Puslapio vaizdai


were soon in presence of the King, house to see his son, who had been where—under the shade of a clump of wounded at Mars-la-Tour, and about second-growth poplar trees, with which whom he was naturally very anxious, nearly all the farms in the north of General von Moltke entertained me by France are here and there dotted—the explaining the positions of the different presentation was made in the simplest corps, the nature and object of their and most agreeable manner.

movement then taking place, and so on. His Majesty, taking my hand in both Before us and covering Metz lay the of his, gave me a thorough welcome, ex- French army, posted on the crest of a pressing, like Count Bismarck, though ridge extending north and about its through an interpreter, much interest centre curving slightly westward toward as to the sentiment in my own country the German forces. The left of the about the war. At this time William French position was but a short disthe First of Prussia was seventy-three tance from the Moselle, and this part of years of age, and, dressed in the uniform the line was separated from the Gerof the Guards, he seemed to be the very mans by a ravine, the slopes, fairly well! ideal soldier, and graced with most gen- wooded, rising quite sharply ; further tle and courteous manners. The con- north, near the centre, this depression versation, which was brief, as neither of disappeared, merged in the general us spoke the other's native tongue, con- swell of the ground, and thence on to-cluded by his Majesty's requesting me, wards the right the ground over which: in the most cordial way, to accompany an approach to the French line musti his headquarters during the campaign. be made was essentially a natural open Thanking him for his kindness, I re- glacis, that could be thoroughly swept joined Count Bismarck's party, and our by the fire of the defenders. horses having arrived meantime, we The line extended some seven mounted and moved off to the position eight miles. To attack this position, selected for the King to witness the formidable everywhere, except perhaps: opening of the battle.

on the right flank, the Germans were This place was on some high ground bringing up the combined forces of the overlooking the villages of Rézonville First and Second Armies, troops that. and Gravelotte, about the centre of the within the past fortnight had already battlefield of Mars-la Tour, and from it successfully met the French in three most of the country to the east towards pitched battles. On the right was the Metz could also be seen. The point First Army, under the command of Genchosen was an excellent one for the pur- eral von Steinmetz, the victors, August pose, though in one respect disagreeable, 6th, of Spicheren, near Saar, and, eight since the dead bodies of many of the days later, of Colombey, to the east of poor fellows killed there two days be- Metz ; while the centre and left were fore were yet unburied. In a little composed of the several corps of the while the King's escort began to remove Second Army, commanded by Prince these dead, however, bearing them away Frederick Charles of Prussia, a part of on stretchers improvised with their rifles, whose troops had just been engaged in and the spot thus cleared was much the sanguinary battle of Mars-la-Tour, more acceptable. Then, when such un- by which Bazaine was cut off from the exploded shells as were lying around Verdun road and forced back towards". loose had been cautiously carried away, Metz. the King, his brother Prince Frederick At first the German plan was simply Charles Alexander, the Chief of Staff to threaten with their right while the : General von Moltke, the Minister of corps of the Second Army advanced War General von Roon, and Count von toward the north to prevent the French, Bismarck assembled on the highest of whose intentions there was much : point, and I being asked to join the doubt, from escaping towards Châlons ; group was there presented to General then, as the purposes of the French yon Moltke. He spoke our language might be developed, these corps were fluently, and Bismarck having left the to change direction towards the enemy party for a time, to go to a neighboring successively, and seek to turn his right.

VOL. IV.-55

flank. But the location of this vital the time walking about, kicking clods of turning-point was very uncertain, and dirt or small stones here and there, his until it was ascertained and carried, late hands clasped behind his back, his face in the afternoon, the action raged with pale and thoughtful. He was then nearmore or less intensity along the entire ly seventy years old, but because of his line.

emaciated figure, the deep wrinkles in his But as it is not my purpose to de- face, and crow's-feet about his eyes, he scribe in detail the battle of Gravelotte, looked even older, his appearance being nor any other, I will speak of some of suggestive of the practice of church asits incidents merely. Ābout noon, after ceticisms rather than of his well-known many preliminary skirmishes, the action ardent devotion to the military profeswas begun according to the plan I have sion. already outlined, the Germans advancing By the middle of the afternoon the their left while holding on strongly with steady progress of the German left and their

right, and it was this latter wing centre had driven the French from their (the First Army) that came under my ob- more advanced positions, from behind servation from the place where the King's stone walls and hedges, through valleys headquarters were located. From here and hamlets, in the direction of Metz, we could see, as I have said, the village but as yet the German right had accomof Gravelotte. Before it lay the Ger- plished little except to get possession of man troops, concealed to some extent, the village of Gravelotte, forcing the especially to the left, by clumps of tim- French across the deep ravine I have ber here and there. Immediately in mentioned, which runs north and south a front of us, however, the ground was little distance east of the town. open, and the day being clear and sunny But it was now time for the German with a fresh breeze blowing (else the right to move in earnest to carry the smoke from a battle between four hun- Rozerieulles ridge, on which crest the dred thousand men would have ob- French had evidently decided to make structed the view altogether), the spec- an obstinate fight to cover their withtacle presented was of unsurpassed drawal to Metz. As the Germans moved magnificence and sublimity. The Ger- to the attack here, the French fire beman artillery opened the battle, and came heavy and destructive, so much so while the air was filled with shot and indeed as to cause General von Steinshell from hundreds of guns along their metz to order some cavalry belonging entire line the German centre and left, to the right wing to make a charge. in rather open order, moved out to the Crossing the ravine before described, attack, and as they went forward, the this body of horse swept up the slope reserves, in close column, took up posi- beyond, the front ranks urged forward tions within supporting distances, yet by the momentum from behind. The far enough back to be out of range. French were posted along a sunken road,

The French artillery and mitrailleuses behind stone walls and houses, and as responded vigorously to the Krupps, the German cavalry neared these oband with deadly effect, but as far as we structions it received a dreadful fire could see the German left continued its without the least chance of returning it, advance, and staff-officers came up fre- though still pushed on till the front quently to report that all was going on ranks were crowded into the deep cut of well at points hidden from our view. the road. Here the slaughter was terThese reports were always made to the rible, for the horsemen could make no King first, and whenever anybody ar- further headway; and because of the rived with tidings of the fight we clus- blockade behind of dead and wounded tered around to hear the news, Gen- men and animals an orderly retreat was eral von Moltke unfolding a map mean- impossible and disaster inevitable. while and explaining the situation. This About the time the charge was ordered done, the Chief of the Staff, while await- the phase of the battle was such that the ing the next report, would either return King concluded to move his headquarto a seat that had been made for him ters into the village of Gravelotte ; and with some knapsacks, or would occupy just after getting there we first learned

fully of the disastrous result of the tillery and mitrailleuses had by no means charge which had been entered upon been silenced, about two hundred pieces with such spirit; and so much indigna- opening on them with fearful effect, tion was expressed against Steinmetz, while at the same time the whole crest who, it was claimed, had made an un- blazed with a deadly fire from the necessary sacrifice of his cavalry, that Chassepôt rifles. Resistance like this I thought he would be relieved on the was so unexpected by the Germans that spot, though this was not done.

it dismayed them, and first wavering a Followed by a large staff, General moment, then becoming panic-stricken, Steinmetz appeared in the village pres- they broke and fled, infantry, cavalry, ently, and approached the King. When and artillery coming down the slope near, he bowed with great respect, and I without any pretence of formation, the then saw that he was a very old man, French hotly following and pouring in though his soldierly figure, bronzed face, & heavy and constant fire as the fugitives and short-cropped hair gave some evi- fled back across the ravine toward dence of vigor still. When the King Gravelotte. With this the battle on the spoke to him I was not close enough to right had now assumed a most serious learn what was said ; but his Majesty's aspect, and the indications were that the manner was expressive of kindly feeling, French would attack the heights of and the fact that in a few moments the Gravelotte ; but the Pomeranian Corps veteran general returned to the com- coming on the field at this crisis was mand of his troops indicated that, for led into action by von Moltke himself, the present at least, his fault had been and shortly after the day was decided overlooked.

in favor of the Germans. The King then moved out of the vil When the French guns opened fire, lage, and just a little to the east and it was discovered that the King's posinorth of it the headquarters were locat- tion was within easy range, many of the ed on high, open ground, when e we shells falling near enough to make the could observe the right of the German place extremely uncomfortable ; so it infantry advancing up the eastern face was suggested that he go to a less exof the ravine. The advance, though slow posed point. At first he refused to lisand irregular, resulted in gradually g xin- ten to this wise counsel, but yielded ing ground, the French resisting sto ut- finally-leaving the ground with relucly, with a stubborn musketry fire all tance, however-and went back toward along the slopes. Their artillery was Rézonville. I waited for Count Bismarck, silent, however; and from this fact the who did not go immediately with the German artillery officers grew jubilant, King, but remained at Gravelotte lookconfidently asserting that their Krupp ing after some of the escort who had guns had dismounted the French bat- been wounded. When he had arranged teries and knocked their mitrailleuses for their care we set out to rejoin the to pieces. I did not indulge in this con- King, and before going far overtook his fidence, however, for with the excellent Majesty, who had stopped on the Châlons field-glass I had, I could distinctly see road and was surrounded by a throng long columns of French troops moving of fugitives, whom he was berating in to their right for the apparent purpose German so energetic as to remind me of making a vigorous fight on that flank; forcibly of the "Dutch" swearing that I and I thought it more than likely that used to hear in my boyhood in Ohio. their artillery would be heard from be- The dressing down finished to his satisfore the Germans could gain the coveted faction, the King resumed his course ridge.

toward Rézonville, halting, however, to The Germans labored up the glacis rebuke in the same emphatic style every slowly at the most exposed places, now group of runaways he overtook. crawling on their bellies, now creeping Passing through Rézonville we halted on hands and knees, but in the main just beyond the village ; there a fire was moving with erect and steady bearing. built, and the King, his brother Prince As they approached within short range Frederick Charles, and von Roon were they suddenly found that the French ar- provided with rather uncomfortable

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seats about it, made by resting the ends there seemed no relief for us till, luckily, of a short ladder on a couple of boxes. a squad of soldiers came along the road With much anxiety and not a little de- with a small cask of wine in a cart. One pression of spirits news from the battle- of the staff officers instantly approprifield was now awaited, but the suspense ated the keg and proceeded to share his did not last long, for presently came the prize most generously. Never had I cheering intelligence that the French tasted anything so refreshing and dewere retiring, being forced back by the licious, but as the wine was the ordinary Pomeranian Corps and some of the sour stuff drunk by the peasantry of lately broken right wing organizations northern France, my appreciation must that had been rallied on the heights of be ascribed to my, famished condition Gravelotte. The lost ground being thus rather than to any virtues of the beverregained, and the French having been age itself. beaten on their right, it was not long After I had thus quenched my thirst till word came that Bazaine’s army was the King's brother called me aside, and falling back to Metz, leaving the entire drawing from his coat-tail pocket a battle-field in possession of the Ger- piece of stale black bread divided it

with me, and while munching on this During the excitement of the day I the Prince began talking of his sonhad not much felt the want of either General Prince Frederick Charles, popufood or water, but now that all was over larly called the Red Prince—who was in I was nearly exhausted, having had command of the Second Army in this neither since early morning. Indeed battle, the German left wing. In reall of the party were in like straits ; the counting his son's professional career immense armies had not only eaten up the old man's face was aglow with ennearly everything in the country, but thusiasm, and not without good cause, had drunk all the wells dry, too, and for in the war between Prussia and Austria in 1866, as well as in the present future and would also permit me to campaign, the Red Prince had displayed go wherever I pleased—à favor rarely the highest order of military genius. bestowed.



The headquarters now became the scene of much bustle, despatches announcing the victory being sent in all While I was absent as just related, it directions. The first one transmitted had been decided that the King's quarwas to the Queen, the King directing ters should be established for the night Count Bismarck to prepare it for his sig- in the village of Rézonville, and as it nature ; then followed others of a more would be very difficult, at such a late official character, and while these mat- hour, to billet the whole party regularters were being attended to I thought I ly, Count Bismarck and I went off to look would ride into the village to find, if pos- for shelter for ourselves. Remembering sible, some water for my horse. Just as that I had seen, when seeking to water I entered the chief street, however, I was my horse, a partly burned barn with suddenly halted by a squad of soldiers, some fresh-looking hay in it, I suggested who, taking me for a French officer (my that we lodge there. He, too, thought coat and forage cap resembling those of it would answer our purpose, but on the French), levelled their pieces at me. reaching it we found the unburned part They were greatly excited, so much so of the barn filled with wounded, and indeed that I thought my hour had come, this necessitating a further search we for they could not understand English, continued on through the village in quest and I could not speak German, and dared of some house not yet converted into not utter explanations in French. For- a hospital. Such, however, seemed imtunately a few disconnected German possible to come upon, so at last the words came to me in the emergency. Count fixed on one whose upper floor, With these I managed to delay my exe- we learned, was unoccupied, though the cution, and one of the party ventured to lower one was covered with wounded. come up to examine the “suspect” more Mounting a creaky ladder—there was closely. The first thing he did was to no stairway-to the upper story, we take off my cap, and looking it over care- found a good-sized room with three fully his eyes rested on the three stars large beds, one of which the Chancellor above the visor, and pointing to them he assigned to the Duke of Mecklenburg and emphatically pronounced me French. aide, and another to Count BismarckThen of course they all became excited Bohlen and me, reserving the remaining again, more so than before even, for they one for himself. Each bed, as is comthought I was trying to practise a ruse, mon in Germany and northern France, and I question whether I should have was provided with a feather tick; but lived to recount the adventure had not the night being warm these spreads were an officer belonging to the King's head- thrown off, and discovering that they quarters been passing by just then, when, would make a comfortable shake-down hearing the threatenings and impreca- on the floor, I slept there, leaving Bistions, he rode up to learn the cause of marck-Bohlen unembarrassed by comthe hubbub and immediately recognized panionship-at least of a human kind. and released me. When he told my At daylight I awoke, and seeing that wrathy captors who I was, they were Count Bismarck was already dressed much mortified, of course, and made the and about to go down the ladder, I felt most profuse, apologies, promising that obliged to follow his example, so I, too, no such mistake should occur again, and turned out and shortly descended to the so on; but not feeling wholly reassured, ground floor, the only delays of the toifor

my uniform was still liable to mis- let being those incident to dressing, for lead, I was careful to return to head. there were no conveniences for mornquarters in company

my deliverer. ing ablutions. Just outside the door I There I related what had occurred, and met the Count, who, proudly exhibiting after a good laugh all round, the King a couple of eggs he had bought from provided me with a pass which he said the woman of the house, invited me to would preclude any such mishap in the breakfast with him, provided we could


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