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to Though the retreat had been trying in the
immediate neighbourhood-every village serving These operations reflected high credit from as a fortress. When dislodged from one, they took every point of view on the French commander, up their stand in another, and so on from sunrise and proved what a part, at least, of the army of to sunset. Each battle was a mere series of skir- the Loire could do in untoward circumstances. mishes, in which, though the Germans were vic- Prince Frederick Charles apparently calculated torious, both armies left a vast tract of country that Von der Tann and the grand - duke of strewed with their dead, who lay unheeded day Mecklenburg were in sufficient force to destroy after day.
Chanzy; but he baffled these expectations, and his Had the movements of General Chanzy since vigorous stand at Beaugency and Marchenoir the evacuation of Orleans been dictated by the not only weakened his foes, but by drawing a most profound strategy, instead of by necessity or detachment against his right perhaps saved the accident, they could not have been executed more rest of the army of the Loire. In falling back skilfully, or in a manner more harassing to his on Le Mans, and retreating upon his reinforcefoes. The vast quantity of stores which had been ments when his wing was menaced, eye-witnesses accumulated in Orleans were sent across to the left told with what foresight he availed himself of bank of the Loire, with a comparatively small force natural obstacles to baffle and impede his pursuers. to protect them, and to deceive the Germans as to the position of the main body of the army, which extreme, and many hundreds had disbanded, the waited on the right bank, and fell upon the flank great majority of the French troops had conof the inferior German force at Meung. Here, for tended not without honour against their veteran four successive days, Chanzy fought so hard that and well-seasoned foes. That they should have the Germans gained very little ground, and had been fighting in the open field at all, considering to send for heavy reinforcements; when they the helpless condition of France after Sedan, is expected him to rest he attacked them; and when not a little surprising. But that they should they expected him to attack, he was gone, no one have fought, within thirteen days, ten such at first knew whither. He thus forced the duke battles as Beaune-la-Rollande, Patay, Bazoches, of Mecklenburg to change his front and follow the Chevilly, Chilleure, Orleans, and the four about retreating enemy to the almost impregnable position Beaugency, on terms so nearly equal, sometimes he had taken up at Fréteval, and in the vast forests superior, against the best German troops, effectupon the right and left banks of the Loir; where ing their retreat on almost all occasions without there seemed to be nothing to prevent his keeping any disastrous loss or confusion—is an achievethe Germans at bay, while the bulk of his army ment which reflects the highest honour on the might by forced marches have moved in four days, generals who organized and commanded the army by Châteaudun and Chartres, upon Versailles. As of the Loire. The weather had throughout been it was, the French held their opponents in front dreadful. As described by General Chanzy himself of Fréteval for four days, till their position being at one place in his valuable and concise work, “La turned by the tenth and third army corps, directed Deuxieme Armée de la Loire,” “ A torrent of by Prince Frederick Charles' upon Vendôme, rain since the morning had melted the snow and Chanzy was forced to choose between retreating produced a thaw. The roads were everywhere upon Le Mans or upon Paris. The former town, exceedingly slippery, and the fields were too with the great naval fortresses in its rear, offered muddy for the passage of horses and carriages. important advantages to a retiring army wearied In point of fatigue to men and cattle, this day with constant fighting; and once reached, a junc- (12th December) was one of the most distressing tion with the French army of the west would of the campaign. Nevertheless, the march was be effected, and large reinforcements obtained. effected with a reasonable degree of regularity, Chanzy, therefore, directed his march thither, and by night all the corps were established premaking admirable use of many defensive positions, cisely in the positions assigned to them.” and on the 21st of December reached Le Mans, In fact, the sufferings of the troops can have having saved his army and joined his supports. been but little less severe while they lasted than Although his troops had suffered terribly, he had what was endured in the retreat from Russia. To lost only seven or eight guns.
fight all through a short winter's day, the fingers
almost too cold to handle a rifle, and to find oneself before any of the fighting round Beaugency, the at nightfall on a bare frozen plain, or, even worse, first was in sixteen battles, without reinforcea muddy field, with no supplies at hand, and often ments, and General von der Tann could not even no fuel, shivering the long night through in number more than 5000 effective bayonets. Some a furrow, or wandering about in a vain search for reserves arrived from Germany on the 7th Decemfood—a night of this sort, followed by another ber, and the active part they took in the engageday of hopeless fighting, was, during the first ments of that and the two following days may fortnight of this dreary December, the condition be judged by the fact that the corps sustained an of the soldiers of the French army, in which the additional loss of 1200 men and forty-eight officers. sufferings of the sound were only surpassed by On the 12th the corps was ordered back to Orleans those of the miserable wounded, who crawled to enjoy a season of well-merited repose, and a unaided into the nearest ditch to die. Notwith very complimentary letter was addressed by the standing all these disadvantages, the methodical king of Prussia to General von der Tann. way in which the business of the headquarters Not deeming it prudent to pursue their enemy was conducted during this time was most admir- further for the present, the armies of Prince able. Night after night, when the troops were Frederick Charles and the duke of Mecklenburg getting such fragments of rest as their condition remained in the country between Orleans, Venmade possible, was passed by Chanzy in writing dôme, and Blois; and with the exception of an long despatches to the provisional government, expedition to Tours by Voigts-Rhetz and part of and dictating orders for the following day. Pro- the tenth corps, no further encounter took place motions were made, casualties filled up, and the between the combatants until the winter campaign business of the army generally carried on with in January, the events of which will be related in the greatest detail and precision. To read Gen- a future chapter. When the Germans reached eral Chanzy's orders of the day at this time, one Blois and Vendôme they were at less than two might suppose that they were issued by the day's march from Tours, on the two railways concommander of a confident, well-conditioned army, verging on that town, the one from Orleans, and inaking war in ordinary fashion, in regular cam- the other from Châteaudun. After the government paigning weather. The whole episode is a delegation left for Bordeaux, General Sol, who remarkable instance of the effect of character in had the command of the Tours military division, war. With a less determined and obstinate com- seeing himself exposed to attack from these two mander, it is hardly doubtful that this army would lines, and also from Vierzon, immediately retreated. have gone to pieces. As it was, Chanzy's deter- M. Gambetta, deeming the evacuation of Tours mined attitude, and the spirit he succeeded in precipitate, removed him from active service, and infusing into those around him, had the effect of appointed General Pisani in his place. The force keeping the Germans, who were also of course of Voigts-Rhetz having been signalled in the suffering very much from the weather, on very immediate neighbourhood, General Chanzy sent respectful terms. Altogether, the retreat from a despatch to Pisani ordering him, with the 6000 Orleans to the Loire during the first half of De- troops under his command, to harass the enemy cember was perhaps as creditable to French arms as much as possible, but by no means to risk a as anything that occurred during the whole war. defeat. Accordingly, on December 20, he, with
It must in justice be remarked, however, that if his little army, attacked the Prussians at Monnaie, the French had thus fought with heroic steadiness and after inflicting on them no little damage and and courage, the Germans also bore up against their taking sixty prisoners, retreated with considergreat hardships and heavy losses with their wonted | able loss. Pisani, watching the course of events, fortitude; not excepting the Bavarians, about whose lingered for some time about the vicinity of Tours, demoralization idle tales had been in circulation ever before which the Prussians appeared the next since their first mishap at Coulmiers. These troops morning. Thinking that, as the garrison had left, had, indeed, suffered so severely, that they were the town would make no resistance, they sent reduced to about one-fifth of their original force; forward a squadron of cavalry to take possession. yet to the last they exhibited the utmost gallantry. The towns-people, however, had made up their Each corps d'armée left Germany 30,000 strong; minds to attempt a defence, and when the hostile
cuirassiers came within casy range, the Tours the enemy, and the result closely resembled the national guards fired on them, and forced them to memorable battle of Bull's Run. retreat at full gallop. The Prussians then deter- Buchy is a village, very insignificant in itself, mined to try the effect of a bombardment, unlim- but strategically of no small importance, as there bered a battery of artillery on the edge of the lofty the road and railway from Amiens to Rouen bifurplateau rising at only a few hundred yards to the cates, the northern branch going on to Clères and north, and began shelling the town. As Tours was St. Victor (on the way from Rouen to Dieppe), perfectly open and totally unprovided with the thus forming the apex of a triangle, of which the means of defence, this mode of attack soon began lines to Rouen and to Clères form the sides, and to tell. Several were killed by the shells, and the railway from Rouen to the Clères station of amongst them M. Beurtheret, the editor of the Union the Dieppe Railway, the base. The French force Liberale. Fearing that the town might be totally consisted of undisciplined mobiles and mobilized destroyed, M. Eugène Gouiz, the mayor, accom- national guards, from several departments, of a panied by his adjuncts and an interpreter, went to corps of franc-tireurs, a provisional regiment of the Prussian commander with a flag of truce, and the line (regiment de marche), and a small detachasked for a cessation of the bombardment, which ment of cavalry. The Prussians advanced on was at once and unconditionally accorded. The Buchy from St. Saens, and about five o'clock on Prussians did not occupy the town, but, probably the morning of 3rd December sent some shells supposing that considerable French forces were into the French positions. The first discharge in the neighbourhood, retired soon afterwards to dismounted one of the three guns with which the Blois. Tours was thus again left in peace, and French attempted to open fire against a Prussian was re-occupied by General Pisani and his troops battery of from thirty to forty. The mobiles, who as soon as the enemy disappeared.
were drawn up to protect them, no sooner heard a Dropping for the present the subject of the shell bursting than they fled across country, and operations of the armies on the several zones paused not until they reached Rouen in the evenaround Paris, we will glance briefly at the princi- ing. There they scattered all over the place, filled pal towns and fortresses captured by the Germans every café and wine shop, drank very freely, conduring December, taking them in chronological fessed that they had retired, but boasted loudly order.
of what they would have done in other circumAfter the first battle of Amiens, which took stances, and gave exaggerated accounts of the place on the 26th and 27th November, and which enemy's numbers. A panic spread throughout resulted in the destruction of what was then called the city. The treasure and notes in the Bank of the French army of the north, some remnants of France and in the receveur-général's hands were that force were said to have fled in the direction embarked on board the Protectrice, a powerful ironof Caen. General von Göben, with the first corps, clad floating battery, supposed to have been moved was despatched to pursue these, with instructions to Rouen for the defence of the city; but she now also to make a reconnaissance upon the Rouen got up steam and was soon out of sight. The variroad, but not to attack the enemy there if in ous French merchantmen in the river also dropped positions behind earth works. At a meeting of down with the tide. Early next morning, which the principal inhabitants and the military and was very cold, the rappel was sounded for the civil authorities, it was determined not to defend muster of the national guard, who turned out with Rouen, as in consequence of the incomplete state readiness. They were kept waiting for nearly six of the lines of defence any attempt at resistance hours in the cold, and were then marched to the would be useless. But changing their minds, an railway station for conveyance to Clères. Ultiaddress was issued by the municipal council, intimately, however, the authorities again changed mating that the enemy was approaching nearer their minds, and the guards remained, to be disand nearer, that the military were concentrating armed and disbanded by the Prussians. A number for defence, and exciting the citizens to make an of siege guns, which had been landed on the quay effort equal to the sacrifices the country required only two days before, were spiked and thrown of them. The available forces of the town were into the river. The town, meanwhile, was seemaccordingly sent to Buchy to arrest the course of ingly emptied of its male population, and the sad,
anxious faces of the women expressed the fears the first lines of the French works. In the midle by which they were agitated.
of the road lay two heavy ship guns, 24-pounders, In the meantime, the strange manner in which which it was clear that the French had not had the French troops, evidently strong in numbers, time to put into position. Everything betokened had abandoned position after position from Gaille- a hasty retreat. The batteries were unfinished; fontaine along the road to Rouen, induced General while, on either side of the road, the Prussian von Göben to make one of those rapid advances troops actually marched among the still burning which had so often led to triumph. The forces camp-fires of their opponents. The question natuunder his command received with their usual en- rally arose, what had the French general at Rouen thusiasm the order to advance upon the road to been doing for the last two months ? He had Rouen; and notwithstanding the severe marching more than ample time, money, and material, to say and fighting of the last few days, all strode along nothing of his close proximity to Havre, Dieppe, seemingly as fresh as when they left the banks and Boulogne, to establish a line of defence before of the Rhine. They anticipated a battle before the city that might have very greatly altered the Rouen; believing that the French were strong in face of matters. . He had done nothing but abannumbers, well armed, and provided with artillery, don every position which, with immense labour, with the advantage of occupying a fortified position. his troops had constructed between Isneauville
A halt was made at Buchy, where the precipitate and Gaillefontaine, where every village might have retreat of the French took place to which we have been made a fortress; all the more easily because already alluded. Little knowing the terror they his army, instead of being made up entirely of had caused, the Prussians concluded the force they mobiles, included several line regiments, and the had dispersed was but the outpost of a more formid- fifth hussars, with thirty-five guns. able body. But on their arrival at Quincampoix, Rouen lies in a basin, surrounded by high hills, on the morning of December 5, the advanced guard from which Von Göben's army quickly had a brought in an elderly gentleman, taken prisoner as view of the famous city. A patrol of hussars was he drove from Rouen in his gig, and who turned sent forward to arrange for the entry of the troops; out to be the mayor of Quincampoix. From but in the meantime a magistrate appeared, a thin him the Prussians learned that 35,000 troops had old man, with the ribbon of the Legion of Honour camped at Quincampoix the previous night, but on his coat, asking the general to send some troops had only remained for an hour, and then continued into the town as quickly as possible? The square their retreat upon Rouen, which intended to make of the Hôtel de Ville was in the hands of the no resistance. The intelligence was so astounding, gamins, who, armed with the weapons thrown that it was at first believed to be a ruse to induce away by the national guard, were trying their best the somewhat wearied Germans to advance upon a to shoot the mayor. In that drunken, reckless strong position defended by fresh troops. But after style in which a French mob delights, they were a short consultation with Colonel von Witzendorff, firing upon the Hotel de Ville, the façade of which the chief of his staff, and Major Bomki, General was pitted with bullets, the windows broken, and von Göben ordered the troops to advance. Just the members of the commune, huddled together at this moment the omnibus from Rouen arrived, in a back room, in despair. Fortunately for the with intelligence to the general which seemed mayor and the town, the German troops were soon almost incredible. In the morning the French upon the spot, when one battalion of the fortieth, troops had all retreated upon Havre. The town with two guns, took up its position in the Place had subscribed 10,000,000 francs as a contribution, Cauchoise ; while the other two battalions, with which General von Göben was invited to come the seventieth regiment, filed in different direcand take. Everything was now boot and saddle; tions through the town. The general then rode the fortieth and seventieth regiments, forming the to the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville, where, beside thirty-first brigade, with the ninth hussars and the statue of Napoleon I., he saw the sixteenth two batteries of artillery, pushed along the road to division, with bands playing and colours flying, Isneauville, and the staff waited in Quincampoix, march past. to let the infantry advance.
Great indignation was expressed in other parts Arrived at Isneauville, the Germans came upon of France at the capitulation of Rouen without In spite,
resistance; but it was only one of a large number from Amiens. The much- dreaded occupation of instances in the course of the war, in which had been for weeks past the nightmare of the every one cried “forward” to his neighbour with worthy Dieppois, who had spent much time out moving a foot in advance himself. Nancy in making defensive preparations. and Rheims were pronounced cowards because however, of wooden barricades and innumerthey offered no resistance to the enemy, having able drillings of the national guards, when the indeed neither arms nor men.
inhabitants heard of the near approach of the in fact, the single open town which defended enemy, the guns were spiked, the arms and ammuitself; for with this exception every other in nition were shipped to Havre, the brave nationales France, so defiant when the enemy was distant, and douaniers doffed their uniforms, and all prelearned prudence at its near approach.
pared to receive the invader as amicably and A“ mild invasion” is almost a contradiction in cordially as dignity would permit. On the mornterms; yet if ever a city was mildly invaded it was ing of December 9 the usual advanced guard of Rouen. Not one shop was closed, nor, as far as uhlans
uhlans gave the customary warning of a large an ordinary observer could judge, was the petty body of troops being behind them, who would commerce of the place interfered with. But capi- require unlimited food, board, and lodging. Actal was too sensitive not to take the alarm. Nearly cordingly, a few hours afterwards, in marched the all the great factories and printworks, on whose main body, with bands playing and colours flying, operations Rouen depended, were closed, and the as if they were returning from a victory into one distress of the workpeople was soon obviously very of their own towns. Many of the houses had been great. Some ingenious speculators in the locality dressed out with flags of various nationalities, the had formed a special insurance company for guar- English strongly predominating; hung out to show anteeing subscribers against the various evils of that the occupants were not French, and therefore war; but among these evils the occupation of not liable to the obligation of billeting the enemy. Rouen by the enemy had not been foreseen, and Every house, however, on which the lot fell had the company, too severely tested at the very outset to receive its soldier guests; and the English resiof its enterprise, collapsed.
dences were apparently at a premium-perhaps a In Rouen the German army of the north found delicate though unwelcome compliment to provermany of its wants abundantly met. Among other bial British hospitality. The troops behaved with things obtained was a supply of fresh horses, great moderation, and all passed off quietly. As 40,000 pairs of boots, 10,000 blankets, 2000 no resistance was offered, the Prussians levied no shirts, 20,000 pairs of socks, and 100,000 cigars, contribution. There were even less than the usual and the city could, if needful, have furnished a requisitions, though 25,000 cigars were demanded considerable amount of specie. Here the army at the manufactory, and the authorities had to supply was in secure and comfortable winter quarters, large quantities of provisions, wine, and brandy. in direct communication with the Crown Prince Shortly after their entry into the town the uhlans of Saxony and the army of Paris ; and from this rode to the Plage, where many of them for the point, unless the communication by way of Amiens first time saw with admiration the broad expanse of should be disturbed, a great military movement the ocean,
the ocean, and gave three hurrahs for the king and might be organized. The cost of all these advan- Vaterland. Orders were issued towards nightfall tages to the army of the north was eleven men that no lights should be exhibited at the entrance killed and fifty wounded, without the loss of a of the port. Frenchmen were stationed at the single officer. The French had lost five officers pierhead to warn off every vessel that should killed and eighteen wounded, forty-five rank attempt to force an entrance, under the penalty and file killed, 100 wounded, 600 prisoners, and of being fired upon by the enemy. This measure twenty-seven pieces of heavy marine artillery, seemed hard; but a man-of-war had been seen together with the wealthiest city of Western France. cruising in the offing in the latter part of the after
Apparently from a desire to reach the sea, and noon, and measures had to be adopted to thwart a thus be able to say that the Prussians had crossed night attack from the seaboard, should such be France from the Rhine to the British Channel, a attempted. The departure of the troops, which detachment of Manteuffel's army visited Dieppe I took place the day after their arrival, was regretted