Skip to main content

Full text of "With the royal headquarters in 1870-71"

See other formats

This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 
to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 
to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 
are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 
publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 

We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attribution The Google "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http : //books . google . com/ 


m m 

m * 

Digitized by 


IN 1870-71 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Zhc Woleclc^ Seriea. 

The following works have been at present arranged for, 


By General Verdy du Vbrnois. 


By Prince Hohbnlohe-Ingelfingbn. 

ilmmgdmUly ) 


By Count Yorck von Wartbnburg. 


By Libut.-Genbral von dbr Goltz. 


By Lettow Vorbbck. 


By Major Baldock, R.A. 


By Major Younghusband, of the "Guides." 


By Capt. Butler, late Rifle Brigade. 

Oihtr works will be added. 

London : Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ltd. 

Digitized by 


Digitized by 


Digitized by 


f . 

Digitized by 


Digitized by 



With the Royal 


In 1870-71 


^.u^crf ' C 

General J. von VjERDY DU VERNOIS 



XCbe Molselei? Series 





Paternoster House, Charing Cross Road 


Digitized by 





Digitized by 









Field -Marshal 

K.P., G.C.B., G.C.M.G. 

Digitized by 


Digitized by 


Gibraltar, April lytli, 1897. 
DsAR Captain James, 

I HAVE read with interest the list you have sent 
me of the military works to be published as "The 
Wolseley Series." 

The subjects are wisely chosen, and the authors will 
be generaUy accepted as soldiers who are competent to 
express valuable opinions upon them. 

I am much flattered by having my name associated 
with an undertaking that is designed to improve the 
professional knowledge of our officers, and I rejoice to 
feel that under your able editorship its success is assured. 
In some instances I see you are not only editor but also 
translator, for which duty, if you will allow me to say so, 
your intimate knowledge of the German idiom eminently 
qualifies you. 

I hope the officers of her Majesty's army may never 
degenerate into bookworms. There is happily at present 
no tendency in that direction, for I am glad to say that 
this generation is as fond of danger, adventure, and all 
manly out-of-door sports as its forefathers were. At the 
same time, all now recognize that the officer who has not 
studied war as an applied science, and who is ignorant 
of modem military history, is of little use beyond the 
rank of Captain. The principle of selection, pure and 
simple, is gradually being applied to the promotion of all 
officers, especially in the higher grades. As years go 
on this system will be more and more rigidly enforced. 

It is gratifying to know that a large proportion of our 
young officers are ambitious, and without doubt there is 
now many a subaltern who hopes to be a Field- Marshal 

Digitized by 



or to be shot in the attempt. Experience enables me to 
warn all these determined men of how small their chance 
is of ever reaching any great position in the army unless 
they devote many of their spare hours every week to a 
close study of tactics and strategy as dealt with in the 
best books upon recent wars. 

In this series of military works from the pens of 
first-class writers, the military student will find ample 
material to assist him in fitting himself for high com- 
mandy and in the interest of the Empire and of the army 
I earnestly hope he will avail himself of it. 

I know how truly this work is undertaken as a labour 
of love by you as editor and by all who are helping you. 
But I also know that you and they will feel amply repaid 
if it assists the young officer to learn the science of his 
profession and, in doing this, to improve the fighting 
value of the service, to the true interests of which we are 
one and all sincerely devoted. 

Believe me to be, 

Very truly yours, 


Digitized by 



The object of this series of books is to place before 
British officers and others translations of the best foreign 
military books in an English dress. It is also intended 
to add original works on portions of our military history 
which have, hitherto, been somewhat neglected. The 
great part played in national life by the armies of con- 
tinental nations, has given rise to a much larger military 
literature than exists in England. The incessant struggle 
for supremacy has led to the production by master-minds 
of treatises on various parts of the art of war, which are 
of the highest importance, but many of which have 
hitherto only existed in their own language. It will be 
the aim of this series to make them available to English 

England has been engaged in no great war since the 
beginning of the century. It follows, therefore, that both 
strategy and tactics have been more widely treated by 
foreign authors than by our own, not only for the 
reason set forth above, but also because having usually 
taken a personal part in them they are naturally more 
interested therein. 

It is sometimes urged that lessons of continental 
conflicts are in no wise useful to ourselves ; this is 
ridiculous. The guiding principles of the operations of 
war are the same, whether they are conducted against 
civilized or savage foes. If our army were prepared 
only to meet the latter it need scarcely be maintained in 
its present form, but no one can say with our widespread 

Digitized by 


Empire that we shall not be called upon to meet civilized 
opponents. If we are able to deal with them, we shall 
certainly have no difficulty in defeating savages, for it is 
by the training and discipline which render troops fit to 
meet those of their own state of civilization that they 
prove superior to the savage when they meet him in the 

Strategy is the same, whether used against Arabs or 
Frenchmen. The tactics employed differ as the weapons 
of the enemy differ. But the soldiers trained to meet 
the highest class of opponents ate, ipso facto ^ better quali- 
fied to deal with the inferior. 

This series, therefore, will contain translations of well- 
known foreign writers, and it will also contain original 
English works dealing with the kind of warfare in which 
we are most frequently engaged, and with certain special 
phases of British military experience which have hitherto 
been somewhat inadequately dealt with. The history 
of British arms is replete with interest and is second 
to none in moving incidents of gallantry. Many of 
these have already been recorded, but the actual lessons 
to be learned from them have not always been systemati- 
cally treated. It is hoped, as this series progresses, to do 
so, and to secure for future generations the practical 
deductions to be made from the deeds of British soldiers. 
A list of the volumes already arranged for will be found at 
the beginning of this book, and it will be the aim of the 
editor to add from time to time such works only as seem 
of the first importance in the theory and record of military 

Walter H. James. 

Digitized by 




These "Personal Recollections of the War of 1870-71,** 
now first issued in book form, have already been partially 
published in articles which appeared in the " Deutsche 
Rundschau " in 1874 and 1895. Going again through my 
letters and the notes in my diary of that period, I have 
here and there added additional matter. 

But still they are nowise intended to form an exhaustive 
description of the war, or even a complete record of 
personal experiences. Their publication is due to the 
renewed interest in those great events which the twenty- 
five years' jubilee has awakened, and their object is a 
limited one, viz. to give an insight into the daily life of 
the Royal Headquarters Staff during those times. The 
opinions held and mental impressions formed at par- 
ticular moments with regard to the great events of the war 
are recorded for the most part in the form in which they 
were noted down at the time, without regard to whether, 
in the light of better information, they subsequently 
proved correct or wide of the mark. For thus only can 
the " Recollections " give a faithful picture of the views 
obtaining at particular junctures. 

J. Von Verdy. 

Digitized by 


Digitized by 


patt h 



I. From the Mobilisation to the Removal of 

THE Royal Headquarters to Mainz. 

1. Before mobilisation— The German plan of campaign 3 

2. Declaration of war — biographical notes on the 

Commanders-in-Chief and the Staff of the Royal 
Headquarters 16 

3. Measures taken by the French — Protection of 

the frontier — Departure of the Royal Headquarters 
from Berlin for Mainz 32 

II. The Course of Operations up to the Invest- 

ment of Metz. 

1. Stay in Mainz — Engagement of Weissenburg — 

Battles of W5rth and Spicheren .... 45 

2. From Mainz to Pont h. Mousson —Battles of Colom- 

bey-Nouilly and Vionville-Mars La Tour . . 58 

3. Battle of Gravelotte-St. Privat yy 

III. The March to Sedan. 

1. The Advance 107 

2. Battle of Beaumont 117 

3. Battle of Sedan 126 

part H, 


I. The March from Sedan to Paris. 

I. General Survey 142 

2« Donchery—Vendresse—Rethel—Rheims— Chateau 

Thierry and Meaux 145 

Digitized by 


xiv Contents 


II. The Royal Headquarters at FerriAres. (19th 

September to the 4th October.) 

1. General View of the Situation 158 

2. Particulars of our stay at Ferri^res . . . .164 

III. Versailles. 

1. Events up to the fall of Metz, 28th-29th October 

--The engagement at Malmaison— Capitulation 
of the French army at Metz — Quarters and life 
at Versailles .... . 179 — 203. 

2. From the fall of Metz to the bombardment of Paris 

— Negotiations for an armistice — The Battle of 
Villiers-Champi^y — Christmas . . . 204—226 

3. From the beginnmg of the bombardment to the end 

of the war 230 

Digitized by 



The author of these reminiscences, whose portrait is 
given on the front page, General Julius Adrian Friedrich 
WilhelmvonVerdy du Vernois, sometime Prussian Minister 
of War, and well known as among the first military writers 
in Germany, is d^cended from one of those emigrant 
French Huguenot families which have furnished so many 
distinguished soldiers and officials to the Prussian service. 
He was bom in 1832 in the town of Freistadt, in Silesia, 
and educated for the career of arms at the Cadet Schools of 
Potsdam and Berlin, which latter he left in 1850, on being 
appointed to the 14th Foot, then stationed in Berlin, with 
the rank of second lieutenant. In after years Verdy 
wrote the history of this, his first regiment, and on his 
retirement from the army in 1890 the Emperor William 
appointed him its honorary chief. 

During the years 1855-8 he went through the usual 
course of instruction at the Staff College in Berlin, firom 
which he was appointed to do duty on the General Staff, 
for a time in the Topographical Branch, until in the year 
1861 he was definitely appointed to it, with the rank of 

Verdy served on the staff in every grade up to the year 

* For a considerable portion of the personal details in the Intro- 
duction I am indebtea to Mr. Sidney Whitman, the well-known 
auUior of " Imperial Germany." — Ed. 

Digitized by 


xvi Introduction 

1877, when he was promoted to the rank of major- 
general. In 1879 he was appointed Director of the 
General War Department, forming part of the Ministry of 
War ; in 1881 he was made lieutenant-general ; in 1883, 
Governor of Strasburg ; in 1888, full general ; and in April, 
1889, Minister of War, in which position it fell to him to 
defend in the Reichstadt the proposals of the Government 
for the now existing military organisation. Shortly 
afterwards, in October, 1890, Verdy retired into private 
life, and was awarded by the Emperor one of the highest 
personal distinctions in Germany — the " Ordre pour le 
M6rite." ^ 

These are the bare official records of a busy life, during 
which he played an important part in many historical 
events of the first magnitude. 

It is a long-standing custom in the Prussian service 
to send officers of the General Staff abroad whenever 
stirring events are happening, that they may gain experi- 
ence and utilise it later for the benefit of their own army. 
Thus von Verdy found himself suddenly taken away 
from his routine work and sent to Poland during the 
rebellion in the "sixties," where he was attached for a period 
of nearly three years (January, 1863, until December, 1865) 
to the headquarters of the Russian Army, at first under 
Grand Duke Constantine, subsequently under Count 

During the Pnisso-Austrian War of 1866 von Verdy 
served as major on the staff of the Crown Prince (the late 
Emperor Frederick), who commanded the Second Army, 
having previously been employed on the Headquarters 
Staff in Berlin, in the section which dealt with the Austrian 
Army. The war of 1870 found him a lieutenant-colonel and 

Digitized by 



chief of a section of the staff of the Royal Headquarters 
under Count Moltke. It is to his experiences on this 
occasion that we owe the present narrative. Von Verdy 
was thrown into continual personal contact with the 
great leaders of this memorable campaign, and thus his 
recollections are of considerable historical value and 

After the war von Verdy's scientific attainments found a 
fine field of usefulness in his appointment as Professor of 
Tactics at the Staff College at Berlin, where his name soon 
became famous in connection with the system of instruc- 
tion devised by him and known to military students as the 
"Applied Method," an ingenious plan by which the 
student is intelligently led to the practical solution of 
military problems by the study of similar historical 
instances. Throughout his career von Verdy has been a 
voluminous writer on military subjects. In addition to 
the ** Royal Headquarters," the following is a list of his 
principal works, several of which have been translated into 
French, English, Russian, Italian, Swedish, Danish and 
Dutch :— 

" The Second Army in the Campaign of 1866." 
** Studies in the Leading of Troops." 

(1) "The Infantry Division as Part of an 
Army Corps." ^ 

(2) " The Cavalry as Part of an Army." 

(3) ''Studies on the Regulations for Field 
Ser vice." 

"A Contribution to the Question of Cavalry 

' This has been translated by Colonel Hildyard, Commandant of 
the Staff College. 

Digitized by 


xviii Introduction 

'• A Contribution to the War Game." 
"Practical Studies in Military History." 

(i) "Tactical Details from the Battle of 
custozza." * 
"Studies on War Based on the Franco-German 
War, 1870-71/' of which three parts have been 

The ordinary military histories, like most other 
historical works, fail in giving to the reader the well-springs 
of thought which have led to the deeds they record. It is 
impossible to pass a judgment on the latter unless we know 
the mental processes which determined them. In the 
following pages we find published the views held at the 
time of action by those who devised the operations which 
laid the power of France prostrate at the feet of new-born 

It is only within the last few years that we are be- 
ginning to know the inner life of the German military 
leaders during this war. The " Official Account" is very 
official, and neither awards blame nor distributes praise. 
Nothing contained therein reveals the opinion of the Royal 
Headquarters Staff on Steinmetz, on the Grand Duke of 
Mecklenburg-Schwerin, on the problem of the duration of 
the war after Sedan, or the still more vexed question as to 
" bombardment " or ** blockade" for the speedy reduction 
of Paris. 

All these points are dealt with in Verdy's book, the 
translation of which is now offered to the British public. 

The work is not only of general interest to the ordinary 
reader, it is of especial value to the military student. 

^ Translated by Colonel Henderson, Professor of Military Art and 
History, Staff College. 

Digitized by 


Introduction xix 

Those who know the general course of the Franco- 
German War will find many difficult points cleared up by 
a perusal of the straightforward record of the following 

For its general and particular interest, therefore, this 
book has been chosen to take the first place in the 
'' Wolseley Series." 

A map of the theatre of war has been added, which was 
not published with the original. 

Walter H. James. 

Digitized by 


Digitized by 


f irat pavt 


Digitized by 


Digitized by 


f ir0t l^art. 


I. Prom the Mobilisation to the Removal 
of the Royal Headquarters from Berlin 
to Mainz. 

I. Before Mobilisation. — German Plan of Cam- 

In the commencement of July, 1870, the third class of the 
StaffCollege students began the practical Staff Tour which 
forms the termination of their three years course. It 
was under the direction of the Instructor in Staff Duties, 
Lieutenant-Colonel Bronsart von Schellendorf I, Out 
of friendship for him, as well as from interest in the 
tour, Lieutenant-Colonel von Brandenstein, Captain von 
Hahnke and myself undertook, as we had in previous 
years, to lead the various sections. This practical 
instruction in the subjects which have formed the course 
of military education at the Staff College is of the highest 
value, and it is always looked forward to with the greatest 
pleasure by all those who are to join it. It is, indeed, not 
only that part of the three years of study which is the 
most instructive from a professional point of view, but 
also, in spite of the hard work it sometimes involves, it is 

B 2 

Digitized by 


4 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

one of the most agreeable and one which an officer ever 
after remembers with pleasure. The change from the 
office and study to a healthy outdoor life, the fresh air, 
the riding through country frequently unknown, the 
stimulating effect of the constant exercise of those 
faculties, so abundant among our military youth, all have 
a singular charm of their own. When, therefore, we 
assembled at Oranienburg we were all in high spirits 
at the prospect before us. 

But no sooner had we started than the first news 
arrived that the Spanish Ministry had offered the vacant 
throne to the hereditary Prince Leopold of HohenzoUem, 
and that the offer having been made public had aroused 
among the French nation a general, though perhaps 
artificially nurtured, excitement which brought a collision 
with Prussia within the range of possibility. As incident 
succeeded incident the possibility at times seemed a 
certainty, and then again the situation would become less 
strained. Of course we took great interest in these 
occurrences, without, however, allowing them to interfere 
with our work. The idea of a war with France was not 
novel to us, it had been in the air for a long time, and 
had even seemed probable in 1866, before the peace with 
Austria was concluded, when the French hankering after 
the left bank of the Rhine found expression, if only for a 
short time, in official despatches. Ever since then we 
had been convinced that a collision sooner or later was 
inevitable ; but we were in a position to await it with 
equanimity. Our army was ready to strike, our alliance 
with the other German states solidly established, and 
we had employed our time in making the most careftil 

And yet, no one thought that a war would break out at 
that particular time. King William I. was at Ems ; the 
chief counsellors of the Crown were nearly all away from 
Berlin; and the officers on whom the preparations for 
any war would chiefly fall, especially those of the General 

Digitized by 


The War with the Fhench Empire 5 

StaflFand of the Ministry of War, were for the most part 
absent, either on official tours, or on leave. 

The news from France of course attracted considerable 
attention, but did not call for any immediate measures. ' 
On our part there was no wish to bring about a war, 
which was thought the less probable at the moment as 
the candidature of the Hereditary Prince had nothing to 
do with German affairs. How far our leading authorities 
were from desiring war just then the correspondence given 
below will show. 

On the nth July the War Minister at Berlin, General 
von Roon, received from Ems the following telegram 
from the King's aide-de-camp, General von Treskow ' : 
" The intelligence from Paris, which will have been 
communicated to you by the Foreign Office, requires that 
the necessary measures should be prepared which may be 
required for the protection of the Rhenish Provinces, 
Mainz and Saarlouis. His Majesty the King expects 
immediate proposals, if necessary by telegraph, to meet 
the occasion." 

This was the answer : — 

" nth July, 4 o'clock p.m. 
*' To His Majesty the King, Ems. 

"After considering the matter mentioned in this 
morning's telegram, and consulting the Ministers 
of State here present, Privy Counsellor von Thiele, 
General von Podbielski and Colonel von Stiehle,' 
I humbly propose to your Majesty not to take any 
special steps, because Saarlouis can be made safe from 
assault within twenty-four hours, and the fortress of 
Mainz, situated at five days' marches from the frontier, can 
be supplied with a sufficient garrison within forty-eight 
hours. But partial military measures on our part would 

* General von Treskow is described as " General-Adjutant,** i.e. a 
general officer holding the appointment of aide-de-camp. —Ed. 

* He was officiating as chief of the staff dur ng the absence of von 

Digitized by 


6 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

call for similar ones on the part of the enemy and we 
should drift into war. If your Majesty is of opinion 
from definite news of offensive measures on the part 
of the French, that war is unavoidable, then the 
immediate mobilisation of the whole army would be 

" (Signed) v. RooN." 

More than once in former times when the political situa- 
tion was threatening had the army been gradually brought 
to a war footing by successive steps, which had clearly 
shown the unsatisfactory character of such a proceeding. 
For as mobilisation for war demands the whole fighting 
strength of the state it can only be well done when it 
is carried out in a uniform manner and as one act. 
Moreover, owing to the universal liability to bear arms, 
the mobilisation of the army is a measure of such far- 
reaching importance, entailing sacrifices felt most severely 
by every class of nation, that it should only be resorted to 
when war appears absolutely unavoidable. When once the 
army is on a war footing, it will scarcely be possible to 
arrest the course of events, if the political questions involved 
be such that, in public opinion, they can only be solved 
by an appeal to arms. 

It is the duty of the War Ministry and the Staff to 
prepare in time of peace so that everything may be ready 
for mobilisation and surprise made impossible, if the 
diplomatic authorities are equal to their task. 

During the course of the tour we were at Neu-Ruppin, 
where we had taken up our quarters for some days, when 
the news arrived which showed us that the diplomatic 
situation had become more acute. Many an exciting hour 
we consequently passed with our friends of the 24th 
Regiment (the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg Schwerin's), 
who were quartered there and who had received us in 
the most hospitable manner. No one who has actually 
known what war really is, and has been an eye-witness of 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 7 

the misery and distress which it produces, even to the 
successful side, can possibly wish for it. But on the other 
hand it is easy to understand how the soldier, when once 
war has been decided upon, looks fozward with pleasure to 
entering on the highest duties of the calling to which he 
has devoted his life. When we left Neu-Ruppin, 
therefore, we parted from our comrades with the words, 
" May we meet again on the field of honour." But very 
different was the meeting with our gallant friends of the 
24th Regiment from what we had looked forward to in 
those pleasant hours at Neu-Ruppin. It was on the field of 
VionviUe — Mars-la-Tour, when we rode over it with General 
von Moltke on the 17th August, the day after the battle. 
There we found them lying in heaps on the position they 
had bought with their blood. LoyaUy had the regiment 
done its part to mn the imperishable fame of that day, 
with a loss of no less than 56 officers, one surgeon and 
logg men in killed and wounded. Among the fallen were 
its commander, three field officers and. the whole of its 
captains and company commanders. 

Immediately after our departure from Neu-Ruppin the 
rising waves calmed down again for a time, in consequence 
of the Hereditary Prince's reftisal to accept the Crown of 
Spain. We were again able to think calmly of our plans 
for the future, and each began to consider what to 
do after the tour was finished. When we were in 
Templin on the 15th July the situation suddenly changed 
again. We had just finished our dinner, when a telegram 
directed the leader of the tour, Lieutenant-Colonel von 
Bronsart, to return to Berlin immediately, and ordered me 
to take command. A few hours later Brandenstein, 
whose duty on the Headquarters Staff was to super- 
intend the arrangement for the transport of the 
troops, was recalled, and soon afterwards a similar 
order came for me also. Meanwhile a rumour had 
already spread at Templin that during the night the 
order for mobilisation would be issued, a rumour which 

Digitized by 


8 With the Royai- Headquarters in 1870-71 

seemed to be confirmed by the fact that the telegraphic 
office in the town was to be kept open. 

Under these circumstances Hahnke also joined me, and 
we both drove on a hurriedly hired country cart by 
moonlight to the nearest railway station, Angermunde. 
The students of the Staff College left Templin, some that 
same day, others on the following morning, as they 
received orders, to join their regiments with the least 
delay possible. Our horses were brought back by road. 

At the station of Angermunde we found Brandenstein 
waiting, as there had been no train since he came. We 
here learned that the orders for mobilisation had been 
given, and found the battalion quartered there at work, 
as soon as it was daylight, getting ready for war. The 
men were either procuring their new uniforms for the 
field and their ammunition, or were engaged in bringing 
the waggons out of their shelters and loading them. 
From all sides men were streaming into the station, singly 
or in small detachments, to join their regiments, or to 
accompany transport. Everything was in fiiU movement. 
The mobilisation had evidently begun, and deep was the 
impression which it, the forerunner of grave times and 
bloody conflicts, made upon us. 

We went on to Berlin by the next train, and arriving 
there in the course of the morning, went direct from the 
station to the office, 66 Behrenstrasse. Looking now at 
the palace on the Konigsplatz, one wonders not a little 
how the old building with its cramped accommodation 
could ever have contained the whole apparatus of the 
Headquarters Staff. In addition to it there was only 
another smaller house in the Schonenberger Strasse on 
the other side of the canal (rented, I believe), in which 
the trigonometrical section was located. 

When we left the office for home that evening we were 
able to say with the fullest conviction, " Ever5rthing is 
ready. Go on I " Various notions are prevalent among 
people as to what is meant by the preparations for war. 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 9 

and it may therefore be useful to explain them a little 
more definitely. They are the business of different 
authorities, but chiefly of the Ministry of War and the 
General r Staff. The duty of the former is, mainly, to 
see to the mobilisation and supplies of every kind (such 
as ammunition, rations, etc.) ; that of the latter to arrange 
everything to do with the operations of war, i.e. the move- 
ments of the army in the field. Both departments must 
and should prepare, down to the minutest detail, every- 
thing necessary long before the outbreak of war. 

When the mobilisation is completed the troops have to 
be transported, according to a pre-arranged plan, firom 
their peace stations to the points where they are to be 
massed. The choice of these depends on the objects 
which the leaders have ultimately in view. They must, 
therefore, be carefully considered and determined on 
beforehand. Their selection and the consequences which 
may arise from concentrating the troops at them, form 
what is generally called "The plan of campaign." 

It must here be observed, however, as the late Field 
Marshal Count von Moltke has pointed out in the official 
account of the 1870-71 war and in other writings, that by 
such a plan of campaign is not meant a complete working 
out of all the operations to the end of the war, for it is 
impossible to foretell what will occur after the first collision 
with the antagonist. What happens after that, will 
depend on the circumstances under which it has taken 
place and the exact situation created by the result of the 
action. A commander-in-chief will, no doubt, alwa3rs 
have certain main objects in view which will take different 
shapes, according to the character of the situation at the 
outbreak of the war, or the course which events may take 
subsequently. In 1870, there was no doubt as to what 
the main object was. It consisted in getting at the French 
army and beating it whenever found. That done, 
diplomacy would be free in its turn to attain its objects. 

Different conditions may, however, make it necessary to 

Digitized by 


lo With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

try, first, to solve lesser tasks. Thus in the Danish wars, 
the enemy's army was beyond our reach as soon as it 
withdrew to the great islands, and we had then to con- 
fine ourselves to the occupation of his territory on the 
main land ; we could only aim at the possession of such 
islands as it was possible to reach with the means 
available. But in a war with France, we saw that 
everything depended on defeating the French army, and 
there was, therefore, only one course for us to pursue, viz. 
to mass our own forces as near as possible to the frontier, 
and then, after completing our assembly, to make for the 
enemy, wherever he might be. Of course we might make 
our conjectures as to where this would be, but whether the 
enemy would take exactly the course which we considered 
the right one, could not be foretold with any certainty. 
For the dispositions of an opponent depend on the views 
he holds and the objects he desires to attain. Hence just 
as opinions in ordinary life differ widely, even on the 
simplest matters, so also in war, what one side expects the 
other to do, may often be exactly the reverse of what 
actuaUy occurs. 

Shortly after General von Moltke became chief of the 
staff of the Prussian army he had laid down his views as 
to the conduct of a war against France. In the course of 
succeeding years these had been revised and developed in 
accordance with the changes which had taken place 
meanwhile in the political and military situation, 
alterations and additional preparations being made 
wherever it seemed necessary. The General's plans had 
received the sanction of the King, and thus in 1870, all 
the orders and other arrangements needed when war 
might break out with France, were all ready elaborated in 
the Staff Office, and it was only necessary to fill in the 
date on each document. Similarly at the Ministry of War 
all the requisite preparations were finished and all the 
instructions were ready to be issued forthwith. 

The main idea of von Moltke's plan for the conduct of 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 1 1 

the wax was to act on the offensive. With this end in 
view the massing of our troops had to be executed in such 
a manner that the war could be immediately carried into 
the enemy's country and in a direction which would 
ensure meeting his main body. Owing to its geographical 
position, the German territory on the left bank of the 
Rhine, Rhenish Prussia and the Bavarian Palatinate, 
projecting far into France, seemed to the General the 
fittest place for concentrating our forces. An advance 
was possible from here in every direction, even if the 
French were not to respect the neutrality of Belgium and to 
march through that country. At the same time, it was 
the best way of protecting South Germany. For if the 
French should advance from Strassburg> we were in a 
position, possessing as we did the passages of the Rhine, 
to meet them with superior forces on either bank of the 
river. Should they make the attempt to push through 
Baden and Wurttemberg, such an undertaking could be 
easily checked on our part by an advance on the right 
bank, which would have cut their communications and 
involved them in a catastrophe in case of defeat. 
The result of these considerations was that von Moltke 
determined to assemble the main force on the left bank of 
the Rhine, and to advance thence to seek the enemy and 
bring about a decisive action. 

But he had also not forgotten the course the enemy 
might pursue to oppose him. 

It may here be remarked that in making a plan of 
operation it is always well to begin first of all by getting 
a clear idea of what our own intentions are and only 
then to ask oneself what the opponent may do to foil them. 
If the opposite course were taken, and one were first to 
consider what the opponent could do, and then deduce 
one's own plan, the latter would be dependent on the 
opponent's will. This would be to allow him to lay down 
the course of procedure and deprive oneself of the most 
important factor in the conduct of war, viz. the initiative. 

Digitized by 


12 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

Taking into consideration the movements the French 
were capable of, the General came to the conclusion 
that owing to the geographical position of France and 
the arrangement of the railroads, the French army 
would most likely be assembled in two groups, the 
main army in Lorraine round Metz and a second of 
lesser strength in Alsace. If the French determined to 
concentrate a greater preponderance of their force on the 
one side or on the other, this would only be possible at the 
expense of the time which would be consumed in the 
transport by rail of the extra troops. To have acted thus 
would also have lessened the security of the territory 
denuded of troops. 

Assuming the enemy to act as supposed, it was deemed 
advisable to push our main army forward towards 
Lorraine. At the same time it was not forgotten 
that by so doing the French corps, which would pre- 
sumably assemble in Alsace, would be left on the flank, or 
rather in the rear, of our advance, and might by moving 
in a northerly direction seriously endanger any prolonged 
oflFensive movement towards the interior of France. 
Moreover, it was impossible to leave South Germany 
exposed to the attack of this force, even if were only a 
small one. It was necessary, therefore, to have a separate 
army capable of meeting any French forces that might 
assemble in Alsace. By assembling it at first on both 
sides of the Rhine close to the frontier, we reniained free 
to use it as occasion might require, wholly or in part, 
on the one or the other bank of the river. But operations 
of the character indicated could only arise in case the 
French succeeded in assuming the offensive before we 
were ready. If no such movement took place on the 
part of the enemy while we were engaged in con- 
centrating our forces, the army forming our left wing 
might then be utilised for the offensive, against Strass- 
burg by the left bank of the Rhine. This would stop 
any advance of the French .towards Southern Ger* 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 13 

many and thus effectually protect that part of our 

If on the other hand the enemy's forces in Alsace were 
to make a stand against us and be beaten^ we should then 
be in a position to advance with the part or perhaps the 
whole of our left wing into the interior of France. 

Taking all these facts into consideration, General von 
Moltke's plan was briefly as follows. The greater part of 
our forces, divided into two armies on account of its size, 
was to be concentrated on the Saar and then pushed over 
it, while a third army was to be assembled between 
Landau and Germersheim, with a view to assuming 
the offensive against Alsace. The Baden and Wurttem- 
berg troops were at first to be left on the right bank of the 

It was also necessary to consider the possibility of the 
enemy landing on our coasts, and the effect of con- 
siderable French forces rapidly advancing into German 
territory, without waiting to be completely equipped for 
war. From the former not much was to be feared, 
as our offensive movement into France would make the 
troops, destined for a descent on the coasts of the 
North Sea and the Baltic, much more necessary at 
home than there. In case the French should make such 
an attempt, the reserve formations available along the 
coast could meet them in sufficient strength ; aided as 
they would be by an infantry division, which had to be 
left behind in any case, for use if necessary against 
Denmark, whose attitude was somewhat doubtful. 

As regards an advance of the enemy with imperfectly 
mobilised forces, the General did not think it quite out of 
the question, but believed that such an operation would 
be highly dangerous and unfortunate for the French. We 

' This army was in the war known as the Third Army, and the 
Baden and Wurttcmberg Divisions formed part of it It was never 
necessary to leave these behind, as the French did not assume the 
oflfensive. — Ed. 

Digitized by 


14 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

needed, in that case, only to place the points at which our 
own corps were to detrain a little farther back, which could 
be done even after the transport of the troops had already 
begun, and then we should be certain very shortly to have 
sufficient force at our disposal to meet the attack with 
every prospect of success, while the enemy would 
undoubtedly begin to feel all those disadvantages which 
must arise when troops are brought into the field before 
they are fully equipped for war. 

Finally, our relations with Austria had to be considered. 
It was clearly quite natural that this state should be 
anxious to make good at the first opportunity which 
offered, the damage which it had suffered in and since the 
unsuccessful war of 1866. Its internal difficulties and its 
financial position were, indeed, great obstacles, and it 
might be assumed that Austria-Hungary would only take 
part in the conflict if France gained some success. But 
still we were bound to reckon with the possibility of 
action being taken by the former. The existing con- 
ditions, however, furnished the means to meet this 
contingency. For the transport of the immense masses 
of men from the interior of Germany to and beyond 
the Rhine could only be accomplished gradually, and it 
was necessary to bring more than one corps by each of the 
through lines of railway, so that the last detachments 
could only be moved after a considerable interval. Before 
this was ended it would become clear whether Austria 
meant to enter at once into the conflict. If up to this 
moment she had not commenced to mobilise, a consider- 
able start would be gained for our operations against 
France ; which we were strong enough to begin without 
waiting for the last corps to be brought up by rail. These 
would, therefore, remain available if needed for use against 
Austria, and the General would have formed them into a 
defensive army, which, resting on Dresden and the for- 
tresses of the Elbe, was considered sufficiently strong to 
meet the first advance of the Austrians. 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 15 

Such were the chief points considered in General von 
Moltke's plan, and for which all the necessary prepara- 
tions had been worked out absolutely complete, down to 
the smallest detail, and approved of by the King. When, 
therefore, the order for mobilisation was given there was 
nothing to be altered and everything ran its course as 

It is evident from what has been said that, at the com- 
mencement of the war it was, speaking generally, the 
French army which formed our objective ; at the same time 
it is clear that the plan of operations could not possibly go 
beyond the assembly of our forces, their distribution, and 
the beginning of hostilities. After this anything like a 
pre-arranged plan was out of the question ; what would be 
done next depended entirely on the way events might 
shape themselves. But no one could foresee with certainty 
how that would be. 

What I have said will probably suffice to give a rough 
outline of the nature of the plan of campaign and of the 
considerations on which it was based. Although a good 
many other and important factors had to be dealt with in 
working out so extremely complicated an affair, many 
of which would have considerable influence on the issue 
of the war. 

The manner in which the various armies were con- 
stituted depended, partly on the tasks allotted to them, 
and partly on the direction of our railway lines. The 
First Army was made up of the VII. and VIII. Army 
Corps ; the Second Army of the Guards, the III., IV., 
IX., X., and XII. Saxon Corps ; while the Third Army was 
composed of the V. and XI. Prussian and the I. and 11. 
Bavarian Corps, as well as the Wurttemberg and Baden 

At first the corps which would be the last to be trans- 
ported, and which were in case of need reserved for action 
against Austria, were not incorporated in the armies. 
They were the I., II., and VI. Army Corps, as well as the 

Digitized by 


1 6 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

17th Infantry Division, which was told oif to watch 
Denmark. The newly formed Landwehr Divisions, ist, 
2nd, and 3rd, and Guards were also left behind, for the 
present to protect the coast. 

The cavalry, except that which was attached to the 
infantry divisions, was formed into six independent divisions 
of unequal strength, some of which were placed under the 
commanders of the three armies, while others at first 
remained available for use as needed. 

2. Declaration of War — Biographical Notes on 
THE Commanders-in-Chief and the Staff of 
THE Royal Headquarters. 

The occurrences which had meanwhile taken place at 
Ems are well known. The demand made by the French 
Ambassador to King William to give an assurance that he 
would never again allow a HohenzoUern prince to become 
a candidate for the Spanish throne was an insult which 
the whole German nation felt as one inflicted on itself. 
The threatening news from Paris induced the King to 
return to Berlin on the 15th July. The Crown Prince, 
the Prime Minister, as well as the Minister for War 
and General von Moltke, went to meet him as far as 
Brandenburg, and when he entered the capital he was 
received with the greatest enthusiasm by the population. 
The report of a general mobilisation in France being 
confirmed, the same order was immediately issued, during 
the night of the 15th — i6th July, to all the troops belonging 
to the North German Confederation. The same night a 
similar order was also given in Baden, and directly 
afterwards in Bavaria and Wurttemberg. 

Such was the state of affairs when we arrived in Berlin 
on the i6th July from our tour. The next few days were 
passed by us in answering the most varied demands for 
information and in sifting the reports coming in from all 
sides, especially those concerning the French army. In 
addition to this we had to re-arrange the office work in 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire ty 

accordance with the redistribution of the Headquarters 
Staff for war purposes, and to tell off the various officers, 
who were now arriving from every point of the compass to 
constitute the staff, to their new duties. 

It may be observed here that the work of Staff Officers 
at any Supreme Headquarters confines them for the most 
part to their office. It is only there that the reports and 
information arriving uninterruptedly from all sides can 
be sorted and transmitted to the various sections to be 
worked out. Owing to the extension of the telegraph 
system the officers engaged in this work do not get to 
rest until late at night, after all the reports from distant 
corps and differen^ detachments have come in. In 
addition to this there are the necessax}' consultations 
about the situation at the moment, the issuing of orders, 
and the interchange of opinions with regard to possible 
future events. Consequently the members of the General 
Staff spend but little time out-of-doors except when march- 
ing, or when an action is expected, or when, as happens 
not infrequently to some of them, especially the Chiefs of 
Sections, they are sent off to different army or other com- 
manders to explain the intentions of the Supreme Head- 
quarters or to ascertain the views of the former on the 
situation before them. During the hours spent in the office 
waiting for information, and not occupied with official work, 
time is available to note down current events in a diary, to 
assist one's memory in writing letters for the information of 
those at home. This is how I am now able to give in- 
formation about battles, and other comments, as they were 
written down at the time. These notes were not, of course, 
made on the actual day, but only when a free moment was 
available for the purpose. 

We were so occupied in Berlin that we had scarcely 
a minute to spare to look after our personal outfit, 
which we had to leave chiefly to others. It is a good 
plan to make in peace time an exact list of all that 
is needed for war, and to revise the list from time to 


Digitized by 


i8 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

time. To procure the number of horses required (each 
Chief of a Section wanted eight, including carriage 
horses, instead of the peace strength of three), besides the 
necessary saddlery, requires a great deal of time. Every 
Chief of a Section must also have a carriage to take his 
baggage and that of the officers in his Section, as well as 
some materials for office work. In this respect, Branden- 
stein and myself made an agreement which proved very 
useful afterwards : he procured a covered waggon for the 
luggage, large enough to carry his and his officers' baggage 
as well as that of my Section ; and I got an open brake, 
with room for twelve persons, including the driver. This 
carriage, which we baptized the ** War Chariot," did us 
excellent service. It enabled us when moving long 
distances equivalent to two days' march (for the head- 
quarters remained in the same place as long as possible), 
to do the journey quicker than otherwise would have been 
possible, as we were able to send relays of horses in 
advance. Besides which we were able to go to work as fresh 
as possible, as soon as we had reached our new quarters. 
Moreover, as we were all together in the brake when 
driving, we could use maps better than if we had been on 
horseback, and we had plenty of time to discuss the 
situation in all its bearings, so that no time was lost in 
doing so before beginning work. The " War Chariot " was 
also placed at the disposal of officers who were sent with 
special missions to the various Army Headquarters. The 
riding horses were led close behind, so that the officers on 
arrival at their destination could mount comparatively 
fresh horses and accompany the troops on the march or 
to the battle-field. 

The formations of the various armies for the war and 
the appointments thereby rendered necessary were made 
shortly after mobilisation. The choice of proper indivi- 
duals to command the armies is very important, for, 
however well the sword may be sharpened, it still needs 
an arm that can wield it, and the question was to find the 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 19 

right arm for each place. This heavy responsibility 
rested on the Military Cabinet, at the head of which 
General von Tresckow then stood, aided by Colonel von 
Albedyll, who was subsequently many years its chief. 

The supreme command over the whole of the German 
forces was taken by His Majesty the King. This was 
natural, not only because of the importance of Prussia in 
the coming conflict, but also and above all, because of the 
personal ascendency of that most beloved and revered 
monarch. The great mind of our Royal master, together 
with his simplicity and straightforwardness, his talents as 
a general, which had already stood the test so splendidly, 
the perseverance with which he ever carried through 
what seemed to him the right thing — ^all this created 
throughout the whole German army an unshakable con- 
fidence, based on the success of the last war, that he 
would bring us through the present struggle with equal 
glory and success. 

At his side we saw again to our great joy his faithful 
and well-tried paladins, those three bright stars which will 
shine through all future ages, and of whom the world 
might well envy us the possession — Bismarck, Roon, 
and Moltke. 

To the command of the Second and Third Armies were 
called Prince Frederick Charles and the Crown Prince 
Frederick William of Prussia. The former had devoted 
his whole life to his professioq as a soldier. By unre- 
mitting work he had prepared himself for the great tasks 
which he had been called on to undertake, and which he 
had gloriously carried out. The training of the III. 
Corps, which he commanded, had become the model 
for the whole army. A well-tried leader in the war with 
Schleswig-Holstein and with Austria, the whole army 
regarded him with complete confidence. At his side, as 
Chief-of-the-Staff, stood Colonel von Stiehle, who was 
considered to be one of the most eminent Staff Ofiicers. 

The Crown Prince Frederick William had led an army 

c 2 

Digitized by 


20 With the Royal Headquarters in i 87071 

before the enemy for the first time in the Austrian war 
of 1866; its brilliant success had established his fame 
as a leader. His Chief-of-the-Staff was General von 
Blumenthaly his faithful assistant in the former campaign, 
who had previously earned for himself a great reputation 
in the Danish war. 

I take this opportunity in order that I may not be 
thought to undervalue the military capacity of this 
departed scion of the Hohenzollerns, who will ever be 
dear to all German hearts, to insist particularly on the 
fact that the Crown Prince united in his person in an 
eminent degree all those qualities which go to make an 
army leader. Everyone knows this who was near him dur- 
ing either of the two campaigns, and I myself can attest it 
from my own experience, as I had the good fortune in 
1866 to serve on his Staff. It was on the 28th June of 
that year, when the V. Corps was engaged near Skalitz, 
the Guards near Soor, that the Commander-in-Chief 
of the Second Army found himself obliged, much to 
his regret, to keep far away from the actual fighting so as 
to direct the various corps according to the reports as they 
came in. He therefore took his stand on the heights 
of Kosteletz, i.e. midway between the two corps then 
engaged. We had been present the day before at the 
victorious engagement of the V. Corps before Nachod, 
but we also knew that the attempt of the I. Corps to 
debouch on the same day firom the mountains at Trautenau 
had not been successful. Moreover we received, while on 
the heights, telegraphic information of our defeat at 
Langensalza and of that of our allies at Custozza. 
On the issue of the two engagements then going on 
depended the success or the failure of the operations of 
the Crown Prince's army. It was indispensable that we 
should be victorious in both places, for only then 
was it possible for the whole army to debouch firom the 
mountains and to establish communications in the 
direction of Gitschin with the army of Prince Frederick 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 21 

Charles and that of the Elbe, which had already penetrated 
into Bohemia. Our position was therefore grave. 

The Crown Prince assembled the officers of his Staff 
around him;* leaning on his sword and fixing his clear 
eyes on us, he explained to us once more the whole 
position of his army minutely and in the most lucid 
manner; he repeated the instructions which had been 
given, as well as the reasons for them, alluding at the same 
time to the great importance of the day. To this he 
added the question whether anyone of us had any proposal 
to make which we thought might contribute to success. 
When we had answered in the negative, he finished with 
the words, " Well, then, we have done our duty ; we have 
considered the position in every direction to the best of 
our ability, and have made dispositions which so far as we 
know must and should succeed ; all the rest lies in the 
hand of God." Not a trace of excitement, no glimpse of 
a pessimistic view of things was observable in our noble 
Prince. With the greatest calm and attention he followed 
the course of the two engagements and perus^ with a 
cool head the reports as they came in and gave his orders 
accordingly. As is well known, the bravery of the 
commanders and the troops gained a victory in both places, 
at Soor and at Skalitz. 

General von Blumenthal agreed with our great Moltke 
in the maxim, " First reckon, then risk." It produced a 
smile among us, therefore, when one day we saw him 
praised in a newspaper as a model of caution. His 
plans were certainly well considered, most minutely, even 
to the smallest details ; but this once done, to dare was 
always what he loved most ; it was his proper element ! 
I can still see him at Kosteletz when the fighting on both 
sides increased in violence, turning to me (the special study 
of the Austrian army being more especially my sphere 
of work) with the question, " How many men do you think 
Steinmetz has before him over there ? " I answered, " He 
is sure to meet one firesh corps ; but there must be another 

Digitized by 


22 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

not far away, and if the Austrians have made their 
dispositions properly, he may even find a third in firont of 
him." This answer was far from reassuring, considering 
the state of affairs, and it turned out afterwards to be 
correct. But it made little impression on General von 
Blumenthal ; he pushed his forage cap to the back of 
his head and, running his fingers through his hair, said, 
" What a pity we can*t be with Steinmetz ; I should be 
curious to see how the old fellow will settle them." 

This officer, the most eager fighter of those days, the 
" Lion of Nachod," as the people called him, was given 
the command of the First Army. The nomination 
certainly aroused some misgivings. The universal and 
high appreciation of the merits of this gallant fighting 
general was merited in every respect. But however high 
his military capabilities were, his personal qualities and 
his independence of character were such as to make it 
difficult for his superiors to deal with him, and made 
friction probable if he, at the head of an army, were 
subordinate to a higher command. These doubts later on 
proved to have been not altogether unjustified. The 
choice of a proper Chief-of-the-Staff may in such cases do 
much to smooth matters, and the best possible was made 
in the person of General von Sperling, a clear-headed, 
circumspect, and resolute officer. But even his eminent 
military as well as personal qualities were not able to 
prevail with such a character as that of General von 

For the rest, the generals who were at the heads of the 
army corps had, almost without exception, held high 
command and gained distinction in former wars, and 
possessed the full confidence of the troops. Manteuffel 
had been the victorious leader of the Army of the Main in 
1866. Fransecky, the hero of Maslowed at Konigsgratz ; 
Constantin Alvensleben ; Kirchbach, who had led the loth 
Division so gloriously at Nachod and Skalitz ; Tiimpling, 
the distinguished Goeben, Zastrow, Manstein, all well- 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 23 

tried commanders of divisions in the *66 war ; the Crown 
Prince of Saxony, who, with his countrymen, had earned 
in the Prusso- Austrian war the high esteem of friend and 
foe ; the gallant Bavarian leaders Hartmann and von der 
Tann, whose names were mentioned far and wide with 
respect ; while at the head of the Baden and Wurttemberg 
troops were the Prussian Generals von Beyer and von 
Obemitz. It is scarcely possible to imagine a force better 
provided with leaders than was the German army. 

For us personally the question of the composition of the 
staff with the Royal Headquarters was of special import- 
ance. In this particular also, circumstances were so 
favourable that it will not be easy again to find such a 
happy combination. 

I do not need to speak of General von Moltke. Not 
only his deeds but also his private character are perfectly 
familiar to the German people. We all considered 
ourselves most fortunate to have been with him in great 
and grave times. The illustrious example which all his 
personal qualities afforded, the greatness of his intellect 
which grasped every situation, the energy he displayed 
in carrying out his plans, joined with his great simplicity 
and modesty, could not fail to have their influence all 
around him. During the whole campaign we felt his 
powerful influence, while his never-varying kindness 
towards every one of us only increased to the utmost the 
feeling of personal devotion and the natural reverence we 
owed to him. Thus we looked up to him as people 
do to a venerable patriarch. 

At his side as Quartermaster-General of the army stood 
Major-General von Podbielski.* I had not known him 
intimately before. A certain decision in his manner 
made him appear somewhat abrupt to those who had not 
the opportunity of becoming better acquainted with him. 

* Known later on, during the siege of Paris, as " Nichts neues 
vor Paris," i.e. nothing fresh m front of Paris. A frequent form of 
telegram which bore his signature. — Ed. 

Digitized by 


24 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

But it was not long before I found out that this man of 
keen intellect and inflexible will possessed a heart that 
soon made us all his most faithful supporters. With his 
chivalrous feelings, his ideal conception of duty and true 
devotion to friendship, he bore a chief part in maintaining a 
cheerful spirit of co-operation and a healthy tone among 
the staff. I only mention this because the great influence 
of the general in this respect is not universally known. I 
need not enter further into his other merits, but as regards 
his capability as a soldier I may sum up by saying : Moltke 
could not have had a more faithful and more efiicient 
assistant during the campaign than he was. 

But we were favoured not only in having such chiefs, good 
luck had also befriended us in the composition of the Staff 
in our immediate sphere. The three chiefs at the head of 
the three sections were, Bronsart for the movements of 
the troops, Brandenstein for transport and commissariat 
affairs, and myself for ever3rthing concerning the French 
army. But this division only roughly indicates the most 
important tasks of the sections, each of them had various 
other matters to look after in addition. We three had 
been friends ever since we had been boys in the cadet 
school, where, although belonging to different com- 
panies, we had played the war game together with 
Count Alfred Waldersee and Frederick Wilhelm von 
Notz* (who died, alas! too young). This had attracted 
the attention of our instructors so much that they 
encouraged our efforts at the game, which we had started 
on our own initiative. The year 1855 brought us into 
the same division at the Staff College, where we passed the 
three years together. 

Here also what was at that time called the " garrison 
game," in which the officers of the whole garrison of 
Berlin were invited to take part, offered to us, beside our 
scientific pursuits at the college, a common point of 

^ This promising officer, who was on the Staff of the Crown 
Prince in 1866, died of cholera at Brunn. 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 25 

interest which did much for our military education, the 
more so because the war game was very popular, being 
under the direction of very eminent generals, such as 
General Vogel von Falkenstein and Count Oriola. 
General von Moltke himself did not disdain to come from 
time to time during the last year of our course there and 
to follow it attentively.* 

As Bronsart, Brandenstein and myself had always kept 
up our former friendly relations and had been in the habit 
of exchanging opinions on military matters, our whole 
training in troop leading had been of so uniform a 
character as would have been difficult to find in any three 
others. Our friendship had been still further strength- 
ened by all the three of us being placed together on the 
Staff soon after leaving the College. Another sign of our 
close friendship is shown in our participation in various 
Staff tours, as I have before mentioned. This constant 
contact in service as well as in private intercourse was of 
great advantage to us now in our new functions on the 
Headquarters Staff. 

One of us, for instance, "might suddenly be called away 
from his work while writing down an order to one of the 
armies, to receive some fresh instruction, another would 
then go and finish the document which the first had 
begun, and yet the whole would be completed in the 
same spirit. Moreover, we were of the same age, only a 

^ This war game served me in good stead in the way of promotion, 
as during the latter time of my course at the Staff College I was 
appointed to the Headquarters Staff on the recommendation of Major 
Freiherr von Wrangel, whose acquaintance I made by this means, 
and who has always remained my true friend. He had at that 
time already earned a great reputation by his services with the army 
of Schleswig-Holstein. All Schleswig-Holstein knows him still by 
the name of " The Drummer of Kolding." In 1866 he commanded a 
brigade of Goeben's division and distinguished himself at Kissingen : 
in 1870-71 he gathered fresh laurels as commander of the i8th 
Infantry Division, especially before Orleans. He last served as 
Governor of Posen, and left the army as a general. He now lives in 
retirement on his estate of Sproitz, in Lusatia, in the full enjoyment 
of health. 

Digitized by 


26 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

few months separating us. I was the youngest of the 
three, and had just completed my thirty-eighth year on 
the day of the declaration of war. 

I cannot pass by the friends of my youth, my faithful 
companions in so memorable a time, without once more 
recalling them to remembrance. 

Bronsart von Schellendorf I. was tall and slender, elastic 
in his movements, with a fresh healthy complexion and 
fair hair verging on brown ; his countenance indicated both 
ability and good humour, his conversation showed his 
ability, while the clear logic of his arguments was 
eminently convincing. His whole character and presence 
showed the knight sans peur et sans reproche. He 
possessed a thorough grasp of military affairs, and his 
forecasts were singularly shrewd ; he was also active, 
indefatigable, and reliable in the highest possible degree. 
The instructions issued from the Royal Headquarters, 
which were models of their kind, were mostly his work. 

Karl von Brandenstein, or, as we generally called him, 
" das Karlchen " (Little Charles), resembled Bronsart in 
many of his intellectual gifts. He too was modest, straight- 
forward, and simple in his ways, sincerity and trustfulness 
were written on his face. When thoroughly interested — and 
there were many things which interested him intensely — 
his eyes flashed fire and he would support what he con- 
sidered right with an uncompromising tenacity. He also 
possessed an extraordinary capacity for work, and his 
mind was full of original ideas on the most varied subjects. 
The excellent plan for the transport of the troops to form 
the various armies was mostly his work. It was a feat 
the more to be admired because there was, up to that time, 
no practical experience in moving such large bodies. In 
personal appearance he was, in contrast to Bronsart, short 
of stature, but well set, with fair curly hair and pale 

Both these eminent men have, alas! been taken 
too early from their friends and the army, after both 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 27 

had attained to the highest positions in it. Bronsart, 
who was afterwards for many years of the greatest service 
to his country as Minister of War, died in command of 
the I. Army Corps, while Brandenstein was Chief of the 
Engineer Corps and Inspector- General of Fortifications. 

General von Moltke's aide-de-camps were Major de 
Claer and his brother-in-law, Lieutenant von Burt. In 
their hands the comfort of our chief was well looked after, 
while de Claer, the elder of the two, seemed to be made 
on purpose to form a pleasant connecting link between the 
general and his staff. 

The highly important position of Chief of the Executive 
Department (Operative Bureau) was held by Major von 
Blume. The duties of this post are extremely onerous, 
and their fulfilment demands not only a thorough under- 
standing of the varying positions, but also a keen 
memory, the strictest habits of order and vigilance, keeping 
everything in readiness so that in issuing orders nothing 
may be overlooked which had been previously ordered 
to be carried out, or implied in consultation. The course 
of the campaign showed that in all these respects there 
were no hitches or mistakes. This was chiefly due to 
Major Blume, and deserves the greater recognition because 
this work of issuing orders, although it does not come 
before the world, is of the utmost importance for the 
successful issue of the operations. 

As regards the remaining officers of the Headquarters 
Staff, there will be plenty of opportunity to refer to them 
individually in the subsequent course of the narrative. I 
will here only mention their names and say what became 
of them afterwards. The following is a list of them : — 
Major von HoUeben, of the Saxon Staff, now a retired 
general, whose last employment was in the command of a 
division ; Major Krause,* died as major-general, he was last 
commandant of Spandau ; Major Blume, is now the 
general commanding the XV. Army Corps ; Captain von 
* Both he and Major Blume were ennobled. 

Digitized by 


28 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

Bttlow, who was, however, soon afterwards given other 
employment, is now the general commanding the VIIL 
Corps ; Captain von Winterfeld, now general, and com- 
manding the Guard Corps ; Captain Zingler, major- 
general, and Governor of Ulm ; Captain Count von Nostitz, 
now major, who only re-entered the service for the war, 
lives on his estate in Silesia ; Lieutenant Schmidt, of the 
Lithau Dragoons, left the service with the rank of major. 
Of the two aide-de-camps, von Claer is a retired major- 
general and was last employed as commandant of 
Magdeburg; Lieutenant von Burt is a major on half-pay/ 
Major-General von Podbielski died as Inspector-General 
of Artillery.* 

To the General Staff belonged, fiirthermore, as a member 
of the Executive Commission for Railway Transport, 
the Privy Counsellor Kienel, an engineer employed in 
the Ministry of Commerce, whose eminent capabilities 
were soon generally acknowledged, and who through his 
personal qualities became a much appreciated and sym- 
pathetic companion to us during the whole campaign. 

Owing to the intimate relations which united together 
not only the chiefs of sections, but also the other members, 
who had fi'equently been together before, everything 
worked, under the auspices of the Chief and General von 
Podbielski, in the most admirable manner, not only in 
matters of duty, but also socisJly. 

To show that this description is not only based on my 
own impressions, I will quote those of General von 
Blume, as recorded in his "Reminiscences of Moltke," 

^ In the Geraian text z.D.=Zur Disposition, which means available 
for service. Every General Oilicer who takes his pension is as a 
matter of course put z D. With the lower ranks it is a reward for 
good service — Ed. 

• > All these officers, who were actually members of the General Staf , 
have therefore had a brilliant career, inasmuch as in the course 
of time two of them became Ministers of War ; five (or counting also 
Bronsart, six) conmianded army corps or held the post of inspector- 
general, two became generals, and (including von Claer) four major- 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 29 

in words as warm-hearted as they are true : " Among the 
staif of General von Moltke during the whole of the 
campaign, lasting more than six months, there was never 
one single jarring note. The staff formed a circle of 
friends, each of whom endeavoured not only to do his own 
duty to the utmost of his ability, but also to do his 
best for the others. If this be a proof of its happy 
composition, the result was also largely due to the 
magical influence of the great man at its head. 
The superiority of his master mind left no room for 
jealousies. His fidelity to duty, his strict adherence to 
fact, his modesty and unselfishness, the dignified and high- 
bred serenity which never left him for a moment, even in 
most critical situations, the kindliness which never allowed 
a single impatient word to cross his lips — ^these exemplary 
qualities, brilliantly brought out by successes which belong 
to the history of the world, had a powerful effect on those 
around him. To be an assistant to such a man, in such 
times, was a good fortune and an honour which everyone 
tried' to make himself worthy of by thorough devotion to 
his duty and the suppression of all petty jealousies. It 
may truly be said that Moltke's mind ruled in Moltke's 

The spirit which prevails in a headquarters staff is 
by no means a matter of indifference. Its imperturb- 
ability, the absence of any sort of " croaking," the self- 
confidence evident in its whole behaviour, as well as the 
firm belief in a victorious issue, not only further the 
work that is done there, but communicate serenity and 
confidence to all who come in contact with the members 
of the staff. 

At the same time; it is true, a certain degree of 
reserve is necessary. The more so because it cannot 
be avoided that a number of persons congregate at 
headquarters who have no actual employment, and who 
are quite naturally apt to be curious as to what is going 
on and what is going to be done. But as evers^hing 

Digitized by 


30 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

that is planned for the future must necessarily be kept 
strictly secret, it is only possible to avoid questions being 
put on these matters by showing great reserve in answer- 
ing. This attitude brought upon us chiefs of sections 
the nickname of " the demi-gods," an appellation which 
did not affect us much. 

In close relationship with the staff were also the 
Commissary-General of the army and the Chief of the 
Field Telegraph Staff. The former post was held by 
General von Stosch, whose clear grasp of the changing 
situation joined with the energy with which he carried out 
his intentions gave a complete guarantee that everjrthing 
possible would be done in this difficult department. With 
him I was also on terms of intimacy, having been under 
him in peace time as a staff officer of the IV. Corps, 
while in the campaign of 1866 we both belonged to the 
staff of the Crown Prince. Colonel Meydam was the 
Chief of the Telegraphic Department ; his indefatigable 
activity and agreeable personal qualities gained him 
friends everywhere. 

General von Moltke was greatly pleased with the con- 
stitution of his staff, and expressed his satisfaction 

The course of business at Royal Headquarters was as 
follows. Every morning there was a c6nference at the 
chiefs quarters on the situation and the dispositions to be 
made, at which, besides the heads of sections, there were 
present also Major-Generalvon Stosch, the Quartermaster- 
General, the Chief of the Executive Department, the senior 
aide-de-camp, and sometimes also the Chief of the Tele- 
graphic Department. Then followed General von Moltke's 
report to the King, and after this the expedition of the 
dispositions decided upon. Further reports and informa- 
tion which came in during the day were settled according 
to their importance, either by the chiefs of sections con- 
cerned in conjunction with the Chief of the Staff and the 
Quartermaster-General, or after discussion in the sections 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 31 

in general conference as above described. As far as the 
genersd demeanour of the staff was concerned, it was of 
course serious, corresponding to the situation, and yet 
it was a cheerful one, for we thought ourselves sure of 
success. Only a short time ago, I was reminded by an 
old acquaintance, our present Minister of Finance, Herr 
Miquel, of an answer which I then gave him as to the 
possible issue of the war : " You will see that we shall 
settle them (the French), although unhappily it will cost 
us much blood." At the same time we did not at all 
undervalue the worth of the gallant French army, and its 
eminent inborn military qualities, nor the greatness and 
gravity of the impending struggle. But the successful 
campaigns of former years had enabled us to estimate 
what our own troops could do, and had, at the same 
time, given us good reason to rely implicitly on our 
officers of every grade. We thought ourselves superior to 
the French, especially in the higher leadership, and also 
in our artillery. As regards the mitrailleuses, which were 
surrounded with such deep mystery and in which great 
hopes seemed to be placed in France, we were not much 
convinced of their wonderful powers. The Emperor 
Napoleon had, it is true, given his personal attention 
more particularly to the development of his artillery, but 
the war proved very soon that it did not come up to ours, 
and the remark of the Emperor is well known, when he 
met our King the day after the battle of Sedan, " In my 
artillery I feel myself personally conquered." On the 
other hand we were aware that the French rifle possessed 
many advantages over our own, and that this fact would 
most likely increase our losses ; but we hoped that these 
advantages would be neutralized by getting up to short 

For the issue of the war, however, the considerable 
numerical superiority which the forces of United Germany 
possessed was certain to weigh down the scale in our 
favour. According to the best sources of information, the 

Digitized by 


32 With the Royal Headquarters in i 87071 

French army numbered 567,000 men, including the con- 
tingent of 1869, which was, however, only to be summoned 
on the 1st August, while the calculations on our side gave 
us for the month of August a total of 982,000 men. The 
field army of the enemy was calculated in this estimate to 
amount to 343,000 men (as a matter of fact it was only 
about 336,000 men), while ours without staif, artillery, 
engineers, and the trains, amounted to 519,000 men. 

Thus we began the war fiill of enthusiasm for our 
Royal leader, certain of the justice of our cause, elevated 
by the unanimity and the readiness for sacrifice shown by 
the German princes and the whole German nation. 
Convinced of the excellence of our army, with the most 
perfect confidence in the high advisers of the Crown, 
completely prepared in all respects, we entered upon the 
struggle which was to decide the future of the German 
people under the most favourable conditions. 

3. Measures taken by the French — Protection 
OF THE Frontier — Departure of the Royal 
Headquarters from Berlin for Mainz. 

The intentions of the French military authorities were 
not known to us ; only conjectures could be made, such 
as have already been mentioned when explaining the 
German plan of operations. These proved to be right 
in so far as the assembly of the French troops, with 
their main forces round Metz and a lesser force at 
Strassburg, was concerned. In addition a reserve army 
was to be formed at Chdlons. Up to the present day 
nothing has been published which gives in any detailed 
manner what exactly were the operations intended by our 
opponent at the time. A fully worked out plan of 
operations as it existed on the German side does not seem 
to have been prepared; but the Emperor had certainly 
a definite idea as to how they were to be conducted, 
and this idea was communicated by him to some of his 
generals and discussed with them. 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 33 

It would lead us too far were we to discuss the origin of 
this plan, but it is interesting to form some notion of the 
intentions of the Emperor. To this problem something 
like a key is given in the pamphlet "Des causes qui ont 
amen6 la capitulation de Sedan/' of which it may be 
assumed with tolerable certainty that the statements therein 
contained represent the opinions which the Emperor 
Napoleon himself entertained on the subject. In this 
publication we read: "In order to neutralise the supe- 
riority in numbers of the opponent, it was necessary to 
cross the Rhine with the greatest rapidity, to separate 
South Germany from the North German Confederation, 
and to bring Austria and Italy into an alliance with us 
through the impression of a first success." And further 
on : " The plan of campaign, which the Emperor 
entrusted only to Field Marshals MacMahon and Leboeuf, 
consisted in assembling 150,000 men round Metz, 100,000 
at Strassburg, and 50,000 in the camp of Chalons. The 
junction of the two first armies on the Saar and on the 
Rhine would not disclose our real objects, as the enemy 
would still be uncertain whether the attack was to be 
directed against the Rhine provinces or against the 
Grand Duchy of Baden." 

As soon as the troops were assembled at the points 
indicated, the Emperor wished to unite the two armies 
and cross the Rhine at Maxau, between the fortresses of 
Rastatt and Germersheim. Arrived on the right bank of 
the Rhine, he would have forced the Southern States to 
remain neutral, and then turned against the Prussian 
forces. While this movement was being carried out, the 
50,600 men assembled at Chylous under Field Marshal 
Canrobert were to march to Metz, to cover the rear of 
the main army as well as to protect the northern frontier. 
At the same time the fleet cruising in the Baltic would 
have detained, and made useless for the field, a part of the 
enemy's forces in the north of Prussia, which would be 
kept there to defend the coast from invasion. 


Digitized by 


34 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

The projected manoeuvres would have been practicable 
if we had not been in a position to meet them in 
time, with superior forces, and, as a matter of fact, the 
assembly of the French forces in their groups, at the 
points indicated above, was to some extent attempted, 
but was not completed, when the German armies crossed 
over into French territory, and thus anticipated the attack. 

This showed that the intentions of the French leaders 
were based on wrong data. 

And yet the Emperor Napoleon was accurately 
informed with regard to the considerable superiority in 
numbers of the German forces, and their power of rapidly 
mobilising. The reports of the French Military Attache, 
Lieutenant-Colonel Baron Stoffel (which were partly 
published during the war, in 1871), admit of no doubt on 
this head. These reports are remarkable, both for their 
intimate knowledge and correct estimation of the German 
military arrangements, and the manly frankness with 
which the author expresses his views. We need only point 
to a report sent in in 1869 in which he says : 

"I have always been careful in my reports to the 
minister of war never to exceed the bounds of my purely 
military functions." 

And then he goes on : ^ 

" Mais I'Empereur ayant bien voulu me demander lors 
de mon dernier s6jour i Paris, qu'elle 6tait mon opinion 
sur les chances de guerre avec la Prusse, je pr6senterai ici 
quelques appreciations, toutes personnelles, propres a 
completer et pr^ciser celles que j'ai d6jk donn^es de vive 

"Les points principaux que je d6sire 6tablir sont les 
suivants : 

" 1° La guerre est inevitable et d la merci dun incident. 

" 2° La Prusse n'a pas Tintention d'attaquer la France ; 
elle ne d€sire nullement la guerre et elle fera tout 
son possible pour T^viter. 

* Rapports militaires by StofFel, p, 302.— Ed. 

Digitized by 



The War with the French Empire 35 

' 3^ Mais la Prusse est assez clairvoyante pour recon- 
naitre que la guerre, qu'elle ne d6sire pas, 6clatera 
infailliblement et elle fait tous ses Efforts pour ne pas 
^tre prise au depourvu le jour oH Tincident fatal se 
' 4° La France, par insouciance, par l6geret€ et surtout 
par ignorance de la situation n'a pas la mfeme clair- 
voyance que la Prusse." 
But the warning voice of this intelligent officer had no 
influence on the decision. The Emperor, certainly, 
counted on the assistance of Austria, Italy, and probably 
also of Denmark. The illusion, which had been indulged in 
with regard to the attitude of the South German States, had 
already been largely dispelled, a simultaneous beginning of 
the war in conjunction with the above mentioned states was 
not possible, and France had to enter into the war at first 
alone, while the participation of allies depended entirely on 
the successes of this first period. But any close study of 
the military situation and a methodical working out of the 
plan of operations must have resulted in the conclusion 
that such successes were not to be reckoned on. 

All military considerations were against bringing on 
war. If, in spite of this, the Emperor allowed himself 
to be drawn into one, the motives must have been other 
than military. 

From the day of the French mobilisation the military 
measures in France followed each other with confiising 
precipitation. The troops were brought in the greatest 
hurry at once to the frontier, without being put on a war- 
footing in their garrisons, the corps of General Frossart, 
concentrated at the camp of ChlLlons, being the first that 
deployed within a few days on the line of the Saar. 

But such haste always involves great disadvantages. 
These lie not only in the fact that the troops, after pro- 
viding for all the necessary detachments, will only have 
very weak cadres available, and, what is still worse, will be 
deficient in transport and other train services, which are 

D 2 

Digitized by 


36 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

indispensable if operations are to be begun at once, and 
which in no country can be organised fully during peace. 

In addition to this, the reserves which are called out 
must first be assembled in the dep6ts and equipped in 
order to be sent to their respective regiments, which they 
have considerable difficulty in finding, especially when 
they are on the march. This was more than usually the 
case in France, at this time, as it possessed a veiy unfor- 
tunate system of centralisation for all supplies. This led 
to further complications and overcrowding of the railroads. 
Such a system always contains the germs of confusion and 
disorder, and if a power resolve to risk all the grave 
drawbacks which a mobilisation on this principle entails, 
it ran only be with a view to gain other advantages 
which outweigh the objections. This would only have 
been the case, if an invasion of the enemy's country had 
been actually carried out, immediately after assembling a 
sufficient number of troops on the frontier. The French 
may have fully intended to do so, but the execution became 
impracticable under the circumstances above set forth. 

With the same precipitation as the mobilisation there 
followed, on the 19th of July, the anniversary of the death 
of our ever beloved Queen Louisa, the French declaration 
of war, at a time when the French army was by no means 
in a position to begin operations on a large scale and in a 
proper manner. 

The Germans on their part preferred not to place 
bodies of any great strength on the firontier at first, but to 
carry out their carefiiUy-planned mobilisation in a me- 
thodical manner in the garrisons. If, by doing so, they 
were somewhat tardy in massing their troops on the points 
threatened, they were, when this was ended, in a condition 
to prosecute the war vigorously. Therefore, our staff looked 
on calmly at the French proceedings. If they really 
advanced with forces unequal to large operations, it was 
sufficient, as Moltke had foreseen in his plans, to shift a 
little further back some of the points where the troops 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire ^7 

were to detrain, in order to save them from the risk of 
being attacked and harassed, while as yet incompletely 
mobilised, by an opponent, who for the time might be 
superior in numbers. It was easy to foresee that we 
should, in that case, soon be in such a position to meet 
the advance of the enemy with superior numbers, and in 
complete readiness for action. 

This measure, viz. the shifting backwards of the points 
of detrainment, was actually resorted to when the point of 
assembly of the Second Army was fixed nearer to the 
Rhine than was originally contemplated. Our chief, cer- 
tainly, was very reluctant to propose such an alteration ; 
but prudence demanded it, in order that the concentration 
might not have to be carried on in the face of an opponent 
who was, not indeed fully mobilised, but yet in force, and 
who if he had any dash would have been in a position to 
considerably embarrass that operation. 

After weighing all the possibilities above mentioned, 
General von Moltke thought it sufficient, in making his 
arrangements for the protection of the frontier, and for 
the observation of the enemy, to use for this purpose the 
various small detachments quartered in the nearest 

In Prussian territory the troops of the i6th division 
(General von Barnekow) quartered at Trier, Saarlouis 
and Saarbrttcken were rapidly available, as were in 
Baden detachments of the Grand Ducal Division. 
On the other hand, in the Bavarian Palatinate, where 
the forces present were not sufficient for the task, further 
troops had immediately to be sent forward. 

The duty of these several frontier detachments was 
not a light one. The detachment at Saarbriicken 
especially — one battalion of the HohenzoUern Fusilier 
Regiment and three squadrons of the 7th Uhlans — under 
Lieutenant-Colonel von Pestel, found itself in a very 
difficult position, being face to face with the main 
body of the enemy. But it performed its task with 

Digitized by 


38 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-?! 

extraordinary energy and boldness. The fears entertained 
concerning its fate among the members of our Staff were 
certainly great, and when encounters became more 
and more frequent, and the enemy appeared in its front in 
ever greater numbers, it was resolved at last, in order not 
to expose it to a check, to send the detachment tele- 
gpraphic instructions to evacuate Saarbriicken and fall back. 
However, we received an answer from Lieutenant-Colonel 
von Pestel something to this effect : " Leave us here, the 
other side are more afraid of us than we of them." In 
view of such confidence, and considering the brilliant 
manner in which the detachment had acted so far, it was 
now left to the Colonel's discretion to remain or to retreat 
as he saw fit. 

Still it was only to be expected that the sudden 
massing of French troops on the frontier, while our troops 
were still completing their mobilisation quietly in their 
peace stations, would arouse anxiety and excitement, which 
would spread to districts fex away from the frontier. From 
one corps on the right bank of the Rhine there even came 
an inquiry whether some part of it had not better be, at 
once, set in motion for the protection of the river. 

It was part of my duty then to report twice daily to the 
King the upshot of the news received as to the French 
army. On one of these occasions the King happened to 
speak of the uneasy feeling among the people ; when I 
ventured to express an opinion to the effect that the 
French would probably not cross the frontier at all, or if 
they did so, would not get far. His Majesty tapped me on 
the shoulder, and said with a smile: "Ah, you young 
people always see things * couleur de rose.* '* 

It was not long before our troops too were on the way 
to their points of assembly on and beyond the Rhine not 
far from the line of the Saar and on the Alsatian frontier. 
The methodical use of the means of transport by rail, the 
skilfully executed plan of making the different lines work 
in concert, which was due to Brandenstein and the 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 39 

members of the executive commission, Director Weishaupt 
and Privy Counsellor Kienel, made it possible to assemble 
the armies in a comparatively short time. After a 
sufficient number of troops had concentrated in the districts 
appointed for assembly, and the further advance on foot 
had already been begun, the moment had arrived for the 
Royal Headquarters also to approach the seat of war. 
These were therefore transferred to Mainz, and started 
ft-om Berlin at 6 p.m. on the 31st July. 

The number of persons, horses and vehicles belonging 
to such a body, including the necessary guards, is so 
considerable that it has to be divided into various sections, 
which can only be transported one by one. It is of course 
desirable to reduce it as much as possible, but it must 
necessarily be large when the supreme command is in the 
hands of the Sovereign. It is, in that case, indispensable 
that the chief of the Foreign Office should accompany the 
Sovereign to the seat of war, and many branches of the 
different departments of the Government, including the 
War Office, have also to be represented. As regards the 
last named, the question has often been discussed whether 
the minister ought properly be in the field in person or 
whether a representative suffices. At that time we were 
all of opinion that the Minister of War had better remain 
in the capital, and ought only appear in the field as an 
exception, and then only for a short time. In this view I 
can only say that I have been confirmed on reconsidering 
the question in later years, when I myself was at the head 
of the War Office. All matters referring to new 
organisations of troops, supply of ammunition, siege guns, 
hospitals, uniforms, even the construction of new railways, 
a great part of the commissariat and a thousand other 
requirements can only be supplied firom one's own country, 
and need the whole personal authority of the War 
Minister to make things run smoothly, and to prevent 
firiction. But in order that the latter may remain 
accurately informed as to what the authorities in the 

Digitized by 


40 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

field intend to do, and be able to meet in good time any 
wants that may arise there, it will certainly be necessary 
to have a superior officer of the War Office attached per- 
manently to the Supreme Headquarters. 

Concerning the internal organisation of the Head- 
quarter StaflF, it is well known that it consists of two 
branches, to the first of which belong all those persons 
who are to be always at the disposition of the Commander- 
in-Chief, either because they are needed for the immediate 
conduct of operations, or for some other sufficient reason. 
The second portion, on the other hand, is not so imme- 
diately connected with the actual work, and is often looked 
upon, and not without good reason, as a very troublesome 
impediment, but yet one which no headquarters will pro- 
bably ever be able to get quite rid of. Consideration must 
be shown for allied princes, for representatives of foreign 
powers whose presence under certain circumstances may 
be very desirable ; there will be officials who must be held 
in readiness for future contingencies, especially for assum- 
ing the administration of occupied hostile territory; again, 
newspaper correspondents will probably always have to 
be admitted. Such personages will thus never be quite 
absent from headquarters, but it will be well — ^with all 
due regard to their claims — to limit to the smallest 
possible number the non-official section of headquarters. 

In the train in which the King travelled there were, 
besides his personal suite, the Military and Civil Cabinet,* 
also Count Bismarck with the necessary officials of the 
Foreign Office, the Minister of War with some officers, 
and General von Moltke with his whole StaiF, as well 
as the Chief of the Commissariat, and the Chief of the 
Field Telegraph Department. Proposals had been made 
to send the greater part of the General StaflF by another 
train, but had been decidedly rejected by General von 

' These have no counterpart in England. They are advisory bodies 
dealing with certain portions of the military and civil administration. 
See for example, p. 19 — Ed. 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Emph^e 41 

Moltke, as cases might occur when he would require the 
presence of any one of his officers, even during the railway 
journey. Even at the moment of getting into the train 
one of these little hitches occurred which are unavoidable 
when so many dififerent groups that have been working 
hitherto independently of each other, have suddenly to 
co-operate as one body. The carriages had been assigned 
to their various occupants according to the instructions 
of Brandenstein as chief of the Executive Commission for 
Transport. Each carriage and compartment had a placard 
stating whom it was reserved for ; but on our arrival at 
the station, it turned out that one of the officials of the 
King's household, who had had charge of the railway 
arrangements for the latter, had thought fit to upset the 
whole thing, and arrange the distribution otherwise, and 
that in a manner which favoured other considerations 
rather than those necessary from a military point of view. 
Our official, however, caught a Tartar in meddling with 
Brandenstein, for he put the matter straight again with 
such vigour, that no one interfered with him afterwards. 
I only mention this incident, in itself insignificant, in 
order to remark that, unavoidable as such friction is in 
putting the whole machine in motion, it was limited, in 
our case, to minor points only, and that we always 
experienced the greatest friendship on the part of the 
Royal Household, from Count Piickler to the indefatigable 
and circumspect Hofrath Kanoki. 

We were much more annoyed on another occasion by 
the interference of another party. It was on the day 
when we arrived before Paris, and reached our quarters at 
Ferriferes late in the evening, having been in the saddle 
since the early morning. Tired and hungry as we were 
— we had had nothing to eat the whole day — ^we revelled 
in the anticipation of a dinner prepared for us by the 
quartermasters sent on in advance. But, unfortunately, 
the War Minister, who, with his party, had arrived before 
us, was of opinion that we should not reach Ferriferes that 

Digitized by 


42 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

evening, and had, therefore, polished off our dinner, and 
we were left fasting. Then, indeed, for a few hours, we 
were wrathful ! 

The General Staff had a large saloon carriage at its 
disposal for the railway journey, which contained, beside 
the main compartment, two smaller ones, one for the 
Chief and the Quartermaster-General, the other destined 
for a branch which was quickly extemporised and which 
Major Blume was placed in charge of. In spite of the 
great heat the journey went off tolerably well ; only during 
the two nights it lasted, our rest was being continually 
disturbed by the noise which the perpetual singing of the 
"Wacht am Rhein" produced. The news had soon 
spread far and wide, that the train which conveyed our 
beloved Sovereign to the seat of war had started from 
Berlin, and wherever this became known thousands and 
thousands of people came streaming, not only to the 
stations, but the crossings, and, in fact, to wherever a 
road led near to the railway, all intent, even when the 
darkness prevented them from catching a glimpse of the 
universally revered monarch, on giving him a sign of 
their patriotic feelings by singing that stirring song, bid- 
ding him farewell, and sending their blessings after him. 
The unceasing noise produced thereby was so great that 
our ears rang for several days afterwards with the hum of 
the song and the sound of the guns that were fired on the 

The concourse was greatest in Cologne. The train 
was of very great length, and the last carriage, in which 
we were, could not enter the station ; so stopping out- 
side we looked down upon the illuminated town, upon 
the Rhine reflecting the lights, and a multitude of men 
which seemed to be innumerable. Here also the strains 
of the " Wacht am Rhein *' were roared out around us 
uninterruptedly. It was splendid and exhilarating ; but 
as the crowd broke through the barriers, rushed on to 
the platform, and pressed towards the foremost carriages 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 43 

in order to see the King, we were unable to reach the 
refreshment rooms. Fortunately, we had taken the pre- 
caution to lay up in our carriage a little reserve store for 
such occasions. 

From the two incidents mentioned it is evident what 
great importance was attached, even in the General StafF, 
to the question of feeding ; many a remark in the letters 
written at the time will give still fiirther proof of this fact. 
Indeed, for the members of the General Staff, it is a 
necessary condition to go to work with a full stomach, 
not merely for the sake of personal preservation : the man 
who has had sufficient food does not write orders in a 
severe style, unless it is necessary ; the hungry one, on the 
other hand, is apt to give expression to his own state of 
discomfort through his pen. 

It will be easily understood that in the case of a superior 
StafF which is at liberty to select the best places for its 
quarters, food is not very difficult to find. But yet, a 
man is required for this purpose who devotes himself 
thoroughly to the good of the staff mess, and who has a 
special talent for this kind of thing. Count Nostitz was 
invaluable to us in this respect as in others. We often 
owed a meal to him, even on the battle-field, after we had 
given up all hope of getting anything to eat at all. 

During the railway journey a few hours were devoted 
to a game of whist, for which General von Moltke had a 
well-known partiality. There is, indeed, scarcely a better 
relaxation existing than a " rubber," and we stuck to it 
during the whole of the campaign, whenever circumstances 
permitted, in order to give the General an hour's distrac- 
tion. The unceasing discussion of the gravest questions, 
even after there is no longer any practical utility in doing 
so, consumes much mental energy. If one tried to fill up 
spare time with conversation on other subjects, the 
mind would very soon revert to the old groove ; but to 
tear oneself away for a time firom the exciting business of 
the day, refireshes, and it is a wise thing under such 

Digitized by 


44 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

circumstances to seek distraction whenever it is possible. 
Do we not see every day with what delight many of our 
over-worked and jaded statesmen look forward to their 
evening game at " skat " ? 

At that time our great chief was still a very indifferent 
card-player. It was delightful to watch him when he was 
in doubt whether he ought to " finesse " or not. He could 
lay down his cards on the table, bend his head forward, 
and look his neighbour for some time straight in the face 
with his great eyes saying : "I must try and find out 
from his face whether he has the card." He used to 
do this in such an amusing way that not only the player 
in question, but all the rest would end by bursting out laugh- 
ing. When the General had made up his mind, and played 
his card, it often happened that his knowledge of phy- 
siognomy had deceived him, and that he had played wrong. 
Then he would at once put down his cards again, raise both 
hands and exclaim: "What a good actor that man is, 
to be sure ! " It did not much matter, for in these games 
there were no great sums to be gained or lost. 

The thirty-seven hours of our journey passed tolerably 
quickly, thanks to the varying incidents which occurred on 
the way: besides, in spite of the many disturbances 
mentioned, it afforded us sufl&cient rest to be able on our 
arrival at Mainz on the morning of the 2nd August, to 
set to work quite fresh, and work enough we found, now 
that we had reached the region where the armies were 
assembling in such numbers. 

Digitized by 


II. The Course of Operations up to the 
Investment of Metz. 

I. Stay in Mainz — Engagement of Weissenburg — 
Battles of Worth and Spicheren. 

On our arrival at Mainz the King took up his quarters 
in the Grand Ducal Palace, while the General StaiF was 
lodged in a hotel near the Rhine. As for me, my stay 
was a short one, owing to an occurrence which took 
place during our journey. The details of this inci- 
dent I can no longer remember sufficiently to be able to 
guarantee every word, but in the main the following is a 
correct account of it. 

In the course of the second day of our journey. General 
von Podbielski stepped out from one of the smaller com- 
partments of the carriages into the large one, and handed 
me a dispatch the contents of which I was to note, and 
then see that it was forwarded by one of my officers at 
the next station we might stop at. The history of the 
dispatch was as follows : — 

Late in the evening of the 30th July this telegram had 
been sent oflF to the army of the Crown Prince : 

" His Majesty considers it expedient that the Third Army 
should, as soon as the Baden and Wurttemberg Divisions 
have joined, advance at once on the left bank of the 
Rhine in a southerly direction, seek out the enemy and 
attack him. Making of bridge south of Lauterburg will 
thereby be prevented, and all Southern Germany most 
efficiently protected. 

" (Signed) v. Moltke." 

Digitized by 


46 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

The answer received on the morning of the 31st of July 
from the Chief Commander of the Third Army, said, that 
the advance could not yet be undertaken as the whole of 
the troops were not ready for the field ; the Baden 
and Wurttemberg divisions would till then remain on the 
right bank of the Rhine. 

This answer was not considered at all satisfactory at 
the Royal Headquarters, and further information was 
required as to when the Third Army would be ready. 

The information asked for arrived shortly before our 
train started and was to the effect *' that the army would 
be ready for the field on the 3rd August." This matter 
came under discussion during the journey. It was not 
clear, even from this last report, whether the army would 
begin to advance on the 3rd August. It was of course 
not to be supposed that any delay was intended, but it 
seemed as if they meant not to begin the march until the 
very last detachments and columns had arrived, while we 
wished for as speedy an advance as possible, in view of 
the general situation, and especially of the intended 
co-operation of the Third Army with the two others. 

Consequently, the telegram drawn up during the journey 
and handed over to me by General von Podbielski, con- 
tained a fresh and very decided order to go on. When I 
had read it, I said to the General that the telegram ought 
not to be sent in its present form : " I knew that staff very 
well in the last war. If you wish to create strained 
relations with them, during the whole of this campaign, 
send it ; but I am perfectly sure that they will feel 
offended, and, I think, not without some cause. For, 
a good reason of some kind there must surely be, for 
their not yet fixing the date of starting."* General 
von Podbielski turned to General von Moltke, who was 

^ In regard to the difficult an unpleasant relatioas which may 
arise, if such kind of friction arises between the superior staffs, let 
the reader only remember the continual disagreements which took 
place, in 1813 and 18 14, between the headquarters of Bliicher and 
General von York. 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 47 

just coming to join us, and repeated to him what 
I had said, upon which the latter remarked : ** Well, but 
how are we to manage it, then ? " We reflected a 
moment, and then I ventured to propose that I should try, 
as soon as we arrived at Mainz, to make my way to 
Speyer, where the headquarters of the Crown Prince were. 
I expressed at the same time my conviction that I should 
be able to attain what we so much desired by personally 
representing the state of affairs ; in any case, things could 
be managed more smoothly than by sending the telegram. 
So the despatch did not go off. General von Moltke next 
obtained permission from the King, when he made his 
report to him, for me to go to Speyer, and I consequently 
started on my way there, as soon as we reached 

To get to Speyer was no easy matter, as all the lines 
from east to west were crammed with trains full of troops 
and there was no way of getting across country from north 
to south, or where there was, the lines were mostly used 
for feeding those running west. Therefore I had to use 
all sorts of transport, and it took me a consider- 
able time to cover this comparatively short distance. 
First, I went by a cattle train leaving Mainz; then I 
came across a train bringing a horse artillery battery of 
the V. Army Corps across the Rhine. Here an amusing 
little scene happened. The train was travelling on a wide 
curve not far from some station, so that one could see, 
when looking out of the window on the inner side, the 
locomotive as well as the last carriage. Sitting with the 
officers of the battery in a compartment, we suddenly heard 
the sound, ** The whole halt ! " ringing distinctly in our ears. 
On looking out of the window, we saw a trumpeter who 
repeated the signal uninterruptedly while running after the 
train. The man, who belonged to the battery, had been 
standing at the open door of a horse truck, and had 
suddenly been thrown out by his horse moving forward. 
Fortunately, he had not come to grief by his fall, and as 

Digitized by 


48 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

he had his trumpet with him, he used it, in order to 
rejoin his troop. Of course his call could not be attended 
to, and we steamed on. Later on, in December, I 
chanced to meet the officers of the battery at Versailles, 
and remembering the incident, I asked how the matter had 
ended. The train had been delayed at the next stopping 
place, and the trumpeter had then succeeded in joining 
his battery again. Next, I did a part of the way on 
a locomotive, then again on foot for some distance, 
and at last I reached Speyer on a country cart that 
happened to come along. Here I found the Crown 
Prince. After briefly explaining the cause of my appear- 
ance, His Royal Highness at once declared himself 
ready, without waiting for the last detachments, to begin 
operations, as soon as it was in any way possible. But as 
to the precise moment when that would be the case, he 
must talk it over with General von Blumenthal. 

Until the latter arrived the Prince kept me with him, and 
talked quite frankly to me in his well-known fascinating 
manner, about various things connected with the war — 
I having been on his staff in the campaign of 1866. He 
was in high spirits, and rejoiced to see the unanimity of 
the German Princes and the enthusiasm of the entire 
German nation. The Crown Prince was especially happy 
to see united and under his command, besides the two 
Prussian corps, the fighting strength of the South German 
States, and in the fact that a Crown Prince of Prussia 
led them, he saw a proof of the depth and constancy of 
German patriotism, which would henceforth form, in spite 
of internal quarrels, the basis for the happiness of the 
German races with the princes as weU as the people. 
The Prince alluded with some tinge of regret to the 
circumstances that only the weaker part of the French 
forces stood before him, while he would have so much 
wished to do his share of the work on the spot where the 
main issue would be decided. I took the liberty of ob- 
serving that such was indeed the intention of General von 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 49 

Moltke, who would no doubt do everything he could not 
to let the Crown Prince of Prussia play a secondary part in 
this war. " The deeds of your Royal Highness wiU not be 
less glorious than in 1866," I added, " but the objects of 
the General can only be attained if your army assumes the 
offensive immediately. As soon as it has settled Mac- 
Mahon, it will certainly be required for co-operation 
against the main forces of the enemy." 

Presently General von Blumenthal arrived, and we 
went into a room close by, in which the maps of the 
theatre of war were spread out on a large table with the 
positions of the various detachments of troops marked on it. 
In a short report I explained the general situation, indicat- 
ing at the same time by means of strips of paper the places 
where the corps of Prince Frederick Charles and those of 
General von Steinmetz stood at the time. By this means, 
it became clear at the first glance that, if the Crown 
Prince's army was to co-operate with the others within 
any reasonable time, he must seek to crush the forces 
opposing him as rapidly as possible. It was evident 
from the explanations of General von Blumenthal that 
there was only one wish, viz. to get at the enemy as 
speedily as circumstances permitted ; and I learned at the 
same time that the order for the assembly of the troops 
had already been issued that morning. I therefore 
requested the Crown Prince to allow Major von Hahnke, 
who was also present, to draw up a cipher telegram to 
the Royal Headquarters reporting that the army would 
cross the frontier on the following day, the 3rd August. 
General von Blumenthal, however, objected to this, as the 
various corps were not yet sufficiently concentrated for 
commencing the movement on that date; besides, the 
troops wanted that day to themselves. Thus Hahnke's 
telegram fixed the day of starting for the 4th August, 
and the ciphered despatch, signed by me, was sent off to 

It was nearly eleven o'clock at night when I was able 


Digitized by 


50 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

to start on my return journey. It was even more trouble- 
some than that to Speyer, and I only arrived at 8 o'clock 
in the morning of the 3rd August, after having thus 
spent three nights running travelling. While I was 
wandering about, I met at a small country station a train 
just coming in, conveying a squadron of Cuirassiers of the 
Guard. On inquiry I learned that several friends of 
mine were in it with whom I had spent many a pleasant 
hour, including Count Luttichau and Herr von Massow. 
I was hard-hearted enough to disturb them in their 
slumbers in order to wish them good luck on their way to 
the front, as we could not tell whether we should meet 
again. Strange to say, I did not feel a trace of fatigue ; 
exciting occupation and the variety of impressions on the 
way helped me, for some time at least, to forget physical 

Meanwhile, on this same date, the 2nd August, news 
had arrived in Mainz, in the afternoon, of an engagement 
at Saarbriicken, and it looked as if this town had been 
evacuated by the detachment under Colonel von Pestel in 
consequence of a French attack. This was in fact the 
case. After the gallant little force had directly faced the 
masses of the French main army for several weeks, the 
latter had advanced, and the HohenzoUern Fusiliers and 
Rhenish Uhlans had retreated fighting before the forces 
deploying in their front, and had fallen back on a detach- 
ment which had been sent in good time to their support. 
Thus the self-sacrificing devotion of the small body had 
had a glorious end, and formed for us a subject of the 
warmest recognition and admiration. 

The fact that the enemy had set foot on German soil 
and that our troops had fallen back, and the circumstance 
that during the engagement a few houses in Saarbriicken 
had been set on fire by the French shells, caused great 
excitement at home, while in Paris this occurrence, so 
insignificant in itself, was celebrated as a victory. This 
impression was enhanced by the somewhat obscure talk of 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 51 

a taking possession " of the coal basin of the Saar," which 
gave the engagement an importance which it really never 

The way we looked at the matter may be seen from my 
notes of the 3rd August, in which there is this remark : 
*' The engagement of Saarbriicken is not of much impor- 
tance, and of such outposts affairs we shall see plenty." 

In reference to the further progress of operations I find 
likewise the following observations among my memoranda 
on the 3rd August : " Our cavalry will reach the fron- 
tier to-day at all points. We shall probably proceed to 
Kaiserslautern on the 5th. It still looks as if the French 
were waiting for us to come on. In that case there might 
be an important encounter with the main army on or 
about the gth August, while the Crown Prince wiU probably 
have hard fighting at a still earlier date." 

The circumstances under which the news reached 
the Royal Headquarters about the engagement at Saar- 
briicken were certainly peculiar. During the heat of the 
fight, reports are sent ohly to the immediate superior. 
He, it is true, sends on the reports, but as a rule only 
to the general from whom support is expected. As 
everybody's attention among the troops engaged is com- 
pletely absorbed by what they are doing, it comes about 
that the Royal Headquarters do not hear till compara- 
tively late of such occurrences, sometimes only in a round- 
about way. This is the case more particularly during a 
retreat, when the telegraph station in the neighbourhood 
has had to be abandoned early. In this way, during the 
2nd August, no news at all had arrived at headquarters 
in Mainz from the detachment at Saarbriicken. A 
telegraph official at Frankfiirt, however, had employed his 
leisure time in communicating with his colleague at 
Saarbriicken, regarding the state of affairs. The news 
which he received in this manner, he wired on, as it 
seemed important, to the Director of Field Telegraphs, 
Colonel Meydam, who, in his turn, communicated them to 

E 2 

Digitized by 


52 With the Royal Headquarters in i 87071 

us. Still, no clear idea could be gained, from different 
accounts that had reached us in this way, as to what had 
really occurred at Saarbnicken, so that Bronsart was 
obliged, toward the morning of the 3rd August, to 
inquire by telegraph of the Commander-in-Chief of the 
First Army what had actually taken place. 

In the evening of the 4th August, on the same day, 
consequently, on which, the Crown Prince's army had 
crossed the frontier, we received news of the victorious 
engagement with Douay's Division, which had been 
pushed forward by MacMahon to Weissenburg, and 
whose gallant leader had fallen in this unequal contest. 
" The King, with whom I have just spoken, is highly 
rejoiced at this first and very important success of his son. 
If the enemy makes a stand against the latter, other 
successes will soon follow. The Crown Prince has only 
Marshal MacMahon before him; the main strength of 
the enemy stands on the line Saargemund- Saarbnicken, 
confronting the First and Second Army." ^ 

On the 6th August, headquarters were still at 
Mainz. "Things are looking weU. Goeben has just 
sent a report of a successful engagement at Saarbnicken. 
The enemy seems to be leaving the line of the Saar. 
What an extraordinary proceeding! The French first 
hurry up in mad haste, as if they were going to fall on us 
at once, and begin the war, but nothing happens ! Now, 
when we are ready to attack them, they quit their 
position I It is possible that they will retreat to Metz or 
Nancy, also possible that they intend to make a stand 
in a good position on this side of those towns, and try to 
bring up MacMahon with his troops. We are prepared for 
whatever they do ; only, in the former case, the decisive 
blow would unfortunately be delayed for some time. The 
losses in the engagements we do not know, but this 
much is certain, that they are very heavy." 

^ All the passages in inverted commas are extracted verbatim from 
my notes or from letters sent home by me. 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 53 

In regard to reports of losses, let it be explained here 
that it is quite impossible to state them correctly imme- 
diately after an engagement, and before the reports from 
the troops engaged have arrived. Very often after battles 
and engagements, only quite rough estimates can be 
formed, for which the fury of the fighting in particular 
places, as well as the numbers of the troops engaged and 
the nature of the ground may ftimish some data; but 
even then uncommonly great experience is required 
to avoid making vast mistakes. I recollect that on 
the evening of the battle of Gravelotte-St. Privat an 
estimate of our losses was made amounting to about 
8000 men, and when I observed then that we might be 
satisfied if we had got off with 15,000 men, my opinion 
raised an incredulous smile. Unfortunately our sacrifices 
exceeded in reality my own estimate; we lost that day 
nearly 20,000. 

There is another point, about telegrams sent honje, 
which is apt to rouse at times something like indignation, 
viz. if in these despatches all the bodies of troops are not 
at once mentioned which have taken part in the fighting. 
People at home are certainly quite justified, when they 
hear a general report of some battle having taken place, 
in asking : " Have our people also been there ? " As 
a rule, in case of battles in which several armies take 
part and at which the Royal Headquarters are present, it 
is precisely the telegrams from the latter which first reach 
home. Now it may be taken for granted that the 
information contained in these despatches will be spread 
broadcast, on the same day, through all the capitals of 
the neutral powers, and from there it is likely to find its 
way immediately to the enemy's intelligence department. 
It has happened to us repeatedly that we obtained 
valuable intelligence in this roundabout way. Therefore, 
if, on the one hand, the reasonableness of the desire of 
fiiends at home to know who has been engaged in the 
fighting, must be admitted ; on the other hand, the 

Digitized by 


54 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

Headquarters are bound to be very cautious in considering 
what to publish. The case is somewhat different with 
direct information from particular corps to the provinces 
at home. Such information, to begin with, arrives 
generally somewhat slower, and, owing to the distance 
from the capital, becomes known throughout the Empire 
comparatively late. 

The importance of the intelligence concerning the 
engagement at Saarbriicken sent by General von Goeben 
could not, at the time, be fully understood. Several 
other telegrams from commanding ofl&cers came in from 
the scene of action, and finally one from General von 
Steinmetz, who had arrived there at 7 o'clock in the 
evening. It was now gathered with some certainty that 
troops from both armies had taken part in the fighting, 
and that the command had passed through different hands. 
That night we were very much disturbed. I had just 
gone to bed, about midnight, when I 'heard someone 
knocking at my door, and a voice asked through the open 
door : " Verdy, are you here ? " I recognized the voice 
as that of Prince Radziwill, aide-de-camp to the King. 
He entered, and told me a telegram had just reached the 
King, the contents of which were not quite clear, and he 
had, therefore, been sent to me. A light was struck at 
once, and while still in bed I read the despatch, which 
began with the words : " Two eagles," etc. This much 
was evident at least, that the Crown Prince's army had 
also been engaged, and had gained a victory. But where 
it had been, could not at first be made out. As the 
movements of this army, however, had been known so 
far, this point perhaps could be settled by reference. So 
I jumped out of bed, and sat down at the table where the 
maps were spread out. This conversation had, mean- 
while, awakened Brandenstein, who was sleeping in the 
next room. On his asking what was the matter, I called 
out to him to come to us. He appeared in the same 
costume as myself, and we both found ourselves at the 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 55 

table as we had jumped out of bed, each with a candle in 
his hand. Our immediate conjecture was afterwards 
confirmed, viz* that we had before us one-half of a 
telegram, the first half of which, in some strange way, 
had not got into the hands of the King. 

The news, however, was so important that it was 
necessary to consider whether further dispositions had not 
to be made. So we waked Bronsart, who was joined by 
de Claer and, I think, Blume, also, and we all went to 
General Podbielski. 

After we had imparted to him the state of the case, we 
all went with him, in the costume described, to General 
von Moltke, whom we also called up from his sleep. I 
shall never forget the peculiar expression in the face of the 
General, when he raised himself in his bed, without his 
wig, the moon shining on him, as he looked at us as if to 
ask : " Who are these strange visitors ? " In the discus- 
sion that followed, we all came to the correct conclusion 
that the battle must have taken place in the neighbour- 
hood of Worth. Now, not only was it necessary to inform 
the other armies of the fact, but those corps which were 
still in the rear and not yet attached to any army, ought at 
once to receive instructions adapted to the new situation. 
To the First and Second Army orders were sent not to press 
forward too rapidly beyond the Saar, as they were not yet 
sufficiently concentrated. On the other hand, we did not 
want to prevent them from following up the enemy, who 
had his main forces stationed in front of them, in case he 
intended to retire. " To-day will make it clear whether 
this is the case. This bloody engagement has been for us 
an incalculable advantage ; but it is only a prelude. The 
decision is yet to come ; for, as yet, the main forces on 
both sides have only come in contact in parts. God will 
help us on I The losses you will hear of in Berlin sooner 
than we here." 

A few remarks on the battles of the 6th August at 
Spicheren and Worth may here be inserted. Both 

Digitized by 


56 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

battles are peculiar, in so far as they were fought against 
the will of the Commander-in-Chief, This fact is not 
unique, as the third great battle also, that of Colombey, 
on the 14th August, commenced under similar circum- 
stances. In all these cases the engagement was begun 
by the outposts or the advanced troops. These in 
each case had the impression that the enemy before 
them was on the point of escaping, and they were 
anxious not only not to lose touch with him, which 
is in any case the business of all such advanced troops ; 
but also to inflict upon him when retreating as much 
damage as possible. 

Thus at Spicheren, General von Kameke saw himself at 
once engaged with his whole division in a hot conflict with 
the enemy, who showed front again and faced him in a 
formidable position. The engagement very soon assumed 
such proportions that a withdrawal of the troops was no 
longer practicable without incurring a complete defeat. In 
their glorious eagerness to help their hard pressed comrades, 
all the Prussian troops who were anywhere near hurried to 
the battle-field, and came into action. Even a battery of 
the I. Corps which, after an uninterrupted journey from 
Konigsberg, had just arrived in these parts, continued its 
march still fiirther, and put in an appearance on the scene. 
So it came about that troops belonging to the First and to 
the Second Army fought from the beginning without proper 
combination. The Commander-in-Chief of the Second 
Army had not foreseen the battle and could not have done so. 
On the contrary, he had not intended to attack the enemy 
in front in his strong position, but to force him, by envelop- 
ing his right wing, to evacuate the position, or accept 
battle under less favourable circumstances. With this 
view the movements of the troops had been begun, and 
as an advance on the enemy's part across the Saar 
was not a likely event, considering his inactive attitude 
thus far, so severe an action as that around Spicheren, 
brought about by the initiative of a subordinate corn- 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 57 

mander of the First Anny,had not been expected. Prince 
Frederick Charles had still less intention of entering on 
such a severe struggle that day, as his army was not yet 
sufficiently in hand to be in a fit state to help the other. 
For the strategical deplo3anent was only meant to be 
effected by the movements of the 6th August and the next 
following day. So it came about that only parts of the 
First and Second Army were engaged, and that the joint 
co-operation of all the forces which is to be desired when 
a decisive blow is struck, was wanting. 

At Worth it was the outposts of the V. Army Corps 
who sent out a detachment to reconnoitre the enemy, 
when movements in his camp apparently indicated a 
retreat. In the engagement thus brought about, support 
was afforded it by the Bavarian Corps of General von 
Hartmann, which was on the right wing, and the first 
division of which got entangled in a very hot fight in a 
very difficult country, during which the detachment of the 
V. Corps put an end to its reconnaissance. But as the 
fighting on the Bavarian wing became steadily more 
severe, and as, furthermore, an engagement had begun on 
the left, where the XL Corps was, the whole of the V, 
Corps came into action in order to prevent the enemy 
from throwing his whole weight on one of the wings of the 
army ; meanwhile the Bavarian Corps had received orders 
firom headquarters to break off the engagement. The 
beginning of this battle is thus characterized by much 
hesitation, one body always falling back when another 
advanced, and the latter being recalled after the former had 
resumed the engagement in its support. But now the 
Crown Prince himself arrived on the scene, in time to take 
over the command and bring concerted action into the 
further conduct of the battle. Then it became evident, 
what an advantage there is in having a fully assembled 
army, ready to act together ; so that the battle proper 
could be directed in an efficient manner. The 
contest was extremely bloody and violent. For, the 

Digitized by 


58 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

enemy, who had in his ranks the excellent African troops, 
was here again in a position that resembled a fortress, and 
it was only by the self-sacrificing bravery of our troops 
and skilful leadership that the victory was gained. But 
the struggle would have been still more severe, if the 
French commanders had brought up in time all the troops 
which, if they had received orders, might have reached 
the battle-field. More dangerous stiU in this respect was 
the situation for us at Spicheren, as very strong hostile 
forces were quite close at hand. Fortunately for us they 
were not brought up to the scene of action. 

2. From Mainz to Pont a Mousson — Battles of 


Headquarters left Mayence on the 8th of August, going 
by rail to Homburg. " It was nearly 9 p.m. when we 
arrived ; our horses arrived in the morning at 2 o'clock. 
No shelter could be found for them, and so they had to 
bivouac in torrents of rain, which was not agreeable. 
To-day, the 9th, I drove a dozen oxen out of their stables 
and put up our horses." Our way lay through some very 
pretty scenery ; but we were all somewhat fatigued through 
having the last few nights had no sleep and the amount of 
work we had done. Everywhere we came across bodies of 
troops ; we passed stations fiiU of men who had got out 
there, as their trains had to stop for us; and we saw 
detachments of all arms who were on the march. Every- 
where the troops halted and greeted His Majesty with 
cheers, while the military bands played patriotic tunes. 
Moreover, the whole population of the neighbourhood had 
assembled en masse ; the enthusiasm was the greater, as 
the news of the victories of Worth and Spicheren had 
already become known. The pleasant impression which 
all this made on one, was increased by the beauty of the 
Haardt mountains through which we passed. 

But the serious side of the situation also made itself 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 59 

felt. At Ludwigshafen Stosch learned that his brother, 
commanding the 46th, had fallen ; then Waldersee heard 
that his cousin, in command of the 5th Jaegers, had been 
mortally wounded. We heard the same of other ac- 
quaintances. "The details of the engagements and the 
losses will reach you before they come to us ; anyone who 
finds the opportunity telegraphs home. We only get 
intelligence of what it is necessary to know for the service, 
besides, we have no leisure to trouble about what is 
gone ; the present and the future demand, that one 
should tear oneself away from the past. Thus we only 
learn where a certain engagement has taken place, against 
whom, and how it has ended. The army is too large for 
details to reach us in any other way than by accident. — 
The general situation is good, but so far (9 p.m.) no 
report has come in as yet from a single army concern- 
ing the events of the day. H.R.H. the Crown Prince of 
Saxony, whose corps lies close by here, honoured and 
delighted me with a long visit at my quarters. If the French 
do not attack us to-morrow, which is not impossible, 
though not very probable, we shall attack them the day 
after, when our whole strength is assembled." 

Immediately after the campaign of 1866, several officers 
of the Saxon General Staff had been ordered to head- 
quarters, by which means we got to know each other 
better while working together, and we had become very 
intimate. I remember particularly the names of von 
HoUeben and von Tschirschky, who afterwards for many 
years commanded two Saxon divisions. (Von HoUeben 
was also a member of the Staff at the Royal Headquarters 
in 1870-71, and was as popular among us and as pleasant a 
comrade as he was a valuable assistant.) Now, it so 
happened that General von Moltke soon after the war of 
1866 had undertaken a tour for staff purposes in the 
Kingdom of Saxony, during which H.R.H. the Crown 
Prince often joined our rides, as long as they had Dresden 
for their starting point, and it was thus that friendly rela- 

Digitized by 


6o With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

tions had sprung up between the Crown Prince and the 
General, which became closer every day during this 
campaign. Such relations among the leaders, which are 
based on personal acquaintance and that mutual high 
esteem and unlimited confidence which comes from it, 
are of the very highest value for the successful course of 
operations, and a guarantee for effecting co-operation. 
That this was so in this case, is shown by the fact that 
the leadership of the new army, which had to be formed 
after the battle of Gravelotte, was entrusted to H.R.H. 
the Crown Prince Albert. 

" Hombuijg^, 9th August, morning. 
(Sent from Homburg early in the morning before setting out for 

" The enemy seems to be retreating on all points. If that 

is so, he wiU probably not try to make a stand till he has 

reached the river Nied, and it will be another week before 

the decisive struggle comes." 

*' Saarbriicken, loth August, 9 p.m. 

" As there was still much work to be done yesterday, 
and the change to new quarters took up much time, we 
had to hurry to get here. Moltke and Podbielski each 
took one of us with him in his carriage ; my own was 
driven by Alten, who is a good whip. Claer, Holleben, 
Krause and Blume were with me in the *war chariot.* 
The road hither is very pretty, and its beauty was much 
enhanced for us by passing on the way the marching 
columns of the Saxon Corps and the camps of the IX. 
Corps. The latter lined for some ten miles both sides of 
the road, over 30,000 strong. My ears are still buzzing 
with the hurrahs and the strains of the military bands, as 
we drove directly behind the King. 

"Saarbriicken is charmingly situated and looks very 
smart. But in sharp contrast to this pleasant sight stands 
the fact that every house is crammed with wounded. The 
losses in the engagement of the 6th August here are 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 6i 

very considerable ; I estimate them at nearly 5000 men 
on our side. Wounded Frenchmen and Prussians lie peU- 
mell together here. Among others, little Kuminski has 
been wounded again and is here ; I shall try to see him 
for a moment to-morrow morning early. The position 
which our twenty-six battalions attacked is so strong that 
one can hardly believe it could be carried. 

"As regards the general situation, the French seem 
to be seeking protection behind the MoseUe under the 
guns of Metz. We are following them up everywhere. 
To-morrow the headquarters will remove to St. Avoid, 
whither the railway is already open again. — From Paris 
very disquieting news for the Emperor Napoleon come in ; 
it is possible that he will cut and run. This would not be 
pleasant for us, as the foreign powers might then come 
and say : * Now it is about time that the fighting should 
cease, you having yourselves declared that you waged 
war not with France, but with the Emperor Napoleon 
alone.' Fortunately Bismarck and the other statesmen 
at the helm think otherwise. We will fight it out, so that 
the French may not begin again a few years hence, but 
will, on the contrary, have had enough of it for some time 
to come. They must be made to feel what it means to 
challenge a peaceable neighbour to a struggle for life or 
death ; the whole French nation must be made sick of 
fighting, no matter whether a Napoleon reigns, or an 
Orleans or a Bourbon or anybody else. Dixi." 

No particular value need be attached to these opinions. 
I only mention them to show what we at the Royal 
Headquarters thought about the situation. 

" St. Avoid, nth August, evening. 
" We started to-day at i o'clock from Saarbriicken and 
arrived here at 4 o'clock ; so we are now for the first time on 
French soil. The country about here is a very pretty and 
weU-wooded table-land, intersected by valleys and water- 
courses. But few inhabitants are to be seen, a great 

Digitized by 


62 " With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

number of them having fled. According to the most 
recent information, the French army, now that Bazaine 
has taken over the chief command, is said still to intend 
to make a stand on this side of Metz. In that case, if 
they do not escape us, decisive battles may be expected 
by the 14th or 15th August. 

" To our astonishment, some of our officers, who had 
ridden on, found the direct road from St. Avoid to Metz 
completely free of our troops ; this was in consequence of 
the dispositions of General von Steinmetz, who had not 
pushed his army so far to the left as he ought to have done 
according to the intentions of the Royal Headquarters. 
The 15th Uhlan Regiment under Colonel von Albensleben, 
which chanced to be near, was therefore ordered on to 
this road, so that we had at least some protection in the 
immediate direction of the French. In addition, the 
8th (Body-guard Grenadier Regiment) of the III. Army 
Corps was ordered to St. Avoid, and one of its battalions 
was pushed forward beyond the town." 

On the 1 2th August, which day we spent at St. 

Avoid, it became again uncertain, on comparing the 

various reports which we received, whether the French 

did really mean to make a stand on this side of Metz. 

Consequently, General von Moltke rode forward with us 

to reconnoitre. Although we rode far in advance of the 

cavalry outposts furnished by the 6th Dragoons, the enemy 

was still too far distant for us to see anything whatever of 


" St. Avoid, I2th August. 

" The battles of Worth and Spicheren seem to have 

made a tremendous impression on the French army, 

which is easily comprehensible. It seems likely, for the 

moment, that they intend to continue their retreat behind 

the Moselle. But their masses have got so entangled that 

they will have to leave some corps under the walls of Metz. 

Our cavalry to-day will cross the MoseUe above and 

below the fortress, to see whether they can do any 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 63 

damage to the hastily retreating French columns.* They 
will stick to the enemy, cut off his supplies under his very 
nose, blow up railways on his line of march, etc. Our 
young friend Neumeister of the Engineers did a fine 
deed of this kind last night. The foremost infantry 
detachments will likewise reach the Moselle and Meurthe 
to-day. Our table here, in spite of a good cook and 
requisitions, was rather a poor one, as the country here- 
abouts is already pretty well exhausted. At one o'clock 
we shall move on to Herny. Brandenstein has already 
had the railway repaired as far as the line of outposts." 

" Herny, 14th August. 

"At present we have our offices in the schoolrooms 
of the mairie of Herny; while I am writing, the IX. 
Corps is just marching past our windows with bands 
pla5ang. Herny is a French village of about 900 
inhabitants, and looks very well with its stone-built 
houses. It is about seven miles west of Faulquemont. 
The Royal Headquarters have been divided, the non- 
working members remaining at the latter town. 

"Before we started from St. Avoid, a fire broke out 
which our men put out ; the passage through the narrow 
streets was consequently much impeded. At i o'clock 
we left, but instead of arriving at 3, we arrived only at 
5 o'clock. It was an abominable journey, as we had the 
whole way to wriggle through between two or three lines 
of commissariat waggons belonging to two army corps. 

" The King, who arrived after us, noticed that we were 
already at work, and greeted us with much kindness. 
To-day, the 14th August, we shall probably remain here, 
if there is nothing serious before Metz. Considerable bodies 
of the enemy are still observable on the glacis of the fortress, 
and the First Army is advancing in that direction. 

^ This was Moltke's intention, but his desire to invest, as it were, 
the west side of Metz with the ist, 3rd, ?th, and 6th Cavalry Divisions 
was never carried out. So far as the nrst two are concerned it was. 
chiefly the fault of Steinmetz.^ED. 

Digitized by 


64 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

" During the night we received the first reports about the 
battle of Worth. They cannot claim to be strictly 
accurate, of course, any more than the statements as to 
losses ; the less so, because, in the V. Corps, for instance, 
the majority of the regimental commanders are killed or 
wounded, I regret to say that little Heineccius, who 
had been attached to Bose's staif, has been killed. The 
losses at Worth amount to about 10,500 men. If one 
takes into consideration that only 4^ army corps were. in 
action there, while at Konigsgratz we had 7i corps, and 
lost only about 9000 men, it becomes evident how much 
more sanguinary fighting is in the present day than it 
was then. 

** The general situation in other respects is as good as 
we could wish. We shall know to-day whether the 
French will continue their retreat still farther beyond the 
Moselle. To-morrow we shall probably go to Pont-4- 
Mousson. But few of the people about here speak 
German, which results in the most amusing misunder- 
standings with our men. In the villages most of the men 
fit to carry arms have fled, as they have been told that 
we should enroll them among our troops, and place them 
in front, when going into action against their country- 
men ; but I expect they will soon come back again. Our 
mess is now apparently getting into working order." (In 
fact, from this time onward we always had our chief meal 
together, that is whenever there was one to have.) 
" Besides the Staff, General von Stosch, his son and 
Meydam are members of it. 

"The Empire of the 2nd December is shaken to its 
foundation. But France is certainly making desperate 
efforts to increase its fighting strength. It will be to ' 
no purpose, however ; a very bloody crisis will and must 
come ; I trust it may be soon ! 

" During the afternoon we heard the sound of cannon now 
and then in a northern direction. It could only have been 
part of the First Army engaged with the French before 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 65 

Metz. But we only became sure of its meaning when 
Brandenstein and Winterfeldt, who had been sent thither, 
came back at night. They brought information as to the 
course of the battle which had meanwhile been fought at 
Colombey, and also of its victorious ending. In con- 
sequence of this, our intended march to Pont-d-Mousson 
on the 15th August came to nothing, His Majesty 
wishing to inspect the battle-field.* We drove there with 
him, the distance being over 15 miles, and our saddle 
horses followed us. I drove with General von Stosch, 
leaving my brake to the others." 

Here, again, the battle had been brought on by the 
officer in command of the outposts. The advance-guard of 
the Vn. Corps, Lieutenant-General Freiherr von der Goltz, 
had noticed considerable commotion in the French camp 
before him ; as at Worth and Spicheren, these move- 
ments had been interpreted, this time quite correctly, 
as pointing to the retreat of the enemy. But von der 
Goltz had something more in view than merely to inflict 
as much damage as possible on the enemy, when he 
ordered his brigade to advance. He had been an officer of 
the General Staff, and a very capable one, and was a gallant 
leader of men, who possessed to a high degree the confi- 
dence of those under him, especially of the Westphalians, 
in whose province he had formerly commanded a regiment. 
From certain things which had come to his knowledge, he 
had formed an idea of the situation and its bearings which 
was perfectly correct. Accordingly, it seemed to him im- 
portant to keep the French army as long as possible on 
this side of Metz, so that the corps of the Second Army 
crossing the Moselle farther to the south might be able to 
advance far enough to threaten seriously the enemy's line of 
retreat. If I am not mistaken, Brandenstein 's appearance 
on the scene decided the General to act on this calculation. 

^ The date given in the Geiman text is the i6th. This is obviously 
a misprint for 1 5tfa, as the Royal Headquarters reached there on the 
latter day.— Ed. 

Digitized by 


66 With the Royal Headquarters in i 87071 

With this object in view, then, he advanced with his 
brigade and reported the fact not only to his immediate 
superiors in command, but also to the I. Corps and the 
other troops in the neighbourhood, and asked for their 
support. This was given by all, in some cases spon- 
taneously, as soon as the sound of cannon was heard. 
On the right. General von Manteuffel came hurrying 
up with the L Army Corps ; from the immediate rear 
the remaining troops of the VII. Corps, and on the 
left the i8th division of the IX. Corps under General 
Freiherr von Wrangel. In addition to these, two cavalry 
divisions appeared on the battle-field. The participation 
of the 18 th division, which belonged to the army of Prince 
Frederick Charles, had been made possible by orders from 
Royal Headquarters. It was not probable, certainly, that 
the French would, while one part of our army was still 
before Metz and the other crossing the Moselle in order to 
make its way round the fortress to the south, take advan- 
tage of this separation to make a sudden advance on the 
right bank ; but yet, such an operation was not impossible. 
The Second Army had consequently received orders to 
dispose part of its forces in such a manner that any 
offensive movement of the French on the right bank 
might be met with sufficient force on the day it began. 
Forming the extreme right of the Second Army, Wrangel's 
division was at the time nearest to the scene of action ; 
this enabled the General to bring up his troops and take 
part in the battle, which was with this exception fought out 
practically by two corps of the First Army (the I. and 
VII.). The Commander-in-Chief, General von Steinmetz, 
kept back the third corps of this army, Goeben's (the 
VIII.) , as it was not his intention to attack this day at all. 
So only five infantry and two cavalry divisions were actually 

The foremost Prussian forces which came in contact 
with the enemy found him in superior numbers, though 
on the point of retreating, in a very strong position 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 67 

behind a little river with steep banks. The first French 
troops which were attacked formed front and deployed. 
They were supported by the troops in the rear, and 
General TAmirault in particular, who was already cross- 
ing the Moselle with his corps, immediately faced about 
and pushed it forward in a direction which might have 
become very dangerous for our right wing, and for the 
issue of the battle. The Prussian troops first engaged 
were obliged, owing to the extent of the French 
front, to advance against it in small bodies, but every- 
where they had assumed the offensive in spite of the 
superior numbers opposed to them, which made their task a 
very difficult one. In the same way the supports that 
came hurrying up could not go into action in masses, 
because, as soon as they appeared on the field, their im- 
mediate help was urgently needed in various directions. 
Nevertheless, their admirable valour enabled our troops 
to re-establish themselves at various points on the far 
side of the stream, and to ward off the dangerous advance 
on their flank. When night fell, the enemy were in 

General von Steinmetz arrived late on the battle-field. 
In order to save the troops from further losses next 
morning from the fire of the heavy guns in the forts, he 
ordered a retreat; General von Manteuffel, however, 
persisted in remaining with his corps in bivouac on the 
scene of his victory. 

This is a general outline of the course of the battle as 
it was explained to us upon the battle-field on the 15th 
August. On our arrival there, we were just mounting our 
horses, when I met Lieutenant-General von derGoltz, who 
was still exulting over the successful issue of the bloody 
combat, while not quite sure whether his unauthorized 
action was approved of in the highest quarters. I was in 
a position to reassure him on that point by telling him 
that his course of action had eminently furthered the 
objects aimed at ; for the delay which the battle had 

F 2 

Digitized by 


68 With the Roval Headquarters in 1870-71 

caused to the French was favourable to our projected 
operations and would facilitate their execution. 

The battle-field was already cleared to a remarkable 
extent, although comparatively few hours had passed 
since the end of the struggle. Only in one small copse we 
still found some hundred wounded Frenchmen ; a large 
number of the dead, however, were still unburied. 

The King conversed with Generals von Steinmetz and von 
Manteuffel, and then he rode on in the direction of Metz, 
we others following. After proceeding for a quarter of an 
hour I noticed that we were akeady a considerable distance 
beyond the line of outposts ; long ago we had passed the line 
of vedettes of the Black Hussars. I rode up to General von 
Moltke and drew his attention to the fact that our gracious 
Sovereign was moving forward in the direction of the 
enemy without protection. Moltke directed me to ride on, 
but in such a manner as not to attract notice ; Captain 
Zingler accompanied me. After making a detour across 
a ploughed field, we again got into the road farther on. 
This was close to the spot where the fighting had 
been severest on the previous day. The small ravine, 
covered on both sides with trees and bushes, was 
comparatively precipitous and deep; there was no clear 
view forward, as the heights became higher in that 
direction, and were covered in part with dense wood. 
Along these heights numerous dead bodies were still lying 
in the shelter trenches thrown up by the French. We rode 
on along the high road in order to get a glimpse at Metz 
on the other side. Directly behind the foremost clumps 
of trees we found a small chateau in which a Prussian 
ambulance was at work ; it must have been Colombey, if 
we read our maps aright. Near it a troop of Blue Hussars 
of the Vn. Corps stood under the cover of a wooded 
hill-top. When we had passed the latter (His Majesty 
had returned meanwhile to the other side of the declivity) 
we saw Metz before us. We rode on along a small 
avenue in which lay heaps of dead French. Zingler 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 69 

dismounted in order to take from their knapsacks some 
pocket-books which might give information as to what 
troops had fought there and what marches they had made 
before. Not far from us was a small village, probably 
Borny, in which a French ambulance was at work ; some- 
what to its left rose some tremendous earthworks which 
were still being busily pushed on ; towards the right there 
was a fort from which some shots were fired, till the sound 
of a trumpet put a stop to it ; it came from a Prussian 
ofiicer with a flag of truce whom General von Manteuffel 
had sent to arrange for burying the dead. Down in the 
plain lay Metz, wrapped in a bluish haze, out of which rose 
the gigantic outline of the cathedral. Behind the town 
were spread the somewhat steep slopes of Mont St. Quen- 
tin and the other heights on the left bank of the Moselle. 
While we were carefully engaged in surve3dng the whole 
ground we espied Bronsart, who had ridden forward by him^ 
self, to the left of us at the edge of a wood. On this side 
of Metz nothing was to be seen of any French troops outside 
the fortifipations ; only on the glacis there seemed to be 
still some movement going on. But we noticed quite 
distinctly strong columns ascending the heights on the 
left bank of the Moselle, to which our attention was 
drawn in the first instance by clouds of dust and the flash 
of arms. 

After having watched them for some time, we returned, 
and, after discussing various matters with the staff of the 
First Army, we again made our way back to our quarters 
at Herny. The King had been anxious to express his 
thanks to the gallant troops on the battle-field, and stayed 
therefore some time longer. 

Considering the general state of things, it was of the 
highest importance to know soon, how events would shape 
themselves on the left bank of the Moselle. The heads of 
the columns of the Second Army had already crossed the 
river, and must, therefore, meet the retreating French 
columns at some point or other. Nearest to the enemy 

Digitized by 


JO With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

stood, besides the advanced cavalry, the III. Army Corps 

under General Constantin von Alvensleben. The task 


which he might be called upon shortly to undertake, would 
involve, in all probability, some fighting under very difficult 
conditions. But General von Alvensleben enjoyed such a 
high reputation as a leader of troops that he was looked 
upon as capable of coping with the most difficult situations. 
Thus our expectations as to what would happen where he 
was were indeed wound up to the highest pitch, but 
we entertained no fear except that the enemy might 
escape us if he succeeded in accelerating his retreat. 
, In order to have timely intelligence of everything that 
might take place there and at the same time to explain to 
General von Alvensleben the desires of the Supreme 
Leader, Bronsart was sent off that same evening to the 
III. Army Corps, using on this occasion the "war 

Among my notes on the i6th August I find the fol- 
lowing : — " Concerning our operations we were prepared 
either for the French halting at Metz or for their retreat. 
If they do not make a stand, we have to hurry on without 
intermission ; but we shall have to do the same in case 
they stop ; only more careful march-dispositions will then 
be necessary, so that we should not be taken unawares 
by a sudden offensive movement of the enemy. Our ar- 
rangements had been made in such a manner, that, if the 
bloody engagement in the afternoon of the 14th August 
(battle of Colombey) had assumed still greater propor- 
tions, six army corps could have been massed for battle 
on the morning of the 15th. The prolonged halt of the 
French at Metz gives room for the hope that the leading 
columns of Prince Frederick Charles advancing by forced 
marches will be able to inflict on them considerable 
damage to-day or to-morrow." 

On the i6th August we arrived in Pont-d-Mousson, a 
very clean and prettily situated town in the valley of the 
Moselle. It was already full of troops ; the quarters assigned 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 71 

to me consisted of a cabinet-maker's workshop with an open 
door and large windows ; besides, the place was crammed 
full of materials used in the trade, and the floor covered 
with wood shavings, so deeply that it was difficult to 
walk a step. I immediately went in search of other 
lodgings, and was so fortunate as to find some in a small 
pavilion behind the house in which Moltke and Podbielski 
had taken up their quarters. A lady who lived there had 
the kindness to draw my attention to the pavilion, and I 
immediately took possession of it. On our arrival at 
Pont-4-Mousson in the afternoon we immediately received 
news of a fierce combat which was raging about Vionville 
and Mars-la-Tour, on the left bank of the Moselle. 
Wounded men, staff officers with reports, and orders for 
bodies of corps farther to the rear, came in continuous 
succession ; ammunition columns and ambulances went 
rumbling, at full speed, in the direction of the battle-field, 
while compact masses of troops arrived from the right 
bank, and had to seek rest towards the evening, after a 
forced march, here and farther on. It had become too 
late for us to put in an appearance on the battle-field, we 
should only have reached it after nightfall. Any disposi- 
tions to be made there fell moreover within the province 
of Prince Frederick Charles, who was on the spot. Alarm- 
ing reports came in apace towards the evening, as the 
number of those increased who had taken part in the 
fighting. Their accounts all helpeci to give the impression 
that the combat must have been of an uncommonly fierce 
character, and accompanied by heavy losses. The 7th 
Cuirassiers were said to be annihilated, and also a brigade 
of the Hanoverian Corps ; well-known commanders were 
stated to be dead, as for instance the leaders of the two 
Guard Dragoon Regiments, von Auerswald and Count 
Finckenstein. There were also reports of great cavalry 
engagements and heavy losses among the artillery. From 
all we learned it seemed clear that the III. Army 
Corps, supported by the X. and some other troops, had 

Digitized by 


72 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

maintained themselves victoriously on the field, and that 
the French had not succeeded in continuing their march 
westwards. But complete certainty came only late at 
night with the arrival of Bronsart, who reported on the 
particulars of the battle with that calm self-control which 
never forsook him. 

Now the question was how to make the best use of the 
extremely favourable situation won by so much blood, and 
to afford the necessary support to the weak forces which 
had been confronting the French army, and to prevent 
for good and all the retreat of the French, which had been 
arrested so successfully that day. Very early in the 
morning of the 17th August the Headquarters started for 
the battle-field, we officers of the General Staff as early as 
half-past two. The road from Pont-a-Mousson on the 
left bank of the Moselle in the direction of Metz which 
we followed, was covered with vehicles bringing back the 
wounded, with prisoners under escort, and troops marching 
to the front, as well as ammunition and supply columns. 
Nevertheless order was maintained, so that we arrived 
without much delay in the neighbourhood of Gorze, where 
we mounted our horses. 

We then rode up the steep slope rising from the valley 
of Gorze, and on reaching the ground above, a kind of 
plateau, we at once found signs that the battle of the 
previous day had extended even as far as here. Just by 
the edge of the plateau lay the body of a young artillery 
officer with the sash of an adjutant ; farther on we came 
across numerous dead of the 52nd regiment, which had 
suffered terrible losses. Here, too, had fallen the gallant 
Lieutenant-General von Doring, and our old comrade 
on the staff. Count Schlippenbach, had been severely 
wounded at the head of his battalion. 

On the height to the south of Flavigny the whole 
Headquarters assembled, and here we practically remained 
during the greater part of the day, as it afforded a good 
view of the country. Only for a short time General von 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 73 

Moltke rode on with us along the Vionville-Rezonville road 
farther toward the north, where, however, the forest land 
very soon obscured the view. The air was boiling hot, 
the ground hard, and everywhere the traces were seen of 
yesterday's bloody fight. The village nearest to us had . 
only been evacuated by the French during the night or 
early in the morning. Beyond it, on one of the ranges of 
hills running parallel with Metz, were Histinctly visible 
the white lines of small tentes-d'abri which marked the 
presence of considerable French forces. 

It had been the earnest desire of General von Moltke to 
resume the battle again to-day. But the troops of the 
various corps ordered up from all sides, however much 
they exerted themselves, could only gain the plateau 
gradually. It was already afternoon, and even yet not all 
the forces were assembled which were near enough to be 
brought up for the battle. But it soon became evident, 
on the other hand, that the French would not do anything 
more that day. Only now and then a cannon shot came 
from the heights occupied by them, and for the first time 
we heard here the extremely loud jarring noise of the 
mitrailleuses. There was, therefore, no need to hurry 
the execution of our plans. The southern and most 
direct line of retreat of the enemy, towards the interior of 
France, was now blocked, and he had certainly not yet set 
his columns in motion on the roads towards the north 
which still remained open. These roads could for the 
present be watched and held by the cavalry. 

After a personal conference of General Moltke with 
Goeben, who, hurrying in advance of his troops, had 
arrived at Flavigny, it was resolved not to attack the 
enemy, if he made a stand, before the next morning. 
Among our staff there was no doubt about the course to 
be pursued, viz. to proceed to the attack of the heights, 
if he remained there, or if he attempted, behind a screen 
of troops, to gain the northern roads with the bulk of his 
forces, to turn against the latter. As the Royal Head- 

Digitized by 


74 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

quarters entered here into direct contact with the 
Commander of the Second Army, the whole situation 
and the various dispositions necessary could be discussed 
in their smallest details, and the instructions given by 
word of mouth. Similarly, everything that was necessary 
was also arranged with the Quartermaster-General of the 
First Army, Colonel Count Wartensleben ; General von 
Goeben also received directly from our Chief those in- 
structions which regulated the action of his corps for the 
next morning. 

The long-continued waiting for news and the unceasing 
observation of the enemy through the telescopes, together 
with the effect of the heat on the treeless plateau, produced 
at last a certain amount of exhaustion. Fortunately, 
Count Nostitz had managed to prepare some warm 
food for us, using for that purpose the cooking utensils 
of the killed that lay about; the first was offered to 
the King. Unluckily the quantity was not sufficient 
to supply all the members of the Headquarters, who 
for the most part had not provided themselves with 

During the long hours which we spent waiting on this 
spot, several incidents occurred which brought some relief 
to the gravity of the situation, and produced an effect 
which was almost comic. I will just mention two of 

On the spot occupied by us during the day there were 
many corpses scattered about, for the burial of which a 
few companies of engineers in the neighbourhood were 
told off. Many of the members of the Headquarters in the 
scalding heat felt the need of resting a little, while nothing 
was to be seen or heard, and stretched themselves on the 
ground. Among them was the Russian military attache, 
Count Kutusov, who, with his face to the ground, very soon 
fell into a profound sleep. While Bronsart and I were speak- 
ing together, we observed a couple of pioneers approaching 
him, and after some consultation they agreed that the 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 75 

gentleman in the green foreign uniform must be a 
superior officer of the French chasseurs. Deceived by 
the motionless attitude of the Count, and perhaps tickled 
by the smell of his new accoutrements of Russian leather, 
they looked at him for awhile and closed their observations 
with the words : " He's dead, so here goes ! " With that 
they set to digging out the earth from beneath the middle 
of his body. It is easy to imagine the astonishment of 
the men when they suddenly saw the dead man come to 
life again, and still more the face of the Count when he 
became aware of the peculiar operation to he was 
going to be subjected. We quickly interfered, and so 
the incident closed amidst general merriment. 

As I have mentioned the name of Count Kutusov, 
I must not omit to add that he was a highly popular 
member of our Headquarters. His frank and winning 
manners, his upright character, were so generally recog- 
nized among us during the war and gained him such high 
esteem, that it always gave us particular pleasure to 
meet him. 

The second event which I will now relate was one which 
at first aroused indignation, and afterwards general hilarity. 
As we were still sitting close together on our horses, there 
appeared among us suddenly, making room for himself 
wthout the smallest hesitation, a strange-looking personage 
in mufti, by his looks evidently a foreigner, and plentiftilly 
adorned with all the attributes that betokened from afar 
the war correspondent of the period. Moreover, this 
personage was on a horse which carried the trappings of 
a French cuirassier. When we cross-examined him as to 
who he was, and what he wanted here, he explained quite 
innocently that he was the correspondent of a foreign 
newspaper, was in possession of a passport from the French 
authorities, had so far followed the French army, and been 
present at the battle on the day before. He had that 
morning taken one of the stray horses, and had come 
over to see how matters stood with us ! An incredible 

Digitized by 


76 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

piece of imbecility ! He was quickly hauled down from his 
horse and removed, not only from the battle-field, but for 
the present, also, from the scene of operations. Whether 
he reappeared again anywhere else during the war, I don't 
know. His horse was assigned to me, as one of mine 
had broken down from over-work. Towards evening we 
returned to Pont-4-Mousson. 

In order to understand the subsequent course of affairs, 
it is necessary to have a clear idea of the disposition of 
all our forces. On the evening of the 17th August they 
were at the following points : — 

On the battle-field of the i6th August, or in its near 
neighbourhood, there were, of Prince Frederick Charles' 
Army, the HI., IX., XII. Corps and the Corps of 
Guards, with its two cavalry divisions. Of the army of 
General von Steinmetz the VIII. and VII. Corps, the 
latter still in the valley of the Moselle, with its advance- 
guard pushed forward, and the 3rd Cavalry Division. On 
the right bank of the Moselle near Metz, the I. Army 
Corps and the ist Cavalry Division. On the march to 
Pont-a-Mousson was the II. Corps; while the IV. Army 
Corps was on the right wing of the Third Army. 
Of this force the foremost corps had reached the river 
Madon, the two cavalry divisions being pushed forward 
beyond it, while the rear portion was still on the 
Meurthe from Nancy to near Lun^ville (the V., XI., 
VI. Prussian, the I. and II. Bavarian Corps, the 
Wurttemberg Field Division, together with the 2nd and 
4th Cavalry Divisions). The Baden Field Division had 
remained in Alsace to besiege Strassburg; it had been 
reinforced by a division of Guard Landwehr and the ist 
Landwehr Division, as well as by troops of the line 
which had, until now, remained behind to garrison the 

Of the remaining troops which were still at home, the 
3rd Landwehr Division was already on its way to Metz, 
while the 17th Infantry and the 2nd Landwehr Division 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire ^^ 

had been likewise ordered to the seat of war about the 
middle of August. 

According to the news received concerning the enemy, 
it was conjectured that Marshal MacMahon was con- 
centrating his troops, which had retreated in con- 
siderable disorder, at Ch&lons, and that the forces still 
available in the interior of France would be assembled 

3. Battle of Gravelotte — St. Privat. 

When I woke up in my solitary quarters on the morning 
of the i8th August I discovered, on looking at my watch, 
that it was long past the time at which I had given 
orders to be called. A man has naturally to rely on being 
called under such circumstances, his exertions during the 
day, besides working to late at night, not being calculated 
to make him wake in the morning of his own accord. I 
quickly washed and dressed and hurried down to see what 
was the cause. Two of my servants had remained on the 
battle-field with the saddle horses, the other two with the 
carriage horses were in the town, at some distance from 
my quarters. On walking towards the house to which my 
pavilion belonged, the quiet which reigned about it struck 
me as very peculiar, until I heard, to my horror, in the 
office that the generals and the officers had driven off some 
time ago. Then I hurried to where I knew my carriage 
and horses were. But not a trace of them ! As it turned 
out afterwards, our officers had driven away with them, as 
they had been told erroneously that General von Moltke 
and myself had already left the town. My position began 
to be painful ; it occurred to me that I might arrive on the 
battle-field too late, or perhaps not at all. I immediately 
went to the commandant's office, where I was assured that 
neither carriage nor horse were obtainable, as they were all 
in use for the transport of the wounded. But just as I 
left the office, I heard to my joy a carriage rolling through 
one of the by-streets. I turned that way and, behold, it 

Digitized by 


yS With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

was Stosch with his conveyance, who now was ready to 
share it with me, as he often did during the war. 

We saw during our drive our telegraph detachment still 
occupied in establishing telegraphic communication with 
Gorze. A comical impression was produced by seeing a 
French peasant in a white nightcap and blue blouse sitting 
by each telegraph pole already erected. The villagers had 
been made responsible for the safety of the poles, etc., and 
had hit upon this plan of watching them in order to keep 
themselves from being punished. 

We fortunately succeeded in coming up with the other 
carriages of the Headquarters before they reached Gorze. 
Here we mounted our horses and again ascended the slope 
to the plateau at the same time as the Hessian Division, 
the troops of which looked in splendid condition. 

Concerning the battle of Gravelotte-St. Privat, I 
managed during the next few days to write a coherent 
account of it, which was finished before we finally left 
Pont-iL-Mousson on the morning of the 23rd August. We 
had returned there in the evening of the 19th. 

This account I will give here word for word. 

" The French had remained too long at Metz. This 
enabled us to prevent their intended withdrawal to Ch&lons. 
Several roads were open to them for retreat. On the i6th 
our foremost columns reached the nearest of these, and 
the enemy was prevented by the battle of Vionville and 
Mars la Tour from effecting a retreat that day. The 
battle was a murderous one, but attained its object. Our 
ni. and X. Corps, the nth Regiment and one brigade of the 
Vni. Corps had fought like lions, the various arms vying 
with each other in bravery. Almost the whole French 
army had thrown itself upon them, but the southern 
road of retreat, which our men had reached, was held by 
them. Our losses had been immense, but the enemy had 
suffered no less, as the number of their dead proved. 

" Now, there was a chance of blocking the remaining 
roads also, if the French were to attempt to get away 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 79 

farther to the north. Therefore, all the troops whicll 
could be brought up had been concentrated during the 
17th. The i8th must decide the question, if the enemy 
did not seek the shelter of the guns of Metz. But the 
general conduct of the armies was a task of uncommon 
difficulty, for, in the event of the enemy deciding to march 
by the northern roads, the greater part of our forces 
would have to be moved in that direction, while a smaller 
portion covered the movement against a possible 
offensive demonstration of the enemy from Metz. If, on 
the other hand, the enemy gave up the attempt and 
satisfied himself with remaining in his present position, 
which could only be ascertained in the course of the morn- 
ing, then he was to be attacked near Metz. Now it is no 
trifle to handle a quarter of a million of men, in the short 
space of the first half of a day, so as to have them ready for 
any event ; to be able to use them in different directions and 
yet have them available in the latter half to fight a battle. 

" We betook ourselves to the height near VionviUe, 
south of Flavigny, where we had been on the previous day. 

" It afforded a good enough view to enable us, 
at least for a time, to control the movements of the 
whole force. On our left, behind Vionville, the com- 
mander of the Second Army and his staff had 
posted themselves under a tall poplar tree ; to the 
right were to be seen the last heights this side of Mont 
St. Quentin, where the French left wing stood. The 
rows of poplars of the great main road stood out dis- 
tinctly against the sky, as well as the various farm-houses 
which were soon to become a prey to the flames. 
Between them we saw French batteries ready deployed, 
and still fiirther back the tents of their camp. A strange 
impression was produced when we found, on looking up 
the names of various points on the map which might 
become of importance, that the two farms nearest to us, 
within the French lines, were called Moscow and Leipzig. 
Not a good omen for our opponents ! 

Digitized by 


8o With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

" Several hours passed, on the tiptoe of expectation, as 
we waited for information as to the enemy's movements, 
while our troops were deplo3ang to the front. I was 
sent twice to Prince Frederick Charles to discuss the 
situation with him, hear his opinions and intentions, and 
communicate to him those which obtained with us. I 
found the Prince and his staff in excellent spirits. 

" Certain movements being observed repeatedly on the 
heights occupied by the enemy, opinions differed for a 
long time, with them as with us, as to whether he was 
withdrawing, or making preparations to deploy for battle, 
or whether he was placing troops in motion along the 
northern roads. Meanwhile Count Nostitz again prepared 
an agreeable surprise for us in the shape of a breakfast 
which he had succeeded in improvising, 

'^At last, at half-past 10 o'clock, the situation had 
become perfectly clear. The enemy before us was making 
a stand ; the reports of the cavalry, sent out northward, 
confirmed the belief that he had given up the attempt to 
begin his retreat on Paris that day. Therewith the 
moment had come for the army of Prince Frederick 
Charles to wheel round to the right in a wide circle in 
order to advance against the enemy in a line with the 
two corps of General von Steinmetz, the VII. and the 
VIII., which had taken up a position towards Metz 
to cover the movement. The IX. Corps of the Prince's 
army joined on to the troops of the First Army ; on the 
left of the IX., the Corps of Guards and, on the extreme 
left flank, the Saxon Corps were to extend our line, but 
both would require time to effect their movement, and the 
latter could not be expected to come into action before 
4 o'clock. The III. and X. Corps were for the present 
held in reserve by the Prince. For a general reserve, the 
II. Corps, under General von Fransecky, was approaching 
from the direction of Pont-d-Mousson. 

" The section of the hostile position right in front of us 
was so strong that it was resolved not to begin the attack 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 8i 

on it before the corps on the extreme wings were able to 
operate against the flanks of the enemy. This intention 
could not be carried out at first, as the opponent had 
extended and thrown forward his right wing farther than 
the first reports had indicated, so that the turning 
movement by the Saxons could not take place till later 
than had been at first supposed. According to the reports 
that had come in so far, we imagined that the enemy's 
line of battle extended only to this side of St. Privat, viz. 
to Amanvillers. It was due to another reason that a 
serious attack on the strong front before us was under- 
taken much earlier than had been originally intended. 
For the IX. Corps, which formed the pivot of the 
wheeling manoeuvre of the Prince's army towards the 
right, got so near to the enemy during this operation that 
it found itself immediately engaged in very heavy fighting. 
So that, about 12 o'clock, when heavy artillery fire was 
heard from this direction, the First Army felt itself forced, 
in order not to leave the IX. Corps in the lurch, to come 
into action also. We saw the batteries of the VIII. 
Corps deploying at the foot of the range of heights before 
us and open a slow fire. Instantly, an infernal roar burst 
from the hills occupied by the enemy. 

"Everywhere along the whole range, guns sent out 
flashes, and belched forth dense volumes of smoke. A 
hail of shell and shrapnel, the latter traceable by the 
little white clouds, looking like balloons, which remained 
suspended in the air for some time after their bursting, 
answered the warlike greeting from our side. The grating 
noise of the mitrailleuses was heard above the tumult, 
drowning the whole roar of battle. 

" It was not long before columns of smoke, rising in 
denser and blacker volumes from different places, 
announced that some farmhouses were already on fire. 
This and the powder smoke impaired very considerably 
the wide view which we had hitherto had, 

" Soon after, from some woods lying in front, half left 


Digitized by 


82 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

from us, we heard the rapid, faint crackling of the rifles 
of the IX. Corps. The infantry of the VIII. Corps now 
also deployed in support, preceded by the artillery. The 
scene became every minute more animated and • lively. 
Every trace of fatigue brought about by long standing and 
continuous watching through the telescopes, vanished as 
the firing began. 

" Still farther away, to our left, towards the point 
where the Corps of Guards had arrived, light streaks of 
vapour rising above the woods indicated that the battle 
had begun there also, and it was not long before we 
observed, right in front of us, in the direction of Rezon- 
ville and Gravelotte, the infantry of the VIII. Corps 
coming into action. 

" Thus along the whole line the fire of battle had kindled, 
and quite a couple of hours passed — which, under the 
excitement, flew like minutes — ^without any change being 
apparent in the scene. The only thing which was evident 
was that, of the various corps, more and more troops 
were becoming engaged, and that the fighting was growing 
in intensity to a terrible extent. 

" At last a report came from General von Steinmetz that 
the heights opposite were taken, and that he had sent 
forward cavalry in pursuit. This report and the proposal 
of a superior ofiicer who had been farther to the front, and 
considered another point of view more suitable, induced us 
to move from the post we had hitherto occupied. Although 
the latter had not enabled us to overlook the whole of the 
battle-field, the lines of smoke which rose over woods and 
hills had given us some indication as to the course of 
the fighting in the centre and on the left wing, while we had 
the right wing immediately before us. The new point of 
observation to the east of Rezonville, however, did not 
afford a sufficient view, so that a third point farther to the 
front, north-west of Gravelotte, was selected as the post for 
the Royal Headquarters. This seemed the more advisable, 
as we supposed the corps of General von Steinmetz, from 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 83 

his report of the capture of the heights, to be advancing 
farther on the plateau. 

" But we soon perceived that the actual state of 
affairs was far from being what we had imagined. 
We had taken our stand directly behind the deployed 
artillery of the VIII. Corps, and therefore in close 
proximity to the line of battle. Now, it is not advisable 
for the supreme commanders to approach too near to the 
fighting, as then minor incidents of the combat in the im- 
mediate vicinity force themselves upon their attention, 
and occupy it to such an extent that the supervision of 
the whole becomes impaired. There is also the tempta- 
tion to meddle with details which ought not to concern 
the highest leaders, whose task is of a different and more 
important nature. In any case, the close proximity of the 
line of battle, and to whatever is going on there, will 
impress and influence them more than is profitable, having 
regard to the proper direction of the whole battle. All 
this we experienced on the i8th August. 

" As we were no longer able to follow, from our new post 
of observation, the course of the combat in the centre and 
on the left wing, we had to try to keep ourselves informed 
by continually sending out oflicers to see what was 
going on there. Moreover, Brandenstein, with one or 
two others, had been with the army of Prince Frederick 
Charles ever since the morning, and he furnished us with^ 
intelligence as to what was taking place there, and as to 
the intentions of its Commander-in-Chief. It must not be 
forgotten, however, that the sending of reports from a 
distance takes time, and that, if the headquarters be 
posted in a suitable spot, many things will be known 
sooner than they can be by reports, which, when they come 
firom the foremost fighting line, have often first to pass 
through several hands. 

" Directly before us was a deep ravine-like gully, on the 
other side of which the ground rose, as I have before 
described, only that we now saw it closer. Along the 

G 2 

Digitized by 


84 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

heights, which descended steeply in places, the poplar 
bordered road and the various patches of wood, lay the 
French position. Several farmhouses on the crest, as well 
as nearer towards us, were still blazing furiously. On our 
right hand the village of Gravelotte extended a long way 
along the main road by which we had come ; behind the 
village rose more wooded hills, and cut off any further 
prospect in this direction, as was the case also on our 

" Within the French position, and also in advance of 
it, lines of skirmishers were established, some of them^ 
apparently in shelter-trenches constructed in tiers one 
above the other. On our side of the ravine our artillery 
was deployed with its right battery about 250 yards 
in advance to the left of us. Little was to be seen 
of the French guns ; on the whole the artillery fire 
was moderate, and on our arrival it seemed as if the 
engagement here had come to a standstill. Indeed, 
the inactivity of the enemy's artillery struck us as 
strange. What did it mean? Had they used up their 
ammunition ? Had they succumbed already ? Was th^ 
enemy really retreating, leaving only his rearguard to 
oppose us ? No answer was possible to these questions for 
the moment. But one thing became clear from the first, 
which was by no means agreeable, viz. that the heights, 
which Steinmetz had reported as taken, were by no 
means in our possession, and that Hartmann's cavalry 
division, which was reported to have started in pursuit, 
was on this side of the defile, instead of on the other, to 
our right front, on the sloping ground towards Gravelotte; 
The King rode down to the division, which received him 
with enthusiastic shouts. We separated in order to find 
out how things were going on on our left, and came 
back just as the King had returned. It turned out that 
the Commander-in-Chief of the First Army had been 
induced to believe somehow or other, perhaps by reports 
which he had received, that the opposite heights had 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 85 

actually been taken as a result of the severe fighting which 
had been going on for their possession, and so the cavalry 
division had been ordered forward for the pursuit. 

" The defile of Gravelotte allowed the cavalry division to 
debouch only in a narrow column. The 4th Uhlan regiment 
under Major von Radecke, which was the first to debouch, 
was received by a heavy infantry and artillery fire, under 
which the regiment deployed. Within a few moments it 
lost 50 men and 100 horses, and had to be withdrawn, 
together with the rest of the cavalry division, to this side 
of the defile. Major von Radecke himself was missing, his 
wounded horse alone had come back, and he was believed 
to be dead. Fortuately this was not the case, and he 
regained his regiment soon after. 

" Immediately after this. Count Wartensleben, Stein- 
metz's quartermaster-general, came to report that the 
troops had been forced back ; they had, indeed, taken the 
heights, but a strong counter attack of the enemy had 
driven them down again." (It had been one of those inci- 
dents of the battle which swayed to and fro without 
result, the advantage inclining first to one side, then to 
the other.) 

" Presently Steinmetz himself arrived with his staflf. The 
King pointed out that now, as the heights had once 
been carried, and then lost, everj^hing must be done to 
get possession of them again. General von Steinmetz 
returned in the direction of Gravelotte to issue orders 
to this effect. Again an hour passed, the troops of the 
VII. Corps had already suffered great losses, the position 
before them was very strong, but they were rallied once 
more for the attack." (As a matter of fact all these events 
happened in reality somewhat differently; I only relate 
here what our impressions were at the time.) " The 
powder smoke and the decreasing daylight gave a peculiar 
colouring to the scene. 

" Meanwhile I had ridden up to one of the batteries in front 
of us, and made a fresh-looking young artillery ofl&cer who 

Digitized by 


86 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

commanded the section on the extreme right wing (an 
old Hanoverian, as his large medal with the yellow 
ribbon betokened) point out to me the places at which 
the French artillery was posted, sheltered by small de- 
pressions of the ground, with which our own batteries had 
been engaged. As I was examining the country farther 
to the left through the telescope I noticed an extraordinary 
red glow in that direction. Adjusting the glass for the 
longer distance, I saw that it originated from the trousers 
of numerous French infantry who, amidst guns and wagons, 
came hurriedly streaming from the centre or right wing in 
the direction of Metz. Where they came from could not 
be made out, as the view was confined to a glimpse 
through a small cutting in the wood directly in front of 
us, but I certainly formed the impression that a distinct 
retrograde movement must have taken place on the part 
of the enemy in face of the attacks of the Guards and the 
Saxon Corps. I immediately went back to the Chief and 
General von Podbielski, told them what I had seen and 
asked both Generals to come to the spot where I had been 
and see for themselves. But before we reached it our 
attention was directed very forcibly to the part of the 
battle-field directly before us. 

"The engagement in this quarter had assumed for 
some time a comparatively slack character; even the 
artillery fire had almost totally ceased. But meanwhile 
a fresh infantry attack en masse had been arranged, and 
the moment it began, the whole scene changed as by 
magic. Suddenly the opposing slopes were lit up as if by 
a grand illumination ; innumerable small flames shot forth 
from all the tiers of trenches, and light blue clouds of 
vapour rose above them ; near the crest, down below in 
the valley, in fact everywhere, the din of battle broke out 
again. Along the poplar avenue strong lines of infantry 
stood deployed, whose incessant independent firing pro- 
duced a grand effect. And now, as if springing from 
the earth, the French batteries suddenly came into action 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 87 

again: shrapnel, common-shell, mitrailleuse bullets, 
came sweeping like a hailstorm in wild confusion down 
into the valley. Even on the spot where we stood, the 
whizzing of the bullets became frequent, as well as the 
bursting of shrapnel high above our heads, the fragments 
of which cleft the air with a shrill sound. Altogether it 
was one of the most animated and splendid battle scenes 
that could possibly be imagined. But it quickly became 
evident that the enemy was too strong, and the ground 
too unfavourable for the attack to have any chance of 
success in this place; indeed, we soon saw large bodies 
of our men coming down the slope again. 

"Meanwhile the 11. Corps had come up in support. 
One of its divisions was already on the other side of Grave- 
lotte, the other was farther back. The first was ordered 
forward to aid the retiring troops. At this moment 
Bronsart, who had been sent to the 11. Corps, came up, 
and reported that its commander. General von Fransecky, 
had informed him he would advance with his whole corps 
and storm the heights. 

" But now another occurrence took place which demanded 
our whole attention. On this side of the deep gully along 
the outskirts of Gravelotte, and through this village, at 
first only stragglers, then whole groups of men were seen in 
hasty retreat; faster and faster the crowd came rolling 
along, at last in full career ; here and there galloped 
a few horsemen and vehicles of various kinds ; then 
it seemed as if the artillery was also in full retreat, and 
the whole movement spreading farther in our direction, 
the six cavalry regiments posted north of Gravelotte 
also faced round and fell back. At the same time the 
firing became more and more violent, while in the increas- 
ing darkness the movements of several detachments on 
the opposite slope seemed to indicate a counter attack of 
the French. 

" We saw before us a complete panic, and many a face 
may well have looked grave at that moment. The first 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

88 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

thing to be done was to get the King out of it and to 
stop the fugitives. We all mounted our horses, some of 
the staff hurried towards the village to look after 
the latter ; while others closed round the General to be 
at hand if need be. After the direction had been fixed 
upon in which the King was to ride back, Moltke turned 
with us, and we rode once more towards Gravelotte, 
where the engagement had again become very severe; 
but still on the far side of the ravine, though we ima- 
gined for a moment that it had already reached the out- 
skirts of the village. It was not possible, however, for the 
danger to become very great as one division of the II. Corps 
was already at hand, and I was able to affirm for certain 
that the other was close by, as I had only just a moment 
ago distinctly seen its dark lines approaching through the 
smoke. Still, the impression which the whole occurrence 
made upon us was a painful one. 

" Before we reached the village the confusion had been 
entirely arrested. The cavalry division, which had been 
posted until now close to the ravine, had only fallen 
back fiaj enough to get room for the attack, and now 
wheeled round again to the front. Moltke himself riding 
with us at a walk in front of the first line, amid the 
rain of shells, made a good impression ; the officers, who 
had been sent in different directions, here also joined us 

" What was it that had actually taken place ? When the 
enemy resumed the engagement and made a counter 
attack, some spare horses belonging to the staff had all 
at once got into the line of fire, and had hurriedly returned 
to the main road. The wounded, and those who ac- 
companied them, the stragglers, who lined the road 
on both sides in crowds, imagined that the enemy was 
close on their heels, ind so they sought to escape as well 
as they could. An ammunition column meeting them 
tried to extricate itse. from the confusion and wheeled off 
at a trot ; these were the vehicles which we had taken for 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 89 

the artillery; other groups of spare horses joined them, 
and thus the crowd of wounded men and non- 
combatants hurriedly streaming back had together 
produced the impression of a panic. But not a single 
detachment in close order, not one group of skirmishers 
had retreated. The battalions of the VIII. Corps, though 
losing heavily, had beaten off the attack on the far side of 
the ravine, on the slope and higher up, near the captured 
farm of St. Hubert. 

" In the midst of this episode I noticed all at once two 
horsemen near me to whom my attention was attracted by 
some circumstance or other; looking at them more closely 
I recognized Hahnke and an aide-de-camp of the 
Commander-in-Chief of the Third Army who had ridden 
that day the whole distance from the headquarters of the 
Crown Prince. On my asking him what he was doing 
here, Hahnke answered : * I have only come to see what's 
up here.* Just like him; whenever anything was *up,' 
he must of course be there. That very evening he rode 
back, and was the first to bring the news of the battle to 
the Crown Prince. 

" It was now about 8 o'clock, and owing to the smoke 
which had settled down in the low- lying parts, it had be- 
come almost completely dark when we rode into Gravelotte. 
Before us the 3rd division was advancing, behind us the 
4th division was close in rear with the 21st Regiment at 
its head. Some burning houses alone made it possible in 
places to make out anything clearly. I shall never forget 
what a grand spectacle the advancing regiments afforded. 
It must not be forgotten that this army corps, the last 
to leave Berlin, had only just managed to join the army 
at this decisive moment, after very strenuous marches, 
having been that day on the road from 2 o'clock in 
the morning until 8 in the evening. Now, in spite of 
hundreds of wounded streaming back from the front, in 
spite of the panic which they had just witnessed, in the 
midst of shells striking in every direction, they (the 

Digitized by 


90 AViTH THE Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

Pomeranians) marched through the village in well- 
locked-up ranks with gallant bearing, and loud cheers 
at the prospect of taking part in the action. These 
are moments in which one feels that death on the battle- 
field is surrounded by a halo of glory. 

" Many officers whom I had known at the Staff College 
or elsewhere, when they recognized me in the glare of the 
blazing houses, ran out of the ranks and jo3^ully shook 

"We accompanied the troops for some distance through 
the village, and everywhere we came upon bodies of men 
who had been under fire and were re-forming. I also met 
here General von Strubberg. Before us marched the 14th 
and 54th Regiments. When the musketry fire increased 
on all sides, we rode off out of the village, to the right, into 
the open, in order to get some idea of the battle, as far as 
that was possible, firom the flashes of the rifles. Echoed 
back by the long walls of some extensive stables near us, 
it gave one the impression that we were ourselves in the 
midst of the engagement, although it was some distance 
off, on the other side of the valley. We had kept together 
wonderfully in the confusion, even our spare horses 
followed close behind us. But here, too, we could see no 
more than a few hundred yards before us. The darkness 
became too great, only the burning buildings on the hills 
stood out like spectres fi-om it. 

"Suddenly the drums of the advancing Pomeranian 
battalions were heard, andagain the long lines of the enemy's 
shelter-trenches were illumined, andagain the unceasing roll 
of the French fusillade resounded. In between rang out 
firom one place our long-drawn call, the * the whole advance.' 
From all sides it was repeated ; fi-om every direction came 
thundering the hurrah of our gallant troops, and distinctly 
we heard the crackling of our needle-guns. Soon after, the 
fire from the shelter- trenches died away, which we inter- 
preted to. mean that our men had got into them. But 
on and on the bugles sounded, and again and again 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 91 

the Prussian hurrahs were borne back to us on the 

"We now turned again to the village, rode through it 
and for some distance beyond it, in order, if possible, to get 
some insight into the progress of the fighting. It was 
going on only in some few places, and at rare intervals a 
bullet came whizzing past us. The height was (as we 
thought then) successfully stormed, after terrible losses, 
it is true, and after many a one of our men, probably, had 
been hit in the dark by the bullets of his comrades. Of 
the 14th and 54th, who had advanced before us, one 
regimental commander had been killed, the other wounded. 

"When we had convinced ourselves that everjrthing 
was going as well as we could wish — that things had 
turned out well in other parts of the battle-field we knew 
already from officers who had come thence — there was no 
sense in General von 'Moltke exposing himself ftirther to 
personal danger without doing any good thereby. When 
we put this to him, he still remained on the road for some 
time, and only returned later on. 

" As we did so, the King's aide-de-camp, Count Lehndorff, 
met us and informed the General that his Majesty was at 
Rezonville, and was anxious to hear his report on the 
progress of the battle. So we proceeded at a trot. But 
scarcely had we left Gravelotte, when I thought it proper 
to advise the General to ride slowly, as the rapid motion 
rearwards of so numerous a body of riders had already begun 
to impress the wounded and stragglers on both sides of 
the road, and it was to be feared that another panic might 
arise like that of an hour ago. 

" So the General moderated his pace to a walk, and we 
reached thus the western end of Rezonville ; here the King 
had dismounted, near a barn that had been burnt down close 
by the road on its southern side, wheie a fire which had 
been made of doors, ladders, etc., was burning brightly. 
As I chanced to be riding on this side of the road in atten- 
dance on General von Moltke, I was the first who, after 

Digitized by 


92 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

dismounting, approached his Majesty, Just then I heard 
a superior officer saying to the King in a very impressive 
manner, 'Now it is my humble opinion, sire, that we, 
considering our heavy losses to-day, should not continue 
the attack to-morrow, but await the attack of the French.' 
This idea seemed to me so monstrous, that I could not 
help blurting out, 'Then I don't know why we attacked at 
all to-day!' Of course, I got my answer, which was not 
exactly spoken in a very gracious tone: *What do you 
want here, Lieutenant-Colonel?' But at this moment, 
Moltke, who had heard what was said, stepped forward 
between us two towards the King, and said in his quiet 
and decided manner : * Your Majesty has only to give the 
order for the continuation of the attack in case the enemy 
should make a further stand outside Metz to-morrow.' 
The orders were drawn up at once, also the despatch 
to be sent to Berlin — it was nearly 10 o'clock in the 
evening— was written out by Count Bismarck, and then it 
was resolved to remain at -Rezonville for the night. 

" Our spare horses, which had joined those of the 
King, and even my brake, were on the spot. Moltke 
had been wearing for some hours a cloak which had been 
taken from one of the dead soldiers lying on the 
battle-field, and my servant brought one for me also. 
Count Nostitz, meanwhile, had discovered a house not 
occupied by the wounded, in which a short time before, to 
all appearances, a detachment of the Hospital Corps had 
established itself, which, however, had been called off and 
disturbed in the middle of their meal. The remains of it 
— and it seemed as if the detachment had not been 
provided badly in this respect — ^we took possession of. 
While we were sitting in the small room, some of us 
wrapped up in soldiers' cloaks, by a table which was 
crowded with all sorts of utensils, working among the 
remains of food, by the light of some candle-ends stuck 
into bottles, his Majesty suddenly came in, saying, * He 
must come and see what we were doing.' Next day he 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 93 

remarked that he had thought, on finding the room 
crammed with so many persons, and seeing the wretched 
light which scarcely made darkness visible, he had got 
into a robbers' cave. 

" Finally, we gave up the room, in which there were two 
beds in the wall, to the two Generals, and sought our own 
resting-places. Blume, HoUeben, Alten, Krause, Claer and 
myself lay down in some large stables in which our horses 
had already found shelter, but where there was an 
abominable draught owing to the broken windows and 
doors. We did not examine long into the composition of 
our beds, but fell asleep pretty soon, in spite of the groans 
and cries of the wounded near us. During the night we 
were wakened continually by men who were in search of 
shelter, and by the stamping of our horses, who got restless 
from time to time. Next morning at 5 o'clock I went to 
wash right in the middle of the village, in an old stable 
bucket, in which my servant had managed to get some 
rather dirty water. Stripped to the middle, I was busily 
engaged in washing, when suddenly I heard a burst of 
laughter proceeding from the windows of the nearest 
house, where, on looking up, I perceived their Royal 
Highnesses Prince Luitpold of Bavaria and the Grand 
Duke of Weimar, who were greatly amused at the sight. 

*' During the course of the forenoon, in which reports 
came pouring in from all sides, with many sad particulars 
as to our losses, mentioning the names of many good 
old friends, I received orders to ride to Metz with a flag of 
truce. It was about the French dead and wounded that 
remained on the battle-field. As to negotiations for a 
capitulation, nothing could as yet be said, but I was to 
point out at Metz that the French army was now sur- 
rounded by our forces, and that its fate seemed sealed, the 
number of our troops being large enough to prevent any 
attempts at relief on the part of the comparatively small 
number of French forces still in the field. 

" Winterfeld accompanied me on this expedition ; near 

Digitized by 


94 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

the end of the village he bought a napkin from an old 
woman who chanced to be in possession of one, in order 
to equip ourselves for our business. After crossing the 
defile of Gravelotte we came across a dragoon regiment of 
the II. Army Corps, who were asked for a trumpeter, 
and here we fixed the napkin to a long pole to represent 
a flag of truce. 

" The ride across this part of the battle-field presented a 
sad sight, on account of the large number of bodies of 
our men, which only too plainly proved what heavy 
losses we had suffered, while we only saw very few corpses 
on the ground which had been held by the French. 
Only in some of the shelter- trenches there were a consider- 
able number of dead ; they lay there still as if in the ranks, 
their rifles pushed forward over the parapet as if ready to 
fire ; they startled us from the distance, they looked so 
much like a deployed line of French shirmishers. On 
approaching nearer it seemed as if these trenches had 
suddenly been taken in flank by our artillery, which 
accounted for the enemy's losses. As we continued our 
ride we suddenly saw rifle barrels flash out of some 
bushes on the top of a steep embankment of the road. 
But these belonged to men of our VII. Corps, whose 
foremost detachment had been pushed forward to this 

*' While the mountainous country to our right precluded 
any further outlook, there lay on the left of the road before 
us a deep and pretty valley with houses belonging mostly to 
the village of Rozerieulles. Beyond it rose fairly steeply 
the slopes of Mont St. Quentin, from the fort of which 
came from time to time large volumes of smoke from some 
heavy gun. On this slope, and near the fort, were seen 
the tents of a large encampment. Between the hills on 
the right of the road and the slopes of Mont St. Quentin 
in front, the ground shelved down to a plain, in which, 
after having passed several turns of the road, we saw 
Metz lying at our feet. Out of the bluish haze hover- 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 95 

ing above the houses, rose the huge outline of the 

" Our enjoyment of the beauties of the landscape 
was soon disturbed in a disagreeable fashion. For, 
from the village below, several cavalry patrols of two or 
three men each galloped in succession back in the 
direction of Metz, and as they came on a level with us, 
at a distance of about a hundred yards, they were so 
obliging as to fire their carbines at us, the bullets 
whistling about our ears. This was not a promising 
beginning, but worse was yet to come. As we came 
round a fresh bend of the road, and approached a building 
which lay some 80 yards ahead, we noticed a double 
sentry near it. I ordered a halt; the trumpet was 
sounded, and the improvised flag of truce waved. By 
way of answer the two men fired at us. We again 
sounded the trumpet, and tried, without stirring from 
the spot, to make ourselves understood by shouting. 
Immediately a small detachment of French infantry 
deployed along the garden wall, and poured a rapid fire 
into us, which came, to judge from the sound of the 
bullets which whistled past us, from the so-called Tabatiere 
rifles. The men seemed to be gardes mobiles, but it did 
not matter who they were, and seeing no hopes of stopping 
the firing, we could not remain there any longer, so we 
turned about and made off at a gallop. After having gone 
a few yards, we noticed that the bay horse of the 
trumpeter was riderless. Fortunately we managed, thanks 
to the windings of the road, to get out of the way of the 
bullets sent after us. Here we found that the bay horse 
was slightly wounded on the foreleg ; the trumpeter we 
saw coming after us on foot, a shot through the bridge of 
the nose had thrown him from his horse. We waited for 
him round a corner, and then went back. The incident 
afterwards gave rise to various diplomatic representa- 

"When I made my report to the King on the result of 

Digitized by 


96 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

my mission, his Majesty was still visibly affected by the 
great sacrifices which the previous day had demanded. 
No further attempt was made to enter in to communication 
with the French Commander-in-Chief." 

Before I leave the battle of Gravelotte, a remark or two 
may be added to the description given above. I have left 
it deliberately in the same form in which it was written 
within a few days of the battle, and it expresses con- 
sequently the impression which the Staff of the Royal 
Headquarters had formed of it during the progress of 
the combat. 

Historical researches have since shown that even in the 
course of an engagement which takes place close before 
one's eyes very wrong impressions may be formed as to 
what is taking place. This is clearly illustrated in this 
case : first the erroneous supposition of the headquarters 
of the First Army concerning the capture of the heights 
occupied by the enemy; then again the impressions 
which we too had gained as to the course of the fight 
for the heights, and the successes of the H. Corps, the 
former being several points very different from what 
we had imagined. The spectator may judge very 
differently of the particulars of an engagement during 
its progress, according to the position from which he 
watches it, or the period when he is present. An incom- 
plete view of the ground, and still more the almost total 
obliteration of it by darkness coming on, must contribute 
to erroneous impressions being formed. Perfect clear- 
ness as to details can in most cases only be arrived at 
by conscientious historical investigation, and even this 
does not always succeed in establishing with absolute 
correctness the account of a battle. 

Thus at Gravelotte, owing to our not being able to see 
the battle-field properly, it escaped our notice, that 
soon after the beginning of the infantry engagement, 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 97 

the farm of St. Hubert on the heights had fallen into our 
possession and had been held in spite of every attempt 
to retake it. Furthermore, our impression that the II. 
Corps had finally taken the heights was a wrong one : 
the enemy, on the contrary, maintained himself in his 
position at Pont du Jour, and only vacated it during 
the night. The mistake arose from the fact that we 
had nothing to go by but our hearing, it being too 
dark to see. Thus the sounding of the " advance," the 
brief but furious musketry fire, and then its temporary 
cessation, made us believe that the attacks had been 
successful. As a matter of fact the II. Corps never passed 
the line along which the VIII. Corps had fought for so 
long, or if did, it was for only a very little way. 

We may mention here an apocryphal story which became 
current soon after the battle, viz. that General von 
Moltke had led in person the attack of the II. Corps. It 
may have originated in the fact that the Staff of the 
Royal Headquarters found itself for a long time on the 
field over which the forward movement of this corps 
took place. Any personal leading of the II. Corps on the 
part of the Chief of the General Staff would not have been 
within the duties of the latter, and could therefore not 
have taken place. Besides, the well-tried commander of 
the Corps, the gallant General von Fransecky, would never 
have tolerated any such interference with his duty. 

Looking at the battle in its main features, it will be 
seen that the conduct of it was most difficult, as from the 
beginning it was impossible to know in what direction the 
bulk of the forces were to be used, this being dependent 
on the movements of the enemy. It was only after it 
had become certain that the enemy was going to hold the 
position on the heights on the west side of Metz, that it 
became easier to direct the troops. But even then we were 
not suflRciently well informed, at first, as to how far the 
right wing of the enemy extended. We were led to believe 
by the reports which came in, for some considerable time, 


Digitized by 


98 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

that it only reached Amanvillers. Now the further north 
this wing extended, the later would the forces told off to 
surround it come into action. From the beginning, we 
had judged rightly that the enemy's position was too 
strong to be attacked only in front, and great weight 
was therefore laid on this turning movement. But hours 
passed before it could take place. The IX. Corps, 
which formed the point on which the army of Prince 
Frederick Charles wheeled to the right, had prematurely 
become seriously engaged with the enemy close to it, 
and this had led to the troops of the First Army coming 
into action sooner than would otherwise have been the 
case. The French right wing succumbed before the 
concerted attacks of the Guards and the Saxons, which 
brought about the loss of the battle for the French and 
compelled them to vacate, during the night, the strong 
positions of the left wing, in which they still maintained 
themselves in the evening of the iSth August. 

Our losses amounted to 20,, those of the enemy 
to 10,000. It was not till several weeks afterwards, when 
the detailed reports had come in from the troops, and we 
had found time to read them, that we learned that two 
guns of the IX. Corps had fallen into the hands of the 

One more remark I should like to add, finally, concern- 
ing this battle. It has to do with night engagements. 
The improvement in fire-arms, the greater explosive force 
of the powder of the present day, make it certain that the 
effect of fire-arms will be correspondingly greater than it 
was in our late wars. It was even then sufficient, under 
favourable circumstances, to repel any attack. There has 
been the endeavour, by means of new formations and in 
other ways, to try to diminish, as much as possible, the 
losses to be expected. Among other plans there has been 
talk from time to time of carrying on the combat, when- 
ever possible, at night. It is quite incomprehensible to me 
how anyone can expect good results from a systematic 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 99 

resort to this expedient. Anyone who has found him- 
self once in his life in a night engagement, or even 
in the dusk, fighting as we were during the later hours 
of the evening on the day of Gravelotte, will hardly be 
an enthusiastic advocate of such tactics. There will be, 
certainly, situations in future wars in which a night 
engagement cannot be avoided, nor can we say definitely 
what conditions may not exceptionally arise, in which 
even large masses of troops may be . so employed with a 
prospect of success, but to reserve the night for fighting 
on principle, cannot surely be sound doctrine. The 
troops like to see their enemy, and that is impos- 
sible in the dark ; every man in such an engagement will 
probably soon arrive at the conviction that at least 
as many losses will be due, in the confusion, to the bullets 
of his own fi-iends as to those of the enemy. The 
direction of a great battle is based on holding the masse s 
together for concerted action; but a director who sees 
nothing, who receives no reports, and who arrives at 
utterly wrong conclusions in the dark from being guided 
by his own impressions, as we ourselves were that evening, 
is not in a position to direct at all. If it were only a 
question of placing troops in readiness, and putting them 
in motion, if that were the sum total of the tactics re- 
quired from a leader, then perhaps it might be possible. 
But the direction of large masses of men during the progress 
of the action requires much more than this. It would 
be an error, moreover, to suppose that large masses could 
be prepared for night fighting by practice in peace time ; 
it is only possible to do so with small bodies; in the 
same way as the requirements of so-called petty warfare, 
i.e. outpost duties, patrols, surprises, etc. 

The battle of the i8th August had been fought on 
a reversed front, i.e. we stood with our backs towards 
Paris, and the enemy between us and home. Such a 
position is fi-aught with many dangers. In case of defeat, 
it might easily lead to the utter ruin of the vanquished. 

H 2 

Digitized by 


lOO With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

We had exposed ourselves deliberately to this danger, 
being convinced that the greatest results would be 
gained from it, and we were quite sure that we should 
succeed in winning a victory over the opposing forces of 
the enemy. Under these circumstances, not the smallest 
fears had ever been entertained in our conferences, with 
regard to fighting the battle as we did. Our operations 
seemed to us the natural outcome of the situation, and 
best fitted for making the most of our successful battles 
and marches, and the blunders of the enemy. 

Nevertheless, it may be asked, what would have 
happened if the i8th August had ended in a defeat? 
Even then the consequence would not have been disas- 
trous. The II. Army Corps was behind our right wing, 
it had been engaged only for a short time on this day, and 
we should have been able, during the night and the 
following morning, to bring the greater part of the I. Corps 
to the left bank of the Moselle. There would, consequently, 
have been a sufficient force at our disposal to check any 
offensive movement on the part of the enemy, long enough 
for the army of Prince Frederick Charles to carry out its 
wheel backwards. This evolution would certainly have 
been practicable, with the large reserve still at the 
disposal of the Second Army, viz. the III. and X. Corps. 
Under any circumstances, a junction with the Crown 
Prince's army would then have been ensured, and there- 
with such a numerical superiority would have been 
attained over the enemy, that a second battle might have 
been fought with a reasonable certainty of success. 

In the afternoon of the 19th August we returned to 
Pont-4-Mousson. Moltke took Winterfeld and myself 
with him in his carriage, and we drove on in silence ; nor 
did the chief break his train of thought except for 
three short remarks. The first time was when we crossed, 
on the way fi*om Rezonville to Gorze, a part of the battle- 
field of the i6th August and came across heaps of still 
unburied French Voltigeurs of the Guard, in whose fore- 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire . loi 

most ranks lay a young non-commissioned officer of our 
nth Regiment still grasping in his hands his rifle with 
fixed bayonet. Seeing him, the General said, "This was 
the bravest of the brave." Later on he remarked, " I have 
learned once more that one cannot be too strong on the field 
of battle." This observation referred to the approach of 
the II. Corps, which had been reported to be nearing 
the battle-field, but we had been in doubt for some time 
whether it would be wanted, and seriously thought 
of giving orders to stop it and allowing it to rest. The 
last remark of the General was made as we approached, 
Pont-d-Mousson, and saw before us the church towers and 
outlines of the houses picturesquely lit up by the evening 
sun ; rising above the town were the heights on the right 
bank of the river crowned by an old chapel or ruin which 
completed the charming picture • Then he exclaimed, 
"What would be our feelings now, if we had been 
beaten ? " 

My expedition with the flag of truce on the 19th was 
the cause of a very comical scene on my return to Pont-d- 
Mousson. The news of it had found its way there before 
our arrival, and with the addition that I had been killed 
on the occasion. On the morning of the 20th August 
I went into the front part of the house to speak to one of 
our officers who lived in the first storey. On coming 
down I suddenly met, at a turn of the staircase, the lady 
to whom I owed my quarters on the premises. She also 
had thought me dead, and must have imagined the first 
moment when she saw me that it was my ghost which 
appeared to her ; at any rate she uttered a piercing cry. 
I managed with a few words to assure her that I was still 
among the living, when in the rapid transition from the 
illusion to reality, the kindly heart of the amiable enemy 
conquered every other consideration, and she embraced 
me heartily. Just at that moment the doors opened on 
both sides of the landing, on the right Moltke's head 
popped out, on the left that of Podbielski, both eager to 

Digitized by 


I02 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

see what was the cause of the scream. I shall never forget 
the comical expression which spread over their faces at the 
sight of this scene. I need not say that I had to put up with 
a good deal of " chaff" about it for some time to come. 

The French army being now driven within the fortifi- 
cations of Metz, the whole of the forces of the First and 
Second Army were no longer required to blockade them 
there. . Therefore the Corps of Guards and the XII. 
(Royal Saxon) Army Corps were detached from the army 
of Prince Frederick Charles, as well as the IV, Corps 
from the Third Army, and the three were formed 
into a new force, under the command of H.R.H. the 
Crown Prince Albert of Saxony. * The name " force" was 
soon changed, in command parlance, into the " Army of the 
Meuse.*' Indeed, so strong a force might well claim to 
be called an " army," considering that we had given that 
designation to both the Main and the Elbe Field Forces 
in 1866, which only consisted of three divisions each. 

Lieutenant-General von Schlotheim, the Chief of the 
Staff of the Elbe Army in 1866, an officer as much 
distinguished by his services on the staff as by his ability 
as a leader, who had up to then commanded the 
Hessian Cavalry Brigade, was nominated Chief of the 
Staff of the newly-formed army. The command of the 
XII. (Royal Saxon) Corps was given to H.R.H. the 
Prince George of Saxony. The army of the Crown 
Prince had lost the Baden division, which was employed 
in Alsace, but afterwards the VI. Army Corps was 
attached to it instead ; it was now amply strong enough 
to continue its advance into the interior of France, and to 
crush, in the open field, any organized force which the 
enemy might still possess. 

After a few days* rest, which our troops sorely needed 

^ The expression used by the author, viz. Armeeabtheilung, i.e. 
part of an army, is quite untranslatable litera Iv. Later on the ex- 
pression " Army of the Meuse " was used officially.— Ed. 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 103 

after their great hardships, the forward movement was 
begun. The Royal Headquarters left Pont-d-Mousson on 
the 23rd August. 

A few general notes may be added here from different 
letters which were written about this time ; they will 
serve to illustrate our views of the situation, and the frame 
of mind we were in in those days. In a letter from Pont- 
d-Mousson, under date the 21st August, I wrote : " Our 
operations have brought the main army of the French 
into a desperate plight. It is blockaded in Metz. We 
are leaving seven and a half corps before the fortress ; with 
all the rest we are continuing our march in the direction 
of Paris. It is not impossible, though not likely, that 
the French shut up in Metz may, by desperate efforts, 
succeed in breaking out ; but that would not signify 
much, as the German corps, following them up on all 
sides, would render their escape impossible. But if they 
should not succeed in forcing a way out of Metz, they 
will soon have to capitulate through want of food. 

" General von Chauvin, who has the whole of the 
military telegraphs under him, is very much obliged to 
me for having been the means, when he arrived at the 
front for a few days, of his being able to remain where 
he was for the i8th August, which enabled him to be 
present at the battle. Our losses in the latter must be 
considerably heavier than those of the French, because of 
the formidable position which they occupied. I shall be 
satisfied if we come off with 15,000 men, but I fear they 
are more. I have given up asking after friends, as I get 
to each question no other answer than 'Dead,' or 
* Wounded.' I will mourn for them when all is over; 
now we want good spirits to enable us to carry the busi- 
ness to an end, and that we have, thank God. I am not 
at all surprised at our great losses, I expected them. 

" As concerns our mess arrangements, I may inform you : 
we get our rations like every other soldier ; we have them 
prepared by the cook, a man of the transport corps who 

Digitized by 


I04 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

understands the business ; but when we are in a large 
town such as this, we eat at an hotel. Our time for 
dinner varies considerably, being sometimes mid-day, some- 
times eight in the evening. For the rest, we divide fairly 
whatever we get sent to us from home ; the biscuits you 
sent me have been finished long ago. 

"In addition to the 8000 inhabitants, many of whom, 
however, have fled, there are in the town more than 3000 
troops, besides over 4000 wounded, and there are always 
several thousand prisoners marching through. 

" The different opinions among our good Berliners 
concerning the first two great battles before Metz will have 
come to an end by now, and they may understand some- 
what better the brilliant operations which came to a 
close with the battle of the i8th August. The 14th, 
i6th and 18th form one harmonious whole ; each day has 
been a success for us, in spite of all the French bulletins. 
But if people at home become hysterical now, when 
everything goes smoothly and well, Heaven grant we may 
not suffer a small check somewhere, and yet it is not 
beyond the range of possibility! — ^The French fleet 
disturbs our trade, certainly, but it has, at the most, a 
couple of thousand marines on board. If they should 
land somewhere, which is scarcely likely, it would not 
matter much ; they will soon go back again. The regi- 
ments which France had originally intended for service 
across the sea have been employed here in the recent 
decisive battles ; their dead cover the battle-fields in heaps. 

" We may yet meet a French army at Chilons. But 
what an army ! Only the two divisions of Failly and about 
two new ones are intact ; the rest are the remnants of the 
. army of MacMahon, fourth battalions, gardes mobiles, all 
organized in a hurry. Against them we march with 8J 
army corps, all well-seasoned troops. If Providence has 
not ordained otherwise, we shall beat them thoroughly. — 
Our advanced corps after their many hardships must, 
however, have a few days' rest before." 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 105 

'* Pont-Ji-Mousson, the 2ist August, evening. 

"I once more point out the possibility that the French 
may break through our investment, perhaps on the right 
bank of the Moselle. In that case our communications 
with home would be interrupted for a short time, and you 
would hear nothing at all of us meanwhile. But do not 
become uneasy, if that should happen, as such a temporary 
interruption would not mean anything at all. We are 
prepared for such an occurrence. However, it is only a 

"Our Sunday dinner to-day was so poor and scanty 
that they insisted on my giving them the ginger which 
had been sent me as a present. They ate it up like so 
much cabbage ! Coming from dinner, I was told that 
Count Bruges of the Hussars of the Guard, who is lying 
wounded in the hospital, had sent for me. I managed to 
see him for a moment. He has had an accident ; shortly 
after the battle a barn door, which was being opened, fell 
down on him, knocked him down, together with his horse. 
But it does not seem dangerous. I left him a box of cigars 
which I had taken with me in my hurry. Count Bruges of 
the dragoons is well. Whilst walking through the rooms 
of the hospital, I was hailed by many an acquaintance 
whom I scarcely recognized again ; among them the brave 
Major von Wittich of the Emperor Francis' Regiment, on 
whose bay horse you rode, when a child, at Thorn, and 
in whose pleasant company we were at Rome, where he 
was recovering from the severe wound received in 1866. 
He is again very seriously wounded, I regret to say. I 
have also heard that our old friend Otto Koch has received 
a bullet in the abdomen." 

With our departure from Pont-d-Mousson the first act 
of the great drama came to a fortunate conclusion. On 
the 6th August considerable portions of the First and 
Second Army had crossed into French territory, and had 
gained the victory of Spicheren on French soil. After 
three more battles, almost the whole of the French main 

Digitized by 


i06 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

army had, within the short space of twelve days, been 
driven into the fortress of Metz after the i8th August, 
and saw itself &ce to face with an almost unavoid- 
able catastrophe, being confined within a narrow circle 
by sufficient forces. During this time, the army of the 
Crown Prince of Prussia, which had crossed the French 
fi-ontier on the 4th August, had driven the minor army 
of MacMahon out of Alsace by the victories of Weissen- 
burg and Worth, and had penetrated, in its pursuit across 
the Vosges, into the interior of France. Communication 
had been established between it and the forces with us, 
whilst one of its divisions had been diverted to besiege 
Strassburg, and was at the same time entrusted with the 
conquest of Alsace. 

The terrible blows in August had crushed, within a 
wonderfully short time, the French hopes of victory. 
Elated by our brilliant successes, and conscious of our 
superiority over the still existing forces of the enemy, we 
looked forward with confidence to the future 1 

Digitized by 


III. The March to Sedan. 

I. The Advance. 

The forces which the enemy was able to oppose to our 
8^ army corps, advancing from the Moselle, could be pretty 
accurately estimated, but nothing could be done to prevent 
their assembling so far from us. 

Now, it was clear that the enemy had several courses 
of action open to him. The most likely one of all, we 
thought, was to retreat slowly before our advancing 
troops in the direction of Paris, so as to form there the 
nucleus of an army to defend the capital. But what seems 
to us the most probable, need not, for that reason, be 
looked at in the same light by the opponent. Therefore 
the question which one must always ask oneself is this : 
" What other courses are open to the enemy ? " Among 
those was the possibility that he would make a stand at 
Ch&lons, where his new army was being formed ; another 
was that he would attempt to come to the relief of the 
forces shut up in Metz. 

The consideration of these questions, together with the 
measures to be taken, were what chiefly occupied us for 
the next few days. We had started on the 23rd from Pont- 
a-Mousson and had gone to Commercy, making a detour 
vid Ligny for the sake of meeting the headquarters of the 
Crown Prince of Prussia and discussing our further move- 

The headquarters of the Crown Prince were gay with 
many colours. There were to be seen there, besides the 

Digitized by 


io8 With the Royal Headquarters in i 8 7071 

uniforms of the various arms of the North German troops 
the light blue infantry and the light green light cavalry 
uniforms of the Bavarians, as well as the darker ones of 
the Wurttembergers. Conspicuous, too, was the English 
scarlet ; its wearer was Lieutenant-General Walker, the 
British military plenipotentiary, who was the trusted friend 
of the Crown Prince, and had accompanied his head- 
quarters in the war of 1866. 

From Commercy General von Steinacher, of His 
Majesty's suite, departed for Berlin, and was so kind as to 
take letters home with him, and a few samples of the famous 
Madeleines de Commercy.* 

** Commercy, 24th August 
"According to the intelligence received, the camp ol 
Ch&lons is broken up and the troops of the enemy are on 
the march towards Reims. What is their intention now ? 
Bazaine is completely debarred from communicating with 
Paris. This very day (24th) we have intercepted a cypher 
despatch of his to the Emperor Napoleon which he tried to 
get smuggled through our lines by a peasant. From the 
letter of a superior officer intercepted at the same time, 
we learn that they reckon in Metz on being relieved from 
Chilons ; but I hope that the army of Ch&lons will have 
enough to do to take care of itself. The question now 
is whether they will actually make an attempt at a relief, or 
whether they will make a stand at Ch&lons itself, or retreat 
towards Laon or Paris. The opinion is sometimes vented 
here that we shall never get as far as Paris, because the 
French will negotiate first. That does not seem very 
probable to me; the demands that we shall have to 
make on France are so heavy that the French people 
will not give up the game so easily, no matter what 
government may be at the helm. 

"Our first railway train arrived yesterday at Pont-aL- 
Mousson ; but further on the line is blocked by the fortress 

^ A kind of pastry which is a speciality of Commercy. 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 109 

of Toul. We shelled it yesterday, and fire broke out in 
several places in the town, but it did not surrender. So 
our correspondence will reach you somewhat later than it 
did before. A coup de main against Verdun will perhaps 
be attempted to-day. I was able to send Count Briiges, 
who is already able to leave the house again, some wine, 
cigars, and newspapers; Zeuner is the only regimental 
commander in the guards who is not killed or wounded." 

On the 24th the Royal Headquarters were moved to 

" Bar-le-Duc, the 25th August. 

"We shall probably start hence to-morrow for St. 
M^n6hould, which is about 35 miles from here. Reports 
say that the French corps, which were in firont of us at 
Chdlons, have marched off to Reims. Our measures are 
taken in such a manner that if they remain there we shall 
attack them, and if they march to the relief of Metz 
we shall try to fall on their flank, without, however, 
abandoning the road to Paris, in case they should retreat 
that way. 

"Bar-le-Duc is a very fine town, situated partly on 
heights, with fine broad streets and handsome houses with 
grounds behind them. The house in which I live together 
with Bronsart and Brandenstein has been deserted by the 
owner, whose name I don't even know, and only a butler 
has been left behind. 

" During the next days you will only get a few lines 
from me, as we are likely to have a good deal of work and 
shall be much on the road. The Bavarian Corps are here, 
their troops are continuously marching through." 

Bar-le-Duc became the starting point of the movements 
which led to the terrific catastrophe of Sedan. The 
operations after the battle, which did not take up our 
time so much, enabled me shortly after to write down a 
tolerably full account of my experiences during these 
important events ; I give it literally here. 

Digitized by 


no With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

'* Headquarters, Vendresse, the 3rd September, 9 p.m., 187a 

''Here we are sitting in the same headquarters from 
which we rode away at i a.m. for the final sanguinary 
struggle. What we have been aiming at for the last week 
has, by God*s help, been attained ; victory crowns the 
arduous work of our brave army, and rewards its sacrifices 
and those of the whole nation ; a victory as brilliant as any 
that history records. 

''While the impressions of what I have seen are still 
fresh on my mind, I will try to describe the events of this 
great day, before time makes them dim. 

"After the battle before Metz on the i8th August, 
and the investment of the French main army in that 
fortress, the march on Paris was begun. The army corps 
under the command of the Crown Prince Albert of Saxony, 
together with the Third Army under the Crown Prince 
Frederick William, the victor of Weissenburg and Worth, 
were set in motion towards the metropolis." 

(Here is repeated what I have already said about the 
forces of the enemy and the different courses open to him. 
Then it goes on :) 

" Meanwhile the German armies which were marching 
towards Paris had been spread out over a wider front, a 
manoeuvre which was necessary, because a quarter of a 
million of men closely concentrated may fight a battle, 
but cannot execute great marches. Moreover, the 
fortress of Verdun, situated between Metz and Ch&lons, 
lay as an obstacle in the way of our march, and we had 
consequently been obliged to pass with our right wing to 
the south of it, so that our army extended now from that 
fortress to beyond Bar-le-Duc. 

" When, only a few marches from Chilons, the cavalry 
ascertained that the enemy was still in that camp, we 
had to think of closing up again for possible battle. 

'* The Royal Headquarters were still in the pleasant 
town of Bar-le-Duc on the 25th August, where we quite 
revived again under the influence of good quarters and 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire hi 

good food; all the necessary orders had already been 
issued to both armies. In the evening of that day we 
Staff officers attached to the Royal Headquarters were 
sitting cheerfully on the benches of the lyc6e, having just 
finished our supper, and sung the ' Wacht am Rhein * 
and other songs. The one who had the least notion of 
music among us had even begun ' Singe, wem Gesang 
gegeben,' to our great delight, when the orderly officer 
of the day suddenly came rushing in with the words, 
' General Moltke requests the attendance of the chiefs of 
sections ; four other officers are to be ready to ride off at 
once ! ' In a moment our exuberant spirits vanished, we 
had to return to serious business again. Swords were 
buckled on quickly ; * The enemy is on the march,* we 
conjectured. * But in what direction ? ' was the ques- 
tion, as we rushed into the office close by. 

We were right, he had marched. The Cavalry 
Division of Prince Albert had dashed into the camp at 
ChSJons, had found it empty, and the French retreating 
towards Reims. Later intelligence said, * The enemy is 
already past Rethel.' 

" * Will they really dare to do it I ' we exclaimed almost 
with one voice ; for the direction of their march pointed 
towards an intention of relieving the army shut up in 

" Against such an attempt indeed nothing could be 
said theoretically; but a flank march of the French 
round our right wing was practical only if their troops 
were quicker in marching than our own, and we ourselves 

" Headquarters, Rethel, 4th September, 1870. 

"In war one must be prepared for an3rthing! The 
enemy had disappeared from Chylous, that was certain. 
But he might just as well have withdrawn farther to 
Laon, as undertaken the relief of Metz. The latter move 
was the more important of the two for us, for the present. 
Were we now to interrupt our march on Paris and 

Digitized by 


112 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

concentrate our army towards the rights to guard against 
a movement of the enemy which was after all still 
problematical ? We were reluctant to do it, for if the 
French did not continue their eastward march, we should 
lose some valuable days, and the troops would be fatigued 
without purpose. Everything depended on the cavalry 
throwing light on the situation as soon as possible, 
especially on the right wing. All the corps which were 
within reach of our officers .despatched during the 
night from the Royal Headquarters were directed not to 
begin, for the present, the march on Ch&lons, for which 
orders had been issued, but to make a halt, cook their 
food, and keep themselves in readiness to march in the 
afternoon. I myself was directed to communicate His 
Majesty's orders to H.R.H« the Crown Prince of Saxony, 
and at the same time to explain the views and objects of 
the Royal Headquarters to him. 

'' It was already past midnight, and the distance to the 
headquarters of the Crown Prince a considerable one, 
twenty miles or more. As it was possible that we should 
have to be very active during the day, I and the officers 
who accompanied me made use of my brake; a few 
orderlies of the royal escort and the spare horses came 
trotting after us. It was necessary to make haste, as the 
three army corps could only change their direction after 
our arrival, and they might, if we did not come in time, 
have begun their march according to previous orders. 
But the conditions of the road were far from favouring 
speed, as we had to proceed on country roads which 
intersected each other continually ; moreover the villages 
were mostly deserted and the sign-posts destroyed ; nor 
was the district through which we drove occupied by 
any of our troops. So we had often to halt and try 
whether we could make out our whereabouts on the 
map, by means of a carriage lantern, or read the 
inscriptions found on the different farmhouses. Once we 
disturbed, in a small house standing by itself, a good old 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 113 

woman in her rest, but her dialect was rather incompre- 
hensible, until, when she heard us talking together in 
our mother tongue, she surprised us by using tolerable 
German, and then we got out of her what we wanted to 

" Still, we were fortunate enough to reach the village, 
in which the headquarters of the Crown Prince of Saxony 
were, before the day dawned. The guard showed us the 
way to the Prince's quarters, where he and the chief of 
his staff. General von Schlottheim, were aroused. 

"The Crown Prince determined, as was done also, 
almost at the same time, by the Royal Headquarters, not 
to wait for further intelligence, but to set the troops in 
motion at once in a more northerly direction. In the same 
way, also, the Crown Prince Frederick William issued 
orders to his whole army to march in the same direction, a 
striking proof how unanimous all were in their views of 
the situation, and as to the steps to be taken. 

" Information as to the decision come to was sent back 
to General von Moltke. While the Crown Prince Albert 
sent off his orderly officers, who had been called up mean- 
while, to every point of the compass, we had a good wash 
in the courtyard, and then sat down to a cup of coffee 
together. The quarters were wretched, and the room so 
low that we nearly touched the ceiling ; the seats consisted 
of a plank laid across a couple of casks, but our spirits 
were excellent, and not a little elated at the prospect of 
the great events impending. Very glad we were too of 
the cigars sent by friends in Berlin, which I had taken 
with me, especially as there had been great dearth of 
these at the headquarters of the force. 10,000 cigars 
ordered by the Crown Prince were on the road, but had 
not found their way to their destination." 

** Rheims, 6th September, 1870. 
" Meanwhile our horses were saddled, ever3rthing got 
ready for the start, and we accompanied the Crown 


Digitized by 


114 With the Royal Headquarters in 187071 

Prince to Clermont, a wretched little town in the forest 
of Argonne, built partly on a hill. During the day a 
large number of reports arrived which made it certain 
that the enemy was continuing his fatal flank march. 
Some Saxon troops, then strong columns of the Guards 
came marching through the town in uninterrupted 
succession. It was a sad sight to see the two deci- 
mated dragoon regiments of the Guard, from whose ranks 
so many of our friends were missing who had met 
their death on the field of Mars-la-Tour. Nearly the 
whole night through the troops defiled past ; the roads 
had become a quagmire, as it had been raining in torrents 
since the forenoon. 

" I had sent information early in the morning to Bar-le- 
Duc that the village in which it was proposed the Royal 
Headquarters should spend the night, and in which the 
staff of the Meuse Army had previously been, was not 
suitable, and had indicated Clermont as the only possible 
place in which the first portion might, with some squeezing, 
find accommodation. An answer had then been sent to 
me fi"om Bar-le-Duc that headquarters would be transferred 
to the place named. But the orderly lost his way with the 
message, and I did not receive it until next day. It was 
therefore quite a surprise for us to see General von Moltke 
appear late in the afternoon, and with him the quartermasters 
of the entire headquarters. Fortunately I had provided, on 
the chance, two houses for the King and the Chief of the 
General Staff ; but for myself I had not yet secured any 
accommodation. There is as a rule no time to do so, and 
there is always some one or other who undertakes this 
trouble, for trouble it is, especially in an overcrowded place. 
Count Nostitz was the man for these occasions. His 
first question is : " For how many officers do we want 
quarters ? " He is told the number, and off he rushes 
into every house that could be suspected of being able to 
put anyone up, and demands to see all the rooms. If 
any of them seem suitable, he locks the doors, puts the 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 115 

key in his pocket, and after some time comes back to 
hand a key to everyone who is in need of one. He 
ferreted out for me this time a small neat room in a little 
house that did not look at all promising from the out- 
side ; I gave it up later to Prince Pless and took up my 
abode with General von Stosch. 

" His Majesty the King arrived at Clermont just as 
it was getting dark. The Royal Headquarters remained 
here for the next day. It was necessary to sift the reports 
which were coming in from all sides, as the General Staff 
had to hold the reins tight, so as to be able, if need be, 
to stop the movements of the different corps as soon as 
fresh indications as to the operations of the enemy made 
it necessary. We were therefore very busy in the office. 
To control the movement of the army was in itself 
difficult enough, if one considers that a quarter of a 
million of men facing West, on a front of some 70 miles, 
i.e. four or five days* march, had suddenly to wheel 
round on their extreme right and front North. Besides, 
the forest of Argonne, with its difficult hill roads, formed 
a great obstacle, and all the charms of its scenery did not 
prevent it from being heartily cursed/' 

The 27th and 28th August we remained at Clermont ; 
on the 29th, with the progressive movement of the various 
columns northward, the Royal Headquarters were trans- 
ferred farther North to Grand Pr^. 

'* Rheims, 7th September, 1870. 
** The enemy by his flanking movement had got beyond 
Le Chfene. From that place two roads lead to Stenay, 
where there is a bridge across the Meuse in the direction 
of Metz. According to our assumption, two of the 
French corps were advancing on the southern road, the 
remaining two on the northern one. During the 29th 
August a French Staff officer was captured who was 
the bearer of a written order to the two corps nearest 
us regulating their further movement that day. He had 

I 2 

Digitized by 


ii6 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

delivered the order to one of them, but on the way to the 
other, which was farther East, he had fallen into the 
hands of the Uhlans of the Guard, who had ventured up 
close to the enemy's columns. This order furnished our 
headquarters with a complete confirmation of the move- 
ments of the French army as they had been conjectured. 

"From the first moment that the movement to the 
right was begun, our object was to block the enemy's path, 
should he continue in his attempt, not only to the East 
towards Metz, but also westwards towards Paris, and thus 
to involve him in a catastrophe. It is therefore easy to 
imagine with what eagerness every report brought in 
was scanned. There was time, during the first days, 
for the enemy to stop his dangerous movement, but on 
the 29th August we felt we could foresee that if fate 
had not destined it otherwise and great mistakes were 
not committed or misunderstandings and misconceptions 
did not creep in, that this, the last French army, had 
brought itself into a position from which it could not 
escape without disaster." 

These words, not written till the 7th of September, may 
seem an after-thought. It may therefore be of interest to 
read a few lines fi"om letters sent home, written while 
the operations were still proceeding, and which show 
very clearly our way of thinking at the time. They are 
dated from Grand Pr6 on the 30th August, 1870, 
and written at 5 o'clock in the morning. "After the 
rainy days of last week, the morning sun shines out 
again merrily, ' and brightens the comfortable little 
room which I occupy here. The clear sky points to a 
hot day, and hot it will probably be in more senses than 
one. Beyond the little garden rise wooded ranges of 
hills, and at the foot of them lies a pleasant valley through 
which runs a stream. On the main road leading through 
it, are to be seen marching the columns of the V, Army 


ized by Google 

The War with the French Empire 117 

Corps which, after leaving the valley, will march through 
our little town. The merry strain of the Amazon's 
March comes floating over to us, and from the opposite 
side are heard the hurrahs of the troops which are in- 
tended for our Crown Prince, who is riding past. 

" Such are the outward impressions under which I 
begin this day which will probably close the preparatory 
operations for a great decisive blow. 

" What is going on, I may not tell you yet, but if our 

motto, * God with us,' comes true, the world will hear, 

within a few days, of unparalleled deeds ! Good-bye ! I 

' have just got orders for the army of the Crown Prince 

of Saxony." 

2. Battle of Beaumont. 

" The moment had come, when the lines of march of the 
two opponents necessarily came into collision. As the 
army of the Crown Prince of Saxony was nearest to the 
fenemy, and had to tackle and hold fast the latter, the 
first serious collisions were to be expected in its direction. 
The post of observation which the commander of this 
army with his staff intended to take up in Case of an 
engagement, was distant from Grand Pr6 about ten 
miles, so I took to my carriage again. Captain von Alten 
and Lieutenant von Stosch accompanying me. 

" The weather was beautiful, as on all the previous days 
of battle, the atmosphere clear and the temperature 
agreeable. All over the undulating country, the long 
dark lines of approaching columns were visible. We 
crossed the line of march of the V. Corps, then that of a 
Bavarian corps, and at last that of the Guards. We 
had great difliculty in getting along, as detachments of 
the Guards and the IV. Corps were constantly meeting 
each other on the narrow roads leading through the 
forests and over the hilly ground. But we managed 
luckily to make our way through the troops and ammu- 
nition columns, until at last we reached a place on the 

Digitized by 


ii8 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

road near which the Crown Prince was to take his post 
of observation. 

" Here we mounted our horses, and as no trace of a 
large staff was to be discovered anywhere, although we 
had ascended several hills to look for it, I sent out Alten 
and Stosch in different directions, I myself with an 
orderly of the staff taking a third. 

" Having wandered about in this manner for nearly an 
hour, during which time Stosch joined me again, I was 
convinced that the headquarters were nowhere near the 
spot we had supposed, when, all of a sudden, we noticed, 
a few hundred yards away, a dark object swinging rapidly 
to and fro among the bushes some two feet off the ground. 
On closer inspection it turned out to be a horse's tail, 
brushing away the troublesome flies. We rightly con- 
jectured that there must be someone there, and sure 
enough, hidden among the dense undergrowth, we dis- 
covered a man of the military police. He had been posted 
near this point to indicate to bearers of reports and orders 
the road to the Army Headquarters, which had been 
obliged to change their position. But as the heat in- 
creased the guide preferred getting into the shade instead 
of remaining in evidence on the open hill-top. A volley 
of very vigorous language was duly discharged at his 
guilty head, but we soon found the Commander-in-Chief, 
who with his staff had taken up his post on a slope farther 
to the East. 

" We were received kindly as ever, and made ourselves 
at home. Captain von Alten joined us soon afterwards. 
The position offered a pretty extensive outlook ; there 
was another range of heights in front of us, but the large 
tracts of forest which extended in a wide semicircle 
towards Beaumont, could be partly overlooked. On the 
right of us the Saxon Corps, and on the left the IV. were 
advancing through the woods ; the Guards, who had not 
yet filled up the awful gaps caused by the iSth August, 
followed in reserve. Already, on the previous evening 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 119 

the foremost columns of the Saxons had had some 
pretty heavy fighting with one of the enemy's divisions, 
which, however, had marched off during the night in the 
direction of Beaumont (engagement of Nouart). 

" We had just eaten our lunch, consisting of bread, 
sausage, and a draught of wine, when, about half-past 
II, the first cannon-shot was heard firom the direction 
of the IV. Corps. Once more we saw the blue and 
white little cloudlets of smoke of the bursting shells 
playing in the air over the forest, and the deep bass of a 
mitrailleuse battery was likewise audible. From this we 
were able to judge how far the heads of our columns had 
advanced, and it seemed as if the ridge before us, being 
nearer to the fighting, would prove a more favourable 
post of observation. It was, however, so steep that our 
horses climbed it only with great difficulty, and when we 
arrived on the crest we found it so densely grown over with 
underwood, that the Gardes du Corps, who formed the 
escort of the Crown Prince, had first to cut a pathway with 
their swords to give us a clear view. We thus, however, 
obtained an extremely favourable standing point, from 
which almost the whole battle-field could be surveyed at a 
glance. Close to our feet began the above mentioned 
large woods ; on their outskirts, on the far side, was open 
country, in which over a hundred guns of the IV. Corps 
and the Saxons were already in position surrounding the 
enemy's position in a semicircle. From out of the 
French position peeped, from a depression in the ground, 
the steeple of Beaumont, wrapped in the dense volumes of 
smoke fi-om a burning building. Behind it the ground rose 
again, a wood-crowned range bounding the horizon, 
French mitrailleuse and other batteries fired away 
vigorously from this height ; on their left a large farm was 
burning, and still further to the west the advance guard of 
a Bavarian corps was likewise engaged, while to the east 
the height descended abruptly to the Meuse, the beauti- 
fully blue waters of which wound in a broad coil through 

Digitized by 


120 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

the valley. It was a splendid panorama, which was, 
however, put in the shade two days afterwards by the 
scene at Sedan. 

" Our batteries soon advanced until they were on a level 
with Beaumont, and opened fire again from this new 
position on both sides of the little town. The Crown 
Prince had already given orders to the Corps of Guards, 
which was as yet behind us, to follow up, and the Staff 
now also moved forward in order to get nearer the scene 
of action. 

" The steepness of the hill did not permit a direct descent 
to the woods at our feet, and we had to make a great 
detour ; it took more than half an hour, moving at a quick 
pace, before we, at last, cleared the forest. Meanwhile 
the pioneers were busily engaged in improving the roads. 
While we stumbled over the newly laid fascines, and 
stuck in great holes, the brushwood kept lashing our faces 
during our sharp trot so smartly that we felt it for several 
days afterwards. 

" Meanwhile the enemy had already been forced by the 
infantry up the heights behind Beaumont. In the open 
field we came first to a small farm, where ambulances 
were already at work ; from all sides the wounded came 
pouring in, and also the first prisoners were collected here. 
Then we went across a wide field over which our infantry 
had advanced to the attack, and on which many 
bodies of our brave Magdeburgers lay scattered ; but few 
Frenchmen were seen among them. A few yards further, 
when we reached the first line of defence of the enemy, 
the scene changed ; death had raged among them even 
more savagely. To the South of Beaumont a hostile 
encampment had been taken. As several roads met there, 
and it was situated on raised ground affording a good 
prospect over the country in front of it, the Prince took 
his post there for the next hour. It was the bivouac 
of the brigade which had fought with the Saxons the evening 
before at Nouart. At night they had marched off and 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 121 

had only reached it near morning much fatigued. With- 
out taking sufficient precautions for safety, the small 
tents had been pitched, and everyone had thrown himself 
down to rest. Even later on there can have been no 
outposts at all, or insufficient ones ; at any rate when the 
men were busy in the forenoon with the preparation of 
their food, the vanguard of our 8th Division came up to 
within a short distance of them, and surprised them 

"The signs of the confusion which then arose baffle all 
description. The horses of the battery, still coupled to- 
gether, lay dead or wounded ; three guns had been put out 
of action, while many of the wagons could not be horsed. 
All the officers' luggage lay about, the trunks open just as 
they had been used ; the carriage with the military chest 
and medicine carts were upset, the knapsacks were all 
ranged in order. The food, of course, had to be left in 
the saucepans, and had been mostly carried off by our 
men as they marched through as a welcome present. We 
dismounted in the midst of this chaos of the dead and the 
groaning wounded. Before the Commander's tent there 
was still standing a camp table and stools, which came in 
handy for spreading out our maps on. From this spot 
the further progress of the battle was watched, reports 
were received, and the necessary orders given. Mean- 
while the younger officers of the staff searched about 
in all sorts of receptacles, to ascertain for certain what 
regiments had been in the camp. By this means boxes 
of sardines, truffled sausages and patis de foie gras were 
found in quantities, and as it was now 3 o'clock we all 
profited en passant by these discoveries. 

" Meanwhile our infantry had successfully advanced into 
the woods on the heights beyond, but there the fighting 
increased in violence. The Crown Prince, therefore, rode 
still farther forward, previously sending the Saxon Cavalry 
Division to the right bank of the Meuse. I had sent off 
Lieutenant von Stosch to the IV. Army Corps ; Captain 

Digitized by 


122 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

von Alten was ordered back to report to the King; I 
asked him at the same time to find out where the Royal 
Headquarters would be for the night. 

" On riding into Beaumont we found the market-place 
and the street already crowded with over a thousand 
French prisoners. 

" On the other side of the little town further traces of a 
hurried retreat were visible; on the left was another 
deserted encampment, on the right a large ammunition 
park of upwards of sixty wagons drawn up in orderly rows. 
It was strange that the enemy had not made an attempt 
to bring these off, as the engagement to the South of 
Beaumont lasted nearly two hours, and there would have 
been plenty of time to get them away. Most likely, when 
the first shells came flying among them, the drivers turned 
tail, and made off with the horses. 

" We rode to the top of the range of hills, as that was 
the only spot from which the gradually sloping ground 
could be overlooked ; besides, we hoped to be able to see 
Mouzon from there. The bridge crossing the Meuse at 
that place was an object of interest to us, for, now that 
the advance of the French on Metz, by the direct road 
vid Stenay had been cut off, it was only possible for them 
to elude us by turning off northwards. But there the Meuse 
formed an obstacle, bounding the battle-field towards the 
north, as well as towards the east. 

" The Commander-in-Chief took his position on the crest 
between the Prussian and Saxon batteries in action there. 
The prospect opening before us was limited in width, but 
this defect was amply atoned for by the variety of the 
scenery and the fierceness of the battle. The evening sun 
was already casting its declining rays, directly at our feet 
lay the Meuse, flowing in many windings, like a silver 
ribbon shining here and there through the smoke which 
hovered over it. Great splashes of water rose high where 
it was struck by the enemy's shells which fell short. On 
the other side of the river we already saw the Saxon 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 123 

cavalry whose horse-artillery battery took part in the 
cannonade. In the background were the roofs and towers 
of Mouzon, and beyond it, on the other bank, rose a range 
of heights, which, at that distance and with twilight 
coming on, looked like a wall of rocks. 

" Further to the left the eye discerned the massive foliage 
of the woods which covered the ground shelving down 
towards the bridge of Mouzon, and over which streaks of 
light blue smoke, waving to and fro, indicated a hot 
infantry engagement, of which, however, nothing could 
be distinguished clearly." 

*' Rhcims, 8th September, 1870. 

** On the same spot arrived, one after the other, the 
commanding generals of the various corps, von Alven- 
sleben I., Prince George of Saxony, and later, Prince 
Augustus of Wurttemberg. Our losses were estimated at 
from 2000 to 4000 men, and again many well-known 
names were mentioned who had paid for the victory with 
their life's blood. 

" Another attempt was cheerfully made to support the 
Prussian troops in their difficult fight in the woods ; for 
which purpose three Saxon regiments advanced along 
the valley of the Meuse; their battery unlimbered, but 
the violent crossfire of the enemy soon made it clear that 
it was impossible to make progress here. So the attempt 
was given up, the more readily because the IV. Corps 
had, meanwhile, succeeded in gaining the outskirts of the 
forest towards Mouzon, and the enemy had consequently 
to evacuate, in any case, all the ground in front of the 

" Darkness was now falling rapidly, scarcely anything 
was to be seen ; it was, therefore, very strange that the 
French, who had brought up a fresh army corps on the 
heights opposite Mouzon, to cover the retreat of their 
troops, still maintained a powerful artillery and mitrail- 
leuse fire, which increased in intensity. Nevertheless 

Digitized by 


124 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

orders were given to place outposts in the position last 
wrested from the enemy, and to bivouac. 

" Then we went back to Beaumont, where the Crown 
Prince was to take up his quarters and issue orders for 
the next day. Riding between overturned wagons we 
reached the place, at the entrance of which Captain von 
Alten joined us again, and brought, moreover, the 
agreeable news that my carriage had already arrived, and 
was in the market-place. 

" The Crown Prince's quarters were near the eastern 
entrance of the town, close to a burning barn. Here the 
dispositions for the following day's movements of the 
three corps and the two cavalry divisions were worked 

" The IV. Corps was to remain near Mouzon. This 
corps and the two Bavarian corps made it impossible for 
the enemy to break through towards the south. The 
Guards and the IX. Corps were to cross the Meuse above 
Mouzon early in the morning, and block the road as far 
as the Belgian frontier, so as to prevent the French army 
from advancing towards Metz. It had become necessary 
to make these arrangements for the army without 
appealing to Headquarters, as the time was short, and it 
was questionable whether, considering the distance, 
orders could arrive from them in time. 

" At 10 o'clock we were ready to set out for the Royal 
Headquarters, which Captain von Alten reported to be 
at Buzancy. The first part of our drive was across 
country, and so our troubles began at once. Moreover, 
the inhabitants of all the houses we found on the way 
had fled ; the buildings were all full of wounded men and 
their attendants, none of whom, of course, could direct 
us. However, it was a bright starlight night, and thus we 
managed at least to keep our general direction. The 
farther away we got from the battle-field, the more 
wonderful was the scene behind us, the country being lit 
up as by a grand illumination. The bivouacs of no less 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 125 

than five army corps, that is of about 150,000 men, were 
visible. Everywhere, on the heights and on the outskirts 
of the woods, magnificent lines of camp fires were blazing 
in a wide circle. At last, in the neighbourhood of some 
village, we reached the Bavarian bivouacs, and thence 
onwards we had at least a decent road ; but our progress was 
no less difficult, as Prussian, Bavarian, and Saxon supply 
trains and ammunition columns came streaming along the 

* road in the opposite direction, every column endeavouring, 
with all its might, to reach its own particular body of troops 
as speedily as possible, the latter to replenish the ammuni- 
tion, the former to bring up provisions. Ambulances were 
passing in different directions, and finally came the whole 
reserve artillery of a Bavarian army corps. Despite all 
these obstacles we reached Buzancy at last, but at the 
very entrance of the village we came upon four rows of 
wagons that had become jammed fast. As we had now 
reached our goal, we left the carriages and horses where 
they were, climbed over the wagons and thus arrived about 
1.30 a.m. at the Staff Office, where General von Moltke 
and his officers were still assembled, being busy issuing 
orders for the following day. 

" It appeared that those prescribed for the army of the 
Crown Prince of Saxony agreed completely with the dis- 
positions already issued by the latter at Beaumont." 

*'Rheims, the 9th September, 1870. 
" The task for the 31st of August was as follows : on 
the one hand to follow the enemy closely and hamper his 
movements, on the other to push our left wing so far 
forward that his retreat westwards would be cut off. The 
last part of the task fell to the army of the Crown 
Prince Frederick William. From the post of observation 
which the King took up in the morning, seven or eight 
miles north of Buzancy, I was sent off to the Third Army 

• with instructions to ascertain the movements of this 
wing, and to see what could be learned there about the 

Digitized by 


126 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

enemy ; then to go to Vendresse in the evening, where 
the Royal Headquarters were to stay for .the night. 

" The final result of the day was that the whole French 
army withdrew to the last man to the northern bank of 
the Meuse and stood concentrated around Sedan. Some 
of their movements suggested the intention, at the eleventh 
hour, perhaps by a night march, to escape from the 
threatened surrounding, or to cross over into Belgium, 
which was close behind them. 

" Later in the evening General von Moltke sent word 
to the Chief of the Staff of the Third Army, General von 
Blumenthal, to cross the Meuse, if possible, in spite of 
the fatigue his troops were beginning to show, at any 
rate with some of his forces. The V. and XL Corps, 
forming the left wing of the Third Army, were therefore 
again set into motion during the night in order to cross 
the Meuse near Donchery." 

3. Battle of Sedan. 
"At half-past 11 at night I returned to Vendresse; 
we worked on until half-past i in the morning and 
rose at 4 o'clock on the ist September. At 5 we 
got into our carriage in order to reach the spot 
situated about 10 miles from Vendresse, from which the 
King intended to conduct the decisive battle. It was a 
fine fresh morning, the morning mists still lingered 
about the mountain valleys, and clung closely about the 
wooded slopes in thick wreaths. Mixed with the smoke 
of the bivouac fires they formed in many places enormous 
and apparently impenetrable banks of clouds, reminding 
one of those spectacular pieces on the stage, in which 
some particularly grand stage effect is set off with all 
sorts of fireworks. Above them we saw the hill-tops 
rising up into the pure air. Our road was free from 
troops ; the two corps who had started during the night 
were already about to cross the Meuse, only their transport 
was still in the bivouacs which we passed. 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire ' 127 

" It was not long before cannon fire was heafd in the 
distance, but to judge from the sound the fighting was 
not directly before us, but in a north-easterly direction ; 
it must have been with the Bavarians and Saxons. This 
much was clear: the French had not attempted to get away 
westwards, 'or else the corps before us must already have 
been hotly engaged ; it looked, therefore, more likely that 
they were again trying to move in the direction of Metz. 
As we approached the Meuse we left the road, mounted our 
horses, and again climbed a pretty steep hill, affording a 
magnificent outlook, where the King arrived about half 
an hour later. 

** Close to our feet lay a second and lower range of hills, 
from which the artillery of a Bavarian corps maintained a 
fairly slow fire against the guns of the fortress of Sedan. 
The town itself lay before us as on a tray, so that we 
could even look into the streets. Several very large 
buildings and churches gave it quite an important look, 
. while the clearly defined lines of the fortifications around 
it enclosed the whole as in a frame. Behind the town 
there rose gradually from the plain a line of hills, on the 
slopes of which a large French encampment was visible, in 
which there was much stir ; on its crest, which descended 
abruptly to the left to the plain, was a wood. The lines of 
the distant hills beyond formed part of the neighbouring 

" Such was the centre portion of the panorama which 
lay before us. To the right the morning mist obscured 
the line of hills and woods, which melted into one another, 
except where, here and there, lit up by the sun, they 
showed up in patches. Here and there flashes from guns 
in action, and the blue smoke-clouds from them, stood out 
in clearly defined outlines, some against the sky, and 
others against the hill-sides. In the foreground, on our 
side of the landscape, extended a broad glittering sheet of 
water formed by the Meuse, which had been dammed by 
the French for the purposes of defence, forming an inunda- 

Digitized by 


128 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

tion of no small extent. Not far from the river, but 
nearer to us, the village of Bazeilles, for which the 
Bavarians were fighting obstinately, was in flames. The 
wood-covered ranges of the left bank of the Meuse, rising 
to a considerable height on our right rear, blocked any 
further outlook. 

" On the left centre of the scene described above, West 
of Sedan, the Meuse flowed at the foot of the steep slope 
of the heights immediately behind Sedan, first northwards, 
and then, forming a loop, came back again to its former 
direction, after which, passing the Uttle town of Donchery, 
it continued its course in a westerly direction. In a 
line with the portion of the river running north along the 
steep slope, on rising ground, were two villages for which 
we had to fight that day, viz. St. Menges and Floing. The 
latter was built on a hill-top, and seemed to be in mid-air, 
as the base of the hill was still lost in the vapour rising 
from the water. 

" The ground behind the northern bend, where dark mists 
still covered the earth, was only indistinctly seen, while 
the plain farther to the left of Donchery with its clearly 
defined net of roads, neatly bounded patches of wood, 
and the pleasant village of Vrigne aux Bois, was spread 
out before us in a bright light. Into that village the rear 
of the V. Corps was just disappearing. 

" Behind us, and on the other side of the main road along 
which we had come, there rose more wooded hills of con- 
siderable height, one of which was crowned by a pretty little 
ch4teau. On a spur running down from it we recognised, 
in the middle of a group of horsemen, the Commander-in- 
Chief of the Third Army with his staff. 

" Our first business was to find our bearings by means of 
the maps. While doing this, shells from the fortress 
burst among the reserve troops a little to our front, which 
induced them to change their position. By-and-by flashes 
shot out of the mist at other places, notably St. Menges ; 
we could clearly mark the progress of the various corps, 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 129 

and how the girdle of fire was closing in round Sedan 
till it became impenetrable." 

" Rheims, loth September, 187a 
" As the V. and XL Corps became more and more 
hotly engaged, Lieutenant-Colonel von Brandenstein 
was despatched to the Crown Prince of Saxony, while I 
was sent to the corps mentioned ; Captain Count Nostitz 
and Lieutenant von Stosch accompanied me. First 
we rode to the height where H.R.H. the Crown Prince 
stood, in order to get information as to the where- 
abouts of the various bodies of his army ; from there we 
went onward down the steep slope to Donchery, and 
Vrigne aux Bois. Behind the latter we met columns of 
the XL Corps going to the front. By the bend of the 
Meuse we halted for a moment, as the engagement south 
of Menges could be watched advantageously from that 
point; then we followed the road along the Meuse. At the 
turn of the northern bend the troops ascended a road 
that ran steeply up the hills so as not to attract the 
fire of the enemy; between the infantry columns the 
batteries advanced at a trot. Just at this corner the steep 
slope was broken by a tiny plateau a few yards wide 
near a mountain spring, where Prince Albrecht (senior) 
stood with his stafif. His staff officer, my old friend 
Versen, had already been wounded, while reconnoitring in 
the foremost fighting line. After a few questions, we like- 
wise hurried up the heights and met, after half an hour's 
ride, the commander of the V. Corps, General von 
Kirchbach. It was a particularly great pleasure to me 
to be at such a critical time near my old and highly 
respected teacher at the Staff College to whom I owe so 
much. Lieutenant-Colonel von der Esch, his chief of the 
staff, who was likewise an old friend, came galloping up 
very soon afterwards from the left wing of the fighting 

" We were standng to the north of the ridge on the 


Digitized by 


I30 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

southern side of which we had seen the French encampment 
from the King's post of observation ; the wood which 
crowned it was strongly occupied by the enemy, especially 
by his artillery, with some mitrailleuse batteries among 
them. St. Menges was already taken ; on the steep slope 
towards the Meuse and about the village of Floing near 
it, the infantry of the XI. Army Corps were still hotly 
engaged. The side of the range looking towards us was 
also very steep, and lay exposed to the heavy fire of the 
enemy. Half up the height, more towards the East, were 
two regiments of the V. Corps in extended order who 
at the time did not seem to be able to make further 
progress. Altogether the impression one gained at the 
first glance was that the hostile position in front could 
only be taken by very superior numbers and at a 
comparatively great sacrifice. But to put out all our 
strength before communication had been established with 
the corps of the Crown Prince of Saxony who were 
wheeling round from the East, did not seem advisable. 
Once that communication was complete, the iron girdle 
was firmly riveted, and the issue could no longer be 
doubtful ; if the enemy did not surrender to-day, he would 
have to do it, in all probability, to-morrow. But in case he 
should, in his desperate position, attempt to break out in 
some direction or other, the reserves had to be held ready 
to meet him in good defensive positions, and it was there- 
fore the less advisable to expose our forces prematurely to 
loss in a difficult attack. 

" Running north-east from St. Menges, parallel to the 
enemy's position, was a second lower ridge, along 
which was deployed, in a long line of about three miles, 
almost the whole artillery of our two corps, who kept up a 
heavy cannonade on the enemy. Ever since 10 o'clock 
the batteries of the V. Corps had swept the high-road 
from Sedan into Belgium. On our side of the slope of St. 
Menges stood under cover behind a small park, the 
battalions of a brigade of the V. Corps, while another 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 131 

brigade with two batteries lay close behind us in reserve. 
Further back, as far as the Belgian frontier, extensive 
woods covered the ground. Already many French soldiers 
who had abandoned their regiments were wandering 
about here, and some few shots came from this 
quarter; the staff of a French division, which had 
tried to escape, had been captured in the forenoon. 
The combat in our front swayed to and fro, the 
infantry engaged on the right wing did not seem to 
make much progress against the very numerous enemy 
and his strong position. All at once there appeared in 
the peninsula formed by the Meuse a few hundred cavalry 
coming down, at full gallop, from the villages. Some 
of them tried to swim the western bend, while others 
careered about fighting. A large number of riderless 
horses were cantering about, while waggons and men on 
foot moved in our direction ; now and then rifle shots 
came from the outskirts of the villages facing us. We 
could not, at first, make out what was going on, and 
opinions were very much divided about it. Some' took 
it for an offensive movement from Sedan, others thought 
our cavalry had made an unsuccessful attack. It re- 
minded me of a similar scene at the battle of 
Koniggratz, where Austrian Hussars suddenly appeared 
in the midst of our troops, and the impression I got was, 
that the enemy's cavalry had made an unsuccessful 
attempt to break out. The report of Count Nostitz, 
who was immediately sent forward, confirmed my views. 
It appeared that several French cavalry regiments on the 
other side of the height had made an attempt to cut their 
way out, displaying extraordinary bravery in doing so, 
whole regiments perishing heroically in the attempt; 
only the foremost got through our infantry line, and then 
merely to succumb to the attacks of our cavalry. 

" Until now the heights had prevented us from seeing 
anything of the army of the Crown Prince of Saxony, 
not even the sound of the cannon was to be heard, 

K 2 

Digitized by 


132 With the Rgyal Headquarters in 1870-71 

Moreover the gaily-coloured infantry of the enemy, which 
owing to their red trousers had a very different appear- 
ance from our columns at a distance, appeared in steadily 
increasing numbers on the outskirts of the woods above. 
Our infantry in vain endeavoured to make headway, and the 
artillery fire in our centre and on the right wing slackened 
perceptibly ; in fact, at last some of the batteries had only 
one gun firing. Soon there came in reports firom all sides 
which were far from pleasant, to the effect that a great 
part of them had exhausted their ammunition, and that 
the ammunition columns had not yet arrived, and shortly 
after this young Prince Wied, a major on the staff of 
the IX. Corps, appeared, asking for reinforcements to 
carry the ridges lying before the French main posi- 
tion. The Wurttemberg Division which was to have 
formed the reserve of this wing had meanwhile been 
sought for everywhere in vain ; it turned out afterwards 
that it had had to be employed otherwise, as bodies of the 
enemy had advanced from the direction of M6zieres. 

" However, the aspect of the scene soon changed ; first, 
news came that we had managed to supply the artillery 
with sufficient ammunition ; then, that the cavalry of the 
Guards had come up on our extreme left wing, and that 
therefore communication had been established with the 
Corps of Guards and the army of the Crown Prince of 
Saxony, while the investment of the enemy had thus been 
completed. Finally, the six splendid cavalry regiments 
of Prince Albrecht with their batteries marched past us, 
and took up a position behind our artillery. The infantry 
on our right wing also at last made visible progress; 
the long-drawn sound of the * advance ' was heard from 
there, and the foremost patches of wood, lying in front 
of the great wood on the height, were taken. The French 
columns on its outskirts swayed about unsteadily, and it 
became evident that there was no longer room enough 
for them on the confined space in which they were more 
^nd more squeezed together, and where our shells caught 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 133 

them in front and rear. Now too the Bavarian batteries 
at the foot of the hill where the King stood, and which we 
had watched the whole day across the peninsula, 
increased the rapidity of their fire. Immense clouds of 
smoke rose, moreover, from Sedan, behind the enemy*s 
position. In short, we concluded that the battle was 
nearing its end ; only another touch was wanted, and the 
command for a simultaneous general attack was therefore 
given to all our troops. 

"We mounted our horses, and rode on towards the 
centre. The rifle fire was still not very heavy along the 
whole line ; the unsteadiness of the enemy became visibly 
greater from minute to minute. At last whole battalions 
piled their arms on the outskirts of the wood, the men 
waved their handkerchiefs and surrendered ; indeed they 
did not know where to find shelter, they could no longer 
go back to Sedan, before them and behind them was 
certain death. Our attention was riveted for some 
moments by this scene, and on our looking more towards 
the right, we saw a winding road, leading down from the 
height, densely crowded with French soldiers, many 
thousands of them, all men who had surrendered and were 
coming down under escort. We separated from General 
von Kirchbach, and rode on in that direction in order to 
obtain a view of Sedan. To our joy we noticed on the 
way that our losses on this part of the battle-field were 
comparatively slight ; but within the enemy's position the 
terrible effect of our artillery was again seen in an awfiil 
manner. It was with the greatest difficulty that a man on 
horseback could move amongst the dead and wounded 
soldiers. The ground, moreover, was much more cut up 
than it appeared from afar, there being deep ravines which 
we had to go round. Our infantry and artillery pressed on 
in dense masses towards the last wooded eminence where 
a pretty villa stood, surrounded by high walls; arrived 
there, we soon found where we were, as at a short distance 
on the other side rose the nearest fortifications of Sedan. 

Digitized by 


134 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

"The XL Corps, whose original commander, General 
von Bose, had been severely wounded at Worth, this day 
again lost its leader, Lieutenant-General von Gersdorff, who 
was mortally wounded by a rifle bullet ; in his place Lieu- 
tenant-General von Schachtmeyer had taken the command, 
whom we met with the chief of his staff, Major-General von 
Stein, on this height, and who gave us the requisite informa- 
tion as to the position of the troops. Meanwhile fire had 
ceased everywhere, even the heavy Bavarian battery on the 
other sideof the Meuse had become silent ; we therefore went 
back to St. Menges, where General von Kirchbach intended 
to take his quarters, in order to make ourselves acquainted 
with his dispositions for the two army corps for the follow- 
ing day, before our return to the Royal Headquarters. 

"Count Nostitz managed even under these difficult 
circumstances to find the means to satisfy our hunger and 
thirst. As soon as the general arrived, business was gone 
through and despatched at once, and we presently started 
with pur orderlies and spare horses on our return journey. 
As we were leaving. General von Kirchbach expressed with 
particular pleasure his satisfaction that circumstances had 
allowed him on this day to be sparing of the blood of his 
soldiers. His words impressed themselves in my memory 
with the greater clearness, as the general did not yet know 
then, that his own son, so full of promise, had met a 
heroic death that day in the ranks of the Guards. 

" We had scarcely ridden on for a quarter of an hour, 
when it became quite dark ; we chose our road along the 
Meuse, passing on the way columns of prisoners who were 
being escorted back, and at last, after forcing our way 
through various detachments, we reached Donchery, where 
we hoped to find the Royal Headquarters. In the midst 
of the general crush we chanced to meet with several of 
our comrades of the Staff, who informed us that 
Napoleon had sent his sword to the King. This surprised 
us not a little, because the presence of the Emperor in Sedan 
was not known to us, although we knew that he had 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 135 

been with the armj' at an earlier stage. General von 
Moltke and the Quartermaster-General von Podbielski 
were ready to conduct the negotiations for the 
capitulation which had already begun. I reported 
myself, and we went into General von Moltke*s room, 
where his chief secretary, Major de Claer, was, and where 
the remaining officers of the Staff, who had been sent 
out, assembled one after the other. 

" Now the object which we had continually had before 
our eyes for the last week, and which with each day we 
saw coming more and more within our grasp, had at last 
been gained ! Everyone of us had long expected this result, 
but nevertheless we were all, almost without exception, 
now deeply moved by the magnitude of the event. One 
of the first armies of the world, which had fought with 
heroic bravery, and which a short time ago had numbered 
nearly 150,000 men, a French army with the Emperor at 
its head, had been reduced to a state in which resistance 
was an impossibility, and forced to surrender uncon- 
ditionally. The history of war records many a catastrophe, 
but one on such a scale as this had never been inscribed 
on its pages before ! 

" On former occasions, when we had returned from a 
battle in the evening, many particulars used to be given 
of the combat, and hundreds of questions had to be 
answered ; to-day not a word was said about such things ; 
all we did was to repeat in many variations the one 
thought : ' What a stupendous victory ! ' or, ' What will 
they say of this at home ? ' 

" It was about 11 o'clock at night, when it was an- 
nounced that General von Wimpfifen was at the door. 
This general had taken over the command of the French 
army, as Marshal MacMahon had, early in the day, been 
wounded by one of the first shells fired. 

"We went into the room which opened on to the land- 
ing ; Count Bismarck had also found his way there. 
General von Wimpffen with two other generals and several 

Digitized by 


136 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

aides-de-c^amp, all still bearing about them traces of the 
combat, stepped into the room, which was densely 
crowded. It was a strange and wonderful scene. Two 
candelabra with candles burnt down to various lengths and 
an old oil lamp did not suffice to light up the closely 
packed room ; the generals and Count Bismarck sat down 
around the table, we others stood round their chairs. The 
various uniforms, the solemn silence, the grave faces 
covered with perspiration and dust in the almost uncanny 
light, ail this I shall never forget. The scene was made 
still more spectral by a ray of light which escaped from the 
broken globe of the lamp, gliding up along the wall till it 
fell on an excellent portrait of Napoleon I., who looked 
down on the wonderful assembly at his feet, and seemed 
to ask mutely from the world of spirits what it meant. 

" Negotiations now began, in which General von 
Wimpffen tried hard to obtain better conditions than 
those which General von Moltke proposed to him. 
Wimpffen looked every inch a soldier, and was of 
strikingly prepossessing appearance ; he complained : 
' Only two days ago I reached here from the interior of 
Africa, and now this is what I have to do ! ' But his 
protests were unavailing. Count Bismarck pointed to the 
political situation : ' During the last 200 years, we have been 
attacked by France more than twenty times in the midst 
of peace ; if we had to deal with an old-established dynasty 
acceptable conditions of peace could easily bb found, but 
that is impossible with such rulers as you have at Paris. 
We must have material guarantees for the future.' And 
General von Moltke insisted with iron inflexibility on the 
conditions offered, viz. the capitulation of the army and 
of the fortress of Sedan. Wimpffen, indeed, objected : 
'The conditions were too hard, he had assumed the 
command during the battle, when he knew neither the 
position of the troops nor what dispositions had been 
made; the following day might, with new dispositions, 
change the situation.' But our General retorted : ' It is 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 137 

absolutely impossible ! You have neither ammunition nor 
provisions, as you may learn from your officers ; an army 
of over seven army corps surrounds you ; we are in 
possession of all the heights around the fortress ; not a 
'man in your army can stir, and all resistance is impossi- 
ble. If you do not accept our conditions, the order will 
be given to-morrow early — much to my regret — ^to open 
the bombardment, and then there will be useless blood- 
shed which will only make your position worse. 

" Lastly, General von Wimpffen demanded twenty-four 
hours' time to consider, as he could not accept such 
conditions on his own responsibility, but must consult 
with his generals. This also was refused in these words : 
' If by to-morrow morning, at 9 o'clock, I have not received 
your answer, the signal will be given for hostilities to re- 
commence.' Next, one of the French generals declared he 
was commissioned to negotiate concerning the personal 
surrender of the Emperor. He was answered this 
depended on His Majesty the King, they had only to 
discuss military matters here, and as the Emperor hkd 
given up the chief command of the army, they had 
nothing to treat about concerning him. With that the 
conference broke oif. Wimpfifen promised to return his 
answer by 10 o'clock next morning. 

" General von Moltke then sat down, and dictated to 
me the draught of the capitulation. Bronsart and de 
Claer had still work to do. Some of the other officers 
insisted on keeping us company while we worked, but 
before long they all snored so vigorously that it became 
impossible to write any further, and we had at first much 
difficulty in waking them again. 

" At last the draught was finished, and I turned in about 
3 o'clock. Bronsart told me what follows : — 

" When on the day of battle the enemy's heights had 
been stormed, as could be seen clearly from where the 
King stood, the Bavarian batteries had received orders to 
shell the town. He h^^d next been commissioned to ride 

Digitized by 


138 With the Royal Headquarters in 18 7071 

into Sedan and to invite the enemy to surrender. 
Arrived at the gate, he found the Bavarians there already 
in negotiation. After he had been admitted into the town, 
he demanded to see the Commander-in-Chief of the French 
army. Not knowing to whom he would be brought — he 
thought to MacMahon — he was at last directed to a room 
in which he found himself suddenly in the presence of the 
Emperor Napoleon, whom he recognized at once, as he 
said, from the caricatures in a well-known Berlin comic 

" The Emperor had risen with difficulty from his chair, 
had asked after the King, and then sent him back with 
General Reille, who was the bearer of a letter, to His 
Majesty. The reception of this general on the height where 
H.R.H. the Crown Prince and the foreign princes were, 
made a great impression on all present. 

" Scarcely had we washed and dressed next morning 
and drunk a cup of coffee, whea the news came : ' The 
Emperor is here, and waiting in a house not quite a mile 
from Donchery.' Generals von Moltke and Podbielski 
at once drove out with us. Count Bismarck, who had 
received the news before us, was there already. 

" It looked as if the Emperor were anxious not to 
stay any longer in the midst of his army. The cata- 
strophe had loosened the bonds of discipline ; if the news 
of the capitulation became known, everything was to be 
feared from the infuriated soldiers. Therefore he had 
appeared at our outposts early in the morning. We 
found the suite of the Emperor before a small peasant's 
house which, situated on the high-road, was only 
separated from it by ^ small courtyard sloping somewhat 
steeply down to it. Very soon afterwards General von 
Moltke came out again, and drove on to meet the King 
with the draught of the capitulation which had been 
made out during the night. His Majesty, returning in the 
morning from Vendresse, had gone again to the spot from 
where he had conducted the battle the day before. The 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 139 

Emperor also subsequently came out of the house, and 
sat down on a chair, smoking one cigarette after the other. 
I saw him here for the first time ; he seemed to me to be 
short and somewhat corpulent, and was ashy pale, his 
chin resting on the breast ; at the same time he looked 
outwardly unmoved, almost indifferent, and only now and 
then, when he heaved a deep sigh, did he betray his inward 
emotion. A splendid squadron of the Body-Guard, who 
were to form his escort, attracted the attention of the 
French generals ; nothing passed along the road the whole 
time except transport. 

" Count Bismarck had offered his quarters at Donchery 
for the meeting with the King. But the Emperor did 
not like to go into that town; so several Staff officers 
were sent out to find a suitable place. Half a mile from 
us, not far from the village of Frenois and the Meuse, a 
small chateau was seen half hidden among the foliage ; 
this was considered suitable, and the procession moved 
off in that direction. We drove in front, then followed 
two sections of the Body-Guard, then came the Emperor 
driving in his carriage with his suite, some driving, others 
riding ; the rest of the cuirassiers brought up the rear. 
From the bivouacs along the road, of course, every man 
rushed on to the road to see. 

** The ch&teau, built somewhat in the Norman style, 
was surrounded by a well-kept park, and looked very 
pretty. A small tower, rising in the middle, was flanked on 
the right side of the front by a conservatory reached by 
some steps. The place, down to the iron gate which led 
into the park from the road, was on a very small scale. 
Some part of the time during the next few hours we 
passed on this tower, the rest in the spacious and well 
furnished dining-room, which was on the ground floor. 
Outside the garden a Bavarian company was posted, 
behind them stood some Wurttemberg batteries unlim- 
bered and ready, at a moment's notice, to open fire on 
Sedan, which was lying before us. 

Digitized by 


140 With the Royal Headquarters in 187071 

" Early in the morning a staff officer (Winterfeldt) had 
been sent into the fortress to tell General Wimpffen 
that, if the answer did not come at the hour fixed, the 
bombardment would begin. This officer returned with 
the answer, that the General was close behind him. 

'' General von Moltke also made his appearance again : 
His Majesty the King approved of the draught of the 
capitulation, but he would not consent to see the Emperor 
before it was signed. 

" There were no longer any difficulties about this; only a 
few words were spoken in the dining-room concerning the 
subject, then I sat down with the Chief of the French Staff, 
and we wrote out two copies of the capitulation. Generals 
von Moltke and Wimpffen signed it. General von Pod- 
bielski, from whose portfolio the two pens had come which 
were used, was so kind as to give me one as a souvenir. 

" Our General took the document just completed with 
him, mounted his horse and rode off to the King, who was 
still on the eminence. 

" After the lapse of about three quarters of an hour he 
returned with the news that the King was coming at 
once. Having dismounted, he surprised the three Chiefs 
of Sections by presenting them with the Iron Cross which 
he had brought with him for us, expressing his pleasure 
to be able in the name of the King to hand them to us 
at so eventful a moment. 

" Scarcely had we time to fasten them in our button- 
holes when His Majesty appeared with a large suite, 
accompanied by the Crown Prince, Prince Charles and 
all the princes present at headquarters. It was a solemn 
moment which words fail to describe. What was said 
inside, no one knew at the time, but we understand 
the Emperor had remarked that ' he had been forced 
into the war,' and that * he felt himself personally con- 
quered by our artillery.' * 

^ The Emperor, following* the traditions of his uncle, had always taken 
great interest in the artillery. He partially wrote an excellent history 

Digitized by 


The War with the French Empire 141 

" After some time both sovereigns appeared in the con- 
servatory, where the King addressed some words to the 
suite of the Emperor, and where the Crown Prince also 
conversed with the Emperor ; then the latter accompanied 
the King as far as the steps. With youthful alertness the 
tall figure of our sovereign sprang into the saddle ; going 
off at a gallop, accompanied by his numerous and many- 
coloured followers who had not been able to find room 
in the small house and had stood about among the 
shrubs, on the narrow pathways far down into the 
park. They formed a brilliant and wild-looking cavalcade, 
which the Emperor thoughtfully followed with his eyes 
before he disappeared into the room. 

" Outside the drums of the Bavarians struck up ; 
their bands played *Heil Dir im Siegerkranz,' and the 
hurrah of the bivouacking troops followed the King along 
his ride; he was eager to express his thanks to his 
victorious troops on the battle-field.* 

" General von Moltke invited me into his carriage ; 
silently we drove back to Donchery, where more work 
awaited us. 

" Next morning, the Emperor, escorted by two squadrons 
of Hussars, drove past our windows as a prisoner toward 
the Belgian frontier. We also set out for the head- 
quarters of the King at Vendresse, the first stage on the 
road to Paris." 

Thus ended the first part of this gigantic struggle ! 
With the capitulation of Napoleon and of the army 
which he accompanied, fell the Empire, which had 
brought about the war. 

of its progress, and is generally believed to have been the suggester 
of the canon Napol6on, a species of compromise between the ordinary 
field- gun and a howitzer, which fired a I2lb. common shell instead of 
round shot. The French artillery in the war of 1870 showed itself 
distinctly inferior not only in material but also from a tactical point of 
view, and hence the Emperor's feelings. — Ed. 

^ ** Heil Dir im Siegerkranz, Herrscher des Vaterlands, ' are the two 
opening lines of the Prussian National Hymn which has the same tune 
as " God save the Queen."--ED. 

Digitized by 


Secon^ part 


I. The March from Sedan to Paris. 

I. General Survey. 

The result of the battle of Sedan was bound to bring about 
a general revolution in the internal organisation of France. 
On the 4th September, in the afternoon, the leaders of 
the Republican party assembled in the town hall of Paris 
and declared, without consulting the legislative body, that 
the dynasty of the Bonapartes had ceased to reign, and, 
proclaimed the Republic. At the same time a provisional 
government was established, the head of which was 
General Trochu, the Governor of Paris ; the Empress 
Eugenie left the city the same afternoon. 

Strange to say, I do not find the smallest indication in 
my notes and letters as to when and where we first heard 
of these events or what impression they made on us. 

The absence of any kind of remark I can only explain 
now by the circumstance that the changes which occurred 
in Paris by no means took us by surprise. We had 
been thoroughly convinced even before the war that 
the defeat of the French army would at the same time 
seal the fate of the Napoleonic dynasty. General von 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 143 

Moltke had even expressed this view quite definitively in 
one of his minutes long before the war. The catastrophe 
of Sedan was sure to be followed, as a matter of course, by 
a revolution in Paris, and so familiar had we become with 
this idea that we looked upon the change of government 
in France as quite the proper course for events to take. 
The only thing that appeared to us important now was 
what the further progress of operations would be. 

When we left Vendresse, the opinion was pretty 
generally prevalent in the army that the chief work was 
now done, and that the end would soon follow. One of 
the armies of the Empire was already annihilated, the 
other locked up in Metz, while the organized fighting 
forces still existing in the interior of the country might 
fairly be assumed to be comparatively small. The best 
part of them was the Corps of General Vinoy, which had 
been too late to join the army of MacMahon at Sedan, and 
which, after skilfully evading us, hurried off to Paris. 

When we supposed that the war would now soon be at 
an end, we were certainly very much mistaken : however, 
a fact it is that after Sedan, most of us believed that we 
had now only to push on rapidly to Paris and there 
dictate peace. 

After the defeat of the French armies, the capital of the 
country became of peculiar importance. In many wars, 
certainly, the capitals of great powers have fallen into the 
enemy's possession without this event bringing about 
peace ; for instance, Vienna, Berlin, Moscow. But the 
influence which Paris exercises over France had in former 
wars been proved to be so commanding, that with the fall 
of the capital the war also had come to an end ; such had 
been the case in 1814 and 1815, ^^^ the march to Paris 
seemed therefore to be such an evident necessity, after 
Sedan, that no other plan was ever even put forward at 
the time. 

But later on, when, contrary to all expectation, the war 
became more and more prolonged and the hardships of a 

Digitized by 


144 With the Royal Headquarters in iS 70-71 

winter campaign keenly felt ; when many more great 
battles and engagements had to be fought out, and many 
a grave situation faced, opinions were put forward 
which decried our advance on Paris as a stupendous 
mistake. We ought to have stopped after Sedan, it was 
said, and waited for the French to dislodge us, as they 
would have been bound to take the offensive if they 
wished to drive us out of the country again. Moltke said 
in reference to this view shortly before the fall of the 
capital, " If, with the experience we have now, we were 
again placed in the position we were in after Sedan, I 
should have nothing better to propose to the King than 
what we have done, viz. to advance on Paris." 

What, indeed, should we have gained by standing still 
after Sedan ? We should have given the French time to 
make use of their immense resources for the organization 
of fresh armies, and we should have left them at liberty to 
attack us, when and where they thought fit. If we had 
conquered in this fresh struggle, we could. only have done 
the very thing which we now did under much more 
favourable circumstances. Or should we once more have 
stood still and awaited another attack ? In this case the 
war would have been prolonged ad infinitum before France 
was exhausted. The part of the country which we pos- 
sessed after Sedan, was, certainly, a comparatively large 
one, but it was still only a fraction of the whole French 
territory. By advancing to Paris we enlarged our borders, 
and materially facilitated thereby the provisioning of our 
army in the rich country around it. Even when before 
Paris, the task of subjecting the whole country was 
certainly too great for us ; but we foresaw that the fall of 
the capital would bring about this result, and this was the 
only way in which there was any possibility of a reason- 
ably early end to the war ; nor were we mistaken in this 

The march on Paris could not at first be begun 
with all the forces concentrated at Sedan. The safe 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 145 

transport of the hostile axmy that had become prisoners 
of war, necessitated the leaving behind, for the present, 
of the I. Bavarian and the XL Corps, which were placed 
under the command of General von der Tann, The 
remaining troops had first to be distributed again over a 
wider front, in order to facilitate the marching and to 
obtain better means of supply. The numerous cavalry 
were spread out in front in order to ensure, the safety of 
the army, and they swept the country to great distances 
in front. 

As General Vinoy had led his corps back to Paris, no 
further collisions with large bodies of the enemy occurred 
during our advance. On the other hand, numerous 
francs-tireurs and other organised bands began to make 
their appearance, harassing our troops considerably. 

The Army of the Meuse, which was on our right wing, 
attempted, during our advance, to gain possession of the 
fortresses of Montm^dy and Soissons; but their com- 
mandants were not to be frightened by the fire of our 
field guns. On the other hand, Laon capitulated on the 
arrival of the Duke William of Mecklenburg-Schwerin 
with the 6th Cavalry division and the 4th Battalion of 
Rifles. While the occupation of the citadel was proceed- 
ing, the powder magazine exploded — the act, probably, of 
some fanatic, which caused us a loss of 15 officers and 
96 men, whilst that of the French was about 300 men. 

By the i8th September both the Third Army and 
that of the Meuse had advanced sufficiently far for the 
investment of Paris to be effected on the following day. 
The Royal Headquarters left Vendresse oji the 4th 
September, and arrived at Meaux on the 15th, vid Rethel 
Rheims and Chateau Thierry. 

2. DoNCHERY, Vendresse, Rethel, Rheims, Chateau 
Thierry and Meaux. 

No important events occurred during the period 
which follows, and I may, therefore, confine myself to 


Digitized by 


146 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

reproducing some extracts from my diary and letters 
concerning, for the most part, only private experiences, 
but containing also certain views of the situation, as 
entertained by us at the time. In reference to these 
views, I rei>eat, that I reproduce here my notes word 
for word, without caring whether they afterwards 
proved to be right or wrong, because it is in this way 
only that it is possible to give a faithful impression 
of the feelings which prevailed with us at these times. 

** Donchery, 3rd September, morning. 

"This letter and my last may possibly reach home 
sooner vtd Belgium, than by our field post. In two 
hours' time we leave this place, and then for Paris ! At 
the moment there is still much work to do in making 
arrangements for setting the immense convoys of prisoners 
in motion. 

" It seems as if the Emperor Napoleon had left Sedan 
because he felt no longer safe in the town amid the 
prevailing anarchy. He is now on the way to Cassel, via 
Belgium, as a prisoner of war. As he did not command 
the army himself, no negotiations could be carried on 
with him concerning its fate ; it is said that he will not 
enter into any future negotiations for peace either, being 
a prisoner. Who now represents the government of 
France ? 

" If nothing unexpected happens before Metz, there may 
be soon an end to bloodshed there.* The French have 
only one more organised corps, consisting mostly of 
reserve troops. A place like Paris need not be besieged 
at all, it has only to be blockaded from all sides and 
supplies cut off by means of a numerous cavalry. How- 

^ While the fate of MacMahon's arm^ was being decided at Sedan 
Bazaine had made a sortie from Metz with all his available forces— in 
a direction, it is true, opposite to that from which the relieving army 
was expected ; this led to the battle of Noisseville on ihe 31SC of 
August and the ist of September. The attempt to break out did not 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 147 

ever well they may be provisioned now, they will come 
to loggerheads within the town itself, in a fortnight at the 

"Our losses in the recent battles have been com- 
paratively small. As the catastrophe was inevitable, we 
could afford to proceed, in the case of most of the corps, 
with a regard to human life, which under different 
circumstances would scarcely have been practicable. 
The Bavarian Corps alone was engaged in an extremely 
bloody combat and has suffered heavy losses. Versen 
is dangerously wounded. 

" Count Hatzfeld has just arrived, and will depart for 
Brussels ; he is so kind as to take this letter with him." 

" Vendresse, 3rd September. 

" We dined to-day about 6 o'clock with the King, 
and he congratulated us in hearty terms on receiving the 
Iron Cross. 

" It was on this occasion that His Majesty gave the 
following toast : — 

" ' You, General von Roon, have sharpened the sword ; 
you, General von Moltke, have wielded it ; you, Count 
Bismarck, have conducted my policy in such an able 
manner that, in thanking my army, I think of you three 
in particular. Long live the army ! ' 

" I must also mention an amusing remark which was 
made on this occasion. One of the guests, sitting opposite 
the King, had caught a glimpse of the Emperor Napoleon 
at Donchery as the latter drove through the village under 
the escort of two squadrons of Black Hussars, on his way, 
vid Belgium, to Wilhelmshohe, near Cassel, which place 
had been chosen for his residence. At dinner this gentle- 
man suddenly began to consider where the Emperor might 
be by this time, and he fetched out his watch to help him 
in his calculation. This manoeuvre did not escape the 
King, who asked him, consequently : * I suppose you have 
still work to do ? ' 'I beg pardon, your Majesty, but I 

L 2 

Digitized by 


148 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

am only calculating something,' was the answer. ' What 
is that, if I may ask ? ' 'I think I can show conclu- 
sively, that now the moment must have come at which the 
Emperor Napoleon is just crossing the frontier and can 
say with truth : " I have all France at my back." ' The 
King laughed and observed : ' A very poor joke ! but,' he 
added, raising his glass, ' I drink to it all the same.' " 

" Rethel, 5th September. 
" Postal communication of course is becoming slower 
as the distance becomes greater. We are all quartered 
here, in a very fine house belonging to a manufacturer, 
who is absent, however. We look forward with pleasure 
to our arrival at Rheims ; one positively longs to pass a 
few days again in a large town, to buy various neces- 
saries, and to get needful repairs done, for which we 
shall have leisure enough, as we shall probably remain here 
some days to arrange for spreading out the several hun- 
dred thousand men concentrated for the last battle, over 
a wider front of march. The mines of which they talk 
in our newspapers, and the danger of being blown up, 
are sheer nonsense. We only destroy railways if we can 
make no use of them. The possession of the line vi& 
Toul would be particularly valuable to us, but that fortress 
is still in the hands of the French." 

" Rheims, 5 th September, 8 p.m. 
" It is not long since we arrived ; we are staying oppo- 
site the glorious cathedral, which just now, in the evening 
light, has a most beautiful appearance. Our quarters are 
not particularly good, as the Commander-in-Chief of the 
VI. Army Corps with his staff has already appropriated 
the best rooms in the hotel in which we stay, and we 
did not wish to turn them out, the corps being under 
orders to march again before long. While driving about 
the town, I saw Major von Schlichting fall backwards 
with his horse, close to General von Tiimpling, who was 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 149 

watching his troops entering the town and march past 
him. Happily, there was no harm done. His eminent 
abilities, especially his rare insight into great strategical 
questions, would make him much more useful on the 
Staff than he can be in his present position as com- 
mander of a battalion. 

" We expect to remain here for several days." 

*^ Rheims, 6th September. 

" To-day we changed rooms and have now better 
quarters. Podbielski and I are in the house of one of the 
largest manufacturers of champagne. 

" During the last week, owing to our duties in the field 
and the marches we made, the whole office work has been 
so much retarded, that I have seen nothing of Rheims as 
yet, except for a cursory walk through the cathedral." 

" Rheims, 7th September. 
" It will be some days yet before we get away from 
here, as the armies have first to extend their front. The 
troops in front, meanwhile, continue their march on Paris 
with the cavalry in advance. What organized troops 
of the enemy are available, are only very inferior in 
numbers to our forces, and they are not likely to make a 
stand in the open. Until we get to Paris, our march will 
probably be more of the nature of a pleasure trip than 
anything else." 

" Rheims, 8th September. 
" This morning we had a prolonged conference with the 
officer commanding the engineers as to the way we can 
best settle the forts of Paris. I am hoping that the thing' 
will be done without much bloodshed on our side. 

" Brandenstein is still busy at Sedan with the removal 
of the prisoners, and he is not likely to return for a day 
or two. I expect we shall remain here about four days 

Digitized by 


150 With the Royal Headquarters in i 8 7071 

" If the people in Paris do not begin to quarrel among 
themselves, we shall have to make them see that the end 
is coming. Such a reminder will probably be necessary, 
as the conditions of peace which we shall make >yill not 
be accepted before they realise their powerlessness. Not 
counting a pretty heavy indemnity, we shall in no case 
let Lorraine and Alsace go ; Metz must become a Prussian 
fortress. To-day a second supply of Iron Crosses arrived, 
and I was very glad that Blume, Krause, Claer and 
Nostitz were each presented with one." 

'' Rheims, 9th September. 

" Herr von Muhlberg, of the Zieten Hussars, has been 
here to-day. I have not seen him myself, but have spoken 
with the ofl&cer who now commands his regiment (the former 
commander. Colonel von Zieten, fell at Vionville). He is 
full of his praises. During the cavalry charge which took 
place when it was already dark, Muhlberg got wounded, 
and, unable to extricate himself from under his dead 
horse, was taken prisoner. The French carried him to 
Vionville, but he managed that same night to get free by 
paying a ransom, and returned to his regiment next 

"The Alexander Regiment, likewise, praise the conduct 
of another friend of ours, little Kries ; he and another 
were the only officers of his battalion who came out un- 
scathed from the battle of Gravelotte ; his brother, who 
is a reserve officer in the regiment, was wounded rather 

" As to the story about signing despatches, it is simply 
this : formerly the hours for reporting to the King were 
different from now, and as Podbielski was not at the office 
at the time when they were sent off, I signed them ; now 
that he is always on the spot before they are sent, it is a 
matter of course that he signs. 

> Her von Miihlberg is at present Acting Privy Councillor of Lega- 
tion at the Foreign Office. The " ransom ** might possibly be better 
translated ** bribe."— Ed. 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 151 

*' The important telegram sent off by the King on the 
evening of the battle of Sedan in which he announced 
that the Emperor Napoleon had offered his sword and 
that he had accepted it, has safely come back again last 
evening through the post. As the enemy appeared in the 
neighbourhood, the courier could proceed no further, and 
handed the despatch to an orderly, who brought it back 
again to us." 

*' Rheims, i ith September. 

" To-day we managed at last to get free for once, and 
made use of the opportunity to drive to the femous camp 
of Chdlons in company with Podbielski, Bronsart and 
others. We were not particularly struck with it; the 
Quartier Imperial had been thoroughly ransacked by 
Gardes Mobiles. 

"Once more our telegrams, of the 3rd and 4th 
September, are not in the Berlin papers ; I wonder what 
can have become of them." 

" Rheims, 12th September. 

" You ask me what will happen in respect to Paris ? 
We must get in, that is clear ; but as to how this is to be 
done, opinions are divided. Some believe that nothing 
further will happen of a serious nature ; others — and I 
among them — doubt this. I maintain that strong com- 
pulsion will yet have to be used. In the field, indeed, they 
can no longer face us for the present. 

"We shall see when we are on the spot, in what 
manner we shall proceed against Paris ; for the present 
we have cut off (yesterday) some of their drinking-water, 
at Chateau Thierry. In Metz it would seem as if the 
French had still enough to live on, although it is declared 
for certain that they are already reduced to horseflesh, of 
which there will be no want for some time to come. 
Prince Frederick Charles is not going to let them escape, 
and he has the means to prevent it. But if the French 

Digitized by 


152 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

should be, nevertheless, so far successful, they would 
have to try to reach the south by a great detour, which 
in all probability, pursued as they would be by our 
troops, would mean their dispersal." 

**Rheims, 13th September. 

"To-day I have seen the vast champagne cellars of 
my host which the King visited yesterday. These sub- 
terranean galleries with their gigantic vaults for storage 
are highly interesting. In return for some small service 
I received a basket with six bottles of the choicest brands. 
I had them carefully transported to our * war chariot,' 
which was parked together with all our other baggage- 
waggons, in order to have something in hand for a time of 
need." Unfortunately all this care was in vain, for a few 
days afterwards* I discovered that the basket, together 
with the bottles, had been stolen ! 

" We are hoping that by to-morrow our cavalry will 
already be before the gates of Paris. We shall reach 
Chiteau Thierry, about forty miles from here, in one long 
march, then, by another of equal length, Meaux." 

"Chateau Thierry, 14th September. 

" Here we are, having safely arrived at half-past 6 in the 
evening. The weather was showery, so that we could not 
see the country in its fullest beauty. 

" On the way we had a few hours' rest at a delightful 
small ch&teau and made a very good breakfast, prepared 
for us by young Stosch, who had been sent in advance. 
Moltke took his coffee with us in a small tastefully furnished 
turret-room, which so took his fancy that he was loth to 
leave it again ; nor were we at all eager. We were in 
the best of spirits, and so the resting place became the 
birthplace of innumerable puns. 

"Scarcely had we arrived at Chiteau Thierry — our 
limbs being still stiff from our long drive — when we saw 
our honoured chief already surveying the country from a 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

The Struggle with the Republic 153 

weather-beaten old to^yer. It was too dark to see much, 
but it is a habit of Moltke, wherever there is some point 
from which a wide view can be obtained, to immediately 
climb up to it. 

" You verily believe us endowed with wings ! We are 
actually supposed to be in Paris already ! Why, we only 
aim, for the present, at arriving before the town ; how 
we may get in, we shall see later on. I think we shall be 
more comfortable outside the gates than in the town." 

On the 15th September we left Chateau Thierry. 
Before starting, orders were issued to the Third Army 
and that of the Meuse for the investment of Paris ; there 
was also one more conference with the chiefs of the 
staff of both armies, Major-General von Blumenthal 
and Lieutenant- General von Schlotheim, concerning the 
future operations. 

" Meaux, 15th September. 

"It was a very pleasant drive to-day from Chateau 
Thierry to Meaux : beautiful weather and a lovely road 
winding between the heights which skirt the valley of the 
river. About five miles on this side of Meaux the French had 
blown up a large railway bridge having another running 
alongside of it for the traffic ; likewise the bridges over the 
Ourcq Canal and several others besides. This will cost 
them much money, and the only damage they do is to 
themselves. In such acts of destruction there is no sense, 
except where the river line in question is to be held, or if 
the river is so large that the bridging will cost the enemy 
some considerable time, neither of which was the case 
here. For a defence of the line all the necessary conditions 
were wanting, and the width of the water was so insigni- 
ficant that the time needed for resting the troops was 
sufficient to prepare other means of crossing. The 
blowing up of these great and costly structures were 
therefore utterly unnecessary. 

" Our columns are now hurrying on all sides, in a great 

Digitized by 


154 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

semicircle, towards Paris. Within a few days this semi- 
circle will become complete, enclosing the metropolis 
and isolating it from the world at one blow. 

" The letters from Headquarters of the 2nd and mid-day 
of the 3rd September have got, not to Germany, but 
into the hands of the French commandant of Verdun, 
together with the courier, who has been taken prisoner. 
As far as I remember there are none of mine among them, 
as I sent my letters of those two days vid Belgium." 

*' Meaux, i6th September. 

"Our newspapers busy themselves very much with 
mines, incendiarism by means of petroleum, etc., whereby 
we are to be surprised. Even here there is not an hour 
that we do not get warnings from quite serious people in 
all parts of the world. We call this the mine fever, an 
epidemic which, when once it breaks out, spreads very 
widely ; fortunately it has not affected us. Mines are a 
means of defence which may be used in war, and against 
which, if they are actually exploded, there is as little 
protection as against the bullets of the enemy. That 
can't be altered, I am sorry to say, if once a man takes part 
in wicked war ! But if the French were to lay only the 
hundredth part of all the mines, of the existence of which 
we are warned, they would need not " only their own 
powder, but all ours as well. Fanatical acts may of course 
take place, as recently as Laon, and as far as human 
foresight can protect our troops from them, it will be done. 
But on the whole, such rumours are mere bogies, 
fit to frighten people who know nothing about the matter. 
To us such gloomy forebodings serve only as amusement. 

" We learn that in certain circles in Berlin no small fears 
were entertained about war preparations in Austria, 
North America and Spain. Now, I suppose, people will 
cool down again. Austria will scarcely think of entering 
the war at this present stage ; North America has, indeed, 
recognized the Republic, but possesses no land army 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 155 

capable of making itself felt in Europe ; and Spain has 
plenty to do within her own borders. If any state of 
consequence had, at first, a desire to intervene, that desire 
must have vanished after the catastrophe of Sedan. 

'' They also complain in Berlin that Napoleon is being 
treated with too much ceremony, and that a sentimental 
policy is out of place in such stirring times. We simply 
treat him as Emperor. But for the moment he represents 
the only government which we recognise and we must 
continue to recognise it until we have another with which 
to treat. With whom otherwise are we to make peace ? 

" I think I have made several mistakes in the dates of 
my letters. That comes of hurrying ! " 

"Meaux, 17th September. 
" Nothing new has taken place here. In regard to the 
political situation, you may reassure all our friends who 
take an interest in it. Of course I cannot tell you 
anything definite on the matter, but I think I am toler- 
ably well informed all the same, as our military arrange- 
ments, especially under the present circumstances, are 
sure to be greatly influenced by the general political 

"Meaux, i8th September. 
" It appears that the advance-guard of the VI. Army 
Corps is engaged just now to the south of Paris, at 
least artillery fire is heard in that direction. 

" General von Gersdorff, whom you met at Prague, has 
died of the wound which he received at Sedan. Our 
dear Wittich, our travelling companion in Italy last 
year, has succumbed likewise to his wound. For 
Lieutenant Meie I will do all I can with pleasure ; but 
that is only possible, if he can be spared where he is now. 
Everyone would like to be at the front, but everyone 
must first of all stick to the post where he has been 
placed. Only his superior officers can judge whether 
he can be dispensed with there." 

Digitized by 


156 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

During the night of the i8th September we, the chiefs of 
sections of the staff, were suddenly summoned to General 
von Moltke, who lived in the Episcopal Palace. We found 
the General in a large room, the fame of which has since 
become historical, on the longer side of which there was a 
bed ensconced in a niche. Reports had come in from the 
north of Paris, according to which numerous bodies of 
the enemy were said to be still outside of the line of forts, 
so that there was the prospect of some fighting with the 
army of the Crown Prince of Saxony, which was approach- 
ing on that side with a view to effecting the investment on 
the following day. Moltke, wrapped up in a dressing- 
gown that reached down to his heels, was walking up and 
down the whole length of the room, and told us, first of 
all, to read through the reports that had come in. It was 
then a question as to whether more troops were to be dis- 
patched to the north of Paris and where we ourselves 
were to go on the following day. I did not quite believe 
that the French would venture on a struggle outside the 
forts, and was just going to express my opinion when, 
chancing to look up, I saw something so comical that I 
could not help drawing the attention of the others to it. 
In the hurry they had piled an immense quantity of wood 
on the fire in the grate and the heat in the room had 
become unbearable. Moltke, whose face was dripping 
with perspiration during his promenade, wanted to wipe 
it off, but, wrapped in thought as he was, he seized on 
passing, instead of the handkerchief which was lying on the 
bedside cupboard, his wig, which lay there also, and 
wiped his face with it, without noticing what he did. 
This process he repeated each time he passed the cup- 
board, and the General would probably never have become 
aware of his mistake, if we had not told him. 

The result of our conference was that we resolved to 
accompany the Army of the Meuse for the present on its 
advance to the north of Paris, and, in case nothing 
should happen of importance there, we would go to the 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 157 

south front, where the famous castle of Ferrieres, owned by 
the Rothschilds, had been chosen for our quarters. We 
started from Meaux at 5 o'clock in the morning, but only 
arrived at Ferrieres at 11 p.m. 

In the course of the day the Army of the Meuse suc- 
ceeded in blocking all the approaches to the north front of 

At Ferridres we next learned that the Third Army had 
been equally successftil in its movements for investing 
Paris to the South and West; Versailles had been 
occupied by the V. Corps in the course of the afternoon. 
During their march the latter had an important engage- 
ment at Petit Bicfetre, and the II. Bavarian Corps another 
at Plessis Piquet with some advanced forces of the 
enemy ; also the VI. Corps came into collision with 
smaller detachments. The investment of Paris was thus 
completed by the 19th September. 

Digitized by 


II. The Royal Headquarters at Ferrieres 
(igth September to the 4th October). 

I. General View of the Situation. 

The task now before the leaders of the army was simple 
so far as the object in view was concerned, but when it 
came to carrying it out, the difficulties, as time went 
on, became very serious. 

We had marched to Paris because we believed this town 
to be the heart of the resistance ; its fall would put an 
end to the war. But how was this fall to be brought 
about ? 

We expected, if no internal convulsions hurried on the 
event, that it would take place in consequence of the state 
of distress inevitably resulting from a close blockade, 
and we had therefore eifected the investment as a means 
to attain our end. , 

The question whether, and if so, when, we should 
proceed to a bombardment, or to a regular siege, remained 
for the present undecided. But not to neglect an3rthing 
in this respect, the establishment of a siege park and 
its transport to the vicinity of Toul had been ordered 
as early as the 8th September. Further than Toul no 
directions could be given, as that fortress was still in the 
hands of the French. 

As the question has now been opened, it may interest 
the reader to know the views which obtained among us 
in 1870 in reference to this subject. During the course 
of events, the opinion was frequently expressed that a 
different method from that which we had decided upon 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 159 

would have brought about the fall of Paris sooner. A 
bombardment of the city especially was advocated, and 
the longer the investment was protracted the louder and 
more vehement became these cries: to many people at 
home it seemed incomprehensible that we did not resort 
to forcible measures earlier. 

This outcry was the reason why I noted down, at that 
time — even before the bombardment — ^what our views 
were. This memorandum, drawn up on the 14th of 
December, 1870, is among my papers, and runs thus : — 

" * Bombard Paris ! ' is the cry now ; everybody shrieks 
it out, but no one explains how it is to be done. The 
French have constructed guns that carry farther than our 
own ; those of the largest calibre send their projectiles to 
distances ranging up to 9000 paces. But that would not 
matter so much, and we should still find means to get 
near enough to tackle them and fight them down. 
We should also have to engage the forts of Paris; 
that, too, is feasible. But the nearest of the forts are 
distant from the works of the enceinte about 2800 paces ; 
the farthest, Mont Val^rien and St. Denis, about 6000 
paces. It will therefore be evident to everyone that, first, 
possession of the forts would have to be gained, and then 
a further advance made a good deal nearer to the main 
works before there could be any question of an effective 

" This would mean a regular siege. But a siege of Paris 
cannot be named in the same breath with the sieges of 
Strassburg, Thionville, and the other fortresses which we 
have taken during the war, 

" Perhaps the siege of Sebastopol might bear comparison 
— but in a few points only — with our present position ; 
and the siege of Sebastopol lasted about 14 months ! 
The capture of the outworks alone cost the allies about 
30,000 men in killed and wounded ! We cannot afford any 
such sacrifices for Paris alone. In short, against a fortress 
of the circumference of Paris, with a garrison more than 

Digitized by 


i6o With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

double as strong as the force we have available, a fortress, 
moreover, the artillery of which is more numerous than 
any we could bring here in six months, a regular siege 
and a thorough bombardment is, under the prevailing 
circumstances, an impossibility ! 

"Besides, we are too weak in numbers; we can only 
just maintain the investment, and we have not the 
troops available to mass three times the number we 
now have before the front attacked, which is the least 
a siege would require. These truths we cannot possibly 
publish now, merely in order to convince those who 
press for a siege. 

" But why, then, did we bring up the siege artillery ? We 
must, surely, mean to do something with it ? That we 
do, certainly, viz. to silence the forts in some places in 
order to protect our own troops from the galling fire of the 
enemy. Perhaps we shall then also see a possibility of 
pushing forward a few batteries near enough, if not for a 
regular bombardment, at least to harass some limited part 
of the town. But in the beginning of an investment the 
latter proceeding would be useless. That we have seen 
plainly enough by the utterly fruitless bombardments of 
Strassburg, Thionville, Montm6dy, Verdun and Toul, 
which have taught us a lesson in this respect. But in the 
case of Paris, where only a relatively small part of the town 
could be reached by our shells, a bombardment would be 
effective even to a much less degree than in those places 
where the whole of the inhabitants had to suffer from it. 

** It will only be when the hope of relief from the pro- 
vinces vanishes that a bombardment may possibly pro- 
duce an effect ; that moment will arrive, I should think, 
soon after the New Year. 

" Another circumstance also has to be considered : to 
bring up a siege train together with sufficient ammunition 
has its difficulties. In the first place, we have to make 
sure of feeding our troops, the bringing up of the necessary 
reinforcements, etc., and for all this we are in pos- 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic i6i 

session only of one single line of railway. Moreover, 
not enough horses are to be got in the country, and the 
temporary assistance which the ammunition and com- 
missariat columns of our army corps here are able to 
render, in the way of teams of horses and waggons, is 
limited, as any extensive use of them would disable the 
troops before Paris for action in the field, in case such 
should become necessary. This consideration is the more 
important, as more than once the question has become 
urgent whether we should not be compelled to raise the 
investment in order to march against the Army of the 
Loire or that of the North. 

" Among us, at least, there has never been any diiference 
of opinion as to whether we should fire on the town or not. 

" Whatever may be the pressure from outside, when the 
time comes, the means, too, will be at our command, and 
then we shall do precisely what our position demands. 

" At present, after all, our chief duty is this : not to hide 
mistakes which may have been committed, but to learn 
from experience. But I can only say even now, that, as 
far as I understand things, our leaders have neither 
committed a sin of omission in regard to our proceedings 
against Paris, nor have they made any mistake at all." ' 

We had to do the best we could with the forces 
brought before Paris, weak as they certainly were con- 
sidering the magnitude of the task. Moltke said justly at 
that time : " We enter upon a venture which the world 
will judge according to its success." The line of our 
outposts before Paris extended for some 55 miles, 
while the available infantry forces amounted only to 
122,000 men, some of whom moreover had soon to be 
detached in order to support the cavalry covering our 
rear ; there remained, consequently, about one infantry 
soldier to each yard of the line of investment. Even a 


Bismarck appears 
Moltke's views on the 
lished correspondence. 

Digitized by 


i62 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

layman will understand that only the highest confidence 
in the skill of the leaders and the bravery of the troops 
could warrant such an enterprise, especially if we consider 
that the opposing garrison numbered even in September 
upwards of 300,000 men under arms. 

Each body of troops, on becoming available, had to be 
brought forward immediately to strengthen the invest- 
ment, viz. the two corps left at Sedan, the 17th 
Infantry Division after the fall of Toul, the Division of 
Landwehr of the Guard after that of Strassburg (on the 
27th September). The transport of the latter was, 
however, so delayed, that they only arrived before 
Paris in successive detachments between the 9th and 
19th October. Finally the II. Army Corps was also 
ordered to Paris from Metz on the 23rd October. But 
the chief additional force on which we could count for 
the operations was only set free by the capitulation of 
the French army in Metz on the 27th-28th October, after 
which only was it possible to bring the remaining corps of 
the First and Second Army into the interior of France. 

The whole period, from the beginning of the investment 
of Paris on the 27th of September, until the fall of Metz on 
the 27th-28th of October, very soon assumed a .character 
entirely different from that of the previous operations. 

On the part of the Germans, waiting for the fedl of 
Paris took the place of active operations in the field. 
All sorties of the garrison had to be repulsed, as well as 
any efforts to relieve it from outside. The latter necessi- 
tated, from the beginning, measures for protecting the 
investing troops in the rear. 

On the part of the French, meanwhile, the most 
extraordinary efforts were being made for the formation 
of fresh fighting forces, whereby large masses of men 
were brought under arms, and these soon made them- 
selves felt in more extensive sorties of the garrison and 
active operations in the field for the relief of the town. 

The following were among the more important sorties : 

Digitized by 


The Struggle wrrn the Republic 163 

On the 30th September, against the VI. Corps ; on 
the 13th October, against the Bavarians (Chitillon- 
Bagneux); on the 21st October, against the V. Corps 
(Malmaison), and on the 28th October against the 
Guards. During the last, Le Bourget, an advanced post 
of the defensive line of the investment, fell into the hands 
of the French, and it became necessary to recapture it, 
which was done, after severe fighting, on the 30th 
October. This made a great impression in Paris, the 
more so because the great leases suffered by the French 
affected troops which consisted mostly of inhabitants of 
the town. During the course of October nearly 400,000 
men were under arms in Paris. 

The protection of the investment at first was 
entrusted to the numerous cavalry, but as the trouble 
with the Francs-tireurs increased, small infantry detach- 
ments had soon to be sent to their assistance. In 
the beginning of October, however, when bodies of 
the newly-formed forces of the enemy appeared, whicih, 
advancing mainly by way of Orleans, pressed back our 
cavalry, it became necessary to employ larger numbers of 
the investing troops against them. So the I. Bavarian 
Corps and the 22nd infantry division joined the three 
Prussian cavalry divisions in the south, the whole under 
the command of General von der Tann. After severe 
fighting at Artenay on the loth and nth October, he 
forced the enemy back across the Loire at Orleans and 
established himself on that river. The 22nd division was 
next employed in the direction of Tours and Le Mans, 
and, on the iSth-igth October, Chiteaudun was taken 
after a bloody engagement. 

The smaller forces of the enemy appearing meanwhile 
in the north were about the same time repulsed by 
weak detachments of Saxon and Prussian troops under 
Generals Count Zur Lippe and Prince Albrecht of 
Prussia (junior). 

The ^one of security was thus extended, towards the 

M 2 

Digitized by 


i64 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

end of the month of October, to the South as far as the 
Loire, to the North up to a line stretching from Vernon 
vid Goumay to Soissons. 

2. Particulars of our Stay at FerriEres. 

In reference to our experiences at the Royal Head- 
quarters during the period just described, as well as to the 
views entertained by us at the time, the following extracts 
from my letters, etc,, will give some information : — 

^Ferri^res, 21st September. 

" The day before yesterday was a very trying one. We 
really intended to remain longer in Meaux, but the 
reports already mentioned which came in during the 
night made us decide on a start. 

" We found, on the way, the houses of the villages in 
the neighbourhood of Paris utterly deserted by the 
inhabitants; the high-roads were torn up and partly 
barricaded, many bridges blown up and houses put 
into a state of defence ; on the walls of the latter were 
large inscriptions with all sorts of left-handed compli- 
ments. These acts of destruction, however, showed very 
little practical knowledge. The cry, * Blow up bridges, 
make the roads impassable,' had produced a regular 
mania for destruction, and driven the people to doing 
things which proved, generally, no obstacles to us, or 
such as were easily removed. 

" At the Ourcq Canal we mounted our horses and 
then rode forward, in the direction of St. Denis. But 
there was no sign of fighting anywhere, not a single 
cloud of smoke from batteries in action. Very soon the 
King also came, and we remained a long time on one spot 
in order to see how things would shape themselves. 
Meanwhile, all the movements had taken place without 
a hitch, as they had been planned." (We heard after- 
wards that there had been, after all, a few encounters 
with the enemy on the north front.) 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 165 

" For our Most Gracious Sovereign this day was like- 
wise a most interesting one, not only because we now 
stood actually before Paris ; but his thoughts must have 
reverted to the day when in 1814 he stood as a youthful 
prince on the same spot, having taken part in the last 
fight of that campaign against the troops of the first 
Napoleon, by the side of his father, now in glory. 

" On our left rose the heights of Romainville, with two 
forts, between which the camps of the French could be 
seen, then came Montmartre further to the right ; in the 
background the clearly defined outlines of the fortified 
Mont Val6rien peeped forth. Between them rose the 
towers and churches of Paris, while St. Denis was visible 
more to the right. 

" Later in the day we separated from the King. Our 
quarters had meanwhile been. removed to Ferri^res. In 
order to get there we had to cross a bridge which the 
Wurttembergers had thrown across the Marne. After 
dark we lost our way in the hilly and wooded country on 
the north bank of the river, so completely that for some 
time we calmly rode straight on to Paris, until we at last 
became aware that this direction would lead us rather to 
the enemy's quarters than to our own. So we returned 
as fast as possible, but it took us some time to find the 
bridge. On the way we overtook the Wurttemberg Field 
Division, which was marching in excellent order in the 
dark. The little lanterns which the markers carried on 
the flanks of sections rendered good service t^ the troops, 
who were stepping out briskly. 

"Jules Favre meanwhile had arrived in Meaux from 
Paris and had accompanied Count Bismarck to Ferrieres, 
but he returned yesterday, very much depressed, to the 
capital. The rulers for the time being seem already to be 
fully aware that they will soon lose their hold over the 
masses. Bazaine in Metz is moreover looked upon as a 
decided adversary, and it is said that he has sent a letter 
here, in which he laments the fate of his unhappy country 
now fallen into anarchy." 

Digitized by 


1 66 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

In addition, it may be added here, that Count Bismarck 
had formulated the following demands during the negotia- 
tions for an armistice with Jules Favre : — 

Surrender of Bitsch, Toul and Strassburg. 

The garrison of Strassburg to become prisoners of 

Metz to be excluded from the armistice. 

In reference to Paris : either maintenance of the invest- 
ment or surrender of some of the forts commanding the 

The chamber was to meet at Paris or ToijJ^'after the A/^i 
new elections. Two members of the government, for the 
time being, had already gone to the latter town before 
the investment ; Gambetta followed likewise, leaving 
Paris in a balloon. 

" Ferri^res, 22nd September. 
" Our present surroundings give one the impression, of 
living in the midst of peace. — My stable is diminished, as 
the sturdy little carriage horses have fallen sick from 

** FerriSres, 23rd September. 

"The French amuse themselves by firing with their 
heavy guns at every individual they catch sight of. — By 
the way, the destruction of property round Paris is by 
no means so great as the newspapers announce. But 
in respect to roads and bridges it is even greater. 

" We hear the noise of guns in the distance. The Third 
Army is firing at an aqueduct." 

*• Ferriferes, 24th September. 
" I was going to Lagny yesterday, but General von 
Moltke sent for me and Bronsart to drive with him to the 
outposts of the Wurttembergers which are thrown out in 
advance, towards the confluence of the Seine and Mame. 
After having reached the outpost line, we went on foot 
to a small building on the other side of it, a kind of 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 167 

garden pavilion, standing high on the slope which descends 
steeply to the Marne. The little building had been put 
into a state of defence, and we had a good view of the^ 
neighbouring forts through the loopholes. We could see 
plainly some Gardes Mobiles on the ramparls, and we 
overlooked that part of the town lying between the forts 
and Mont Valferien. The railway bridge across the Marne, 
at our feet, as well as several other bridges were blown up. 
As we are not in a position to attack the fortifications on 
this side, the blowing up of these means of crossing would 
really have been our business, to protect ourselves against 
a surprise here, but the French have been so kind as to 
save us the trouble. 

*' Yesterday we received news from Paris announcing 
the outbreak of disorder there. Four of the six divisions 
of the line which have been formed in the town, 
were engaged on the 19th September with the V. 
Corps and the Bavarians, and partly also with the VI. 
Corps. According to our reports the French regulars have 
more than once during these engagements, and for the 
first time, failed to show their ancient valour, and this is 
confirmed by the French journals. Some of their 
detachments are said to have run as soon as the first 
shells came flying, and spread panic even to the interior of 
the town. On the other hand the papers praise the 
Gardes Mobiles, but without reason, I should say, as they, 
too, did not cover themselves with much glory that day. 
Such public criticisms are very apt to give rise to discord 
between the various services. 

" Jules Favre has returned an answer, saying that he and 
his colleagues unanimously declined the conditions made, 
and that they would consequently trust the further issue 
to Fate. 

" We are very glad to hear that Toul fell yesterday. We 

shalltry at once to repair the line of railway, which is 

destroyed at that point, in order to get this important line 

at our disposal. At the same time the section which we 

Digitized by 


1 68 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

constructed a few stations to the south of Metz as £ar as 
Pont-i-Mousson, in order to avoid the fortress, has been 
finished, so that we hope soon to be able to transport 
heavy artillery as far as Trilport, a station in the 
neighbourhood of Meaux." 

A request had been made to me from Berlin, to see 
that three reserve batteries which were quartered at 
Charlottenburg should soon be dispatched to the theatre 
of war. I was able to answer as follows : — 

" Fcrri^rcs, 25th September. 

** Even before we heard of your wish, it was granted, 
and the artillery captain who expressed it is already on 
his way by rail to the interior of France. 

" The little house from which Moltke reconnoitred the 
forts of the south-east front the day before yesterday, in 
our company, was demolished yesterday by the French 
shells. Bronsart is well, but Brandenstein suffers a little 
from over-fatigue. We had a consultation on some grave 
questions last night till late. As usual, we agreed 
completely in our views." 

*' Ferrikes, 25th September. 

"For to-morrow we propose — ^Alfred Waldersee, a 
few other men and myself — to drive along the greater 
part of the line of investment. The whole day will 
probably be spent in this trip. We have now postal 
communication round Paris, all letters are delivered daily 
to all the corps here. 

'' According to our information, Bazaine, and with 
him a great part of his army in Metz, whatever re- 
publican elements it may contain, are decidedly opposed 
to the present government in Paris, In addition to the 
number of adherents of Napoleon in the country, which is 
probably at this moment very small, there are many 
who wish for the return of the Orleans family. Further- 
more, there are republicans of the most different shades. 
What will be the end of all this ? 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 169 

" I have had, to-day, a cursory look at the interior of 
the Chateau of Ferrieres.* Whatever may be its fame, I 
am not greatly taken by it. There is scarcely a room in 
which some want of harmony or other does not produce a 
disagreeable effect upon one. The whole chateau is a quad- 
rangle built in modern style. The fagade of the building, 
which is of two storeys, seemed to me too insignificant, 
too finicking in style, and out of proportion with the 
towers flanking the structure at the four corners. In the 
great hall, which serves as library, there are, above the 
gallery, the most • beautiful Gobelins ; then door-curtains 
of blue velvet, which do not harmonize in colour with the 
green walls. Several colossal busts are placed here and 
there, among- them a few male and female negroes in 
black and white marble with gilded drapery." 

" Ferri^res, 27th September. 
" We had a very satisfactory trip yesterday. We were 
six of us in my drag ; Podbielski and two others followed. 
The place where we wanted to go to is situated about 
twelve miles from here, to the south of Paris. A little 
house there, with a flat roof, standing on the slope, had 
been recommended to us as a particularly favourable spot 
for a view. We soon found it, and were rewarded with 
such an excellent outlook — after having groped our way 
with some difficulty up some very narrow steps to the 
roof — that we stayed there over two hours in spite of the 
hot mid-day sun. On our left lay the opposite slope 
of the Seine with Fort Ivry, and starting thence the 
horizon was marked by the following points : the Terrace 
of St. Cloud, the cone of Mont Val6rien, the Arc de 
Triomphe, the Champs- Elys6es, Montmartre, the Buttes 
de Chaumont, the heights of Romainville, and last, on 
the extreme right. Fort Nogent. Within this semicircle 

^ The chiteau was too small to receive more than the first section of 
Headquarters ; those of us for whom no*room could be found in the 
house were quartered in the farm buildings, etc., which were close by 
The second section remained at Lagny. 

Digitized by 


ijo With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

lay Paris, with its sea of houses, at our feef, as calm 
and quiet as if it was in the profoundest peace. Only 
now and then a flash came from some distant^fort, and 
the thunder of an explosion came rolling over to us. 
The golden cupola of the Invalides shone brightly in 
the distance ; to the right of it rose the Pantheon and 
the towers of Notre Dame. A copse in front of us hid 
the adjoining fort, that of Charenton, as well as our out- 
posts. Altogether, there was not the slightest sign to 
remind one of an investment, the whole gave one the 
impression of a beautiful landscape without figures. 

" We shall probably remove within a few days to the 
other side of Paris, either to Versailles or St. Germain." 

'• Ferri^res, 28th Sq)tembcr. 

** Last night we received news of the surrender of 
Strassburg. The fall of this town happened very oppor- 
tunely for us from a military point of view, as we now get 
50,000 of our troops free for action elsewhere. The first 
instalment of our siege train will arrive to-day at a place 
five days' march from here. 

"The King is inspecting some of the troops, and our chief 
accompanies him; we others remained at home. Most 
of them are just going out shooting with General von 
Podbielski, some mounted, the others on foot, eight in 
number. But they have only two guns and eight cart- 
ridges between them; what fun they will have, to be surel 

" The telegraphic cable, in the bed of the Seine, con- 
necting Paris with Rouen and Tours, has been luckily 
picked up and cut, after we had read a few telegrams. 
When we ourselves tried to communicate with Paris, 
they soon found out that it was not their countrymen 
who were sending the message. The c)^her telegrams, 
which got into our hands, we were unable to make out, 
so we were obliged to cut the communication." 

" Fcrri^res, 29th September. 
** Telegrams are sent from here to Berlin by other than 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 171 

official persons, and so the report about street-fighting in* 
Paris probably comes from such a source. We know 
nothing ourselves of such an occurrence, although the 
letters found lately in captured balloons certainly are 
somewhat depressed in tone. 

" Sugar, butter, milk and such luxuries are scarcely to 
be had hereabouts ; I force myself in the morning, as 
a rule, to swallow a piece of dry white bread ; we break- 
fast at II, and at 6 o'clock we have our dinner together. 
The best thing we get here is an excellent red wine. It 
will last for some time to come, according to an inventory 
taken yesterday, which is said to establish the existence 
of 18,000 bottles more in the cellars of Rothschild's 
house! " 

•* Ferri^res, 30th September. 

**I will continue my description of the Castle of 
Ferrieres. It consists of a basement containing a billiard- 
room and rooms for guests, servants, etc. ; then a raised 
ground-floor with the dwelling-rooms of the family and the 
offices ; in the first storey are only guest-rooms. In the 
entrance hall, marble steps lead up to the ground-floor; 
Over the landing there are frescoes, apparently an 
apotheosis of James Rothschild. In the interior, a 
corridor runs through the whole of the quadrangular build- 
ing, leading, on its outer side, to the rooms of this floor, 
and in the centre to a vast hall, taking up the whole 
width of the building. This serves, to judge from its 
furniture, various purposes, there being in it a billiard 
table, a grand piano and a library. Its dimensions are 
immense, its height about 45 feet, the length 32 feet and 
the width 19 ; at something more than half its height 
there is a gallery running all round. The details of its 
ornamentation are splendidly finished. 

'^ I was yesterday at Lagny, and shall go again to-day 
with Waldersee and Radziwill. In this little town are the 
quarters of the second section of Headquarters. The 

Digitized by 


172 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

Mame flows through its middle ; but the two substantial 
bridges leading across the river, one of iron and the other 
of stone, have been blown up by the French, in which 
process the houses on the bank have suffered most. They 
give the river scenery, very pretty in itself, an additional 
picturesque charm by their irregular appearance, which 
effect is heightened by the singular appearance of the 
railway bridge, which, after losing its central support by 
the blowing away of a pier, sank down into the river, 
while its iron framework and the roadway remained 
intact. With some assistance from our engineers the 
bridge has become passable again for pedestrians, although 
it winds up hill and down dale. 

" Altogether, the villages before Paris make a singular 
impression. On our approach they were deserted by the 
inhabitants, who took with them in their hurry whatever 
was transportable. Those who live near to Pari*" with- 
drew into the town,' and are now, of course, not let out 
again. Those farther off fled to the woods, but are now 
gradually returning ; but they find a good many altera- 
tions in regard to their property. It is certainly the 
most foolish thing to do for the inhabitants to run away 
on the approach of the enemy. For our soldiers, after all, 
cannot be left on the road when there are houses beside it. 
The troops are therefore obliged to seek accommodation 
in the buildings, to take whatever victuals and forage are 
found stored there, and to cook their meals. So the 
search commences, and the doors being locked, windows 
and doors are necessarily beaten in. In order to get from 
the road to the top rooms, chairs and tables are piled one 
above the other, and are left there afterwards. Much of 
such furniture also is used for cooking, if the soldier does 
not know where else to. find wood. All this kind of 
destruction would be avoided, and the necessary requisi- 
tions be carried out in a more orderly manner, if the 
inhabitants remained at home. There is, moreover, the 
damage done by Francs-tireurs, which is often very childish 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 173 

in its character. We found, for instance, a barricade 
made of artichokes. The reader's imagination may finally 
complete the picture by road-s de trees cut down, broken 
walls and overturned vehicles. 

" Postscript. — ^There is fighting going on on the line 
held by the XI. Corps. By the time I get there, I sup- 
pose it will have come to an end." * 

" Ferri^res, ist October. 

" Of course, before we could get over the 15 miles to 
the scene of fighting, the thing was already settled, there 
having been comparatively but few troops engaged. We 
could just see yet the red trousers of the French dis- 
appearing hurriedly behind the forts. Only the VI. Corps 
had had a serious engagement, and had lost about 300 
men, among whom, unfortunately, there was an old friend 
of mine at the military school. Count Clairon d'Haus- 
sonville. According to my instructions, I was to send 
other bodies of troops, especially the Wurttembergers, to 
the scene of action, in case the fighting assumed greater 
dimensions; but this was no longer necessary, and I 
therefore went with the commander of the XI. Corps for 
the time being. General von Schachtmeyer, to his head- 
quarters, Chdteau le Grosbois, as I had several other 
matters to discuss with him. The castle is very hand- 
somely furnished, and is the property of a descendant of 
Prince Murat. Everything in it is in very simple taste, 
refined and stately. 

" People in Berlin are begining to get excited about all 
sorts of shameful treatment which we might receive at the 
hands of the French on our entry in Paris. There is no 
imminent danger of that as yet ! 

"To-day is an arduous one for us in other respects as 
well : at 4 o'clock dinner with the King, at 6 back to our 
quarters, where I must be present without fail, as we have 

^ The sortie was directed specially against the VI. Corps, and led to 
the engagement of Chevilly. 

Digitized by 


174 With the Roval Headquarters in 1870-71 

invited Count Bismarck and General von Roon. Our 
* master of the household/ Count Nostitz, has stinted us for 
some days in our rations of wine in view of this feast ; 
some pheasants also have been slaughtered ; certain wines, 
of which we have received plenty as presents from home, 
are to be brought out in honour of the occasion. The cook 
of the War Minister has even promised us a punch d la 

** Fcrri^res, 2nd October. 
"A French corps is being formed at Tours consist- 
ing of troops formerly stationed in Africa, and others 
collected from various depdts, about 20,000 infantry in 
all. Yesterday we had a fatiguing but pleasant day. 
At 4 o'clock we had dinner with the King. His Majesty 
had heard of our intended banquet, which gave him 
the opportunity to ' chaff' us frequently about our * grand 
appetite ' that could not be satisfied with one meal. 
At 6 o'clock I came back to our dinner, just in time ; 
Count Bismarck and General von Roon with their suites 
were already there. The menu was, all things considered, 
not unworthy of a LucuUus. We were at table from 6 
till 10 o'clock. After this our chief was, he said, * just in 
the humour ' for a game at whist, and as at the end some 
excellent punch was produced, we remained together till 
nearly i o'clock. Count Bismarck told us in his charac- 
teristic and unique style many interesting anecdotes, and 
made many a joke about the present and past. Among 
other things he mentioned his last conversation with 
Jules Favre and his long speeches (* He commenced by 
treating me like a meeting '). For our amusement extracts 
were read from various recent French papers from Paris 
as well as Tours. In one of them there was a sketch of 
Moltke, * aged eighty,' pulling about with bony fingers the 
German armies like puppets, and Count Bismarck behind 
driving them on with a stick. Our high spirits broke 
out unmistakably soon after the soup. Our excellent 
Meydam had received some splendid verses from one of 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 175 

our best known poets, on our present campaign. He was 
burning with desire to recite them, and when he was 
asked to do so, after the soup, his ill luck would have it, 
that after the first line he contrived to make up a sentence 
by drawing one letter of the next following word to one 
of the line before, which cannot be rendered here, but 
which was in such a comical contrast to the high-flown 
tone of the rest, that we laughed so much that we could 
not speak. The gaiety thus caused manifested itself 
in every variety of manner among the feasters. One laid 
both arms on the table and his head on them, another 
jumped up and danced about the room, and Moltke 
expressed his amusement by dipping one bit of bread after 
the other into a wine-glass and throwing it at my head. 

"Another pretty little story which was told, I will 
repeat here. It concerned Lieutenant-General X, com- 
mander of a cavalry brigade, who one afternoon, on the 
march through French territory, arrived with his staff and 
the superior officers of one of his regiments at a luxuriously 
furnished little ch&teau. The mistress of the house, a very 
worthy dame of old family, received him with all the 
ceremony of the ancien rigime. The dinner in the evening 
went off so brilliantly that the General tried to show his 
satisfaction in every possible way; only, as he could 
hardly speak a word of French, he was unable to express 
his feelings in words to the mistress of the house, who sat 
at his side. When, after dinner, they adjourned to the 
balcony, to take coffee and liquor, the crescent moon was 
just breaking through the clouds, and lit up with magic light 
the splendid park that stretched far away beneath them. 
This worked up such a degree of enthusiasm in the 
General, that he gathered together whatever French he 
knew, and placing his hand on the arm of the marquise 
and pointing with the other to the moon, he said : 
* Voyez, Madame, quel joli demi-monde.' * 

^ The joke lies in the General translating *' halbmond," i.e. literally 
"half-moon," by demi-monde, which is quite another story. — Ed. 

Digitized by 


176 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

" The French government at Tours publishes reports 
about the engagements before Paris on the 19th 
September, containing the exact contrary of those sent 
them by the government of Paris. We were able to 
prove this clearly, as we had chanced to gain precise 
knowledge of the contents of the despatches before they 
reached their destination." 

*' Ferri^res, 3rd October. 

" We look forward to getting to Versailles. Although 
many of the inhabitants have left, there wiU, never- 
theless, be opportunities of renewing many things which 
have become worn out. I do not like this place 
at all ; the castle is not to my taste, everything in the 
interior is too showy and wants harmony. Even the 
clumps of trees in the parks, pretty enough by themselves, 
have not made much impression upon me as a whole. 

" About Count Bismarck I must tell one more story as 
I heard it. The minister sent for the agent of Roths- 
child's estate and told him that he wished to buy some 
wine from the Baron's cellars. The latter replied that 
he could not take any money, which had no value 
at all in this house, when the minister is said to have 
answered : * After the hospitable reception we have 
received here, I can only look upon the house as an 
inn ; and, therefore, I will not only buy my wine here, 
but desire that, as I intend to drink the wine on the 
premises, a corkage of 30 centimes per bottle shall be 
added to the bill.* 

" On a ride yesterday I came to a pretty little chateau 
belonging to the Due d'Ampierre. How much prettier 
I thought it than this place ; especially the large park, 
the antiquity of which is evident from the size of its 
trees and shrubs. The King also chanced to be there. 
His Majesty must have been not a little amuseyi by our 
feast of the day before yesterday, for he cross-examined 
me on various details, of which he seemed to have heard 
vague reports. 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 177 

" Paris is said, in reports which have come in, to be 
provisioned for six weeks. A fortnight of this period has 
now passed ; but it is possible that the rulers in the town 
may carry matters to extremities and that the capitulation 
will only take place when the want of victuals makes it 
necessary. Only they must not, in that case, wait till 
the last moment ! We are not able to supply nearly two 
millions of people with food even for a single day. 
If we allowed supplies to enter from the provinces, 
where would they come from in sufficient quantities ? 
Within 50 to 75 miles around, everything has been 
already consumed by our men, and the destruction of the 
railways and roads prevent any great quantity being 
brought from a distance. In such a case there is, unfortu- 
ntLtely, a prospect of thousands dying of hunger before 
any help can reach them. 

" It is very amusing to see how our men have made 
themselves at home in the deserted villages, and especially 
what sense of humour they show occasionally. Dummies 
of straw are sometimes seen set up, draped indis- 
criminately in apparel of male and female articles. 
Barbers' shaving dishes are transformed into the insignia 
of distinguished orders ; the heads of the dummies 
ornamented with shining firemen's helmets or high caps, 
and a broom or some such thing put into their hands. 
Particularly keen are our men on milliners* shops, the 
pasteboard heads of which they paint over afresh and 
exhibit them in the windows garnished in a most 
fantastic manner, with white and rouged faces and with 
the woollen epaulettes of the Garde Nationale. Inscrip- 
tions of all sorts, too, left by the retreating Gardes Mobiles 
and Francs-tireurs, in gigantic letters on the walls of houses 
and gardens, create a peculiar impression. In between are 
sketches sometimes representing, in a symbolic manner, 
the Republic, but most often caricatures of Napoleon, 
and everywhere a *mort aux Prussiens,' to which our 
people add observations of their own on the subject. 


Digitized by 


178 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

" To-morrow we transfer our quarters to Versailles- As 
the way is a long one, our saddle horses have already 
been sent on, and will wait for us at Villeneuve-le-Roi, on 
the left bank of the Seine, from which place an expedi- 
tion to observe the south front of Paris will be under- 

Digitized by 


III. Versailles. 

I. Events up to the Fall of Metz (28TH-29TH 

" Versailles, 6th October. 
"We arrived here at nightfall last evening, so that I 
have not yet been able to see much of the town. 
The road we came by was very pretty; nothing of 
importance happened on the way except that our horses 
got pretty well tired out. Breakfast was taken in a large 
farm-yard, where Count Bismarck with his trusty followers 
and ourselves sat about in picturesque groups on bundles 
of straw, casks, etc. The whole VI. Army Corps, except 
the outposts, which were left at their various stations, was 
called under arms to receive the King, but the Staff 
Headquarters continued on their road without him. 

" Major Krause and myself took up our quarters in very 
handsomely furnished rooms at the house of a notary, 
whose wife had, however, already left the town. The 
French have not been accustomed thus far to having 
soldiers quartered in their houses. So we found only two 
little rooms reserved for us, which did not, however, suit 
our requirements— modest though, as a rule, they are — as 
we must prepare for a somewhat prolonged stay here. 
Winterfeldt undertook to explain this to our host in his 
elegant French, with the result that, after an unsuccessftil 
attempt to get us out, he disappeared next day (we learned 
afterwards that he joined an ambulance corps on the Loire). 

N 2 

Digitized by 


i8o With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

We thus became the undisputed masters of the whole 
house, but we contented ourselves with a common sitting- 
room and a bedroom each. The bonne of the house was 
taken into our service, 

"The next few days are likely to become very in- 
teresting from a military standpoint. The French are 
concentrating more and more troops round Tours ; 
moreover they seem bent on an advance from Orleans. 
Prince Albert, who is watching them with his cavalry 
division, is slowly retreating before them. We are making 
every preparation to receive them." 

*• Versailles, 7th October. 
" At half-past i to-day the whole of the famous 
fountains at Versailles were playing. I managed to get 
free for a short time to go there. I met His Majesty, who 
was on foot, surrounded and followed closely by a large 
crowd of the inhabitants. The eifect of the fountains was 

" Versailles, 9th October. 

" Yesterday it rained in torrents all day. To us this 
made no difference, as we worked in the oiffice, but for the 
troops, some of whom had to pass the night in the open, it 
was anything but pleasant. 

" We are all very busy at this moment with reading 
letters that have fallen into our hands through a balloon from 
Paris being intercepted. I estimate them at about 30,000 ; 
many interesting statements are found, not only concerning 
the temper of the population, but also the means of defence 
and the organization of the troops coUected into corps, 

" Last night one of our squadrons of hussars covering 
our rear was suddenly attacked. Their commander, my 
brother-in-law, von Stosch, has arrived here severely 
wounded by a bullet in the shoulder." 

" Versailles, 9th October, 
** The last sortie of the French on the 30th September 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic f8i 

has cost the French more than we at first thought. 
Indeed we have buried ourselves upwards of 900, so that 
their total loss may amount to between 4000 and 5000 
men, which is about ten times our number. It is not 
impossible that they will repeat the attempt some day, 
when they have sufficiently recovered. Until now in all the 
more important battles we have necessarily been the assail- 
ants, but here, as before Metz, we are in a position to make 
them attack us. The defensive, it is true, is the mode of 
fighting which suits us least, but it cannot be denied that 
with the efficiency of modern fire-arms it has become the 
easier, and it .is therefore almost certain that the enemy's 
losses will considerably surpass our own. 

" In Paris the opinion is already vented, as we gather 
from some of the intercepted letters, that some of the 
inhabitants would prefer to see us in the town rather than 
suifer the present state of things to go on. But such 
elements are as yet completely kept under by the ruling 
party, and distress has by no means become so great as to 
induce them to rise. It can, however, scarcely be very 
long before matters come to such a pass as to make them 
unendurable for any length of time. The government has 
of course laid hands on all the meat and other provisions ; 
butchers have to sell at fixed prices, and the people who 
cannot afford to buy food are to be supplied by the govern- 
ment. According to our information there were in Paris 
before the beginning of the siege 27,000 oxen and some- 
thing over 100,000 sheep, but disease has reduced the 
number. A large proportion of Gardes Mobiles will before 
long be obliged to apply to the city for assistance, as they 
will be unable to buy food for themselves and families with 
a daily pay of i^ fiuncs. 

" Of great military importance for us would be an early 
fall of Metz, as we should then again have about 200,000 
men at our disposal. If I am not mistaken, things must 
soon come to an end there ; horseflesh cannot last for ever, 
and the want of salt is felt severely. The last minor 

Digitized by 


i82 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

sorties that have taken place were practically only under- 
taken with a view to make a raid in search of potatoes. 
But the sortie of the day before yesterday was, on the 
contrary, an attempt on a big scale to break through. The 
French brought great masses into action, but their exertions 
proved vain.* 

** Brandenstein returned yesterday from an expedition 
in the direction of the Loire. He came across some 
Francs-tireurs, some of whom were captured, the others 

" We learn from our newspapers, to our great satisfac- 
tion, that we are already in possession of Orleans ; quite a 
piece of news to us. Things do not go quite so fast; 
but it is just possible that when these lines reach Berlin, 
that town may be in our hands. Thus far it is not the 
case, however." 

** Versailles, nth October. 

** Last night ' Messieurs les Fran9ais * disturbed many 
of us in our slumbers ; they kept on blazing away wildly 
with their long-range fortress guns, imagining perhaps 
that we were engaged in constructing huge entrench- 
ments, which operation they wished to disturb ; or perhaps 
they only want to harass us generally. Their heavy 
projectiles, which carry to incredible distances, make a 
horrible noise on bursting. 

" What forces the French have collected on the Loire 
and brought up against us so far, were routed yesterday 
with heavy loss by the Bavarians under von der Tann 
and by the cavalry under Prince Albert and Count 
Stolberg.' Orleans will probably be occupied to-day, and 
it is possible that the government at Tours will in that 
case remove to the south, 

1 This assumption turned out later on to have been mistaken* The 
sortie' (engagement of Bellevue on the 7th October), in which the 
French had no less than two corps and more under arms besides the 
division of Voltigeurs of the Guard, only aimed at procuring further 
supplies for the pr 'Visioniog of Metz. 

^ Engagement of Artenay. 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 183 

"Yesterday we were nearly all of us at St. Gennain- 
en-Laye, excepting only those whom business kept 
unavoidably at the office. The prospect from the 
terrace of the chateau well repays the trouble of going 
there. Terrace, park and wood rise abruptly from 
the Seine, which here makes several great bends. On 
the opposite bank extends a wonderfully pretty country 
full of gardens, bordered in the background by the steep 
and lofty cone of Mont Val6rien, on the summit of which 
the dark masses of the fort stand out boldly against 
the sky. At St. Germain there is an old castle of 
Francis I. which has been partly restored, and that very 
tastefully. It contains collections of Roman and Gallic 
antiquities bought by Napoleon for his studies on Caesar's 

"Versailles, 13th October. 

" A regular siege of Paris is entirely out of the ques^ 
tion, and I only hope that we shall never attempt such a 
thing. If only we wait till hunger compels the town to 
surrender, we shall lose fewer men and make it more 
certain that we shall attain our end. 

** From balloon letters we gather that the Parisians 
place all their hopes on the Loire army which is now 
forming. It is possible that the news of its defeat at 
Orleans on the nth of this month may have a depressing 

"At Metz we believe the end to be now really at 

" Our rooms are already becoming uncomfortably cold ; 
as there are no other appliances for heating them than 
open fireplaces, we get roasted on one side and frozen on 
the other at our office." 

^ Orleans fell into the hands of General von der Tann on the even- 
ing of the I ith October after severe fighting in which the Bavarians 
and the 22nd division were engaged; the French retreated across 
the Loire. 

Digitized by 


184 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

" Versailles, 14th October. 
"The telegrams will have already informed you that 
the French shells have burnt St. Cloud. The beautiful 
furniture and probably many art treasures have been 
consumed by the fire. Only a few things could be saved 
by our men." 

"Versailles. 15th October. 
" We were out yesterday for three hours and a half. 
We first went to inspect some siege guns which have 
arrived, ^nd have been parked here. Thence we went 
on to the Bavarian outposts, which are stationed in 
front of them on the plateau. The line of the hills here 
approaches pretty closely to the forts lying in the plain. 
The weather being somewhat dull, the lines of houses 
stood out against the sky in dark masses. We dis- 
mounted and crept along an abattis constructed by the 
Bavarians and running along the edge of a wood, until 
we came to a place from which we could overlook to 
some extent the Forts of Issy and Vanvres across the copse 
at our feet. On the slope some French infantry kept up 
a desultory fire on Bavarian patrols. We only remained 
a short time on this spot, because the commanding officer 
of the Bavarian outposts sent us a sergeant-major begging 
us not to stay long, as the enemy from the forts kept the 
crest under close observation with very good telescopes, 
and threw a few shells directly they noticed even single 
figures, whereby the regiment on outpost duty bivouacking 
behind the crest had already suffered some loss. We 
therefore returned, especially as we had now seen what 
we wanted." 

"Versailles, 15th October. 
" Versailles is sometimes called the Parisian Potsdam, 
a comparison which is in many respects not inappro- 
priate. Its propinquity to the capital, its palaces, its 
parks with their fountains, the villa-like character of a 
part of the town, make such a comparison plausible in 

Digitized by 


Ti^E Struggle with the Republic 185 

many respects. Numbers of pensioners, officials as well 
as military officers en retraitCy have made their home at 

" On the Place d'Armes is situated the immense 
Palace, from which run five great avenues dividing the 
town in various directions. 

" The Palace itself is a splendid structure, an enormous 
pile. Vast sums must have been spent on it in the 
past, as well as on its picture galleries, parks and 
fountains. A flaming inscription over the main gate 
informs us of the purpose of the galleries : ' A toutes les 
gloires de la France.' And, indeed, the glory of France 
is the subject of the pictures. That does not prevent, 
however, subjects being there such as, for instance, the 
flight of Louis XVIII. from the Tuilleries on the news of 
Napoleon's landing in 1815 ! The long succession of 
rooms gives one the impression of their being endless ; 
side by side with many admirable paintings are found a 
good many of inferior value ; their subjects are invariably 
battles or scenes on state occasions. Although it is 
certainly a pleasure to go there and admire in detail what 
is beautiful, and although battle scenes are the delight of 
the soldier, yet the monotony of the subject eventually 
wearies one. I am particularly taken with the pictures of 
Horace Vernet, and especially with the capture of Smala, 
and those dealing with the Crimean War. I have never 
seen anything more lifelike, or more striking in the depic- 
tion of battle scenes. The individual figures stand out so 
sharply that one is inclined to get out of their way. 
Among the statues there is also the well-known lovely 
figure of the Maid of Orleans, the work of the Princess 
Helene of Orleans. If Napoleon I. stood in our* shoes 
now, it is likely that the best works would have had to 
come out of the galleries. 

" Behind the Palace terraces descend to the park and 
a flat space in the middle of which is a cruciform basin and 
a long channel, but the effect cannot compare with that 

Digitized by 


i86 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

from the terrace of Sanssouci ; indeed, the gardens of 
Potsdam on the whole are far superior to those of Versailles, 
as regards idyllic beauty, fine prospects and variety. The 
whole park, however, is instinct with the time of Louis 
XIV., and is on that account very interesting. 

''Among the smaller ch&teaux on the estate the 
Grand Trianon deserves mentioning. The Petit Trianon 
gives one the impression of a middle-class private 
house. It is only interesting for the moment because the 
Empress Eugenie has collected there all the relics of the 
unhappy Queen Marie Antoinette which were still to be 
procured, such as a piano, presses, chairs, etc. Grand 
Trianon has been transformed into a hospital, as also the 
Palace itself. In the former there is a remarkable group 
of figures representing Italy and France, given to the 
Empress as a present by the ladies of Italy after the war 
of 1859. The figure representing Gaul is said to be a 
likeness of the Empress, but not a very good one ; that of 
Italy is very striking." 

** Versailles, 17th October. 
" We rather expect that the Parisians are preparing 
for a great sortie." 

" Versailles, i8th October. 
" We thought it was sure to come off for to-day, but 
it has not taken place." 

•'Versailles, 19th October. 

" Yesterday at noon there was a lev6e in corpore at our 
Crown Prince's in honour of his birthday. For the first 
time during the campaign the helmets were got out. 
His Highness reproached me for not coming more 
frequently ; but that is not possible, there is no time. 

" In the morning His Royal Highness the Crown 
Prince of Saxony, whose quarters are some dozen miles 
from here to the north of Paris at Margency, sent a tele- 
gram informing us that he would drive early in the mom- 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 187 

ing to St. Germain and would stay there a few hours ; if 
we could get away, he would like to meet us there. The 
birthday levie prevented us at first from doing so, but we 
sent a messenger on horseback to St. Germain to ask how 
long the Crown Prince would remain there. On returning 
from the lev6e we found that there was still a chance of 
being at St. Germain in time if we started at once. So 
Podbielski, Bronsart, HoUeben, Krause and I drove off, 
and managed to pass a very pleasant hour with the 
Crown Prince and his suite on that glorious terrace near 
the Pavilion Fran9ois I. The country was at its best 
and the scene was enchanting. Mont Val6rien did us the 
honour now and again to throw a shell, by which a few 
houses some way off were set on fire." 

"Versailles, 20th October. 

" We were this morning at St. Cloud, where we had 
again a splendid view of Paris from the Villa Stern, which 
is close by. By means of a telescope we saw the French 
industriously engaged on various works. 

'* At dinner we celebrated the presentation of the Iron 
Cross, 1st Class, to General Podbielski, and managed to 
find some bottles of dry champagne in honour of the 

"Versailles, 21st October. 

" We inspected yesterday the new position of the V. 
Corps, which has been fixed on with a view to a possible 
sortie. Bronsart and Brandenstein, HoUeben and I drove 
away soon after i o'clock, and did not return till nearly 6 
o'clock. We were again delighted with various views of 
Paris firom the foremost post of observation : the whole 
neighbourhood of the metropolis looks indeed like one 
grand park covering hills and dale." 

"In the evening our old acquaintance of Warsaw days, 
the Russian Colonel Walberg, arrived here to follow our 
operations before Paris." 

Digitized by 


i88 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 


** Versailles, 21st October. 
" We had made up our minds to leave alone for once 
outposts and country, and to use the time for our neglected 
private correspondence. The intention was no doubt 
praiseworthy, but Fate determined otherwise, for when 
Krause and I sat down to lunch in our rooms with a few 
others whom we had invited, my servant suddenly came 
whispering to me in his habitual mellifluous and engaging 
tone : * Sir, they are just sounding the alarm.' Sashes 
and swords were seized quickly, forage caps put on, 
and off we hurried to the office where the saddle-horses 
are sent in such cases. A brisk artillery fire, not 
far off, reached our ears as we went there. Moltke, 
who had been out for a drive in the opposite 
direction, brought back his horses steaming with per- 
spiration ; our grooms hurriedly brought up our saddle- 
horses, so that within a very short time the whole Head- 
quarters Staff was able to set out for Beau-Regard, as we 
learned from incoming reports that the loth Infantry 
division, lying between that place and the Seine, was 
engaged in repulsing a strong sortie from Mont Val6rien. 
The General requested me to take a place in his carriage, 
but near Beau-Regard we mounted our horses. It is 
difficult to survey the country from there, as wooded 
crests surround the place on all sides. Scarcely anything 
could consequently be seen of the enemy, only the well- 
known sound of his sheUs and numbers of shrapnel with 
their little clouds of smoke were perceptible over the wood 
that lay on our right. Kirchbach, to whose corps the 
attacked division belonged, came trotting past us with 
his staff; reports came in continually concerning the 
progress of the engagement. His Majesty also chose 
this point for his position. 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 189 

" After we had been there for some time we judged, 
both from the slackening fire and the direction it 
now took, that the attacks of the enemy were becom- 
ing distinctly feebler. Our position had now to be 
changed, and it was determined to make for the high 
water tower of Marly. The King and General Moltke 
ascended it with some of us, whilst General Podbielski 
with the greater part of the Staff took the direction 
of Malmaison in order to observe from there the 
further progress of the fight. From the platform of 
the tower, which is of considerable height, nearly the 
same view is obtained as from the one which I described 
from the terrace of St. Germain, except that the spectator 
is here much nearer to Mont Val^rien. 

"Weather and light were extremely favourable. At 
our feet Busancy, shelled by the French, was in flames. 
The French artillery were deployed in a long Hne half- 
way down the long and steep slope of Mont Val^rien; 
they were covered by strong bodies of infantry, especi- 
ally numerous behind their right wing, the battalions 
there extending right up to the crest of the hill slope, 
along which, fiirther back, the dark masses of their 
reserves were visible. The enemy remained in this 
position for some considerable time under the shelter of 
the guns of the fort, still maintaining a pretty lively fire, 
which was scarcely returned on our part, as the ground 
afforded no suitable position for great masses of artillery. 
The engagement was evidently coming to an end. 

" There were on the platform besides His Majesty and 
the Crown Prince, Prince Luitpold of Bavaria, the Grand 
Duke of Saxe-Weimar, and the Duke of Coburg, 
together with some officers. 

" Suddenly flashes of fire were seen on the opposite bank 
of the Seine ; they came from batteries that had just come 
up, having been sent forward from the IV. Corps, and 
which now were brought into action. The extreme 
right wing of the enemy being right in their line of 

Digitized by 


I90 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

fire, now hastily beat a retreat, followed gradually by the 
other troops. 

'^ Night was now coming on, and the flames blazing up 
from Busancy showed out brightly, 

" We, too, now turned homewards, and arrived at 
Versailles by 7 o'clock. Here all our remaining officers 
arrived one after the other, and remarks were ex- 
changed on the details of the engagement. Our losses 
were comparatively small ; two of the enemy's guns had 
fallen into our hands. Dinner was gone through hastily, 
there being a great deal of work still to be done at the 

** Versailles, 22nd October, in the morning. 

" When we were all marching out of Versailles yester- 
day the streets of the town were fuller of inhabitants 
than we had ever seen them before. They all looked 
pleased, imagining that we were now going to be expelled 
by the Parisians. 

Within Met2;, want of food is now beginning to produce 
its effects. Deserters come over daily to our lines. One 
of them said, according to the telegram, the French 
troops in Metz had been told that when no more bread 
could be served out to them, they would only have to 
hold out three days longer, and that then peace would be 
made. If Marshal Bazaine imagines that we should treat 
with his army in Metz from any other point of view than 
a purely military one, he is egregiously mistaken. Perhaps 
the Marshal will attempt one more desperate coup at the 
eleventh hour. The mission of General Boyen from 
Metz to Versailles, as reported by the newspapers, is a £sict. 
He has now gone to England on political affairs in the 
Bonapartist interest. 

" Our newspapers prophesy daily the imminent bombard- 
ment of Paris. I do not think myself that it will take 
place just yet." 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 191 

•* Versailles, 24th October. 

" We expect for certain the capitulation of Metz to take 
place in the near future. 

" In anticipation of that event there is just now much to 
be done, and even in view of the future surrender of Paris 
preliminary preparations are already necessary. 

"There was a rumour current here at headquarters 
that the Empress Eugenie had intended to go to Metz 
and assemble there the Corps Legislatif. An armistice 
for a fortnight — but only before that fortress — ^was to 
be concluded ! Metz, and the army shut up there, are 
to us for the present purely military objects, and we shall 
not allow ourselves to be robbed of the fruit of our labours 
lasting for many weeks, and of the sacrifices they cost us, 
by means of an armistice with the opportunity of 
revictualling the fortress. I wish the town would surrender 
on the 26th of this month ; what a fine birthday present 
for our chief that would be ! 

" During the last sortie the French brought 90 guns 
and 120,000 men into action." 

** Versailles, 25th October. 
" Metz cannot be saved for France even by the Empress. 
Still it is to be expected as probable that Marshal 
Bazaine will try at the eleventh hour one more desperate 
blow. This last hour is striking. It is said that the wife 
of the Marshal will arrive here from Orleans for the 
purpose of making on her part an attempt to get better 
conditions for the army. In Napoleonic circles they 
still nourish the hope of saving it to France and restoring 
order by its means in the country." 

•* Versailles, 25th October. 
" Hopes 01 peace are rising fest in some circles here ; 
the cause is a telegram received this morning from 
General von der Tann from Orleans saying that Thiers 
was at his outposts asking for permission to come first to 
Versailles and subsequently enter Paris. His mission 

Digitized by 


192 With the Royal Headquarters in i 8 7071 

was authorised by Gambetta and the other members 
of the government at Tours. This permission has been 
granted. He has not arrived yet, but his intention can only 
be a fresh attempt at negotiations for a peace, or rather an 
armistice. His visit to the European Cabinets frdm 
which he has just returned may have convinced him that 
France will not receive any active help from them. When 
he arrived at Tours he must have found everybody 
impressed by the defeat of the Army of the Loire at 
Orleans, and of that of the East before Besan9on. 

" The French had founded all their hopes of a relief of 
Paris and Metz on these two attempts of the newly raised 
large armies. I cannot quite believe that they will 
accept our conditions for the present. However desir- 
able peace may be, it is probable that France and her 
people will be obliged to endure the war for somewhat 
longer. Only thus will they be prevented for some 
considerable time from entering again upon such a 
war as this. It is only now that the seed which we have 
sown is beginning to bear fruit fully, and it is indispen- 
sable that this fruit should ripen, however bitter it may be 
for this people." 

" Versailles, 27th October, morning. 

"We have just received a telegram from Prince 
Frederick Charles, according to which the capitulation of 
Metz and its army will take place in all probability to-day 
at 5 o'clock p.m. The strength of Bazaine, inclusive of 
the sick and wounded, is about 150,000 men. The fate 
of Metz happens indeed very opportunely for us. 

"There is no hurry as yet to send my winter things 
here ; I have a big cloak which will be sufficient for the 

" Yesterday we celebrated the birthday of our chief. 
We assembled in the morning as early as 8 o'clock in 
order to congratulate him, and it was done in a very heany 
manner. The band of one of the regiments quartered 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 193 

here serenaded him. The whole day it was almost impossi- 
ble to do any work, as they all came in crowds to congratu- 
late him, and every one of them stopped of course for a 
chat afterwards. Our Crown Prince brought a Laurel 
wreath, the Crown Prince of Saxony came himself from his 
distant quarters and brought the General a Saxon Order 
that has been conferred on him. Congratulatory letters 
and addresses arrived from all sides, and from Magdeburg 
the Freedom of the City, 

"At 5 o'clock, earlier than usual, we had our dinner in 
the big hall of the Hdtel des Reservoirs, to which our 
Crown Prince had invited himself without the General's 
knowledge, as a surprise. Crown Prince Albert too was 
present, and so the General enjoyed the great honour and 
pleasure of passing on his birthday a happy hour in our 
midst between the two Crown Princes, the Commanders- 
in-Chief of the two armies before Paris. 

" After dinner the Crown Prince of Saxony decided to 
pass the night here, and the day finished with a very 
pleasant game of whist at our General's till half- past 
II o'clock, first he and Podbielski against us, and then 
Bronsart and I played double dummy. 

" Bronsart, Holleben and I really intended to-day to go 
to the headquarters of the Meuse Army, but we cannot get 
away, owing to reports which are expected from Metz." 

"Versailles, 28th October. 

" Early this morning we received definite news of the 
conclusion of the capitulation of Metz, which took place at 
12.45 a.m. One hundred and seventy thousand men have 
become prisoners of war, a number which has probably 
never been heard of before 1 

** Joy and sorrow in life are often near neighbours ; a 
few days afterwards I received the news that my dear 
mother had departed this life almost at the same time, in 
spite of the self-sacrificing devotion of my wife. 

" Yesterday a beautiftil letter from His Majesty was 


Digitized by 


194 With the Royal Headquarters in 187071 

received by our chief, in which he made him a Count, 
and which ran something to this effect : The King could 
give him no reward, this he (Moltke) would find in his 
own conscience ; but for the brilliant way in which he had 
conducted the operations he (the King) owed him before 
the world some outward recompense. 

" How is the boundless confusion in France to end ? 
Much depends on the question whether the French will 
soon cease to harbour illusions in regard to their position. 
And yet how far they are from this ! For instance, here 
in Versailles no one among the people believes in the 
capitulation of Metz ; on the contrary, they firmly main- 
tain, nay they know for certain, that Bazaine has made his 
way already as far as Ch41ons, and that the army of the 
Loire is close on our heels ! " 

** Versailles, 29111 October, in the evening. 

" It is scarcely possible to-day to think to any purpose, 
or get peace and quietness, as every moment there is 
'something up.' M. Thiers too has just arrived and 
wants to be escorted into Paris. 

" I think it will not be easy to bring about an armistice. 
By the fall of Metz we get the means in our hands to 
carry the war through, but the French still fail to see 
that it is we who have to dictate conditions to them." 

"Versailles, 30th October. 
" Captain von Winterfeldt has just received the news 
at our office that his brother-in-law has fallen in to- 
day's engagement (recapture of Le Bourget). Also 
Waldersee's brother George, commander of the Queen's 
Regiment of Grenadiers of the Guard, I am sorry to say, 
has been killed, after having only recently arrived here 
and taken up again the command of the regiment, being 
scarcely recovered from a severe wound which he had 
received at St. Privat. Colonel von Zaluskowski, com- 
mander of the Queen Elizabeth's Regiment, is also among 
the victims of to-day. Death is reaping a rich harvest ! " 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 195 

During the period just described, the opinion gained 
ground that our stay before Paris would turn out to be 
longer than we had at first anticipated. Our daily life, 
therefore, soon settled down into a regular routine which 
I will now briefly describe. It remained much the same 
till the end of the war. 

As I have before mentioned, Major Krause and myself 
took up our abode at the house of a lawyer whose wife 
had left Versailles before our arrival and who himself left 
soon after. The only member of this household that 
remained was the " bonne," Mademoiselle Eli^e, a young 
girl who now undertook in her own person the duties of 
housekeeper, parlourmaid and cook. A priest who lived 
on the floor above had been commissioned by the 
proprietor to generally watch his interests. 

Considering the importance of the housekeeper in any 
well-regulated household, I must begin by relating how 
Mademoiselle Elize managed our affairs. From the 
time we arrived we engaged her regularly in our service, 
settled her wages and entrusted her with the entire 
management ; Krause keeping an eye on the details, 
checking the bills and paying them. I can only say that 
when we left, after a stay of nearly five months, we could 
give the girl the credit of having done her duty most con- 
scientiously both towards her master and mistress and 
to us. She was a very good cook, except perhaps with 
regard to hares (or rabbits), which she did not seem to 
understand. She used to cut off" their heads and fore-legs, 
and served thus they looked like abortions preserved in 
spirits of wine ! 

Elize was at first somewhat frightened of her new 
masters, but we soon gained confidence, and she would 
come and sit down on an easy-chair in the sitting-room 
and explain to us all that we wanted to know about the 
people in whose house we were. At last she became quite 
at ease and told us, with a laugh, '* she would like to 
see us at the devil, and that she would be very glad when 

o 2 

Digitized by 


196 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

we went away again.'* This frank declaration did not at 
all impair our good humour, and we were not long before 
we all got on well together. It was only some time after we 
discovered that she was not French at all, but a native of 
Luxemburg, and that she understood German fairly well, 
although she pretended not to know a word of it. In fact 
she betrayed herself one day when she thought we were 
not at home, by singing with all her might in the kitchen, 
*' O Strassburg, O Strassburg, Du wunderschone Stadt." 

She got on very well, too, with my soldier-servant Fritz, 
a good-natured, thoroughly reliable and faithful fellow. 
The important servant question was thus satisfactorily 
settled, and we remained free from all domestic bother. 
She very soon trained Fritz to make himself useful about 
the house, and he had to do all sorts of things for her, such 
as make beds, sweep rooms without damaging nicknacks, 
go shopping, lay the table and wait at it, etc. In return 
she taught him French, whilst he tried to perfect her 
knowledge of German. 

Her severe rule was gradually extended over us also. 
When we were late for lunch— as we unfortunately often 
were — she was sure to receive us at the top of the stairs 
and commence lecturing us as soon as we opened the door 
below : " Mais Messieurs," she would begin, " le dejeuner 
6tait pr6t A midi, maintenant nous avons une heure pass6e. 
Alors, il n'y a plus de d6jeuner 1 " Nevertheless there was 
always something for lunch, but we knew she would 
dispatch Fritz next day to the office at 11 o*clock to ask 
whether ** the gentlemen meant to be late again to-day ? " 
Even in other respects she tyrannised over us. One day 
when Krause had vigourosly blown up his servant — 
not without good cause — she came, after it was over, into 
our room and reproved my ftiend : " Mais Monsieur le 
major, vous 6tes le vrai Diable." 

This was really very hard on my dear comrade who 
now, alas, is dead, like so many others of my companions- 
in-arms. Major von Krause had formerly served on the 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 197 

Hanoverian Staff. He had fully appreciated that the 
changes which followed the events of 1866 were necessary 
for the development of Germany, and had accepted the 
new order of things with equanimity. In his new sphere 
his noble and steadfast character, his extensive knowledge, 
his common-sense, the thoroughness of his work, his 
honest devotion to duty, together with his friendly nature 
in spite of a certain amount of reserve, gained him the 
affection and esteem of all. To me he was a considerate 
friend with whom I shared all the troubles and joys of 
that great time. All honour to his memory ! 

Leaving now the members of our small household and 
passing on to the description of our daily life, I quote the 
following remarks from notes which I jotted down in 
December, 1870, and sent home as a Christmas present. 

" Every morning about 7 o'clock I emerge from my 
bedroom and enter the dining-room, completely dressed 
and booted except that I wear an ordinary great-coat for 
the sake of comfort. Then I draw up an arm-chair 
towards the fire, .which never burns well in spite of our 
perpetual grumbling. Close by stands the large round 
dining-table with the breakfast things, which are never 
complete, as there is always a knife or the sugar or some- 
thing wanting. Then I knock at the door which leads 
into Krause's bedroom and call out that all is ready. 
*Toute de suite, mon Colonel,' he says with great 
regularity, and presently friend Krause appears fully 
equipped for going out, even his frock-coat buttoned up.^ 
After shaking hands we both say, * I hope you slept well.' 
He replies, * Very well, except for the fire from BuUerian 
(Mont Val^rien), which disturbed me all night.' I, on the 
other hand, assert I had slept very badly because I had 
such a lot to think about, which impression must be due 
to hallucination, for I certainly heard nothing of the firing. 

* Tbe words of the text are literally " the collar hooked," which 
probably means the flaps of the frock-coat were hooked at the colar 
but not buttoned up. — Ed. 

Digitized by 


igS With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

Then we sit down to breakfast ; Krause, taking the head 
of the table, sees to everything and pours out the coffee ; 
all I have to do is to prepare my own bread-and-butter. 
But this is hard work, because the bread and still more 
the hard butter keep crumbling to pieces. Having tried 
for some time, I generally give it up with a groan and 
plunge the bread into the coffee without the butter. Then 
we light a cigar and presently a dispute arises as to 
whether I have already had my second cup or not. A little 
later Fritz opens the door leading to the passage, my 
toilet is hurriedly finished, swords buckled on, and we go 
off to the office, which is not far away. Our conversation 
on the way is almost the same .every day ; whether we 
shall find news come in during the night from such and 
such a corps ? Do you hear the booming from the forts ? 
What a fog ; impossible to see fifty yards before you ! 

" Our offices are located in the house in which General 
von Moltke resides ; they look out into a court with a 
small garden facing a side street. Two strides and we are 
up the stone steps leading up to the hall door, but come 
down again somewhat less hurriedly : we are the first and 
the door is still locked ! The keys have to be fetched 
firom the orderlies' room on the front side of the building. 
This process we repeat regularly every day, but we learn 
nothing from experience. Then we separate ; Krause 
works in a smaller room in the wing of the building ; 
those of us who are chiefs of sections occupy with Blume 
two larger rooms in the main building. These rooms 
when we came were very well furnished with arm-chairs, 
large curtains, ^tag^res and a small piano. But now 
everything that is superfluous has been removed, and in- 
stead we have requisitioned in the town small writing 
desks of deal provided with drawers that can be locked up. 
Only the mirrors with their rococco frames are left on the 
walls, and these have been ornamented with all kinds of 
maps — of France, the environs of Paris, of our telegraph 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 199 

lines, railways, etc. Soon a good fire blazes in the 
chimney, fed frdm a huge pile of firewood near it. Now 
and then one of us stumbles over a log which has rolled 
down from the heap into the middle of the room ; it is 
picked up with a growl and hurled into the fire, which is 
also the receptacle for all the envelopes and letters of no 

" The other members of the Staff meanwhile appear, 
and soon everyone is engrossed with his business. Our 
work consists in drawing up orders, etc., in consultations 
amongst ourselves or with other officers sent here from 
other staffs; we receive reports and consult with the 
generals about them. Frequently one or the other is sent 
off on some special missions for which he has to receive 
his instructions. 

" If nothing extraordinary occurs, the officers who are 
not engaged on urgent business go off to lunch about 
12.30. Krause fetches me at a time previously agreed 
upon, and we both walk back together to our rooms. But 
here we are rarely alone. Versailles is continually full of 
officers of the investing army whose quarters are outside 
the town and who come here on duty or who have received 
a few hours' leave. Officers belonging to the various field 
armies frequently pass through, and finally there are 
numbers of people who come to headquarters on all sorts 
of business, especially those who bring presents from 
home.* Among all these a considerable number are 
known to us, and everyone is anxious to see us and have 
a talk. We, of course, are no less anxious to see them, 
partly because it is a pleasure to learn how old friends 
have fared in the field or what they are doing at home, 
and also because in this way we often acquire knowledge 
of facts which bear on the military situation in some 

* Liebesgabe, literally ** love-gifts," cannot be directly translated. 
It is used to express the presents which are sent to those on active 
service by those at home, not necessarily from friends or relations. 

Digitized by 


200 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

particular place which is important to us. We therefore 
receive a good many visits at the office. But the office 
is not the place for lengthy conversations, and all oar time 
there must be given to serious work ; so there is no other 
way but to ask our visitors to come and share our frugal 
luncheon with us, at the usual time. Our household 
expenses become rather heavy in consequence, especially as 
the price of food has risen considerably at Versailles since 
our occupation. Fortunately, however, we have received 
a corresponding extra grant to our pay, which has been 
given equally to all grades of officers. To be sure the 
junior officers ought really to get a larger allowance than 
their seniors, because it may be assumed that they generally 
have to satisfy larger appetites ! But among the latter 
there are not a few who in the field perform astonishing 
feats in the way of eating I 

" If by chance we are alone at lunch, I have just time 
to smoke half a cigar in peace, and then my friend Krause 
obliges me with a favourite air or two from an opera 
which he whistles with exquisite skill. In spite of my poor 
talent for music I think I have now advanced sufficiently 
to hum after him * Einst spielt ich mit Scepter und 
Stern ' or ' The Last Rose of Summer,* at least so that 
anyone might guess which tune I was endeavouring to 

" But this amusement does not last long. Sometimes it 
IS brought to a sudden end by the appearance of an 
orderly recalling us to urgent business which demands our 
immediate presence at the office. But in any case, in the 
afternoon we are all regularly at work again, and it is only 
exceptionally that an hour remains free for a walk about 
the town or a visit to the picture gallery, or a short 
excursion into the environs. 

** Our work is generally over by 5 or 6 o'clock, unless 
some fresh report again demands attention. We then 
gfradually gather round the fire in the larger room 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 201 

and conversation becomes so lively that the last who has 
remained at his desk with the intention, perhaps, of 
writing some private letter, throws his pen down and joins 
the rest. At last, at 6.30, one of the aides-de-camp 
appears and calls out : ' His Excellency is preparing to go ; 
time for dinner ! ' All jump up, swords are buckled, great- 
coats put on, and when the General has come downstairs, 
oflf we all go to the H6tel des Reservoirs, which is close by. 

" This hotel was formerly the residence of Madame de 
Pompadour, whose bust is to be seen in the entrance hall ; 
it is finished in a grand style and very suitable for its 
present purpose. We walk through a glass door first into 
an ante-room, then through a small dining-room into the 
great dining-hall. 

" The latter is very spacious and has an elegant appear- 
ance with its marble columns and glass roof. Length- 
wise, in the centre of the hall, is the immense table which 
serves for the mess of the second division of the Royal 
Headquarters Staff and that of the Third Army. Along 
the walls on both sides there are a number of smaller 
messes for the officers of the garrison of Versailles and 
gentlemen who stay here only for a short time. 

"At right angles to the rear- wall and immediately 
underneath the colossal mirror is the table reserved for us ; 
all the seats in the hall are always occupied. The medley 
of uniforms presents a wonderful variety of colours, as 
not only the military representatives of every state on the 
globe are seen here, but also state officials, diplomatists, 
Knights of St. John and of Malta, everyone wearing some 
particular costume to indicate his official capacity ; it is 
only rarely that the civilian dress of some battle painter or 
war correspondent is seen. 

" As soon as.Moltke enters at our head, walking rapidly 
to our table in the rear of the hall, the hum of con- 
versation stops, every one rising to salute him respectfully ; 
even the numerous dogs belonging to officers stay their 

Digitized by 


202 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

noisy game of chasing one another, astonished by the 
sudden silence, and eye us attentively. 

Often at the table in the middle of the room some of 
the Royal personages are seen, who as a rule dine either 
with His Majesty or at their own quarters. Among these 
are the Crown Prince of Wurttemberg, the Hereditary 
Grand Dukes of Mecklenburg- Schwerin and Saxe- Weimar, 
the Duke of Cobourg, the Duke Eugen of Wurttemberg, 
the Prince of Lippe-Detmold, the Hereditary Prince of 
Hohenzollern, the Duke of Augustenburg and others. 
The Crown Prince also takes his dinner here some- 

" At our table, dinner passes off amidst pleasant con- 
versation which is rarely of a military nature, unless an 
orderly from our office suddenly makes his appearance 
with a dispatch that has just come in, an incident that, 
indeed, occurs pretty often. Then there is always a 
certain hush in the hall, everybody watches the generals 
and whichever of us opens the dispatch and reads it out 
to them in an undertone; everyone wishes to discover 
from our faces what impression the telegram is producing. 
But not much is to be gained in this way, they never alter, 
whatever may be the news. The immediate dispatch of 
an answer is the most exciting thing that ever happens, or 
an order to forward the message to other quarters, which 
is done without any fuss. 

" The dinner with the subsequent cup of coffee and cigar 
take about an hour and a half, during which we now and 
then greet an acquaintance who may be seen in the room ; 
but as soon as our chief withdraws, we as a rule follow 
him and return all together to our office. 

" Usually some fresh work has come in meanwhile, but 
that can be generally so arranged that Moltke is sure of 
his three partners for a game at whist, which is played in 
his beautifully furnished study in the first story. When, 
as it sometimes happens, one of the players is called away 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 203 

for the dispatch of fresh business, there is always a reserve 
man to be found to take his place. 

** It depends on the amount and the importance of 
work in hand how long we stay at the office. Sometimes 
I am back home by 11 o'clock, at others much later. 
One of the staff remains at the office all night in a room 
set apart for this purpose ; his business it is to open 
everything that comes in, and, according to the urgency of 
the case, either to put it by till the morning, or see that 
it is dealt with at once. 

" The domestic harmony between Krause and myself 
goes so far that we always leave the office together; 
whenever one of us is kept the other waits, occupying 
himself meanwhile as well as he may, till we can go 
home together. We are so much accustomed to this that 
each of us knows exactly which of the house and corridor 
doors it is his business to open and hold till the other has 
passed to prevent it breaking his nose, and whose special 
duty it is to lock each door. 

*' Fritz has to wait up for us in our sitting-room, chiefly 
in order to receive his orders for next day. When he 
hears our swords rattling on the stairs, he opens the door, 
holding a light, that is, when he has not fallen asleep 
too soundly in the arm-chair, which happens now and 

" With a final shake of hands Krause and I wish each 
other good-night, and then we go to bed with the agreeable 
certainty that in any case we have approached one day 
nearer to the end of the war." 

Such was the routine of our every-day life with but few 
exceptions during the five months we stayed in Versailles 
— on the whole quite a domestic idyl in the midst of the 

Digitized by 


204 With the Royal Headquarters in i 87071 

2. From the Fall of Metz to the Bombardment 
OF Paris — Negotiations for an Armistice — ^The 
Battle of Villiers-Champigny— Christmas. 

The next following period from the beginning of the 
investment till the arrival of the First and Second Army, 
which became free after the fall of Metz, was a very 
difficult one, owing to the limited forces which were 
available before Paris. 

The number of the enemy's forces increased everywhere 
in an extraordinary manner owing to the energetic and 
wide-reaching activity which the French displayed, 
especially after the appearance of Gambetta at Tours, and 
which compelled us to weaken still further the compara- 
tively scanty forces round Paris by sending off consider- 
able detachments to resist them. 

On the Loire the troops placed at the disposal of 
General von der Tann (I. Bavarian Corps and the 22nd 
Infantry division with three cavalry divisions) were by 
the beginning of November no longer sufficient to make 
head against the French, who had here assumed the 
offensive with greatly superior numbers. He in vain 
faced the enemy on the loth November at Coulmiers ; he 
was obliged to retreat, and Orleans fell again into the 
hands of the French. The necessary reinforcements for the 
troops covering the siege in this direction were furnished 
by sending off the 17th Infantry division from Paris, and 
the further advance of the French from the direction of 
Orleans came to a standstill. They also pushed forward 
from the south-west, and some of their troops even 
appeared before Houdan on the 14th November, only 
two days' march from Paris ; but they were at once driven 
away again. 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 205 

There was for a time great uncertainty in regard to the 
intentions of the Army of the Loire. The forces facing 
it hitherto — now united into • n independent body under 
the command of His Royal Highness the Grand Duke of 
Mecklenburg-Schwerin — ^were not numerous enough to act 
on the offensive, and the cavalry were unable to penetrate 
behind the screen formed by the advanced detachments of 
the enemy and numerous bodies ofFrancs-tireurs, and were 
consequently unable to furnish proper intelligence. This 
led to various marches and counter-marches of the corps 
in its arduous endeavour to stop, now here, now there, the 
threatening movements of the enemy, but it was, never- 
theless, unable, owing to its weakness in numbers, to com- 
pletely block at the same time the roads in the direction 
of Orleans as well as those to Tours and towards the 

It was therefore with some eagerness that the arrival 
of the German troops from Metz was awaited, where the 
army of Marshal Bazaine had been compelled to capitulate 
on the night of the 27th October. These reinforcements, 
however, could only arrive gradually, and at first not 
even in their entirety, as the VH. Corps and several 
other detachments were required for the safe transport 
of the prisoners. But the bulk of the two armies began to 
move immediately; the First Army, now under the 
command of General Freiherr von ManteufFel, received as 
its general direction the line Metz- Rouen passing to the 
north of Paris. As the enemy had not appeared yet in 
any considerable force in this part of the country, several 
divisions of this army were used first against the fortresses 
of the north. 

The Second Army, consisting now only of the HI., IX. 
and X. Army Corps and the I, Cavalry division, very soon 
found it necessary to accelerate their movements, in view of 
the daily increasing danger threatening the besiegers, and 
finally hurried on by forced marches. As they neared the 

Digitized by 


2o6 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

road from Orleans to Paris, Prince Frederick Charies 
saw clearly that he had the main forces of the enemy 
in front of him. The corps of the Grand Duke of 
Mecklenburg, which had been engaged on the 17th and 
1 8th November at Dreux and Chiteauneuf, was now 
placed under the command of the Prince. On the 
28th November the advance on the enemy began; 
it was directed against the left wing of the Second Army, 
and was repulsed by the X. Army Corps at Beaune la 
Rolande. Next, on the 2nd December the corps of the 
Grand Duke fought victoriously with the forces before 
them at Loigny-Poupry. Having effected a junction with 
the Grand Duke, Prince Frederick Charles advanced 
with the whole of his* troops against Orleans, which after 
the victorious battles of the 3rd and 4th December fell 
into our hands a second time. 

Meanwhile General von Manteuffel reached the region 
north of Paris with the I. and VIII. Corps, routed the 
opposing forces near Amiens on the 27th November, and 
took possession of the citadel of that town on the 29th ; 
on the 5th December he reached Rouen. 

In the first days of December all the difficulties which 
had accumulated during November, and which had made 
the investment of Paris so arduous, were thus removed, 
and the blockade was certain to come to a successful 
issue. In the city the attempt of the Commune on the 
31st October to seize the reins of power had been un- 
successful. The active defence had been very feeble till 
the verj' end of November ; a great sortie which was to 
have taken place on the 19th of that month did not come 
off. It was only during the last advance of the Army of 
the Loire that preparations became evident which seemed 
to aim at breaking through the blockade. Demonstra- 
tions took place at various places from the 26th 
November onwards, and during the night of the 27th an 
exceptionally heavy artillery fire was opened on our 
outposts and cantonments. At last a sortie en masse 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 207 

took place against the position of the Wurttembergers 
on the East of Paris which led to the battle of Villiers- 
Champigny on the 30th November and the 2nd Decem- 
ber, in which the former and Saxons took part as 
well as the II. Army Corps and part of the VI. Corps, 
and which ended with the retreat of the French behind 
their works on the 3rd December. 

The first of the next following extracts from my letters 
of this period deals chiefly with the negotiations for an 
armistice which, as I have mentioned, were begun on the 
arrival of M. Thiers in Versailles. The basis of these 
negotiations proposed on the part of the French was to be 
an armistice lasting four weeks, Paris being revictualled 
meanwhile, demands which our position did not warrant 
being granted. 

" Versailles, 3rd November. 

" The proposals of M. Thiers for an armistice are now 
known. What shall I say of them ? We are to abstain 
from requisitioning and permit Paris to be provisioned ! 
The number of inhabitants together with the masses that 
have crowded into the place from the outside are stated 
by the French to be from 2,700,000 to 2,800,000 souls ; at 
the same time affairs in Paris have assumed a critical 
aspect. The former government is said to have been 
forcibly overturned, and ominous signs are reported on 
all sides from the outposts or through prisoners and are 
evident from the Paris newspapers. It is rumoured that 
the new government is far from being generally accepted 
in the town as yet. As soon as that is the case we must 
expect a great sortie, as those now in power press for 

" One of our divisions has already arrived from Metz." 

** Versailles, 3rd November, evening. 
"Negotiations with M. Thiers continue, but are not 
likely to lead to anything. To judge from all the rumours 

Digitized by 


2o8 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

and signs, it seems as if they were already beginning to 
come to loggerheads in Paris, These rumours have become 
so rife that Thiers has been induced to interrupt negotia- 
tions and send one of his companions into Paris in order to 
inquire whether the government which had given him the 
mission still existed. Thiers himself must therefore think 
its fall possible. And we are to conclude an armistice 
with a government like this, which offers us no certain 
guarantees ! " 

** Versailles, 4th November. 

"My" dear old friend, Max von Versen, on the Staff of 
Prince Albert, has just arrived, although the wound 
which he received at Sedan is not healed yet, and he 
walks lame, but he was eager not to lose anything. 

" Mont Valerien blazes away at nights in a tiresome 
manner, and is at its music at the present moment." 

** Versailles, 5th November. 

" The negotiations for an armistice still continue, with- 
out any hope of one. Thiers drives into Paris and back. 

" We are by no means ready yet for the attack on the 
forts. On Saturday we caught two balloons, the one with 
three, the other with two passengers. The latter appear, 
however, this time to be only private persons who wanted 
to leave Paris on business, and who paid the aeronaut 
3000 francs for the trip. They will now have the pleasure 
of going to one of our fortresses instead." 

" Versailles, 7th November. 
" Thiers takes his departure to-day, and there is conse- 
quently no longer any question of an armistice. More fight- 
ing and bloodshed is to come, without any prospect of its 
affecting the issue. The creation of new corps, the calling in 
of all the troops from the dep6ts, the device of recalling to 
the colours all the men who have completed their service, 
as well as raising fresh levies, have brought under arms a 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 209 

large number of men, so that the French Army of the 
Loire is likely soon to be upwards of 80,000 strong. 
There may be fresh fighting to be done against the latter 
presently, as it appears that those divisions which are 
already formed have crossed the Loire at Tours and will 
advance against us from the west, along the right bank of 
the river." 

" Versailles, 8th November. 
" The French have been fairly quiet during the last few 
days ; perhaps they are preparing for something big." 

'* Versailles, 8th November, evening. 

" To-morrow, Bronsart, HoUeben and I intend to pay a 
visit to the Crown Prince of Saxony. We have already 
sent Bronsart's carriage horses forward as relays. I hope 
that nothing will happen meanwhile to prevent our going, 
although it is not impossible, as an advance of the French 
Loire Army and probably also a sortie from Paris are to be 
expected shortly. Concerning the Army of the Loire, four 
long days' work has yet to be got through before we are 
quite ready to cope with the conditions which may result 
from its advance . 

" To-day I was agreeably surprise^ by a visit from the 
Russian General Annenkov, whose acquaintance I made 
many years ago at Warsaw." 

" Versailles, 9th November. 
" The long intended drive to the headquarters of the 
Meuse Army has at last come off. At Satrouville, where 
we found the carriage horses which had been sent in 
advance, I met Richard von Amim, formerly of the ist 
Regiment of Guards, now in command of a battalion 
of Guard- Landwehr. 

" Both going and coming back we had a good warming 
in his quarters, as driving in an open carriage makes 
. one aware that it has already become very cold. 


Digitized by 


2 to With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

"As we had anticipated, General von der Tann was 
engaged with the Army of the Loire yesterday and has 
been compelled to retreat before superior numbers and 
evacuate Orleans. We now hope that he will succeed in 
fcnming a junction to-morrow or the day after with the 
supports which are already on the way, and that the 
Grand Duke of Mecklenburg, who has taken the command 
of the force, will be strong enough to drive the enemy back 
again. Communication seems to be kept up between 
Paris and the Army of the Loire, probably by means of 
carrier-pigeons, so that as things stand a sortie from 
Paris with all available force may be expected. Severe 
and bloody fighting is likely to result in that case ; as to 
the upshot of it all, we shall be wiser to-day week, but in 
any case we look forward with perfect confidence to 
whatever may happen. Unfortunately, as far as we 
ourselves are concerned, there will not be much for us to 
do, as only parts of the Third Army will be engaged in 
the fighting that may ensue, and everything is therefore in 
the hands of the headquarters of that army." 

" Versailles, loth November. 

" It has been snowing here for the first time and the 
whole day, an unheard-of occurrence in France at this 
time of year. 

" I have received a letter from Lattre at Florence (our 
military plenipotentiary in Italy). The poor fellow is mad 
with vexation at being obliged to stick to his post during 
the war, and has kept on writing letters ever since it 
began, begging to be recalled. All my endeavours 
have hitherto been in vain, but yesterday I was able to 
gratify him by telegraphing to him the King's command 
to come here immediately. He has been attached to 
General von Obernitz, commanding the Wurttemberg 

" There will be no little astonishment at Berlin about 
the evacuation of Orleans and von der Tann's engagement ; 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 211 

that I can easily imagine. We are not in the habit in 
such cases of telegraphing; our plan is working out d 
merveillel We prefer to let facts speak for themselves 
a few days later. If only the Army of the Loire would 
come a little nearer still, and I hope it will, for it must 
try to join hands with Paris. We shall then have 
stirring times, which we all look forward to with pleasure 
after so much tiresome waiting." 

** Versailles, i ith November, evening. 
" I called upon Versen to-day, as the Crown Prince 
would not let him go after the report of the court physician 
on the state of his wound. Versen has therefore been 
ordered to remain here about another week, to get quite 
well before he returns to his division." 

" Versailles, 12th November. 
" The French seem willing to give us time to complete 
all our preparations for dealing with the Army of the Loire. 
To-day nothing has happened either with Tann or here 
before Paris.** 

** Versailles, 14th November. 

" We can make nothing of the operations of the Grand 
Duke of Mecklenburg, it being not easy at this distance 
to judge of what is going on on the spot. One of us will 
probably have to go there. It is Bronsart's turn, and as 
he has now recovered from a slight indisposition, it is 
likely to be he. 

" In one of the last Parisian papers there is an amusing 
story. A strange noise is heard in a house in an out-of- 
the-way street. Gardes Mobiles enter the house, and 
find a workshop in which Prussian helmets, articles of 
uniform, etc., are manufactured. It appears that a 
new branch of industry has grown up there, the manu- 
facturers shoot at, and otherwise mutilate their wares, 
and then sell them to the Gardes Mobiles returning from 

p 2 

Digitized by 


212 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

the outpost to be shown by them as trophies. Imaginary 
letters also are manufactured, such as this : * Dear Carl ! 
Come back as soon as you can. We have here a French 
prisoner of war whom I like very much, as he looks 
so much like you. Only he has finer eyes than yours. 
He is now standing behind me and playing with my curls, 
etc., etc. Your lowing fianc/e, Elise Krauthuber.' " 

''Versailles, 15th November, moming. 
** Reports say that troops are being massed behind the 
forts, and that ambulances are being brought up there, 
and we also hear that the enemy is approaching 
in force from the west, as well as the south. ' The 
horizon is clouding in on all sides and critical times are 
before us ; but we feel the greatest confidence that they 
will turn out favourably for us. Even if the investment 
should be broken through in some one place, which I do 
not think probable, it would not matter. We could leave 
a passage open in one direction for the Parisians for 
several days without their being able to provision the 
town for even half a day longer. Meanwhile, the leading 
columns of the army of Prince Frederick Charles, after 
some forced marches, are nearing us as desired. The II. 
Corps is already before Paris, another only two da3rs' 
march off." 

** Versailles, i6th November, moming. 
" The situation is unchanged. The people of Versailles 
are quite confident that we shall be driven out of their 
town within the next few days, but they will not get 
their wish." 

** Versailles, 17th November. 
" The Berlin newspapers fix the bombardment of Paris 
for the 25th. We shall certainly begin as soon as we 
are in a position to do so, which is not the case for the 
present, nor shall we be in all probability on the 25th 
either. I f only people would not get nervous ! A prolonged 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 213 

war is indeed very capable of producing such a state, but, 
thank Heaven, there are no traces of it among our staff! 
As long as Napoleon was at the head of the government, 
a brief campaign might be expected, but since this is no 
longer the case, and the French carry on the war d 
autrance, the end of the war cannot be foreseen with any 
certainty. We shall have to wait till Paris has fallen 
before we can think of returning home." 

''Versailles, i8th November. 

" I perceive that the excitement about the battle of 
Coulmiers and the retreat of von der Tann has not yet 
subsided at home. I will venture to prophesy, however, 
that on the 22nd or 23rd of November Prince Frederick 
Charles will again be in possession of Orleans. The 
preliminary operations against the Army of the Loire 
began yesterday. Treskow, of our staff, has taken the 
command of a division, and yesterday ousted about 7000 
Gardes Mobiles from Dreux after some little fighting ; for 
at that point Messieurs les Fran9ais had come a little too 
near us. 

" Public opinion in Paris is a curious thing. In some 
of the last papers it was openly said that further defence 
was madness and the government of Tours ought to be 
deposed. But now, upon the news of the fighting near 
Coulmiers, this opinion has, of course, suddenly changed 
to the contrary, and every Parisian is again for continuing 
the resistance, and brimful of hope. 

" Our affairs before Paris are in very good order, and I 
do not think it likely that any attempt to break through 
will succeed. 

" In the political world they seem to be waking up 

"Versailles, 20th November, 
*'You reproach me with never telling you anything. 
Well, an investment is very slow work, and there is 

Digitized by 


214 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

very little to be said about it. We have nothing to do 
but just to wait and see what the enemy is pleased to 
undertake. Such forces as are not required here, are used 
elsewhere about the country. Of these we shall probably 
hear something very soon. Near Amiens in the north, near 
Orleans in the south, then on the road Paris-Chartres- 
Tours and in the country thereabouts will be the points at 
which fighting may be expected. But first we must have 
the means available, which will not take long ; it is only 
a question of a few dajrs. Nor are we as yet in a position 
to begin the bombardment of Paris." 

" Versailles, 21st November. 
" Things here go quietly on their usual course. The 
Grand Duke of Mecklenbiurg is beginning to make head- 
way, and as soon as Prince Frederick Charles has his last 
troops together there will be fighting near Orleans which 
may turn out to be very severe." 

** Versailles, 22nd November. 
*' The Grand Duke is engaged in clearing out of the way 
whatever is before him. To-morrow he may have severe 
fighting near Nogent-le-Rotrou if the enemy makes a 
stand. In that case he is likely to break down all 
opposition before him. Matters seem to be much more 
difficult at Orleans ; the whole Army of the Loire is 
probably entrenched there. The capture of Orleans will 
therefore probably be delayed for a few days, unless the 
enemy, alarmed by the threatening movement of the Grand 
Duke, evacuates the town." 

" Versailles, 24th November. 
" To-day at dinner with the King the talk turned upon 
the Russian General Annenkov, who is now going back. 
I observed that he had become a captain later than I, and 
was now already a general, on which His Majesty replied: 
* I suppose you mean to reproach me for not having made 
you one ? You will never even be made a colonel, or I should 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 215 

not be able to distinguish you from Gottberg ! ' (Some 
likeness to the Quartermaster-General of the Third Army, 
Colonel von Gottberg, had already led to mistakes.) 

" To-day is the 24th November, and I have again to 
put off the date of the recapture of Orleans. We have 
been mistaken as to the power of resistance of Paris, and 
just as little did we guess that France would succeed in 
improvising such large armies as she has done. Therefore 
our position in regard to the Army of the Loire will have 
to be thought out very carefully, and even the possibility of 
a check before Orleans, although that is not probable, will 
have to be taken into consideration. We are hoping that 
the enemy will make a stand at Orleans and that a telling 
blow may be struck at him there. Unfortunately this will 
cost further sacrifices." 

'* Versailles, 25th November. 

" We hope to hear news this morning of the Grand Duke 
of Mecklenburg and Manteuffel having gained victories, 
so that the situation will shortly be quite cleared up. 
If that be not the case, other measures will have to be 
taken, but these will not be half-hearted; that I can 

It lies in the nature of things that such stirring and 
difficult times cannot pass without friction. Nor did we 
remain free from it in some respects. Rumours had re- 
peatedly reached home and given rise to various questions. 
An observation in one of my letters written on the morning 
of the 26th November has reference to this point : — 

"The world need not know the dark side of glorious 
times. There are too many people who love to gloat over, 
and who seek to diminish our pride in the great thiogs 
which have been done, and detract from their well-merited 

I need not enlarge on the fact that I hold as firmly 
now to this sentence which I then wrote down^ and that 
I adhere to this principle throughout my " Recollections." 

Digitized by 


2i6 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

*• Versailles, 26th November, evening. 

" Stosch has been nominated temporary chief of the 
Staff, with the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg's Corps, and 
will start from here at 2 o'clock. This corps has been 
placed under the chief command of Prince Frederick 
Charles. As soon as the junction of the two forces is 
effected everything will be in good trim, but that is not yet 
the case, unfortunately, as the enemy is still between 

" We again receive reports pointing to an approaching 
sortie northwards, against the army of the Crown Prince 
of Saxony." 

•* Versailles, 27th November, evening. 

" The results of to-day's movements are not yet known, 
but we are convinced that everything will have been done 
as we wished. 

" Stosch has already arrived at the Grand Duke's head- 

" Versailles, 30th November. 
" Since the evening of the day before yesterday firing 
has been going on unceasingly from all the forts. At 
the present moment all the window panes are rattling. 
Yesterday the French attacked, in comparatively small 
bodies, here and there, but suffered no small loss. To-day 
the fighting seems to be assuming larger proportions, 
at least the report of field guns is distinctly heard, as well 
as infantry fire, from various directions. They probably 
assume in Paris that the Army of the Loire is approaching. 
It is questionable whether the latter will get any nearer 
since its right wing attacked on the 28th November, 
and was repulsed by the X. Corps. The losses of the 
enemy on that occasion are said to have been upwards of 
7000 men. Also the engagement at Amiens has borne 
good fruit for us, and concerning the Army of the Loire, 
we are at last in a position to assume the offensive in 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 217 

earnest. The movements are, unfortunately, very much 
hampered by the state of the roads and the country; 
it is scarcely possible to get along anywhere but on the 

•* Versailles, 30th November. 

" De Claer is sitting opposite me in the office and has 
just calculated that each shot from Mont Val6rien costs the 
French between 92 and 94 thalers. He is disgusted with 
this waste ! 

" All our junior officers have already left for the various 
posts of observation. It is possible that the fighting 
going on at this moment is a serious attempt to 
break through; on the other hand, it may only be 
intended to prevent us from sending off more troops to 
the Loire. If that be the case the French will not 
gain much, as we shall do it all the same if it become 
necessary. For the present there is no need. It is also 
possible that Trochu wants to make the Parisians believe 
that he does his best in order to be able to tell them if 
he does not succeed : ' Now you see, there is no longer 
any chance for us.' " 

*• Versailles, 2nd December, 
" According to all the reports which came in during the 
evening of the 30th November, the French have not 
succeeded with their sortie en masse in breaking through 
our lines. To my astonishment, I received at the office a 
despatch, late in the evening, with the news that our II. 
Corps, acting as reserve to the Third Army, and which 
had been brought on to the field of battle as a reinforce- 
ment, had at the end of the engagement returned to its 
quarters, which are nearly 10 miles to the rear. What 
could have induced the brave General von Frensecky to 
do so, I cannot imagine ; but in any case it was evident 
that the French might very likely continue the fight next 
morning, in which case the Army Corps would be absent 

Digitized by 


2i8 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

from our line of battle. I at once therefore framed 
a telegram to the II. Army Corps, in which an imme- 
diate return was ordered, and went with the despatch 
to General von Moltke. The Chief consented to the 
telegram being sent, and asked me on my suggesting to 
him the necessity for one of us to go there, whether I 
could be spared. As this was the case, he requested me 
to go at once to the scene of to-day's battle and to let him 
have, as soon as possible, further news from the right 
bank of the Seine. Le Piple-Ch&teau, where the staff of 
the Wurttembergers lay, was fixed as the point where any 
instructions from headquarters would find me. I at once 
ordered the ' war chariot ' to be got ready, and requested 
some of my officers to accompany me. Meanwhile, I 
went to the Crown Prince, of whose army the 11. Corps 
formed part, in order to confer with him. The con- 
ference took place by the bedside of General von 
Blumenthal, who had ahready retired for the night. 

^' We took our way along the advanced line of outposts* 
The firing from the forts was still going on, but only 
in a desultory manner. Now and then a shell bursting 
some distance off lit up the country. In Villeneuve-le- 
Roi, the headquarters of the VI. Army Corps, I called on 
General von Tiimpling and his Chief-of-the- Staff, Colonel 
von Salviatiy in order to ask him for a brigade which was 
to cross the Seine and fill for the present the place which 
was now left empty. An order to that effect had, however, 
already been given by the corps commander, and I found 
on crossing the Seine the brigade marching to the front. 
Its commander was General von Malochowski, my former 
much-liked instructor when I was a cadet at Potsdam. 

" In Villeneuve I asked for fresh horses from the VI. 
Corps, as mine were already tired out. The short 
interval was utilized to confer with the commanding 
general and his chief-of-the-staff ; we naturally did not 
stay a moment longer than was necessary to get the 
carriage ready. Accompanying in the dark the infantry 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 219 

of the VI. Corps marching across the Seine, we arrived 
towards the morning at Le Piple-Ch4teau, where I met 
General von Obernitz, whom I had known from my youth, 
and Major von Lattre, who had just arrived from Florence- 

" We could easily survey from here the battle-field on 
which the Wurttembergers had yesterday fought so bravely 
and with such success. Between 8 and 9 o'clock the 
sound of tramping horses announced from a considerable 
distance the approach of mounted men. It was General 
von Fransecky with his staff, who had received the order to 
return with his corps at the moment when, after arriving 
at his quarters at Lonjumean, he was going to dismount. 
All the troops of the corps bad likewise faced about in 
xonsequence of the order, but their arrival in the old 
position was only to be expected by noon after their night 
march on bad roads and their previous exertions. 

" General von Fransecky entered the room and addressed 
me in these words : ' The Crown Prince has sent me a tele- 
gram that you would bring me the orders of His Majesty.* * 
My situation was a curious one, for I had no orders from 
anyone to bring. Without, however, entering into an 
explanation on the point, I thought it right to lay down 
in a definite form the views entertained at Headquarters^ 
which were well known to me. I therefore requested 
Captain Zingler, who accompanied me, to take down care* 
fully in writing every word that I was going to say, and then 
explained to the General as follows : ' The enemy is still on 
the right bank of the Seine and on the left of the Marne, 
outside his works, and it is in accordance with the inten- 
tions of His Majesty for your Excellency, as soon as your 
corps is assembled, to advance to the attack and drive the 
enemy back again behind the line of his forts.' I knew very 
well that I took on my shoulders a certain responsibility by 
acting thus ; but the heads of sections of the Headquarters 

^ As I could see for myseU afterwards, the telegram in question 
actually ended with these words : *' You are requested to return as 
fast as possible to Le Piple, where you will receive the further orders 
of His Majesty through Lieutenant- Colonel von Verdy." 

Digitized by 


220 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

Staff are quite competent to do so, as they are intimately 
acquainted with all the intentions of the Commander-in- 

"The late arrival of the corps and the shortness of 
the day- light prevented the immediate execution of the 
order, a circumstance which, however, only became clear 
during the day. I had myself received strict orders to 
return to Versailles as soon as I knew the further plans 
of the General. I therefore waited for the next day's 
orders to be issued and then started on my way back, 
but left two of the officers attached to me with General 
von Fransecky to ftirther report as to what might take 
place there on the following day. At Villeneuve-le-Roi 
I took my own horses again, but could not accept the 
invitation to dine with the staff, as there was no time 
to lose. The commandant of the headquarters, First- 
Lieutenant von Goldammer, however, pretty soon got 
something ready for me, and whilst the horses were 
changed I ate some ragout or fricassee.* 

" It was nearly ten o'clock in the evening when I again 
arrived at the quarters of General von Moltke, who was 
already fully informed of the position of affairs, except my 
last despatch from Le Piple-Chiteau, which only arrived 
just when I entered his room* The General took me to 
His Majesty, although it was somewhat late, to make my 
report ; he himself then entered into a minute exposition 
on the situation. 

" On the following day the second battle of Villiers- 
Champigny was fought under the chief commahd of the 
Crown Prince of Saxony, in which the II. and the Royal 
Saxon Corps, besides portions of the Wurttembergers 
and of the VI. Corps, had some very severe fighting, 

1 Premier-Lieutenant von Goldammer had organised extremely well 
everything to do with the out-of-doors work at the headquarters of 
the IV. Army Corps. For instance, he had formed a "brigade" of 
old women who had returned to the place to clean the stteets and the 
h ouses in which the staff duties were carried on. For this they 
r eceived some small payment besides their food. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

The Struggle with the Republic 221 

after which, however, the enemy on the morning of the 3rd 
December again retreated as far as the line of the forts. 

" A few days later the King suddenly said to me at 
dinner : ' Well, this is another pretty story which I hear 
about you ! my son has told me all about it ! ' On my asking 
what story His Majesty was referring to, he replied : * The 
• Crown Prince on the morning of the ist of December was 
about to start on a reconnaissance when a telegram 
arrived from the VI. Corps with the information that two 
carrier pigeons had just been caught. He at once sent 
orders by telegraph to forward them to Versailles. On 
his return in the evening he found, however, instead a 
report from the VI. Corps, that "Lieutenant-Colonel 
von Verdy has just eaten them up." * 

" So I learned at last what my fricassee in Villeneuve 
on the evening of the ist December was made of.** 

** Versailles, 3rd December. 
" Yesterday seems to have been again extremely bloody. 
Details of the fighting are not yet known. In any case 
the French have suffered considerably and must be very 
much disorganised ; they cannot stand many more such 
struggles. The fighting in the south against Orleans is also 
of great importance. But nothing decisive can occur before 
Paris negotiates. The Army of the Loire must also- be 
pursued on the other side of that river. I point this out 
intentionally because else too great a significance might be 
attached at home to the telegrams announcing our 

"Versailles, 4th December, 
" The latest struggles before Paris have again been of 
an extraordinarily severe and bloody character. I estimate 
our losses alone at about 5000 men. Whether the French 
here have now had enough of it for some time to come, 
or whether they will try their luck in another direction, 
remains to be seen. 

" These times are very trying : continuous tension in 

Digitized by 


222 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

different directions, continuous excitement together with 
important work and orders which cannot be too exact. 
Warfare in these days of telegraphs tries the nerves much 
more than in former times. Then some detached corps 
were not heard of perhaps for weeks, and there was at 
least twenty-four hours' time before sending further in- 
structions. Now we are asked every evening whether 
there is any news from all the detached bodies and 
corps distant perhaps 400 or more miles. Whatever 
comes in from them must be always answered at once, as the 
operations of even the most distant corps may be influenced 
the very next day by our directions. Gradually we too 
begin to get a little nervous. But our good spirits are never- 
theless kept up, and many a jest is made in the midst of 
serious work. A commander of a certain division who, 
quite rightly, had entrenched his troops in such a manner 
that not a rat could get out of Paris without being shot at, 
and who levelled of course all the woods and villas that 
were in his way, has been nicknamed ' Director of the 
Society for the Embellishment of the Country.' 

" On the same day which you spent with the wife of 
Major Stockmarr, I had speech of her husband, viz. on my 
trip to the Wurttembergers. On the following day he was 
in the midst of very hot fighting, but I don't suppose that 
anything happened to him, as I should probably have 
heard of it." (This turned out not to be so ; serving as 
staff officer of the 3rd division, he was wounded by a 
bursting shell so severely that he had to leave the front.) 

" At Amiens, my old pupil Captain Maye, who made such 
a stir a year ago with his pamphlet,* has, I am sorry to say, 
been killed. 

" To-day is Sunday, but so far the holiday has not 
with us differed from any other day. It begins to get 
downright cold here ; and the cursed open grate system 

* " A Tactical Retrospect." He was also the author of " The Prussian 
Infantry in 1869." The two pamphlets made a great sensation 
when published. Bronsart von Schellendorf replied to them. — Ed. 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 223 

does not suit me at all ; there are draughts too everywhere. 
It is time that I had got my winter things." 

" Versailles, 5th December. 

" The Orleans bugbear, viz. the Army of the Loire, 
according to the telegrams of to-night on the progress of 
Prince Frederick Charles, seems to be collapsing. This 
was to be expected as soon as we could tackle it properly. 

" We shall probably send some one into Paris presently 
to inform Messieurs les Parisiens of our successes on the 
Loire, on which occasion, perhaps, the question would not 
be inappropriate, whether they now had enough of 

" As regards the King, he looks better than ever, and is 
in high spiritsl" 

^ Versailles, 5th December, evening. 
" Berlin must have rejoiced over the last telegrams, at 
kast they brought good cause for it to do so. The 
defeat of the Army of the Loire and the recapture of 
Orleans have been communicated to General Trochu." 

After the second battle of Orleans the retreat of the 
Army of th^ Loire took place in various directions. The 
German troops followed across the Loire with several 
detachments, whilst others proceeded to pursue the retreat- 
ing corps along the right bank. But the force under the 
Grand Duke Af Mecklenburg on its march down the river 
encountered immediately fresh resistance; the enemy 
furthermore showed troops which had not fought at 
Orleans. The Grand Duke, supported later on by the X. 
Corps, routed the enemy in the days from the 7th to the 
loth of December, in uninterrupted, severe and exhausting 
engagements, whereupon the latter retreated on Le Mans in 
a westerly direction. As we were not in a position to pur- 
sue them to their last places of refuge, such as Lille, H4vre 
and Bourges, general directions were issued from the 
Royal Headquarters on the 17th December, drawing atten- 

Digitized by 


224 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

tion to the fact that now it was only necessary to cover the 
investment of Paris. The various armies had at the same 
time certain districts assigned to them in which the troops 
were to be granted that rest which had become absolutely 
requisite. The First Army was to hold Rouen, Amiens and 
St. Quentin in the north, the force under the Grand 
Duke was to concentrate in the west round Chartres, the 
II. Army round Orleans, holding at the same time Blois 
and Gien. 

For the moment the French gave up any further 
attempts to relieve Paris by means of the Army of the 
Loire ; on the other hand, their Northern Army, which had 
meanwhile been formed, advanced in the last two weeks 
of December, but was repulsed by the First Army in the 
battles on the Hallue on the 23rd and 24th. 

Thus everything was progressing favourably towards 
the end of December, at which time various indications 
pointed to the intention on the part of the French to engage 
in operations which transferred the chief theatre of war 
to the east, where General von Werder was covering the 
siege of Belfort. 

Tolerable quiet prevailed before Paris up to the 20th 
of December; on the following day, however, another 
great sortie of the garrison took place against Le Bourget, 
but it, also, was repulsed successfully ; the same thing 
happened to a sudden dash down the valley of the Marne 
on the 22nd. But now the French here, too, changed the 
tactics which they had pursued until then ; they fortified 
strongly not only the advanced post of Mont Avron in the 
east, arming it with more than 70 heavy guns, but they 
began also in the north to form saps and construct heavy 
batteries. It therefore became imperative for us to take 
other measures. From my notes of that period the follow- 
ing are extracted : — 

*' Versailles, 8th Decembert 

" Things progress as well as we could wish. The Grand 
Duke of Mecklenburg is marching on Tours ; unfortunately 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 225 

his forces are very much reduced. He will, however, 
probably take possession of that town, as the expulsion of 
the government there may produce some impression in 

" Versailles, 9th December. 
" There was again severe but victorious fighting on the 
Loire near Beaugency along the road Orleans-Tours. 
So far all is well, but we must expel the government from 
Tours. It is true the troops of the Grand Duke will 
soon come to the end of their strength after the enormous 
exertions of the last few days and must be reinforced. The 
French government is making desperate efforts to maintain 
itself at Tours."* 

** Versailles, nth December. 
" The Grand Duke has had another engagement. 
The enemy attacked, but was repulsed. But the troops 
have thereby again been deprived of the necessary rest. 
Moltke, on reading the despatch referring to it, said : 
* Victory after victory ; our brave troops have only to be 
led to the right spot and then you can sleep in peace ! 
You can't help taking off your hat even to the very drivers 
of the transport ! ' Probably to-day or to-morrow the 
requisite supports will be on the spot, and then we shall be 
able to settle accounts with the enemy's forces there. 
I hope this will happen soon enough to get troops avail- 
able in good time against those bodies of the Army of the 
Loire which have withdrawn from Orleans in other 

" Versailles, 12th December, 
" The roads to-day are so slippery with the frost that it 
is difficult to walk at all. This makes all operations very 

' The section of the French Government located at Tours was 
actually removed to Bordeaux. The occupation of Tours was, how- 
ever, given up in order not to extend too far. 


Digitized by 


226 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

"Versailles, 13th December. 

"In the north the French are again very busy ; we 
must be careful in that direction, or some day they might 
interrupt our communications effectually. That would 
not much matter in the long run, but it would be highly 
disagreeable if our connection with home were stopped 
for a few days." 

In consequence of several remarks in Berlin news- 
papers about parleying before Paris, I alluded to this 
point in my next letter : — 

*' Versailles, 14th December. 

*' The whole of this nonsense is based on the letter 
which our General wrote to Trochu informing him of the 
defeat of the Army of the Loire. This letter was delivered 
by the usual intermediaries who are established perma- 
nently at Sevres where the Seine runs between the outposts 
of both sides. A white flag hoisted by us when required 
on the so-called Crown Prince Redoubt gives the signal, 
whereupon a boat comes over with an officer from the 
French side. 

" Yesterday at dinner the King asked me soon after 
he came in : * How many guns was it we took at 
Montmedy? You ought to know that.' Now we had 
received a telegram only two hours before which said: 

* Fall of Montmedy cannot yet be accurately timed, as 
a dense fog prevents observation of the fire.' His 
Majesty was holding a telegram in his hand which had 
just come in; the question made me therefore suspect 
that Montmedy had actually fallen and that the number 
of the guns captured was given in it. So I answered 
with reference to the dense fog mentioned in the first 
despatch : * The fog was so dense I could not count 
the guns ; ' to which His Majesty replied with a smile : 

* But there are people who can see even in a fog. There, 
read this telegram.' 

" Prince Charles too is now as ever always kind to me ; 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 227 

he spoke again about the days of his youth, and said 
how my grandmother, who was then lady-in-waiting 
to Princess Louisa, had always been kind and affectionate 
towards him." 

** Versailles, 19th December. 
" The day before yesterday a deputation arrived here 
which had been sent from Berlin in regard to the accept- 
ance of the Imperial Crown. I spoke with the Duke of 
Ujest, Herr von Unruh Rothschild, Romberg and 
others. My cousin Puttkamer I sent in the *war 
chariot ' to the water tower of Marly, so that he might 
see something of Paris at any rate, but I had to borrow 
another of Brandenstein's horses, as three of my carriage 
horses were ill. Krause's best horse, for which he paid a 
hundred Friedrichsd'or, has suddenly died." 

" Versailles, 21st December. 

"Stosch has returned to-day from the Grand Duke. 
He has done brilliant service there, and a considerable 
part of the successes gained is due to him. Moltke 
welcomed him most heartily : ' We have always felt your 
strong hand there.' Alfred Waldersee will take his place. 

"The forts are firing furiously. Reports come in 
continually, and it seems as if the enemy were making a 
demonstration here to-day, in order to carry through some- 
thing big elsewhere." 

''Versailles, 22nd December. 

"Yesterday's sortie was repulsed successfully at all 
points, and what is more, apparently without any great 
loss on our side. Only we are not quite certain whether 
the French have not a yet greater sortie in view for to-day 
or to-morrow; for what they did yesterday was not 
energetic enough. 

" On Christmas Eve we shall set up a tree in our office, 
to which each of us has contributed ten francs ; Burt 
brought the presents. I managed to find for Krause in a 
shop a small imitation Cross of the Legion d'Honneur, he 

Q 2 

Digitized by 


228 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

being a most reliable authority on all that concerns the 
French army, and having given us such ready and 
excellent information on all the re-organization schemes, 
we are manufacturing likewise for him a degree signed by 
Gambetta which sets forth his 'great services to the 
French army.' This he will receive for a Christmas present 
from me, 

" On Christmas Day I intend to give a grand soirfe in 
my apartments ; so many gifts have come for us all, and 
especially for myself, that the boxes piled up irf the ante- 
room of our office scarcely leave room to pass, Goldammer, 
who had also heard of my soiree and has arrived here for 
orders, brought a roebuck, two hares and a saddle of 
mutton, and besides a whole clothes-basketfiil of all 
sorts of eatables. 

" Your Christmas box I knew at once, and the first thing 
I took out, and which gave me great pleasure, was the 
little Christmas tree which you had prepared for me. 
Then followed all the other beautiful things, so many of 
them that I shall be obliged to buy a book and enter 
them in it. In other boxes, big and small, I found 
photographs referring to the war, the new Kladderadatsch 
almanack, another Christmas tree, the stand of which 
contained two pretty enamelled buttons with the Iron 
Cross. Cigars, various wines, caviare and preserves have 
arrived in plenty. 

** On Christmas Eve we all assembled in the rooms 
adjoining the office till Claer and Burt had lit the candles 
on the Christmas tree. It had been got with some trouble, 
but it was fine and large, and very neatly decorated. For 
each of us there were two presents in the basket held 
by the " Weihnachtskind," both of which were of a 
comical character. Moltke, who drew the first lot, got 
the big Christmas rod ; he laughed and threw it again 
into the basket containing the presents and then drew 
his second lot. We all remained together, under the 
Christmas tree, with a bowl of punch, singing national 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 229 

songs, and were as harmlessly merry as men could be 
under the circumstances." 

*' Versailles, 26th December, evening. 

" The gorgeous entertainment in my rooms last night 
came oflf splendidly. The company consisted of about 
four-and-twenty persons. Besides the members of our 
staff including Stosch, Keudell, Waldersee and Hahnke 
were there. Moltke said playfully: *Why do you not 
entertain more often ? ' and later on : * It does one a 
world of good, after all, to rest for once from all business.* 

" I had better describe our arrangements a little 
more minutely, or else you might imagine that our doings 
had been a trifle too extravagant. To begin with, the 
whole frontage of our house, containing four rooms, 
Math two windows each, besides a larger room looking 
to the back, had been illuminated. In one of these 
rooms stood the buffet. Two large candelabra were 
blazing on it, and in the middle stood a large Christmas 
cake, sent to Bronsart, Claer, Krause and myself, by 
Major von Brandt from Berlin ; it was crowned by your 
pretty little Christmas tree. All around, besides large 
groups of plates, knives and forks, there were caviare, 
lobsters, sardines, sausages of all kinds and shapes, 
anchovy, butter, gherkins, gingerbread, roast goose and 
other cold roast meats. Burt, Keudell and Blume played 
delightfully ; the generals had a game of whist in the back 
room and were served there ; the other hungry beings, who 
had dined for once at two o'clock, made a rush for the 
buffet soon after seven, and it had to be renewed several 
times. There was punch too (extract sent from Berlin), 
in no small quantity, but not nearly enough, and Krause 
and I had to bring out for the sacrifice whatever other 
drinkables we possessed. It was nearly midnight when tlje 
last, after having taken a cup of coffee, left us. We all felt 
as if we had been in another world." 

Digitized by 


230 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

3. From the Beginning of the Bombardment to the 
End of the War. 

France roused herself for a last effort. All the 
endeavours to relieve Paris had up to now been unsuccess- 
flil, and the conviction had at last become strong that the 
fall of the town must inevitably follow, within a very 
short time, if something were not done. 

General Chanzy was concentrating his troops at Le 
Mans after their defeat at Beaugency, and General 
Faidherbe, after the loss of the battle of the Hallue, 
similarly drew his corps together in the north ; both 
generals had received reinforcements and were preparing to 
make one more attempt to break the investment of Paris. 
But the chief hopes were based on operations in a different 
quarter. These consisted in sending eastward by rail 
the forces of General Bourbaki, which were being 
reorganized near the Loire and were to join the French 
troops already in the East and the Garibaldians ; making 
Besan9on their base, they were to drive off General von 
Werder, relieve Belfort, and, above all, force the German 
armies to raise the siege of Paris by moving against their 
lines of communication, or if necessary by an invasion of 
Southern Germany. 

At the German headquarters the plans of reorganiza- 
tion of the French armies near Le Mans and in the North 
were well known ; but up to the end of December it had 
not been possible to obtain sufficient information as to the 
whereabouts of the various corps of Bourbaki. Rumours 
had, indeed, been heard in different forms that the latter 
were being transported towards the eastern frontier; but 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 231 

there were, on the other hand, indications which seemed 
to point to a junction with Chanzy's troops, 

In order to make certain on this point, Prince Frederick 
Charles received orders on the ist of January, 1871, while 
holding Orleans, to take the offensive, in a westerly 
direction, against the opponent nearest him. General 
Chanzy, whose forces were believed to be again 
advancing. At the Prince's disposal were placed, besides 
the corps of the Second Army (III,, IX. and X.), 
the 17th and 22nd divisions, formed temporarily into a 
corps, the XIII., and placed under the command of the 
Grand Duke of Mecklenburg, and also four cavalry 

The advance from Vendome to Le Mans, which was 
captured in the evening of the 12th January, took seven 
days of severe fighting. Chanzy's army retreated in the 
greatest disorder, and was pursued for a short distance by 
some of our columns. Here, as on the Loire, there 
were only minor engagements until the armistice was 
concluded. The XIII. Corps was again detached from 
the Second Army, and arrived on the 25th January 
at Rouen in order to set free the troops of the First 
Army quartered there, for operations against Faidherbe's 

Meanwhile, events in the North had taken the following 
course : The extreme left of the First Army had in the 
beginning of January arrived in the neighbourhood of 
Hdvre. But on the right wing, the renewed advance of 
parts of the French Army of the North had entangled our 
advanced troops, covering the siege of Peronne, in fights 
near Bapaume, on the 2nd and 3rd January, in which 
the latter, however, had held their ground. On the 8th 
January, General von Goeben took the command of the 
First Army, vice General von Manteuffel, who was sent to 
conduct the operations on the eastern frontier. The 
capitulation of Peronne during the night of the 9th to the 
loth materially improved the position of the First Army, the 

Digitized by 


232 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

main body of which now took up a position behind the 

From this position General von Goeben advanced 
again on the i8th January, as strong bodies of the enemy 
approached and occupied St. Quentin. -This led to the 
battle near that place against the united forces of Faidherbe 
on the 19th January, in consequence of which the 
latter also retreated in disorder. The pursuit here, as at 
Le Mans, was only continued for a short distance, and 
General von Goeben led his troops back again behind the 

Before Paris, during this period, the arming of Mont 
Avron, on the east side, on the part of the garrison, as 
also their counter-approaches and the construction of 
heavy batteries in the North towards Le Bourget, caused 
us to bring a portion of the siege artillery into action 
against the former position. Fire was opened on the 27th 
December with more than seventy heavy gfuns, and brought 
about the evacuation of the entrenched position on Mont 
Avron. Subsequently, siege batteries were established to 
oppose the advance of the enemy on the north side also ; on 
the 5th January, the artillery attack on the south front 
began, and preparations were made for that against St. 
Denis, in the North* 

The effect of the fire against the forts of the south front 
was such that the artillery of the works attacked was 
silenced, and the forts themselves suffered so much 
damage that we were able to push forward nine batteries 
and take up the fight against the works of the enceinte; 
but the latter had no decisive result up to the date of the 
conclusion of the armistice. Meanwhile the garrison 
attempted one or two more sorties, as for instance those on 
the nights of the 13th and the 14th January, but they were 
repulsed with little trouble. 

The iSth January was the memorable day on which, 
in an impressive but simple manner appropriate to the 
circumstances, His Majesty King William of Prussia 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 233 

was proclaimed German Emperor, whereby the union of 
the German races under a supreme head was finally 

The following day, the 19th January, . saw the last 
efforts of the Parisian armies. The sortie in strength, 
directed against the positions of the V. Army Corps, and 
also against Versailles, was foiled in the battle of Mont 
Val^rien, in which the French suffered great loss. 

On the 23rd January negotiations began afresh, which 
now ended in an armistice for twenty-one days, but which 
did not include the siege of Belfort and the operations in 
the departments nearest to that fortress. 

The events which took place in this part of the theatre 
of war, for the moment excluded from the armistice, 
remain to be summarised here. 

After the taking of Strassburg the task of General von 
Werder became gradually more extensive, as he now had 
to occupy Upper Alsace, take its fortresses, besiege Belfort 
and cover' the siege. His intention of letting the greater 
part of his forces advance in the direction of the Loire had 
soon to be relinquished, because several detachments of 
the enemy immediately in front of him, and which con- 
stantly received reinforcements from the south, occupied 
him sufficiently. About the middle of December the 
General had concentrated all his troops available for the 
field round Dijon, when the enemy, Garibaldians and 
French troops, began to appear in greater numbers ; this 
led to the engagement of Nuits. From the 21st December 
onward, rumours and reports began to become firequent, 
pointing to the approach of large bodies of troops from 
the interior of France, which induced the General to march 
to his left, in order to be able to meet an hostile advance 
on Belfort ; but it was only through small engagements 
on the 5th January that it became clear that the whole 
army of Bourbaki had joined the enemy already on the 
spot and was advancing to the attack. The onset of 
these vastly superior forces was repulsed in the glorious 

Digitized by 


?34 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

battle on the Lisaine, on the 15th, i6th and 17th 

Meanwhile further measures had been already taken, in 
consequence of which the defeat of this French army was 
turned into a catastrophe. 

On the part of the Headquarters, orders had been issued 
on the 6th and 7th January, as soon as the whereabouts 
of Bourbaki's troops was known for certain, for the VII. 
Corps, which was at this time between General von 
Werder and the Loire, to concentrate at Chitillon sur. 
Seine, and for the II. Corps, which had just arrived at 
Montargis, to advance to Nuits. The chief command over 
the whole of the forces in this part of the theatre of war 
was entrusted to General von Manteuffel. 

This General succeeded by skilful manoeuvring during 
his advance in taking the retreating army of Bourbaki 
in the flank and rear, and after several severe engagements 
Math heavy losses, in forcing them to cross the Swiss 

The armistice was next extended to this district also, 
in consequence of which Belfort was handed over to the 
German troops on the i8th February, the garrison march- 
ing out with the honours of war. 

The following notes belong to this period : — 

" Versailles, 27th December. 

" Since 7 o'clock some seventy guns of the siege artillery 
have been firing on the opposite side of Paris, against the 
outlying works at Mont Avron, where Colonel Stoffel 
(formerly military attache in Berlin) is in command. 
Unfortunately, the weather is not favourable for an artillery 
engagement owing to snowstorms, and the effect of the 
fire is, at such great distances, difficult to observe and 

'* Versailles, 29th December. 

**' Mont Avron ceased to return our fire yesterday ; 
whether it has been evacuated, was to have been ascertained 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 235 

during the night, but we have no information on the 
matter as yet. 

" The superior officers entrusted vdth the attack on Paris, 
General von Kameke and Prince Kraft zu Hohenlohe, have 
arrived here ; but they have first to study the question 
thoroughly before they can give an opinion, when the 
attack on the south front can be begun. It will not be 
an easy piece of work, and it is still questionable whether 
we shall be able to send our shot far enough into the town 
to produce any considerable moral effect. A siege, as I 
have explained before, is not practicable. An incomplete 
bombardment — and nothing else will be possible — will 
only produce an important effect when the distress 
occasioned by it shakes the patience hitherto displayed, 
and this moment is perhaps now at hand. People at 
home are mostly very hasty in their judgments; they 
have been spoilt by the great successes at the beginning of 
the war, and they overlook the immense and difficult tasks 
that have since fallen to our lot, and which, if we finish 
them in the beginning of next year, will be at least as 
grand feats, when taken together, as the operations of the 
first half of the war. Everyone can easily imagine that 
all this urging firom outside, and the observations which 
we hear of, are not without their influence on the en- 
thusiasm Math which the heavy tasks which are yet before 
us, must after all be carried through." 

" Versailles, 30th December. 

" Brandenstein and Bronsart, who have suffered from 
overwork for some time, are now well again ; but there 
was a period with each in which we feared that they would 
not be able to hold on any longer, 

"The situation is good. Mont Avroh is now in 
our hands. Whether further progress can be made on 
that side, we shall see by-and-by. Also with regard to 
the attack on the south front, there are obstacles still to 
be cleared out of the way before we can go ahead rapidly." 

Digitized by 


236 With the Royal Headquarters in 187071 

'* Versailles, 30Ch December. 

** When I went home to lunch from the ofiSce, I looked 
forward to a well-heated room ; for I had told my servant, 
as it was so cold, to make a gooH fire for once ; we had 
lately been actually frozen. This he did indeed, and with 
what result? The whole fireplace had collapsed; the 
mantelpiece, with everything that was on it, had fallen 
down and was l3ring about in pieces. A pretty business it 
was ; and, of course, there was a general tumult all 
through the house. There was no other way to get 
warm than to go for a walk or a run ; the first time for 
ever so long, I went on the ice in the park of the palace, 
where the Grand Duke of Oldenburg, who remembered 
me at Warsaw, and the Grand Duke of Weimar took me 
between them, and in this manner I enjoyed a pretty long 

" Certainly, if human lives did not come into considera- 
tion, we might perhaps have begun the bombardment 
earlier, but it would have cost us dear, and would probably 
not have been a success. We need no longer fear any 
great loss of men ; this we shall be spared now, except in 
case of sorties. Measures have been taken to prevent it, 
and we have moderated our aims. These we shall attain 
now, I think, and there will be presently an end of the 
whole business before Paris. But this could not have been 
done at an earlier period." 

*• Versailles, ist January. 

" I dined with Stosch at 7 o'clock yesterday ; Prince 
Pless, the DukeofUjest, Count Stolberg, Count Maltzahn, 
Salisch and others were there. After eleven I joined my 
comrades, who had brewed their punch at the office, and 
so we passed together the last hour of this eventful year. 

" I am just back from the congratulation lev6e, which 
was held in very grand style in the Hall of Mirrors of the 
Palace of Versailles." 

•* Versailles, 4th January. 

"The sky is not propitious to-day. Since daybreak 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 237 

upwards of 200 guns have been ready for the attack on 
Paris, and everybody is expecting the first shot. But 
there has been such a dense fog that it is impossible to 
see three yards ahead ; without seeing where one is firing, 
it is of course impossible to begin. It is annoying ; and no 
prospect at all of improvement, however often we look at 
the sky." 

" Versailles, 5th January. 
" This is a fine winter's day, and the bombardment there- 
fore began this morning at 8.15. But there is still a dense 
fog hanging about in the valley of the Seine, so that only 
part of the batteries have been able to come into action. 
So far three officers have been reported wounded in them. 
" A telegram has also just arrived firom General von 
Werder firom Upper Alsace, to say that he was attacked 
to-day. If the rumour that Bourbaki's army has marched 
thither should be confirmed, there is, certainly, a chance 
of some considerable trouble in that direction, and alarm 
may spread, especially in Southern Germany. But even if 
things should go wrong there for a few days, it is quite 
certain that the whole affair will be put right again in a 
very short time. 

"Prince Albrecht, senior, has fallen ill, and poor Versen, 
his staff officer, has got the small-pox, though he had only 
just arrived." 

The fatigues, to which the chivalrous Prince exposed 
himself during the war, in utter disregard to his own 
health, may have contributed not a little to his early 
death. To his honour be it mentioned that although, 
in his quality of a general of cavalry, he had already 
held command of a corps in the campaign of 1866, he 
accepted in 1870 the subordinate position of a divisional 
commander, in order to be able to devote all his energy 
to the great cause ! 

"Versailles, 6th January. 
"The state of affairs in Upper Alsace will probably 
cost some cudgelling of brains, as it is only too likely that 

Digitized by 


238 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

considerable forces are advancing against General von 
Werder. But that does not matter, however ; the busi- 
ness will be arranged all right. There was, yesterday, 
again so much fog about Paris that our batteries could 
only open their fire gradually. Nevertheless the result 
was very satisfactory. To-day the wind veered round 
and the weather has become warmer and clearer, so that 
the bombardment will probably be more effective still. 
When the batteries have got the range of the forts, it will 
be the turn of the town, as there will then be no necessity 
to employ all the guns against the advanced works." 

** Versailles, 7th January. 

" Our friend Stocken is said to have been wounded 
yesterday in the successful engagement at Vend6me. 
It is very difficult to arrive at anything definite about 
the report ; but I have asked Prince Pless for information, 
as he is the first to get news through the * Knights of 
St. John,* and as soon as I know where he is, I will 
report further.* There will again be some bloody work 
all round for the field troops covering the investment 
of Paris. 

" Prince Frederick Charles is on the point of a collision 
with Chanzy's army, and Werder must, in all probabiUty, 
be fighting to-day with the forces of Bourbaki. General 
von Werder has no easy task before him ; but even if he 
should lose a couple of engagements, or be obliged to raise 
the siege of Belfort, that will not damage us on the whole 
very much. Considering the great liberty of movement 
which the large number of railways gives to the enemy, 
it is impossible to hinder him from appearing in force in 
some distant part of the theatre of war. We shall not 
always be able at once to meet him, if he move his 
troops about from one place to another. Our object must 

* A telegram from Prince Frederick Charles, concerning the 
engagemenr, had reported that Major Stocken was wounded. This 
was only correct in so far as a shell bursting near him had stunned 
him for a short time and bruised him slightly. 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 239 

be in such cases to prevent any further bad con- 
sequences. However, if Werder proceeds warily, he may 
get the better of the enemy single-handed." 

" Versailles, 8th January. 

** The next week may become the most important of 
the whole of this period of the war. Prince Frederick 
Charles has already closed, it appears, with Chanzy's 
army, which is nearest to us. In the north we shall be 
able to cope with the renewed attacks of General 
Faidherbe, and what may happen where General von 
Werder is, has little influence, just yet, on the main 

" The first shell has been thrown into the interior of 
Paris. We have papers of the 6th January announcing 
that, on the ist already, shells fell in the garden of the 
Luxembourg. But these were only stray shots, probably 
sent wide on purpose.* In our house here in Versailles, a 
number of artillerymen have been quartered. When they 
fell in, on the night before the first bombardment, in the 
courtyard, before marching to their batteries, I over- 
heard one saying : * Well, the deuce would be in it, if I 
didn't for once make a mistake and fire into the town ! ' 
In the city the people clamour for a sortie en masse'' 

" Versailles, 9th January. 
"Concerning Moltke, he lives entirely with his staff, 
and is as kind as ever to everyone of us. No one has 
ever heard a single harsh word from him during the 
whole campaign. With us he is even merry, in his 
simple, cheerful and modest way. We all feel happy in 
his company, and absolutely love and worship him. But 
outside of our small circle, also, there is only one feeling, 
and that is admiration towards him ; everj'one says that 
he is a truly ideal character." 

* It is true that, on the first day, the town was shelled intentionally, 
but only from one gun. 

Digitized by 


240 With the Royal Headquarters in 187071 

"Versailles, loth January. 
" Heavy snowfalls prevent the punctual arrival of trains, 
which causes considerable 'inconvenience. Snow and fog 
prevent likewise the fire against Paris being regularly 
opened. The ramparts of the enceinte of the town are 
so powerfully armed and provided with such heavy 
artillery, that we could only get possession of it by a 
formal siege, and such a thing is impossible. Everything 
turns out as we have foreseen : the artillery combat can 
only be undertaken against the advanced works of the 
enemy and the forts, and only such guns as are not 
required for that purpose can be used against the town. 
But even this, as we cannot get near enough, can only 
be done at immense distances, and costs us many apiece, 
owing to the heavy charges that have to be used. On 
the other side, the Parisians urge on General Trochu a 
grand sortie to avert the daily approaching danger." 

" Versailles, 1 2th January. 

" Several barracks were on fire in the forts yesterday ; 
we also learn from the recent Paris papers that our fire 
has already done considerable damage. A few houses 
have been destroyed, small conflagrations break out 
almost every day; but still the bombardment has no 
decisive effect. The majority of the Parisians look upon 
it only as a spectacle. One of their papers says : ' The 
Trocadero is the theatre at which all Paris assembles.* 
In consequence of this notice it is likely that they will 
get a few shells there. 

" Our men are by no means inclined to carry the war 
d outrancey on their part ; they are too good-humoured 
for that, as the following incident proves. Close to the 
line of outposts, they discovered some large wine cellars. 
The troops which ar6 near began to clear out the contents, 
but the stores being too large to be emptied completely, 
what did they do but beckon to the French outposts, 
who piled arms, came forward, and carried away the rest of 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 241 

the wine, which our men, moreover, fetched out of the 
cellars for them. Our troops are not cut out for butchers. 
" Yesterday I was invited to dine with the Crown Prince. 
I had not been able to speak to him at the congratulation 
lev6e on New Year's Eve, although I saw him afterwards 
as he was driving past the statue of Louis XIV., some 
way ofiF, when he nodded to me with particular gracious- 
ness. Yesterday he said to me, as he congratulated 
me on my Iron Cross : * You may imagine how pleased 
I was when you got it. I knew it beforehand. I hope 
you understood my salute from the carriage ; I intended 
it as a congratulation.' " (We three chiefs of the sections 
of the staff had received the cross of the ist class before 
the end of the year.) 

" Versailles, 13th January. 

" We celebrated the Russian New Year to-day with our 
friend Kutusov. There were present two Russians, 
Colonel Walberg and Captain Seddler, a very well-informed 
and good-hearted officer who is attached to the VI. 
Corps ; ' and of our people, Claer and myself. We 
remained until nearly i o'clock and spent a very pleasant 
and harmless evening together. 

" The intelligence gathered from the Paris newspapers 
makes it evident that the opinion in the town concerning 
the bombardmei^t is already beginning to change. Up to 
the present they have treated the matter sneeringly, but 
now, the way in which they express themselves shows that 
they are angry. The shells already reach the vicinity of the 
H6tel de Ville, and as far as the church of St. Sulpice, so 
that the whole left bank of the Seine is in a state of alarm. 
Within the next few days fire will be opened on the north 
also ; at first, against the works of the advanced post of 
St. Denis, and then the right bank of the Seine will also 
be attacked." 

' Afterwards the general commanding in the Baltic Provinces. 


Digitized by 


242 With the Royal Headquarters in 18707 i 

** Versailles, 14th January. 

'' Last night several smaller sorties had to be repulsed, 
but these will do them no good. 

" Much more serious for us of late has been the situation 
on the south-eastern seat of war, where General von 
Werder is." 

We certainly had greatest confidence in that ex- 
perienced General, as well as in his chief-of-the-staff, 
Lieutenant-Colonel von Leszczynski, with whom we three 
chiefs of sections had been on terms of friendship ever 
since we had been cadets together, and whose discernment 
and extraordinary energy we all knew ; but the superiority 
in numbers of the enemy was so great, that it became a 
question whether it would not be better to avoid a decisive 
combat, raise the siege of Belfort and retreat, until the 
arrival of General von Manteuffel with his corps should 
make itself felt. Such a retreat, however, which might last 
some days, would have had a very undesirable moral effect. 

Under these circumstances it was determined at 
Versailles to free General von Werder from the responsi- 
bility of entering into a battle which might end in defeat, 
and for this reason the following telegram was sent to him 
on the 15th of January in the afternoon : — 

" Attack to be met in a strong position covering Belfort, 
battle to be accepted. The advance of General Manteuffel 
will be felt within the next few days. 

" (Signed) Count Moltke." 

The order turned out to have been unnecessary. Before 
it reached the hands of General von Werder, he had 
determined, of his own accord, to oppose the further 
advance of the enemy, and he was already in action in 
accordance with this resolution. The glorious days of the 
15th, i6th and 17th, the battle of the Lisaine, crowned 
with success the enterprise of the brave General. 

"Versailles, 17th January. 
"At home people seem to have the idea that we at 
Versailles have really nothing to do but sit still and look 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 243 

on at the whole business. The deeds of our troops, who 
certainly cannot be praised enough, their losses and 
sufferings, are evident to the whole world, but of the 
immense cares and labours of the leaders and their staff, 
only few have an inkling. And yet for them also the 
situation is full of grave difficulties. We are at this moment 
passing through a critical, as well as an exciting and in- 
teresting time. Will Werder be able to hold out until 
Manteuffel's approach affects the enemy ? If Werder 
does hold out, and Bourbaki does not quickly retreat, 
what shape will the ruin of the latter take ? Of equal 
importance will also be, within the next few days, the 
operations in the north between Goeben and Faidherbe. 

" Last evening our friend Toeche arrived, the head of the 
firm of Mittler and Son, on business concerning us both. 
Holleben has been ordered to join General von Manteuffel ; 
his place is to be taken by Hackewitz. 

" The weather has suddenly changed ; instead of the 
severe cold we now have spring. We had to-day two 
striking proofs of the smartness of our post officials. I 
learned from a letter from my wife, that I had forgotten in 
one of mine to her, to put * Berlin ' on it, but it had 
arrived without any delay. When I told this at the office, 
Blume said : ' I know oif a pendant to that. I have just 
found a letter on my table, which is fully addressed with 
the exception of my name.' Late in the day, H.R.H. 
the Crown Prince Albert came here to be present at to- 
morrow's ceremony, when the King will be proclaimed 
Emperor ; he passed the rest of the evening with Moltke 
and us." 

The next day— the i8th of January— was to be a turning- 
point in the history of our nation : it was the day of the 
proclamation of the Emperor, memorable for all time, 
never to be forgotton by us who had the good fortune to 
be present at that solemn moment ! 

The ceremony took place in the Hall of Mirrors of the 
stately palace. At the upper end of the hall, in a semi- 

R 2 

Digitized by 


244 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

circle, taking up the whole width of the hall, were ranged 
on a slightly raised platform the glorious colours and 
standards of the regiments before Paris, representing 
nearly all the German races. There also were the 
German Reigning Princes serving with the army, and 
other Royal Princes; on to this platform stepped the 
venerable figure of the victorious leader of the German 
army, the noble and God-fearing King of Prussia. 

Before him stood, first, his great paladins whom we all 
look up to with pride and reverence : Bismarck, the strong 
pilot of the ship of state, Roon, who had sharpened the 
sword before the combat, Moltke, who had wielded it so 
mightily; then came the generals with their staffs, the 
representatives of the troops, the deputations sent firom 
home, and others who were granted admission, in 
a densely packed crowd. Reflected in the mirrors the 
throng appeared still vaster than it actually was. 

On the side towards the windows, a free passage had 
been left open, in the middle of which a smaU space had 
been arranged for divine service and a field-altar fitted 

When the sermon was finished. Count Bismarck ap- 
proached the platform, on which the King had meanwhile 
taken his position, and read aloud the important document, 
whereupon the Grand Duke of Baden called for cheers for 
the first Emperor of the new German Empire. 

Then all present went past the Emperor and did 
homage to him. 

The whole scene was simple and dignified, and all the 
more impressive for that reason. We had taken part in 
the celebration with feelings of exultation, and deep grati- 
tude to the supreme Ruler of the world, that this long- 
yearned-for day had at last dawned for the German 

Previous to the ceremony we had been afraid that the 
French might disturb it by a firesh sortie, but happily none 
took place that day. Still, reports had come in of a strong 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 245 

massing of troops at various places behind the enemy's 
forts, which looked like preparations for a sortie ; so we 
hurried back to the office where the reports from the line 
of investment would arrive first. / 

** Versailles, 19th January, evening. 

"The new German Empire has to-dayreceivedits baptism 
of fire, as the French made a sortie with the whole of their 
forces, and actually against that part of our position nearest 
to Versailles. General Moltke sent for me to the office : 
I was to accompany him in his dkrriage. We again went 
to the water tower of Marly, where the Emperor followed us. 
The fighting was already going on hotly, the enemy having 
a particularly large number of guns in action ; also Mont 
Valerien made itself very conspicuous with its heavy guns. 
The peculiar noise of the projectiles from its monster gun 
could be distinctly distinguished, even at a great distance, 
very different from the others, the bursting of its shells 
having a peculiarly strident sound. 

" In front of us the batteries of the Guard-Landwehr 
Division were in action, in a good position fronting Mont 
Valerien. Most of the big guns of the forts were trained 
upon them, and as the smoke of the batteries made a fairly 
good mark, the projectiles generally struck pretty near, 
but our brave gunners paid not the slightest attention to 

" In the villages and parks before us, there was infantry 
fighting, but the enemy's attack was directed mainly against 
the elaborately entrenched position of the V. Corps, to the 
west of St. Cloud. We could follow as clearly as possible 
the movements of the enemy, and as we stood at right 
angles to the attack, we saw them from the flank and rear. 
Strong French forces made repeated attempts to force their 
way up the slope in firont of them to the park wall. But 
each time, when they reached the edge of the ascent, they 
were received with such a murderous fire, that they were 
thrown back again. There came in our direction, from 

Digitized by 


246 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

time to time, an armoured railway engine having a gun 
mounted on it, which, after having fired its shot, went 
regularly back again. Gradually, the attack became 
feebler, and at last ceased altogether. Various detach- 
ments were already seen retreating towards Paris, and we 
also returned to Versailles, just as darkness was coming 
on. In Paris fires had meanwhile broken out again in 
various places. 

" To-day, I expect, Goeben will have met Faidherbe and 
finished him. Werder has maintained himself in his 
position and Bourbaki his had to go back. If he does not 
move quickly, Manteuffel will make his retreat impossible 
for him. I can only repeat my opinion : things are 
drawing to a close." 

" Versailles, 20th Janoary. 

"The French have given up the idea of going on 
with yesterday's attack. Considering the large forces 
which they brought into action, they might have done 
better. The sortie, which led to nothing after all, has 
cost us over twenty ofiicers and a couple of hundred 

" Our work is assuming such dimensions, that we have 
had to be the whole day at the office." 

" Versailles, 21st January. 
" If the fog clears to-day, our siege artillery will attack 
St. Denis. After this it will not be long before the 
northern half of Paris, which has not been touched so far, 
will also become acquainted with our shells." 

" Versailles, 22nd January. 
'' Bourbaki's end is now near. The operations against 
him have been very skilfiiUy planned, and if the French 
do not make the most extensive use of their railwaj^, 
they will get into the worst position possible. After 
this we are likely to be left alone by the French armies, 
until the fate of Paris is decided. The conditions for 
the capitulation and its execution will, however, be a 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 247 

matter of great difficulty, and the preliminary arrange- 
ments in view of this event have taken up our whole 
energies for a long time." 

" Versailles, 23rd January. 

" We now learn that the Francs-tireurs have destroyed a 
pier of one of the bridges across the Moselle and thereby 
interrupted our direct communication with home. We 
have wondered for a long time why they have not done 
more damage to the railways ; if they were to begin to 
play at that game, we might expect every day some blow- 
up on the lines. However, what would have amounted 
to a serious interruption formerly, is now only an incon- 
venience; but in order that we may not be the only 
sufferers, the General Government of Nancy has been 
ordered by telegraph to impose a contribution of several 
millions of francs as a punishment. 

" There is a fire in St. Denis, as also in different other 
places in Paris. The losses suffered by the French on 
the 19th January were very great, upwards of 5000 men 
probably. With regard to our own, it has turned 
out that they amount to about 700 men, among them 
some 30 officers. 

" All the horses in Paris except those used for military 
purposes, do not seem to have been slaughtered yet ; we 
could plainly see, by means of telescopes, ladies driving 
in carriages on the Pont de J6na. 

" Bourbaki's position gets more and more desperate ; 
the eleventh hour is striking, and his chance of escape is 

" Versailles, 24th January. 

" Yesterday, Jules Favre arrived here again from Paris 
and called on Count Bismarck. As to the negotiations 
which are to be set on foot, views are sure to differ widely 
on the French and German sides, and they are likely to 
be somewhat lengthy. But, even if they should be 
broken off again to-day, or to-morrow, the French will 
have to come some time and agree to what we propose." 

Digitized by 


248 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

" Versailles, 26th January. 
** Jules Favre, who had meanwhile returned to Paris, 
has been here again since yesterday. He is terribly eager 
to come to terms. What he most probably dreads is 
a revolution, the signs of which are already becoming 

" Versailles, 27th January. 

" Since mid-day the batteries on both sides have been 
silent, and we are extremely busy with the negotiations 
for a capitulation. The question is how far the Parisian 
section of the government represents the country as a 

** Versailles, 29th January. 

" We were discussing the whole of yesterday, the 
capitulation articles of Bismarck's convention with the 
committee of French officers. This morning at 11 o'clock 
the forts are to be surrendered. The French rulers seem 
to be bent on obtaining peace ; when in some points we 
did not at once give in they are said to have observed : 
* In that case we cannot guarantee that we shall have 
power enough to be able to carry out what we wish to 
carry out.' We are looking forward eagerly to the 
attitude which the provinces will assume in regard to 
this agreement. Major Krause only returned last night, 
after having been sent the day before yesterday to the 
Crown Prince of Saxony with orders regarding the 
occupation of the forts on the north and east fronts. He 
was present at the entry into St. Denis." 

" Versailles, 30th January. 
" The Parisians have left yielding to their unavoidable 
fate to the very latest. As the railways are destroyed, it 
is questionable whether they will get enough provisions 
in time. We shall assist them for a few days from our 
stores. On the whole the desire for peace certainly 
exists in the country, but it is doubtful whether on some 
points there will not be opposition, especially in the 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 249 

south, at Marseilles for instance. The most probable 
thing is, that they will come to blows among themselves. 
Nevertheless the present state of affairs will result in a 
peace, unless, indeed, the government with which we are 
negotiating gets upset by a riot in Paris, which is not at 
all impossible. For the present, the district in which 
Manteuffel and Bourbaki are measuring swords is excluded 
from the armistice, and that on the demand of the French 
negotiators ! 

" Perhaps they imagine that Bourbaki will succeed in 
getting the better of our forces there, and that by such a 
favourable turn of events the further negotiations would 
be greatly influenced to their advantage. What a terrible 
mistake to make ! We see clearly the catastrophe that 
awaits Bourbaki ; therefore we can only be glad to see 
that part of the seat of war excluded from the armistice. 
In this manner we shall reap the fruits of our battles 
and operations there.*' 

Versailles, ist February. 
" Yesterday Bronsart, Brandenstein, Krause and 
myself took a drive of several hours to points which had 
not been accessible so far, owing to the hostilities. First, 
we drove beyond the battery of St. Cloud to the French 
side, to see how it looked from there. It was con- 
structed very cleverly on the slope, scarcely to be seen 
by the enemy, as long as it was not in action, but as soon 
as this was the case it offered a very good mark for the 
enemy's guns. While engaged by the town in front, 
Mont Val6rien lay in the flank of the battery, which, 
however, was hidden from the fort by wooded heights ; 
but the fire from the latter was watched from the ramparts 
facing the battery, and the result communicated by 
signals.^ Next we went to the blown-up bridge of Sevres, 
where a lively traffic had now begun between the inhabi- 

^ This battery of St. Cloud has probably had to stand the severest 
fire of the enemy ; it lost eight men killed and some thirty wounded. 

Digitized by 


250 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

tants and our outposts. A large number of people 
from Paris have been allowed to pass through the 
latter ; they had come out to see what had become of 
their property. They cannot have got much pleasure 
from the inspection, for a large number of houses have 
had to be levelled in order to make the position of the V. 
Corps defensible. 

Then we proceeded to the batteries of Meudon which 
are established on the terraces of the castle. In some 
manner not explained yet, the castle was destroyed by fire 
a few days ago ; the fire breaking out all at once so violently 
in the rooms underground, that there was no chance of 
extinguishing it. Yesterday the flames were still flaring 
up now and then in the interior of the building ; there is 
nothing left but the bare walls, and light clouds of smoke 
envelope the ruins of the castle in which Prince Napoleon 
once lived." 

" VersaiUes, 2nd February. 
" Yesterday came the news of the crossing of what was 
the army of Bourbaki into Swiss territory. This has a 
double importance for us, first, as being the conclusion 
of one of the most brilliant of military operations, and 
secondly, as one more guarantee for peace, France being 
now deprived of its strongest army." 

" Versailles, 5th February, evening. 
'*On the 4th February I made use of my spare 
time to drive up to Mont Val^rien with Brandenstein. 
The weather was splendid. Many of our detachments 
were changing quarters, as the houses nearer Paris can 
now be occupied. The latter, which had been in the 
zone of fighting until now, had been completely deserted 
by their inhabitants. This transfer of our troops into 
the empty houses looked just like a quarter day in one 
of our large towns ; one man carried a lamp, another a 
chair, a third plates, knives, forks, and a fourth the 
beds, etc. All the'handy utensils for the house are carried 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 251 

from one village to another, and many an inhabitant will 
be surprised to find, on his return, a set of furniture in 
his rooms which he has never seen before« 

" The road up to Mont Val6rien is rather steep. In the 
first line, we passed through Sandrart's ' gardens,' which 
must be seen to get an idea of them.* His engineer 
officer. Captain Firscher, spent several months on this 
work ; and it certainly has been planned on a vast scale 
and in a very practical manner. For thousands of yards 
the long slopes have been cleared of their trees, in order 
to obtain a clear field of fire for the different defensive 
positions Ijang behind each other. The villas in the 
way were levelled, many of the finest country houses 
burnt out ; no staircases, no floors left, only the bare 
walls, so that the enemy should not find shelter in them. 
Enormous abattis, barricades and stockades, shelter 
casemates, trenches with caponniires, newly constructed 
military roads, etc., follow in endless succession. 

" We drove through the park of St. Cloud on to the 
battle-field of the 19th January, which was all the more 
interesting, as we could now survey our positions from the 
French side, and besides, in the opposite direction, had a 
fine outlook over Paris. Before us lay Mont Val^rien, 
from the large barracks of which the German colours 
waved. Everywhere soldiers of the most varied regi- 
ments came streaming up the steep cone in regular 
order in their forage caps, but carrying rifles and 
cartridges in case of need. They were brought up by 
their officers by order of Headquarters, in order to have 
a good look at the disagreeable * BuUerian,' as they had 
baptized the fort, the fire of which had disturbed them for 
so many days and nights. Looked at from the foot of 
the mountain, the large barracks on the top looked like a 
gigantic brewery ; thousands of soldiers were standing on 

^ The extensive entrenchments in this district had been erected 
by order of General von Sandrart, the commander of the 9th Infantry 

Digitized by 


252 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

the ramparts, in order to have a look at Paris, which 
gave the whole the appearance of a great popular fair. 

" The ground on the top was very sofl. We wandered 
about on the works with great interest, as every point 
offered a new and splendid sight. Spread out peacefully 
at our feet was the Bois de Boulogne ; behind, quiet and 
noiseless, lay the vast sea of houses with its towers and 
cupolas ; the heights of Romainville closed the horizon. 
To the west we looked over the wooded hills of Garches 
and Marly, from the water tower of which latter place 
we had so often looked across here and seen the top 
of Mont Val6rien wreath itself suddenly in clouds of 
smoke and send its noisy greeting close to our feet. Farther 
back lay St. Germain, with the dark shadow of the edge of 
the park standing out clearly above the steep slope behind 
the Seine. One could see over the whole valley, and the 
windings of the river, as far as Gennevilliers, with its many 
villages, as for example Malmaison, once so lovely, and 
the long rows of houses of Rueil and Bougival, where 
so much blood had flown. Special attention was further 
attracted to that gigantic monster, the great gun, the 
bursting of the shells of which had startled us so often 
from our sleep with their noise. 

" The Crown Prince too came up later on. I had a talk, 
besides, with Miss von Kleist, the sister of the Princess 
Pless, who is here as a sister of mercy. She has been for 
a long time in danger of her life owing to blood poisoning 
acquired in tending the wounded ; even now she can 
only use one arm. 

" On our way back we went along the Seine and through 
the portion of St. Cloud which lies on the river, to the 
bridge of Sevres, and back to our office. 

" The part of St. Cloud which we passed is interesting, 
because, after the engagement on the 19th January, a 
party of Frenchmen had established themselves in a few 
empty houses along the Seine, and their expulsion caused 
us comparatively heavy losses. Some of the houses in 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 253 

the place had to be levelled, to avoid any future 
repetition of this." 

" Versailles, 7th February. 
" I can only repeat my impression that the desire for 
peace is general throughout France. Only in the south, 
which has not yet felt so fully the burden of war, they 
will not give in so readily. Toulouse, Bordeaux, Marseilles 
and Lyons are the centres of resistance, and we are 
waiting to see what shape and dimensions it will take ; 
but we shall know, before many days are over. In any 
case, we shall have to wait and see how things will 
develop in the country, and whether the government, 
which is to be formed after the new French elections, will 
be strong enough. It may be that things will take shape 
pretty rapidly ; but if not, we shall have to face a totally 
new situation, for which purpose the troops would have 
first to be distributed afresh. So nothing can be settled 
as yet about our return to Berlin." 

"Versailles, 8th February. 
" A short prolongation of the armistice will probably 
become necessary. We shall be able perhaps to return 
home at the end of February, or beginning of March. A 
commission has been named for the arrangement of 
details in regard to Paris, consisting, on our side, of 
Acting Privy Councillor Count Hatzfeld and myself; on 
the part of the French, of M. de Ring, whom we knew in 
Berlin, with several assistants." 

" Versailles, 9th February. 
"Within the next few days a few army corps will 
march away from here, as the cards must be shuffled 
afresh, if the French mean to carry on the game. But I 
do not think this will be the case. The armistice will 
probably be prolonged by a week or a fortnight, as in the 
time previously fixed, all the business cannot be con- 

Digitized by 


254 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

•* VersailJes, nth February. 
" The result of the elections, which will be known by to- 
morrow, will influence our attitude towards the French." 

" Versailles, 13th February. 
" Not even when operations were in full swing had I so 
little time to myself as now. So many details have to be 
settled that I scarcely know how to attend to them all. 
From yesterday's conference with the French alone there 
are a dozen propositions of theirs, which could not, with 
the best intentions, be examined into. In order to save 
me walking home from the ofiice, our chief invited me 
to breakfast, to which I contributed, however, a fish." 

"Versailles, 14th February. 
" The* various meetings of the conference to-day kept me 
busy uninterruptedly firom half-past 8 o'clock in the morn- 
ing until half-past six. Jules Favre is expected here about 
the prolongation of the armistice ; it is said that he 
requested Count Bismarck to extend it until the^istof 
this months whereupon the Chancellor is reported to have 
answered : ' Alors I'armistice ne finira jamais,' this being 
February and having no 31st in it." 

"Versailles, 15th February. 
" Favre did not come yesterday, as he had promised. 
We should be within our right in breaking off the con- 
vention at any moment, as the French are behindhand 
with the surrender of their arms." 

** Versailles, 1 6th February. 
" Yesterday in the afternoon I went for a short time to 
the bridge of Neuilly to get a little fresh air. It was 
highly amusing to see the Parisians buying victuals in 
the small market on this side of the river. Every- 
where were seen most charming genre pictures. Here an 
elegant lady holding up triumphantly a struggling rabbit ; 
there an old gentleman with a delighted smile, squee;ring 
through the crowd with two fowls under his arm, which 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 255 

he had succeeded in buying. Access to the bridge was 
really forbidden, but people were nevertheless let through 
in batches, to make their purchases, while the band 
of one of our regiments of Guards played lively music 
lower down, on the bank of the Seine. 

" In the evening I dined with Prince Charles. I was 
sitting at the end of the table and had two old gentlemen of 
high rank on either side who were both unfortunately deaf 
just in that ear which was turned towards me. What 
misunderstandings this produced! One of theih was 
speaking of the trajectory of projectiles, the other, at the 
same time, talking about Tancred and Clorinde." 

** Versailles, 17th February. 
The armistice has, for the present, been extended to 
the 24th of February, i.e. only five days, counting fi:om 
the 19th, but it will probably have to go on still longer. 
Everybody is now coming to see Versailles ; old friends 
are to be met at every step : Paul Kropff, little Charles 
Schmeling, Augustus Kuhne (Johannes van Dewall), etc., 
have been here already, Flatow and Stocken I expect one 
of these days, and a whole host of other acquaintances 
have announced their coming." 

** Versailles, 19th February. 
" At present, peace negotiations and the election of a 
new government in France are going on side by side.. I 
hardly think it possible that everything will be arranged so 
easily and quickly. I suppose that on the 24th February 
the conditions of peace which we have laid down will be 
agreed to by the French, but only in principle ; possibly the 
preliminaries will be arranged, but the negotiations, as to 
details, are likely to be continued much longer. We shall, 
therefore, be able under these circumstances to send home 
after the 24th, the Landwehr and some portions of the 
army, but the rest will have to remain for some time longer ; 
but it will be possible to increase their comfort by 
distributing them over a wider area. 

Digitized by 


256 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

''It is feared in Paris, and has been for some days, that 
riots will break out." 

" Versailles, 20th February. 
" Monsieur Thiers is expected here, and it is also 
whispered about, that our entry into Paris will soon 
take place. But no one knows for certain what will be 
the situation after the 24th, or what may happen later. 
Prudence therefore requires us to be prepared for all con- 
tingencies, and to be in full readiness in case the war should 
have to be continued. But very few believe this will be 
the case." 

** Versailles, 21st February, 
" Messrs. Thiers and Favre are here, and the first con- 
ference between them and the Imperial Chancellor will 
have begun by 12.30. These are momentous hours, as 
to-day, or within the next few days, a conclusion must be 
come to. Any prolongation of the armistice is conceiv- 
able only under special guarantees and the acceptance 
of the preliminaries of peace." 

** Versailles, 23rd February. 
"Metz and the number of milliards seem to be the 
contested points in the negotiations. How much a 
milliard is, there have been few until now who had any 
real idea. From the birth of Christ up to to-day is less 
than a milliard of minutes.*' 

" Versailles, 25th February. 
" Although we have not got all we wanted, we may yet 
be satisfied with what we have got. However valuable the 
possession of Belfort would have been, the certainty that 
we could only have got it at the cost of a continuation of 
the war, was decisive against persisting in this demand. 
We, of course, possess sufficient means to carry on the war, 
but neither its duration nor the greatness of the sacrifices 
which we should have to make in that case, can b^ 
calculated, least of all the course which the internal affairs 
of France might take, and which would influence most 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 257 

seriously the conclusion of peace. Now we have at least 
a government with which we can negotiate, and which 
hopes to maintain its rule." 

" Versailles, 27th February. 

" Yesterday the peace preliminaries were signed here ; 
as to the particulars, it will be superfluous to enter upon 
them, as the telegraph has probably already given them 
to you. On Wednesday, the first detachments are 
to enter Paris. But if the French in Bordeaux are 
quick with their ratification they will keep us altogether 
firom entering; most likely, however, they will find it 
necessary to make such long speeches, that parts of our 
anny will yet have the opportunity of looking at Paris for 
a few days. I do not think that there is any doubt about 
the peace preliminaries being ratified at Bordeaux, but 
how long some of our troops will have to remain in France, 
is not to be foreseen as yet. 

'^ General von Kameke has been nominated Comman- 
dant of Paris, and Alfred Waldersee chief of his staff. 

"We are engaged uninterruptedly with the Parisian 
authorities in arranging details as to our entry, quarters, 

" At dinner yesterday, after the peace preliminaries had 
already been signed, the Emperor embraced our Moltke 
most heartily." 

*' Versailles, ist March. 
" The entry into Paris takes place on the ist, 3rd and 
5th of March, unless the gentlemen from Bordeaux arrive 
here before then, with the ratified treaty. In that case we 
have agreed to evacuate Paris as soon as they arrive. Not 
more than 30,000 men will march in at one time ; moreover 
there will only be a small zone occupied by us, viz. from 
the Arc de Triompheas far as the gardens of the Tuilleries, 
in order to avoid conflicts in the big town. The Emperor 
will remain at Versailles. In the Bois de Boulogne, at 


Digitized by 


258 With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

Longchamps, the entering troops will be inspected by him, 
and it may be that he will then drive into the town for a 
few hours." 

" VersaiUeSy 2Dd March. 
" The gentlemen from Bordeaux with the accepted treaty 
are on the way, and as it may be signed to-day, we shall 
perhaps have to clear out of Paris to-morrow." 

" Versailles, 3rd March. 

" We were in Paris yesterday ; it was a very interesting 
sight; only very different from what a visit to that 
metropolis generally means. Soon after i o'clock we drove 
from here, Krause, HoUeben and myself, and were back 
after six. We chose our route, first along the Seine, then 
across a pontoon bridge at the foot of Mont Val^rien, 
through the Bois de Boulogne to the Arc de Triomphe, 
then by the Champs Elys6es to the Place de la Concorde, 
where we stopped for some time at various places, as 
for instance near the street leading to the Madeleine, then 
again at the comer of the Rue de Rivoli and at the gate 
of the Tuilleries gardens, near the sentry box, where we 
found shelter a few years ago, at the invitation of a friendly 
sentry, a Zouave of the Guard, when a thunderstorm 
suddenly occurred. 

** The weather was splendid. From the Trocadero we 
had a wonderful view over the whole city, as far as Mont- 
martre, the Buttes de Chaumont and the heights of 
Romainville on one side, and the terrace of Meudon on 
the other. The Champ de Mars was beneath us on the 
left bank of the Seine, a very different sight, however, from 
what it was when we saw it last. Then the tall exhibi- 
tion buildings were there ; now it was all filled with tents 
and wooden huts, in which the French troops were 

'' All the shops, indeed, were shut, but a number of 
Parisians promenaded about in the quarter occupied by 
us» the ladies dressed in black. The streets, however, 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 259 

were crowded with our soldiers, whose different uniforms 
enKvened the scene sufficiently. Besides the 30,000 men 
of the troops of occupation, there were at least as many 
more of our men present. For there was a rumour in the 
air, that very likely the occupation would not extend to 
the 3rd, and so every one who could reach Paris from his 
quarters, went in : whole companies and battalions with 
green twigs stuck in their caps, all saluting the Arc de 
Triomphe with a hurrah ; everyone wanted to have been 
at least once inside Paris, after having been lying so long 
outside it. 

" Where our sphere ended, the French had blocked the 
streets with wagons, and occupied them with strong 
piquets; but behind them, as far as the steps of the 
Madeleine, and in the other streets, as far as the eye 
could reach, people stood so densely packed, that they 
could scarcely move an arm, and full of curiosity. The 
busy life of the streets, so loud at other times, the street 
cries, the talk and the uninterrupted roar of the traffic, all 
were silent now. These hushed masses of people, the 
troops under arms everywhere, all looked so strange, 
so mysterious, so like a conspiracy, and as if an outbreak 
might take place at any moment. 

"Nothing, however, has happened; the fears which 
were entertained at home for months in regard to the entry, 
we ourselves have never shared. When we entered on 
the previous day, a few street arabs hooted now and then, 
which produced loud laughter among our men : that was 
all. But I must not forget one thing : the faces of the 
statues of towns standing on the Place de la Concorde, have 
been draped with mourning ! I am afraid the impression 
made on our people by this manifestation was a different 
one from that made on the French ! 

" We met the Crown Prince and likewise Moltke in 
Paris, when we were on our way back. 

" As the treaty of peace was actually signed yesterday, 
our troops will leave the town again. In a few days 

s 2 

Digitized by 


26o With the Royal Headquarters in 1870-71 

we shall probably start for Compidgne and then gradually 
shape our course for home." 

'* Versailles, 4th March. 

"The parade of the 3rd March was a fine one. 
When troops at the end of such a hard campaign bear 
themselves as well as they did here, one is tempted to 
declare that the world has never seen such an army. 

" An insurrection is imminent in Paris." 

•* Versailles, 5th March. 

" Negotiations were going on all day yesterday with the 
French generals, as to the handing over of the forts and 
other military arrangements. We shall probably leave 
Versailles the day after to-morrow, or on Tuesday, and 
return to Ferrieres. On the way, there is to be a parade 
of the Saxons, Wurttembergers and Bavarians. From 
Ferridres, the Emperor intends further to inspect the 
forts on the north side of Paris, and also the troops in 
Rouen and Amiens, and, according to present arrange- 
ments, to return to Berlin on the i8th March. 

" The French Government is expecting every day an 
insurrection in Paris ; on their urgent request, permission 
has been given to bring up immediately reinforcements 
from the provinces ; the latter will probably arrive by rail 
to-day or to-morrow. 

" Generally speaking, the French rulers have immense 
difficulties to overcome yet, and although we shall send 
back our Landwehr, a large part of the army will have to 
be held in readiness for some considerable time, to meet 
all contingencies. My predictions of the beginning of 
February are therefore likely to come true." 

*• Versailles, 6th March. 
" Early to-morrow we shall remove from here to 
Ferridres. Our company has already dwindled down 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 261 

considerably. Count Bismarck returns to-day. Roon 
starts to-morrow for Berlin, only Prince Charles remains 
here, and the Crown Prince comes to stay with us for 
two days. 

" I hope nothing will change our plans at the last minute, 
and that we shall really arrive in Berlin on the i8th 
March ; but one cannot be certain in these matters. We 
are all rejoiced at the prospect of going home. The 
hardships of the troops were certainly at times much more 
severe than our own, but our unceasing work, with its 
important bearing on the operations and its responsi- 
bility, and the continuous straining of all the mental 
faculties to the utmost, also makes itself after a time not 
less forcibly felt. We, too, need some weeks of rest for 

As a matter of fact every one of us from time to time 
has had moments when he began to feel that he possessed 
nerves. I, also, have known days latterly, when I 
felt exhausted, and only just managed to drag myself to 
the office, and when, as soon as work did not demand the 
exertion of my little remaining strength, I sank into a sort 
of lethargic state. 

It was during our stay at Ferrieres, that His Majesty 
the Emperor asked me one day whether I still remembered 
our conversation after the battle of Beaumont. I was able 
to reply in the affirmative. It had happened in this way : 
During the battle itself I had been with the suite of 
H.R.H. the Crown Prince Albert of Saxony, and during its 
progress I had sent reports to the Roysl Headquarters. 
The King knew therefore exactly where I had been on the 
30th August. On the next day, when he arrived at the 
rendezvous, he beckoned me to his carriage before 
descending, and assuming a grave expression, though I at 
once saw that he was joking, he addressed me with these 
words : 

"Where were you all yesterday? I have not had a 
single glimpse of you; I believe you must have been 

Digitized by 


262 With the Royal Headquarters in i 87071 

asleep all day/' I made free to answer : ** If that be so, 
your Majesty, I have at least had a pleasant dream." 
** What was it, tell me?" "That we had won another 
battle." His Majesty smiled, and patting me on the 
shoulder, said : " In that case I will only say : Go on 
dreaming like that." Afterwards I had to report to 
him the particulars of the battle. 

Referring now to that conversation, the Emperor, 
after I had told him that I recollected it very well 
indeed, went on to say: "Well, I have been very 
satisfied with your dreams, and you have gone on 
having good ones." 

After the great events of the war had closed, the minor 
incidents which happened afterwards offer but little 
interest, and I may therefore confine myself to summing 
up the rest in a few words. 

The Emperor had to abandon his intended journey to 
the north, in consequence of a slight cold, and the 
Crown Prince went in his stead. On the 13th March the 
Royal Headquarters removed to Nancy, on the 15th 
vid Metz and Mayence to Frankfort a/Main ; on the i6th 
to Erfurt, while the Emperor went on ahead to Weimar. 
On the 17th March, at five in the afternoon, the imperial 
train arrived in Berlin, and was received in an enthusi- 
astic and impressive manner by the endless cheers of 
the inhabitants, who had come in multitudes to the 

A portion of the army remained in France some con- 
siderable time, and witnessed before Paris the bloody 
conflict which the government had to wage with the 
unchained elements of the Commune. 

Thus ended this ever memorable war, in which the 
German nation stood shoulder to shoulder in arms as one 
man, in trouble and in danger, and won that high reward 
of victory, the new German Empire. 

May those glorious times be ever present to the eyes of 
the German people! May they never forget with what 

Digitized by 


The Struggle with the Republic 263 

sacrifices, what trials the goal was won, for which they 
had yearned for centuries ! Unity alone conquered in 
the tented field, and unity alone can preserve and 
strengthen us in the steady work of peace. 
God grant that it may be so ! 

the end. 

Digitized by 





Digitized by 


u r..^/-w r /-/^ 1^ II 


Litho. irak. Oreve Bcfrini . 

Digitized by ViiOO^lC 

Digitized by 






Digitized by 



A book is folio (foL); quarto (4to,); octavo (8to.) ; twelve mo (ilmo.); 
(l6mo.) ; eighteen mo (i8mo.); thirty-two mo (32mo.)> &c, according to the.nmnber of 
leaves or foldings of a printed sheet* whe|her the sheet be foolscap, crown, demy, medium, 
royal, snper-royal, or imperial, and irrespective of the tHickness of the volume. The foUow* 
ing are approximate outside measurements in inches of the more common sises. 


33mo.-> royal 32mo 5^ 

i6m0. «dtmjr i6na ,..5^ 

l8ma«royal iSmo. 6 

fcp« ^fcp. 8vo» 6} 

demy iimo. 7^ 

^^^ small crown 8vo. ......yl^ 

' crown 8vo «... j\ ^ 

large crown 8vo. 8^ 


< 4J 
« 4^ 
c 4* 
( 5 

< 51 

height hrtadtk 

p-8vo. -postSvo 8 X 5j 

ip-8vD. -Urg^ posft 8vo. ... 8| x 6 

8vo. ■ demy 8vo. .'..' 9 x 6 

M-8vo. « medium 8vo. 9| x 6 

SR-8vo.B super-royal 8vo. ...10 x 6| 

UCP-SvQ. B imperial 8va 12 x 8^ 

Printed and folded in the reverse way — ^the breadth being greater than the height — the 
sise is described as " oblong " 8vo., "oblong '* 4to. &c 

Digitized by 


Paternoster House, 

Ckaring Crass Stad, 

Seamier 1896. 



NOTS. — Bdoks are arranged in alpkaheiicai order under tht names #r pseudonyms of 
author y translator ^ or editor. Biographies * by the author of^ are placed under the name 
of the subject, Anonymius worhs and ^seleeiiont * will be found umdir the first ftford tf 
the title. The Utters I,S,S, denote that thi , work farms a volume rf the Intematioufl 
Seientijic Series, 

A. K, H. Bm From a Quiet Plaee : some Discourses. Cr, 8vo. 5j. 

ABEL, CARL, LingUlStie Essays. PostSvo. gs, {TrUbner^s Oriental Series,) 
SlATie &nd L&tin : Lectures on CompatatiTe Lexicography. Post 8TOk y . 

ABERCROHBT, Hon. RALFB, WeathOF : a pooular Exposition of the Nature of 
Weather Changes from day to day. With 96 Figures. Second Editiofi. 
Cr. 8vo. 5J. {LS.S,) 

ABRAHAMS, L. B., Manual of Seripture History for Jewish Sehools and 

Families. With Map. Eleventh Edition. Cr. 8vo. is, 6d. 

ACLAND, Sir T. D*. Knowledge, Duty, and Faith : A study of Principles, 
Ancient and Modem. Cr. 8vo. 3^. 6d, 

ADAMS, Mrs. LEITH, The Old Pastures. Cr. 8vo. 6s* 

JESCHTLUS. The Seven Plays in English Verse. Translated by Piof: Lewis 
Campbell. Cr. 8vo. ys, 6d, 

AHLWARDT, W., The Divans of the Six Aneient Arabic Poets— Ennibiga, 

'Antara, Tharafa, Zuhair, 'Alquama, and Imruulquais. With a complete list •( 
the vaxions readings of the text 8vo. 12s, 

AHN, F., Grammar of the Dutch Language. Fifth Edition, revised and 
enlaced. i2mo. p. 6d, 

Grammar of the German Language. New Edition. Cr. 8to. 3/. &i 
Method of Learning German, ismo. 3/. Key, Sd, 

Manual of German Conversation ; or, Vade Mecum for English Travellers. 
Second Edition. i2mo. is. 6d, 

Method of Learning French. First and Second Courses. i2mo. y^; 
separately, is, 6d, each. 

Method of Learning Freneh. Third Course. lamo. is, 6d. 

Method of Learning Italian. i2mo. 3^. ed, 

Latin Grammar for Beginners. Thirteenth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 3^. 

Albanaise Grammaire, ^ Tusage de ceux qui d^rent apprendre cette langue sans 
I'aide d»un maitre. Par P. W. Cr. 8va Is. 6d, 


Digitized by 


4 Kegan Paul, Trench, Trilbner, & Co's Publications. 

ALBfeRUNTS India : an Apcount of the Religion, Philosophj, Literature, Geognphj, 
Chronology, Astronomy, Customs, Laws, and Astrology of India, abont a.d. 
1030. Arabic text, edited by Prof. E. Sachau. 4to. £1, y, 

ALEXANDEH* Hidor-Oen. 0. G.» Conftieiiis, the Great Teaeher. Cr. Stq. 6r. 
Lfto-tsze* the Great Thinker. Cr. 8vo. y. 

ALEXANDER, S., Moral Order and PrO CT e as : an AnalysU of Ethical Conceptions. 
Second Edition. Post 8va I4f. (rhihs^^al Likrary.) 

ALBXAVDER, WILUAlf » D.D*. Bishop of Derry. St AagastiBe*)i HolUay, 

and othdr Poems. Cr. 8vo. 6lr. 
The Great Qnestion, vA ptfaer sermons. Ci; 8vo. ^. 

ALEXANDROW, A., Complete Engllsh-Riissian and Roflsiaa-Enflrlish IH0- 
tionary. 2 vols. 8To.;f2. 

ALLEN, C. F. ROMILLT, Book of Chinese Poetry. Beimr the collection of 
Ballads^ Sagas, Hymns, and other Pieces known as the Shih CUng, metikally 
translated. 8to. idf. 

ALLEN» C. Lm Bnlbs and Taberons-rooted Plaata Svo. lor. 

ALLEN, GRANT, The Colour-Sense : iU Origin and Development. An Eteay ia 
Comparative Psychology. Second Edition. Post 8vo. lor. 6</. {PkOsMi^kkai 

ALLEN, MART L*. Lonebeon Dishes ; comprising Menus in French and English, as 
well as Suggestions for Arrangement and DecoiaHon of Table. Fqp. 8ro. 
doth, IX. 6d, ; paper covers, u, 

Five-O'eloek Tea. Contaiw^ Recdpto for Cakes, Savoury Sandwiches, ftc. 
Eleventh Thousand. Fcp. ovo. is, 6d. ; paper covers, ix. 

ALUBONE, S. A., Dietlonuy of English Literature and British and 

Ameriean Authors, from the Earliest Accounts to the Latter Half of the 19th 
Century. 3 vols. Roy. 8vo. £$. 8x. Supplement, 2 vols. roy. 8va (1891), 

ALLIES, T. W., Monasde Life from the Fathers of the Desert to 

Chariemagne. Demy 8vOp 9r. net 

AMOS, Professor Sheldon, History and Prlneiples of the Civil Law of Rome : 

an Aid to the Study of Scientific and Comparative Jurisprudence. 8va l6ir, 
Seienee of Law. Seventh Edition. Cr.8vo.5x. {I,S.S.) 
Seienee of Polities. Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 5x. {/.S,S,) 

AMTAND, ARTHUR. Only a Drummer Boy. New and Cheaper Edition. Pictnre 
Boards, cr. Svo. 2x. 

ANDERSON, J.. English Interoourse with Siam in the Seventeenth Century. 

Post SvQ. isx. {TriibfUf's Oriental Series.) 

ANDERSON, ROBERT, A Doubter's Doubt about Seienee and Religion. 

Second Edition. Cr. Svo. 3X. 6^. 

ANDERSON, WILLIAM, Praetieal Mercantile Correspondenee : a Collection 

of Modem Letters of Business, with Notes. Thirtieth Edition, revised. Cr. Svo. 

APPLETON, J. H., and SATCE, A. H., Dr. Appleton : hb Life and Liteniy Relics. 
Post Svo. los, 6d. (Philosophical Library,) 

ARCHER, WILLIAM, William Charles Maeready. Cr. Svo. sx. M \Emintmi 


ARDEN, A. H., ProgressiYe Grammar of Common TamiL 5^. 

ARISTOTLE, The Nieomaehean Ethies. Translated by F. H. Pstus. Thifd 
Edition. Cr. Svo. 6x. 

Digitized by 


Kegan Paul^ Trench^ TrUbner, & Co!s Publications. 5 
ABMOLD, Sir EDWIN, Oraaunar of the Turkish Language. With Dialogues 

and Vocabulaiy. Pott 8vo. 2^ . td. 

Death— and Afterwards. Reprinted ffom the Fcrtmghtly Review of August 
1885, with a Supplement. Eleventh Edition. Cr. 8vo. cloth, is, 6d. ; paper 
covers, is. 

In Hj Lady's Praise : Poems Old and New, written to the honour of Fanny, 
Lady Arnold. Fourth Edition. Imperial x6mo. parchment, 31. 6</. 

India Revisited* With 32 FuU-page illustrations. Second Edition. Cr. 8vo. ts, 

Indian Idylls. From the Sanskrit of die Mahfihhaiata. SeeondEdition. Cr.8vo.6f. 

Indian Poetry. Containing *The Indian Song of Songs' from the Sanskrit, two 
books from ' The Iliad of India,' and other Orient J Poems. Sixth Edition. 
6s. ( TVuhnef^s Oriental Series. ) 

Lotos and JeweL Containing * In an Indian Temple,' 'A Casket of Gems,' • A 
Queen's Revenge,' with other Poems, Third Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s. 

Pearls of the Faith* or Islam's Rosary. Being the Ninety-Nine Beantifiii 

Names of Allah. Sixth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6f. 

Poems, National and Non-Oriental, with some new Pieces. Second Edition. 
Cr. 8vo. 6s. 

The light of Asia, or nie Great Renonelation. Bemg the LUe aad* 

Teaching of Gautama. Presentation Edition. With Illusttations and Portrait 
Sm. 4ta 2 1 J. Library Edition, cr. 8vo. dr. Elsevir Edition, 6s. - Cheaj^ 
Edition (LoUs Series), cloth or half-parchment, 3^. 6d. 

The Seeret of Death : being a Version of the Katha Upanishad, from the 
Sanskrit. Fifth Edition. Cr. 8vo. ds. 

The Song Celestial* or Bhagavad-Gitft, from the Sanskrit. Flith Edition^ 
Cr. 8vo. Sj. 

With Sa'di in the Garden, or The Book of Love: being the • liiik,' or 

third chapter of the < Bostin * of the Persian poet Sa*di, embodied in a 
Dialogue. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8vo. 6s. . 

Poetieal Works. Uniform Edition, comprising^The Light of Asia, Lotus 
and Jewel, Indian Poetry, Pearls of the Faith, Indian Idylls, The Secret of 
Death, The Song Celestial, With Sa'di in the Garden. 8 vols. Cr. 8vo. 481. 

ARNOLD, THOMAS* tnd SCANNBLL, T« B., CathoUe Dietionanr. An account 
of the Doctrine, Discipline, Rites, Ceremonies, &c., of the Catholic Chnich. 
' Fourth Edition, revised and enlarged. 8vo. 2ij. 

ASTON, W. 6.. Grammar of the Jaiianese Spoken Language. Fourth fiditksn. 

Cr. 8vo. i2s. 

Grammar of the Japanese Written Language. Second Edition. Svo. 

AUBBRTIN, J. J., A Flight to MexieO. With 7 FuU-page Illustrations and a Rafl- 
'Way Map. Cr. 8vo. 71. 6d, ^ 

Six Months in Cape Colony and NataL With Illustrations and Map. 

Cr. 8vo. 6j. . . . 

A Fight with Distances. With illustrations and Maps. Cr. 8vo. 7^. 6d, 
Wanderings and WonderlngS. With Portrait, Map, and 7 lUustratibei. 

Cr 8va Ss. 6ii. 

9F Order of the Sun to Chili. With Dlustrations. Cr. 8vo. 5^. 

AUCHMUTT, ARTHITR C, Poems of English Heroism. Cr. 8vo. u. 6d. 

AUSTRALIA— The Tear^Rook of Australia ft»r 1896. Published under the 
auspices of the Governments of the Australian Colonies. Demy 8va with 
Maps. Boards, tox. ddT. net 

AVRUNG, F. W.. The ClassioiRirthday Book. 8vo. doth, 8x. 6d.'',uaste mdn. it/, t 

tree calf, 21s. 

Digitized by 


6 Kegan Paul, Trench, TrUbner, & Co.'s Publications. 

AXON, W. E. A., Hm Medianie'ft Friend, a Coiicciioii of Recdpu and PckUoI 

Suggestions relating to Aquaria, Bronzing, Cements, Dnwing, Dres, ^ectridty, 
Gilding, Glass-working, &c. Numerous Woodcuts. Seeond Edition. Cr. 8vo. 

BAGSHOT, WALTER, The Enffliah ConstltUtlOIU Seventh Edition. Cr. Sto. ^s. 6d. 

New and Cheaper Edition. Cr. 8vo. jj. 6«/, (PaiemosUr Library,) 

Lombard Street, a Description of the Money Market. Tenth Edition. With 

Notes, bringing the work up to the present time, bv E. Johnstons. Cr. 

8vo. 7f. 6(/. New and Cheaper Edition. Cr. Svo. 31. (JL {Pkiemostgr LOrary.y 

iMaFaoil PiBrtlaaeiltMfy ReftinL Cr. Svo. 5/. New and Cheaper Edition* 
Cr. 8vo. y, 6d. {PaUmosiir Library,) 

Physles and Polities ; or, Thoughu on the Application of the Principles of 
< Natural Selection' and 'Inheritance' to Political Society. Ninth Edition. 
Cr. 8vo. <j. {I,S.S,) New and Cheaper Edition. Cr. 8vo. jx. 6d, (Pater- 
noster LUrary,) 

BAGdTt ALAN, Aceidents in Mines : their Causes and Preyention. Cr. 8to. 6f . 

Prineiples of OoUieiy TeatllatiOB* Second £diti«i, gnatly eidaiged. 
Cr. 8vo. 5/. 

Prineiiiiesof avU EngineerUur as apidied to AgrteaUare and Estate 
Management. Cr. Sto. ^s. 6d. 

BAGSHAWE, JOHN B., Skeleton Sermons fbr tbe Sondaye and Holidajs Im 
the Tear. Cr. s^o. y, 6d. 

BAI1I» ALEX., Edaeation as a Selenee. Seventh Edition. Cr. 8va 5J. (/.S.S,) 

IDnd and Body. The Theories of their Relation. With 4 Illustrations. Eighth 
Edition. Cr. 8vo. Sj. (LS,S.) 

BAIN, B. NISBET, Weird Tales fHun the Northern Seas. From the Duush of 
Jonas Lib. With illustrations by Laurence Housman. Large poit 8vo. 
7x. 6(/. 

Btatams 8rd and His Contemporaries, 1746-1793; fron original doca- 

ments. a vols, post Svo. su. net. 
BAIBD, HENRY M., The Hogaenots and the Revocation of the Ediet of 

Nantes. With Maps. 2 vols. 8vo. 30;. 

BAKER,|MaJor EDEN, R.A., Preliminary Taeties. An introduction to the Study 

of War. For the use of Junior Officers. Cr. Svo. 6j. 

BAKER, IRA, Treatise on Masonry CoastraetloB. Royal Svo. six. 

BAKER, Sir SHERSTON, Bart, Laws relating to Qoarantine. Cr. 8vo. isf. 6d. 

Halleek'S International Law. Third Edition, thoroughly revised by Sif 
SHERSTON Bakee, Bait, s vols. Demy Svo. 381. 

BALDWIN. Capt J. H», Large and Small Game of Bengal and the Horth- 

WesfiBm PrOtlneeS of India. With 20 illustrations. Sm. 4to. lOf . 6d. 

BALFOUBt F. H., Leaves firom my Chinese Serap-Book. Pott 8vo. yjw M 

BALL, JOHN, Notes of a Naturalist in South Amerlea. With Map. Cr. Svo. 

BALL, Sir ROBERT, The Cause of an lee Age. Cr. 8to. aj. ^ {MKUm Sdemee 

BALL* ¥•, Diamonds, Coal, and Gold of India : their Mode «f Oocumoce and 

Distribution. Fcp. Svo. $s. 

BALLANTTNE^ J. B., Elements of Hindi and BmJ BhaJcha Grammar. 

Compiled for the East India College at Haileybury. Second Edition. Cr. 
Svo. 5/. 

first Lsssons in Sanskrtt Grammar. FiiUi Edition. Svo. 31. m 

Sankhya Aphorisms af Kapila. With illustrative Extracts from the Com- 
mentaries. Third Edition. Fost Svo. idr. (TrOkner's OrienUsi Series.) 
BALUM, ADA S. aad F. L., Hebrew Grammar, With Exeidaes adeeted hsim tha 
Bible. Cr. Svo. is. 6d. 

Digitized by 


Kegun Paul, Trench, Trilbner, 6f CoJs PuMications. 7 

BANCROFT, H. H., Populap History of the Mexiean People. Sto. 15^. 
BANKS. Mm. a. UNNiSUS, CkNi'i ProYidenee HooM. Cr. 8to. 6s, 
BABINO-OOULD, S., Gennany, Present and Past New and Cheaper £ditioii« 

Large cr. Svo. 7x. ftd, 

BARNES, WILLIAM, Poems of Rural Life in the Dorset Dialect New Edition. 
. Cr. 8vo.6f. 

BARTH, A«, Relifl^ons of India. Translated bv the Rev. J. Wood. Third 
Bdltian. Ptostfiro. idi. {Triiimif*t OriaUal SerUs,) 

BARTLBTT, J. R.. Dietionary of Amerieanisms : a Glossary of Words and Phrases 
coUoquAlly used in the United States. Fourth Edition. 8va 2is, 

BASU, K. P.. Students' Mathematical Companion. Containing Problems in 
Arxhmedc, Algebra, GeooMtry, and MensuraticD, fox Students of the Indina. 
Universities. Cr. Svo. 6f. 

BA8TIAN, H. CHARLTON, The Braiii as an Organ of Mind. WM iH 

Illustrations. Fourth Edition. Cr. 8va $/. {/,S,S.) 

BAUOSAN, ROSA, The Influanee of tiie Stan: a Tvettise on Aatioloeirt 

Chiromancy, and Physiognomy. Second Edition. Svo. 5^. 

BAUB, FERDINAND, PhUdoflleal Intvoduetiflii to Onek aUd Lattai for 

StodMltS. Traaskted and adapted from the German by C. KiGAN Paul 
and B. D. Stone. Third Edition. Cr. Svo. dr. 

BKALy &, Catanaof BnddHstSerlVtBree. From theChiaefle. Svo. £5J. 

Romantle Legend of Sakya Buddha. From the Chbese-Sansknt. Cr. 

Svo. 12/. 

Life of Htoen-Triaag; By the Shamans Hwui Li and YsN-Tsmia. With an 
Account of the Works of I-Tsing. Post Svo. tor. ( Tnthnr^s Qrimtal Series.) 

Si-Yu-Ki : Buddhist Records of the Western World. Transited from the Chinese 
of HivsN-TsiANG (A.D. 6a9). With Map. s vols, post Svo. ^. {JfOhi^i 
Orienial Series,) 

Texts from the Buddhist Canon, oommonly known as Dhammanada. 

Tiaaslated iiom the Chinese. Post Svo. 7^. 6d. {TruAmer*s Orientml Senm;) ' 

BEALE, ALFRED, M.A., Exeelsiop Spanish Dietionary; Commercial and 
TechnicaL Fcp. roan binding, los, 6dt 

BEAHES, JOHN, Outlines of Indian Philology. With a Map showing the 
Distribution of Indian languages. Enlarged Edition. Cr. Svo. fr. 

Comparative Grammar of the Modem Aryan Languages of India : 

Hindi, Panjabi, Sindhi, Gujarati, Marathi, Onya, and Bengali. 3 vols. Svo. 
i6r. each. 

BELL, A. M., Eloentionary Manual. Fifth Edition Revised. i2mo. 71. M 
BELLOWS, JOHN, Freneh and English Dietionary for the Poeket Con- 

taining the French-EnsUsh and English-French Divisions on the same page ; 
Conjugating all the Verbs ; Distinpiishing the Genders by pifferent Types ; 
ijviiig Numerous Aids to Pronunciation, &c. Fifty-third Thousand of the Second 
edition. 3amo. morocco tuck, i2s»6d.'p roan, lOf* 6tL 
Tons les Verbes. Conjugations of all the Verbs in French and English. Second 
Edition. With Tables of Weights, Measures, &c. 33mo. (m/. 

BELLOWS, W., Oeean Liners of the World Dlnstrated Album. DemynUong 

4to. paper covers, is, 

BENEDEN, P. J. yan. Animal Parasites and Messmates. WiUi S3 lUustratiooi.. 

Fourth Edition, Cr. Svo. Ss, (I.S.S,) 

KNFET, THEODOR, Orammar^of the Sanskrit Language. For the Use d 

Early Students. Second Edition. Roy. Svo. lOr. 

Digitized by 


8 K^an Paul, Trench, Triibmr, 6f CoU PubHcations. 
BEIISON9 A. C.» William Laud, sometime Arehbiahop of Canterbnrj. With 

Portxmit Cr. 8fa 6x. 

BKHSON, MART EUAKOR, At Simdry Timet and ill mvenllamMn. WHk 

Portrait and Memoir, a toIi. or. 8ya lor. 6d, 

BEHTHAM. JBRBMT» Theory of LegialattoiL TnuotiAted from the Frend or 

Etienne Domont Irf R. Hildesth. Serenth Edition. Poit 8vo. Js, 6d, 

BERNSTEIN, Prof., The Fiye Senaea of Man. With 91 lUvttiatioiis. Fifth 

Edition. Cr. 8to. 5/. {/.S,S,) 

BERTIN, GEORGE, Abri^yped Gnunmarof theLaagvageaof theCimeifona 
Inaeriptlona. Cr. 8vo. 51. 

BESANT, W., Poop in Great Cities: Their Problems, and what is bemg done to solve 
them. With Illustrations. 8va 12s. 

BEVAN, THEODORE F., Toil, Travel, and DiseoTory in Britlah New Guinea. 

With 5 Maps. Lugt ex. Sva 7'- ^ 

BtbUOffraphlea— 8 Yolomes. Containiitf the twelve parts. Bosod ia halfflMTOoee 
(Roxburgh style). Large imperial 8vo. £i» sj. net each* 

BINBT, A., and FERE, C, Animal Mataetianu Sfecood Edition. Cr. Svo. s<> 


BISHOP, M. CL, The Prison lills of Mule Ant<^nette and her Children, the 

Dauphin and the Duchesse D*Angonl6me. New and Revised Edition. With 
Portrait Cr. 8vo. 6f. 

BLADES, W., Btofraphy and Typoflrmiliy Of William Cazten, EnRlaad*a 

First Printer. 8vo. hand-made paper, imitation old bevelled nnding, 
£u is, ; Cheap Edition, cr. 8vo. fr. _ 

Aeeonnt of the German Morally Play, entitted, *Deposltlo Gonmtf 

TtpographleL' As performed in the 17th or i8th Centnries. With &csimile 
ilTustrations. Sm. 4to. fs, 6d, 

ELAKE,WnJIAM,Seleetlon8 from the Writings Of. Edited, with introdnctioo, 

bv I.AURENCB HousMAN. With Frontispiece. Elzevir 8vo. Parchment or 
cloth, 6x. ; vellum, 7j. 6d» (Parchment JUlrmry,) 

BLASERNA, Prof. P., Theory of Sound in Its Relation to Mnsle. Wi& 

numerous Ilinstrationa. Fourth Edition. Cr. Svo. 5^. (I,S*S.) 

BLOGG, H. B., Life of Francis Duncan. With introduction bj the Bishop or 
Chester. Cr. Svo. 3^. 6^ 

BLOOMFIELD, The Lady, Remlniseenees of Court and Diplomatic Ufa. 

New and Cheaper Edition, with Frontispiece^ Cr. Sva 6f. 
BLUNT, WILFRID SCAWEN, The Wind and the Whiplwind. 8va u. M 
The Love Sonnets of Proteus. Fifth Edition. Eisevir Svo. y. 

In YlneuliS. with Portrait. Elzevir Svo. 5x. 

A New Pilgrimage, and other Poems. Elzevir Svo. 5^. 

Esther, Love I^cs, and Natalia's Resurrection. 7^* ^ 
ROGER, Mrs. E., Myths, Scenes, and Worthies of Somerset Cr. 8vo. lor. 61^ 
BOJBSEN, MARIA, Guide to the Danish Language. lamo. y. 
BOLD, PHILIP, Catholic Doctrine and Discipline, Simply Espldned, Revised* 

and in i^tft edited by Father Eyre, SJ. Svo. lOf. 6d, 

BONNEY, Prof. & G., lee Work Present and Past With Maps. Cr. 8vo» 1$. 

BOSANOUET, BERNARD, Introduction to Hegel's Philosophy of Fine Art» 

Cr. Svo. Sj. 

Digitized by