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by those of the inhabitants who were engaged in detachment of French arriving before the town, commerce, and who had realized no small harvest. which is protected by a strong castle, first fell on As the Prussians seemed to intend making Dieppe the sentries, and then sounded the Prussian signal a provision depot for themselves, both this port, for a general march. About 200 of the garrison, and Fécamp and Havre, were shortly afterwards mostly belonging to the field railway detachment, declared by the French government in a state of hastily collected, and were caught as in a trap. blockade, and men-of-war were stationed near to Others fled to the fort, pursued by the French enforce its observance.
with levelled bayonets. At midnight a parlemenOn December 19 Dieppe was occupied a second taire, accompanied by a lieutenant, appeared before time by the Prussians, and as the little army quar- the fort; but they were fired upon, when the flagtered there were in want of boots and horses, all bearer was killed and the lieutenant wounded. residents and visitors, not being foreigners, were At one o'clock in the morning the French captain, called upon to send their horses to the market accompanied by a Prussian officer who had been place, where a Prussian officer selected a certain made prisoner, presented himself as a parlementaire, number, and, according to the custom in such cases, when in an interview with the commandant it was bought them at his own valuation, paying for agreed that the place should be surrendered at them in paper redeemable at the end of the war. six o'clock, and that officers who were prisoners As nearly all the good horses at Dieppe belonged on either side should be exchanged. At the to Englishmen, the Prussians, out of many hun- appointed hour the French entered the fortress dreds brought forward, found very few worth taking and found the Prussians, seventy-six in number, -altogether, not more than a dozen. In the mat- drawn up in line and disarmed. ter of boots they were more successful; the dealers Of all the towns besieged by the Prussians during in these articles having been required to send to the war, none held out more gallantly than Vauan appointed place all the ready made goods they ban's virgin fortress of Phalsbourg, a description had on hand, on assurance that whatever was taken of which is given in Chapter X. from them would be paid for at its full value.
Phalsbourg was closely invested on the 9th of Of course, too, there was a little money transac- August, and on the evening of the 10th it was tion. No contribution was levied. But Dieppe bombarded for an hour and a half by two batteries, possessed a tobacco manufactory, which, like all under the command of General Gersdorff, with four such establishments in France, belonged to the and six pounder shell guns. In that brief space state; and General von Göben explained to the 3000 projectiles are computed to have been thrown municipality that, as state property, the tobacco into the fortress; but only one house was seriously manufactory passed from the hands of the French injured. On the 14th, at seven in the morning, to those of the Prussian government. As the the bombardment was renewed, and raged until representative of that government he could not four in the afternoon, along the side of Phalsbourg work the manufactory, neither could he carry it which runs parallel with the Port de France. In away with him, and he had no wish to burn it. the conflagration which it occasioned, few of He therefore proposed to sell it, and (making a the houses of the town escaped without more good guess) fixed the value at the round sum of or less injury, while forty, including the church, 100,000 francs. The muncipality protested against were burnt. Towards the close of the day a sumthe exorbitancy of the demand, which was ulti- mons to surrender was sent to the governor, mately reduced to 75,000 francs. Part of the General Talhouet, who returned a firm refusal. money was paid down at once, and the rest in The siege was soon after changed into a blockade. a day or two after.
The beleaguering troops were relieved from time On the 9th of December, the same day on which to time on their march westward, no week passing Dieppe was occupied the first time by the Prus- without parlementaires knocking at the gates. sians, a somewhat compensating advantage was The garrison consisted of about 1000 regular achieved by a band of active and daring Lille troops and 800 gardes mobiles. The investing mobiles, who surprised the Prussian garrison at force varied; at the close it numbered 5000 infanHam, the fortress where Napoleon III. was once try, with artillery, and a squadron of Bavarian imprisoned. At six o'clock in the evening the cavalry. On November 24 there was another smart bombardment, but famine at the last com- ing balls of the average weight of 150 lbs., which pelled the garrison to open the gates. The fortress did frightful execution. . The upper town was was not well provisioned. Very early in October almost destroyed, while the lower suffered but they began to eat horse flesh. Salt, tobacco, little. The iron roof of the powder magazine coffee, and sugar rapidly failed, and latterly wine. had been struck, and the commandant, seeing Towards the close, every other day, the rations of that the fortress and both the towns were likely the garrison consisted of a water soup, whose only to be blown up, called a council of war, which nutritive properties were derived from the fat of unanimously decided on capitulation. Thirty or cattle and horses. The population of Phalsbourg forty persons were killed during the siege, and is set down in gazetteers at 4000, but nearly half sixty wounded. The Germans lost only a few, as that number had quitted the town, or been turned their guns were beyond the range of those in the out of it at the commencement of the siege. Those fortress. The surrender released nearly 400 Gerwho remained suffered the same privations as the man soldiers, principally landwehr, who had been garrison, and to scarcity of food was added want imprisoned here for several months. Negotiations of water, a Prussian spy having cut the conduit for an exchange failed on account of the comwhich supplied it. After the rout of Woerth mandant demanding two Frenchmen for one Gerthe wreck of MacMahon's army was rallied upon man, a demand which provoked the retort that Phalsbourg, when 35,000 kilogrammes of its one German soldier was worth much more than provisions were drawn upon, and there was not two Frenchmen. sufficient time to revictual. The earlier sorties Montmédy did not possess much strategic importof the garrison, for collecting supplies, were often ance for the Germans, as it was too remote from successful; but in the later the villages were found the real scene of operations; but it had long been cleared bare by the besiegers.
a favourite rendezvous for the franc-tireurs of the An enormous quantity of powder had been Ardennes, and its possession was necessary to prestored at Phalsbourg, at the beginning of the war, vent the communications of detachments operatfor the use of the army of the Rhine. For some ing along the Belgian frontier against Mézières, days previous to the surrender volumes of smoke Longwy, &c., with Metz and Thionville, being ascending from the place told that these stores exposed to the chances of a guerilla war. were being gradually burnt, that they might not We have spoken of Châteaudun as affording the fall into the hands of the enemy. Before the only instance of an open town which in the whole gates were thrown open to the besiegers, 12,000 course of the war made a vigorous stand against rifles, with 9,600,000 rounds of cartridge, were the enemy. A visit to that and the neighbouring destroyed, and 12,000,000 lbs. of powder were flung town of Chartres afforded reflection for the moralist, into the moat, all the cannon spiked, and their and ample explanation of the non-resistance of open wheels and carriages broken. On December 12, towns. Châteaudun, with the hand of war resting after sustaining a siege of five months, the fortress heavily upon it, was continually experiencing a capitulated unconditionally; and fifty-two officers, change of garrison, and every change brought a 1839 men, and sixty-five guns, fell into the hands pang of some sort. One day came the Germans, of the captors.
and left after staying a week; then came the French, The only fortress in German Lorraine which taking what the Germans had left, scolding the now remained in French hands was Bitsche. This inhabitants for giving these Germans anything, and place also had been besieged since August; but going; back came the Germans the same evening, its natural position was so strong that it was un squeezed the sponge for the last drop, lived upon likely to yield except to famine, and there had for the inhabitants until it was a mystery how anysome time been a tacit understanding on both body in the wretched place lived at all, only to sides to suspend firing, and thus avoid useless make way once more for the French, and so on. bloodshed.
For weeks after the memorable fight, for which On the 14th December Montmédy capitulated, Châteaudun was voted to have “deserved well of yielding to the Germans an additional sixty-five its country,” there might have been seen groups of guns and 3000 prisoners. The fortress had been men and women gloomily huddled together among bombarded by about seventy heavy guns, throw- the ruins of their burnt houses, the picture of
misery and woe, and who seemed to pass their to strengthen considerably the barrier to the armies existence in brooding over their misfortunes, or in intended to relieve the capital, to fill up gaps watching the ingress and egress of the various caused by the prolonged contest, and to increase troops. It was a pleasing contrast to leave such a the efficiency of the means employed to reduce scene, and arrive in the sleek, well-preserved town the besieged city. For this purpose reinforcewhere the mayor had made friends with the enemy ments, numbering not less than 200,000 men, the moment he presented himself at his gates, were in the course of December marched into so that Chartres scarcely suffered perceptibly from France. The new levy consisted partly of a
The Châteaudun church was riddled portion of the supplementary (ersatz) reserve; with shot and shell, and showed great gaps in its
men who had been passed over year by year, walls and roof. The gigantic Chartres cathedral, from the practice in Prussia of absorbing into towering above every surrounding object, and the line less than one-half of the young men visible for leagues from every quarter of the land- qualified and legally bound to serve. Citizens of scape, stood intact. The narrow winding streets of all classes and occupations, who never dreamed the picturesque and historic old town were always of being again called upon for military service, alive and animated; all the shops open and well received a peremptory summons to start, after a stocked, and even the market-place well supplied short drill, for the seat of war. There was, howwith provisions. No sign of plunder or pillage ever, no grumbling, for the persistency with which here; people received payment for everything, and it was believed the French had for many years in consequence of their good behaviour escaped contemplated the invasion of Germany, and the heavy requisitions. Certainly, a lack of patriotism recklessness with which they entered upon it at was attended with great advantages both to con- what appeared to them a favourable moment, querors and conquered; and it was astonishing how created and sustained a degree of indignation well all seemed to get on together, and how few which nothing hitherto had been able to allay. bitter recollections the Germans left behind them This feeling was not confined to the towns and in places where from the beginning they had been centres of culture, but penetrated even to the humbly received and systematically well treated. remotest villages, and promised a supply of will
We have pointed out in a previous chapter that ing and ardent reserves quite as long as the the desperate attempt of D'Aurelles on December patriotic zeal of the French was likely to fill 1 to push his army towards Paris, was part of a the ranks of M. Gambetta. The new comers scheme arranged with General Trochu to break up occupied the captured towns and the extensive the besieging forces. The defeat of the army of line of communication, while the more seasoned the Loire, therefore, and the retirement of Ducrot troops whom they relieved were sent to the front. from across the Marne, marked the failure of the With them the shrunken battalions of Prince first combined attempt on a great scale to raise Frederick Charles and the grand-duke of Meckthe siege of Paris. The Germans were on all lenburg were replenished, the armies of Manteuffel points triumphant; and yet their able and experi- in the north, and Werder in the east, were augenced chiefs did not share in the exultation of mented, and the sphere of their operations ex
No one knew better than the great tended; the hold on the communications was strategist who directed the movements of the tightened, the siege of new fortresses undertaken, invading host, how perilous is a miscalculation whilst at Paris every nerve was strained to accelein war, how insecure the German position had rate the attack, and lessen the difficulties of a mere been made, and how success was even yet pos- investment. sible, if not prevented by mighty exertions. Vic- Two decrees of special importance were issued torious, too, as the Germans had been, their losses by the French during the month, the first referring round Paris, and especially in the protracted to the numerous desertions from the army, which struggle with Chanzy's army, had been severe; were now of daily occurrence. It was notorious and as Paris still held out resolutely, and the that by far the greater part of the prisoners winter was extremely rigorous, it was obvious 6 captured” in the fighting at and around Orleans, that new and immense demands on the German were men who delivered themselves up to the resources were required. It had become necessary | enemy, preferring a temporary sojourn in Germany
to the chances of Prussian steel or bullets. The The patriotic portion of the country, however, ill-success of the armies, also, was largely ascribed saw that the time would be equally ill-chosen on to panics raised by troops who, terrified at the their part for domestic discords; and after the first approach of danger, fled from the enemy. To feeling of indignation the decree was admitted, prevent these scandals, M. Gambetta decreed that and agitation left over for the future. It may be to all the armies of the republic should be attached here remarked that not long after the conclusion a regiment of mounted gendarmes, the officer in of peace it was deemed advisable to rescind the command of which was to preside over a per- decree of M. Gambetta and his co-delegates, and manent court-martial, to be established in the rear the councils general were re-established. of each army, with the following instructions : As in November, when Russia repudiated the * To follow the army, and to dispose his men in treaty of 1855, so in December another danger such a manner as to watch and close all the issues burst upon Europe, in consequence of Count von from it.
To arrest fugitives, and hand them Bismarck repudiating the treaty of 1867 for mainover to a troop in due formation. They will taining the neutrality of Luxemburg, on the alleged regard as fugitives every soldier, every officer, or ground that she had not preserved her neutrality group of soldiers, found retreating without a written during the war. In his note to the government of order, or without being placed under the command the grand-duchy he declared, that “the hostile of a superior officer. Every soldier, not being sentiments of the population have manifested themwounded, found in the rear of the army without selves in the maltreatment of German officials in arms or equipment, will immediately be brought the duchy; but Prussia does not hold the
governbefore the court-martial. Any one who shall raise ment of Luxemburg responsible for the bad cona cry of Sauve qui peut,' or of “We are pursued,'| duct of individuals, although more might have been will be taken before the court-martial. Exercise done to repress it. The provisioning of Thionville, the greatest rigour and the greatest vigilance in however, by trains run from Luxemburg, was the performance of these duties.”
a flagrant breach of the laws of neutrality, which On the 25th of December a far more unpopular, could not have taken place without the conniand in every way unjustifiable, decree was issued, vance of the officials. The Prussian government abolishing the councils general of departments, at the time lodged a complaint with the governas well as the councils of arrondissements; and it ment of the grand-duchy, and pointed out the proved that the "government of the three lawyers,” consequences to which proceedings of the kind as it was frequently called, or to speak more cor- must inevitably lead. The warning was disrerectly, the Gambetta dictatorship, was every whit garded. After the fall of Metz numbers of French as absolute, and when occasion arose much more officers and soldiers, escaping from the captured tyrannical, than was ever that of the much-reviled fortress, passed through the territory of Luxem“man of Sedan." The act can only be compared burg to evade the German troops, and to rejoin the to a ministerial warrant of the Home office in this French army of the north. In the city of Luxemcountry, which should abolish all boards of magis- burg itself the resident French vice-consul had an trates and municipal councils, and hand over the office at the railway station, designed to assist the county property and the control of county rates French fugitives in reaching their own country; to a band of hungry adventurers and government and at least 2000 soldiers had in this manner readherents. The councils general sat regularly in inforced the French army. The government of the month of August, and for many years their Luxemburg did nothing to prevent these acts; and meetings had been looked forward to with strong the fact undoubtedly constitutes a gross violation interest, as presenting one of the few opportunities of neutrality. The conditions upon which Prussia that remained for the expression of public opinion. had based her neutrality have, therefore, ceased to They had the almost absolute control of financial exist; and, consequently, Prussia declares that on contributions, expenditure, receipts, and local taxes; her part she no longer considers herself, in the conthey created resources, and contracted loans. duct of her military operations, bound by any re.
Such a provincial representation was peculiarly gard for the neutrality of Luxemburg, and reserves dear to the nation, and there were not wanting to herself the right of claiming compensation from loud and vigorous protests against the decree. the grand-ducal government for the German losses
arising through the non-observance of neutrality, | Duclair at the moment the soldiers were about to and of taking the necessary steps to secure herself sink the vessels, and entered a vigorous protest, against the repetition of similar proceedings." of course without effect. He then undertook the
The note was answered by M. Servais, minister negotiations for the bonds of indemnity, which the of State and president of the Luxemburg govern- officer in command of the Prussians was willing ment, in a long and elaborate document, disputing enough to furnish. the truth of some of the Prussian chancellor's state- In considering the question involved in this ments, and diminishing the significance of others. attack upon neutral property, it must be borne in The Luxemburg government had evidently not mind that it occurred in time of war, and in waters been sufficiently vigilant in preventing breaches which, after the expulsion of the French, were of neutrality; but it was equally clear that Count subject to the German military authorities. Tradvon Bismarck had been to some extent misled by ing vessels have not, like men-of-war, the exthe exaggerations of persons who, as M. Servais ceptional property of being extra-territorial; and remarked, “ never tired of lightly reporting things there is, therefore, a great difference between the calculated to endanger and cast suspicion on the confiscation of an English man-of-war and that of grand-duchy, while keeping themselves out of all an English collier. In this case the act was a responsibility.” Fearing absorption into Germany kind of military necessity. French men-of-war by the Prussian chancellor, the inhabitants hastened had frequently steamed up the river, landed troops, to testify their attachment to their legitimate rulers and caused loss to the German forces by firing by numerous addresses ; but the matter was at upon
them. Hence the determination of the Pruslength amicably settled by a special Prussian officer sians to have the Seine blocked up; and as this being sent to Luxemburg to confer with the grand could not immediately be done by means of batducal government with a view to the prevention teries or torpedoes, they seized and sunk, off of any similar ground of complaint.
Duclair, eleven vessels, of which six were English. It was impossible that, when our nearest neigh- Lord Granville, on hearing of the seizure, sent bours were fighting, we should not in a vast variety a remonstrance to the Prussian authorities, and
ways be inconvenienced, and run the risk of Count von Bismarck at once wrote as follows to being involved in the broil—an illustration of the representative of Germany in London :which occurred on the 21st December. Six Eng
“ VERSAILLES, Jun. 8, 1871. lish colliers, returning from Rouen, were stopped
“The report of the commander of that part of at Duclair, twelve miles lower down the Seine; some shots were fired, and the vessels themselves
our army by which the English collier-ships were
sunk in the Seine has not yet arrived; but as far were sunk to bar the navigation. The incident was readily seized on by that numerous section of Eng- facts is known.
as our intelligence goes, the general outline of the lishmen who, without any real intention of forcing the country into a war with Germany, caught at Granville, that we sincerely regret that our troops,
“You are authorized, in consequence, to say to Lord an opportunity of showing sympathy with France
in order to avert immediate danger, were obliged by a paper quarrel with Count von Bismarck.
to seize ships which belonged to British subjects. The facts were that six small sailing colliers
“We admit their claim to indemnification, and had been discharging coals at Rouen, by permission shall pay to the owners the value of the ships, of the Prussian authorities ; and after unloading according to equitable estimation, without keeping had received, through the British consul there, a permit to return to England. Following the usual is finally to indemnify them. Should it be proved
them waiting for the decision of the question who course, they dropped down the river to a village that excesses have been committed which were not called Duclair, about twenty-eight miles below Rouen, where ballast is taken in for the homeward justified by the necessity of defence, we should regret When the crews had finished ballasting, the
it still more, and call the guilty persons to account." ships were seized by the Prussians, towed into The reply of the Prussian chancellor was conposition across the fair-way channel, scuttled, and sidered satisfactory, and the fullest compensation sunk. The British consul, informed of what was was shortly after made to the owners and crews going on, started from Rouen by land, reached of the vessels.