on the extreme
right which was the least threatened. Deplanque's and Roquebrune's
Divisions, Desmaison's Brigade and Jouffroy's Division, held the centre
and left, the last body in the first instance opposite to General von
Alvensleben. Behind this line Bouëdec's Division and Colonel Marty's
detachment constituted a reserve. In all from 50,000 to 60,000 men under
the command of Admiral Jauréguiberry, with full ranks and well
commanded, crowded the entrenched front of the most important section of
the line--that between the two rivers (Sarthe and Huisne). Five
Divisions more, under the command of General de Colomb, lined the right
bank of the Huisne for a distance of about eight and a half miles, the
Division Paris was at Yvré; Gougeard's Division, also holding the
heights of Auvours on the hither side, was northward of Champagné; then
came Rousseau's Division at Montfort and Pont de Gesnes, and finally,
Collin's Division in hook-formation about Lombron. Besides these
Villeneuve's Division, quite on the flank, fronted toward Chanteloup.

_January 11th._--On this day the IIIrd German Army Corps was directly
opposed to the main body of the French forces. It could not for the
present hope for any assistance from the corps of the flanks, and had
before it the certainty of an arduous struggle.

On the left, the Xth Corps was still this morning at Grand Lucé, and on
the right the XIIIth Corps had been detained on the previous day by the
obstinate resistance of the French, who had held their own between Les
Cohernières and La Chapelle, and occupied Le Chêne in their front.

The troops of the 22nd Division had necessarily lost their formations
and become mixed up in the course of the struggle in the wood, and it
was not till they had been re-formed and the enemy's position had been
reconnoitred by both the Divisional Commanders that the attack was
renewed at about eleven o'clock.

Two battalions of the 17th Division and one battery were left in
observation in front of Pont de Gesnes, on the southern bank of the
Huisne; on the northern side, the Mecklenburg battalions stormed
Cohernières in the afternoon after a sharp contest, and in conjunction
with the Hessians forced their way westward up to the Gué and on towards
Lombron about four o'clock.

Further to the right two companies of the 90th Regiment (22nd Division)
meanwhile took Le Chêne by a closed attack on the obstinate defenders;
the 83rd Regiment, after a sharp fire fight, stormed the farmsteads of
Flouret and La Grande Métairie. Colonel von Beckedorff, on being
relieved at Chanteloup by the 4th Cavalry Division, had driven the
French out of St. Célerin, and he then advanced to La Chapelle-St. Rémy
on the right of the Division, which occupied wide quarters behind the
points it had seized.

The Mecklenburg Grenadiers had held their own for a long time at Le Gué
and La Brosse against superior numbers attacking from Pont de Gesnes;
but the main body of the 17th Division was retired in the evening
further back to Connerré.

The more completely that General von Alvensleben had to rely solely on
his own command, the more essential it was to keep the troops composing
it closely concentrated. But a strong force of the enemy was now on his
flank, almost indeed in his rear, on the heights of Auvours, where it
was only kept at bay by his 12th Brigade, which therefore for the
present was not free to advance.

And here it was that the battle first really began. The French had
repossessed themselves of Champagné, and had deployed artillery on the
heights behind it. When their fire had been subdued by four guns of the
brigade, two battalions advanced to an attack on the village. It was not
till after an obstinate street-fight, that the enemy at eleven o'clock
was driven back to the heights, and the bridge over the Huisne carried.
General von Buddenbrock now let the two battalions remain in
observation, sent a third to Lune d'Auvours, and at noon started with
the rest of the brigade to rejoin the Corps.

Meanwhile the conflict had been raging with such fury all along the
front of the latter that at twelve o'clock Prince Frederick Charles sent
orders from St. Hubert to General Voigts-Rhetz, to hurry forward by the
shortest roads to the battle-field with the Xth Corps; and at the same
time General von Manstein was instructed to seize the heights of Auvours
with the IXth.

It was already one o'clock when the advanced guard of the IXth climbed
up the hollow way, deep in snow, followed by two battalions of the 12th
Brigade, and by two batteries straining every nerve. The infantry
plunged forward through the wood, strongly held as it was by the enemy,
straight on Villiers; the skirmishers of the Fusilier battalion of the
11th Regiment seized three mitrailleuses in action, and when the French
had abandoned the village, turned them against the wood.

Further to the left, at about three o'clock, two battalions of the 85th
Regiment from the main body of the 18th Division, were directed on the
western end of the ridge, supported by the Jägers and two batteries
which were brought up near Les Hêtres. To cover them two companies moved
on La Lune, and baulked for the moment the hostile rush along the high
road. But against these movements the French opened a heavy fire from
their commanding batteries behind Yvré. Regardless thereof the
Holsteiners[68] on the left charged on a hostile battery and seized
three of its guns. On the right they took possession of the neighbouring
farmsteads; and soon after five the French abandoned the whole plateau
as far as its western edge.

Over it, however, a strong counter-attack was delivered in the evening,
when part of Gougeard's Division charged up the slope from Yvré. Its
further advance was arrested; but the French could not be prevented from
remaining there during the evening and night. Nevertheless, this
offensive struggle on the part of the 18th Division had relieved the
pressure on the rear and flank of the IIIrd Corps. It received the
further order in the evening to secure the passage over the Huisne for
use next day. Three battalions and one battery immediately crossed over
to the northern bank and drove from the bridge the hostile detachments
in its vicinity. The Division lost 275 men.

General von Alvensleben had delayed the advance of the IIIrd Corps till
eleven o'clock, in anticipation of the arrival of the 12th Brigade.

During the night (10--11th) the French had completed their entrenchments
on the skirts of the wood and had taken up their position there; they
also lined the heights on the further side of the river with numerous
batteries. Thus a frontal attack must involve heavy loss, and it was
impossible to out-flank lines so extensive. General von Alvensleben
therefore decided on advancing at first only against the enemy's left
wing, and assigned to that task the 11th Brigade. The 10th and 9th
remained in reserve for the present about Changé and Gué la Hart. The
12th, released at Mont-Auvours, was indeed marching up, but on
circuitous ways, because the high road was everywhere entirely commanded
by the batteries on the heights.

The 11th Brigade, scarcely 3000 strong, followed the course of the Gué
Perray streamlet up to the northern end of the wood. To protect it
against the French columns threatening it from the heights, the 35th
Regiment had to form front towards the brook and also occupied the
Château of Les Arches. The 20th Regiment tried to get forward by the
cattle-path, and while holding firmly the Château of Les Noyers and the
bridge there over the Huisnes, drove back the enemy by sheer hard
fighting to Les Granges. But he presently returned so considerably
reinforced that the whole brigade had to be gradually brought up into
the fighting line. Les Granges was lost and retaken several times with
heavy loss, particularly of officers; but the Brandenburgers fought on

On the left of the 11th the 10th Brigade now made its appearance, coming
up from Changé at one o'clock. After an hour-long bloody struggle the
52nd Regiment made itself master of the farm of Le Pavillon, of the
wooded slope in front, and the farm of Grand Anneau. Strong columns
advancing from Pontlieue were driven back, two batteries dashed up into
the Chassepôt fire to within 800 paces of Le Tertre; yet the 12th
Regiment did not succeed in getting into the farmstead till two
battalions of the 9th Brigade from Changé had come up to its assistance.
The farmstead whose possession was so obstinately disputed was taken by
storm at about five o'clock, with the co-operation of the Grenadiers of
the 8th Life-Regiment.

The 52nd Regiment, having expended all its ammunition, had to retire,
but the Grenadier battalions pushed further forward on the cattle-path,
where two French guns in action were captured after a bloody mêlée; and
the enemy's repeated attempts to recover them were steadily frustrated.
A hostile battery which had been brought up westward of the wood was
driven back by quick fire.

As the 35th Regiment had to be brought forward from the Gué Perray brook
to support the 20th, the French had recovered possession of Les Arches.
The 12th Brigade, only three battalions strong, arrived there from
Auvours at two o'clock. The 64th Regiment recaptured the château after a
short fight. The overwhelming artillery and musketry fire from the
heights on the further side of the river prevented the German artillery
from coming into action, and it was only with great difficulty and a
heavy sacrifice of gunners that the pieces were brought away again; but
every attack on the château by the French from Yvré was steadily

It was now quite dark, and only the fire of the cannon still lasted. The
IIIrd Corps had taken 600 prisoners, but had also lost 500 men. It had
fought its way into the heart of the French position, and its outposts
were in the closest proximity to the enemy's front. And now strong,
though late, reinforcements arrived.

The Xth Corps had marched from Grand Lucé to the westward in the
morning, to gain the high road from Tours to Le Mans, but slippery roads
again delayed its march, so that it only reached Teloche in the

The cannon thunder heard to the northward left no doubt that General von
Alvensleben was engaged in arduous fighting. The orders sent at noon
from the Army Headquarter in St. Hubert sped to General Voigts-Rhetz;
but that officer rightly judged that his appearance would now have a
more telling effect on the enemy's flank than on the field where the
IIIrd Corps was engaged. So in spite of the exhausted state of his men,
who had had no opportunity to cook on the way, he at once pushed forward
without halting.

To protect himself against Curten's Division on the watch for him from
Château du Loir, he despatched a battalion to Ecommoy. It was received
with firing from the houses, surrounded on all sides in the darkness,
and compelled to withdraw from the place; but it then kept the road
clear in the rear of the corps.

The head of the 20th Division found Mulsanne but feebly defended, and
drove the detachment back beyond the cutting of La Monnerie.

The nature of the country which here had to be traversed greatly
favoured the enemy. Ditches and fences afforded his marksmen complete
cover, farmsteads and copses furnished excellent defensive positions.
Only eight guns could at first be brought to bear against the enemy's
artillery; but nevertheless four Westphalian and Brunswick[69]
battalions steadily repelled the French, and by nightfall reached Point
du Jour. The fight first became stationary on the cattle-path in front
of Les Mortes Aures. Here the French swept the whole foreground with a
continuous rolling fire from tiers of shelter-trenches rising one above
the other.

The fight swayed to and fro for a long time, but finally the German left
gained ground. The 1st Battalion of the 17th Regiment rushed on the
enemy, who delivered his fire at point blank range and then made for the
wood. And when now the 1st Battalion of the 56th Regiment advanced from
Point du Jour, its drums beating the charge, the French carried away
their mitrailleuses and evacuated Les Mortes Aures.

This battalion had received orders from the Commanding General to settle
the business with the bayonet. Captain von Monbart led it on locked up
close at the charging pace; all the detachments at hand joined it, and
in spite of a heavy fire from the wood La Tuilerie was reached by
half-past eight; and here the 40th Brigade deployed, while the 37th
stood ready to support it in front of Mulsanne. The enemy drifted away
in the darkness. The constant roll of wheels, the noise of departing
railway trains and the confusion of cries indicated a retreat. Yet the
prisoners who were constantly being brought in, with one accord reported
that a strong force was still encamped in the forest. Numerous
watch-fires blazed there through the night, and instead of resting, it
seemed evident that the hostile troops were preparing to engage in fresh
attempts. At half-past ten the outposts reported the approach of a
strong force from Pontlieue.

Hitherto it had been only the little-to-be-relied-on National Guards
under General Lalande at this point with whom the German troops in this
quarter of the field had had to deal; but the Admiral now sent Bouëdec's
Division against La Tuilerie, and ordered General Roquebrune to support
his advance.

For a full hour the Prussian battalions in first line were scourged with
rifle fire in front and flank, and pelted by a hail-storm of
projectiles, but no serious attack occurred.

According to French reports, the officers strove in vain to bring
forward their troops; but the latter constantly hung back. A later
assault made by Gardes-Mobiles was equally fruitless.

But still there was to be no rest. At two in the morning the din of
fighting again made itself heard on the right. Deplanque's Division had
been disturbed by a flank detachment of the 40th Brigade. This body was
advancing by the road from Ruaudin to Pontlieue, to be at hand in case
of need; without returning the enemy's fire, it had driven out the
holders of Epinettes, and had established itself there close to the

_January 12th._--For the impending struggle of the following day only
the IIIrd and Xth Corps could be counted on. The other two Corps could
only co-operate indirectly by holding engaged a part of the hostile

Of the XIIIth Corps the 17th Division was to advance by Lombron to St.
Corneille, without committing itself to a contest with the enemy still
holding the bank of the Huisne; the 22nd was ordered from La Chapelle to
Savigné. The Gué brook was to be lightly held, and part of the artillery
was to remain at Connerré with the 7th Brigade of Cavalry.

On advancing it was found that the enemy had already abandoned Lombron,
Pont de Gesnes, and Montfort. Arms and equipments thrown away betrayed
how hurried had been the flight. Many stragglers were brought in
prisoners, and it was not till reaching the Merdereau brook at noon,
that the 17th Division met with opposition. The Château of Hyre and St.
Corneille were won about four o'clock by an enveloping attack, and 500
French were taken prisoners. The enemy was then driven back behind the
Parance brook, where the advanced guard halted at dusk.

Colonel von Beckedorff's detachment of the 22nd Division marched through
Chanteloup from Sillé, throwing back the enemy on La Croix, where a
large body of hostile troops made a stand. But when, after a long halt,
the main body of the Division came up, it at once passed to the attack.
Entire formed bodies of French here laid down their arms, and 3000 men
with many officers became prisoners.

An attempt of the cavalry to advance across the Sarthe to break up the
railway on the further side of the river was, however, unsuccessful.

The whole force occupying the heights of Auvours surrendered to the IXth
Corps. The 35th Brigade marched up to Villiers, but patrols sent ahead
soon reported that the French had retired across the Huisne. When the
noise of fighting was heard at mid-day from St. Corneille, the brigade
in question was ordered to proceed northward to support the 17th
Division engaged there. The 84th Regiment, passing through La Commune,
lent efficient assistance in the attack on Château Hyre. Outposts were
left on the Parance for the night, but the main body of the 35th Brigade
returned to Fatines, and the 36th took up quarters between Villiers and
St. Mars la Bruyère.

By the battle of the previous day the position of the French before Le
Mans had been forced; but they still stood firm behind the Huisnes, and
as their left wing had been driven in on their centre, the latter
section had been considerably strengthened. There still remained the
stream to be crossed, and the steep slope to be climbed, where every row
of the vineyards in terraced ascent was held by strong firing lines, and
the crest of which was crowned with batteries. The passage of the
Huisnes near Ivré, on the left, was covered by entrenchments with
special carefulness, and the ground in front of the wood of Pontlieue
had been made impassable in many places by abatis. Against such a
position the artillery could be of little and the cavalry of no service,
while deep snow hampered every movement of the infantry. General von
Alvensleben therefore decided on standing for the present on the
defensive with his right wing, while he prepared to support the advance
of General von Voigts-Rhetz with his left.

The troops were roused from their short rest at six in the morning. Two
French companies made their way towards the bridge at Château Les Noyers
with powder-bags, but they were compelled to retreat, leaving the
explosives behind them. At eight o'clock the French made a determined
attack on the outposts of the 12th Regiment in the wood, and drove them
in on Le Tertre. Again a combat raged furiously about this farmstead,
which was almost demolished by shell fire. One by one the last
battalions of the 10th Brigade were drawn into the struggle, to replace
bodies which, their ammunition exhausted, had to retire. Only four guns
could be used with effect, but by eleven o'clock the enemy's fire
gradually died away, and he was seen to retire on Pontlieue. The
battalions of the left wing pursued, and came out on the Parigné road in
immediate touch with the Xth Corps.

General von Voigts-Rhetz had left two battalions at Mulsanne, for his
protection from the direction of Ecommoy; the whole Corps, after many
detachments had been unavoidably detailed from it, was assembled by
about half-past seven for a further advance on Pontlieue. The main body
of the 20th Division closed up by the Mulsanne road on La Tuilerie.
Three battalions of the 19th Division massed at Ruaudin to strengthen
the sideward detachments in Epinettes, while two battalions with the
14th Cavalry Brigade and the Corps' artillery, which could find no
opening in the region further to the left, moved up by the roads from

The reinforcement meanwhile arrived from Ruaudin, and General von Woyna
made his way without hindrance through the forest to La Source, where he
halted at one o'clock, his front parallel with that of the 20th
Division. A heavy battery of the latter had already driven away the
French mitrailleuses in front of Pontlieue. On the right a light battery
of the 19th Division was brought up to La Source, and ten
horse-artillery guns on to the road from Parigné. The atmosphere was,
however, so thick that their fire could only be directed by the map.

At two o'clock General von Kraatz advanced in close column on Pontlieue,
whither General von Woyna was now also marching. The southern part of
the village was taken after a slight resistance; but on the further side
of the Huisne the French held the houses along the river-bank, and just
as the Germans approached the bridge it was blown up. The demolition,
however, was not complete, and the foremost battalions got across over
the débris to reach the enemy. Two made their way into the high street
of Pontlieue, one turned left to the railway station, whence were heard
signals for departing trains. Nothing interposed to hinder the railway
bridge here from being blown up, and thus many prisoners were taken,
besides 150 provision waggons and 1000 hundred-weight of flour.

The artillery fire was immediately directed on the town of Le Mans.

Meanwhile the detachments of the IIIrd Corps, which had become mixed up
in the forest fight, had re-formed. After a ration of meat, the first
for three days, had been served out to the troops, the 10th Brigade
resumed its march. The Brandenburg Jäger Battalion crossed the river by
the paper-mill of L'Epau, and two batteries strengthened from Château
Funay the artillery fire directed on Le Mans.

When presently the infantry entered the town, a fierce struggle began in
the streets, which were entirely blocked by the French trains. Entrance
into individual houses had to be cleared by artillery fire; a large
number of French were taken prisoners, and a vast quantity of waggons
were seized. The fighting lasted till nightfall, and then the Xth Corps
and half of the IIIrd took up alarm quarters in the town. The 6th
Division took possession of Yvré, which the enemy had abandoned, and
threw out foreposts to Les Noyers and Les Arches on the further side of
the Huisne.

The actions fought by the French on this day, had been engaged in for
the sole purpose of gaining time for the extrication of the army.

On learning from Admiral Jauréguiberry that every effort to get the
troops to advance had failed, and that the last reserves were shattered,
General Chanzy had at eight in the morning issued orders for a general
retreat on Alençon, where the Minister of War had arranged for the
arrival of two Divisions of the XIXth Corps from Carentan.

The advance of the IInd Army to Le Mans had been a series of seven days'
incessant fighting. It was made at a season when the winter was in
extremest severity. Ice and snow-drifts had rendered every movement one
long struggle. Bivouacking was out of the question; and the troops had
to seek their night shelter often at a distance of some miles in rear;
their reassembling in the morning cost precious hours, and the shortness
of the day then prevented their taking full advantage of their
successes. Whole battalions were employed in guarding the prisoners. The
roads were in such a state that the trains of the army could not be
brought up; officers and men alike marched insufficiently clothed and on
scanty rations. But zeal, endurance, and discipline conquered every

The army had sacrificed in this prolonged struggle 3200 men and 200
officers, the larger half belonging to the IIIrd Corps alone. Many
companies fought under the command of non-commissioned officers.

The French estimated their losses at 6200 men, and 20,000 taken
prisoners; seventeen guns, two colours, and an abundant supply of
matériel remained as trophies in the hands of the victors.

After exertions so severe the troops imperatively needed some rest. The
instructions from the supreme Headquarter were that the operations were
not to be extended beyond a certain limit; and it was possible that the
services of the IInd Army might almost immediately be required on the
Seine and the Loire. Prince Frederick Charles therefore determined to
follow up the retreating enemy with only a small force.

On the French side, that each Corps might have a separate road for the
retreat to Alençon, two Corps had necessarily to draw out westward in
the first instance. On the evening of the last day's fight the XVIth
Corps reached Chauffour on the Laval road, and the XVIIth Conlie on the
road to Mayenne, each covered by its rear-guard. The XXIst was assembled
at Ballon, on the left bank of the Sarthe. From these points all were
to march in a northerly direction. General Chanzy still deluded himself
with the hope of coming up by Evreux to the assistance of the besieged
capital. He would have had thus to make a wide circuit--an arc by moving
on the chord of which the Germans could easily have anticipated him; and
in a country where all arms were available, his army, in the condition
to which it was now reduced, must have inevitably been destroyed.
Ultimately the defeated French army retired in the direction to the
westward of the Sarthe.

After the distribution of rations and forage, General von Schmidt set
forth at mid-day on the 13th with four battalions, eleven squadrons, and
ten guns, and reached Chauffour after some skirmishing. The XIIIth Corps
advanced to the Sarthe, the 17th Division sending its outposts across
the river at Neuville, and the 22nd drove the French out of Ballon,
whence they retired in full flight to Beaumont. The XXIst French Corps
had taken up quarters this day at Sillé. The National Guards of Brittany
fled wildly to Coron, and thence made homeward toward their own
province. They were joined by the troops left in camp at Conlie, after
the camp there had been plundered. The XVIIth Corps also went off,
without halting by the Vègre as it had been ordered to do, but
retreating direct on Ste. Suzanne. The XVIth withdrew on Laval, leaving
Barry's Division at Chassillé as rear-guard. Numbers of abandoned
waggons and cast-away arms, everywhere testified to the demoralization
of the defeated forces.

On the 14th the French were driven out of Chassillé. The XVIth Corps had
by this time almost entirely lost its organization; it retired during
the night to St. Jean sur Erve. In the camp at Conlie were found 8000
stands of arms and 5,000,000 cartridges, as well as various other war

The Grand Duke had marched on Alençon along the right bank of the
Sarthe. The French in Beaumont made a feeble resistance to the advanced
guard of the 22nd Division, and lost 1400 prisoners.

On the following day General von Schmidt advanced further on the road to
Laval, but found that the French had concentrated at St. Jean and posted
a strong force of artillery on the heights behind the Erve. The
Oldenburg Regiment[70] forced its way as far as the church of the little
town, and the Brunswickers drove the enemy back on Ste. Suzanne, higher
up the river, but there the pursuit ended.

Barry's and Deplanque's Divisions, according to the French estimate, had
now no more than 6000 fighting men, and Curten's Division had still not
yet come up, but this strength was considerably superior to that of the
weak German detachment confronting it. The rest of the Xth Corps was
moving up in support, but had as yet only reached Chasillé. A battalion
advancing from Conlie came into conflict at Sillé with the XXIst French
Corps assembled there, and sustained heavy loss. The 22nd Division of
the XIIIth Corps also met with serious opposition before reaching
Alençon, from the National Guards and the volunteers under Lipowski; and
the attack on the town was postponed till next day.

But on the following morning the French positions in Alençon as well as
in Sillé and St. Jean were abandoned. Those places were at once occupied
by the Germans, and General von Schmidt marched forward, close up to
Laval. Numerous stragglers from the retreating army were taken

Behind the Mayenne, whither now Curten's Division had arrived, the
remnants of the IInd Army of the Loire re-assembled. Reduced to half its
original strength, and its morale gravely shaken, it could but be unfit
for service for a long time to come, and the object of the German
advance on Le Mans was fully attained.

To the north of Paris, however, the French were meanwhile threatening a
renewed offensive. It was necessary to draw in on the Somme the portions
of the Ist Army which were still on the Lower Seine; and orders came
from the supreme Head-quarter that the XIIIth Corps of the IInd Army
should march on Rouen.

On the Upper Loire also French detachments had advanced against the
Hessian posts about Briare, and had driven them back, on the 14th, to
Ouzouer; while from the Sologne came a report of the advance of a
newly-formed French Army Corps--the XXVth.

The German IXth Corps, after evacuating and destroying the camp at
Conlie, was therefore sent to Orleans in support. The remainder of the
IInd Army, the IIIrd and Xth Corps with the three cavalry divisions--in
a strength of about 27,000 foot, 9000 horse, and 186 guns--was assembled
by Prince Frederick Charles round Le Mans. The cavalry in observation on
the front and flanks had several small skirmishes, but no further
serious hostilities were attempted.

The 4th Cavalry Division held Alençon on the right, and on the left
General von Hartmann entered Tours without any opposition.


[66] Commanding 6th Division, IIIrd Corps.

[67] "Arnage" on the map and in the _Staff History_.

[68] The "Holsteiners" mentioned in the text were two battalions of the
85th Regiment, which belonged to the 36th Brigade, 18th Division, IXth
Army Corps, whose territorial region consists of Schleswig-Holstein, the
Hanse towns, Mecklenburg, &c.

[69] The 17th and 92nd Regiments comprising the 46th Brigade commanded
by General von Diringshofen.

[70] The 91st Regiment, 37th Brigade, 10th Army Corps, whose recruiting
ground is Hanover, Oldenburg, and Brunswick. The Hanoverian Corps
consists mainly of the regiments of the old Hanoverian army of the
kingdom long ruled by British sovereigns; an army whose valour, proved
side by side with British troops on countless battle-fields from Minden
and Dettingen to the Peninsula and Waterloo, culminated in its final
battle on the glorious but luckless field of Langensalza.


At the beginning of the New Year a considerable part of the Ist German
Army was engaged in besieging Péronne, which had afforded a safe
crossing-point for the debouche of the French on the southern bank of
the Somme. General Barnekow held the little place invested with the 3rd
Reserve Division and the 31st Infantry Brigade. Previously it had only
been kept under observation by cavalry, but circumstances had
temporarily given it importance. What of the VIIIth Corps formerly on
the Somme was available formed a wide curve from Amiens northward as far
as Bapaume, to cover the siege.

The Ist Corps, posted at Rouen for the time, consisted only of three
brigades; but the 4th was on the march thither from before Péronne,
where it had been relieved. No reinforcement of the Ist Army had been
effected. The 14th Division, after reducing Mézières and, soon after,
Rocroy, had received fresh orders from Versailles which transferred it
to another part of the theatre of war.

General Faidherbe had concentrated his troops behind the Scarpe, from
their resting quarters south of Arras, and had begun his forward march
on January 2nd. He advanced with the XXIInd Corps to the relief of
Péronne by way of Bucquoy. The XXIIIrd followed by the high road to
Bapaume. About half-past ten Derroja's Division of the former Corps
obliged the 3rd Cavalry Division, as well as those battalions of the
32nd Brigade which had been attached to it, to fall back on Miraumont,
followed, however, only as far as Achiet le Petit.

The other Division, under General Bessol, did not advance towards Achiet
le Grand till the afternoon. There it was opposed for several hours by
two companies of the 68th, a sub-division of Hussars, and two guns,
which only retired in the evening on Avesnes. The French did not follow
up the detachment, but threw out outposts about Bihucourt.

Payen's Division deployed on the high road at Béhagnies, and its
batteries opened fire on Sapignies, where, however, General von
Strubberg had posted five battalions. These repulsed the attack, and at
two o'clock entered Béhagnies with a rush, took 240 prisoners, and
prepared the village for defence. The enemy withdrew to Ervillers, and
there once again drew out, but attempted no further attack.

The other Division of the French XXIIIrd Corps, consisting of mobilized
National Guards under General Robin, moved forward on the left on Mory.
There were only one battalion and a squadron of Hussars to oppose it. By
extending their line on the heights of Beugnâtre, the German detachment
succeeded in deceiving the enemy in regard to its weakness. The latter
marched and counter-marched, and also brought up artillery, but did not
attempt an attack, and remained at Mory.

The 30th German Brigade and the 3rd Cavalry Division assembled for the
night in and about Bapaume. The 29th Brigade occupied the neighbouring
villages on the right and the left of the Arras road.

BATTLE OF BAPAUME.--_January 3rd._--General Faidherbe had brought his
forces close up to the position which covered the investment of Péronne.
His four Divisions consisted of fifty-seven battalions, which were
opposed by only seventeen German battalions. He decided on the 3rd to
push on in four columns to Grévillers and Biefvillers, on the high road,
and to Favreuil on the east.

But General von Goeben was not inclined to give up his position at
Bapaume. Under cover of a force in occupation of Favreuil, General von
Kummer in the morning assembled the 30th Brigade in front of Bapaume,
and behind it the 29th, of which, however, three battalions were left in
the villages to left and to right. A reserve was established further to
the rear at Tronsloy, whither the 8th Rifle Battalion, with two
batteries, was detached; and General von Barnekow received orders to
hold three battalions and the 2nd Foot Detachment in readiness at Sailly
Saillisel, without raising the blockade. Finally the detachment under
Prince Albrecht, jun.--three battalions, eight squadrons, and three
batteries--advanced on Bertincourt, near to the subsequent battle-field.
In this disposition, in bitterly cold and sullen weather, the attack of
the French was awaited.

General Count von der Groeben had already sent the 7th Cavalry Brigade
against the enemy's right flank, but it did not succeed in forcing its
way through the villages occupied by the hostile infantry.

On the right wing the Division Robin was at Beugnâtre met by so sharp a
fire from two battalions of the 65th Regiment and two horse batteries
which had joined them from Transloy, that it withdrew again on Mory. The
garrison of Favreuil was reinforced by two battalions and two batteries
against the approach of the Division Payen, which was marching by the
high road to the eastward of that place. The first French gun moving out
from Sapignies was immediately destroyed, but several batteries soon
became engaged on both sides, and the French forced their way into
Favreuil and St. Aubin.

The 40th Regiment advanced on these places at noon from Bertincourt, and
after a lively action re-occupied them; but had to evacuate Favreuil
again, and took up a position alongside of the 2nd Guard Uhlan regiment
and a horse battery sideward of Frémicourt, which secured the right
flank of the Division.

On the left, the Division Bessol had driven the weak garrison out of
Biefvillers. The 1st Battalion of the 33rd Regiment, which moved forward
to retake that place, became hotly engaged; it lost all but three of its
officers, and had to retire upon Avesnes. The Division Derroja also took
part in this fight. The French now brought up a strong force of
artillery, and extended their firing-line to the south nearly as far as
the road to Albert.

Therefore, at mid-day, General von Kummer decided to confine himself to
the local defence of Bapaume. At the cost of serious loss, the artillery
covered the drawing in thither of the infantry. The 1st Heavy Battery,
which was the last to withdraw, lost 2 officers, 17 men, and 36 horses;
its guns could only be brought out of action with the help of the

In Bapaume the 29th Brigade now prepared for an obstinate defence of the
old city wall, and the 30th assembled behind the place. The French
advanced leisurely as far as the suburb. Then ensued a long pause in the
fighting. General Faidherbe hoped to take the town by further
encompassing it, without exposing it to a bombardment followed by a
storm. A brigade of the Division Derroja endeavoured to advance through
Tilloy, but met there with stubborn resistance from the Rifle Battalion
and two batteries which had come up from Péronne. At the same time
twenty-four guns of the batteries which had retired behind Bapaume
opened fire on the advancing columns, which then withdrew, at half-past
three, across the road to Albert. They soon resumed the attack, and
succeeded in entering Tilloy. All the neighbouring batteries now opened
fire upon this village. General von Mirus, who on the advance of the 3rd
Cavalry Division had been left behind in Miraumont, saw no enemy in his
front there, but heard the fighting at Bapaume, and advanced from the
west, as did General von Strubberg from the town, to renew the attack.
The French did not await their arrival, and were driven back out of the
suburb and also Avesnes. The French Divisions spent the night at
Grévillers, Bihucourt, Favreuil, and Beugnâtre, thus surrounding Bapaume
on three sides. The day had cost the Germans 52 officers and 698 men,
and the French 53 officers and 2066 men.

But only by exerting the whole available strength of the VIIIth Corps
had it been possible to withstand the preponderating attack of the
enemy. It had not yet been possible to replenish the Corps' supply of
ammunition, and General von Goeben decided to immediately move back the
fighting ground to behind the Somme. This movement was actually in
process when the patrols brought information that the enemy was also
evacuating the neighbouring villages.

The French troops, as yet unaccustomed to the vicissitudes of warfare,
had suffered extremely from the previous day's fighting and the severe
cold of the ensuing night. General Faidherbe could perceive that the
forces before Péronne had been brought forward to Bapaume, and that the
Germans thus reinforced would take the offensive. His chief object, the
interruption of the siege of Péronne, had been obtained, and the General
thought it best not to endanger that result by a second encounter. He
led his Corps back in the direction of Arras. Of the German cavalry
detachments following up the retirement the 8th Cuirassiers succeeded in
breaking a French square. The 15th Division withdrew behind the Somme,
immediately below Péronne, and the Saxon cavalry joined the right wing
at St. Quentin.

FIGHTING ON THE LOWER SEINE.--_January 4th._--Exactly at the same time
the other Corps of the Ist Army was in conflict with the enemy on the
Lower Seine. The French had not undertaken any new enterprise on the
right bank of the river, but on the left bank they held the wooded
heights of Bois de la Londe, which overhang the southern outlet of the
Seine after its encircling the peninsula of Grand Couronne. Here General
von Bentheim,[71] with a view of gaining room in this direction, had
assembled half the Ist Army Corps, and advanced on the 4th of January on
Les Moulineaux. Before daybreak Lieut.-Colonel von Hüllessem surprised
the enemy's outposts there, stormed the rock-crowned fortalice of
Château Robert le Diable, and took prisoners the defenders who had
sought refuge amid the ruins of the castle. The heights of Maison Brulet
were then scaled under the heavy fire of the enemy, and two of his guns
were taken. After a renewed resistance at St. Ouen the French withdrew
on Bourgachard in the afternoon, pursued towards six in the evening by a
half squadron of dragoons, two guns, and a company carried on waggons,
which took from them two 12-pounders posted at the entrance of
Rougemontier, killing the gunners and capturing an ammunition waggon.

After a slight skirmish the enemy was also driven out of Bourgtheroulde
and thrown back in the direction of Brionne. The French right wing at
Elbeuf during the night hastily withdrew from a position rendered
precarious by the wavering of the other detachments. The affair cost 5
officers and 160 men. The loss of the French must have been equal,
besides which they lost 300 prisoners and 4 guns.

General Roye posted his troops behind the Rille on the line
Pont-Audemer--Brionne, but the Germans now held Bourgachard,
Bourgtheroulde, and Elbeuf strongly garrisoned, with three battalions at
Grand-Couronne in readiness to furnish support. The other troops
returned to Rouen. An attempted advance of the French on the same day by
the northern bank of the Seine had been arrested in front of Fauville,
whence they again withdrew towards Harfleur.

Meanwhile it had not escaped the observation of the VIIIth Army Corps
that this time the French did not seek the cover of the northern
fortresses, but that they had halted south of Arras, thus betraying an
intention shortly to renew the attack on the force investing Péronne.

General von Goeben therefore decided to return to the northern bank of
the Somme, to cover that operation, and there to take up a flanking
position whose front the enemy would have to cross in his advance.

On January 6th, after the troops had been permitted one day's rest and
the ammunition had been replenished, the 30th Brigade moved to Bray, the
29th to Albert. In close vicinity to the enemy was the 3rd Cavalry
Division at Bapaume, behind it the Guard Cavalry Brigade. For the
protection of the left flank Lieut.-Colonel von Pestel[72] occupied
Acheux, and from the investing Corps the 3rd Reserve Division moved
westward of Péronne to Feuillères. The Corps-Artillery remained for the
time on the left bank of the Somme, since it almost seemed as if the
enemy intended to direct his attack on Amiens.

But during the next day the French did not undertake anything of
importance, and on the 9th Péronne fell.

REDUCTION OF PÉRONNE.--_January 9th._--For fourteen days this little
place had been invested by eleven battalions, sixteen squadrons, and ten
batteries. Flooded meadows on one side, and on the other walls with
medieval towers, had secured it against a surprise; but for the rest it
was commanded on all sides by overhanging heights.

Although the fire of fifty-eight field guns had not done it much damage,
yet in any case it must have been very soon discontinued for want of
ammunition. A bombardment with captured French siege-artillery remained
without result. The fortress stoutly maintained its fire, and its
garrison of only 3500 men even attempted sorties.

As before mentioned, on the day of the battle of Bapaume, a portion of
the besieging troops had been necessarily withdrawn to the support of
the VIIIth Army Corps, and in the uncertainty as to the result of this
fight it had been imperative to take precautions for the safety of the
siege material. The troops that remained behind stood ready to march,
and part of the heavy guns had been withdrawn. But the garrison
maintained a waiting attitude.

Two days later arrived a siege-train of fifty-five heavy guns which had
been brought together at La Fère. A second, of twenty-eight French
siege-pieces, was on the way from Mézières. The preliminaries of a
regular siege were undertaken, and when at length on the 8th of January
a large ammunition-convoy arrived, the commandant was summoned to give
up a defence that had now become hopeless.

On the 10th of January, General von Barnekow entered the fortress, which
was found amply provided with arms, ammunition and provisions. The
garrison were made prisoners.

On the 7th of January, his Majesty the King had assigned General von
Manteuffel to another section of the theatre of war, and had given the
supreme command of the Ist Army to General von Goeben.

Freed from concern as to Péronne, that General's only duty thenceforward
was to insure the protection of the investment of Paris. For this
purpose the Somme, whose passages were all in the hands of the Germans,
formed a natural bulwark, behind which the attack even of a greatly
superior enemy could be awaited. And some reinforcements now arrived for
the VIIIth Army Corps. The peaceful condition of the Lower Seine allowed
of two infantry regiments and two batteries being sent from thence to
Amiens. By instructions from the supreme Head-quarter an infantry
brigade of the Meuse Army was held in readiness, which in case of need
was to be sent up by rail to reinforce the Ist Army.

It was still uncertain whither the enemy would direct his stroke.
General von Goeben, therefore, spread his forces behind the Somme on a
prolonged extension of some forty-five miles, still holding fast the
points gained in front of the river, to meet the contingency of his
having to renew the offensive. In the middle of the month, the
detachments of the Ist Corps under the command of General Count von der
Groeben occupied Amiens, Corbie, and the line of the Hallue as a flank
position. The 15th Division, holding Bray firmly, took up quarters south
of that village. Next to it, on the left of Péronne, was the 3rd Reserve
Division, right of it were the 16th Division and the 3rd Reserve Cavalry
Brigade, holding Roisel and Vermand to the front. The 12th Cavalry
Division was at St. Quentin.

The French army had already begun to advance on the Cambrai high-road,
and its XXIInd Corps had pushed back the 3rd Cavalry Division first out
of Bapaume and then out of Albert behind the Hallue. The XXIIIrd
followed by the same road, and their objective really appears to have
been Amiens. But a reconnaissance had exposed the difficulty of
attacking in that direction, besides which a telegram from the War
Minister announced that the Army of Paris within the next few days was
to make a last supreme effort to burst the bonds of the investment, and
the Army of the North was enjoined to divert, as far as possible, the
enemy's forces from the capital, and draw them on itself.

In accordance with these orders General Faidherbe decided to advance
without delay on St. Quentin, whither the Brigade Isnard was already
marching from Cambrai. An attack on their right wing, consisting for the
time solely of cavalry, directly threatened the communications of the
Germans, while the vicinity of the northern forts afforded the French
army shelter and also greater liberty of action.

But General von Goeben had foreseen such a leftward movement of the
enemy, and concentrated all his forces to meet it.

The convalescents who were fit for service joined the ranks. Only weak
detachments were left at Amiens, and because of the approach of the
XIIIth Corps from the Sarthe to the Lower Seine, it was now safe to
transfer the 3rd Grenadier Regiment and a heavy battery from thence to
the Somme.

The departure of the French from Albert and the march of their Corps on
Combles and Sailly Saillisel were soon reported by the cavalry in
observation. The newly-formed Brigade Pauly occupied Bapaume, and the
Brigade Isnard entered St. Quentin, whence General zur Lippe (commanding
the 12th (Saxon) Cavalry Division detailed from the Army of the Meuse)
retired on Ham in accordance with orders. General von Goeben now moved
eastward, using the roads on both banks of the Somme so that he might
the sooner reach the enemy.

_January 17th._--The 12th Cavalry Brigade moved further to the right on
La Fère, the 16th Division to Ham. The 3rd Reserve Division and the
Guard Cavalry Brigade arrived at Nesle; the 15th Division and the Corps
Artillery, at Villers Carbonnel. An Army-Reserve had been formed of the
troops last brought up from Rouen, and it followed to Harbonnières. On
the northern bank, the detachment under Count von der Groeben moved to
the vicinity of Péronne.

The four French Divisions had so far advanced on Vermand as to be able
to unite next day near St. Quentin. The XXIIIrd Corps was to move
straight upon the town, the XXIInd to cross the Somme lower down, and
take up a position south of St. Quentin.

_January 18th._--On the German side, the 16th and the 3rd Reserve
Division moved by the south bank of the Somme to Jussy and Flavy, the
Army-Reserve to Ham. The 12th Cavalry Division at Vendeuil found the
country east of the Oise still free from the enemy.

With the object of obtaining touch of the approaching enemy, the 15th
Division was on its part to cross the Somme at Brie, and, together with
the troops of General Count von der Groeben, to advance on Vermand and
Etreillers. General von Kummer was enjoined, in case he found that the
French had taken up a position, merely to watch them and to follow them
should they retire northward, but should they march towards the south,
to attack them with all his force.

At half-past ten, the 29th Brigade came up on the hither side of Tertry
with the rear-guard of the XXIInd Corps and its trains. The Hussars
charged one of the battalions guarding the latter, and drove the waggons
in the greatest disorder back on Caulaincourt, but had to abandon
prisoners and prize under the fire of the approaching infantry. The
French brigade had turned about, and it advanced to an attack on
Trescon. This was resisted by the 65th Regiment and three batteries
until after two o'clock, when General du Bessol reached the scene of the
fight and ordered the French brigade to resume its march on St. Quentin.

The XXIIIrd had also halted and detached a brigade against the left
flank of the 15th Division. This, however, on reaching Cauvigny Farm,
came upon two German battalions, which after a protracted fire-fight
pursued the retreating enemy and entered Caulaincourt at half-past
three, making 100 prisoners and capturing fourteen provision-waggons.

Meanwhile Count von der Groeben had hurried forward at the sound of
firing. The General realized that he could help most efficaciously by
marching straight on Vermand. Four batteries came into action against
Poeuilly, which was occupied by the enemy, and when the 4th Grenadier
Regiment passed to the assault the French retreated, losing some
prisoners. Many Gardes-Mobiles were dispersed by the Uhlans. About
Vermand the whole of the XXIIIrd Corps was now in the act of beginning
to march off.

Count von der Groeben therefore posted his troops behind the Poeuilly
bottom, thereby retarding the withdrawal of the enemy by forcing him to
halt and form front against each display of pressure. The 15th Division
took up quarters about Beauvois and Caulaincourt.

The sole aim of the French Generals on this day seemed to be to reach
St. Quentin. They neglected the opportunity of falling with their two
Corps upon the single 15th Division. The XXIIIrd Corps passed the night
in and westward of St. Quentin, and the XXIInd, after crossing the Somme
at Séraucourt, southward of the town. A further advance either on Paris
or on the German lines of communications depended now, when the latter
had approached so close, on the issue of a battle; and this General
Faidherbe wished to await at St. Quentin.

It was important to hold on here in case the sortie of the Paris Army
should result in success. The ground offered certain advantages--the
heights in front of the town gave a free range of fire and afforded a
sheltered position for the reserves. It was true that the Somme divided
the army in two halves, but the bridge of St. Quentin made mutual
assistance possible. The enemy also occupied both sides of the river,
and including the Isnard and Pauly Brigades which had come up, he
finally counted 40,000 men, opposed to an enemy numerically weaker.[73]
The Germans, all told, numbered exactly 32,580 combatants, of whom
nearly 6000 were cavalry.


[71] Who had succeeded General Manteuffel in the command of the Ist
Corps, when at the beginning of December the latter found oppressive the
command of a Corps along with the Command-in-Chief of the Ist Army.

[72] Commanding the 7th (Rhineland) Uhlan Regiment, the officer who so
long and so gallantly defended Saarbrücken on his own responsibility in
the earliest days of the war.

[73] Whether the author intends, in the two first sentences of this
paragraph, that the advantages of the St. Quentin position should be
enjoyed by Faidherbe or Goeben, appears somewhat obscure. The third
sentence certainly refers to the German Army, as the succeeding one
clearly shows. But this being so, there is a discrepancy between the
text and the _Staff History_, as regards the side which the bridge of
St. Quentin would serve in the battle. The following is quoted from that
work: "Moreover, the German troops were separated by the Somme, whilst
the bridges at St. Quentin enabled the French Corps to afford one
another easy support."


(January 19th.)

General von Goeben had ordered the general attack for this day.

Covered by the occupation of Séraucourt, General von Barnekow advanced
along the southern bank of the Somme, with the 16th and the 3rd Reserve
Divisions from Jussy through Essigny; the 12th Cavalry Division advanced
on the road leading from La Fère.

The French columns were still on the march to take up their position
with its rear towards the town; and Grugies was already occupied by
them. While the 32nd German Brigade advanced northward of Essigny the
Reserve Division halted behind the village, and the 31st Brigade at a
quarter to ten advanced on Grugies.

This attack was taken in flank on its left by the French Brigade
Gislain, which had meanwhile occupied the hamlets of Contescourt and
Castres. It was met in front by the Brigades Foerster and Pittié which
had promptly come into action.

The fire of the German batteries was at once returned vigorously from Le
Moulin de Tout Vent. At eleven o'clock the second battalion of the 69th
Regiment marched in company columns across the entirely open ground
against the heights on the hither side of Grugies; but the attempt,
renewed four times, was frustrated by the destructive cross-fire of the
enemy. The ammunition of the isolated battalion was nearly exhausted,
and only when followed by six fresh companies of the 29th Regiment did
it succeed in forcing the French back, after a desperate hand-to-hand
fight: but the latter held their ground in front of Grugies and in the
sugar-factory there.

On the right wing, the 12th Cavalry Division were advancing on the La
Fère road. The French Brigade Aynès, hitherto held in reserve, rushed
forward at the double to encounter it, and as Count zur Lippe had at
disposition but one battalion of infantry, his advance at first was
arrested at Cornet d'Or. But when at noon the Division was joined by
reinforcements from Tergnier, the Saxon rifles stormed the park by the
high-road, and the Schleswig-Holstein Fusiliers carried La Neuville. The
French, with the loss of many prisoners, were vigorously pursued back to
the suburb of St. Quentin, where first they found shelter.

Meantime, the 31st Brigade was engaged in a hot fight on both sides of
the railway-line in front of Grugies; behind its right wing was the 32nd
in the hollow ground on the high-road, where it suffered severely from
the enemy's shell-fire; and on the left, the detachment advancing from
Séraucourt did not succeed in entering Contescourt. And now the French
made so determined and overwhelming an attack from Grugies, that the
16th Division had to be withdrawn as far as Essigny.

When after noon General Faidherbe joined the XXIIIrd Corps, he had
reason to hope that the XXIInd Corps would be able to maintain its
position. But certainly the most important result was to be looked for
on the northern section of the battle-field.

Here the Division Robin had taken up a position between Fayet and
Francilly. The Brigade Isnard had marched up it on its left, and the
Brigade Lagrange of the Division Payen extended as far as the Somme. The
Brigade Michelet remained in reserve, and the Brigade Pauly at Gricourt
secured the communications rearward.

On the German left, so early as eight o'clock, General Count von der
Groeben set out from Poeuilly with eight battalions and twenty-eight
guns and advanced along the Roman road; the Cavalry Brigade accompanied
the march on the left.

The East-Prussians[74] immediately hurled the French back from Holnon,
cleared them out of Selency, and then advanced against Fayet and on to
the heights of Moulin Coutte. A gun in action, ammunition-waggons, and
many prisoners were there taken from the enemy.

By degrees the twenty-eight guns were massed on the Windmill Height and
entered into a contest with the artillery of the Division Robin. But in
the course of half an hour the ammunition failed, since the waggons
which had been sent on the previous day to the ammunition column of the
VIIIth Corps had not yet come up with the reserve supply. The batteries,
which were moreover suffering from infantry fire, had to retire to
Holnon, and as Francilly, immediately on the flank and to the rear, was
still occupied by the enemy, a further advance was temporarily

On the right, General von Kummer with the 15th Division, marching from
Beauvois, had reached Etreillers at ten. The King's Hussars cut in upon
the enemy's horse in retreat, and drove them back upon L'Epine de
Dallon, and the 29th Brigade entered Savy. North of that place three
batteries opened fire against the artillery of the Division Payen, and
then the 65th Regiment passed to the attack of the forward-lying copses.
The smaller one to the south was carried, but here, as at Francilly, the
Brigade Isnard maintained itself in the larger one to the north.

At noon the Brigade Lagrange also advanced once more on the small copse
and forced its way into it for a short time, but was again driven back
by the 65th.

The 33rd Regiment was posted in readiness on the threatened right flank
of the 29th Brigade, and near it stood in action two heavy batteries of
the Corps Artillery just arrived at Savy. At the same time the 30th
Brigade also advanced through Roupy on the right of the 29th.

Meanwhile Colonel von Massow at one o'clock renewed the offensive on the
much more advanced left wing. Six companies of the 44th Regiment
advanced on Fayet, and after firing into them at the shortest range,
drove the French from the place. Two batteries followed, and resumed
action against the enemy's great artillery position at Moulin de Cépy.

General Paulze D'Ivoy, who saw the communications of his Corps with
Cambrai in such imminent danger, had already called up the Brigade
Michelet from its reserve post west of the town, and thus reinforced now
advanced on Fayet. The Prussian detachments that were in the place had
to be withdrawn to Moulin Coutte; but the further advance of the enemy
towards these heights was arrested by a flank attack from Selency, and
at the same time the farmstead of Bois des Roses was carried. The French
again withdrew on Fayet.

There, at Francilly, and in the northern copses, they still held their
own at half-past one, while at that hour, on the German side, all three
brigades had been brought up into the fighting-line. The Army-Reserve
had arrived from Ham at Roupy, but General von Goeben, who from the
latter place had been watching the slow progress of the 16th Division,
had already sent it at eleven o'clock through Séraucourt to the support
of that Division.

Colonel von Boecking (commanding the Army-Reserve), with his three
battalions, three squadrons, and two batteries, advanced from Séraucourt
against Contescourt. Hastening forward with the cavalry, he brought his
artillery promptly into action; and then the 41st Regiment, immediately
on its arrival, passed to the attack. The battalion of the 19th Regiment
which was already on the spot, joined in the fighting, and the enemy
with the loss of many prisoners, was at one o'clock driven out of
Contescourt and of Castres as well, towards the heights of Grugies.
Against these heights the fire of the artillery, which had gradually
been increased to thirty guns, was now directed.

Bent on further disputing the position, General Lecomte brought up
several battalions from the brigades of Pittié and Aynès for the
reinforcement of the Brigade Gislain. The East-Prussian Regiment (41st)
succeeded, nevertheless, by half-past two o'clock, in hurling the enemy
by an outflanking attack from the heights into the hollow in front of
Grugies. Colonel von Boecking's vigorous attack made itself felt
throughout the whole front of fight.

With a view to renewing a general advance, General von Barnekow had
ordered up his last reserves from Essigny, when towards three o'clock
the Brigade Pittié unexpectedly pushed forward an attack along the
railway line. Its right scourged by artillery fire from Castres, it
found its left taken at unawares by the charge of five squadrons of
reserve cavalry from the Urvilliers hollow. Simultaneously Colonel von
Hartzberg advanced with the 32nd Brigade, and drove the enemy back to
Moulin de Tout Vent.

The Brigade Foerster, south of Grugies, had still held out stubbornly,
although now seriously threatened on the right from Giffécourt, as well
as by the 12th Cavalry Division on its left flank. Its left flank now
completely uncovered by the retreat of the Brigade Pittié, and its last
strength exhausted by a long struggle, the brigade found itself finally
forced to evacuate its long-held position. The 31st Brigade advanced
along the railway-line as far as the sugar-factory, and Colonel von
Boecking drove the last French detachments out of Grugies. He then
prepared with his artillery the attack upon Moulin de Tout Vent. Against
these heights the 41st Regiment, the battalions already ordered up from
Essigny, and the 32nd Brigade advanced to a concentric attack. The
French did not prolong their resistance, and indeed were already in
retreat. The entire German fighting line, with the 12th Cavalry Division
on its right, moved forward on the town, which was now reached by the
fire of the artillery posted at Gauchy. The cavalry repeatedly broke in
on the retreating hostile bodies; and the railway-station and suburb, in
which was found only the rear-guard of the XXth French Corps, was
occupied after a short struggle.

Whilst on the southern section of the battle-field the action took this
turn, on the northern side the attacks were also being pushed.

By two o'clock the 28th Regiment advancing from Roupy by the road from
Ham had carried the farmstead of L'Epine de Dallon; and almost
simultaneously Count von der Groeben's infantry came up to renew the

Whilst on the right some companies of the 4th and 44th Regiments opposed
the advance of French detachments from the larger copse, Major von
Elpons with six companies of the Crown Prince Grenadiers, advanced from
Holnon and Selency upon Francilly, and, notwithstanding the hot fire of
the defenders, forced an entrance into this very straggling village, in
which many prisoners were made. As, however, the East-Prussian Regiment
then advanced further south of the Roman road, it had in its turn to
sustain a formidable attack.

To cover its threatened line of retreat, the Brigade Michelet once more
advanced from Fayet, and the Brigade Pauly also marched from Gricourt
upon Moulin Coutte. This position, which had in the meantime been
strengthened by artillery, was, however, obstinately held by the 44th
Regiment, and when the Grenadier companies poured in leftward towards
the Roman road, the enemy's attack was here also repulsed.

Meanwhile the 29th Brigade, followed by the 30th, had already advanced
in the direction of St. Quentin, the 33rd Regiment on its right and the
65th Regiment on the left. The latter regiment now took complete
possession of the larger copse, and forty-eight guns were brought up on
both sides of the road from Savy. The further advance of the infantry
was effected in column of companies and on an extended line, because of
the heavy shell fire of the French. The Brigades of Lagrange and Isnard
did not await the shock, but at four o'clock retired on St. Quentin with
the loss of one gun.

Their artillery once more took up a position at Rocourt, but at five
o'clock had to abandon it abruptly, and the French now confined
themselves to the defence of the barricaded accesses into the St. Martin
suburb of St. Quentin.

Six Prussian batteries were brought up against these, and the 29th
Brigade for some time maintained a stationary fire fight on the strongly
held buildings and gardens; but presently several companies from Rocourt
established themselves in the suburb, in which street-fighting was still
continued, even after Lieutenant-Colonel von Hüllessem had succeeded in
crossing the canal bridge and entering the town itself.

By four o'clock, General Faidherbe had already the conviction that the
XXIIIrd Corps would probably be unable to hold its ground. In this event
his choice was limited to the alternative of a night retreat, or of
being shut up in St. Quentin. He had not yet formed a decision, when he
met in the town General Lecointe, who reported that he had abandoned the
defence of the left bank of the Somme. Thanks to the resistance still
maintained by the XXIIIrd Corps on the north, the XXIInd was enabled to
retire unmolested on Le Cateau.

The Commanding General now ordered General Paulze d'Ivoy to retire on
that place, but the latter only received the order at six in the
evening, when the brigades of the right wing--Pauly's and
Michelet's--had already started of their own accord for Cambrai. The
more obstinately the two remaining brigades now defended the suburb of
St. Martin, the more ominous for them must prove the result of the
action. Attacked in rear by the battalions of Colonel von Boecking, the
greater portion were made prisoners. The 41st Regiment alone took
prisoners 54 officers and 2260 men, besides capturing 4 guns. General
Faidherbe himself only escaped the same fate by the help of the

The action ended at half-past six in the evening, and the troops passed
the night in the town and in the captured villages.

The hard-won victory had cost the Germans 96 officers and 2304 men; 3000
wounded Frenchmen were found on the battle-field, and the number of
unwounded prisoners exceeded 9000.

According to theory, the pursuit should invariably clinch the victory--a
postulate assented to by all, and particularly by civilians; and yet in
practice it is seldom observed. Military history furnishes but few
instances, such as the famous one of Belle Alliance. It requires a very
strong and pitiless will to impose fresh exertions and dangers upon
troops who have marched, fought and fasted for ten or twelve hours, in
place of the longed-for rest and food. But even given the possession of
this will, the question of pursuit will yet depend on the circumstances
under which the victory has been won. It will be difficult of execution
when all the bodies on the field of battle, as at Königgrätz, have
become so intermixed that hours are required to re-form them into
tactical cohesion; or when, as at St. Quentin, all, even the troops last
thrown into the action, have become so entangled that not one single
tactically complete body of infantry remains at disposition. Without the
support of such a body, cavalry at night will be seriously detained
before every obstacle and each petty post of the enemy, and thus alone
its exertions will rarely be repaid.[75]

General von Goeben did not pursue the defeated enemy till the following
day. His advanced cavalry ranged up to the suburb of Cambrai and the
glacis of Landrecies, without meeting with any resistance, and merely
brought in some hundreds of stragglers. The Infantry Divisions followed
to within four miles of Cambrai. Against this fortress nothing could be
undertaken through want of siege material, and there was no military
advantage to be derived in extending further north. Among the news to
hand it was reported that a considerable portion of the French Army of
the North had retired upon Lille, Douai and Valenciennes. As fresh
enterprises on its part were consequently not to be expected, General
von Goeben brought his force back to the Somme, where towards the end of
the month it took up rest quarters between Amiens and St. Quentin.

On the Lower Seine, the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg entered Rouen with the
XIIIth Corps on the 25th, after having encountered on the march only a
few franctireurs. Although General Loysel had increased his force to a
strength of nearly 30,000 by reinforcements from Cherbourg, he had
remained entirely inactive.

General von Goeben had in view the transfer to the Army of the Somme of
that portion of the Ist Corps still about Rouen; but this was
disapproved of by telegram from the supreme Head-quarter, which on
political grounds ordered its continued retention there.


[74] Companies of the Crown Prince's Grenadier Regiment (the 1st of the
Prussian line), and of the East Prussian Infantry Regiment No. 44,
belonging respectively to the 1st and 3rd Brigades, 1st Division, Ist
Army Corps.

[75] Moltke, although not quite inexperienced in the practical conduct
of war on a large scale, would scarcely have ventured to express himself
as above, if he had studied the teachings of _The Soldier's
Pocket-Book_. The distinguished author of that profound and accurate
treatise writes of pursuits in quite a different tone. "You have won a
great battle," writes Lord Wolseley, "and the enemy are in full retreat;
run after him; hammer him with guns; charge him with cavalry; harass him
with mounted infantry; pass round his flanks, and keep pushing him and
hitting him from morning until night. Caution is out of place when you
have a beaten army before you. Wellington never delivered any crushing
blow, _because he failed to pursue_."


SIEGE OF BELFORT.--In the south-eastern theatre of war, the forces
detailed to operate against Belfort had been only gradually brought
together under cover of the XIVth Army Corps.

The town is surrounded by a bastioned enceinte. The citadel has a wide
command, built as it is on lofty rocks, which, to increase the
development of fire, are encircled by successive tiers of works in
terrace-formation. On the left bank of the Savoureuse, newly constructed
lines of defence protected the suburb and railway station. On the high
adjacent ridge to the north-east the forts of La Miotte and La Justice,
with the enclosing lines connecting them with the main fortress, formed
a spacious intrenched camp. Hostile occupation of the lofty eminences of
the two Perches (Hautes and Basses) would certainly endanger the whole
defensive position, dominating as they did even the citadel from the
south at a distance of only 1100 yards, and whence the works on the left
bank of the river could be brought under fire. But two forts of masonry
had been constructed on the Perches before the advent of the enemy, and
further to strengthen the defence the nearest copses and villages, as
for instance Pérouse and Danjoutin, had been intrenched.

The fortress was by no means deficient in bomb-proof accommodation. Its
armament consisted of 341 heavy guns, and it was provisioned for five

When immediately after the opening of the campaign, the VIIth French
Corps vacated Alsace, only about 5000 Gardes-Mobiles remained in
Belfort, but its garrison, increased by calling in National Guards, now
exceeded 17,000.

The vigilant Commandant, Colonel Denfert, laid great stress on the
maintenance in force of the environs in his front. The advanced posts
were every day assigned to fresh operations, which the artillery of the
fortress had to cover at extreme ranges.

On the opposite side, General von Tresckow (commanding 1st Reserve
Division) had available at the outset, a force of not more than twenty
weak battalions of Landwehr, five squadrons and six field-batteries, in
all barely 15,000 men. He had at first to confine himself to a mere
investment. The troops, intrenched in the villages round a wide
circumference, had to repel many sorties.

Orders were received from the supreme Headquarter to set about the
regular siege of the place. General von Mertens was charged with the
direction of the engineer operations, and Lieut.-Col. Scheliha with that
of the artillery attack. The difficulties of the undertaking were
obvious. The rocky nature of the soil could not but increase the labour
of throwing up earthworks, and the cold season was approaching. The
attack could be carried on successfully only from the south against the
main work--the formidable citadel. Only fifty heavy guns were available
for the time, and the infantry strength was not sufficient to
efficiently invest the place on all sides.

In these circumstances, there devolved on General von Tresckow the task
of attempting the reduction of Belfort by a mere bombardment. Towards
this purpose the attack was chiefly directed from the west, in which
quarter, after the enemy's garrison had been driven out of Valdoye, the
infantry occupied Essert and Bavilliers, as well as the adjacent wooded
heights. On December 2nd seven batteries were constructed on the plateau
between these two villages by 3000 men, under cover of two battalions.
The hard-frozen ground added to the difficulties of the work; yet,
notwithstanding the moonlight night, the operations would appear to have
escaped the attention of the besieged. When on the following morning the
sun had dispersed the fog and made visible the objects, fire was opened.

The fortress replied at first but feebly, but afterwards with increasing
vigour from the entire line of works, even from Forts La Miotte and La
Justice at a range of 4700 yards, and the losses in the trenches were

Four more batteries in front of Bavilliers were armed, and on the fall
of La Tuilerie the infantry pressed on to within 170 yards of the
enemy's most advanced trenches. The artillery fire caused a
conflagration in the town; but the ammunition was soon exhausted, whilst
the lofty citadel maintained unchecked an effective fire, and repeated
sorties on the part of the garrison had to be repelled. It was now
clear, since no decisive result had followed the methods hitherto
resorted to, that only by a regular attack could that be attained.

On the south Colonel von Ostrowski on December 13th had carried the
French positions of Adelnans and the wooded heights of Le Bosmont and La
Brosse. On the eastern point of the latter two batteries, and on its
northern skirt four additional batteries had been thrown up, not without
great difficulty arising from thaw having made the ground a swamp. On
January 7th, fifty guns opened fire. The superiority of the artillery of
the attack was soon manifest. Fort Bellevue suffered severely, and
notably the fire from Basses Perches was entirely silenced.

But it was of grave importance that the village of Danjoutin, strongly
garrisoned and intrenched by the enemy, stood in the way of a further
advance. During the night of the 8th January seven companies attacked
this position, and also from the northward at the same time took
possession of the railway-embankment. With empty rifles the Landwehr
hurled themselves against the enemy in the face of a hot fire, and
charged along the village street up to the church. The supports
hastening from the fortress were driven back at the railway-embankment,
but the fight about the buildings in the southern quarter of the village
lasted till towards noon. Of the defenders, twenty officers and 700 men
were taken prisoners.

Typhus and small-pox had broken out in Belfort; and in the besieging
force also the number of the sick reached a considerable figure, caused
by arduous work in inclement weather. Most of the battalions could only
muster 500 men, and this weakness led General von Tresckow to devote
half his force to the lighter duty of protecting the investment from
without, principally towards the south.

       *       *       *       *       *

Trustworthy intelligence estimated the French strength at Besançon at
62,000. Although hitherto entirely inactive, this force now seemed in
strong earnest to press on to the relief of the hard-pressed fortress by
the line of the Doubs. On this line was the fortified château of
Montbéliard, held by one German battalion, and armed with heavy guns.
Between the Doubs and the Swiss frontier about Delle stood General
Debschitz with eight battalions, two squadrons, and two batteries, and
General von Werder concentrated the XIVth Corps at Noroy, Aillevans, and
Athésans, to oppose with all his strength any interruption of the siege
of Belfort.

From January 5th onwards there ensued a series of engagements in front
of Vesoul, as the result of which the enemy advanced from the south and
west to within four miles of that town. There could be no doubt that
very considerable forces were engaged in this advance. East also of the
Ognon, the enemy's posts were advanced beyond Rougemont, although in
lesser force. In these actions 500 prisoners were made; and it was at
once evident that besides the XVIIIth, the XXIVth and XXth Corps also
formed part of Bourbaki's army; a circumstance which threw a sudden
light upon a totally changed phase of the war.

WAR, END OF DECEMBER.--As had been expected by the supreme Headquarter
at Versailles, about the beginning of January an attempt had been made
to bring about combined action on the part of Generals Chanzy and
Bourbaki. As we have already seen, the advance of the former had been
thwarted by Prince Frederick Charles on the Loir, and Bourbaki had
actually made preparations for an advance by Montargis to the relief of
Paris. But he delayed its execution until the 19th December, when the
IInd German Army had already returned to Orleans from its expedition to
Le Mans. General Bourbaki had now to realize that the IInd Army would
fall on the flank of his projected movement, and he thus the more
readily concurred in another plan, devised by the Delegate de Freycinet,
and approved of by the Dictator Gambetta.

This was for the XVth Corps to remain about Bourges and to cover that
town in intrenched positions about Vierzon and Nevers; the XVIIIth and
XXth were to proceed to Beaune by railway, and, when raised to a
strength of 70,000 by an union with Garibaldi and Crémer, to occupy
Dijon. The newly-formed XXIVth Corps was also to be moved by railway
from Lyons to Besançon, where, with the forces already there, a strength
of 50,000 would be attained. In co-operation with the "invincibles of
Dijon," it then would be easy to raise the siege of Belfort "without
even striking a blow." It was expected that the mere existence of this
mass of considerably above 100,000 men would avert any attacks upon the
Northern fortresses; in any case, there was the certainty of severing
the enemy's various lines of communication, and the later prospect also
of combined action with Faidherbe.

The railway transport of Bourbaki's army from the Loir to the Saône had
already commenced by December 23rd. In the absence of all preparations,
many interruptions and breaks-down in the traffic naturally occurred,
and the troops suffered severely from the intense cold and from being
insufficiently cared for. When Chagny and Châlons sur Saône had been
reached, and it was ascertained that the Germans had already evacuated
Dijon, it was decided to again entrain the troops so as to bring them
nearer to Besançon; whence arose a fresh delay, and it was only in the
beginning of the new year that the Army of the East stood in readiness
between Dijon and Besançon. The XVth Corps was now also ordered thither,
but fourteen days were required for its transportation.

The comprehensive plan of M. Freycinet, and his sanguine expectations,
were essentially favoured by the circumstance that the transfer of those
great bodies of troops to a remote section of the field of war had
remained concealed for a fortnight from the IInd Army, as well as from
the XIVth Corps, and consequently from the chief Head-quarter. Rumours
and newspaper articles had no doubt given somewhat earlier hints, but
General von Werder's telegram of January 5th was the first really
authentic announcement by which it was known beyond doubt that the
Germans now stood face to face with an entirely altered aspect of the
military situation. In Versailles the appropriate dispositions and
arrangements were promptly made, and steps taken for the formation of a
new Army of the South.

There was available for this purpose the IInd Corps at Montargis, and
half of the VIIth under General von Zastrow at Auxerre, which during
this period of uncertainty had been constantly moving to and fro between
the Saône and Yonne, according as the one or the other quarter appeared
to be threatened. The chief command of these two Corps, to which was
afterwards added that of the XIVth, was entrusted to General von
Manteuffel. General von Werder could not be immediately reinforced, and
for a time the XIVth Corps was thrown upon its own resources.

Notwithstanding their superiority of strength, the French did more
manoeuvring than fighting. General Bourbaki aimed at outflanking the
left wing of the XIVth Corps, and thus entirely cutting it off from
Belfort. On January 5th the XVIIIth Corps advanced by Grandvelle, and
the XXth by Echenoz le Sec, on Vesoul; but, as we have seen, they there
met with opposition, and as the XXIVth Corps sent to the right to
Esprels learned that Villersexel was occupied by the Germans, Bourbaki
determined upon a still more easterly and circuitous route. On the 8th
the two Corps of the left wing marched off to the right, the XVIIIth to
Montbozon, the XXth to Rougemont; the XXIVth went back to Cuse. At the
same time General Crémer received orders to move from Dijon on Vesoul.
On the 9th the XXIVth and XXth Corps were at Vellechevreux and
Villargent on the Arcey-Villersexel road, while the head of the XVIIIth
Corps reached Villersexel and Esprels.

General von Werder had no alternative but to follow this sideward
movement in all haste. He ordered the Baden Division to Athésans, the
4th Reserve Division to Aillevans, and Von der Goltz's Brigade to Noroy
le Bourg. The trains were put in march to Lure.

ACTION OF VILLERSEXEL, January 9th.--Accordingly at seven in the morning
the Reserve Division was sent on from Noroy to Aillevans, and began
bridging the Ognon to admit of the continuation of the march. A flanking
detachment of the 25th Regiment sent to the right, was fired on near
Villersexel, and the attempt to carry the stone bridge at that place
failed shortly after. The French with two and a half battalions occupied
the town, situated on a height on the further bank of the river. Shortly
afterwards reinforcements came up on the German side. Two batteries
opened fire upon the place and upon the still advancing bodies of the
enemy. The 25th Regiment crossed the river by the suspension bridge and
broke into the walled park and into the château. At one o'clock the
French were driven out of the town with the loss of many prisoners, and
a pause in the fighting ensued.

The Prussian force during the fighting had been seriously threatened on
its flank by the advance from Esprels of the 1st Division of the French
XVIIIth Corps, with the artillery-reserve. General von der Goltz,
however, opposed it by occupying the village of Moimay. He also sent to
Villersexel nine companies of the 30th Regiment, to relieve the 25th
Regiment there, so as to allow the latter to rejoin its own Division in
the further march. His combined brigade was eventually to form the
rear-guard of the whole movement.

General von Werder, who observed the considerable force in which the
French were advancing on Villersexel from the south, concluded that
there was less to be gained by forcing his own passage across the Ognon
than by opposing that of the French, since the river covered his line of
approach to Belfort. He therefore recalled the infantry already issuing
to the southward from the town, and withdrew the batteries to the
northern side of the river. Here the main body of the 4th Reserve
Division took up a defensive position, and the Baden Division was called
in on its march at Arpenans and Lure, as a much-needed reinforcement to
the former.

It was already evening when large columns of the French advanced on
Villersexel and shelled the town.

Favoured by the darkness, they penetrated into the park and château,
from which the German garrison had already been withdrawn; and as the
general condition of things did not seem to necessitate the occupation
of Villersexel, the responsible officers ordered the evacuation of the
town. Though hard pressed by the enemy, this movement had been nearly
completed, when orders arrived from General von Werder to hold the town.

At once four battalions from the Reserve Division advanced to the
renewed attack. The 25th Regiment turned about at the bridge over the
Ognon and joined them. The Landwehr rushed into the ground floor of the
straggling château, but the French defended themselves in the upper
floors and the cellars. On the staircase and in the passages of the
already burning buildings there ensued a hot and changeful combat, and
the fight was maintained in the streets. Not till the General in command
took the matter in hand, and himself ordered it to be broken off, were
dispositions made at one o'clock in the morning for a gradual
retirement, which was completed by three. The Reserve Division then
recrossed the bridge at Aillevans, and occupied St. Sulpice on the

General von der Goltz had held Moimay until evening.

Of the XIVth Corps only 15,000 had been engaged, of whom 26 officers and
553 men had fallen. The French losses amounted to 27 officers and 627
men; and they also left behind in the hands of the Germans 700 unwounded
prisoners. The French troops which chiefly took part in the operations
were the XVIIIth and XXth Corps; the XXIVth Corps, on account of the
fighting in its rear, had suspended its march to Arcey through Sevenans.
Detachments of the gradually incoming XVth Corps advanced from southward
in the direction of Belfort.

On the morning of January 10th, General von Werder massed his Corps in
the vicinity of Aillevans, ready to engage the enemy should the latter
attempt an advance through Villersexel. But no attack was made, and so
the march could be resumed that same morning. As a matter of fact, the
French with three Corps were as near to Belfort as the Germans were with
three Divisions. To cover the departure the Reserve Division took up a
position at Athésans, and on the following day all the forces reached
and occupied the line of the Lisaine. On the right wing about Frahier
and Chalonvillars stood the Baden Division; in the centre, the Reserve
Brigade between Chagey and Couthenans; on the left, the Reserve Division
at Héricourt and Tavey. On the south, General von Debschitz stood in
observation at Delle, and Colonel von Bredow at Arcey; towards the west
Colonel von Willisen was at Lure with the detachment of eight
companies, thirteen squadrons, two batteries, which had come up from

General von Werder had in fact, succeeded in interposing his force
between the enemy and Belfort.

The French commander, under the intoxicating impression of a victory,
had resigned himself to inactivity. "General Billot," he reported to the
Government at Bordeaux, "has occupied Esprels and maintains himself
there." We know that he was never attacked there at all, and that he did
not succeed in driving away General von der Goltz from the vicinity of
Moimay. "General Clinchant has carried Villersexel with extraordinary
dash;" but the fight of the 9th was, as regards the Germans, maintained
with only a portion of the XIVth Corps, to cover the right flank of the
main body on its march. Whilst, then, this movement of the latter was
prosecuted with the utmost energy, the French army remained passive for
two days, ready for action and in the confident expectation that the
enemy described as beaten, would come on again to fight for the
supremacy. Not until the 13th did the XXIVth Corps advance on Arcey, the
XXth on Saulnot, and the XVIIIth follow to Sevenans. The XVth was to
support an attack on Arcey by way of Ste. Marie.

General von Werder had utilized this interval, while the troops were
hastening forward, in ascertaining the eligibility of the Lisaine
position and in a consultation with General von Tresckow in rear of it.

A detailed inspection showed that at Frahier the Lisaine, there but an
unimportant streamlet, flows through a broad grassy hollow, and thence
to Chagey through steep wooded slopes. About Héricourt the valley opens
out into a wide plain, which is however commanded by the rocky heights
of Mont Vaudois. Lower down the wooded heights line the river as far as
Montbéliard, which with the Allaine brook forms a strong point of
support and the extremity of the line.

The wooded character of the plain west of the Lisaine would necessarily
increase the assailants' difficulties in the deployment of large
infantry masses and a strong artillery line. It is true that during the
prevailing severe cold the river was everywhere frozen over; but only
two high-roads led through the forest into the valley from the direction
by which the French army was advancing, one to Montbéliard, the other to
Héricourt. The other accesses were narrow, hollow roads rendered
difficult of use by frost.

General von Tresckow had already armed the most important points with
siege guns, the castle of Montbéliard with six, and the neighbouring
height of La Grange Dame with five heavy cannon. Seven were placed on
Mont Vaudois and near Héricourt; besides these, twenty-one others
commanded the valley of the Allaine southward as far as Delle.

All the troops that could be spared from the investing force were also
withdrawn from before Belfort. Still there remained the important
consideration that the available forces might not suffice to entirely
cover the whole of the Lisaine line. The right wing was the locally
weakest portion of the whole position, but here there was the least to
be apprehended, the enemy's main attack, since the many needs of the
numerous but inadequately equipped French army made the nearest possible
vicinity of one of the railroads a necessity. The Vesoul line by way of
Lure was broken in many places, and the Besançon line led towards the
strong left wing. The country north of Chagey might therefore more
weakly be held, and a reserve was formed of the largest part of the
Baden Division, which was distributed in rear of the centre and left
about Mandrevillars, Brévilliers and Charmont.

The respite accorded by the enemy was turned to account with the utmost
zeal in the construction of rifle-pits and of battery emplacements, the
establishment of telegraph and relay lines, the improvement of roads and
the replenishment of supplies and ammunition.

_January 13th._--On the morning of the 13th the advanced posts of the
3rd Reserve Division were now attacked at Arcey, Ste. Marie and
Gonvillars. They were instructed to withdraw before a superior force,
but to hold their own long enough to compel the deployment of the
hostile columns. The combat with French artillery coming up at wide
intervals was therefore prolonged for a considerable time; then, after a
three hours' resistance, a new position was taken up behind the Rupt
brook, and the retirement on Tavey delayed until four in the afternoon.
The advanced guard of General von der Goltz, after a whole brigade had
deployed against it, also took up a position at Chavanni on a parallel
front with that at Couthenans.

Before the Allaine front the French did not succeed in driving General
von Debschitz's advanced posts out of Dasle and Croix.

_January 14th._--On the 14th General von Willisen with fifty dismounted
Dragoons drove back the enemy advancing on Lure, and then retired with
his detachment on Ronchamp.

The French army did not yet on this day undertake a serious attack. It
stood with the XVth, XXIVth, and XXth Corps, closely concentrated
opposite the German left and centre at a distance of scarcely
four-and-a-half miles. The German right was supposed by General Bourbaki
to rest upon Mont Vaudois. His plan was to cross the Lisaine in force
above this point of support, and by thus turning the hostile flank to
facilitate a frontal attack. The XVIIIth Army Corps and the Division
Crémer were assigned to this service. A drawback to this judicious
arrangement was, that the two above-mentioned bodies designed by the
officer in supreme command to open the fight on the 14th, would have
the longest distance to march to their task. On this day the leading
troops of the XVIIIth Army Corps barely succeeded in reaching the
vicinity of Lomont through difficult hill and woodland region, and
Crémer's Brigade[76] had only then begun to advance from Vesoul. A
postponement to the 15th was thereupon determined.

On the German side, a general attack by the greatly superior enemy was
hourly expected, and General von Werder felt himself bound to send by
telegraph to Versailles a representation of the extreme seriousness of
his position. The rivers, being frozen over, were passable, and the duty
of covering Belfort deprived him of freedom of movement and endangered
the existence of his corps. He earnestly prayed that the question should
be weighed, whether the investment of Belfort should continue to be

In the supreme Head-quarter it was considered that any further
retirement of the XVth[77] Army Corps would have the immediate effect of
raising the siege of Belfort, and causing the loss of the considerable
material which had been provided therefor; that it was impossible to
foresee where such further retirement would end; and that it could but
delay the co-operation of the army advancing by forced marches under
General von Manteuffel. At three o'clock on the afternoon of 15th
January a positive order was despatched to General von Werder to accept
battle in front of Belfort. He was, as was only fair, relieved of the
moral responsibility of the consequences of a possibly disastrous issue.
But before this order reached him, the General had already come to the
same resolution.


[76] Slip of the pen for "Division."

[77] So in text; a slip of the pen, or printer's error, for the XIVth
Corps, which von Werder commanded. There was no XVth Corps in 1871.


(January 15th to 17th.)

_January 15th._--On the morning of the 15th of January, two Divisions of
the French XVth Corps, strengthened by artillery, advanced on
Montbéliard; a third followed in reserve. The East-Prussian Landwehr
battalions, which had pushed forward to the Mont Chevis Farm and Ste.
Suzanne, held their position for a long time, advanced on their part to
the attack, and drove the heads of the enemy's columns back upon the
Rupt brook. But when the latter in the afternoon deployed in greater
force along the edge of the wood, the Landwehr advanced posts were at
two o'clock ordered back to the left bank of the Lisaine. The town of
Montbéliard, entirely commanded by the surrounding heights, was also
voluntarily evacuated, only its fortified castle being held. But east of
Montbéliard General von Glümer with the 1st Baden Brigade had taken up a
position, and had brought up four field-batteries alongside the siege
guns on the plateau of La Grange Dame.

Towards the close of the day the French, after a continuous but
ineffective bombardment from eight batteries, took possession of the
town, but did not make any further advance.

Neither had they prospered in their attempt to cross the Lisaine at
Béthoncourt. An officer and sixty men, who had sought cover within a
walled graveyard from the sharp fire of the defenders, were taken

Further to the north the French XXIVth Corps continued to advance, but
it was two o'clock before its columns were able to deploy from the wood.
Four battalions did, indeed, succeed in taking possession of the village
of Bussurel on the western bank of the Lisaine, but their further
advance was frustrated by the fire of the defenders in cover behind the
railway embankment, and by that of the Baden battalions and batteries
brought up from the main reserve.

Héricourt, on the great high road from Besançon and only little more
than four miles from Belfort, became a point of special importance in
the German fighting line. Here in front of the Lisaine the right wing of
the 4th Reserve Division struck the enemy.

The little wooded knoll of Mougnot, which forms a sort of bridge-head to
the narrow gorge through which the road passes, had been fortified by
the pioneers with abatis, battery emplacements and rifle-pits, the town
in its rear prepared for defence, and the base of the heights on either
of its sides faced with artillery. Four East-Prussian Landwehr
battalions were in touch on the right with the Reserve Brigade, which
held the slope of Mont Vaudois as far as Luze.

About ten o'clock the French deployed their artillery on the bare
heights close to the line of approach in the vicinity of Trémoins. Upon
their infantry advancing leftwards through Byans, the German detachment
which till then had been left in Tavey fell back on Héricourt in
reserve, and the enemy's first attack on Mougnot was shattered by the
resistance of its defenders, and by the fire of sixty-one guns on the
further bank of the river. The attempt was not repeated that day, and
the French confined themselves to a heavy but ineffective cannonade.

According to the instructions issued by General Bourbaki, the XXth Corps
was to await the result of the great outflanking movement which was to
be carried out by General Billot with the XVIIIth Corps and Crémer's
Division. As, however, these had not yet put in an appearance, the
Army-Reserve had to be brought up leftward to Coisevaux to protect
General Clinchant's flank.

The orders from the Army Head-quarter had not reached the XVIIIth Corps
until midnight. It had moreover to accomplish a difficult march by
deeply snowed-up woodland paths. This entailed crossings, not only
between the flank columns of its 1st and 3rd Divisions, but even with
the Division Crémer at Lyoffans. This Division had only by dint of the
greatest exertion reached Lure during the night, and could not get
further on to Béverne until nine in the morning. A fresh delay was
occasioned by the order to bring up in front of the infantry the
artillery--even the reserve artillery which was marching in the very
rear; and thus it happened that the XVIIIth Corps did not succeed in
deploying two of its Divisions opposite Luze and Chagey till between 12
and 2 in the afternoon.

The 1st Division occupied Couthenans with one battalion, and brought up
five batteries on the reverse slope of the heights to the north of that
place. But the fire from the opposite bank prevented their further
progress, and in a short time several of the batteries had but two guns
left fit for action, although the Germans, in view of the difficulty of
replenishment, used their ammunition as sparingly as possible. At three
o'clock there was a pause in the artillery fight, which however was
resumed energetically on the arrival of reinforcements, when the
artillery of the XXIVth Corps coming from Byans took part in it. An
infantry attack on a large scale was not yet attempted.

There was scarcely more vigour in the advance of the 3rd Division
against Chagey, which was occupied only by a Baden battalion; yet it was
from here that the outflanking movement of the German right wing by
turning Mont Vaudois was to be gone upon. The wood reached to the first
houses of the village, and the only difficulty was the climb up the
steep face of the height. Two French battalions suddenly burst from the
gorge south of it, and drove in the Baden outposts; the further attack
was to have been supported from Couthenans on the south, but the
infantry advancing from thence found itself forced to turn back by the
fire from the opposite bank. Only by a renewed effort did the Zouaves
succeed in entering Chagey, where a stubborn fight raged in and around
the houses. Meanwhile two Baden battalions came up, who, at five
o'clock, drove the enemy out of the village back into the wood. Fresh
reinforcements hastened to the support of the latter from the reserve
near by, the short winter's day was over, and here during the night the
French attempted nothing further. The 2nd Division of the French Corps
had only advanced as far as Béverne, the cavalry had not moved from

The Division Crémer, despite its late arrival at Lure, had continued the
march in the early morning. After the above-mentioned crossings and
resultant delays the 1st Brigade advanced on Etobon, and there at noon
it engaged in a fight with a Baden detachment under the command of
General von Degenfeld. When the 2nd Brigade also came up, the 1st moved
forward through the Bois de la Thure, with intent to cross the Lisaine
above Chagey. Parts of the roads had first to be made practicable by the
pioneers, involving considerable delay. The 2nd Brigade then followed in
the dark, having left a detachment in observation at Etobon. A fresh
collision with some Baden detachments determined General Crémer to
extinguish all the watch-fires. His troops remained under arms
throughout the hard winter night.

On the German side, all the troops not on guard duty found shelter in
the neighbouring villages, the pioneers only being kept at work with
their pickaxes. The actions had cost both sides about 600 men, without
bringing about any decisive result; but every day was a gain to the

General Von Werder, on the heights north of Héricourt, had received
constant reports regarding the course of the fighting from the General
Staff officers sent out in various directions, by which he was able to
regulate the abstraction from the reserves of reinforcements to the
fighting line. The diminution of the ammunition was a cause of anxiety,
since a consignment announced from Baden had not yet arrived.

General Bourbaki informed his Government that he had taken Montbéliard,
it was true without the castle, had occupied the villages on the west
bank of the Lisaine, and that he would attack on the 16th. He had
learned from General Billot that the German right wing extended
considerably beyond Mont Vaudois, whence he inferred that important
reinforcements had reached the enemy, whose strength he estimated at
80,000 to 100,000 men. Nevertheless he anticipated a fortunate issue for
the outflanking operation by fetching a yet wider compass to the left.

_January 16th._--At half-past six on the morning of the 16th the Germans
again stood to arms in the positions of the previous day.

The French again began the attack with their right wing. From the
loopholed houses they fired on the Landwehr company holding the castle
of Montbéliard, causing some loss among the latter as well as among the
gunners. The summons to surrender was disregarded, and the fire of the
fortress artillery was used to such good purpose against two batteries
which showed themselves on the neighbouring height, that these were
obliged to retire, leaving behind them two guns. Neither could they
advance from a new position they had taken up at the farm of Mont
Chevis, and where they had been reinforced by three batteries, against
the fire from La Grange Dame, although the cannonade continued until
dark. No attempt was made from Montbéliard to pierce the German line.

Further to the left the reinforced 1st Division of the French XVth Corps
advanced on Béthoncourt. At one o'clock the fire of its artillery from
Mont Chevis and Byans obliged a Baden battery to limber up, and it was
then directed on the village. Large bodies had been massed in the
neighbouring forest, from out which at three o'clock they advanced.
General Glümer had meantime despatched reinforcements to the threatened
front. Two determined attempts pushed close up to the village were
frustrated by the destructive artillery and rifle fire of the defenders.
A third attack made with a whole brigade at four o'clock, was not
permitted even to approach. The losses on the French side were
considerable, and the snowy field was strewn with the fallen. Some
unwounded prisoners were also taken.

One Division of the XXIVth French Corps had taken up a covered position
in the woods behind Byans, and as it had already occupied Bussurel on
the previous day, the German defensive position here in the rear of the
railway embankment appeared to be threatened from the immediate
vicinity. The General in command therefore sent General Keller with two
Baden Fusilier battalions and one heavy battery from Brévilliers in this
direction. The latter joined the two batteries which had been engaged on
the slope of the hill since morning. The fire of five of the enemy's
batteries was soon silenced by the unerring projectiles from the German
guns. At noon the French artillery retired from Byans, leaving there
also two guns, which could only be brought away later. The infantry, one
Division strong, had only threatened to pierce the line, without
proceeding to carry out the attempt.

The XXth Corps brought up two Divisions against the line
Héricourt--Luze. A thick fog covered the valley, and the early cannonade
was at first scarcely answered by the Germans. To obtain some insight
into the intentions of the enemy, two companies advanced to the height
west of St. Valbert, and surprised the enemy moving up from Byans with
so rapid a fire that he turned back. But soon after, at half-past nine,
several battalions burst out from Tavey against the Mougnot. Two attacks
were frustrated by the steady resistance of the Landwehr battalions, and
a third attempt directed against the southern exit from Héricourt did
not succeed. About four o'clock fresh masses of infantry again gathered
against the Mougnot, but coming under fire from Mont Salamou, they
shrank from further attacks, and confined themselves till evening to an
ineffective cannonade.

At Chagey two Divisions of the XVIIIth Corps found themselves face to
face with the Germans. They did not attempt anything.

The little spirit with which on January 16th the action along the whole
front from Montbéliard to Chagey was conducted, pointed to the
conclusion that the French were everywhere awaiting the issue of the
scheme of out-flanking the German right wing.

This task now devolved on General Crémer. The 2nd Division of the
XVIIIth Corps joined him at Etobon.

Two Divisions advanced thence on Chenebier, where General von Degenfeld
stood with two battalions, two batteries, and one squadron. There could
be no doubt as to the result. At eleven o'clock the Division Penhoat of
the XVIIIth Corps advanced to encompass the place on the west and north,
and the Division Crémer, for the purpose of barring the defenders' line
of retreat on Belfort, advanced on the south, where the wood of La Thure
covered his approach. The batteries of both Divisions were brought up in
the afternoon on its northern edge, where they opened fire. After they
had been in action for two hours, the infantry masses advanced from
three sides. Under General Crémer's personal leading the Baden Fusiliers
were driven from the southern to the northern part of the village, and
as his encompassment therein through the wood of Montedin was
practicable, General von Degenfeld, after an obstinate resistance, at
three o'clock was obliged to take up his retreat in a northerly
direction through Frahier. Thence he again turned south-east and took up
a position in front of Chalonvillars, about the high-lying windmill of
Rougeot, where, at six o'clock, he was joined by Colonel Bayer with
reinforcements. The French did not pursue; the Division Crémer, which
had lost 1000 men, retired, on the contrary, into the wood of La Thure,
while Penhoat's Division confined itself to the occupation of Chenebier.

Thus the German line of defence was nowhere broken on this day; still,
its extreme right wing had been driven back to within little more than
three miles of Belfort.

The fortress celebrated the success of the French arms by a
victory-salute, but made no serious sortie on the investing forces,
weakened as they were by the despatch of reinforcements; and the latter,
on their side, quietly continued the construction of batteries.

General von Werder, anxious above all things to re-establish the
fighting position on his right wing, could however only gather in as a
general reserve four battalions, four squadrons, and two batteries,
bringing up these from the least exposed places and even from Belfort,
to Brévilliers and Mandrevillars. At eight o'clock in the evening
General Keller was ordered to retake Chenebier. On this errand he left
Mandrevillars with two Baden battalions, reached Moulin Rougeot at
midnight, and found Frahier already occupied by Colonel Bayer.

_January 17th._--On this morning eight battalions, two squadrons, and
four batteries were assembled in Frahier. Three of the battalions
advanced on the northern, three on the southern part of Chenebier; the
others remained in reserve at the windmill, where also three 15 cm.
cannon were to be stationed.

At half-past four a.m. the first column, advancing in dead silence,
surprised an outpost of the enemy's at Echevanne, but it was unavoidable
that its rifle fire should make the French in Chenebier aware of the
danger by which they were menaced. In the wood north of the village, the
Germans met with serious resistance; and the danger that in the darkness
and the dense undergrowth the troops might fall on each other obliged
their withdrawal to the outer edge of the wood.

The other column, advancing in the valley of the Lisaine, had quickened
its pace from Moulin Colin as soon as the first shots were heard. The
2nd battalion of the 4th Baden Regiment rushed with cheers into the
southern part of Chenebier, where a great confusion ensued. But daybreak
showed that the heights on the west of the village were strongly
occupied, and that columns of all arms were approaching from Etobon. At
8.30 Colonel Payen had to resolve on retirement from the half-conquered
village, carrying with him 400 prisoners, and on taking up a position at
the Bois de Féry, to cover the road to Belfort through Chalonvillars.

At the same time the right column, strengthened by a battalion from the
reserve, renewed the attack on the wood, and after a struggle which
lasted for two hours with heavy losses on both sides, at last took
possession of it. But the attempt to penetrate into the barricaded and
strongly-defended village was vain. A destructive fire met every attack;
a single round of mitrailleuse fire, for instance, struck down
twenty-one men of the Baden assailants. At three o'clock in the
afternoon General Keller therefore assembled his troops at Frahier,
where they were supported by four batteries.

With such inferior strength, and after failing in this attempt, it was
useless to think of driving back the enemy beyond Chenebier; the only
course to pursue was to hinder his further advance on Belfort. And this
object was fully accomplished; the French did not pursue. Instead of
out-flanking the German right, they seemed chiefly concerned for their
own left. They defended Chenebier stoutly, but gave up all further
offensive movements.

While awaiting the expected success of the out-flanking movement,
General Bourbaki's intention seems to have been merely to occupy the
enemy along his front and to hold him fast where he stood. Even during
the night the Germans were alarmed at Béthoncourt and before Héricourt,
while they, on their part, disturbed the French at Bussurel and in the
Bois de La Thure. The infantry fire went on for hours, and numerous
detachments had to spend the bitter winter's night under arms. In the
morning two Divisions of the XVIIIth French Corps advanced on Chagey and
Luze, but their batteries, although supported by the artillery of the
Army Reserve, they could not advance against those of the Germans, and
repeated attacks on those villages were unsuccessful. After one o'clock
a cannonade only was maintained here. In front of Héricourt also there
was an exchange of shell fire, and Bussurel, held by the French, was set
on fire.

To drive the French out of Montbéliard, the town was fired on from La
Grange Dame and from the Château, but ceased when the inhabitants begged
forbearance on the assurance that the place was evacuated, which
subsequently proved not quite true. Ten battalions of the French XVth
Corps advanced from the woods in the forenoon, and tried to push on past
Montbéliard, but suffered severely from the flanking fire of the heavy
guns at La Grange Dame, and only a handful got into the valley of the
Lisaine. The western exits from Montbéliard, and the heights immediately
behind it, remained in French possession, but the offensive movements
ceased at about two in the afternoon.

Further to the south, General von Debschitz's posts in front of Allaine
had easily repulsed the French assailants.

On the German side there was now the conviction that no further attack
would be attempted.

The condition of the French troops, not yet inured to war, was, in fact,
very critical. They had been obliged to bivouac in the bitterly cold
nights, sometimes under arms, and for the most part without food. Their
losses were not inconsiderable, and the superior officers whom the
commanding General assembled at three in the afternoon, in the
neighbourhood of Chagey, expressed their objections to a yet more
extensive outflanking attempt to the left, since supplies would be
utterly impossible, and the risk would be entailed of the Germans
seizing the line of the communications of the army through Montbéliard.
Then came the news that the heads of General von Manteuffel's Corps had
already reached Fontaine-Française, and were also approaching Gray.

In these circumstances General Bourbaki considered he must resolve on a
retreat. He telegraphed to the Government that by the advice of his
generals, and to his deep regret, he had been compelled to take up a
position further in the rear, and only hoped that the enemy might follow
him. Hence this experienced general could have felt no doubt that his
army, its attack on the Lisaine, once gone to wreck, could only escape
from a very critical position by an immediate retreat.

_January 18th._--This morning the Germans were under arms in their
positions of the previous day, the French still in full force before the
whole front. It was significant that they were busy in the construction
of earthworks. They had evacuated Montbéliard the evening before in
disorderly retreat, and now held the country west of the place in
strength and entrenched.

During this day nothing occurred but a cannonade and small skirmishes.
General Keller having been reinforced came up on the right, and as the
enemy retired to Etobon he was able to re-occupy Chenebier in the
afternoon. Further north, Colonel von Willisen again marched on
Ronchamp. In the centre Coutenans was taken possession of, and the enemy
driven out of Byans by artillery fire; but on the other hand the Germans
could not yet penetrate the belt of forest. On the southern bank of the
Allaine General von Debschitz's detachments drove the enemy back beyond
the line Exincourt-Croix.

In the three days' fighting on the Lisaine the Germans lost 1200, the
French from 4000 to 5000 men.

In spite of much necessary detaching, and of the threatening proximity
of the enemy, the siege-works against Belfort were uninterruptedly
carried on, and as soon as the complement of the investing forces was
again made up, General von Werder followed the retiring French to
Etobon, Saulnot and Arcey.


(January, 1871.)

In the place of the IInd Corps, which had been assigned to the German
Army of the South, there had come up into the Paris front the Ist
Bavarian Corps, of which Gambetta had said, "The Bavarians no longer
exist." It had made so good use of its time of rest in quarters south of
Longjumeau that by the beginning of the New Year it was already restored
to a strength of 17,500 men, with 108 guns. It was positioned on both
banks of the Seine between the VIth Prussian Corps and the Würtemberg
Division. The Würtembergers reached from Ormesson to the Marne, from
which river the Saxons extended rightward to the Sausset brook, so as to
narrow the front of the Guard Corps now that the Morée was frozen over
and afforded no cover.

The duty of watching so vast a place of arms as Paris had made great
demands on the endurance of the troops.

The French had gradually so extended their entrenchments outwards from
Villejuif and Bruyères, that they threatened to outflank the IInd
Bavarian Corps. To thwart such a flank attack the VIth Corps was
obliged to keep a strong force constantly in readiness at L'Hay.

It need not be said that the supporting troops on the south front could
nowhere be safe from the fire of the heavy fortress guns, nor the
foreposts from that of the Chassepôts. The latter consequently often
could not be relieved for several days, and the relief was usually
effected at night. The less the success of the French arms in the open
field, the more lavish were they in the expenditure of ammunition from
their works. Mont Valérien hurled its giant shells to a distance of from
four to five miles, but this incessant cannonade, to the din of which
the ear was soon accustomed, did little damage.

the Germans had only been able to oppose field guns to French fortress
artillery. But early in January their preparations were at last so far
forward that seventeen batteries, long since completed, could be armed
with heavy guns against the south front of Paris. A battery stood apart
on the left flank in the park of St. Cloud to the north of Sèvres; four
were close together on the steep slope of the height west of the Château
Meudon; five on the edge of the plateau of Moulin de la Tour, where the
mill, serving to guide the aim of the enemy, had been blown up. Four
more batteries occupied a lower position between Fontenay and Bagneux.
Two, between Chevilly and La Rue, served as protection against a flank
movement from Villejuif, with the field artillery of the IInd Bavarian
and VIth Corps. Dressing-stations were prepared, and intermediate depôts
were supplied with reserve ammunition from the great magazines at

Under Generals von Kameke[78] and Prince Hohenlohe[79] Colonels von
Rieff and von Ramm conducted the artillery attack, General Schulz
commanded the engineer attack. The men served twenty-four hours in the
batteries, and then had two days' rest. The officers had but one day's

The heavy guns were brought up on January 3rd, by day, into the
batteries which lay covered, without any interference; into all the
others during the night, after the enemy's outposts had been driven in.
Thus on the morning of the 4th 98 guns were ready to open fire: of these
28 were directed on Issy, 28 on Vanves, and 18 on Montrouge, 10 against
the emplacements between the first two forts. But a thick fog hid every
object, and it was not till January 5th at 8.30 in the morning, that the
signal shot was given for opening fire.

_January 5th._--The enemy promptly replied. There were in Fort Valérien
106 guns, in Issy 90, in Vanves 84, and in Montrouge 52; there were
about 70 in the sectors of the enceinte concerned and at Villejuif,
16-cm. guns for the most part; so the attack at first was heavily taxed.
But when at about noon all its batteries came into action, the situation
gradually improved and the greater accuracy of the German fire told.
Fort Issy had almost entirely ceased firing by two o'clock, nine guns
were dismounted in Vanves, and its garrison had lost thirty men; only
Montrouge still replied with vigour. The fire was now taken up by the
guns of the enceinte, but the forts never again gained the upper hand
of the attack. Some gunboats appearing about Point du Jour very soon had
to retire. The field artillery of the IInd Bavarian and VIth Corps also
co-operated so energetically that no attack was attempted from the works
at Villejuif, nor was a single shot fired on the batteries at Bagneux. A
number of wall-pieces and long-range Chassepôts taken from the enemy did
such good service that the French abandoned more and more of their
rayon. The German outposts took possession of the trenches of Clamart,
and in the course of the night reversed them against the defence.

Only a couple of 15-cm. shells were thrown into the city itself as a
serious warning; the first thing to be done was to batter down the
outworks, and for some few days the firing was exclusively directed on
these. A stubborn return fire came from Montrouge and from a
mortar-battery in a very advantageous position behind the high railway
embankment to the east of Issy; and especially from the south front of
the enceinte, nearly four and a half miles long in a straight line.
Foggy weather on some days necessitated the suspension or entire
cessation of firing. But meanwhile the foreposts had advanced to within
815 and 490 yards of Forts Issy and Vanves respectively. New batteries
were constructed further forward, and armed with thirty-six guns from
those evacuated in rear.

_January 10th._--The French garrison meanwhile was again displaying
great activity. On January 10th it succeeded in the dark hours in
surprising the weakly-held post of Clamart. Three battalions were now
posted in the place, and a shelter-trench some 1300 yards long was dug
connecting Clamart with Châtillon.[80]

_January 13th._--The IInd Army of Paris was still outside the city on
the east and north fronts from Nogent to Aubervillers. After some small
alarms, on the evening of the 13th strong bodies advanced from Courneuve
and Drancy against Le Bourget under cover of a heavy fire from the
forts. But the troops in occupation there were on the alert, and being
soon reinforced by several companies, repulsed the attempts of the
French to storm it, repeated as they were until two o'clock in the

_January 14th._--On this day the French made a renewed sortie on Clamart
with 500 marine infantry and several battalions of National Guards.
These last assembled at the adjacent railway-station with a great deal
of noise, and their approach was reported about midnight. The fight
lasted a full hour, and ended with the retreat, or rather flight, of the
assailants. Patrols followed them close up to the trenches of Issy.

The ranges were so great that hitherto the fire from the enceinte was
not yet subdued. Battery No. 1, lying isolated in the Park of St. Cloud,
suffered most, being fired upon from two bastions of the enceinte, from
Point du Jour, and from Mont Valérien. The steep cliff behind the
battery facilitated the aim of the enemy. Its parapet was repeatedly
shattered, and it was only the most zealous devotion which enabled the
struggle to be continued at this point. The enemy also concentrated a
heavy fire on batteries Nos. 19 and 21, pushed forward into a position
specially threatening to Fort Vanves. The long-range fire from the
enceinte dropped from a high angle close behind the parapet, breaking
through the platforms, and inflicting serious injuries on a great many
gunners. The powder-magazines blew up in two of the batteries, and both
the battery commanders and several other superior officers were wounded.

On the east front of Paris, the fifty-eight German guns remaining there
after the reduction of Mont Avron were opposed by 151 of the enemy. The
former nevertheless soon proved their superiority; the forts only
occasionally came into action; the French withdrew their outposts up to
the works, and altogether vacated the peninsula of St. Maur. By degrees
the heavy siege-guns could be removed from their previous positions to
the Morée brook.

The forts on the south front had meanwhile suffered severely. The ruin
in Issy was visible to the naked eye; fires broke out there repeatedly,
and the powder-magazine had to be cleared out at great risk in the night
of January 16th. Fort Vanves had lost seventy men; it opened fire
usually every morning, but soon became silent. Montrouge, on the
contrary, on some days still fired over 500 rounds from eighteen guns.
But here, too, the casemates no longer afforded any shelter, and one of
the bastions lay a heap of ruins.

In spite of the steady fire from the enceinte, a part of Paris itself
was disturbed by the 15-cm. shells. An elevation of 30 degrees, obtained
by a special contrivance, sent the projectiles into the heart of the
city. From 300 to 400 shells were fired daily.

Under the pressure of "public opinion" the Government, after repeated
deliberations, decided once more on a new enterprise in force, to be
directed this time against the German batteries about Châtillon. The
collective superior commanders agreed, indeed, that sorties could
promise no success without the co-operation of a relieving army from the
outside; but, on the 8th, Gambetta had announced the "victory" of the
Army of the North at Bapaume, and further had promised that both the
Armies of the Loire should advance. Hereupon General Trochu advised that
at least the moment should be awaited when the investing army before
Paris should be weakened by having to detach anew part of its strength;
but he was opposed by the other members of the Government, especially by
Monsieur Jules Favre. That gentleman declared that the Maires of Paris
were indignant at the bombardment, that the representatives of the city
must be allowed some insight into the military situation, and, above
all, that negotiations ought long since to have been entered into.

Finally, on January 15th, it was determined that the German lines should
be broken through at Montretout, Garches, and Buzanval.

While confusion and dissensions thus prevailed in Paris, the unity of
the German nation, under the Emperor William, was solemnly proclaimed at


[78] Previously commanding the XIVth Infantry Division.

[79] Previously commanding the artillery of the Guard Corps, the
well-known military author, best known in England as "Prince Kraft." The
slight ambiguity in the text may be removed by the more specific
statement that General von Kameke was Chief Director of the Engineer
attack, Prince Kraft Chief Director of the Artillery attack on Paris as
a whole. On the south front Colonel von Rieff commanded the siege
artillery, Major-General Schulz was Engineer-in-chief. On the north and
east fronts within the Army of the Meuse Colonels Bartsch and Oppermann
had the corresponding commands. Colonel von Ramm is nowhere mentioned in
the official distribution of the respective staffs.

[80] A casual reader might perhaps infer from these curt sentences, that
the French, having possessed themselves by surprise of the weak German
post of Clamart, placed in it a garrison of three battalions. The facts
were, that the French battalion was scarcely in possession of Clamart
when it abandoned village and redoubt; whereupon, to guard against any
future attempt on the place on the part of the French, the Germans
occupied the village with three battalions and the redoubt with two
companies; and further to ensure the security of the position, since it
was one of some importance, connected it with Châtillon in the manner


(January 19th.)

The sortie was planned to take place on January 19th. On that day, as we
have seen, General Faidherbe advanced as far as St. Quentin on the way
to Paris, and the army which was to make the sortie stood on the eastern
and northern fronts of the capital. The attempt to break through was,
however, made in the opposite direction. But in fact, the peninsula of
Gennevilliers was now the only ground on which large masses of troops
could still be deployed without being exposed for hours while they were
being assembled, to the fire of the German artillery.

Two days previously the mobilized National Guards had already relieved
the three Divisions of the sortie-Army from the positions they had held;
and those Divisions, collectively 90,000 strong, were to move to the
attack in three columns simultaneously. General Vinoy on the left,
supported by the fire from the enceinte, was to carry the height of
Montretout; General Bellemare in the centre was to push forward through
Garches; General Ducrot on the right by way of the Château of Buzanval.

The attack was set to begin at six in the morning, but blocks occurred
at the bridges of Asnières and Neuilly, as no specific orders had been
issued for regulating the crossing. When at seven o'clock the signal to
advance was made from Mont Valérien, only the advance of General Vinoy's
force was ready, the other columns had not yet deployed, and the last
detachments tailed back as far as Courbevoix. Before they had reached
their rendezvous-points the left wing was already marching on St. Cloud
with fifteen battalions.

These at first met only isolated posts and patrols, eighty-nine men in
all, who rushed into the open gorge of the redoubt of Montretout, and
there made a stand for some time; they then fought their way out with
great bravery, but some of them were taken prisoners. There, and in the
northern part of St. Cloud, the French promptly prepared for defence.

The centre column under General Bellemare also took possession without
difficulty of the height of Maison du Curé.

Not till now, at nearly nine o'clock, did the first supports of the
German forepost line appear on the scene. Till within a short time the
observatories had been able to report nothing but "thick fog;" but
reports from the right and left wings announced that a serious attack
was threatened on the whole front from St. Cloud to Bougival. The Vth
Corps was now alarmed, and General von Kirchbach betook himself to the
9th Division. On the German right, in the park of St. Cloud, stood the
17th Brigade; on the left, behind the Porte de Longboyau, the 20th; the
other troops of the Corps marched from their quarters in Versailles and
the villages to its north, to Jardy and Beauregard. The Crown Prince
ordered six battalions of the Guard Landwehr and a Bavarian Brigade to
Versailles, and himself rode to the Hospice of Brezin; the King went to

The French meanwhile had seized the foremost houses of Garches, and made
their eastward way here and there through the breaches in the wall into
the park of the Château of Buzanval. The 5th Jäger Battalion, supported
by single companies of the 58th and 59th Regiments, hurried forward and
drove the enemy back out of Garches, occupied the cemetery on its north,
and still reached the advanced post of La Bergerie just at the right
time. The other bodies under General von Bothmer (commanding 17th
Brigade, 9th Division, Vth Corps), by order from the commanding General,
maintained a stationary fight on the skirts of the park of St. Cloud, to
gain time. About half-past nine they repulsed an attack by Bellemare's
column, arrested the advance of the enemy along the Rue Impériale of St.
Cloud, and themselves took the offensive from the Grille d'Orleans and
the Porte Jaune. Five French battalions unsuccessfully assaulted La
Bergerie. A section of Engineers tried with great devotion to demolish
the wall surrounding the court, but the frozen dynamite did not explode,
and the Jägers held the position steadfastly throughout the day.

The attacks of the French had hitherto been undertaken without
assistance from their artillery. The batteries of General Vinoy's
advance had been seriously delayed by crossing with the centre column,
and were now detained at Briqueterie to meet the contingency of a
repulse. General Bellemare's batteries tried to get up the slope of the
height of Garches, but the exhaustion of the teams made it necessary to
take up a position at Fouilleuse. Meanwhile the batteries of the German
9th Division came up by degrees, and by noon thirty-six guns had opened
fire. In St. Cloud a hot street-fight was going on.

Only General Ducrot on the French right wing had opened the battle with
his strong force of artillery, which came into position on both sides of
Rueil. The tirailleurs then advanced and made their way through the park
of Buzanval to its western boundary-wall, but were driven back by the
50th Fusilier Regiment which had hastened forward.

At half-past ten the chief attack ensued at this point, supported by
part of the central column. It found only an under-officer's post at
Malmaison, but at the eastern exit from Bougival near La Jouchère and
Porte de Longboyau, it encountered the already reinforced line of posts
of the 20th Infantry Brigade. General von Schmidt (commanding 10th
Infantry Division) still held back at Beauregard the reserve of the 10th
Division. A murderous fire from the well-covered German infantry broke
the onset of the French, and converted it by mid-day into a stationary
fire fight, in which the German artillery also took part with great
effect. Two batteries of the 10th Division at St. Michel were reinforced
by two Guard batteries brought up from St. Germain to Louvenciennes; a
third came into action near Chatou and forced an armour-plated train
halted at the railway station north of Rueil to retire rapidly to
Nanterre. Four batteries of the IVth Corps finally opened fire from
Carrières, heedless of the fire of Valérien, and shelled the dense
masses of hostile infantry halted in rear of Rueil.

At two o'clock the French decided on renewing the attack. When two of
their batteries had shelled Porte de Longboyau a brigade marched on that
point, and a second on the western wall of the park of the Château
Buzanval; a third followed in support. Not less bold than unsuccessful
was the attempt of a section of Engineers, one officer and ten men, to
blow up part of the wall; they all fell together. The attacking columns
had advanced to within 200 paces, when thirteen German companies at the
moment met them, broke and stopped their rush by pouring fire into them
at short range, and presently routed the hostile columns in disorder, in
spite of the devoted exertions of the officers.

The French, however, still found a strong protection in the park-wall,
which had been prepared for defence with great skill and with the utmost
rapidity; and the advance of several companies from Brezin and La
Bergerie on this wall was repulsed with heavy loss.

But the strength of the French attack was already broken. So early as
three o'clock a movement of retreat was observable in their left wing,
and as dusk fell the French centre began to withdraw from the heights of
Maison du Curé. When Colonel von Köthen pursued, with a small force,
several battalions indeed fronted, and even threatened a sharp
counter-attack; but timely support arrived from La Bergerie, Garches,
and Porte Jaune, and, backed by the fire of the batteries, the pursuit
was followed up. The King's Grenadiers drove back the enemy to the
vicinity of Fouilleuse.

The Germans, however, had not yet succeeded in repossessing themselves
of the Montretout redoubt. The chief hindrance arose from their having
been unable to advance through the town of St. Cloud. As, however, the
possession of this position was indispensable for the protection of the
right wing, General von Kirchbach gave orders that it was to be retaken
either that evening or early next morning.

General von Sandrart (commanding 9th Infantry Division) decided on
immediate action, and at eight that evening five battalions went forward
on this duty. Only a few French were found in the redoubt and were
taken prisoners; but in the town the struggle was severe. Finally the
Germans had to restrict themselves to blockading the houses held
temporarily by the enemy. The French also clung to the outer park-wall
of Buzanval throughout the night. The Guard Landwehr and the Bavarian
Brigade were therefore assigned quarters in Versailles, to form a strong
reserve at hand in case of need on the following day. The remainder of
the troops withdrew into their former quarters.

At half-past five General Trochu had issued the order for a retreat. He
perceived that the prolongation of the struggle could afford no success,
especially as the National Guards were becoming insubordinate. The brave
defenders of St. Cloud were forgotten in these directions. They did not
surrender till the day after, when artillery was brought against the
houses they occupied. And the park-wall was not relinquished till the
following morning.

The French attack of January 19th was wrecked even before it had reached
the main position of the defenders. The reserves in readiness on the
German side had not needed to be brought into action. The Vth Corps
alone had driven back an enemy of four times its own strength. It lost
40 officers and 570 men; the loss of the French in killed and wounded
was 145 officers and 3423 men, besides 44 officers and 458 men taken

When the fog lifted at about eleven o'clock on the morning of the 20th,
their long columns were seen retreating on Paris across the peninsula of


After the repulse of this last struggle for release on the part of the
garrison, the extension of the artillery attack to the north front of
the defensive position was now determined on. The siege guns no longer
needed against the minor French fortresses and on the Marne had been
parked for this object at Villiers le Bel. The Army of the Meuse had
prepared abundant material for the construction of batteries, and had
collected a waggon park of above 600 vehicles. Twelve batteries had
already been built in the lines between Le Bourget and the Lake of
Enghien, the arming of which followed, for the most part, under cover of
night. On January 21st eighty-one heavy guns were ready for action, and
Colonel Bartsch opened fire at nine that morning on Forts La Briche,
Double Couronne, and de l'Est.

The forts, which opposed the attack with 143 heavy guns, replied
vigorously, and on the following day the thick weather prevented the
German batteries from resuming their fire till the afternoon. But the
ground in front was abandoned by the French, and the outposts of the
Guards and IVth Corps took possession of Villetaneuse and Temps Perdu.
During the nights the fire was directed on St. Denis, with every
endeavour to spare the Cathedral, and many conflagrations occurred. By
the 23rd the vigorous prosecution of the cannonade had materially
subdued the fire of the defence. La Briche was wholly silenced, and the
other forts only fired occasional salvos. During the night of the 25th
four batteries were advanced to within 1300 and 950 yards respectively
of the enemy's main works. The engineer attack also could now be
undertaken, and a series of new batteries was constructed, which,
however, were never used.

The effect of this bombardment of only six days' duration was decisive.
The forts had suffered extraordinarily. In contrast to those of the
south front they were destitute of the powerful backing of the enceinte,
and they lacked, too, bomb-proof shelter. The provisional bomb-proofs
were pierced by shells, the powder-magazines were in the greatest
danger, and the garrisons had nowhere any more cover. The inhabitants of
St. Denis fled to Paris in crowds, and the impaired immunity from storm
of the sorely battered works was an insuperable obstacle to a longer
maintenance of the defence. This northern attack cost the Germans one
officer and 25 men; the French stated their loss at 180.

The fire of the forts on the east front was kept under, and the
Würtemberg Field Artillery sufficed to prevent the enemy from renewing
his foothold on the peninsula of St. Maur.

The south front meanwhile suffered more and more from the steady
bombardment. The enceinte and the sunken mortar batteries behind the
ceinture railway were still active, but in the forts the barracks were
reduced to ruins, partly battered in and partly burnt down, and the
garrisons had to take shelter in the emptied powder-magazines. The
covered ways could no longer be traversed safely, the parapets afforded
no protection. In Vanves the embrasures were filled up with sandbags; in
the southern curtain of Issy five blocks of casemates had been pierced
by shells penetrating the shielding walls. Even the detached gorge-walls
of Vanves and Montrouge were destroyed, forty guns were dismounted, and
seventy gun carriages wrecked.

The whole condition of France, political and military, and above all the
situation in Paris, was such as to cause the Government the gravest

Since the return of Monsieur Thiers from his diplomatic tour, it was
certain that no mediatory interposition by any foreign power could be
expected. The distress of the capital had become more and more severe.
Scarcity and high prices had long borne heavily on its population;
provisions were exhausted, and even the stores of the garrison had been
seriously encroached on. Fuel was lacking in the lasting cold, and
petroleum was an inefficient substitute for gas. When the long-deferred
bombardment of the south side of Paris was had recourse to, the people
took refuge in the cellars or fled to the remoter quarters of the city;
and when it was also begun on the northern side the inhabitants of St.
Denis crowded into the capital.

The great sortie of the 19th had proved a total failure, and no relief
was to be hoped for from outside since Gambetta had sent news of the
disaster at Le Mans. The Paris Army, of whose inactivity he complained,
was reduced to a third of its original strength by cold, sickness, and
desertion, and the heart taken out of it by repeated miscarriages. Its
horses had to be slaughtered to provide meat for the inhabitants, and
General Trochu declared any further offensive movements to be quite
hopeless; the means even of passive resistance were exhausted.

Hitherto the Government had been able to keep the populace in good
humour by highly-coloured reports, but now the disastrous state of
affairs could no longer be concealed. All its projects were now

There was a large class of people in Paris who were but little affected
by the general distress. Numbers of civilians had been armed for the
defence of their country and were fed and well paid by the authorities,
without having too much to do in return. They were joined by all the
dubious social elements, which found their reckoning in the disorganized
situation. These had been quite satisfied with the condition which the
4th of September had created, and a little later they displayed
themselves in the hideous form of the Commune. Already some popular
gatherings had been dispersed only by force of arms, and even a part of
the National Guard were not free from mutinous tendencies. The
revolutionary clubs, too, supported by the press, clamoured for further
enterprises, even a sortie _en masse_ of all the inhabitants of Paris.
Thus the feeble Government, dependent as it was on popular favour alone,
was under pressure from the impossible demands of an ignorant mob on the
one hand, and, on the other, the inexorable force of actual facts.

There was absolutely no expedient possible but the capitulation of the
capital; every delay intensified the necessity, and enforced the
acceptance of harder terms. Unless all the railways were at once thrown
open for the transport of supplies from a very wide area, the horrors of
famine would inevitably fall on a population of more than two million
souls; and later it might not be practicable to cope with the emergency.
Yet no one dared utter the fatal word "capitulation," no one would
undertake the responsibility for the inevitable.

A great council of war was held on the 21st. In it all the elder
Generals pronounced any further offensive measures to be quite
impossible. It was proposed that a council of the younger officers
should also be held, but no decision was arrived at. As, however, some
one must be made answerable for every misfortune, General Trochu,
originally the most popular member of the Government, was dismissed from
his position as Governor, and the chief military command was entrusted
to General Vinoy. General Ducrot resigned his command.

All this did nothing to improve the situation, so on the 23rd, Monsieur
Jules Favre made his appearance at Versailles to negotiate in the first
instance for an armistice.

On the German side there was readiness to meet this request; but of
course some guarantee had to be forthcoming that the capital, after
having been reprovisioned, would not renew its resistance. The surrender
of the forts, inclusive of Mont Valérien and the town of St. Denis, as
well as the disarmament of the enceinte was demanded and acceded to.

Hostilities were to be suspended on the evening of the 26th, so far as
Paris was concerned, and all supplies to be freely given. A general
armistice of twenty-one days was then to come in force on the 31st of
January, exclusive, however, of the departments of Doubs, Jura, and Côte
d'Or, and the fortress of Belfort, where for the time operations were
still being carried on, in which both sides were hopeful of success.

This armistice gave the Government of National Defence the time
necessary for assembling a freely-elected National Assembly at Bordeaux,
which should decide whether the war should be continued, or on what
conditions peace should be concluded. The election of the deputies was
unimpeded and uninfluenced even in the parts of the country occupied by
the Germans.

The regular forces of the Paris garrison, troops of the line, marines,
and Gardes-Mobiles, had to lay down their arms at once; only 12,000 men
and the National Guard were allowed to retain them for the preservation
of order inside the city. The troops of the garrison were interned there
during the armistice; on its expiry they were to be regarded as
prisoners. As to their subsequent transfer to Germany, where every
available place was already overflowing with prisoners, the question was
postponed in expectation of a probable peace.

The forts were occupied on the 29th without opposition.

There were taken over from the Field Army of Paris 602 guns, 1,770,000
stand of arms, and above 1000 ammunition waggons; from the fortress 1362
heavy guns, 1680 gun-carriages, 860 limbers, 3,500,000 cartridges, 4000
hundred-weight of powder, 200,000 shells, and 100,000 bombs.

The blockade of Paris, which had lasted 132 days, was over, and the
greater part of the German forces which had so long stood fast under its
walls, was released to end the war in the open field.


The two Army Corps under General von Manteuffel consisted altogether of
fifty-six battalions, twenty squadrons, and 168 guns. When it arrived at
Châtillon sur Seine on January 12th, the IInd Corps was on the right,
and the VIIth on the left on an extension from Noyers Montigny of about
forty-five miles. One brigade, under General von Dannenberg, which had
already several times been in contact with portions of the French Army
of the Vosges, was pushed forward to Vilaines and was charged with the
duty of covering the right flank.

Several good roads led from the quarters specified in the direction of
Dijon; to Vesoul, on the contrary, there were only bad tracks deep in
snow over the southern slope of the wild plateau of Langres. The
Commander-in-Chief, nevertheless, chose this direction, that he might as
soon as possible afford General von Werder at least indirect assistance
by approaching in the rear of the enemy threatening his brother-officer.

The march had to pass midway between the towns of Dijon and Langres,
both points strongly occupied by the French. Wooded heights and deep
ravines separated the columns and precluded mutual support; each body
had to provide for its individual safety in every direction. The troops
had previously undergone severe fatigues, and badly as they needed rest
not one halt-day could be granted, nor could the evil plight of their
boots and the horses' shoes be in any way remedied. On January 14th the
march was begun in a thick fog and bitter cold, along roads frozen as
smooth as glass.

The maintenance of supplies required special attention, and at first the
8th Brigade had to be left behind to secure the all-important
railway-line Tonnerre--Nuits--Châtillon, until connections could be
established by way of Epinal.

On the very first day's march the advanced guard of the VIIth Corps had
a fight before Langres. A force from the garrison of 15,000 men was
driven in on the fortress with the loss of a flag, and a detachment had
to be left behind in observation of the place. Under cover of it the
VIIth Corps marched past the fortress next day, while the IInd advanced
to the Ignon Brook.

The weather changed during the night of the 15th. As a change from
fourteen degrees of frost there came storm and rain. The water lay on
the frozen roads, and it was with the greatest difficulty that the VIIth
Corps reached Prauthoy, and the IInd Moloy, closing in to the left.

On the 18th the left wing advanced South-East on Frettes and Champlitte,
the right assembled at Is sur Tille, and its advanced guard, after a
march of thirty-one miles, reached the bridges at Gray. On the flank and
rear of the Corps there had been some trivial fighting, but the cruel
march across the mountains had been accomplished, and the cultivated
valley of the Saône was reached.

General von Manteuffel had already received news of the satisfactory
course of the first day's fighting on the Lisaine. Later telegrams from
General von Werder reported that the French Army of the East would
probably be obliged to retire under difficulties, and the German
commander at once determined to cut off its retreat by advancing to the
Doubs below Besançon.

The defeated French army was still numerically greatly superior to the
German force. The troops had to be again called upon for severe
exertions. They were required once more to cross a thinly-populated
mountainous region, where it would be a matter of great difficulty to
procure food and the shelter needful during the bitter winter nights.
Strong hostile forces had to be left in the rear at Langres, Dijon, and
Auxonne, and that under very insufficient observation. However, in spite
of every obstacle the advance in this new direction was begun on the

The first difficulty would have been the crossing of the Saône, here
very deep and about sixty-six yards wide, and full of drifting ice, had
not the advanced guard of the IInd Corps found Gray abandoned by the
French and both the bridges uninjured; whereupon it occupied the town.
The head of the VIIth Corps crossed the river by the intact
railway-bridge at Savayeux, and by a pontoon bridge thrown across by the
pioneers higher up.

On the following day both Corps advanced in a southerly direction, the
VIIth to Gy, the IInd to Pesmes. Here the latter also now crossed the
Ognon after driving off by artillery fire a French detachment which
tried to oppose the construction of the bridges.

On the 21st, at half past two, the advanced guard of the IInd Corps
found Dôle occupied by the enemy. General von Koblinski (commanding 5th
Infantry Brigade) attacked at once. In spite of a violent street-fight
in which the townspeople took part, the Grenadiers of the 2nd Regiment
made their way through the town and on the further side seized a train
of 230 waggons of provisions and military necessaries, intended for
Besançon and left standing in the railway-station.

While the Doubs was thus crossed by the IInd Corps at this point, so the
VIIth Corps opened itself a passage across the Ognon at Marmay and Pin.

General von Werder had been instructed to follow close on the heels of
the retreating enemy, and while the latter still maintained his position
on the front of the XIVth Corps, the 2nd Baden Brigade on the right wing
had advanced to Etobon, while Colonel von Willisen with his twelve
squadrons had moved out beyond Lure. On the left, Colonel von Zimmermann
with the East-Prussian Landwehr had driven the French out of Ste. Marie.
These detachments everywhere found cast-away arms and portions of
equipment, and hundreds willingly gave themselves up as prisoners.

During the next few days General von Werder effected a general
left-wheel to the south. The right wing held Villersexel, and it was the
left wing only that met the enemy in great masses at L'Isle sur le
Doubs, and afterwards at Clerval and Baume les Dames.

General Bourbaki had withdrawn from the Lisaine on the 18th. The XXIVth
Corps only was left on the left bank of the Doubs, with orders to defend
toward the north the defiles in the steep mountain-paths of the Lomont
range eastward of Clerval; all the other troops withdrew between the
Doubs and the Ognon, with the Division Crémer as rearguard. The Ognon
might have formed a natural protection for the right flank of the French
army, and orders had been given for the destruction of all the bridges
over it; but we have seen how little they had been obeyed.

On the 21st the XVth and XXth Corps arrived in the neighbourhood of
Baume les Dames, the XVIIIth at Marchaux; and here, having the
stronghold of Besançon close at his back, General Bourbaki desired to
await for the present the further movements of the enemy. In order that
his forces should still muster in full strength, the commandant of
Besançon was instructed to send forward to Blamont all the battalions of
Mobiles-Guards he could spare so as to relieve the XXIVth Corps. Nine
battalions of mobilized National Guards had actually previously reached
Besançon, which might have been substituted as desired, but they came
armed with Enfield rifles, for which there was no ammunition in the
fortress. Thus they would there only have added to the mouths to be
filled, and General Rolland had simply sent them back again. The
Intendant-General declared it impossible any longer to bring up the
supplies ordered by him for the maintenance of the army; but what proved
decisive was the news received this day that not only was the line of
the Ognon lost, but that the Germans had already crossed the Doubs.

Under these circumstances the French Commander-in-Chief determined to
continue his retreat on Besançon and there cross to the southern bank of
the Doubs, so as not to be compelled to give battle with the river in
his rear. The trains were sent off during the night, but above all
things the XVth Corps was ordered at once to occupy Quingey with a whole
division, and defend that position to extremity, in order to keep open
the communications of the Corps with the interior. All the other Corps
were to concentrate round Besançon, even the XXIVth, which consequently
gave up the defence of the Lomont passes.

General Bourbaki reported his situation to the Minister of War, who held
out hopes of supporting him with the portion of the XVth Corps still
remaining on the Loire. Assistance could have been more quickly and
effectually given from Dijon.

The Government had assembled there a very considerable force to replace
the Division Crémer gone to join the Army of the East, for the defence
of the ancient capital of Burgundy and to constitute a point of support
to the operations of General Bourbaki. A Corps of 20,000 men was
assigned to the local defence; a very inappropriately-named Army of the
Vosges, more than 40,000 strong, was to do duty in the field. But this
was of little effect in hindering the toilsome advance of the Germans
over the mountains. The detachments in observation allowed themselves to
be driven in by General von Kettler (commanding 8th Infantry Brigade),
who followed the movement of both Corps on the right flank; and they
retired on Dijon. Colonel Bombonnel, stationed at Gray, urgently begged
for reinforcements to enable him to defend the passages of the Saône;
his applications were refused because Dijon was in too great peril, and
it was not till the Prussians had already crossed the river that
"General" Garibaldi began to move.

He set out on the 19th in three columns in the direction of Is sur
Tille, where there still remained only part of the (German) 4th Infantry
Division. But he advanced little more than four miles. Garibaldi
subsequently confined himself to watching reconnoitring parties which
advanced to meet him from the heights of Messigny, and he then retired
on Dijon with his troops marching to the strains of the Marseillaise.

Nevertheless, the enemy was held in too small estimation in General
Manteuffel's headquarter, when General von Kettler was simply ordered to
go and take Dijon.

The greatest care had been bestowed in strengthening the place. Numerous
earthworks, and other erections specially constructed for defence
protected it to the northward; more especially had Talant and Fontaine
les Dijon been transformed into two detached forts and armed with heavy
guns which commanded all the approaches on that side. The whole
constituted a position which could be held against a much larger force
than the five and a half battalions of the 8th Brigade with which
General Kettler advanced to the attack.

FIGHTING AT DIJON, JANUARY 21ST AND 22ND.--This force had reached Turcey
and St. Seine, and on the 21st advanced in two columns from the west on
Dijon, still distant some fourteen miles. Major von Conta from Is sur
Tille on the north was approaching with a small reinforcement. The
"Franctireurs de la Mort," the "Compagnie de la Revanche," and other
volunteer bands as well as Mobiles-Guards were without much difficulty
driven out of the villages on the way, and beyond the deep ravine of the
Suzon; the village of Plombieres on the right, which was defended with
spirit, was stormed, and Daix was carried on the left; but in front of
the fortified position of the French, and within reach of the fire of
their heavy batteries, the bold advance was forced to come to a stand.
Major von Conta had also pushed on with continuous fighting, but failed
to effect a junction with the brigade before dark. General von Kettler,
recognizing the overwhelming superiority of the French, finally
restricted himself to repulsing their sorties.

The French lost seven officers and 430 men in prisoners alone; but the
fighting also cost the brigade nineteen officers and 322 men. The troops
had performed a severe march in bad weather along heavy roads, and had
not been able to cook either before or after the fight; the ammunition
could only be replenished from a convoy which was expected next day.
Nevertheless General von Kettler did not hesitate to remain for the
night in the positions he had gained immediately in front of the enemy,
and then to seek shelter-quarters in the nearest villages.

The French allowed him to do so without any serious opposition.
Inactivity so utter caused General von Kettler the suspicion that the
main body of the enemy had probably withdrawn by Auxonne to the support
of the Army of the East, and he determined to bring it back on Dijon by
a renewed attack.

On the 23rd at eleven o'clock, by a flank march along the enemy's front,
after his advanced guard had routed a detachment of Gardes-Mobiles, he
reached the farm of Valmy on the Langres road, and advanced with his two
batteries against the walled and strongly-held village of Pouilly.
Here, as was almost always the case when engaged in the defence of
buildings, the French made a stout resistance. The 61st Regiment had to
storm each house in turn, and it was not till the château was in flames
that the strong body of defenders who had taken refuge in the upper
floors, surrendered.

Beyond this place the enemy were found deployed in an entrenched
position between Talant, which had been converted into a fort, and a
large factory-building on the high-road. Here the advance was checked
till the remainder of the regiment came up from Valmy, and the defenders
at various points were driven back on the suburb.

It was evident that the French were still at Dijon in full force, and
the object of the undertaking had therefore been attained. But now
unfortunately a tragic episode occurred, for the storming of the factory
was absolutely insisted on--a great building, almost impregnable against
infantry unaided. When all the senior officers had been killed, a
first-lieutenant, whose horse had been shot and he himself wounded, took
the command of the 2nd battalion. No sooner had the 5th company, only
forty strong, advanced from the neighbouring quarry, than it came under
a hot fire from all sides. The leader was at once wounded, and the
sergeant who carried the colour fell dead after a few steps; so did the
second-lieutenant and the battalion adjutant, who had again raised the
standard. It was passed from hand to hand, carried first by the officers
then by the men; every bearer fell. The brave Pomeranians[81]
nevertheless rushed on the building, but there was no entrance anywhere
on that side, and at last the under-officer retreated on the quarry with
the remnant of the little band. Here, for the first time, the colour
was missed. Volunteers went out again in the darkness to search for it,
but only one man returned unwounded. It was not till afterwards that the
French found the banner, shot to ribbons, in a pool of blood under the
dead. This was the only German colour lost throughout the war, and only
thus was this one lost.

The enemy took prisoners eight officers and 150 men, and the brigade
sustained a fresh loss of sixteen officers and 362 men. It mustered at
Pouilly, and remained under arms till eight o'clock to meet possible
pursuit; only then were quarters taken in the neighbouring villages.

OPERATIONS OF THE ARMY OF THE SOUTH.--The commission to take Dijon could
not be executed; but the bold advance of this weak brigade cowed the
hostile army into inactivity, so that General von Manteuffel was able to
pursue his march unopposed.

He had given to both his corps as their objective the enemy's line of
retreat south of Besançon.

From this fortress there were but few roads to the south of France
available for troops, through the riven and rugged regions of the
western Jura. The most direct connection was by the road and railway to
Lons le Saulnier, on which Quingey and Byans were the most important
barriers. Further to the east, but by a wide détour, a road runs by
Ornans, Salins and Champagnole to St. Laurent and Morez. Several ways,
however, radiate from Besançon and converge in Pontarlier, by using the
passes peculiar to this range, called "Cluses," which pierce
transversely the mountain chains and afford the valleys
intercommunication. From Pontarlier one road only runs past Mouthe, and
along the Swiss frontier in awkward proximity thereto.

_January 22nd._--On this day the advanced guard of the 13th Division
marched from Audeux to St. Vit, and after breaking up the railway and
plundering a number of loaded waggons, down the riverside to Dampierre.
On the way four bridges over the Doubs were found uninjured and were
taken possession of. The advanced guard of the 14th Division moved from
Emagny to observe Besançon. The IInd Corps closed on Dôle and pushed
reconnoitring parties across the river.

_January 23rd._--The concentric movement of all the bodies of the German
army was continued.

General Debschitz, approaching from the north, in passing Roches found
only the abandoned camping ground of the French XXIVth Corps. The 4th
Reserve Division occupied L'Isle without opposition, and met no
resistance till it reached Clerval and Baume.

On the Ognon the Baden Division drove the French out of Montbozon.

In the centre of the army the VIIth Corps pushed the advanced guard of
the 14th Division forward on Dannemarie, near Besançon. A fight ensued
there in the form only of a cannonade which lasted till night. The 13th
Division, again, which had crossed the Doubs at Dampierre, advanced on

For want of rolling stock it had been possible to forward only one
French brigade by railway, and the last trains were received at the
Byans station with Prussian shells. These troops were in so bad case
that they were unable even to place outposts. They abandoned Quingey
almost without a struggle, and their hurried retreat on Besançon and
beyond the Loue, stopped the advance of reinforcements already on the
way. Thus 800 prisoners and a train of 400 convalescents fell into the
hands of the Prussian advanced guard, who at once broke up the railway
at Abbans-dessous.

On the right wing, the head of the IInd Corps advanced by the valley of
the Loue on the southern bank. Several cuttings on this road had been
prepared for defence, but were found undefended. It was at Villers
Farlay that it first encountered a strong body of the enemy.

On the evening of this day, of the French forces the XXth Corps was on
the north and the XVIIIth on the west of Besançon, at the distance of
about four miles. Cavalry, artillery and the train were passing through
the town or encamped on the glacis of the fortress. The XXIVth Corps was
on the march thither, and the 2nd and 3rd Divisions of the XVth were in
possession of the southern bank of the Doubs about Baume and Larnod; but
the 1st Division had not succeeded in holding Quingey. Thus the most
direct and important line of communications of the French army was cut,
and its position, by this fresh mischance, seriously compromised.
Impracticable projects and counsels from Bordeaux poured in freely, but
did not mend matters; and on the 24th General Bourbaki summoned the
superior officers to a council of war.

_January 24th._--The Generals declared that they had scarcely more than
half their men under arms, and these were more inclined to fly than to
fight. General Pallu alone thought he might answer for the men of the
army reserve. The Intendant-General reported that, without trenching on
the magazines of the place, the supplies in hand would last for four
days at most. General Billot was in favour of attempting to fight a way
through to Auxonne, but he declined to take the command in chief which
was offered him. The exhaustion of the troops and their evidently
increasing insubordination gave little hope of the success of offensive
operations. So there was no alternative but to retire on Pontarlier, as
the Commander-in-Chief had proposed.

This recourse, even, was seriously threatened. To relieve himself from
pressure on the north, General Bourbaki ordered the XXIVth Corps to
advance once more and hold the Lomont passes. On the south the XVth was
to defend the deep mountain-ravine of the Loue, and General Crémer was
more especially to cover the retreat of the army on the right flank,
which was most seriously threatened. For this difficult task, in
addition to his own Division, a Division of the XXth Corps and the army
reserve as the most trustworthy troops were placed under his command.
The XVIIIth and the remainder of the XXth were to await marching-orders
at Besançon.

In the German Head-quarter, where of course the plans of the French
could not be known, various possibilities had to be reckoned with.

If the French remained at Besançon there would be no need to attack them
there; the place was not suited for the accommodation of a large army,
and its supplies could not long hold out. That they would again attempt
to advance northwards was scarcely likely; by doing so they would be
cutting loose from all their resources, and must encounter the larger
part of the XIVth German Corps on the Ognon.

An attempt to break through to Dijon seemed more possible. But this
would be opposed at St. Vit by the 13th Division, at Pesmes by Colonel
von Willisen's detachment, and finally by General von Kettler.

Thus a retreat on Pontarlier seemed the most likely course; and to
hinder their further march from that place would in the first instance
be the duty of the IInd Corps, while in the meantime the VIIth was
observing the enemy massed in Besançon, and opposing his sorties on both
sides of the river.

The Commander-in-Chief therefore confined himself to giving general
directions to his Generals, expressly authorizing them to act on their
own judgment in eventualities which could not be foreseen.

General von Werder was instructed to advance by Marnay, and to place the
14th Division in touch with the Baden Division and Von der Goltz's
Brigade, and then to distribute these bodies along the right bank of the
Doubs. The 4th Reserve Division restored the bridges at L'Isle and
Baume, and crossed over to the left bank. Colonel von Willisen was to
join the VIIth Corps to supply its lack of cavalry. The IInd Corps was
assembled behind Villers Farlay.

_January 25th._--Reconnaissances on a large scale were arranged for next
day. The reconnaissance of the VIIth Corps resulted in a sharp fight at
Vorges. The head of the IInd Corps met the enemy in front of Salins and
at Arbois, but found that the latter had not yet reached Poligny.

_January 26th._--The advanced guard of the IInd Corps advanced on
Salins. The fronts of the high-perched forts of St. André and Belin near
the town, looked toward Switzerland, but their fire commanded also on
flank and rear the plain to the south and west on the enemy's line of
march. Salins constituted a strong barrier on the road to St. Laurent,
and as long as it was held would cover the line of retreat of columns
marching from Besançon to Pontarlier.

The two field-batteries of the advanced guard could, of course, do
little against the heavy guns of the forts; but the Fusiliers of the 2nd
Regiment advanced in rushes of small detachments up the narrow ravine,
scaled its rugged faces, and, supported by the two Grenadier battalions,
forced their way, about half-past two, into the railway-station and
suburb of St. Pierre; but with the loss of 3 officers and 109 men.

Soon after General von Koblinski arrived by way of St. Thiébaud with the
42nd Regiment. As in consequence of the representations of the Mayor the
commandant refrained from bombarding the town, the advanced guard was
able to take up its quarters therein; the main body of the 3rd Division
retreated from under the fire of the forts on Mouchard, and the defile
remained closed again to further penetration. It was necessary to turn
it by the south.

In that direction the 4th Division had already marched to Arbois, its
head further forward up to Pont d'Héry; it found Poligny and Champagnole
on the right still unoccupied.

The VIIth Corps reconnoitred both banks of the Doubs, and found the
enemy in strong positions at Busy and at Vorges.

The 4th Reserve Division advanced along the southern bank as far as St.
Juan d'Adam, near Besançon; the remainder of the XIVth Corps marched on
Etuz and Marnay.

General von Kettler's report of the fighting on the 21st and 23rd
determined General von Manteuffel to make a renewed attempt on Dijon. He
detailed to this duty General Hann von Weyhern (commanding 4th Infantry
Division, IInd Corps), placing him in command of the 8th Brigade, with
Colonel von Willisen's troops and Degenfeld's Baden Brigade.

On the French side, General Bressoles had started on the 24th, in
obedience to orders, to take renewed possession of the passages of the
Doubs and the Lomont defiles. He had, in the first instance, turned
against Baume with d'Aries' Division; but as he did not succeed even in
driving the German outposts out of Pont les Moulins, he retired to
Vercel. In consequence of this, on the morning of the 26th, Carré's
Division, which had found the passes of the Lomont unoccupied, also
moved to Pierre Fontaine. Comagny's Division had already retreated to
Morteau, and was making its way unmolested to Pontarlier.

General Bourbaki was greatly disturbed by this failure of his right
wing; more perhaps than was needful, since, in fact, only one German
division stood north of him, which at most could drive his rearguard on
Pontarlier, while the main force of the enemy threatened him far more
seriously on the west. He nevertheless ordered a renewed advance, on the
26th, of the XXIVth Corps, which was now to be supported by the XVIIIth.
But the march through Besançon of the latter, through streets covered
with ice, took up the whole of the day which should have been devoted to
the attack, so that nothing came of the scheme.

The Army Reserve had reached Ornans, and stood there in readiness. The
two other Divisions advanced on the road to Salins, but heard while on
the march that the Germans had just carried that place. They then
occupied in Déservillers and Villeneuve d'Amont, the roads leading from
thence to Pontarlier.

The War Minister, meanwhile, had decisively refused permission for the
general retreat of the army, without any regard to the imperative
necessities of the case.

The military dilettanteism which fancied it could direct the movements
of the army from Bordeaux is characterized in a telegram of the
afternoon of the 25th. Monsieur de Freycinet gives it as his "firm
conviction"[82] that General Bourbaki, if he would concentrate his
troops, and, if necessary come to an understanding with Garibaldi, would
be strong enough to fight his way out, "either by Dôle, or by Mouchard,
or by Gray, or by Pontailler" (north of Auxonne). The choice was left to

Still more amazing was the further suggestion that if indeed the state
of the army prohibited a long march, it should be embarked on the
railway at Chagey, under the eye, no doubt, of the pursuing enemy.

Such communications could only avail to shatter the brave commander's
self-confidence. The disastrous reports which poured in from all sides,
and the state of the troops which he had seen for himself as the XVIIIth
Corps marched through the town, crushed his last hope and led him to
attempt his own life.

The Commander had of course to bear the blame of the total failure of a
campaign planned by Freycinet; his dismissal from the command was
already on its way. General Clinchant was appointed in his stead, and
under these disastrous circumstances took the command of the army.

All the Generals were, no doubt, extremely reluctant to bring their
weary and dispirited troops into serious contact with the enemy. Every
line of retreat was closely threatened, excepting only that on
Pontarlier. The new Commander-in-Chief had no choice but to carry out
the plans of his predecessor. He at once ordered the further march. He
himself proceeded to Pontarlier. In that strong position he hoped to be
able at least to give the troops a short rest. No large bodies of the
Germans had been met with so far, the ammunition columns had got safely
through, and if the defiles of Vaux, Les Planches, and St. Laurent could
be reached and held in advance of the enemy there was still a
possibility of escape to the southwards.

On the evening of the 27th, the Division Poullet was at Levier, nearest
to the Germans; the two other Divisions under General Crémer, with the
XVth and XXth Corps, were écheloned on the road from Ornans to
Sombacourt; the XVIIIth Corps alone was on the eastern road through
Nods. The XXIVth, in a miserable condition, had reached Montbenoît with
its head at Pontarlier; two Divisions were still in Besançon.

On this same day General von Fransecky collected the main body of the
IInd Corps at Arbois, and reinforced General du Trossel's posts at Pont

The XIVth Corps relieved the 14th Division of the VIIth Corps at St.
Vit; the latter advanced to the right of the 13th Division into the Loue
angle, which the French had already abandoned.

On the north, General von Debschitz held Blamont and Pont du Roide,
while General von Schmeling watched Besançon from St. Juan, and General
von der Goltz marched on Arbois to form a reserve.

_January 28th._--Suspecting that the French were already on the march by
Champagnole on St. Laurent, General Fransecky, to cut off from them that
line of retreat, advanced on the following day in a southerly direction
with the IInd Corps.

General du Trossel reached Champagnole without opposition, and thence
sent his cavalry along the road to Pontarlier. Lieutenant-Colonel von
Guretzky arrived at Nozeroy with a squadron of the 11th Dragoons, and
found the place occupied; but he made prize of fifty-six
provision-waggons and the military-chest, taking the escort prisoners.

The 5th and 6th Brigades advanced on Poligny and Pont du Navoy.

The 13th Division of the VIIth Corps, having been relieved at Quingey by
the Baden troops, assembled at La Chapelle, while the 14th advanced on
Déservillers. Its head found no enemy in Bolandoz, although his
camp-fires were still smouldering; so that the main hostile army was not
overtaken on that day.

General Clinchant had in fact moved his Corps closer on Pontarlier. But
it soon became evident that supplies were not procurable for any long
stay there. General Crémer received orders that night to move forward at
once to Les Planches and St. Laurent with three cavalry regiments
standing already on the road to Mouthe. The mountain-roads were deep in
snow, but by forced marching he reached the points designated on the
following afternoon. The XXIVth Corps and a brigade of the Division
Poullett followed next day, and the latter also occupied with two
battalions the village of Bonneveaux at the entrance to the defiles of
Vaux. On the evening of the 28th the rest of the French army stood as
follows: the XVIIIth Corps was behind the Drugeon at Houtaud close
before Pontarlier; the 1st Division of the XVth had advanced over the
brook to Sombacourt, the 3rd Division was in the town. On the left the
2nd and 3rd Divisions of the XXth Corps held the villages from Chaffois
to Frasne, and on the right the army reserve occupied Byans.

General von Manteuffel had ordered for the 29th a general advance on
Pontarlier, where at last the French must certainly be found.

_January 29th._--Of the IInd Corps General Koblinsky had set out from
Poligny in the night. When he reached Champagnole and had assembled the
whole of the 5th Brigade he moved forward therefrom at about seven
o'clock. General du Trossel with the 7th Brigade also reached Censeau
without finding the enemy.

On the right Colonel von Wedell marched from Pont du Navoy on Les
Planches with four battalions of the 6th Brigade. He found only
dismounted troopers, posts probably left by General Crémer which were
easily dispersed by the Jägers. Detachments were then sent out in
different directions, and everywhere met with scattered troops; but at
Foncine le Bas the head of the XXIVth Corps was found, and Colonel von
Wedell now blocked the last line of retreat which had remained to the

With the rest of the IInd Corps General von Hartmann marched unopposed
on Nozeroy.

The 14th Division of the VIIth Corps had not received the order to
advance on Pontarlier till somewhat late; it did not start from
Déservillers until noon, and only reached Levier at three o'clock,
where, at the same hour, the head of the 13th Division also arrived from
Villeneuve d'Amont, the state of the roads having greatly delayed its

The advanced guard of three battalions, half a squadron, and one
battery, had met only stragglers on the way, and General von Zastrow
commanded it to push forward to the Drugeon brook. In the forest on the
left of the road closed detachments of the enemy were retiring on
Sombacourt, and Major von Brederlow with the 1st battalion of the 77th
Regiment turned off to attack that village lying on the flank. The 2nd
company under Captain von Vietinghof dashed into it through Sept
Fontaines with loud cheers, and was at once closely surrounded by strong
bodies of the enemy; but the other companies soon came to its
assistance. The first Division of the XVth French Corps was here
completely routed without the Army Reserve close at hand in Byans
having come to its support. Fifty officers, including two generals, and
2700 men were taken prisoners; ten guns, seven mitrailleuses,
forty-eight waggons, 319 horses and 3500 stand of arms fell into the
hands of the Hanoverian battalion[83] which was left in occupation of

The rest of the advanced guard had meanwhile approached Chaffois, where
the road opens out from the mountains into the wide valley of the
Drugeon. That village, as we have seen, was occupied by the 2nd Division
of the XXth Corps.

Colonel von Cosel passed at once to the attack. Three companies of the
53rd Regiment surprised the French field-posts and took possession of
the first houses of the village, but then the whole mass of the French
XVIIIth Corps barred his further progress. By degrees all the available
forces had to join in the fighting, and also reinforcements had to be
brought up from the main body of the 14th Division. The fight lasted
with great obstinacy for an hour and a half, when suddenly the French
ceased firing and laid down their arms. They claimed that an armistice
had already been agreed on.

Monsieur Jules Favre had, in fact, telegraphed to Bordeaux at a
quarter-past eleven on the night of the 28th, that an armistice of
twenty-one days had been concluded, without adding, however, that, with
his consent, the three eastern departments had been excluded from its
operations. The information, in this imperfect form, was transmitted to
the civil authorities by the Delegation at 12.15 of the 29th; but
Monsieur Freycinet did not forward it to the military authorities, whom
the matter principally concerned, till 3.30 in the afternoon.

Thus could General Clinchant in all good faith transmit to General
Thornton, in command of the Divisions at Chaffois, a message which, as
regarded the Army of the East, was altogether incorrect. The latter at
once sent his staff officer to the Prussian advanced guard, which was
still in action, who demanded the cessation of the firing in recognition
of the official communication.

General von Manteuffel had received in Arbois at five in the morning,
full particulars from the supreme Head-quarter of the terms of the
armistice, according to which the army of the South was to prosecute its
operations to a final issue. An army order announcing this to all the
troops was at once sent out, but did not reach the VIIth Corps till

Nothing was known there of any armistice; however, the tidings might be
on the way, and General von Zastrow granted the temporary cessation of
hostilities, and even sanctioned the release of his prisoners, but
without their arms.

Chaffois, with the exception of a couple of farmsteads, remained in
possession of the 14th Division, which found such quarters there as
might be; the 13th occupied the villages from Sept Fontaines back to

_January 30th._--In full confidence in the news from the seat of
Government, General Clinchant, on the 30th, suspended the movements of
his army. The newly-appointed Commander of the XXIVth Corps, General
Comagny, also gave up his intended attempt to cut his way with 10,000
men at Foncine through Colonel von Wedell's weak brigade. The other
Corps, after the unfortunate course of the fighting on the previous
evening, had drawn in close on Pontarlier; but detachments of cavalry
were sent out on the roads to Besançon and St. Laurent, to establish a
line of demarcation and also to keep up communications with the fortress
and with Southern France.

On receiving the army order at about eleven o'clock, General Zastrow
gave notice to the enemy in his front of the resumption of hostilities,
but restricted his immediate demands to the complete evacuation of
Chaffois, which was complied with. Otherwise the Corps remained inactive
where it was.

Of the IInd Corps General du Trossel had set out very early from
Censeau, but the appearance of a French flag of truce, and his fear of
offending against the law of nations, here too occasioned considerable
hesitation. The forest of Frasne was not clear of the French till
evening. Lieutenant-Colonel von Guretzky made his way into the village
with quite a small force, and took prisoners twelve officers and 1500
men who held it, with two colours. The 5th Brigade then also moved up
into Frasne; the rest of the Corps occupied the same quarters as on the
previous day.

A flag of truce had presented itself at Les Planches, but Colonel von
Wedell had simply dismissed the bearer. The outposts of the XIVth Corps
did the same.

On the north of Pontarlier, General von Schmeling advanced to Pierre
Fontaine, General von Debschitz to Maiche.

_January 31st._--Early in the morning of this day the French Colonel
Varaigne made his appearance at General von Manteuffel's head-quarters
at Villeneuve, with the proposal that a cessation of hostilities for
thirty-six hours should be agreed upon, till the existing condition of
uncertainty should be removed; but this proposal was refused, as on the
German side there were no doubts whatsoever. Permission was granted for
the despatch of an application to Versailles, but it was at the same
time explained that the movements of the Army of the South would not be
suspended pending the arrival of the answer.

On this day, however, the IInd Army Corps marched only to Dompierre on a
parallel front with the VIIth, its advanced guard pushing forward on the
Drugeon to Ste. Colombe and La Rivière. Thence, in the evening, a
company of the Colberg Grenadiers crossed the steep mountain ridge and
descended on La Planée, where it took 500 prisoners. A right-flank
detachment of two battalions and one battery under Lieutenant-Colonel
Liebe marched unopposed up the long pass of Bonnevaux to Vaux, and took
prisoners 2 officers and 688 men. The enemy then abandoned the defile of
Granges Ste. Marie and retired to St. Antoine in the mountains.

The Corps had found every road strewn with cast-away arms and camp
utensils, and had taken in all 4000 prisoners.

Of the VIIth Corps, as soon as the enemy had been informed of the
resumption of hostilities, the 14th Division bent leftward on the
Drugeon and up to La Vrine, whence a connection was effected with the
4th Reserve Division of the XIVth Corps in St. Gorgon. The 13th Division
advanced to Sept Fontaines. Pontarlier was now completely surrounded,
and General von Manteuffel fixed February 1st for the general attack
thereon. The IInd Corps was to advance from the south-west, the VIIth
from the north-west; General von der Goltz was to establish himself in
front of Levier in reserve.

Meanwhile the French Commander-in-Chief had conceived doubts whether
everything was quite right with the communications from his Government.
All the mountain-passes leading to the south were now lost, and an
escape in that direction was no longer to be hoped for. General
Clinchant had already sent rearward the baggage and ammunition columns,
the sick and worn-out men, through La Cluse under shelter of the forts
of Joux and Neuv. And when in the afternoon a message from Bordeaux
brought the intelligence that in fact the Army of the East had been
excluded from the armistice, the Commander-in-Chief summoned his
generals to a council of war. Every General present declared that he
could no longer answer for his troops. General Clinchant himself
therefore went out the same evening to Les Verrières, to conclude
negotiations he had already opened, in virtue of which on the following
day, February 1st, the army was to cross the Swiss frontier by three

To cover this retreat, the Army Reserve was to hold Pontarlier till all
the baggage-trains should have passed La Cluse, while the XVIIIth Corps
was to take up a covering position between the two forts. Defensive
works there were at once set about. What of the XVth Corps on the way by
Morez had failed in getting through with the cavalry was to try to cross
into Switzerland at any available point.

_February 1st._--When the advanced guard of the IInd Corps now advanced
on Pontarlier from Ste. Colombe, it met with but slight resistance at
the railway station. The Colberg Grenadiers took possession of the town
without a struggle, and captured many prisoners, but then found the road
on the further side entirely blocked by guns and waggons. They could
pass beyond on either side of the road only with difficulty through deep
snow. Just in front of La Cluse the road winds between high rocky
precipices into the wide basin of the Doubs, completely commanded by the
isolated fortalice of Joux perched on the solid rock. On debouching into
the open the foremost companies were received by a hot fire. Four guns,
dragged up thither with the greatest exertions, could make no head
against the heavy guns of the fort, and the French themselves here
passed to the attack.

The Colberg Fusiliers had meanwhile climbed the heights to the left,
followed by the 2nd Battalion of the Regiment and a battalion of the
49th Regiment, which drove the French out of the farmsteads on the
rifted upland. The steep cliff on the right was also scaled, several
rifle sub-divisions of the 49th climbed the acclivity up to La Cluse,
and the Colberg Grenadiers advanced to the foot of Fort Neuv.

To take the strong fortalices by storm was obviously impossible, and
furthermore because of the nature of the ground the fugitive enemy could
scarcely be overtaken in force. Of the French, 23 officers and 1600 men
were taken prisoners, with 400 loaded waggons; of the Germans, 19
officers and 365 men had fallen, mostly of the Colberg Regiment. The
troops spent the night on the field of the fighting.

As no large force could come into action at La Cluse, General von
Fransecky had ordered the main body of the Corps to march further
southward to Ste. Marie. To avoid the necessity of crossing the steep
chain of the Jura, General von Hartmann first betook himself to
Pontarlier to avail himself of the better roads from thence, but his
progress was stopped, the fight at La Cluse having assumed unexpected
proportions. The VIIth Corps and the 4th Reserve Division, which had
reached the Doubs at noon, were equally unable to get at the enemy.

During the whole day the French columns were crossing the Swiss
frontier. The Army Reserve in Pontarlier was at the beginning swept away
by the tide of baggage-waggons and drivers, and only joined the XVIIIth
Corps on reaching La Cluse. During the night they both followed the
general line of retreat. Only the cavalry and the 1st Division of the
XXIVth Corps reached the neighbouring department of l'Ain to the
southward, the latter force reduced to a few hundred men. There crossed
the frontier on to Swiss soil some 80,000 Frenchmen.

General Manteuffel had transferred his headquarters to Pontarlier.
There, in the course of the night, he first heard through Berlin of the
convention arranged between General Clinchant and Colonel Herzog of the
Swiss Confederation.

General von Manteuffel had achieved the important success of his three
weeks' campaign by hard marching and constant fighting, although there
had been no pitched battle since that of the Lisaine. These marches,
indeed, had been such as none but well-seasoned troops could have
accomplished under bold and skilful leadership, under every form of
fatigue and hardship, in the worst season and through a difficult

Thus two French armies were now prisoners in Germany, a third interned
in the capital, and the fourth disarmed on foreign soil.


[81] Men of the 2nd Battalion, 61st Regiment, 8th Brigade, 4th Division,
IInd Corps, which Corps consisted exclusively of Pomeranians.

[82] "Conviction bien arrêtée."

[83] The 77th Hanoverian Fusilier Regiment, of which this was the 2nd
battalion, belonged to the 25th Brigade, 13th Division, VIIth
(Westphalian) Army Corps.


It only remains to cast a backward glance on the advance on Dijon, with
the conduct of which General Hann von Weyhern was charged on January

On that same day Garibaldi received instructions there to take energetic
measures against Dôle and Mouchard.

To support him, the Government, indefatigable in the evolution of new
forces, was to put in march 15,000 Gardes-Mobiles under General Crouzat
from Lyons to Lons le Saulnier, and a XXVIth Corps in course of
formation at Châtellerault was to be sent from thence to Beaune. As it
was beyond doubt that General von Manteuffel had moved with a strong
force on the communications of the Army of the East, the specific order
was transmitted on the 27th to the Commander of the Army of the Vosges,
to leave only from 8000 to 10,000 men in Dijon and to advance at once
with his main force beyond Dôle.

But the General was always greatly concerned for the safety of Dijon; he
occupied the principal positions on the slopes of the Côte d'Or and
detached a small force to St. Jean de Losne, behind the canal of
Bourgogne. Of 700 volunteers who had marched on Dôle, no trace was ever
found there.

Langres had shown more energy; several and often successful attacks on
small outpost companies and etappen troops had been made from it from
time to time.

General Hann von Weyhern's purpose of attacking Dijon from the south had
to be abandoned, because the bridge over the Saône at St. Jean de Losne
had been destroyed. He therefore on the 29th crossed the river at
Apremont, and on the 31st assembled his detachments at Arc sur Tille.
Here again General Bordone, the Chief of the general staff of the Army
of the Vosges, vainly insisted that an armistice was in force. On the
31st General von Kettler marched with an advanced guard on Varois. To
cut off the enemy's communications with Auxonne a left-flank detachment
made itself master of the bridge over the Ouche at Fauverney. The first
shells drove the French back on their intrenched position on the line
St. Apollinaire--Mirande.

When the attempt to establish an armistice failed, General Bordone
determined to evacuate Dijon in the course of the night and retire upon
assured neutral ground. Thus, on February 1st, the head of the advanced
guard found the position in front of the city abandoned, and General von
Kettler marched in without encountering any opposition, just as the last
train of French troops moved out of the railway-station. Sombernon and
Nuits were also occupied on the 2nd.


Nothing now remained for General von Manteuffel but to establish the
military occupation of the three Departments which he had won, and to
guard them from without.

General Pelissier was still in the open field within their bounds,
having reached Lons le Saulnier with the 15,000 Gardes-Mobiles who had
come up from Lyons and had been joined by the battalions sent back from
Besançon by General Rolland, by no means an insignificant force
numerically, but practically of no great efficiency. The commanders were
recommended to retire and avoid further bloodshed; and they did so, as
soon as some detachments of the IInd German Corps advanced on Lons le
Saulnier and St. Laurent. Others occupied Mouthe and Les Allemands,
where were found twenty-eight field-guns which had been abandoned by the
French. As a measure of precaution, the Swiss frontier was watched by
eight battalions. The fortalices of Salins, the little fortress of
Auxonne, and Besançon, were kept under observation from the eastward.
Although the Department of Haute-Marne was included in the armistice,
the commandant of Langres had refused to recognize the authority of his
Government. So this place had to be invested, and probably besieged.
General von der Goltz was promptly ordered to advance once more on it,
and General von Krenski was already on the march thither with seven
battalions, two squadrons and two batteries, and a siege train from
Longwy, which he had brought to capitulate on January 25th, after a
bombardment of six days' duration. But it was not called into
requisition at Langres. General von Manteuffel aimed at no further
tactical results; he was anxious to save his troops from further losses,
and to afford them all possible relief after their exceptional
exertions. Not till now were the baggage-waggons brought up, even those
of the superior staff officers having been necessarily left behind
during the advance into the Jura. The troops were distributed for the
sake of comfort in roomy quarters, but in readiness for action at any
moment, the IInd Corps in the Jura, the VIIth in the Côte d'Or, the
XIVth in the department of the Doubs. But the siege of Belfort was still
to be vigorously carried on.


Immediately after the battle on the Lisaine the forces investing Belfort
were increased to 27 battalions, 6 squadrons, 6 field batteries, 24
companies of fortress artillery, and 6 companies of fortress pioneers;
17,602 infantry, 4699 artillerymen, and 1166 pioneers, in all 23,467
men, with 707 horses and 34 field-guns.

The place was invested on the north and west by only a few battalions,
and the main force was assembled to the south and east.

On January 20th the eastern batteries opened a heavy fire on Pérouse.
Colonel Denfert concluded that an attack was imminent, and placed four
battalions of his most trusted troops in the village, which had been
prepared for an obstinate defence.

At about midnight, two battalions of the 67th Regiment advanced from
Chêvremont on the Haut Taillis wood without firing a shot. Once inside
it there was a determined struggle, but the French were driven back on
the village, and the pioneers immediately intrenched the skirt of the
wood towards Pérouse under a heavy fire from the forts. Half an hour
later two Landwehr battalions advanced from Bessoncourt to the copse on
the north of the village. They were received with a heavy fire, but made
their way onward over abatis, pits and wire-entanglements, driving the
enemy back into the quarries. A stationary fight now ensued, but the
67th presently renewed the attack, and without allowing themselves to be
checked by the earthworks forced their way into Pérouse. They took
possession of the eastern half of the straggling village at about
half-past two, and the detachment defending the quarries, finding itself
threatened, retreated. At five o'clock, Colonel Denfert abandoned the
western part of the village, which was now completely occupied by the
Germans. The losses on the German side were 8 officers and 178 men; the
French left 5 officers and 93 men prisoners.

_January 21st to 27th._--The next day the construction of the first
parallel was undertaken, extending about 2000 yards from Donjoutin to
Haut Taillis. Five battalions and two companies of Sappers were employed
in this work, and were undisturbed by the French; but the rocky soil
prevented its being constructed of the prescribed width.

General von Tresckow considered that he might thus early succeed in
carrying both the Perches forts by a determined assault. Two half
redoubts with ditches more than three yards deep cut perpendicularly in
the solid rock, casemated traverses and bomb-proof blockhouses in the
gorge, afforded protection to the defenders. Each work was armed with
seven 12-cm. cannon, and they were connected by trenches, behind which
reserves were in readiness. On the right flank this position was
protected by a battalion and a sortie-battery in Le Fourneau; on the
left the adjacent wood was cleared, cut down to a distance of 650 yards,
and wire-entanglements between the stumps formed an almost impenetrable
obstacle. In front the gentle slope of the ridge was under the
cross-fire of the two forts.

When on the previous evening of the 26th the construction of the
parallel was sufficiently advanced to allow of its being occupied by
larger detachments, the assault was fixed for the 27th. Two columns,
each of one battalion, one company of Sappers, and two guns, passed to
the attack at daybreak on that morning. Two companies of Schneidemühl's
Landwehr Battalion advanced against the front of Basses Perches and
threw themselves on the ground within from 65 to 110 yards of the work.
A sub-division of sharp-shooters and a few pioneers reached the ditch
and unhesitatingly leaped in; the two other (Landwehr) companies, going
round the fort by the left, got into its rear, and here too the men
jumped into the ditch of the gorge. But the French who had been driven
out of their shelter-trenches were now assembled, and the battalion from
Le Fourneau came up. All the forts of the place opened fire on the bare
and unprotected space in front of the parallel, and an attempt of
reinforcements to cross it failed. The 7th Company of the Landwehr
Battalion was surrounded by greatly superior numbers, and after a brave
struggle was for the most part made captive. Most of the men in the
ditch were still able to escape.

The advance of the right column against Hautes-Perches also failed. It
had to cross 1100 yards of open ground. The encompassment of the fort
was attempted, but it was impossible to force through the abatis and
other obstacles under the destructive fire of the enemy.

This abortive attempt cost 10 officers and 427 men; and the slower
process of an engineer attack had to be resumed.

_January 28th to February 15th._--As the approaches to the forts
progressed the flying sap could be carried forward about 330 yards every
night unopposed by the enemy. In spite of all the difficulties caused by
the nature of the soil, on February 1st the second parallel was thrown
up at half distance from the Perches.

As the Fort of la Justice was a special hindrance to the operations, two
new batteries had to be constructed to the east of Pérouse against it.
Four mortar-batteries on the flanks of the parallel now directed their
fire on the Perches at very short range. Three batteries were also
constructed in the Bois des Perches to fire on the citadel, and one on
the skirt of the wood near Bavilliers against the defences of the city.
Henceforward 1500 shells a day were fired on the fortress and its

But further the prosecution of the attack became more and more
difficult. The withdrawal of General Debschitz had seriously reduced the
working strength of the besieging force. There were only nine
battalions for the exhausting service in the trenches. Specially serious
was the heavy loss in pioneers, and two fresh companies had to be
brought up from Strasburg. The bright moonlight illuminating the fields
of snow far and wide made it impossible to proceed with the flying saps.
Sap-rollers had to be used; the heads of the saps had to be protected by
sandbags and the sides by gabions, while the earth for filling had often
to be brought from a long distance in the rear.

On the head of all this, on February 3rd, a thaw set in, and the water
from the heights filled the trenches, so that all communication had to
be carried on across the open ground. Torrents of rain damaged the
finished works; the parapet of the first parallel gave way altogether in
places, and the banquette was washed away. The bottomless tracks made
the arming of the batteries unspeakably difficult, and the teams of the
columns and field artillery had to be employed in bringing up the
ammunition. Many guns had become useless by overheating, while the enemy
understood, by rapidly running out their guns, firing, and then running
them back again, how to interrupt the work. Not merely was it necessary
to continue the shelling of the Perches during the night, but a brisk
rifle fire had to be kept up against them. Only now and then did the
batteries newly placed in the parallels succeed in entirely silencing
the guns of Hautes Perches. Epaulments had to be erected against Fort
Bellevue and the defences of the railway-station, and Fort des Barres
resumed activity. That under such exertions and the abominable weather
the health of the troops suffered severely, need not be said; the
battalions could often only muster 300 men for duty.

Meanwhile, however, the artillery of the attack had unquestionably
become very much superior to that of the defence, and, in spite of every
obstacle, the saps were pushed on to the edge of the ditch of Les

On February 8th, at one in the afternoon, Captain Roese had gabions
flung into the ditch of Hautes Perches, sprang into it with five
sappers, and rapidly scaled the parapet by the steps hewn in the scarp.
He was immediately followed by the trench guard, but only a few of the
French were surprised in the casemated traverses. The situation of the
garrison of the forts had in fact become extremely difficult. Ammunition
had to be brought up under the enemy's fire, water could only be had
from the pond at Vernier, and cooking could only be done inside the
works. Colonel Denfert had already given orders to bury the material.
Unseen by the besiegers the guns of which the carriages could still be
moved had been withdrawn, and only one company left in each fort, which
in case of a surprise was to fire and fly. Nothing was to be found in
the abandoned work but wrecked gun-carriages and four damaged guns. This
fort was at once reversed so that its front faced the fortress, but at
three o'clock the latter opened so heavy a fire on the lost positions
that the working parties had to take shelter in the ditches.

The garrison in Basses Perches attempted some resistance, but under
cover of a reserve it soon retired to Le Fourneau, leaving five guns and
much shattered material. Here also the fire of the place at first
compelled the working parties to break off, but four 15-cm. mortars were
at length brought into the fort, and two 9-cm. guns were placed on the
spur of the hill to the westward, which directed their fire on Le
Fourneau and Bellevue. During the night of the 9th the two works were
connected by a shelter-trench 680 yards long, and thus the third
parallel was established.

The position was now such that the attack could immediately be directed
on the citadel, and on it the batteries in the Bois des Perches and
presently those in the second parallel opened fire. Moitte, Justice, and
Bellevue were shelled simultaneously. General von Debschitz had
returned, so that the investing corps was thus again brought up to its
full strength, and all the conditions were improved by the return of the
frost. By the 13th ninety-seven guns were ready in the third parallel.

The town had suffered terribly from the prolonged bombardment. Nearly
all the buildings were damaged, fifteen completely burnt down, and in
the adjoining villages 164 houses had been destroyed by the defenders
themselves. The fortifications showed not less visible indications of
serious damage, particularly the citadel. The hewn-stone facing of its
front-wall had crumbled into the ditch. Half of the mantleted embrasures
had been shattered, the expense powder magazines had been blown up, and
a number of casemated traverses pierced. The guns in the upper batteries
could only be reached by ladders. The garrison, of its original strength
of 372 officers and 17,322 men, had lost 32 officers and 4713 men,
besides 336 citizens. The place was no longer tenable; besides there now
came the news that the army from which alone relief was to be expected,
had laid down its arms.

Under these circumstances General von Tresckow summoned the commandant
after a defence so brave to surrender the fortress, with free withdrawal
for the garrison, this concession having the sanction of his Majesty.
The French Government itself authorized the commandant to accept these
terms. Colonel Denfert, however, insisted that he must be given a more
direct order. To procure this an officer was sent to Basle, pending
whose return there was a provisional armistice.

On the 15th a convention was signed at Versailles, which extended the
armistice to the three departments which till then had been excluded
from it, and also to Belfort; but the 1st article demanded the
surrender of that place.

After the conclusion of the definitive treaty, the garrison, in the
course of the 17th and 18th, with its arms and trains, left the
precincts of the fortress and withdrew by way of L'Isle sur Doubs and
St. Hippolyte into the country occupied by French troops. The march was
effected in detachments of 1000 men at intervals of 5 km., the last of
which Colonel Denfert accompanied. The supplies which remained in the
fortress were conveyed in rear of the departing troops in 150 Prussian
proviant waggons. At 3 o'clock in the afternoon of February 18th
Lieutenant-General von Tresckow entered the place at the head of
detachments from all the troops of the investing corps.

There were found 341 guns, of which 56 were useless, 356 gun-carriages,
of which 119 were shot to pieces, and 22,000 stand of arms, besides
considerable supplies of ammunition and provisions.

The siege had cost the Germans 88 officers and 2049 men, 245 of whom
were released from imprisonment by the capitulation. Immediately was set
about the work of restoring and arming the fortress, and of the
levelling of the siege works.


On the basis of the agreement of January 28th a line of demarcation was
drawn, from which both parties were to withdraw their outposts to a
distance of 10 km. The line ran south from the mouth of the Seine as far
as the Sarthe, crossed the Loire at Saumur, followed the Creuse, turned
eastward past Vierzon, Clamécy and Chagny, and then met the Swiss
frontier, after bending to the north of Châlons sur Saône and south of
Lons le Saulnier and St. Laurent. The two departments of Pas de Calais
and du Nord, as well as the promontory of Havre, were particularly

The fortresses still held by French troops in the districts occupied by
the Germans were assigned a rayon in proportion to their importance.

In carrying out the details of the agreement a liberal interpretation
was in most instances allowed. The arrangements had the sanction of
those members of the Government of National Defence who were in Paris;
while the delegates at Bordeaux, who had hitherto conducted the war, at
first held aloof, and indeed, as yet had not been made acquainted with
the detailed conditions. Gambetta, it is true, allowed the suspension of
operations, but could not give the commanders more precise instructions.

General Faidherbe was thus without orders with regard to the evacuation
of Dieppe and Abbeville. General von Goeben, however, refrained from
taking immediate possession of these places. On the west of the Seine,
the Grand Duke was forced to proclaim that the non-recognition of the
line of demarcation would be followed by an immediate recommencement of

The commandant of the garrison at Langres also raised difficulties, and
only withdrew within his rayon on February 7th, as did General Rolland
later at Besançon. Auxonne was at first unwilling to give up control of
the railway. Bitsch, which had not been worth the trouble of a serious
attack, repudiated the convention; the investment had therefore to be
strengthened, and only in March, when threatened with a determined
attack, did the garrison abandon its peak of rock.

Nor did the volunteers acquiesce at once, and there were collisions with
them at various points. But after the conditions were finally settled,
no more serious quarrels occurred between the inhabitants and the
German troops during the whole course of the armistice.

All the German corps before Paris occupied the forts lying in their
front, more specifically the Vth took over Mont Valérien, and the IVth
the town of St. Denis. Between the forts and the enceinte there lay a
neutral zone, which civilians were allowed to cross only by specified
roads placed under control of German examining troops.

Apprehensive as it was of the indignation of the populace, the French
Government had hesitated so long to utter the word "capitulation," that
now, even with the resumption of free communication, Paris was
threatened with an outbreak of actual famine. The superfluous
stores in the German magazines were therefore placed at the disposal
of its authorities. The respective chief-Commands, the local
Governments-General, and the Etappen-Inspections received instructions
to place no difficulties in the way of the repair of the railways and
roads in their districts, and the French authorities were even allowed
to make use, under German supervision, of the repaired railroads which
the invaders used to supply their own army. Nevertheless, the first
provision-train only arrived in Paris on February 3rd, and it was the
middle of the month before the French had succeeded in remedying the
prevalent distress in the capital.

The German prisoners were at once given up. The surrender of arms and
war-material followed by degrees, also the payment of the 200 million
francs war-contribution imposed on the city.

But it was still doubtful if the party of "war to the bitter end" in
Bordeaux would fall in with the arrangements made by the Paris
Government, and whether the National Assembly about to be convened would
finally ratify the conditions of peace imposed by the conquerors. The
necessary measures in case of the resumption of hostilities were
therefore taken on the French as well as on the German side.

The distribution of the French forces at the establishment of the
armistice was not favourable.

By General Faidherbe's advice the Army of the North was wholly
disbanded, as being too weak to face the strength opposing it. After the
XXIInd Corps had been transported by sea to Cherbourg, the Army of
Brittany under General de Colomb was composed of it, the XXVIIth and
part of the XIXth Corps, and, including Lipowski's volunteers,
Cathelineau's and other details, its strength was some 150,000 men.
General Loysel with 30,000 ill-armed and raw Gardes-Mobiles remained in
the trenches of Havre.

General Chanzy, after his retreat on Mayenne, had made a movement to the
left, preparatory to a new operation with the IInd Army of the Loire
from the Caen base, which, however, was never carried out. The XVIIIth,
XXIst, XVIth, and XXVIth Corps stood between the lower Loire and the
Cher from Angers to Châteauroux, in a strength of about 160,000 men
strong, the XXVth under General Pourcet was at Bourges, and General de
Pointe's Corps at Nevers. The Army of the Vosges had withdrawn southward
of Châlons sur Saône, and the remains of the Army of the East assembled
under General Crémer at Chambéry as the XXIVth Corps.

The total of all the field-troops amounted to 534,452 men. The
volunteers, even those most to be relied on, were dismissed, and the
National Guard was designated as for the present "incapable of rendering
any military service." In the depôts, the camps of instruction, and in
Algiers there were still 354,000 men, and 132,000 recruits were on the
lists as the contingent for 1871, but had not yet been called up.

In case the war should be persisted in, a plan for limiting it to the
defensive in the south-east of France was under consideration, for
which, however, according to the report sent on February 8th by the
Committee of Inquiry to the National Assembly, scarcely more than
252,000 men in fighting condition were available. The fleet, besides,
had given up so considerable a number of its men and guns for service on
land, that it was no longer able for any great undertaking at sea.

On the German side the first consideration was to reinforce the troops
to their full war-strength, and replenish the magazines.

The forts round Paris were at once armed on their fronts facing the
enceinte. In and between these were 680 guns, 145 of which were captured
French pieces; more than enough to keep the restless population under
control. A part of the forces previously occupied in the siege, being no
longer required, were removed, in order that the remaining troops should
have better accommodation. Besides, it seemed desirable to strengthen
the IInd Army, which had in its front the enemy's principal force. In
consequence the IVth Corps marched to Nogent le Rotrou, the Vth to
Orleans, and the IXth, relieved there, to Vendôme; so that now the
quarters of this army extended from Alençon to Tours, and up the Loire
as far as Gien and Auxerre.

The Ist Army was in the north with the VIIIth Corps on the Somme, and
the Ist on both sides of the Lower Seine; in the south the Army of the
South occupied the line of demarcation from Baume to Switzerland, and
the country in the rear.

At the end of February the German field-army on French soil consisted

    Infantry      464,221 men with 1674 guns.
    Cavalry        55,562 horses.

Troops in garrison:--

    Infantry      105,272 men with 68 guns.
    Cavalry          5681 horses.
      Total       630,736 men and 1742 guns.

Reserve forces remaining in Germany:--

       3288 officers.
    204,684 men.
     26,603 horses.

Arrangements were so made, that in case of a recommencement of
hostilities, the strongest resistance could be made at all points. The
armistice had nearly reached its end, and the troops had already been
more closely collected to be ready to take the initiative of the
offensive towards the south, when the Chancellor of the Confederation
announced the extension of the armistice to the 24th, which was again
prolonged to midnight on the 26th.

Considerable difficulties had arisen from the differences of opinion
with regard to the election of the National Assembly, between the
Government in Paris and the Delegation at Bordeaux. The Germans wished
to see carried out the choice, not of a party, but of the whole nation,
expressed by a free suffrage. But Gambetta had ruled, in violation of
the conditions of the armistice, that all who after December 2nd, 1851,
had held any position in the Imperial Government should be ineligible to
vote. It was not till the Parisian Government had obtained a majority by
sending several of its members to Bordeaux, and after the dictator had
resigned on February 6th, that the elections proceeded quickly and

The deputies duly assembled in Bordeaux by the 12th, the appointed day.
M. Thiers was elected chief of the executive, and went to Paris on the
19th with Jules Favre, determined to end the aimless war at any cost.

Negotiations for peace were opened, and after five days' vigorous
discussion, when at last on the German side the concession to restore
Belfort was made, the preliminaries were signed on the afternoon of the

France bound herself to give up in favour of Germany a part of Lorraine,
and the province of Alsace with the exception of Belfort, and also to
pay a war indemnity of five milliards of francs.

The evacuation of the districts in occupation of the German armies was
to begin immediately on the ratification of the treaty, and be continued
by degrees in proportion as the money was paid. While the German troops
remained on French soil they were to be maintained at the charge of the
country. On the other hand all requisitioning on the part of the Germans
was to cease. Immediately on the first instalment of evacuation the
French forces were to retire behind the Loire, with the exception of
20,000 men in Paris and the necessary garrisons in the fortresses.

After the ratification of these preliminaries, further terms were to be
discussed in Brussels, and the return of the French prisoners would
begin. The armistice was prolonged to March 12th; but it was in the
option of either of the belligerent powers to end it after March 3rd by
giving three days' notice.

Finally, it was stipulated that the German Army should have the
satisfaction of marching into Paris, and remaining there till the
ratification of the treaty; but would be restricted to the section of
the city from Point du Jour to the Rue du Faubourg St. Honoré. The entry
was made on March 1st, after a parade at Longchamps before his Majesty
of 30,000 men, consisting of 11,000 of the VIth, 11,000 of the IInd
Bavarian, and 8000 of the XIth Army Corps. On the 3rd and 5th of March
this force was to have been relieved by successive bodies of the same
strength, but M. Thiers succeeded by March 1st in getting the National
Assembly at Bordeaux to accept the treaty, after the deposition of the
Napoleonic dynasty had been decreed. The exchange of ratifications took
place in the afternoon of the 2nd, and on the 3rd the first instalment
of troops of occupation marched out of Paris back into its quarters.


By the IIIrd Article, the whole territory between the Seine and the
Loire, excepting Paris, was to be evacuated with as little delay as
possible by the troops of both sides; the right bank of the former
river, on the other hand, was only to be cleared on the conclusion of
the definitive treaty of peace. Even then the six eastern departments
were still to remain in German possession as a pledge for the last three
milliards; not, however, to be occupied by more than 50,000 men.

The marching directions were drawn up in the supreme Headquarter, with a
view as well to the comfort of the troops as to the reconstitution of
the original order of battle, and the possibility of rapid assembly in
case of need.

The forces detailed for permanent occupation of the ceded provinces
marched thither at once.

The Reserve and Landwehr troops at home were to be disbanded, as well as
the Baden Division, which, however, for the present was to remain there
as a mobilized force. The Governments-General in Lorraine, Rheims, and
Versailles were to be done away with, and their powers taken over by the
local Commanding-Generals. In the maintenance of order in the rear of
the army, the VIth and XIIth Corps, as well as the Würtemberg Field
Division, were placed at the direct disposition of the supreme

By March 31st the Army had taken full possession of the new territory
assigned to it, bounded on the west by the course of the Seine from its
source to its mouth.

The Ist Army was in the departments of Seine-Inférieure and Somme, the
IInd in front of Paris in the departments of Oise and Seine et Marne,
the IIIrd in the departments of Aube and Haute Marne, the Army of the
South in the districts most lately hostile. The forts of Paris on the
left bank were given up to the French authorities; the siege park and
the captured war material had been removed. In consideration of the
desire of the French Government that the National Assembly might be
allowed as early as possible to sit at Versailles, the supreme
Headquarter was removed to Ferrières, even sooner than had been agreed.
On March 15th his Majesty left Nancy for Berlin.

All the troops that were left before Paris were placed under the command
of the Crown Prince of Saxony, and General von Manteuffel was nominated
Commander of the Army of Occupation.

At the moment when France had freed herself by a heavy sacrifice, an
enemy of the most dangerous character appeared from within, in the
Commune of Paris.

The 40,000 men left there proved themselves unequal to the task of
keeping the rebellious agitation under control; which even during the
siege had on several occasions betrayed its existence, and now actually
broke out in open civil war. Large masses of people, fraternizing with
the National and Mobile Guards, possessed themselves of the guns and set
themselves in armed resistance to the Government. M. Thiers had already,
by March 18th, summoned to Versailles such regiments as could still be
trusted, to withdraw them from the disquieting influence of party
impulses, and for the protection of the National Assembly there. The
French capital was a prey to revolution, and now became an object of
pillage by French troops.

The Germans could easily have put a speedy end to the matter, but what
Government could allow its rights to be vindicated by foreign bayonets?
The German Commanders consequently limited themselves to forbidding at
least within their own districts any movement of disturbance, and to
preventing all further ingress into Paris from outside. The disarmament
operations which had commenced were interrupted; the troops of the IIIrd
Army were drawn closer to the forts, and the outposts were replaced
along the line of demarcation, whereon 200,000 men could now be
collected within two days. The authorities in Paris were also warned
that any attempt to arm the fronts facing the Germans would be followed
by the immediate bombardment of the city. The insurgents however, were
fully occupied in destroying and burning, and in executing their
commanders in the interior of Paris. They did not turn against their
foreign enemy, but against the Government chosen by the nation, and
prepared for an attack on Versailles.

The high officers of State there, bound by the conditions of the
armistice treaty, were almost defenceless; meanwhile the Germans were
prepared and willing to allow a reinforcement of 80,000 French troops to
be moved up from Besançon, Auxerre and Cambrai, the transport of whom
would be furthered by the German troops in occupation of the districts
through which they would have to pass.

The release of the prisoners on the other hand was temporarily
restricted. These were, for the most part, disciplined regulars; but
they might not improbably join the hostile party, so in the first
instance only 20,000 troops of the line were set free.

On April 4th General MacMahon advanced with the Government troops
against Paris, and entered the city on the 21st. As he was then engaged
for eight days in barricade fighting, and as great bands of fugitives
threatened to break through the German lines, the IIIrd Army was ordered
to take closer order. The outposts advanced almost to the gates of the
city, and barred all communication through them until, at the end of the
month, Paris was again in the control of the French Government.

In the meantime, the negotiations commenced in Brussels and continued in
Frankfort were making rapid progress, and on May 10th the definitive
treaty of peace based on the preliminaries was signed. The mutual
ratification followed within the appointed time of ten days.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus a war, carried on with such a vast expenditure of force on both
sides, was brought to an end by incessant and restless energy in the
short period of seven months.

Even in the first four weeks eight battles were fought, under which the
French Empire crumbled, and the French Army was swept from the field.

Fresh forces, numerous but incompetent, equalized the original numerical
superiority of the Germans, and twelve more battles needed to be fought,
to safeguard the decisive siege of the enemy's capital.

Twenty fortified places were taken, and not a single day passed on which
there was not fighting somewhere, on a larger or smaller scale.

The war cost the Germans heavy sacrifice; they lost 6247 officers,
123,453 men, 1 colour, 6 guns.

The total losses of the French were incalculable; in prisoners only they
amounted to:--

    In Germany                   11,860 officers, 371,981 men.
    In Paris                      7,456     "     241,686  "
    Disarmed in Switzerland.      2,192     "      88,381  "
                                 ------           -------
                                 21,508 officers, 702,048 men.

There were captured 107 colours and eagles, 1915 field-guns, 5526
fortress guns.

Strasburg and Metz, which had been alienated from the Fatherland in a
time of weakness, were recovered, and the German Empire had risen anew.





In the accounts of historical events, as they are handed down to
posterity, mistakes assume the form of legends which it is not always
easy subsequently to disprove.

Among others is the fable which ascribes, with particular zest and as a
matter of regular custom, the great decisions taken in the course of our
latest campaigns, to the deliberations of a council of war previously

For instance, the battle of Königgrätz.

I can relate in a few lines the circumstances under which an event of
such far-reaching importance had birth.

Feldzeugmeister Benedek had, in his advance to the northward, to secure
himself against the IInd Prussian Army marching on the east over the
mountains of Silesia. To this end four of his Corps had one after
another been pushed forward on his right flank, and had all been beaten
within three days. They now joined the main body of the Austrian Army,
which had meanwhile reached the vicinity of Dubenetz.

Here, then, on June 30th, almost the whole of the Austrian forces were
standing actually inside the line of operations between the two Prussian
armies; of which the Ist was already fighting its way to Gitschin,
designated from Berlin as the common point of concentration, and the
IInd had also advanced close on the Upper Elbe; thus they were both so
near that the enemy could not attack the one without the other falling
on his rear. The strategic advantage was nullified by the tactical

In these circumstances, and having already lost 40,000 men in previous
battles, General Benedek gave up the advance, and during the night of
June 30th began his retreat on Königgrätz.

The movement of six Army Corps and four Cavalry Divisions, marching in
only four columns, which were necessarily very deep, could not be
accomplished in the course of a single day. They halted very closely
concentrated between Trotina and Lipa; but when on July 2nd they still
remained there, it was owing to the extreme fatigue of the troops, and
the difficulty, nay, impossibility, of withdrawing so large a body of
men beyond the Elbe, under the eyes of an active enemy and by a limited
number of passages. In fact, the Austrian general could no longer
manoeuvre; he had no alternative but to fight.

It is a noteworthy fact that neither his advance on Dubenetz nor his
retreat on Lipa was known to the Prussians. These movements were
concealed from the IInd Army by the Elbe, and the cavalry of the Ist was
a mass of more than 8000 horse collected in one unwieldy Corps. The four
squadrons attached to each Infantry Division were of course not able to
undertake reconnoissances, as subsequently was later done in 1870 by a
more advantageous plan of formation.

Thus in the Royal head-quarters at Gitschin nothing certain was known.
It was supposed that the main body of the hostile army was still
advancing, and that it would take up a position with the Elbe in its
front and its flanks resting on the fortresses of Josephstadt and
Königgrätz. There were, then, these alternatives--either to turn this
extremely strong position, or attack it in front.

By the adoption of the first the communications of the Austrian Army
with Pardubitz would be so seriously threatened that it might probably
be compelled to retreat. But to secure the safety of such a movement our
IInd Army must relieve our Ist and cross over to the right bank of the
Elbe. And in this case the flank march of the latter close past the
enemy's front might easily be interfered with, if passages enough across
the river had been prepared by him.

In the second case, success could only be hoped for if an advance of the
IInd Army on the right flank of the enemy's position could be combined
with the attack in front. For this it must be kept on the left bank.

The separation of the two armies, which was for the present
intentionally maintained, allowed of either plan being followed; but
mine was the serious responsibility of advising his Majesty which should
be chosen.

To keep both alternatives open for the present, General von Herwarth was
ordered to occupy Pardubitz, and the Crown Prince to remain on the left
bank of the Elbe, to reconnoitre that river as well as the Aupa and the
Metau, and to remove all obstacles which might oppose a crossing in one
or the other direction. At length, on July 2nd, Prince Frederick Charles
was ordered, in the event of his finding a large force in front of the
Elbe, to attack it at once. But, on the evening of that day, it came to
the knowledge of the Prince that the whole Austrian Army had marched to
and was in position on the Bistritz; and in obedience to instructions
received, he at once ordered the Ist Army and the Army of the Elbe to
assemble close in front of the enemy by daybreak next morning.

General von Voigts-Rhetz brought the news at eleven o'clock in the
evening to the King at Gitschin, and his Majesty sent him over to me.

This information dispelled all doubts and lifted a weight from my heart.
With a "Thank God!" I sprang out of bed, and hastened across to the
King, who was lodged on the other side of the Market Place.

His Majesty also had gone to rest in his little camp-bed. After a brief
explanation on my part, he said he fully understood the situation,
decided on giving battle next day with all three armies in co-operation,
and desired me to transmit the necessary orders to the Crown Prince, who
was at once to cross the Elbe.

The whole interview with his Majesty lasted barely ten minutes. No one
else was present.

This was the "Council of War" before Königgrätz.

General von Podbielski and Major Count Wartensleben shared my quarters.
The orders to the IInd Army were drawn up forthwith and despatched in
duplicate by two different routes by midnight. One, carried by General
von Voigts-Rhetz, informed Prince Frederick Charles of all the
dispositions; the other was sent direct to Königinhof.

In the course of his night-ride of above twenty-eight miles,
Lieutenant-Colonel Count Finckenstein had to pass the rayon of the Ist
Army Corps, which was furthest to the rear. He handed to the officer on
duty a special letter to be forwarded immediately to the general in
command, ordering an immediate assemblage of his troops and an
independent advance, even before orders should reach him from

The position of the Austrians on July 3rd had a front of not more than
4-3/4 miles. Our three armies advanced on it in an encompassing arc of
about twenty-four miles in extent. But while in the centre the Ist and
IInd Corps of the Ist Army stood before daylight close in front of the
enemy, on the right wing General von Herwarth had to advance on the
Bistritz from Smidar in the dark, by very bad roads, above nine miles;
and on the left, the orders from the Royal head-quarter could not even
reach the Crown Prince before four in the morning. It was therefore
decided that the centre would have to maintain a detaining engagement
for several hours. Above all, a possible offensive on the part of the
enemy must here be met, and for this the whole IIIrd Corps and the
cavalry corps stood ready; but the battle could only be decided by the
double flank attack by both the flanking armies.[84]

I had ridden out early to the heights in front of Sadowa with my
officers, and at eight o'clock the King also arrived there.

It was a dull morning, and from time to time a shower fell. The horizon
was dim, yet on the right the white clouds of smoke showed that the
heads of the Ist Army were already fighting some way off, in front of
the villages on the Bistritz. On the left, in the woods of Swip, brisk
rifle-firing was audible. Behind the King, besides his staff, were his
royal guests, with their numerous suites of adjutants, equerries, and
led horses, in number as many as two squadrons. An Austrian battery
seemed to have selected them to aim at, and compelled him to move away
with a smaller following.

Soon afterwards, with Count Wartensleben, I rode through the village of
Sadowa, which the enemy had already abandoned. The advanced guard of the
8th Division had massed its guns behind the wood under cover of the
sharpshooters who had been sent forward, but many shells fell there from
a large battery in front of the exits from the copses. As we rode
further along the road we admired the coolness of a huge ox, which went
on its way, heedless of the shot, and seemed determined to charge the
enemy's position.

The formidable array of the IIIrd and Xth Austrian Corps' Artillery
opposite the wood prevented any attempt to break through it, and I was
in time to countermand an order which had been given to do so.

Meanwhile, further to the left, General von Fransecky had vigorously
passed to the offensive. After a sharp struggle he had driven the enemy
out of the Swip woods, and come through to the further side. Against him
he had the IVth Austrian Corps; but now the IInd and part of the IIIrd
Austrian Corps turned on the 7th Division; 57 battalions against 14. In
the thick brushwood all the bodies had become mixed, personal command
was impossible, and, in spite of our obstinate resistance, isolated
detachments were taken prisoners, and others were dispersed.

Such a rabble rushed out of the wood at the very moment when the King
and his staff rode up; his Majesty looked on with some displeasure,[85]
but the wounded officer, who was trying to keep his little band
together, at once led it back into the fight. In spite of heavy losses
the division got firm possession of the northern side of the wood. It
had drawn on itself very considerable forces of the enemy, which were
subsequently missing from the positions which it was their duty to have

It was now eleven o'clock. The heads of the Ist Army had crossed the
Bistritz, and taken most of the villages on its further bank; but these
were only the enemy's advanced posts, which he had no intention of
obstinately holding. His Corps held a position behind, whence their 250
guns commanded the open plain which had to be crossed for the delivery
of a further attack. On the right, General von Herwarth had reached the
Bistritz, but on the left nothing was yet to be seen of the Crown

The battle had come to a standstill. In the centre the Ist Army was
still fighting about the villages on the Bistritz; the cavalry could not
get forward, and the artillery found no good position to occupy. The
troops had been for five hours under the enemy's lively fire, without
food, to prepare which there had been no time.

Some doubt as to the issue of the battle existed probably in many minds;
perhaps in that of Count Bismarck, as he offered me his cigar case. As I
was subsequently informed, he took it for a good sign that of two cigars
I coolly selected the better one.

The King asked me at about this time what I thought of the prospects of
the battle. I replied, "Your Majesty to-day will not only win the
battle, but decide the war."

It could not be otherwise.

We had the advantage in numbers,[86] which in war is never to be
despised; and it was certain that our IInd Army must finally appear on
the flank and rear of the Austrians.

At about 1.30 a white cloud was seen on the height, crowned with trees,
and visible from afar, on which our field-glasses had been centred. It
was indeed not yet the IInd Army, but the smoke of the fire which,
directed thereon, announced its near approach. The joyful shout, "The
Crown Prince is coming!" ran through the ranks. I sent the wished-for
news to General von Herwarth, who meanwhile had carried Problus, in
spite of the heroic defence of the Saxons.

The IInd Army had started at 7.30 in the morning; only the Ist Corps had
delayed till about 9.15. The advance by bad roads, in part across the
fields, had taken much time. The hill-road stretching from Horenowes to
Trotina, if efficiently held, could not but be a serious obstacle. But
in its eager pressure on Fransecky's Division the enemy's right wing had
made a wheel to the left, so that it lay open to some extent to the
attack on its rear now impending.

The Crown Prince's progress was not yet visible to us, but at about
half-past three the King ordered the advance of the Ist Army also.

As we emerged from the wood of Sadowa into the open we found still a
part of the great battery which had so long prevented us from debouching
here, but the teams and gunners lay stretched by the wrecked guns. There
was nothing else to be seen of the enemy over a wide distance.

The Austrian retreat from the position grasped by us on two sides, had
become inevitable, and had, in fact, been effected some time before.
Their admirable artillery, firing on to the last moment, had screened
their retreat and given the infantry a long start. The crossing of the
Bistritz seriously delayed the advance, especially of the cavalry, so
that only isolated detachments of it yet came up with the enemy.

We rode at a smart gallop across the wide field of battle, without
looking much about us on the scene of horror. Finally, we found our
three armies which had at last pushed on into a circumscribed space from
their several directions, and had got much mixed. It took twenty-four
hours to remedy the confusion and re-form the bodies; an immediate
pursuit was impossible, but the victory was complete.

The exhausted men now sought resting-places in the villages or the open
field as best they might. Anything that came to hand by way of food was
of course taken; my wandering ox probably among the rest. The
death-cries of pigs and geese were heard; but necessity knows no law,
and the baggage-waggons were naturally not on the spot.

The King, too, remained at a hamlet on the field. Only I and my two
officers had to journey some twenty-four miles back to Gitschin, where
the bureaux were.

We had set out thence at four in the morning, and had been fourteen
hours in the saddle. In the hurry of departure no one had thought of
providing himself with food. An Uhlan of the 2nd Regiment had bestowed
on me a slice of sausage, bread he had none himself. On our way back we
met the endless train of provision and ammunition waggons, often
extending all across the road. We did not reach our quarters till
midnight. There was nothing to eat even here at this hour, but I was so
exhausted that I threw myself on my bed in great-coat and sash, and fell
asleep instantly. Next morning new orders had to be prepared and laid
before his Majesty at Horitz.

The Great King[87] had needed to struggle for seven years to reduce the
might of Austria, which his more fortunate and also more powerful
grandson[88] had achieved in as many weeks. The campaign had proved
decisive in the first eight days from June 27th to July 3rd.

The war of 1866 was entered on not as a defensive measure to meet a
threat against the existence of Prussia, nor in obedience to public
opinion and the voice of the people: it was a struggle, long foreseen
and calmly prepared for, recognized as a necessity by the Cabinet, not
for territorial aggrandizement or material advantage, but for an ideal
end--the establishment of power. Not a foot of land was exacted from
defeated Austria, but she had to renounce all part in the hegemony of

The Princes of the Reich had themselves to blame that the old Empire had
now for centuries allowed domestic politics to override German national
politics. Austria had exhausted her strength in conquests south of the
Alps while she left the western German provinces unprotected, instead of
following the road pointed out by the course of the Danube. Her centre
of gravity lay outside of Germany; Prussia's lay within it. Prussia felt
her strength, and that it behoved her to assume the leadership of the
German races. The regrettable but unavoidable exclusion of one of them
from the new Reich could only be to a small extent remedied by a
subsequent alliance. But Germany has become immeasurably greater without
Austria, than it was before with Austria.

But all this has nothing to do with the legends of which I am telling.

One of these has been sung in verse, and in fine verse too.

The scene is Versailles. The French are making a sortie from Paris, and
the generals, instead of betaking themselves to their fighting troops,
are assembled to consider whether head-quarters may safely remain any
longer at Versailles. Opinions are divided, no one dares speak out. The
Chief of the General Staff, who is above all called on to express his
views, remains silent. The perplexity seems to be great. Only the War
Minister rises and protests with the greatest emphasis against a measure
so injurious from a political and military point of view as a removal.
He is warmly thanked by the King as being the only man who has the
courage to speak the truth freely and fearlessly.

The truth is that while the King and his whole escort had ridden out to
the Vth Army Corps, the Marshal of the household, in his over-anxiety,
had the horses put to the royal carriages, and this became known in the
town; and indeed may have excited all sorts of hopes in the sanguine

Versailles was protected by four Army Corps. It never entered anybody's
head to think of evacuating the town.

I can positively assert no Council of War was ever held either in 1866
or 1870--71.

Excepting on the march and on days of battle, an audience was regularly
held by his Majesty at ten o'clock, at which I, accompanied by the
Quartermaster-General, laid the latest reports and information before
him, and made our suggestions on that basis. The Chief of the Military
Cabinet and the Minister of War were also present, and while the
head-quarters of the IIIrd Army were at Versailles, the Crown Prince
also; but all merely as listeners. The King occasionally required them
to give him information on one point or another; but I do not remember
that he ever asked for advice concerning the operations in the field or
the suggestions I made.

These, which I always discussed beforehand with my staff officers, were,
on the contrary, generally maturely weighed by his Majesty himself. He
always pointed out with a military eye and an invariably correct
estimate of the situation, all the objections that might be raised to
their execution; but as in war every step is beset with danger, the
plans laid before him were invariably adopted.


[84] viz. The IInd Army, commanded by the Crown Prince of Prussia, which
was to strike the Austrian right flank and right rear; and the Army of
the Elbe, commanded by General Herwarth von Bittenfeld, which was to
strike the Austrian left flank.

[85] I have a history of the war, published at Tokio, in the Japanese
language, with very original illustrations. One of these has for its
title, "The King scolding the Army." [MOLTKE.]

[86] During a long peace the sphere of action of the War Minister's
department and the General Staff were not distinctly defined. The
providing for the troops in peace was the function of the former, and in
war time a number of official duties which could be superintended by the
central authorities at home. Thus the place of the Minister of War was
not at head-quarters, but at Berlin. The Chief of the General Staff, on
the other hand, from the moment when the mobilization is ordered,
assumes the whole responsibility for the marching and transport already
prepared for during peace, both for the first assembling of the forces,
and for their subsequent employment, for which he has only to ask the
consent of the Commander-in-Chief--always, with us, the King.

How necessary this disjunction of the two authorities is, I had to
experience in June, 1866. Without my knowledge the order had been given
for the VIIth Corps to remain on the Rhine. It was only by my
representations that the 16th Division was moved up into Bohemia, and
our numerical superiority thus brought up to a decisive strength.

[87] Frederick the Great.

[88] Wilhelm was not the grandson, but the great-grand-nephew of
Frederick the Great. The term is very rarely used in the wider sense of
"descendant;" but Frederick was childless.




    Commander-in-Chief: The Emperor Napoleon III.
    Major-General: Marshal Le Boeuf.
    Aide-Major-General: General Dejean.
    Chiefs of Staff: Generals Jarras and Lebrun.
    Commanding Artillery: General Soleille.
    Commanding Engineer: General Coffinières de Nordeck.
    Aides-de-camp to the Emperor: Generals Prince de la Moscawa, de
      Castlenau, Count Reille, Viscount Pajol.


    General Bourbaki.
    Chief of Staff: General d'Auvergne.
    Commanding Artillery: General Pé-de-Arros.

_1st Infantry Division_: General Deligny.

    1st Brigade: General Brincourt.
        Chasseurs of the Guard.
        1st and 2nd Voltigeurs of the Guard.

    2nd Brigade: General Garnier.
        3rd and 4th Voltigeurs of the Guard.

        Two 4-pounder batteries, one mitrailleuse battery.

_2nd Infantry Division_: General Picard.

    1st Brigade: General Jeanningros.
        Zouaves of the Guard (two battalions).
        1st Grenadiers of the Guard.

    2nd Brigade: General Poitevin de la Croix.
        2nd and 3rd Grenadiers of the Guard.

        Two 4-pounder batteries, one mitrailleuse battery.

_Cavalry Division_: General Desvaux.

    1st Brigade: General Halma du Frétay.
        Chasseurs of the Guard.

    2nd Brigade: General de France.
        Lancers of the Guard.
        Dragoons of the Guard.

    3rd Brigade: General du Preuil.
        Cuirassiers of the Guard.
        Carabiniers of the Guard.

_Reserve Artillery_: Colonel Clappier

    Four horse-artillery batteries.


    Marshal MacMahon, afterwards General Ducrot.
    Chief of Staff: General Colson.
    Commanding Artillery: General Forgeot.

_1st Infantry Division_: General Ducrot.

    1st Brigade: General Moreno.
        13th Chasseur battalion.
        18th and 96th Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General de Postis du Houlbec.
        45th and 74th Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder batteries and one mitrailleuse battery.

_2nd Infantry Division_: General Abel Douay, afterwards General Pellé.

    1st Brigade: General Pelletier de Montmarie.
        16th Chasseur battalion.
        50th and 78th Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General Pellé.
        1st regiment of Zouaves.
        1st regiment of Turcos.

        Two 4-pounder batteries, one mitrailleuse battery.

_3rd Infantry Division_: General Raoult.

    1st Brigade: General L'Heriller.
        8th Chasseur battalion.
        2nd Zouave regiment.
        36th Line regiment.

    2nd Brigade: General Lefèvre.
        2nd regiment of Turcos.
        48th Line regiment.

        Two 4-pounder batteries, one mitrailleuse battery.

_4th Infantry Division_: General de Lartigue.

    1st Brigade: General Frabonlet de Kerléadec.
        1st battalion of Chasseurs.
        3rd Zouave regiment.
        56th Line regiment.

    2nd Brigade: General Lacretelle.
        3rd regiment of Turcos.
        87th Line regiment.

        Two 4-pounder batteries, one mitrailleuse battery.

_Cavalry Division_: General Duhesme.

    1st Brigade: General de Septeuil.
        3rd Hussar regiment.
        11th Chasseur regiment.

    2nd Brigade: General de Nansouty.
        2nd and 6th Lancer regiments.
        10th Dragoon regiment.

    3rd Brigade: General Michel.
        8th and 9th Cuirassier regiments.

_Reserve Artillery_: Colonel de Vassart.

    Two 4-pounder batteries.
    Two 12-pounder batteries.
    Four horse-artillery batteries.


    General Frossard.
    Chief of Staff: General Saget.
    Commanding Artillery: General Gagneux.

_1st Infantry Division_: General Verge

    1st Brigade: General Letellier-Valazé.
        3rd battalion of Chasseurs.
        32nd and 55th Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General Jobivet.
        76th and 77th Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_2nd Infantry Division_: General Bataille.

    1st Brigade: General Pouget.
        12th battalion of Chasseurs.
        8th and 23rd Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General Fauvart-Bastoul.
        66th and 67th Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_3rd Infantry Division_: General Laveaucoupet.

    1st Brigade: General Doens.
        10th battalion of Chasseurs.
        2nd and 63rd Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General Michelet.
        24th and 40th Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_Cavalry Division_: General Lichtlin.

    1st Brigade: General de Valabrèque.
        4th and 5th regiments of Chasseurs.

    2nd Brigade: General Bachelier.
        7th and 12th regiments of Dragoons.

_Reserve-Artillery_: Colonel Baudouin.

    Two 4-pounder batteries.
    Two 12-pounder batteries.
    Two mitrailleuse batteries.


    Marshal Bazaine, afterwards General Decaen.
    Chief of Staff: General Manèque.
    Commanding Artillery: General de Rochebouet.

_1st Infantry Division_: General Montaudon.

    1st Brigade: General Aymard.
        18th Chasseur battalion.
        51st and 62nd Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General Clinchant.
        81st and 95th Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_2nd Infantry Division_: General de Castagny.

    1st Brigade: General Cambriels.
        15th Chasseur battalion.
        19th and 41st Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General Duplessis.
        69th and 90th Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_3rd Infantry Division_: General Metman.

    1st Brigade: General de Potier.
        7th Chasseur battalion.
        7th and 29th Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General Arnaudeau.
        59th and 71st Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_4th Infantry Division_: General Decaen.

    1st Brigade: General de Brauer.
        11th Chasseur battalion.
        44th and 60th Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General Sanglé-Ferrières.
        80th and 85th Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_Cavalry Division_: General de Clérembault.

    1st Brigade: General de Bruchard.
        2nd, 3rd, and 10th Chasseur regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General de Maubranches.
        2nd and 4th Dragoon regiments.

    3rd Brigade: General de Juniac.
        5th and 8th Dragoon regiments.

_Reserve Artillery_: Colonel de Lajaille.

    Two 4-pounder batteries.
    Two 12-pounder batteries.
    Four horse-artillery batteries.


    General de Ladmirault.
    Chief of Staff: General Desaint de Martille.
    Commanding Artillery: General Laffaile.

_1st Infantry Division_: General de Cissey.

    1st Brigade: General Count Brayer.
        20th Chasseur battalion.
        1st and 6th Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General de Golberg.
        57th and 73rd Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_2nd Infantry Division_: General Rose.

    1st Brigade: General Bellecourt.
        5th Chasseur battalion.
        13th and 43rd Line Regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General Pradier.
        64th and 98th Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_3rd Infantry Division_: General de Lorencez.

    1st Brigade: General Pajol.
        2nd Chasseur battalion.
        15th and 33rd Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General Berger.
        54th and 65th Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_Cavalry Division_: General Legrand.

    1st Brigade: General de Montaigu.
        2nd and 7th Hussar regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General de Gondrecourt.
        3rd and 11th Dragoon regiments.

_Reserve-Artillery_: Colonel Soleille.

    Two 4-pounder batteries.
    Two 12-pounder batteries.
    Two horse-artillery batteries.


    General de Failly.
    Chief of Staff: General Besson.
    Commanding Artillery: General Liédot.

_1st Infantry Division_: General Goze.

    1st Brigade: General Grenier.
        4th Chasseur battalion.
        11th and 46th Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General Nicolas.
        61st and 86th Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_2nd Infantry Division_: General de l'Abadie d'Aydroin.

    1st Brigade: General Lapasset.
        14th Chasseur battalion.
        49th and 84th Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General de Maussion.
        88th and 97th Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_3rd Infantry Division_: General Guyot de Lespart.

    1st Brigade: General Abbatucci.
        19th Chasseur battalion.
        17th and 27th Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General de Fontanges de Couzan.
        30th and 68th Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_Cavalry Division_: General Brahaut.

    1st Brigade: General Pierre de Bernis.
        5th and 12th Chasseur regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General de la Mortière.
        3rd and 5th Lancer regiments.

        One battery of horse-artillery.

_Reserve-Artillery_: Colonel de Salignac-Fénelon.

    Two 4-pounder batteries.
    Two 12-pounder batteries.
    Two horse-artillery batteries.


    Marshal Canrobert.
    Chief of Staff: General Henri.
    Commanding Artillery: General de Berkheim.

_1st Infantry Division_: General Tixier.

    1st Brigade: General Péchot.
        9th Chasseur battalion.
        4th and 10th Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General Le Roy de Dais.
        12th and 100th Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_2nd Infantry Division_: General Bisson.

    1st Brigade: General Noël.
        9th and 14th Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General Maurice.
        20th and 30th Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_3rd Infantry Division_: General La Font de Villiers.

    1st Brigade: General Becquet de Sonnay.
        75th and 91st Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General Colin.
        93rd Line regiment.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_4th Infantry Division_: General Levassor-Sorval.

    1st Brigade: General de Marguenat.
        25th and 26th Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General de Chanaleilles.
        28th and 70th Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_Cavalry Division_: General de Salignac-Fénelon.

    1st Brigade: General Tilliard.
        1st Hussar regiment.
        6th Chasseur regiment.

    2nd Brigade: General Savaresse.
        1st and 7th Lancer regiments.

    3rd Brigade: General de Béville.
        5th and 6th Cuirassier regiments.

        Two batteries of horse-artillery.

_Reserve-Artillery_: Colonel de Montluisant.

    Two 4-pounder batteries.
    Two 12-pounder batteries.
    Four batteries of horse-artillery.


    General Félix Douay.
    Chief of Staff: General Renson.
    Commanding Artillery: General Liègard.

_1st Infantry Division_: General Conseil-Dumesnil.

    1st Brigade: General Le Norman de Bretteville.
        17th Chasseur battalion.
        3rd and 21st Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General Maire.
        47th and 99th Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, two mitrailleuse batteries.

_2nd Infantry Division_: General Liébert.

    1st Brigade: General Guiomar.
        6th Chasseur battalion.
        5th and 37th Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General de la Bastide.
        53rd and 89th Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_3rd Infantry Division_: General Dumont.

    1st Brigade: General Bordas.
        52nd and 72nd Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General Bittard des Portes.
        82nd and 83rd Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_Cavalry Division_: General Ameil.

    1st Brigade: General Cambriel.
        4th Hussar regiments.
        4th and 8th Lancer regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General Jolif du Coulombier.
        6th Hussar regiment.
        6th Dragoon regiment.

        One battery of horse-artillery.

_Reserve Artillery._

    Two 4-pounder batteries.
    Two 12-pounder batteries.
    Two batteries horse-artillery.


_1st Division_: General du Barrail.

    1st Brigade: General Margueritte.
        1st and 3rd regiments Chasseurs d'Afrique.

    2nd Brigade: General de Lajaille.
        2nd and 4th regiments Chasseurs d'Afrique.

        Two batteries of horse-artillery.

_2nd Division_: General de Bonnemains.

    1st Brigade: General Girard.
        1st and 2nd Cuirassier regiments.

    2nd Brigade:
        3rd and 4th Cuirassier regiments.

        Two batteries of horse-artillery.

_3rd Division_: General Marquis de Forton.

    1st Brigade: General Prince J. Murat.
        1st and 9th Dragoon regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General de Grammont.
        7th and 10th Cuirassier regiments.

        Two batteries of horse-artillery.


    General Cann.
    Chief of Staff: Colonel Laffont de Ladébat.
    13th Field-Artillery regiment.
      Eight 12-pounder batteries.
    18th Field-Artillery regiment.
      Eight batteries of horse-artillery.
    Three mountain batteries.

_Note_.--The 6th Corps (Canrobert), when ordered to Metz from Châlons,
left there three line regiments, its cavalry division, and reserve

The battle of Wörth divided the original Army of the Rhine into two
parts, one of which is generally known as "The Army of Metz," and the
other, with additions, became "The Army of Châlons." Their respective
"Orders of Battle" follow:--


    Commander-in-Chief: Marshal MacMahon, Duke of Magenta,
        afterwards General de Wimpfen.
    Chief of Staff: General Faure.
    Commanding Artillery: General Forgeot.
    Commanding Engineer: General Dejean.
    Intendant-General: Rousillon.


    General Ducrot.
    Chief of Staff: Colonel Robert.
    Commanding Artillery: General Frigola.

_1st Infantry Division_: General Wolff.

    1st Brigade: General Moreno.
      13th Chasseur battalion.
      18th and 96th Line regiments.
    2nd Brigade: General de Postis du Houlbec.
      45th Line regiment.
      1st Zouave regiment.
      Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_2nd Infantry Division_: General Pellé.

    1st Brigade: General Pelletier de Montmarie.
      16th Chasseur battalion.
      50th and 74th Line regiments.
    2nd Brigade: General Gandil.
      78th Line regiment.
      1st regiment of Turcos.
      1st "marching" regiment.
      Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_3rd Infantry Division_: General L'Heriller.

    1st Brigade: General Carteret-Trécourt.
        8th Chasseur battalion.
        2nd Zouave regiment.
        36th Line regiment.

    2nd Brigade: General Lefébvre.
        2nd regiment of Turcos.
        48th Line regiment.
        1st battalion of Franctireurs of Paris.

        Two 4 pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_4th Infantry Division_: General de Lartigue.

    1st Brigade: General Fraboulet de Kerléadec.
        1st Chasseur battalion.
        3rd regiment of Tirailleurs (Turcos).
        56th Line regiment.

    2nd Brigade: General de Bellemare.
        3rd Zouave regiment.
        2nd "marching" regiment.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_Cavalry Division_: General Duhesme; after August 25, General Michel.

    1st Brigade: General de Septeuil.
        3rd Hussar regiment.
        11th Chasseur regiment.

    2nd Brigade: General de Nansouty.
        2nd and 6th Lancer regiments.
        10th Dragoon regiment.

    3rd Brigade: General Michel.
        8th and 9th Cuirassier regiments.

_Reserve Artillery_: Colonel Grouvell.

    Two 4-pounder batteries.
    Two 12-pounder batteries.
    Four batteries of horse-artillery.


    General de Failly.
    Chief of Staff: General Besson.
    Commanding Artillery: General Liédot.

_1st Infantry Division_: General Goze.

    1st Brigade: General Grenier, later General Saurin.
        4th Chasseur battalion.
        11th and 46th Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General Baron Nicolas-Nicolas.
        61st and 86th Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_2nd Infantry Division_: General de l'Abadie d'Aydrein.

    1st Brigade: General Lapasset.
        (With the army of Metz.)

    2nd Brigade: General de Maussion.
        88th and 97th Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_3rd Infantry Division_: General Guyot de Lespart.

    1st Brigade: General Abbatucci.
        19th Chasseur battalion.
        17th and 27th Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General de Fontanges de Couzan.
        30th and 68th Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_Cavalry Division_: General Brahaut.

    1st Brigade: General Viscount Pierre de Bernis.
        5th and 6th Chasseur regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General de la Mortière.
        3rd and 5th Lancer regiments.

        One battery of horse-artillery.

_Reserve Artillery_: Colonel de Salignac-Fénelon.

    Two 4-pounder batteries.
    Two 12-pounder batteries.
    Two batteries of horse-artillery.


    General Félix Douay.
    Chief of Staff: General Renson.
    Commanding Artillery: General Liègard.

_1st Infantry Division_: General Conseil-Dumesnil.

    1st Brigade: General Morand, afterwards General la Brettevillois.
        17th Chasseur battalion.
        3rd and 21st Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General St. Hilaire.
        47th and 99th Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, two mitrailleuse batteries.

_2nd Infantry Division_: General Liébert.

    1st Brigade: General Guiomar.
        6th Chasseur battalion.
        5th and 37th Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General de la Bastide.
        53rd and 89th Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_3rd Infantry Division_: General Dumont.

    1st Brigade: General Bordas.
        52nd and 72nd Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General Bittard des Portes.
        82nd and 83rd Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_Cavalry Brigade_: General Ameil.

    1st Brigade: General Cambriel.
        4th Hussar regiment.
        4th and 8th Lancer regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General du Coulombier (appointed).

        One battery of horse-artillery.

_Reserve-Artillery_: Colonel Aubac.

    Two 4-pounder batteries.
    Two 12-pounder batteries.
    Two batteries of horse-artillery.


    General Lebrun.
    Chief of Staff: General Gresley.
    Commanding Artillery: General d'Ouvrier de Villegly.

_1st Infantry Division_: General Grandchamp.

    1st Brigade: General Cambriels.
        1 Chasseur marching battalion.
        22nd and 34th Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General de Villeneuve.
        58th and 72nd Line regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_2nd Infantry Division_: General Lacretelle.

    1st Brigade: General Bernier Maligny.
        14th, 20th, and 30th Line regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General Marquisan.
        3rd and 4th marching regiments.

        Two 4-pounder, two mitrailleuse batteries.

_3rd Infantry Division_: General de Vassoigne.

    1st Brigade: General Reboul.
        1st and 2nd regiments of marine infantry.

    2nd Brigade: General Martin de Paillières.
        3rd and 4th regiments of marine infantry.

        Two 4-pounder, one mitrailleuse battery.

_Cavalry Division_: General de Salignac-Fénelon.

    1st Brigade: General Savaresse.
        1st and 7th Lancer regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General de Béville.
        5th and 6th Cuirassier regiments.

    3rd Brigade: General Leforestier de Vendeune.
        7th and 8th Chasseurs.

_Reserve Artillery_: Colonel Brisac.

    Two 4-pounder batteries.
    Two 12-pounder batteries.
    Two batteries of horse-artillery.


_1st Reserve Cavalry Division_: General Margueritte.

    1st Brigade: General Tillard.
        1st and 2nd Chasseurs regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General de Galiffet.
        1st, 3rd and 4th Chasseurs d'Afrique.

        Two batteries of horse-artillery.

_2nd Reserve Cavalry Division_: General de Bonnemains.

    1st Brigade: General Girard.
        1st Hussar regiment.
        47th Chasseur regiment.

    2nd Brigade: General de Brauer.
        2nd and 3rd Cuirassiers.


    Commander-in-Chief: Marshal Bazaine.
    Chief of Staff: General Jarras.
    Commanding Artillery: General Soleille.
    Commanding Engineer: General Viala.


    General Bourbaki (afterwards General Desvaux).
    Chief of Staff: General d'Auvergne.
    Commanding Artillery: General Pé-de-Arros.

(Detail as above.)


    General Frossard.

(Detail as above with the exception of the 3rd Division (Laveaucoupet's)
detached to garrison duty.)


    General Decaen, afterwards Marshal Le Boeuf.

(Detail as above.)


    General de Ladmirault.

(Detail as above.)


    Marshal Canrobert.

     (Detail as above, with the exception that the Corps when
     ordered up to Metz, left behind at Châlons three infantry
     regiments, its cavalry division, its reserve artillery, and
     division artillery of the 2nd Division.)

    LAPASSET'S BRIGADE (from attached 5th Corps).

    General Lapasset.
        14th Chasseur battalion.
        49th and 84th Line regiments.


_1st Reserve Cavalry Division_: General du Barrail.

    1st Brigade: General Margueritte.
        (Vide Army of Châlons.)

    2nd Brigade: General de Lajaille.
        2nd Regiment of Chasseurs d'Afrique.
        (The 4th regiment of Chasseurs d'Afrique remained at Châlons.)

      Two batteries of horse-artillery.

_2nd Reserve Cavalry Division_: General de Forton.

    1st Brigade: General Prince J. Murat.
        1st and 9th Dragoon regiments.

    2nd Brigade: General de Grammont.
        7th and 10th Cuirassier regiments.


(As above, less six batteries detached to the 6th Corps.)

ON 1ST AUGUST, 1870.

    Commander-in-Chief: H.M. the King of Prussia.
    King's aides-de-camp: General von Boyen; Lieut.-General von Treskow;
        Major-General von Steinäcker; Colonel Count Lehndorff;
        Lieut.-Colonel Prince Radziwill; Lieut.-Colonel Count Waldersee;
        Major von Alten.
    Chief of Staff: General Baron von Moltke.
    Quarter-Master General: Lieut.-General von Podbielski.
    Divisional Chiefs of Staff: Lieut.-Colonel Bronsart von
        Schellendorf; Lieut.-Colonel von Verdy du Vernois;
        Lieut.-Colonel von Brandenstein.
    Inspector-General of Artillery: General von Hindersin.
    Inspector-General of Engineers: Lieut.-General von Kleist.
    Commissary-General: Lieut.-General von Stosch.


    Commander-in-Chief: General von Steinmetz, afterwards General
        von Manteuffel.
    Chief of Staff: Major-General von Sperling.
    Quartermaster-General: Colonel Count von Wartensleben.
    Commanding Artillery: Lieut.-General Schwartz.
    Commanding Engineer: Major-General Biehler.


    Infantry-General von Zastrow.
    Chief of Staff: Colonel von Unger.
    Commanding Artillery: Major-General von Zimmermann.
    Commanding Engineer: Major Treumann.

_13th Infantry Division_: Lieut.-General von Glümer.

    25th Brigade: Major-General Baron v. d. Osten Sacken.
        1st Westphalian Infantry regiment, No. 13.
        Hanoverian Fusilier regiment, No. 73.

    26th Brigade: Major-General Baron v. d. Goltz.
        2nd Westphalian Infantry regiment, No. 15.
        6th Westphalian Infantry regiment, No. 55.

    Attached to Division:
        7th Westphalian Jäger battalion.
        1st Westphalian Hussar regiment, No. 8.
        Five batteries (two heavy, two light, and one horse-artillery)
            of the 7th field-artillery regiment.

    2nd Field-pioneer company, 7th corps, with entrenching tool-column.

    3rd Field-pioneer company, 7th corps.

_14th Infantry Division_: Lieut.-General von Kamecke.

    27th Brigade: Major-General von François.
        Lower Rhine Fusilier regiment, No. 39.
        1st Hanoverian Infantry regiment, No. 74.

    28th Brigade: Major-General von Woyna.
        5th Westphalian Infantry regiment, No. 53.
        2nd Hanoverian Infantry regiment, No. 77.

    Attached to Division:
        Four batteries (two heavy and two light) of the 7th Westphalian
          field-artillery regiment.
        Hanoverian Hussar regiment, No. 15.
        1st Field-pioneer company, 7th corps, with light bridging-train.

_Corps-Artillery_: Colonel von Helden-Sarnowski.

        Two Horse artillery, two light, and two heavy field-batteries
            of the 7th Field-artillery regiment.
        Artillery Ammunition columns.
        Infantry      "         "
            "     Pontoon       "

    The 7th Westphalian train-battalion.


    Infantry-General von Goeben.
    Chief of Staff: Colonel von Witzendorff.
    Commanding Artillery: Colonel von Kamecke.
    Commanding Engineer: Lieut.-Colonel Schulz.

_15th Infantry Division_: Lieut.-General von Weltzien.

    29th Brigade: Major-General von Wedell.
        East Prussian Fusilier regiment, No. 33.
        7th Brandenburg Infantry regiment, No. 60.

    30th Brigade: Major-General von Strubberg.
        2nd Rhine Province Infantry regiment, No. 28.
        4th Magdeburg Infantry regiment, No. 67.

    Attached to Division:
        8th Rhine Province Jäger battalion.
        King's Hussar regiment (1st Rhine), No. 7.
        Four batteries (two heavy, two light) of 8th Field-Artillery
        2nd Field-pioneer company, 8th corps, with entrenching

_16th Infantry Division_: Lieut.-General von Barnekow.

    31st Brigade: Major-General Count Neidhardt v. Gneisenau.
        3rd Rhine Province Infantry regiment, No. 29.
        7th Rhine Province Infantry regiment, No. 69.

    32nd Brigade: Colonel von Rex.
        Hohenzollern Fusilier regiment, No. 40.
        4th Thüringian Infantry regiment, No. 72.

    Attached to Division:
        2nd Rhine Hussar regiment, No. 9.
        Four batteries (two heavy, two light) of 8th Field-artillery
        1st Field-pioneer company, 8th corps, with light bridging-train.
        3rd Field-pioneer company, 8th corps.

_Corps Artillery_: Colonel von Broecker.

    Two batteries of horse-artillery, two heavy and two light field
        batteries, of the 8th Field-artillery regiment.

    Artillery, Infantry, and pontoon columns belonging to the
        8th Field-artillery regiment.

    The 8th, Rhenish, train-battalion.


    Lieut.-General Count v. d. Gröben.

    6th Cavalry Brigade: Major-General von Mirus.
        Rhine Prov. Cuirassier regiment, No. 8.
            "         "     Uhlan regiment, No. 7.

    7th Cavalry Brigade: Major-General Count zu Dohna.
        Westphalian Uhlan regiment, No. 5.
        2nd Hanoverian Uhlan regiment, No. 14.

    One battery of horse-artillery of the 7th Westphalian
        Field-artillery regiment.


    Cavalry-General Baron von Manteuffel.
    Chief of Staff: Lieut.-Colonel v. d. Burg.
    Commanding Artillery: Major-General von Bergmann.
    Commanding Engineer: Major Fahland.

_1st Infantry Division_: Lieut.-General von Bentheim.

    1st Brigade: Major-General von Gayl.
        Crown Prince's Grenadier regiment (1st East Prussian), No. 1.
        5th East Prussian Infantry regiment, No. 41.

    2nd Brigade: Major-General von Falkenstein.
        2nd East Prussian Grenadier regiment, No. 3.
        6th  "      "     Infantry regiment, No. 43.

    Attached to Division:
        East Prussian Jäger battalion, No. 1.
        Lithuanian Dragoon regiment, No. 1.
        Four batteries (two heavy, two light) of 1st East Prussian
            Field-artillery regiment.
        2nd Field-pioneer company, 1st corps, with entrenching
        3rd Field-pioneer company, 1st corps.

_2nd Infantry Division_: Major-General von Pritzelwitz.

    3rd Brigade: Major-General von Memerty.
        3rd East Prussian Grenadier regiment, No. 4.
        7th  "      "     Infantry regiment, No. 44.

    4th Brigade: Major-General von Zzlinitzki.
        4th East Prussian Grenadier regiment, No. 5.
        8th  "      "     Infantry regiment, No. 45.

    Attached to Division:
        East Prussian Dragoon regiment, No. 10.
        Four batteries (two heavy, two light) of 1st, East Prussian,
            Field-artillery regiment.
        1st Field-pioneer company, 1st corps, with light bridging-train.

_Corps-Artillery_: Colonel Junge.

        Two batteries of horse-artillery }
        Two light field-batteries        } of 1st, East Prussian,
        Two heavy " "                    }   Field-artillery regiment.

    Artillery and Infantry ammunition, and pontoon columns belonging
        to 1st Field-artillery regiment.

    The 1st East Prussian train-battalion.


    Lieut.-General von Hartmann.

    1st Cavalry Brigade: Major-General von Lüderitz.
        Queen's Cuirassier regiment (Pomeranian), No. 2.
        1st Pomeranian Uhlan regiment, No. 4.
        2nd     "       "      "       No. 9.

    2nd Cavalry Brigade: Major-General Baumgarth.
        East Prussian Cuirassier regiment, No. 3.
          "     "     Uhlan regiment, No. 8.
        Lithuanian      "      "    No. 12.

    One battery of horse-artillery of the 1st, East Prussian,
        Field-artillery regiment.


    Commander-in-Chief: Cavalry-General H.R.H. Prince Frederic Charles
      of Prussia.
    Chief of Staff: Major-General von Stiehle.
    Quartermaster-General: Colonel von Hertzberg.
    Commanding Artillery: Lieut.-General von Colomier.
    Commanding Engineer: Colonel Leuthaus.


    Cavalry-General H.R.H. Prince August of Würtemberg.
    Chief of Staff: Major-General von Dannenberg.
    Commanding Artillery: Major-General Prince Kraft of Hohenloh
    Commanding Engineer: Lieut.-Colonel Bogun von Wangenheim.

_1st Guard-Infantry Division_: Major-General von Pape.

    1st Brigade: Major-General von Kessel.
        1st regiment of Foot Guards.
        3rd     "        "      "

    2nd Brigade: Major-General Baron von Medem.
        2nd regiment of Foot Guards.
        Guard Fusilier regiment.
        4th regiment of Foot Guards.

    Attached to Division:
        Guard Jäger battalion.
          "   Hussar regiment.
        Four batteries (two heavy, two light) of Guard field-artillery
        1st Field-pioneer company of the Guard with light

_2nd Guard-Infantry Division_: Lieut.-General von Budritzki.

    3rd Brigade: Colonel Knappe von Knappstaedt.
        1st Guard Grenadier regiment (Emperor Alexander's).
        3rd  "       "        "      (Queen Elizabeth's).

    4th Brigade: Major-General von Berger.
        2nd Guard Grenadier regiment (Emperor Francis').
        4th  "       "        "      (Queen's).

    Attached to Division:
        Guard Rifle battalion.
        2nd Guard Uhlan regiment.
        Four batteries (two heavy, two light) of Guard field-artillery
        2nd Field-pioneer company of the Guard with entrenching
        3rd Field-pioneer company of the Guard.

_Guard-Cavalry Division_: Lieut.-General Count v. d. Goltz.

    1st Brigade: Major-General Count von Brandenburg I.
        Regiment of the Guard du Corps.
        Guard Cuirassier regiment.

    2nd Brigade: Major-General H.R.H. Prince Albert of Prussia.
        1st Guard Uhlan regiment.
        3rd   "     "      "

    3rd Brigade: Major-General Count von Brandenburg II.
        1st Guard Dragoon regiment.
        2nd   "      "      "

_Corps-Artillery_: Colonel von Scherbening.

        Three batteries of horse-artillery  }
        Two light field-batteries           }  of the Guard
        Two heavy   "      "                }  field-artillery regiment.

    Artillery ammunition, Infantry ammunition, and pontoon columns of
        the Guard field-artillery regiment.

    Guard train-battalion.


    Lieut.-General von Alvensleben II.
    Chief of Staff: Colonel von Voigts-Rhetz.
    Commanding Artillery: Major-General von Bülow.
    Commanding Engineer: Major Sabarth.

_5th Infantry Division_: Lieut.-General von Stülpnagel.

    9th Brigade: Major-General von Döring.
        Leib.-Grenadier regiment (1st Brandenburg), No. 8.
        5th Brandenburg Infantry regiment, No. 48.

    10th Brigade: Major-General von Schwerin.
        2nd Brandenburg Grenadier regiment, No. 12.
        6th Brandenburg Infantry regiment, No. 52.

    Attached to Division:
        Brandenburg Jäger battalion, No. 3.
        2nd Brandenburg Dragoon regiment, No. 12.
        Four batteries (two heavy, two light) of the Brandenburg
            Field-artillery regiment, No. 3.
        3rd Field-pioneer company, 3rd corps.

_6th Infantry Division_: Lieut.-General Baron von Buddenbrock.

    11th Brigade: Major-General von Rothmaler.
        3rd Brandenburg Infantry regiment, No. 20.
        Brandenburg Fusilier regiment, No. 35.

    12th Brigade: Colonel von Bismarck.
        4th Brandenburg Infantry regiment, No. 24.
        8th Brandenburg Infantry regiment, No. 64.

    Attached to Division:
        1st Brandenburg Dragoon regiment, No. 2.
        Four batteries (two heavy, two light) of the Brandenburg
            field-artillery regiment, No. 3.
        2nd Field-pioneer company, 3rd corps, with entrenching

_Corps-Artillery_: Colonel von Dresky.

        Two batteries of horse-artillery } of the Brandenburg
        Two heavy field-batteries        } field-artillery regiment,
        Two light   "       "            } No. 3.
        1st Field-pioneer company, 3rd corps, with light bridging-train.

    Artillery ammunition, Infantry ammunition, and pontoon columns
        of the Brandenburg field-artillery regiment, No. 3.

    Brandenburg train battalion.


    Infantry-General von Alvensleben I.
    Chief of Staff: Colonel von Thile.
    Commanding Artillery: Major-General von Scherbening.
    Commanding Engineer: Lieut.-Colonel von Eltester.

_7th Infantry Division_: Lieut.-General von Grosz von Schwarzhoff.

    13th Brigade: Major-General von Vorries.
        1st Magdeburg Infantry regiment, No. 26.
        3rd Magdeburg Infantry regiment, No. 66.

    14th Brigade: Major-General von Zychlinski.
        2nd Magdeburg Infantry regiment, No. 27.
        Anhalt Infantry regiment, No. 93.

    Attached to Division:
        Magdeburg Jäger battalion, No. 4.
        Westphalian Dragoon regiment, No. 7.
        Four batteries (two heavy, two light) of the Magdeburg
            field-artillery regiment.
        2nd Field-pioneer company, 4th corps, with entrenching
        3rd Field-pioneer company, 4th corps.

_8th Infantry Division_: Lieut.-General von Schöler.

    15th Brigade: Major-General von Kessler.
        1st Thüringian Infantry regiment, No. 31.
        3rd    "         "          "     No. 71.

    16th Brigade: Colonel von Scheffler.
        Schleswig-Holstein Fusilier regiment, No. 86.
        7th Thüringian Infantry regiment, No. 96.

    Attached to Division:
        Thüringian Hussar regiment, No. 12.
        Four batteries (two heavy, two light) of the Magdeburg
            field-artillery regiment, No. 4.
        1st Field-pioneer company, 4th corps, with light bridge-train.

_Corps-Artillery_: Colonel Crusius.

        Two batteries of horse-artillery } of the Magdeburg
        Two light field-batteries        } field-artillery
        Two heavy  "     "               } regiment, No. 4.

    Artillery ammunition, infantry ammunition, and pontoon columns
        belonging to Magdeburg field-artillery regiment, No. 4.

    Magdeburg train-battalion, No. 4.


    Infantry-General von Manstein.
    Chief of Staff: Major Bronsart von Schellendorf.
    Commanding Artillery: Major-General Baron von Puttkammer.
    Commanding Engineer: Major Hutier.

_18th Infantry Division_: Lieut.-General Baron von Wrangel.

    35th Brigade: Major-General von Blumenthal.
        Magdeburg Fusilier regiment, No. 36.
        Schleswig Infantry regiment, No. 84.

    36th Brigade: Major-General von Below.
        2nd Silesian Grenadier regiment, No. 11.
        Holstein Infantry regiment, No. 85.

    Attached to Division:
        Lauenburg Jäger battalion, No. 9.
        Magdeburg Dragoon regiment, No. 6.
        Four batteries (two heavy, two light) of Schleswig-Holstein
            field-artillery regiment, No. 9.
        2nd Field-pioneer company, 9th corps, with entrenching
        3rd Field-pioneer company, 9th corps.

_Hessian Division_ (_25th_): Lieut.-General Prince Louis of Hesse.

    49th Brigade: Major-General von Wittich.
        1st Infantry regiment (Body Guard).
        2nd   "       "       (Grand Duke's).
        1st (Guard) Jäger battalion.

    50th Brigade: Colonel von Lynker.
        3rd Infantry regiment.
        4th    "        "
        2nd Jäger battalion.

    (25th) Cavalry Brigade: Major-General Baron von Schlotheim.
        1st Reiter regiment (Guard Cheveauxlegers).
        2nd   "       "     (Leib Chevauxlegers).
        One battery of horse-artillery.
        Five field-batteries (two heavy, three light).
        Pioneer company with light field bridge-train.

_Corps-Artillery_: Colonel von Jagemann.

    One battery of horse-artillery   } of the Schleswig-Holstein
    Two light field-batteries        } field-artillery
    Two heavy   "      "             } regiment, No. 9.


    Infantry-General von Voigts-Rhetz.
    Chief of Staff: Lieut.-Colonel von Caprivi.
    Commanding Artillery: Colonel Baron v. d. Becke.
    Commanding Engineer: Lieut.-Colonel Cramer.

_19th Infantry Division_: Lieut.-General von Schwartzkoppen.

    37th Brigade: Colonel Lehmann.
        East Frisian Infantry regiment, No. 78.
        Oldenburg Infantry regiment, No. 91.

    38th Brigade: Major-General von Wedell.
        3rd Westphalian Infantry regiment, No. 16.
        8th     "           "       "      No. 57.

    Attached to Division:
        1st Hanoverian Dragoon regiment, No. 9.
        Four batteries (two heavy, two light) of Hanoverian
            field-artillery regiment, No. 10.
        2nd Field-pioneer company, 10th corps, with entrenching
        3rd Field-pioneer company, 10th corps.

_20th Infantry Division_: Major-General von Kraatz-Koschlan.

    39th Brigade: Major-General von Woyna.
        7th Westphalian Infantry regiment, No. 56.
        3rd Hanoverian Infantry regiment, No. 79.

    40th Brigade: Major-General von Diringshofen.
        4th Westphalian Infantry regiment, No. 17.
        Brunswick Infantry regiment, No. 92.

    Attached to Division:
        Hanoverian Jäger battalion, No. 10.
        2nd Hanoverian Dragoon regiment, No. 16.
        Four batteries (two heavy, two light) of Hanoverian
            field-artillery regiment, No. 10.
        1st Field-pioneer company, 10th corps, with light bridge-train.

_Corps-Artillery_: Colonel Baron v. d. Goltz.

        Two batteries of horse-artillery } of Hanoverian field-artillery
        Two heavy field-batteries        } regiment, No. 10.
        Two light  "      "              }

    Artillery and Infantry ammunition columns belonging to Hanoverian
      field-artillery regiment, No. 10.

    Hanoverian train-battalion, No. 10.


    Infantry-General H.R.H. the Crown Prince of Saxony,
        afterwards Prince George.
    Chief of Staff: Lieut.-Colonel von Zeschwitz.
    Commanding Artillery: Major-General Köhler.
    Commanding Engineer: Major Klemna.

_1st Infantry Division, No. 23_: Lieut.-General H.R.H. Prince George of
    Saxony, afterwards Major-General von Montbé.

    1st Brigade, No. 45: Major-General von Craushaar.
        1st (Leib) Grenadier regiment, No. 100.
        2nd (King William of Prussia) Grenadier regiment, No. 101.
        Rifle (Fusilier) regiment, No. 108.

    2nd Brigade, No. 46: Colonel von Montbé.
        3rd Infantry regiment (Crown Prince's), No. 102.
        4th    "        "     No. 103.

    Attached to Division:
        1st Reiter regiment (Crown Prince's).
        Four batteries (two heavy, two light) of 12th
            field-artillery regiment.
        2nd company of 12th Pioneer battalion with entrenching
        4th company of 12th Pioneer battalion.

_2nd Infantry Division, No. 24_: Major-General Nehrhoff von Holderberg.

    3rd Brigade, No. 47: Major-General Tauscher.
        5th Infantry regiment (Prince Frederic August's), No. 104.
        6th Infantry regiment, No. 105.
        1st Jäger battalion (Crown Prince's), No. 12.

    4th Brigade, No. 48: Colonel von Schulz.
        7th Infantry regiment (Prince George's), No. 106.
        8th    "        "     No. 107.
        2nd Jäger battalion, No. 13.

    Attached to Division:
        2nd Reiter regiment.
        Four batteries (two heavy, two light) of 12th
            field-artillery regiment.
        3rd company of 12th Pioneer battalion with light bridge-train.

_Cavalry Division, No. 12_: Major-General Count Lippe.

    1st Cavalry Brigade, No. 23: Major-General Krug von Nidda.
        Guard Reiter regiment.
        1st Uhlan regiment, No. 17.

    2nd Cavalry Brigade, No. 24: Major-General Senfft von Pilsach.
        3rd Reiter regiment.
        2nd Uhlan regiment, No. 18.

    Attached to Division:
        One battery of horse-artillery of 12th field-artillery regiment.

_Corps-Artillery_: Colonel Funcke.

        One battery of horse-artillery }
        Three light field-batteries    } of the 12th
        Three heavy   "      "         } field-artillery regiment.

    Artillery and Infantry ammunition, and pontoon columns of the
        12th field-artillery regiment.

    12th train-battalion.


    Lieut.-General Baron von Rheinbaben.

    11th Cavalry Brigade: Major-General von Barby.
        Westphalian Cuirassier regiment, No. 4.
        1st Hanoverian Uhlan regiment, No. 13.
        Oldenburg Dragoon regiment, No. 19.

    12th Cavalry Brigade: Major-General von Bredow.
        Magdeburg Cuirassier regiment, No. 7.
        Altmark Uhlan regiment, No. 16.
        Schleswig-Holstein Dragoon regiment, No. 13.

    13th Cavalry Brigade: Major-General von Redern.
        Magdeburg Hussar regiment, No. 10.
        2nd Westphalian Hussar regiment, No. 11.
        Brunswick Hussar regiment, No. 17.

    Attached to Division:
        Two batteries horse-artillery.


    Lieut.-General H.S.H. Duke William of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.

    14th Cavalry Brigade: Major-General Baron von Diepenbroick-Grüter.
        Brandenburg Cuirassier regiment, No. 6
            (Emp. Nicholas I. of Russia).
        1st Brandenburg Uhlan regiment, No. 3 (Emperor of Russia).
        Schleswig-Holstein Uhlan regiment, No. 15.

    15th Cavalry Brigade: Major-General von Rauch.
        Brandenburg Hussar regiment, No. 3 (Zieten's Hussars).
        Schleswig-Holstein Hussar regiment, No. 16.

    Attached to Division:
        One battery of horse-artillery.


    Infantry-General von Fransecky.
    Chief of Staff: Colonel von Wichmann.
    Commanding Artillery: Major-General von Kleist.
    Commanding Engineer: Major Sandkuhl.

_3rd Infantry Division_: Major-General von Hartmann.

    5th Brigade: Major-General von Koblinski.
        Grenadier regiment: King Frederic William IV.
            (1st Pomeranian), No. 2.
        5th Pomeranian Infantry regiment, No. 42.

    6th Brigade: Colonel v. d. Decken.
        3rd Pomeranian Infantry Regiment, No. 14.
        7th Pomeranian Infantry regiment, No. 54.

    Attached to Division:
        Pomeranian Jäger battalion, No. 2.
        Neumark Dragoon regiment, No. 3.
        Four batteries (two heavy, two light) of the 2nd Pomeranian
            field-artillery regiment.
        1st Field-pioneer company, 2nd corps, with light bridge-train.

_4th Infantry Division_: Lieut.-General Hann von Weyhern.

    7th Brigade: Major-General du Trossel.
        Colberg Grenadier regiment (2nd Pomeranian), No. 9.
        6th Pomeranian Infantry regiment, No. 49.

    8th Brigade: Major-General von Kettler.
        4th Pomeranian Infantry regiment, No. 21.
        8th Pomeranian Infantry regiment, No. 61.

    Attached to Division:
        Pomeranian Dragoon regiment, No. 11.
        Four batteries (two heavy, two light) of Pomeranian
            field-artillery regiment, No. 2.
        2nd Field-pioneer company, 2nd corps, with entrenching
        3rd Field-pioneer company, 2nd corps.

_Corps-Artillery_: Colonel Petzel.

        Two batteries of horse-artillery } of the Pomeranian
        Two light field-batteries        } field-artillery
        Two heavy   "       "            } regiment, No. 2.

    Artillery and infantry ammunition and pontoon columns of Pomeranian
    field-artillery regiment, No. 2.

    Pomeranian train-battalion, No. 2.


    Commander-in-Chief: Infantry-General H.R.H. the Crown Prince of
    Chief of Staff: Lieut.-General von Blumenthal.
    Quartermaster-General: Colonel von Gottberg.
    Commanding Artillery: Lieut.-General Herkt.
    Commanding Engineer: Major-General Schulz.


    Lieutenant-General von Kirchbach.
    Chief of Staff: Colonel v. d. Esch.
    Commanding Artillery: Colonel Gaede.
    Commanding Engineer: Major Owstein.

_9th Infantry Division_: Major-General von Sandrart.

    17th Brigade: Colonel von Bothmer.
        3rd Posen Infantry regiment, No. 58.
        4th   "       "       "      No. 59.

    18th Brigade: Major-General von Voigts-Rhetz.
        King's Grenadier regiment (2nd West Prussian), No. 7.
        2nd Lower Silesian Infantry regiment, No. 47.

    Attached to Division:
        1st Silesian Jäger battalion, No. 5.
        1st Silesian Dragoon regiment, No 4.
        Four batteries (two heavy, two light) of the Lower Silesian
            field-artillery regiment, No. 5.
        1st Field-pioneer company, 5th corps, with light bridge-train.

_10th Infantry Division_: Lieut.-General von Schmidt.

    19th Brigade: Colonel von Henning auf Schönhoff.
        1st West Prussian Grenadier regiment, No. 6.
        1st Lower Silesian Infantry regiment, No. 46.

    20th Brigade: Major-General Walther von Montbary.
        Westphalian Fusilier regiment, No. 37.
        3rd Lower Silesian Infantry regiment, No. 50.

    Attached to Division:
        Kurmark Dragoon regiment, No. 14.
        Four batteries (two heavy, two light) of
            field-artillery regiment, No. 5.
        2nd Field-pioneer company, 5th corps, with entrenching
        3rd    "             "      "   "

_Corps-Artillery_: Lieut.-Colonel Köhler.

        Two batteries of horse-artillery } of the Lower Silesian
        Two light field-batteries        } field-artillery
        Two heavy   "     "              } regiment, No. 5.

    Artillery and infantry ammunition, and pontoon columns of
        field-artillery regiment, No. 5.

    Lower Silesian train-battalion, No. 5.


    Lieut.-General von Bose.
    Chief of Staff: Major-General Stein von Kaminski.
    Commanding Artillery: Major-General Hausmann.
    Commanding Engineer: Major Crüger.

_21st Infantry Division_: Lieut.-General von Schachtmeyer.

    41st Brigade: Colonel von Koblinski.
        Hessian Fusilier regiment, No. 80.
        1st Nassau Infantry regiment, No. 87.

    42nd Brigade: Major-General von Thiele.
        2nd Hessian Infantry regiment, No. 82.
        2nd Nassau Infantry regiment, No. 88.

    Attached to Division:
        Hessian Jäger battalion, No. 11.
        2nd Hessian Hussar regiment, No. 14.
        Four batteries (two heavy, two light) of Hessian
            field-artillery regiment, No. 11.
        1st Field-pioneer company, 11th corps, with light bridge-train.

_22nd Infantry Division_: Lieut.-General von Gersdorff.

    43rd Brigade: Colonel von Kontzki.
        2nd Thüringian Infantry regiment, No. 32.
        6th  "          "       "         No. 95.

    44th Brigade: Major-General von Schkopp.
        3rd Hessian Infantry regiment, No. 83.
        5th Thüringian "      "        No. 94.

    Attached to Division:
        1st Hessian Hussar regiment, No. 13.
        Four batteries (two heavy, two light) of Hessian
            field-artillery regiment.
        2nd Field-pioneer company, 11th corps, with entrenching
        3rd Field-pioneer company, 11th corps.

_Corps-Artillery_: Colonel von Oppeln-Bronikowski.

        Two batteries of horse-artillery }
        Two light field-batteries        } of Hessian field artillery
        Two heavy   "     "              } regiment, No. 11.

    Artillery and Infantry ammunition, and pontoon columns of 11th
        field-artillery regiment.

    Hessian train-battalion, No. 11.


    Infantry-General Baron von der Tann-Rathsamhausen.
    Chief of Staff: Lieut.-Colonel von Heinleth.
    Director of Field-Artillery: Major-General von Malaisé.
    Director of Engineers: Lieut.-Colonel Riem.

_1st Infantry Division_: Lieut.-General von Stephan.

    1st Brigade: Major-General Dietl.
        Infantry body-guard regiment.
        Two battalions of 1st Infantry regiment (King's).
        2nd Jäger battalion.

    2nd Brigade: Major-General von Orff.
        2nd Infantry regiment (Crown Prince's).
        Two battalions of 11th Infantry regiment (v. d. Tann).
        4th Jäger battalion.

    Attached to Division:
        9th Jäger battalion.
        3rd Chevauxlegers regiment (Duke Maximilian's).
        Two 4-pounder and two 6-pounder batteries.

_2nd Infantry Division_: Lieut.-General Count Pappenheim.

    3rd Brigade: Major-General Schumacher.
        3rd Infantry regiment (Prince Charles of Bavaria).
        Two battalions of 12th Infantry regiment
            (Queen Amalie of Greece).
        1st Jäger battalion.

    4th Brigade: Major-General Baron von der Tann.
        10th Infantry regiment (Prince Louis).
        Two battalions of 13th Infantry regiment
            (Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria).
        7th Jäger battalion.

    Attached to Division:
        4th Chevauxlegers regiment (King's).
        Two 4-pounder and two 6-pounder batteries.

    Cuirassier Brigade: Major-General von Tausch.
        1st Cuirassier regiment (Prince Charles of Bavaria).
        2nd     "         "     (Prince Adalbert).
        6th Chevauxlegers regiment
            (Grand Duke Constantine Nicolajusitch).
        One battery of horse-artillery.

_Brigade of Reserve-Artillery_: Colonel Bronzetti.

        1st Division. Two 6-pounder, one 4-pounder battery. }
        2nd    "      Two 6-pounder batteries.              } 42 guns.
        3rd    "      Two 6-pounder batteries.              }

    1st Field-Engineer Division.


    Infantry-General von Hartmann.
    Chief of Staff: Colonel Baron von Horn.
    Director of Field-Artillery: Major-General Lutz.
    Director of Field-Engineering: Lieut.-Colonel Fogt.

_3rd Infantry Division_: Lieut.-General von Walther.

    5th Brigade: Major-General von Schleich.
        6th Infantry regiment (King William of Prussia).
        Two battalions of 7th Infantry regiment (Hohenhausen).
        8th Jäger battalion.

    6th Brigade: Colonel Borries von Wissell.
        Two battalions of 14th Infantry regiment (Hartmann).
        15th Infantry regiment (King John of Saxony).
        3rd Jäger battalion.

    Attached to Division:
        1st Chevauxlegers regiment (Emperor Alexander of Russia).
        Two 4-pounder and two 6-pounder batteries.

_4th Infantry Division_: Lieut.-General Count von Bothmer.

    7th Brigade: Major-General von Thiereck.
        Two battalions of 5th Infantry regiments (Grand Duke of Hesse).
        9th Infantry regiment (Werde).
        6th Jäger battalion.

    8th Brigade: Major-General Maillinger.
        3rd battalion of 1st Infantry regiment.
        3rd    "      "  5th    "        "
        1st    "      "  7th    "        "
        3rd    "      " 11th    "        "
        3rd    "      " 14th    "        "
        5th Jäger battalion.

    Attached to Division:
        10th Jäger battalion.
        2nd Chevauxlegers regiment.
        Two 4-pounder and two 6-pounder batteries.

    Uhlan Brigade: Major-General Baron von Mulzer.
        1st Uhlan regiment (Archduke Nicholas of Russia).
        2nd Uhlan regiment (King's).
        5th Chevauxlegers regiment (Prince Otto's).
        One battery of horse-artillery.

    Brigade of Reserve Artillery: Colonel von Pillement.

    1st Division:
        One 4-pounder horse-artillery battery.
        Two 6-pounder field batteries.

    2nd Division:
        Two 6-pounder field batteries.

    3rd Division:
        Two 6-pounder field batteries.

    2nd Field-Engineer Division.


    Lieut.-General von Obernitz.

    Chief of Staff: Colonel von Friebig.

    1st Brigade: Major-General von Reitzenstein.
        1st Infantry regiment (Queen Olga) (two battalions).
        7th    "        "     (two battalions).
        2nd Jäger battalion.

    2nd Brigade: Major-General von Strakloff.
        2nd Infantry regiment (two battalions).
        5th    "        "     (King Charles's battalion).
        3rd Jäger battalion.

    3rd Brigade: Major-General Baron von Hügel.
        3rd Infantry regiment (two battalions).
        8th    "        "              "
        1st Jäger battalion.

    Cavalry Brigade: Major-General Count von Scheler.
        1st Reiter regiment (King Charles) (four squadrons).
        2nd   "       "     (King William) (two      "    ).
        4th   "       "     (Queen Olga)   (four     "    ).


    1st Field-artillery Division:
        Two 4-pounder and one 6-pounder batteries.

    2nd Field-artillery Division:
        Two 4-pounder and one 6-pounder batteries.
        3rd Field-artillery Division:
        Two 4-pounder and one 6-pounder batteries.


    Lieut.-General von Beyer.

    Chief of Staff: Lieut.-Colonel von Leszczynski.

    1st Brigade: Lieut.-General du Jarrys Baron La Roche.
        1st Leib Grenadier regiment.
        Fusilier battalion of 4th Infantry regiment.
        2nd Grenadier regiment (King of Prussia).

    Combined (3rd) Brigade: Major-General Keller.
        3rd Infantry regiment.
        5th    "        "

    Attached to Division:
        3rd Dragoon regiment (Prince Charles).
        Four batteries (two heavy, two light).
        Company of pontooners with light bridge-train and entrenching

    Cavalry Brigade: Major-General Baron La Roche-Starkenfels.
        1st Leib Dragoon regiment.
        2nd Dragoon regiment (Margrave Maximilian).
        One battery of horse-artillery.


    Two heavy and two light field batteries.


    Cavalry-General H.R.H. Prince Albert of Prussia.

    8th Cavalry Brigade: Major-General von Hontheim.
        West Prussian Cuirassier regiment, No. 5.
        Posen Uhlan regiment, No. 10.

    9th Cavalry Brigade: Major-General von Bernhardi.
        West Prussian Uhlan regiment, No. 1.
        Thüringian Uhlan regiment, No. 6.

    10th Cavalry Brigade: Major-General von Krosigk.
        2nd Leib Hussar regiment, No. 2.
        Rhine Province Dragoon regiment, No. 5.

    Two batteries of horse-artillery.


    Cavalry-General von Tümpling.
    Chief of Staff: Colonel von Salviati.
    Commanding Artillery: Colonel von Ramm.
    Commanding Engineer: Major Albrecht.

_11th Infantry Division_: Lieut.-General von Gordon.

    21st Brigade: Major-General von Malachowski.
        1st Silesian Grenadier regiment, No. 10.
        1st Posen Infantry regiment, No. 18.

    22nd Brigade: Major-General von Eckartsberg.
        Silesian Fusilier regiment, No. 38.
        4th Lower Silesian Infantry regiment, No. 51.

    Attached to Division:
        2nd Silesian Jäger battalion, No. 6.
        2nd Silesian Dragoon regiment, No. 8.
        Four batteries (two heavy, two light) of the Silesian
            field-artillery regiment, No. 6.
        3rd Field-pioneer company, 6th corps.

_12th Infantry Division_: Lieut.-General von Hoffmann.

    23rd Brigade: Major-General Gündell.
        1st Upper Silesian Infantry regiment, No. 22.
        3rd   "      "        "        "      No. 62.

    24th Brigade: Major-General von Fabeck.
        2nd Upper Silesian Infantry regiment, No. 23.
        4th   "      "        "        "      No. 63.

    Attached to Division:
        3rd Silesian Dragoon regiment, No. 15.
        Four batteries (two heavy, two light) of the Silesian
            field-artillery regiment, No. 6.
        1st Field-pioneer company, 6th corps, with light bridge-train.
        2nd Field-pioneer company, 6th corps, with entrenching

_Corps-Artillery_: Colonel Arnold.

        Two batteries of horse-artillery  } of the Silesian
        Two light field-batteries         } field-artillery
        Two heavy   "      "              } regiment, No. 6

    Artillery and Infantry ammunition, and pontoon columns of Silesian
        field-artillery regiment.

    Silesian train battalion, No. 6.


    Lieut.-General Count Stolberg-Wernigerode.

    3rd Cavalry Brigade: Major-General von Colomb.
        Silesian Leib Cuirassier regiment, No. 1.
        Silesian Uhlan regiment, No. 2.

    4th Cavalry Brigade: Major-General Baron von Barnekow.
        1st Leib Hussar regiment, No. 1.
        Pomeranian Hussar regiment (Blucher's Hussars), No. 5.

    5th Cavalry Brigade: Major-General von Baumbach.
        1st Silesian Hussar regiment, No. 4.
        2nd    "       "       "      No. 6.

    Two batteries of horse-artillery.


[89] Subsequently many changes in the commands.



[Illustration: Map of the Franco-German War of 1870-71.
Litho. W. Greve, Berlin.
James R. Osgood, McIlvaine & Co., Publishers, 45 Albemarle St., London, W.]

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes

Obvious punctuation and accent errors repaired. Note that it was
customary to write a captial "E" without an "accent aigu" and this has
been retained.

There are two distinct rivers "Loir" and "Loire" so no attempt has been
made to consider one as a typo of the other.

Hyphen removed: "left[-]ward" (page 34), "franc[-]tireur(s)" (pages 70,
281, 428), "gun[-]boats" (page 121), "grave[-]yard" (page 110, twice),
"night[-]fall" (pages 276, 294), "re[-]captured" (page 195),
"re[-]organized" (page 40), "re[-]organization" (page 25), "sand[-]bags"
(page 362), "side[-]ward" (page 298), "St.[-]Menges" (page 92).

Hyphen added: "battle[-]field" (page 212), "grape[-]shot" (page 53),
re[-]opening (page 208).

The following words appear both with and without hyphens and have not
been changed: "counter[-]stroke(s)", "mid[-]day", "out[-]flank",
"rear[-]guard", "re[-]cross(ed)", "re[-]provisioned",

Page 29: "committeed" changed to "committed" (already committed

Pages 32, 321: "l" changed to "L" (Villers L'Orme, L'Epine de Dallon).

Page 49: "Pont a Mousson" changed to "Pont à Mousson".

Page 57: "to" changed to "of" (the small leaderless bodies of).

Page 71: "of" added to "a halt on this side of the Meuse".

Page 159: "beleagured" changed to "beleaguered" (had been beleaguered in

Page 174: "Wolfganzen" changed to "Wolfgantzen".

Page 178: "D" changed to "d" (d'Aurelle de Paladines).

Page 191: "Ist" changed to "1st" (1st Cavalry Division).

Page 195: Missing "t" added (observe towards Courcelles).

Page 248: "Chatres" changed to "Chartres".

Page 291: "Sleswig" changed to "Schleswig".

Page 304: "Divison" changed to "Division" (The 14th Division).

Page 315: "Sérancourt" changed to "Séraucourt".

Page 325: "occupapation" changed to "occupation" (Hostile occupation).

Page 346: "approach" changed to "approaching" (columns of all arms were

Page 351: "Vannes" changed to "Vanves".

Page 365: "Côte d'or" changed to "Côte d'Or".

Page 414: "General von Herwath" changed to "General von Herwarth".

Page 415: "fnrther" changed to "further" (further to the left).

Page 415: "intentiou" changed to "intention" (which he had no

Page 417: "soene" changed to "scene" (The scene is Versailles).

Page 418: "Versailes" changed to "Versailles".

Page 429: "Guyot de l'Lespart" changed to "Guyot de Lespart".

Page 436: "Connt" changed to "Count" (Count von Brandenburg).

Page 442: "Fonr" changed to "Four" (Four batteries).

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Franco-German War of 1870-71" ***

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