trained enemy:

upon it

had fought well; and it is astonishing powerful force against their new-found how the Army of the Loire could have enemy. Chanzy protested against this attained efficiency in so brief a time. We timid caution; urged his chief to advance quote from his report: “Our troops of the to the line of the Conlie, and to be ready Loire and of the Garde Mobile, who, for to assume the offensive; and especially the most part, had been in action for the entreated him to attack in detail Von der first time, had behaved admirably. ... Tann, the grand duke, and Prince FredThe artillery deserved high praise; and erick Charles, as gathering together from the cavalry had done very well, its only wide distances, and presenting their flanks mistake was that it did not understand to their collected enemy, these generals the important part it might have played slowly converged on Orleans. These at the end of the battle."

counsels were beyond dispute right; and It is, in fact, not in courage, nor even here we see the distinction between bold in energy, but in endurance, and the set scientific, and mere waiting strategy. power of cohesion, above all in confidence Chanzy watched with impatience the ocafter defeat, that an improvised army like casion that was let slip. “We ought that of the Loire is so inferior to a long and the chief of the 16th Corps insisted

to have made use of the opporThis apparition of a victorious army, tunity, and to have vigorously assailed the which seemed as if France could call up Bank of the enemy, as .. he defiled be. legions, so to speak, from the earth if she fore us to join Prince Frederick Charles.” stamped her foot, perplexed the counsels It is gratifying, however, to know that of the Germans at Versailles; and it is D'Aurelle was not responsible for the de. now known that the French commander feats that followed. By the close of Nomight have struck with great, perhaps im- vember the 15th and 16th Corps had been mense effect. The Bavarian detachment, reinforced by the 17th, the 18th, and the not twenty thousand strong, was literally 20th; and the French army, two hundred the only hostile force between D'Aurelle thousand strong, filled the region around and the capital of France; and had that and in front of Orleans. The purpose of general advanced boldly with his sixty or D'Aurelle was to await the attack of the seventy thousand men, he would almost enemy in his entrenched camp, and he certainly have crushed Von der Tann; has left on record his assured conviction very probably have defeated the Grand that in this position success was probable. Duke of Mecklenburgh, who was hur. Gambetta, however, who believed himself riedly sent off with a few thousand men as capable in directing armies as he certo attempt to reach his Bavarian col- tainly was in levying troops, having heard league; and possibly might have raised that Trochu was about to make a great the siege of Paris, for Von Moltke con- effort to break out from Paris, insisted templaied even this contingency. From upon a general movement in the very the following, though the language is cau- teeth of Prince Frederick Charles; and tious, we see that Chanzy believed an for this purpose the 18th Corps was preoperation possible, which Napoleon, we maturely thrown forward on Beaune-la. are convinced, would have tried. “It Rolande, the 20th faili to give it supwas perhaps possible, making good use port, while the 15th, the 16th, and the of the enthusiasm produced by our vic-17th were ordered to make what really tory, to have reached and beaten the army was a flank march within reach of a foe at of Von der Tano before it could have this moment all but concentrated. The received aid from the grand duke; to 18th Corps was at once defeated; and have then assailed the grand duke's force, then the prince, by a masterly movement, and so to have defeated the Germans in combined with bis supports on the left, detail before the reinforcements, under fell on the French centre, the 15th Corps, the command of Prince Frederick Charles, and shattered it after a brave resistance. could have arrived.

The stroke forced Chanzy, who up to this D'Aurelle, however, fell back on Or. time had gained real, though slight advan. leans, bis object being to make the posi- tages, to fall back with the 16th on the tion an entrenched camp of formidable 17th Corps; and as the German comstrength, and a base for future offensive mander followed up his success with

This resolve is not to be characteristic energy and skill, the result wholly condemned; but it deprived France was that the 15th Corps was all but of one admirable chance; it made the atti- ruined as a military force; that Orleans tude of the Army of the Loire feeble; above and the entrenched camp were carried, all, it permitted the Germans to collect al and that the Army of the Loire was rent



in twain, the 18th and 20th Corps being those of 1866, in which he had taken part, driven across the river, while the 16th, and acknowledged that these last seemed 17th, and the wreck of the 15th were ral- | but child's play to the incessant and obstilied by Chanzy on the northern bank. A nate contest which the Germans were succession, in short, of false movements compelled to maintain, in order to reduce had ipflicted a ruinous defeat on France; to submission a nation believed, after its neither the defensive strategy of D’Au disasters, to have been at the end of its relle, nor the bolder plans of his able resources.” lieutenant, had been given a chance of The tactics of Chanzy in these actions being carried out; and it is a mere mis. were fine specimens of military skill. He take to ascribe the issue to the quality bad, no doubt, the superiority in mere alone of the French army. How badly numbers, but his young and lately defeatChanzy thought of Gambetta's projects ed army was very inferior to the German we see from the following: “The gener- legions. The strength of his well-chosen als did all that was in their power to ex. position enabled him to baffle the turning plain the danger of these operations . movements, so often successful with the but the general plan was treated as a pos. German chiefs, and so formidable to imitive order of the government, and we mature troops; and he compelled the only discussed the means of executing prince to attack in front, where the defen

sive has a decided advantage. But like After the defeat of D'Aurelle he was all generals who understand war, he cruelly dismissed for a failure not to be avoided a mere passive defence - espe. ascribed to him the divided parts of the cially trying to French soldiers — and on Army of the Loire were separated into every occasion that seemed favorable, he two bodies, the First Army, given to Bour- assumed a bold yet judicious offensive. baki, and the Second, remaining under An English correspondent in the German Chanzy. From this period we follow the camp, with marked sympathies on the career of Chanzy as a commander-in- Gerinan side, wrote thus of this remarkchief; and, as always happens with great able passage of arms: “The French have men, he shone the more the higher he the choice of positions, and possess a

His war-worn forces had been general who knows how to occupy and strengthened by the 21st Corps, moved hold a good one. The actions of the last up from the west, and by a flying column four days have, no doubt, encouraged the from Tours; and by the 6th of December French, for they have been so long unache had placed the army between Marche. customed to victory that they will become noir, Josnes, and Beaugency, having skil. hopeful at not being beaten. They have fully chosen a strong defensive line, with been fighting altogether eight days out his fanks covered by a great forest and of ten; and troops of new formation, who the Loire. He was forthwith attacked by can do this against veterans, and hold Prince Frederick Charles, who, having their own to the last, have a right to exentered Orleans on the 4th and sth, pect that fortune will turn in their favor. turned against the enemy hanging on his The Germans, on the other hand, are fiank, no doubt confident of easy success; stupefied by this extraordinary resist. but his calculations were completely ance.” baffled. In a series of stern and sus. Chanzy's skill, however, was not more tained engagements, Chanzy for four remarkable than his confidence and tenawhole days repelled his assailant, inflict. cious energy; his presence electrified his ing on him considerable loss; and though young levies, and from this moment he the prince was reinforced from Orleans by held absolute sway over the hearts of a detachment under the Grand Duke of officers and men alike. Gambetta, too, Mecklenburgh, he made no impression on who with all his faults appreciated talent his heroic enemy, until a demonstration and force of character, thenceforward from the Loire and Blois placed a Ger- gave hiin his whole confidence. The folman corps on the French rear. The ter- lowing is worthy of both men, each great, rible character of these battles may be yet with a different kind of greatness : estimated from this significant anecdote : We congratulate you on your firm atti. " During the stern days of Josnes, a Ger- tude, and have but one wish man officer of high rank who had been may succeed in breathing your spirit into made prisoner, made no secret of the as those who surround you.” tonishment caused by the resistance of The astonishing efforts made by Chan. our young troops. He compared these zy once more disconcerted the strategists battles on the plains of the Beauce to of Versailles. The great sortie from Paris had, no doubt, failed; but it had | Gambetta would hear of nothing else. cost the Germans thousands of lives, Accordingly. Chanzy resolved to ascend and the proud city still defied its enemy. from the Loire, towards the capital, by the So, too, D'Aurelle had succumbed with north-west; and for his immediate purOrleans; but a fresh army had arisen pose drew off his army to the Loir, an from the wreck, and it had found a chief affluent of the great river. His retreat who could make it accomplish feats that across the plains of the Beauce might seemed impossible to professional sol- have been made perilous by a daring enediers. The position of the invaders be my; but it was conducted with remarkcame again perilous; and this telegram, able skill; and the Germans were very from an English source at Berlin, shows much exhausted. By the 13th of Decemwhat was thought at the Prussian War ber the French army was in position Office of the situation at this conjuncture: around Vendôme, having scarcely been The military. position of affairs is molested on the way. Chanzy remarked deemed critical in well-informned quarters. with truth : “ The retreat of the Second Uneasiness is felt as to the final issue of Army from Josnes to Vendôme, under the the contest."


that you

conditions of bad weather, fatigue, and The superiority of Chanzy will at once dangers which attended it, was most honbe evident, if we compare his conductorable to the troops. It had sufficiently with that of Bourbaki. The First Army imposed on the enemy to prevent him had not suffered more than the Second in from disturbing it, and availing himself of the defeats round Orleans; it had not chances of destroying it, which might been molested in its retreat; and it had bave presented themselves had he known had some days to recruit its strength. how to seize them.” Yet while Chanzy was making his heroic The object of the movement is thus stand, exposed to the whole weight of his described : “By its establishment on the enemy's force, Bourbaki literally did noth- Loire, the army threatened the flank of ing, and declared that he could not de. the enemy, if lie descended from Orleans tach a man from his quarters at Bourges on Tours, without going far away from to aid his colleague. This unpardonable Chartres, in which place it was possible remissness enabled the Germans to make to move by Châteaudun, remaining thus the movement along the Loire which, as upon one of the chief lines which it would we said, endangered the filank of Chanzy, be necessary to follow, in order to begin when it had been found impossible to again operations towards Paris, as soon break his front. From the following we as these sbould become possible.” see what his feelings were, and what On the 15th, Chanzy was attacked doubtless he thought of the conduct of a again, Prince Frederick Charles having man who, though an accomplished sol. rightly judged that he was the foe to. dier, was utterly unfit for chief command. strike down at all cost. The French

“ The movement which is possible, and made a gallant resistance; but on the indispensable to restore the situation of second day their right wing was turned, affairs, is this: whatever the risk, to and shattered by an attack in flank. march from Bourges to Vierzon; to press Chanzy decided on a retreat to Le Mans, forward the main body of the First Army a strong position upon the Huisne, and a by Romorantin upon Blois ; and to take a strategic point of no little value, his obposition between the Loire and the Cher, ject being still to attain Paris. He drew in order to interrupt the communications off his army without difficulty: “The of the enemy between Orleans and his Second Army had again effected a retreat troops near Tours, and to cut these last as difficult as the preceding ones, and froin their base of operations. If this be which was as honorable to it. The enedone, I promise that I will hold my own my, kept back on all points, had become on the right bank of the Loire."

less and less enterprising; it was easy to The hostile movement in Chanzy's perceive that, no more than our own, were Aank compelled him to leave his position his troops able to resist their fatigues; on the Loire. This retreat, however, was they were besides demoralized by the in no sense retiring before a victorious continuation of a struggle which they had enemy; it was a purely strategic move, thought ended, but which was perpetually with important ulterior plans in view. being kept up." The great object of the French govern- The invaders, in fact, had immensely ment was to direct a relieving force on suffered ; and needed rest as much as Paris, already besieged for four months; their foes. The following from Gamand whether this project was best or not, I betta is overdrawn, but it was an exagger..

ation only of truth: “You have decimated men were required to hold Paris and the the men of Mecklenburgh; the Bavarians communications with the Rhine; there bave ceased to exist; the German army were probably not one hundred and fifty is already disquieted and worn out. Let thousand available for operations else. us persist and we shall drive these where; and their chiefs had been com. hordes empty-handed out of France." pelled to send for large reinforcements

Having been reinforced by a Breton still far distant. On the other hand, Paris detachment, Chanzy reached Le Mans on was still able to resist, and had a powerful the 20th of December. During three army within its walls; Faidherbe in the weeks of incessant fighting he had held north had become menacing; Bourbaki the main German army at bay; he had on the Loire was giving signs of life; baffled completely its most brilliant chief; Chanzy in the west was at the head of he was nearer Paris, his real objective, forces which every effort had failed to than when he had assumed the command subdue; and it was not impossible that on the Loire. A great general only could three hundred thousand men might be have done these things; and be still held directed to the relief of the capital, where the capital steadily in view. “It was now a single victory might accomplish won. wiibin the power of the Second Army, if ders. How Chanzy perceived the true it were ready for the field, and had not state of affairs appears in a long despatch too strong an enemy in its front, to as- to Gambetta, which proves that he was cend the Huisne rapidly, as if to menace no mean strategist. We have space only Chartres — this place was held in force for a few sentences: “ The resistance of by the Germans — and then, having Paris has a limit known to you; the time masked the town, to move northwards to is pressing; and the great effort we must throw its left upon the Seine, on the line make can only succeed if all our forces of Mantes, in order to assail a flotilla co-operate skilfully according to a carecharged to revictual Paris, to threaten fully arranged plan. . . . With the advanVersailles, and to make a combined effort tages he possesses the enemy evidently with the defenders of the capital to break tries to attack successively, and in force, through the investment."

each of our armies; he manæuvres with Chanzy had soon established his army great ability, and we are not well informed on the Huisne, throwing out posts to the as to his principal movements, which he Braye and the Loire. - Meanwhile Prince masks with remarkable skill." Frederick Charles bad fallen back, hold- The following was the plan proposed by ing a long line from Chartres to Orleans, Chanzy for the relief of the capital. It his worn-out troops being in sore distress. may be left with confidence to judges of A pause in the contest now occurred; and war: “ It is indispensable that ihe First the belligerents on either side prepared and the Second Armies, and that under the to repair their forces, and to renew the command of General Faidherbe, should struggle. A glance at the situation shows march simultaneously; the Second from that if Germany was still, on the whole, Le Mans to establish itself on the Eure successful, the position of France was between Evreux and Chartres ; the First very far from hopeless. The invaders, from Châtillon-sur-Seine in order to hold no doubt, still invested Paris; they had positions between the Marne and Seine, hitherto been able to defeat or keep back from Naquet to Château Thierry; the the vast armed masses directed against | Army of the North from Arras to place them, with untiring energy, from many itself from Compiègne to Beauvais. In points; and they had the advantages of á addition to these three main operations, central position, of interior lines on the and to aid them, the divisions from Cherwhole theatre, of a master of war in su- bourg would advance and cover the left of preme command, and of troops very supe. the Second Army. ... Once our three rior to their foes. Nevertheless, imposing principal armies shall have attained these as seemed their attitude, they were expositions, we must communicate with posed to peril of no ordinary kind, for Paris and combine our efforts to reach they were thrown for leagues round a the common objective, the Army of Paris huge fortress, liable to fierce attacks from making at the same time vigorous sorties. within and without; they were plunged in . . . By these means the enemy may be the depths of a hostile country, a whole driven from bis lines; and then renewed nation rising in arms against them; and efforts by the united armies without and at this moment they were outnumbered in within Páris, may lead to the deliverance the field, since three hundred thousand of France from the invaders.”

Conjecture is useless whether this plan them with unabated confidence. He had would have been attended with success or still, perhaps, 90,000 men against 60,002 not. Von Moltke, moving on shorter or 70,000 Germans; but as his troops lines, might perhaps have maintained his were not to be compared to their foes, he grasp on the capital, and driven the armies was very inferior in real force. The at. of relief back; or he might at some point tack began on the roth of January, but have been defeated, with consequences, the decisive effort was made next day; in that event, momentous. What can, and the prince struck home with his full however, be fairly said is, that Paris being strength. The defence, however, was the main objective, the plan of Chanzy stern and sustained; the tenacity of was admirably laid: it contemplated a Chanzy and his strong positions made up great concentric movement against the for the defects of his soldiers; and after forces covering the siege, especially aim- ten hours of desperate fighting the French ing at Prince Frederick Charles; and it were still in possession of their lines. had the special merit of securing a retreat Chanzy thus described the results of the on every line in the event of defeat. In battle: had he been in the place of the an ill-omened hour, however, for France, sluggish Bazaine, how different might Gambetta rejected this judicious scheme, have been the fate of Gravelotte ! “ The and adopted the fatal and wild project of action continued along the whole line up detaching the First Army far to the east, to six o'clock. The night had arrived ; in order to raise the siege of Belfort, and we had remained masters of all our posito reach the German communications tions, both on the plateau of Auvours and with the Rhine. This movement, even on the right bank of the Huisne. The in theory false, and in existing circum. only serious check we had sustained was stances as foolish as that which ended in the evacuation of Auvours for a moment, the ruin of Sedan, was opposed by Chanzy, but this had been brilliantly and quickly in an able paper; but his protests might repaired by the fine conduct of General have been more vehement; and be might Goujard at the head of a part of his have recollected how the youthful Bona. Breton division, and of the troops of the parte had refused to attempt an operatiou 17th Corps which he had rallied. The of the kind, which would have marred the enemy had made great efforts against the immortal campaign of Italy. Yet we must whole front of our lines from the Tertre not forget that, on two occasions, before Rouge to the left of the 21st Corps. If Orleans, and at Le Mans, Chanzy gave our losses had been serious, his had been counsels which, if followed, might have even more considerable, owing to the admade the issue of the war different; and vantage of our positions and the preparahe had not the authority nor, we must tions we had made for defence.” add, the unscrupulousness of the warrior A sudden attack, made after nightfall, of 1796. He wrote thus to Gambetta : unexpectedly by a German corps, discom. “ I wished to make a last effort to prevent fited, however, the Breton levies, and this operation. I insisted for the adop- placed a hostile force upon Chanzy's tion and execution of the plan I had pro- Hank. Scenes of confusion and panic posed."

followed too characteristic of a raw army; The eccentric movement which sent off an effort to drive the enemy away failed; Bourbaki to destruction amidst the snows and Chanzy, in order to avoid a disaster, of the Jura, freed Prince Frederick Charles was compelled to make a general retreat. from an enemy on his fiank, and enabled The movement, however, was no rout; him to turn his whole forces against the the Germans, in fact, were, for several one chiel he had found invincible. Draw- hours, unaware of the real state of affairs, ing together his army and that of the and of the great success they had gained; grand duke — they had received consider- and though part of the French army disable additional strength — the German banded, and several thousand prisoners commanders, in the first week of January, were made, it was in tolerable order within began to move towards Le Mans and the two days. By the 20tli, baving been Huisne, approaching each other from scarcely pursued, so heavy had been the Chartres and Orleans. The advanced loss of the Germans, Chanzy was once posts of Chanzy were gradually driven in, more in a good position, around Laval though not without a tenacious resist. and upon the Mayenne; and having been ance; but his trust was in his positions joined by a new corps, he was still for. on the Huisne, which he had strengthened midable and with unbroken force. Calm, with remarkable skill, and he fell back on stern, and self-possessed as ever, he still


« VorigeDoorgaan »