« PreviousContinue »
of Lebeuf-began the movement, and the marshal instances embraced them, kissing them on both himself came first, with a scowl upon his 'swarthy cheeks. Never was seen more quiet, soldier-like features. He wheeled to one side, and stood by demeanour than that exhibited by this splendid the single Prussian officer whose duty it was to body of men as they marched past in perfect silence. superintend the stacking of the arms. Regiment Not a word was spoken. All that could be heard after regiment, the men defiled past, piling their was the measured tread of thousands of feet as they arms in great heaps at the word of command from splashed along the muddy road. The Prussian their own officers, who gave their parole, and were officers gazed with surprise and no little admiration, allowed to retain their swords. Some, however, as regiment after regiment filed past, and congradeclined accepting the terms, and preferring to go tulated themselves that they had no longer to fight into captivity in Prussia, laid down their swords such men. as the men did their Chassepots. The disarmed At the same hour that the French commenced troops then returned into their bivouacs, which they leaving the city, a battalion of the seventh army occupied for one night more, before quitting for corps marched forward and took possession of others round which should stand Prussian sentries. La Porte Serpenoise, one of the gates of Metz,
The weather on the 29th of October was as dismal and another battalion from the same corps occuas the day was a dark one in the history of unhappy pied the Porte Moselle. Two hours before the France. Thick masses of black clouds rolled over- occupation of the fortress, an artillery officer and head, and the rain poured down in torrents as the a small body of under-officers, accompanied by Frenchmen came forth and rendered themselves to engineers, had been sent forward from each of the their captors. Prince Frederick Charles, with his occupying detachments, to take over the powderstaff and officers, had posted themselves behind magazines and the respective forts, and not till they Jouy, on the Frescati road. Bazaine appeared first had reported that all was in order were the troops of all; he rode at the head of his officers to the allowed to march in. This precaution was no doubt prince, to whom he simply said : “Monseigneur, I dictated by a recollection of the catastrophe at have the honour to present myself.” The prince Laon. As the party approached the gate their motioned him to his side, and then began the march wonderful discipline revealed the secret of their of the officers and the army, partly classified accord victory. Steady, resolute, unimpassioned, not a ing to their arms, partly pell-mell. Those who had sign of exultation was visible on their faces. At a command were on horseback; the others had their a word they scaled the slippery glacis, and ranged arms in the state in which they afterwards laid themselves with mathematical precision along the them down in the town. Each corps, as it marched rampart's crest. Their officers marched in front, out, was received by the Prussians covering the keenly scanning the fosse, and guarding against respective section of the environment. They were every possibility of surprise; possession of the town led by their own officers, who formally handed them was taken with as much caution as though its occuover to those of Prussia, after which those who had pants had formed the grand guard of an impending given their parole were at liberty to quit the ranks battle-field. First the tête du pont was passed, the and return to Metz. The men were then marched | ravelin was reached, and the same minute surout to the bivouac places, where wood for fires had veillance was used. Lastly, the town's gate was been collected, and a supply of provisions was ready entered with even greater precaution, and at twenty for distribution. The demeanour of the French minutes past one o'clock the first Prussian foot fell troops was on the whole becoming, though here and within the city of Metz-la-Pucelle. Possession was there was evidence of considerable demoralization, quietly taken of the Place Moselle, and at four the men being in a state of intoxication, and their o'clock in the afternoon the battalion marched clothes disarranged in utter disregard of decency. through the sad and silent streets (in some of which The officers, however, were taciturn and downcast. the houses were completely shut up), playing vicThe reception of the prisoners, in the meadows near torious German tunes. They entered the Place the Jouy road, lasted from 1 till 9. The last corps d'Armes, where the first object they saw was the that finished the procession as evening closed in black-draped statue of the gallant Marshal Fabert, was the finest of all—the grenadiers of the guard, who, as the inscription on the pedestal recalled, and they, as they parted from their officers, in many / would, “ rather than yield up a place intrusted to him by luis sovereign, place in the breach himself, | invincible, Metz which was always French in tongue his family, his goods, and all he had, and never and race, even when it was a city of the holy hesitate a moment.” Four bodies of infantry, Roman empire, Metz which had been incorporated whose burnished helmets glistened in the fading in France for more than three hundred years— light, marched and counter-marched in the square, indeed, from before the English lost Calais—Metz speedily clearing it of the few idle gazers of the had fallen, and three marshals of France and a lower classes who had gathered in it.
vast army had surrendered with it to the enemy. General von Kummer was appointed provisional To the victorious Prussians the Sedan prize of an German commandant of Metz, and on the day after emperor was of little use. But the great strong- . his entry he issued the following proclamation : hold and the beautiful city that the French loved,
along with the very flower and front of the army - The fortress of Metz was occupied yesterday of France, and a mass of munitions of war, among by the Prussian troops, and the undersigned is pro- which were 400 pieces of artillery, 100 mitrailvisionally commandant of the place. I would wish leuses, and 53 eagles—all these formed a trophy to maintain among the Prussian troops their known which the German armies looked upon as shedding discipline, the liberty of the person, and the secu- a new brilliancy on their victorious banners. The rity of property. Difficulties may occur at first to material gains indeed were past calculation. The the inhabitants before all affairs are properly regu- strongest fortress in France, surrounded by works dated; but they ought to be brought to me, and I so extensive and formidable that the army of shall know how to appreciate the circumstances Bazaine could take refuge behind them without under which the difficulties have occurred. If I fear of a direct attack, was now in the hands of the encounter disobedience or resistance, I shall act Germans. On French territory they held a place with all severity and according to the laws of from which all the armies of France, if France had war; whoever shall place in danger the German armies, could not drive them. It was easily accestroops, or shall cause prejudice by perfidy, will be sible from their own frontier, connected with North brought before a council of war; whoever shall act and South Germany by lines of railway, and posas a spy to the French troops, or shall lodge or give sessed of it they could, even if they held nothing them assistance; whoever shows the roads to the else, command the north-east of France up to the French troops voluntarily; whoever shall kill or Argonne. Nor was this all. Metz was an arsenal wound the German troops, or the persons belonging as well as a fortress; to the guns on its fortificato their suite; whoever shall destroy the canals, tions must be added those which were found inside, railways, or telegraph wires ; whoever shall render as well as a vast machinery ready for the fabrication the roads impracticable ; whoever shall burn muni- of arms and munitions of war. The spoils of the tions and provisions of war; and, lastly, whoever greatest army that had ever laid down its arms shall take up arms against the German troops, will within historical times were in the hands of the be punished by death.
victors. The entire army of the Rhine was armed " It is also declared that, (1) the houses in which, with the Chassepot, and every weapon, except those or from out of which, any one commits acts of hos- which the French soldiers destroyed in their rage tilities towards the German troops will be used as and despair, would be available to arm the German barracks; (2) no more than ten persons will be levies; while such was the quantity of field artillery, allowed to assemble in the streets or public places; | both of guns and mitrailleuses, which now fell into (3) the inhabitants must deliver up all arms by German hands, that it would be in the power of the four o'clock on Monday, the 31st of October, at the king of Prussia to equip a first-rate army with the Palais, rue de la Princerie; (4) all windows are to spoils of a single day. As to Metz itself, the French be lighted up during the night in case of an alarm. were, as we have said, intensely proud of their, till
now, virgin city-proud of her historical fame, 6 VON KUMMER.
proud of her great strength, proud of her gardens, * Metz, October 30, 1870."
and bridges, and promenades that made her the
queen of the valley of the Moselle. Her cathedral, By the capitulation of Metz a terrible blow, if less renowned than that of Strassburg, was yet indeed, was inflicted on the French nation. Metz the a noble and stately building; and there was this further point in her favour, when contrasted with with three marshals of France, with more than fifty Strassburg, that she was a French city, and had generals, and above 6000 officers, has capitulated, never belonged to Germany. It is true that she and with it Metz, never before taken. With this was once, as a free town, under the protection of bulwark, which we restore to Germany, innumerthe German empire; but then, as now, Metz was able stores of cannons, arms, and war material have French in all her ways and habits, her speech fallen to the conqueror. Besides these bloody and costume. And in her present days of bitter laurels, you have defeated him by your bravery in distress France had never ceased to look towards the two days' battle at Noisseville and in the engageMetz for some faint gleam of consolation and ments round Metz, which are more numerous than hope. The sunlight that touched the grey the surrounding villages after which you name these forts of the capital of Lorraine, seemed to shed combats. I acknowledge your bravery gladly from thence a vague warmth and light of com- and gratefully, but not it alone. I estimate almost fort through the gloom that lay dark over the higher your obedience and your composure, cheernation. The hope of France was with Bazaine. fulness, and resignation in enduring difficulties of Bazaine was to do this and that; the army of many kinds. All this distinguishes the good solthe Rhine was suddenly to appear in the rear of dier. To-day's great and memorable success was the Germans besieging Paris. Wild stories and prepared by the battles which we fought before we rumours grew and tourished amid these eager anti- invested Metz, and—as we should remember in cipations. Bazaine could get away if he wished. gratitude to him-by the king himself, by the Bazaine was amply provisioned for three months. corps then marching with him, and by all those Bazaine was lying inactive only that he might dear comrades who died on the battle-field or delude his foes, and strike hard and sharp when the through maladies here. All this previously renmoment came for his co-operation with the nebulous dered possible the great work which, by God's armies which, from over the whole of France, were blessing, you to-day see completed—viz., the colsupposed to be floating like clouds towards him. lapse of the power of France. The importance of Nay, Bazaine had already broken through, and was to-day's event is incalculable.
to-day's event is incalculable. You soldiers, who at Thionville. Such were some of the delusions were assembled under my orders for this object, which the French people, following the example of are about to proceed to various destinations. My their rulers, had invented for each other to believe. farewell, therefore, to the generals, officers, and
Long anticipated as it had been, the capitulation soldiers of the first army and Kummer's division, of Metz came upon
army with a strange and a God speed to further successes. suddennesss. It had been announced but a day or
The General of Cavalry, two before that the negotiations had been defini
“ FREDERICK CHARLES." tively closed ; and men prepared themselves as they best could for another tedious period of on-waiting, HEAD-QUARTERS, CORNY BEFORE METZ, diversified with fighting. It was not till the fol
" October 27, 1870." lowing proclamation of Prince Frederick Charles was issued, that the men could fully comprehend On hearing at Versailles of the fall of Metz, the the extent of the victory their patient courage had king of Prussia telegraphed to Queen Augusta as achieved :
follows: “Soldiers of the First and Second Armies, —You the fortress of Metz capitulated, with 173,000 pri
“ This morning the army of Marshal Bazaine and have fought and invested in Metz an enemy whom you had vanquished, for seventy days, seventy long soners, including 20,000 sick and wounded.
“ This afternoon the army and the garrison will days, which have made most of your regiments the
lay down their arms. richer in fame and honour, and have made none
“ This is one of the most important events of the poorer. You allowed no egress to the brave enemy
month. until he would lay down his arms. This has been
“ Providence be thanked !" done. To-day at last this army, still 173,000 men strong, the best in France, consisting of more than There was at the time a general disposition to five entire army corps, including the imperial guard, sneer at his Majesty's way of describing a military
catastrophe of unprecedented magnitude as the of Frenchmen. At Lyons, some persons who “most important event of the month.” And yet repeated the rumour of the capitulation were a very slight effort of memory will show that the assaulted and taken to the police station. Several language was as strictly warrantable as simple. days after the Journal de Genéve ventured to intiJuly had the declaration of war and the arming mate that Bazaine had surrendered, but the Lyonof Germany; August the triumphs of Woerth and nais set upon the vendors, tore their papers, and Spichern, of Vionville and Gravelotte ; September threatened to drown all who should be found the capitulation of Napoleon's army at Sedan; and reading them ; while the copies which had been October, ere its close, gave into the hands of the supplied to the public establishments of the city monarch of an united Germany the maiden fortress were publicly burned. In Marseilles, and several which in other times Charles Quint beleaguered other large towns, the news was received with a in vain! On the 28th the king conferred the feeling of grief and depression befitting the greatdignity of field-marshal on the Crown Prince and ness of the calamity. Immense crowds of workPrince Frederick Charles; and it was about this men, displaying flags draped in mourning, but time that rumour first began to speak of a restored crowned with immortelles, marched bareheaded empire of Germany in the person of the Prussian and in silence to the prefectures. When rumours: monarch—a project which was carried into effect of the capitulation reached Tours, the delegate not many months later, and to which the extra- government were besieged with crowds of excited ordinary successes of the war were manifestly citizens eager to know the truth, and the following leading the thoughts, and probably the desires of official notice appeared in the Moniteur on the the German people.
evening of the 28th:On the 3rd of November the event was further alluded to in the following order of the day:
“Grave news, concerning the origin and veracity
of which, in spite of my active researches, I have "Soldiers of the Confederate Armies ! When
no sort of official information, reach me from all we took the field, three months ago, I expressed sides. The rumour of the capitulation of Metz my confidence that God would be with our just circulates. It is good that you should know what
This confidence has been realized. I the government thinks on the announcement of recall to you Woerth, Saarbruck, and the bloody such a disaster. Such an event could only be the battles before Metz, Sedan, Beaumont, and Strass- result of a crime, whose authors would deserve to burg — each engagement was a victory for us.
be outlawed. I will keep you informed of what You are worthy of glory. You have maintained occurs; but be convinced, whatever may happen, all the virtues which especially distinguish soldiers. that we will not allow ourselves to be cast down By the capitulation of Metz the last army of the
even by the most frightful misfortunes. In these enemy is destroyed. I take advantage of this days of vile (scélerates) capitulations there is one moment to express my thanks to all of you, from thing that cannot, and must not capitulate, and the general to the soldier. Whatever the future that is the French Republic. may still bring to us, I look forward to it with
“LEON GAMBETTA." calmness, because I know that with such soldiers victory cannot fail!
As the unwelcome truth was gradually con“ WILHELM.” firmed, those of the French papers formerly
published in Paris, but which now appeared at That King William did not overrate the import- Tours, Poitiers, and Bordeaux, all commented upon ance of the great event of October 27, was the fall of Metz in terms expressive of pungent abundantly shown by the way in which the news sorrow, and more or less of indignation. The was received throughout France. Her armies Français referred “with deep grief to this great might be defeated, her emperor made prisoner, her catastrophe. But before judging and denouncing fortresses of minor rank, or even Strassburg, fall we feel bound to wait for an explanation of the into the hands of the enemy; but that Metz, her cruel necessities which induced Marshal Bazaine virgin and greatest stronghold, should share the to take that fatal step, and also for a statement of same fate, seemed never to have entered the minds the clauses of the capitulation. The disaster of
Sedan struck us down; that of Metz overwhelms ness to hasten it; and to secure his own ambitious us. It is now a time to repeat, with supplications ends, delivered to the Prussians the town and and tearful eyes, . May God protect France !'” fortress of Metz, with the army of 120,000 men The Gazette de France recorded the fact " with encamped in the intrenched enceinte. a broken heart. It is almost impossible to believe Unless they could be fully established, charges that such a thing is possible. What curse is it such as these against a soldier who had served his that weighs upon France ? 150,000 men formerly country with distinction for forty years, came sufficed to gain victories over 400,000 enemies, with little grace from the delegate government. but now they only serve to hasten the capitulation There is no doubt that, for at least eight days of a fortress. What a melancholy history is this! after the defeat at Gravelotte and retreat to Metz, Strassburg fell because it had not a sufficient Bazaine gave way to a culpable inactivity. This number of defenders, while Metz, in whose walls time was invaluable to the Germans; it gave them the enemy's cannon had made no breach, suc- the means of counter-intrenching their army so cumbed because it had too many soldiers shut up strongly as to make egress from Metz very difficult, within its defences."
and enabled them to withdraw the three corps The fall of Metz was an event so grave as to forming their new fourth army, to occupy the justify a little caution in making it known to the line of the Meuse, and frustrate the effort of MacFrench nation, in the excited state in which it then Mahon to relieve his brother marshal. The latter was. Anxious, however, to account for the event waited for his coming, and at his supposed approach in such a way as to save the credit of the country, attempted his one real sortie, that of the 31st and at the same time, to detract from the triumph of August, which opened the Prussian line eastof their enemy, the Tours government scrupled ward of Metz at the time. But this attack was so not to heap upon the head of Bazaine charges feebly followed up that at daybreak on the 1st the of the vilest treachery. The gallant Uhrich of enemy recovered easily the positions he had lost. Strassburg, after having his praises sung through- Strategically, indeed, it was so ill-directed that for out France for weeks, was at last accused of the time its success would have carried Bazaine treason; and after making a surrender on a far towards the Sarre, and left the first and second greater scale, Bazaine could never have hoped to armies between his own and that of MacMahon escape the same fate. M. de Valcourt, the officer which he had expected. of his staff who had escaped from Metz and As to the later stages of the investment, when we arrived at Tours as the bearer of a despatch, examine the French and the German accounts, and drew up a long indictment against his chief, compare with them the narrative already alluded to according to which Bazaine never seriously of Mr. Robinson of the Manchester Guardian, who attempted to make an exit from Metz, from the spent the ill-fated seventy days with the army in 18th of August, when he was first driven under Metz, we find the most perfect agreement on one its walls. With a view to his own aggran- point. No sortie after the 1st September ever disement, he first of all deeply involved himself showed the slightest indication of a real design to in imperialist intrigues, and proposed to the king break out of the German lines. That of the 7th of Prussia that the army of Metz should, after October, the most important, was conducted on a being neutralized for a time, return to France to scale which sufficed to draw the attention of both “ insure the liberty of elections;" his real design armies to it, and to convince the French soldiers being to establish himself as regent during the of the difficulty of the undertaking; but it was minority of the prince imperial. But when his plainly not a serious attempt. It is perhaps possible majesty declined to listen to any overtures except that loyalty to the Empire, the political state of those of unconditional surrender, and Bazaine France, and the supposed prospect of an imperialist became convinced that he could only bring France restoration influenced Bazaine's conduct; chiming and the Prussians to adopt the idea of a Bonapartist in, as it does, with his direct communication with restoration, by adding to the other misfortunes Versailles and Chislehurst, and with all that is known which were already weighing down the unhappy of his movements during the seven weeks in quescountry that of the capitulation of Metz, then, tion. With this may possibly have been mixed said M. de Valcourt, the marshal made it his busi- up the idea, that in case of the tide of the Prussian