An American Account of the Franco-Prussian War: "From Gravelotte to Sedan." By Philip H. Sheridan. [from Scribner's Magazine, vol. IV, no. 5 (November 1888), pp. 514-535]

After I had for a year been commanding the Division of the Missouri, which embraced the entire Rocky Mountain region, I found it necessary to make an inspection of the military posts in northern Utah and Montana, in order by personal observation to inform myself of their location and needs, and at the same time become acquainted with the salient geographical and topographical features of that section of my division. Therefore in May, 1870, I started west by the Union Pacific Railroad, and on arriving at Corinne Station, the next beyond Ogden, took passage by stagecoach for Helena, the capital of Montana Territory. Helena is nearly five hundred miles north of Corinne, and under ordinary conditions the journey was, in those days, a most tiresome one. As the stage kept jogging on, day and night, there was little chance for sleep, and there being with me a sufficient number of stab officers to Justify the proceeding, we chartered the "outfit," stipulating that we were to stop over one night on the road to get some rest. This rendered the journey more tolerable, and we arrived at Helena without extraordinary fatigue.

Before I left Chicago the newspapers were filled with rumors of impending war between Germany and France. I was anxious to observe the conflict, if it was to occur, but reports made one day concerning the beginning of hostilities would be contradicted the next, and it was not till I reached Helena that the despatches lost their doubtful character, and later became of so positive a nature as to make it certain that the two nations would fight. I therefore decided to cut short my tour of inspection, so that I could go abroad to witness the war, if the President would approve. Having received word from General Sherman that there would be no objection to my going to Europe, I began making arrangements to leave, securing passage by the steamship Scotia.

President Grant invited me to come to see him at Long Branch before I should sail, and during my brief visit there he asked which army I wished to accompany-the German or the French. I told him the German, for the reason that I thought more could be seen with the successful side, and that the indications pointed to the defeat of the French. My choice evidently pleased him greatly, as he had the utmost contempt for Louis Napoleon and had always denounced him r as a usurper and a charlatan. Before we separated, the President gave me the following letter to the representatives of our government abroad, and with it I not only had no trouble in obtaining permission to go with the Germans, but was specially favored by being invited to accompany the headquarters of the King of Prussia:

Word of my intended trip was cabled to Europe in the ordinary press despatches, and our Minister to France, Mr. Elihu B. Washburne, being an intimate friend of mine, and thinking that I might wish to attach myself to the French army, did me the favor to take preliminary steps for securing the necessary authority. He went so far as to broach the subject to the French Minister of War, but, in view of the informality of the request, and an unmistakable unwillingness to grant it being manifested, Mr. Washburne pursued the matter no further. I did not learn of this kindly interest in my behalf till after the capitulation of Paris, when Mr. Washburne told me what he had clone of his own motion. Of course I thanked him gratefully, but even had he succeeded in getting the permission he sought, I should not have accompanied the French army.

I sailed from New York July 27th one of my aides-de-camp, General James W. Forsyth, going with me. We reached Liverpool August 6th, and the next day visited the American Legation in London, where we saw all the officials except our Minister, Mr. Motley, who being absent was represented by Mr. Moran, the Secretary of the Legation. We left London August 9th for Brussels, where we were kindly cared for by the American Minister, Mr. Russell Jones, who the same evening saw us off to Germany. Because of the war we secured transportation only as far as Vera, and here we received information that the Prussian Minister of War had telegraphed to the Military Inspector of Railroads to take charge of us on our arrival at Cologne, and send us down to the headquarters of the Prussian Army, but the Inspector, for some unexplained reason, instead of doing this, sent us on to Berlin. Here our Minister, Mr. George Bancroft, met us with a telegram from the German Chancellor, Count Bismarck, saying we were expected to come direct to the King's headquarters; and we learned also that a despatch had been sent to the Prussian Minister at Brussels directing him to forward us from Cologne to the army instead of allowing us to go on to Berlin, but that we had reached and quit Brussels without the Minister's knowledge.

Shortly after we arrived in Berlin the Queen sent a messenger offering us an opportunity to pay our respects, and fixed an hour for the visit, which was to take place the next day; but as the tenor of the despatch Mr. Bancroft had received from Count Bismarck indicated that some important event which it was desired I should witness was about to happen at the theatre of war, our Minister got us excused from our visit of ceremony, and we started for the headquarters of the German army that evening-our stay in the Prussian capital having been somewhat less than a day.

Our train was a very long one, of over eighty cars, and though drawn by three locomotives its progress to Cologne was very slow and the journey most tedious. From Cologne we continued on by rail up the valley of the Rhine to Bingenbrück near Bingen, and thence across through Saarbrücken to Remilly, where we left the railway and rode in a haywagon to Pont-à-Mousson, arriving there August 17th, late in the afternoon. This little city had been ceded to France at the Peace of Westphalia, and although originally German, the people had become, in the lapse of so many years, intensely French in sentiments The town was so full of officers and men belonging to the German army that it was difficult to get lodgings, but after some delay we found quite comfortable quarters at one of the small hotels, and presently, after we had succeeded in getting a slender meal, I sent my card to Count von Bismarck, the Chancellor of the North German Confederation, who soon responded by appointing an hour-about nine o'clock the same evening-for an interview.

When the Count received me he was clothed in the undress uniform of the cuirassier regiment of which he was the colonel. During the interview which ensued, he exhibited at times deep anxiety regarding the conflict now imminent, for it was the night before the battle of Gravelotte, but his conversation was mostly devoted to the state of public sentiment in America, about which he seemed much concerned, inquiring repeatedly as to which side- France or Prussia-was charged with bringing on the war. Expressing a desire to witness the battle which was expected to occur the nest clay, and remarking that I had not had sufficient time to provide the necessary transportation, he told me to be ready at four o'clock in the morning and he would take me out in his own carriage and present me to the King, adding that he would ask one of his own staid officers, who he knew had one or two extra horses, to lend me one. As I did not know just what my status would be, and having explained to the President before leaving America that I wished to accompany the German army unofficially, I hardly knew whether to appear in uniform or not, so I spoke of this matter, too, and the Count, after some reflection, thought it best for me to wear my undress uniform, minus the sword, however, because I was a non-combatant.

At four o'clock the next morning, the 18th, I repaired to the Chancellor's quarters. The carriage was at the door, also the saddle-horse, but as no spare mount could be procured for General Forsyth he had to seek other means to reach the battlefield. The carriage was an open one with two double seats, and in front a single one for a messenger; it had also a hand-brake attached. Count Bismarck and I occupied the rear seat, and Count Bismarck-Bohlen---the nephew and aide-de-camp to the Chancellor-and Doctor Busch were seated facing us. The conveyance was strong, serviceable, and comfortable, but not specially prepossessing, and hitched to it were {our stout horses, logy, ungainly animals, Hose clumsy harness indicated that the whole equipment was meant for heavy work. Two postilions in uniform, in high military saddles on the nigh horse of each span, completed the establishment.

All being ready we took one of the roads from Pont-à-Mousson to Rézonville, which is on the direct road from Metz to Châlons, and near the central point of the field where, on the 16th of August, the battle of Mars-la-Tour had been fought. It was by this road that the Pomeranians, numbering about 30,000 men, had been ordered to march to Gravelotte, and after proceeding a short distance we overtook the column. As this contingent came from Count Bismarck's own section of Germany, there greeted us as we passed along, first in the dim light of the morning and later in the glow of the rising sun, continuous and most enthusiastic cheering for the German Chancellor.

On the way Count Bismarck again recurred to the state of public opinion in America with reference to the war. He also talked much about our form of government, and said that in early life his tendencies were all toward republicanism, but that family influence had overcome his preferences, and intimated that after adopting a political career he found that Germany was not sufficiently advanced for republicanism. He said further that he had been reluctant to enter upon this public career, that he had always longed to be a soldier, but that here again family opposition had turned him from the field of his choice into the sphere of diplomacy.

Not far from Mars-la-Tour we alighted, and in a little while an aide-de-camp was introduced, who informed me that he was there to conduct and present me to his Majesty, the King of Prussia. As we were walking along together, I inquired whether at the meeting I should remove my cap, and he said no, that in an out-of-door presentation it was not etiquette to uncover, if in uniform. We were soon in presence of the King, where-under the shade of a clump of second-growth poplar trees, with which nearly all the farms in the north of France are here and there dotted-the presentation was made in the simplest and most agreeable manner.

His Majesty, taking my hand in both of his, gave me a thorough welcome, expressing, like Count Bismarck, though through an interpreter, much interest as to the sentiment in my own country about the war. At this time William the First of Prussia was seventy-three years of age, and, dressed in the uniform of the Guards, he seemed to be the very ideal soldier, and graced with most gentle and courteous manners. The conversation, which was brief, as neither of us spoke the other's native tongue, concluded by his Majesty's requesting me, in the most cordial way, to accompany his headquarters during the campaign. Thanking him for his kindness, I rejoined Count Bismarck's party, and our horses having arrived meantime, we mounted and moved off to the position selected for the King to witness the opening of the battle.

This place was on some high ground overlooking the villages of Rézonville and Gravelotte, about the centre of the battlefield of Mars-la Tour, and from it most of the country to the east towards Metz could also be seen. The point chosen was an excellent one for the purpose, though in one respect disagreeable, since the dead bodies of many of the poor fellows killed there two days before were yet unburied. In a little while the King's escort began to remove these dead, however, bearing them away on stretchers improvised with their rifles, and the spot thus cleared was much more acceptable. Then, when such unexploded shells as were lying around loose had been cautiously carried away, the King, his brother Prince Frederick Charles Alexander, the Chief of Staff General von Moltke, the Minister of War General von Boon, and Count von Bismarck assembled on the highest point, and I being asked to join the group was there presented to General von Moltke. He spoke our language fluently, and Bismarck having left the party for a time, to go to a neighboring house to see his son, who had been wounded at Mars-la-Tour, and about whom he was naturally very anxious, General von Moltke entertained me by explaining the positions of the different corps, the nature and object of their movement then taking place, and so on.

Before us and covering Metz lay the French army, posted on the crest of a ridge extending north and about its centre curving slightly westward toward the German forces. The left of the French position was but a short distance from the Moslem, and this part of the line was separated from the Germans by a ravine, the slopes, fairly well wooded, rising quite sharply; further north, near the centre, this depression disappeared, merged in the general swell of the ground, and thence on towards the right the ground over which an approach to the French line must be made was essentially a natural open glacis, that could be thoroughly swept by the fire of the defenders.

The line extended some seven or eight miles. To attack this position, formidable everywhere, except perhaps on the right flank, the Germans were bringing up the combined forces of the First and Second Armies, troops that within the past fortnight had already successfully met the French in three pitched battles. On the right was the First Army, under the command of General von Steinmetz, the victors, August 6th, of Spicheren, near Saar, and, eight days later, of Colombey, to the east of Metz; while the centre and left were composed of the several corps of the Second Army, commanded by Prince Frederick Charles of Prussia, a part of whose troops had just been engaged in the sanguinary battle of Mars Tour, by which Bazaine was cut off from the Verdun road and forced back towards Metz.

At first the German plan was simply to threaten with their right while the corps of the Second Army advanced toward the north to prevent the French, of whose intentions there was much doubt, from escaping towards Châlons; then, as the purposes of the French might be developed, these corps were to change direction towards the enemy successively, and seek to turn his right flank. But the location of this vital turning-point was very uncertain, and until it was ascertained and carried, late in the afternoon, the action raged with more or less intensity along the entire line.

But as it is not my purpose to describe in detail the battle of Gravelotte, nor any other, I will speak of some of its incidents merely. About noon, after many preliminary skirmishes, the action was begun according to the plan I have already outlined, the Germans advancing their left while holding on strongly with their right, and it was this latter wing (the First Army) that came under my observation from the place where the king's headquarters were located. From here we could see, as I have said, the village of Gravelotte. Before it lay the German troops, concealed to some extent, especially to the left, by clumps of timber here and there. Immediately in front of us, however, the ground was open, and the day being clear and sunny with a fresh breeze blowing (else the smoke from a battle between four hundred thousand men would have obstructed the view altogether), the spectacle presented was of unsurpassed magnificence and sublimity. The German artillery opened the battle, and while the air was filled with shot and shell from hundreds of guns along their entire line the German centre and left, in rather open order, moved out to the attack, and as they went forward, the reserves, in close column, took up positions within supporting distances, yet far enough back to be out of range.

The French artillery and mitrailleuses responded vigorously to the Krupps, and with deadly effect, but as far as we could see the German left continued its advance, and staff-officers came up frequently to report that all was going on well at points hidden from our view. These reports were always made to the King first, and whenever anybody arrived with tidings of the fight we clustered around to hear the news, General von Moltke unfolding a map meanwhile and explaining the situation. This done, the Chief of the staff, while awaiting the next report, would either return to a seat that had been made for him with some knapsacks, or would occupy the time walking about, kicking clods of dirt or small stones here and there, his hands clasped behind his back, his face pale and thoughtful. He was then nearly seventy years old, but because of his emaciated figure, the deep wrinkles in his face, and crow's-feet about his eyes, he looked even older, his appearance being suggestive of the practice of church asceticisms rather than of his well-known ardent devotion to the military profession.

By the middle of the afternoon the steady progress of the German left and centre had driven the French from their more advanced positions, from behind stone walls and hedges, through valleys and hamlets, in the direction of Metz, but as yet the German right had accomplished little except to get possession of the village of Gravelotte, forcing the French across the deep ravine I have mentioned, which runs north and south a little distance east of the town.

But it was now time for the German right to move in earnest to carry the Rozerieulles ridge, on which crest the French had evidently decided to make an obstinate fight to cover their withdrawal to Metz. As the Germans moved to the attack here, the French fire became heavy and destructive, so much so indeed as to cause General von Steinmetz to order some cavalry belonging to the right wing to make a charge. Crossing the ravine before described, this body of horse swept up the slope beyond, the front ranks urged forward by the momentum from behind. The French were posted along a sunken road, behind stone walls and houses, and as the German cavalry neared these obstructions it received a dreadful fire without the least chance of returning it, though still pushed on till the front ranks were crowded into the deep cut of the road. Here the slaughter was terrible, for the horsemen could make no further headway; and because of the blockade behind of dead and wounded men and animals an orderly retreat was impossible and disaster inevitable.

About the time the charge was ordered the phase of the battle was such that the King concluded to move his headquarters into the village of Gravelotte; and just after getting there we first learned fully of the disastrous result of the charge which had been entered upon with such spirit; and so much indignation was expressed against Steinmetz, who, it was claimed, had made an unnecessary sacrifice of his cavalry, that I thought he would be relieved on the spot, though this was not done.

Followed by a large stab General Steinmetz appeared in the village presently, and approached the King. When near, he bowed with great respect, and I then saw that he was a very old man, though his soldierly figure, bronzed face, and short-cropped hair gave some evidence of vigor still. When the King spoke to him I was not close enough to learn what was said; but his Majesty's manner was expressive of kindly feeling, and the fact that in a few moments the veteran general returned to the command of his troops indicated that, for the present at least, his fault had been overlooked.

The King then moved out of the village, and just a little to the east and north of it the headquarters were located on high, open ground, whence we could observe the right of the German infantry advancing up the eastern face of the ravine. The advance, though slow and irregular, resulted in gradually gaining ground, the French resisting stoutly, with a stubborn musketry fire all along the slopes. Their artillery was silent, however; and from this fact the German artillery officers grew jubilant, confidently asserting that their Krupp guns had dismounted the French batteries and knocked their mitrailleuses to pieces. I did not indulge in this confidence, however, for with the excellent field-glass I had, I could distinctly see long columns of French troops moving to their right for the apparent purpose of making a vigorous fight on that Hank; and I thought it more than likely that their artillery would be heard from before the Germans could gain the coveted ridge.

The Germans labored up the glacis slowly at the most exposed places, now crawling on their bellies, now creeping on hands and knees, but in the main moving with erect and steady bearing. As they approached within short range they suddenly found that the French artillery and mitrailleuses had by no means been silenced, about two hundred pieces opening on them with fearful effect, while at the same time the whole crest blazed with a deadly fire from the Chassepôt rifles. Resistance like this was so unexpected by the Germans that it dismayed them, and first wavering a moment, then becoming panic-stricken, they broke and fled, infantry, cavalry, and artillery coming down the slope without any pretence of formation, the French hotly following and pouring in a heavy and constant fire as the fugitives fled back across the ravine toward Gravelotte. With this the battle on the right had now assumed a most serious aspect, and the indications were that the French would attack the heights of Gravelotte; but the Pomeranian Corps coming on the field at this crisis was led into action by von Moltke himself, and shortly after the day was decided in favor of the Germans.

When the French guns opened fire, it was discovered that the King's position was within easy range, many of the shells falling near enough to make the place extremely uncomfortable; so it was suggested that he go to a less exposed point. At first he refused to listen to this wise counsel, but yielded finally-leaving the ground with reluctance, however-and went back toward Rézonville. I waited for Count Bismarck, who did not go immediately with the King, but remained at Gravelotte looking after some of the escort who had been wounded. When he had arranged for their care we set out to rejoin the King, and before going far overtook his Majesty, who had stopped on the Châlons road and was surrounded by a throng of fugitives, whom he was berating in German so energetic as to remind me forcibly of the "Dutch" swearing that I used to hear in my boyhood in Ohio. The dressing down finished to his satisfaction, the King resumed his course toward Rézonville, halting, however, to rebuke in the same emphatic style every group of runaways he overtook.

Passing through Rézonville we halted just beyond the village; there a fire was built and the King, his brother Prince Frederick Charles, and von Roon were provided with rather uncomfortable seats about it, made by resting the ends of a short ladder on a couple of boxes. With much anxiety and not a little depression of spirits news from the battlefield was now awaited, but the suspense did not last long, for presently came the cheering intelligence that the French were retiring, being forced back by the Pomeranian Corps and some of the lately broken right wing organizations that had been rallied on the heights of Gravelotte. The lost ground being thus regained, and the French having been beaten on their light, it was not long till word came that Bazaine's army was falling back to Metz, leaving the entire battle-field in possession of the Germans.

During the excitement of the day I had not much felt the want of either food or water, but now that all vas over I was nearly exhausted, having had neither since early morning. Indeed all of the party were in like straits; the immense armies had not only eaten up nearly everything in the country, but had drunk all the wells dry, too, and there seemed no relief for us till, luckily, a squad of soldiers came along the road with a small cask of wine in a cart. Ones of the staff officers instantly appropriated the keg and proceeded to share his prize most generously. Never had I tasted anything so refreshing and delicious, but as the wine was the ordinary sour stuff drunk by the peasantry of northern France, my appreciation must. be ascribed to my famished condition rather than to any virtues of the beverage itself.

After I had thus quenched my thirst the King's brother called me aside, and drawing from his coat-tail pocket a piece of stale black bread divided it with me, and while munching on this the Prince began talking of his son- General Prince Frederick Charles, popularly called the Red Prince-who was in command of the Second Army in this battle, the German left wing. In recounting his son's professional career the old man's face was aglow with enthusiasm, and not without good cause, for in the war between Prussia and Austria in 1866, as well as in the present campaign, the Red Prince had displayed the highest order of military genius.

The headquarters now became the scene of much bustle, despatches announcing the victory being sent in all directions. The first one transmitted was to the Queen, the King directing Count Bismarck to prepare it for his signature; then followed others of a more official character, and while these matters were being attended to I thought I would ride into the village to find, if possible, some water for my horse. Just as I entered the chief street, however, I was suddenly halted by a squad of soldiers, who, taking me for a French officer (my coat and forage cap resembling those of the French), levelled their pieces at me. They were greatly excited, so much so indeed that I thought my hour had come, for they could not understand English, and I could not speak German, and dared not utter explanations in French. Fortunately a few disconnected German words came to me in the emergency. With these I managed to delay my execution, and one of the party ventured to come up to examine the "suspect" more closely. The first thing he did was to take off my cap, and looking it over carefully his eyes rested on the three stars above the visor, and pointing to them he emphatically pronounced me French. Then of course they all became excited again, more so than before even, for they thought I was trying to practise a ruse, and I question whether I should have lived to recount the adventure had not an officer belonging to the King's headquarters been passing by just then, when, hearing the threatenings and imprecations, he rode up to learn the cause of the hubbub and immediately recognized and released me. When he told my wrathy captors who I was, they were much mortified, of course, and made the most profuse, apologies, promising that no such mistake should occur again, and 80 on; but not feeling wholly reassured, for my uniform was still liable to mislead, I was careful to return to headquarters in company with my deliverer. There I related what had occurred, and after a good laugh all round, the King provided me with a pass which he said would preclude any such mishap in the future and would also permit me to go wherever I pleased-a favor rarely bestowed.

While I was absent as just related, it had been decided that the King's quarters should be established for the night in the village of Rézonville, and as it would be very difficult, at such a late hour, to billet the whole party regularly, Count Bismarck and I went off to look for shelter for ourselves. Remembering that I had seen, when seeking to water my horse, a partly burned barn with some fresh-looking hay in it, I suggested that we lodge there. He, too, thought it would answer our purpose, but on reaching it we found the unburned part of the barn filled with wounded, and this necessitating a further search we continued on through the village in quest of some house not yet converted into a hospital. Such, however, seemed impossible to come upon, so at last the Count fixed on one whose upper floor, we learned, was unoccupied, though the lower one was covered with wounded.

Mounting a creaky ladder-there was no stairway-to the upper story, we found a good-sized room with three large beds, one of which the Chancellor assigned to the Duke of Mecklenburg and aide, and another to Count Bismarck-Bohlen and me, reserving the remaining one for himself. Each bed, as is common in Germany and northern France, was provided with a feather tick; but the night being warm these spreads were thrown off, and discovering that they would make a comfortable shake-down on the floor, I slept there, leaving Bismarck-Bohlen unembarrassed by companionship-at least of a human kind.

At daylight I awoke, and seeing that Count Bismarck was already dressed and about to go down the ladder, I felt obliged to follow his example, so L too, turned out and shortly descended to the ground floor, the only delays of the toilet being those incident to dressing, for there were no conveniences for morning ablutions. Just outside the door I met the Count, who, proudly exhibiting a couple of eggs he had bought from the woman of the house, invited me to breakfast with him, provided we could beg some coffee from the King's escort. Putting the eggs under my charge with many injunctions as to their safe-keeping, he went off to forage for the coffee, and presently returned, having been moderately successful. One egg apiece was hardly enough, however, to appease the craving of two strong men ravenous from long fasting. Indeed it seemed only to whet the appetite, and we both set out on an eager expedition for more food. Before going far I had the good luck to meet a sutler's wagon, and though its stock was about all sold, there was still left four large Bologna sausages, which I promptly purchased- paying a round sum for them, too-and hastening back found the Count already returned, though without bringing anything at all to eat; but he had secured a couple of bottles of brandy, and with a little of this-it was excellent, too -and the sausages, the slim ration of eggs and coffee was amply reinforced.

Breakfast over, the Chancellor invited me to accompany him in a ride to the battle-field, and I gladly accepted, as I very much desired to pass over the ground in front of Gravelotte, particularly so to see whether the Krupp guns had really done the execution that was claimed for them by the German artillery officers. Going directly through the village of Gravelotte, following the causeway over which the German cavalry had passed to make its courageous but futile charge, we soon reached the ground where the fighting had been the most severe. Here the field was literally covered with evidences of the terrible strife, the dead and wounded strewn thick on every side.

In the sunken road the carnage had been awful, men and horses having been slaughtered there by hundreds, helpless before the murderous fire delivered from behind a high stone wall impracticable to mounted troops. The sight was sickening to an extreme, and we were not slow to direct our course elsewhere, going up the glacis toward the French line, the open ground over which we crossed being covered with thousands of helmets that had been thrown off by the Germans during the fight and were still dotting the field, though details of soldiers from the organizations which had been engaged here were about to begin to gather up their abandoned headgear.

When we got inside the French works I was astonished to observe how little harm had been done the defenses by the German artillery, for although I had not that serene faith in the effectiveness of their guns held by German artillerists generally yet I thought their terrific cannonade must have left marked results. All I could perceive, however, was a disabled gun, a broken mitrailleuse, and two badly damaged caissons. Everything else except a little ammunition in the trenches had been carried away, and it was plain to see from the good shape in which the French left wing had retired to Metz that its re-treat had been predetermined by the disasters to the right wing.

By this hour the German cavalry having been thrown out to the front well over toward Metz, we, following it to get a look at the city, rode to a neighboring summit, supposing it would be a safe point of observation; but we shortly realized the contrary, for scarcely had we reached the crest when some of the French pickets, lying concealed about six hundred yards off, opened fire, making it so very hot for us that, hugging the necks of our horses, we incontinently fled. Observing what had taken place, a troop of German cavalry charged the French outpost and drove it far enough away to make safe our return, and we resumed possession of the point, but only to discover that the country to the east was so broken and hilly that no satisfactory view of Metz could be had.

Returning to Gravelotte we next visited that part of the battle-field to the northeast of the village, and before long Count Bismarck discovered in a remote place about twenty men dreadfully wounded. These poor fellows had had no attention whatever, having been overlooked by the hospital corps, and their condition was most pitiful. Yet there was one very handsome man in the group-a captain of artillery-who, though shot through the right breast, was talkative and cheerful, and felt sure of getting well. Pointing, however, to a comrade lying near, also shot in the breast, he significantly shook his head; it was easy to see on this man's face the signs of fast approaching death.

An orderly was at once despatched for a surgeon, Bismarck and I doing what ore could meanwhile to alleviate the intense sufferings of the maimed men, bringing them water and administering a little brandy, for the Count still had with him some of the morning's supply. When the surgeons came we transferred the wounded to their care, and making our way to Rézonville, there took the Count's carriage to rejoin the king's headquarters, which in the meantime had been moved to Pont-à-Mousson. Our route led through the village of Gorze, and here we found the streets so obstructed with wagons that I feared it would take us the rest of the day to get through, for the teamsters would not pay the slightest heed to the cries of our postilions. The Count was equal to the emergency, however, for, taking a pistol from behind his cushion and bidding me keep my seat, he jumped out and quickly began to clear the street effectively, ordering wagons to the right and left. Marching in front of the carriage and making way for us till we were well through the blockade, he then resumed his seat, remarking: "This is not a very dignified business for the Chancellor of the German Confederation, but it's the only way to get through."

At Pont-à-Mousson I was rejoined by my aide, General Forsyth, and for the nest two days our attention was almost wholly devoted to securing means of transportation. This was most difficult to obtain, but as I did not wish to impose on the kindness of the Chancellor longer, we persevered till finally, with the help of Count Bismarck-Bohlen, we managed to get tolerably well equipped with a saddle-horse apiece and a two-horse carriage. Here, also, on the afternoon of August 21st, I had the pleasure of dining with the King. The dinner was a simple one, consisting of soup, a joint, and two or three vegetables; the wines, vin ordinaire and Burgundy. There were a good many persons of high rank present, none of whom spoke English, however, except Bismarck, who sat next to the King and acted as interpreter when his Majesty conversed with me. Little was said of the events taking place around us, but the King made many inquires concerning the war of the Rebellion, particularly with reference to Grant's campaign at Vicksburg, suggested perhaps by the fact that there, and in the recent movements of the German army, had been applied many similar principles of military science.

The French army under Marshal Bazaine having retired into the fortifications of Metz, that stronghold was speedily invested by Prince Frederick Charles. Meantime the Third Army, under the Crown Prince of Prussia- which, after having fought and won the battle of Worth, had been observing the army of Marshal MacMahon during and after the battle of Gravelotte--was moving toward Paris by way of Nancy, in conjunction with an army called the Fourth which had been organized from the troops previously engaged around Metz, and on the 22d was directed toward Bar-le-Duc, under the command of the Crown Prince of Saxony. In consequence of these operations the King decided to move to Commercy, which place we reached by carriage, travelling on a broad macadamized road, lined on both sides with poplar trees, and our course leading through a most beautiful country thickly dotted with prosperous looking villages.

On reaching Commercy, Forsyth and I found that quarters had already been selected for us, and our names written on the door with chalk, the quartermaster charged with the billeting of the officers at headquarters having started out in advance to perform this duty and make all needful preparations for the King before he arrived, which course was usually pursued thereafter, whenever the royal headquarters took up a new location.

Forsyth and I were lodged with the notary of the village, who over and over again referred to his good fortune in not having to entertain any of the Germans. He treated us most hospitably, and nest morning on departing we offered compensation by tendering a sum -about what our bill would have been at a good hotel-to be used for the "benefit of the wounded or the Church." Under this stipulation the notary accepted, and we followed that plan of paying for food and lodging afterward, whenever quartered in private houses.

The next day I set out in advance of the headquarters and reached Bar-le-Duc about noon, passing on the way the Bavarian contingent of the Crown Prince's army. These Bavarians were trim-looking soldiers, dressed in neat uniforms of light blue; they looked healthy and strong, but seemed of shorter stature than the North Germans I had seen in the armies of Prince Frederick Charles and General von Steinmetz. When, later in the day, the King arrived, a guard for him was detailed from this Bavarian contingent, a stroke of policy no doubt, for the South Germans were so prejudiced against their brothers of the North that no occasion to smooth them down was permitted to go unimproved.

Bar-le-Duc, which had then a population of about fifteen thousand, is one of the prettiest towns I saw in France, its quaint and ancient buildings and beautiful boulevards charming the eye as well as exciting deep interest. The King and his immediate suite were quartered on one of the best boulevards in a large building-the Bank of France -the balcony of which offered a fine opportunity to observe a part of the army of the Crown Prince the next day on its march toward Vitry. This was the first time his Majesty had had a chance to see any of these troops-as hitherto he had accompanied either the army of Prince Frederick Charles or that of General Steinmetz-and the cheers with which he was greeted by the Bavarians left no room for doubting their loyalty to the Confederation, notwithstanding ancient jealousies.

While the troops were passing, Count Bismarck had the kindness to point out to me the different organizations, giving scraps of their history and also speaking concerning the qualifications of the different generals commanding them. When the review was over we went to the Count's house and there, for the first time in my life, I tasted kirschwasser, a very strong liquor distilled from cherries. Not knowing anything about the stuff, I had to depend on Bismarck's recommendation, and he proclaiming it fine I took quite a generous drink, which nearly strangled me and brought on a violent fit of coughing. The Chancellor said, however, that this was in no way due to the liquor, but to my own inexperience, and I was bound to believe the distinguished statesman, for he proved his words by swallowing a goodly dose with an undisturbed and even beaming expression of countenance, demonstrating his assertion so forcibly that I forthwith set out with Bismarck-Bohlen to lay in a supply for myself.

I spent the night in a handsome house, the property of an exceptionally kind and polite gentleman bearing the indisputably German name of Lager, but who was nevertheless French from head to foot, if intense hatred of the Prussians be a sign of Gallic nationality. At daybreak on the 26th word came for us to be ready to move by the Châlons road at seven o'clock, but before we got off the order was suspended till two in the afternoon. In the interval General von Moltke arrived and held a long conference with the King, and when we did pull out we travelled the remainder of the afternoon in company with a part of the Crown Prince's army, which after this conference inaugurated the series of movements from Bar-le-Duc northward that finally compelled the surrender at Sedan. This sudden change of direction I did not at first understand, but soon learned that it was because of the movements of Marshal MacMahon, who, having united the French army beaten at Worth with three fresh corps at Châlons, was marching to relieve Metz in obedience to orders from the Minister of War, at Paris.

As we passed along the column, we noticed that the Crown Prince's troops were doing their best, the officers urging the men to their utmost exertions persuading weary laggards and driving up stragglers. As a general thing, however, they marched in good shape notwithstanding the rapid gait and the trying heat, for at the outset of the campaign the Prince had divested them of all impedimenta except essentials and they were therefore in excellent trim for a forced march.

The King travelled farther than usual that day-to Clermont-so we did not get shelter till late, and even then not without some confusion, for the quartermaster, having set out toward Châlons before the change of programme was ordered was not at hand to provide for us. I had extreme good luck, though, in being quartered with a certain apothecary who, having lived for a time in the United States, claimed it as a privilege even to lodge me, and certainly made me his debtor for the most generous hospitality. It was not so with some of the others, however, and Count Bismarck was particularly unfortunate, being billeted in a very small and uncomfortable house, where, visiting him to learn more fully what was going on, I found him wrapped in a shabby old dressing-gown, hard at work. He was established in a very small room, whose only furnishings consisted of a table- at which he wars writing-a couple of rough chairs, and the universal featherbed, this time made on the floor in one corner of the room. On my remarking upon the limited character of his quarters, the Count replied, with great good humor, that they were all right and that he should get along well enough. Even the tramp of his clerks in the attic and the clanking of his orderlies' sabres below did not disturb him much; he said, in fact, that he would have no grievance at all, were it not for a guard of Bavarian soldiers stationed about the house, for his safety, he presumed, the sentinels from which insisted on protecting and saluting the Chancellor of the North German Confederation in and out of season, a proceeding that led to embarrassment sometimes, as he was much : troubled with a severe dysentery. Not withstanding his trials, however, and in : the midst of the correspondence on: which he was so intently engaged, he ] graciously took time to explain that the l sudden movement northward from Bar- l le-Duc was, as I have previously recounted, the result of information that Marshal : MacMahon was endeavoring to relieve a Metz by marching along the Belgian 1 frontier; "a blundering manuvre," remarked the Chancellor, "which cannot be accounted for unless it has been l brought about by the political situation of the French."

All night long the forced march of the army went on through Clermont, and when I turned out just after daylight the columns were still pressing forward, the men looking tired and much bedraggled, as indeed they had reason to be, for from recent rains the roads were very sloppy. Notwithstanding this, however, the troops were pushed ahead with all possible vigor to intercept MacMahon and force a battle before he could withdraw from his faulty movement, for which it has since been ascertained he was not at all responsible. Indeed those at the royal headquarters seemed to think of nothing else than to strike MacMahon, for, feeling pretty confident. that Metz could not be relieved, they manifested not the slightest anxiety on that score.

By eight o'clock, the skies having cleared, the headquarters set out for Grand Pré, which place we reached early in the afternoon, and that evening I again had the pleasure of dining with the King. The conversation at table was almost wholly devoted to the situation, of course, everybody expressing surprise at the manuvre of the French at this time, their march along the Belgian frontier being credited entirely to Napoleon. Up to bedtime there was still much uncertainty as to the exact positions of the French, but next morning intelligence being received which denoted the probability of a battle, we drove about ten miles, to Buzancy, and there, mounting on horses, rode to the front.

The French were posted not far from Buzancy in a strong position, their right resting near Stonne, and the left extending over into the woods beyond Beaumont. About ten o'clock the Crown Prince of Saxony advanced against this line, and while a part of his army turned the French right, compelling it to fall back rapidly, the German centre and right attacked with great vigor and much skill, surprising one of the divisions of General de Failly's corps while the men were in the act of cooking their breakfast.

The French fled precipitately, leaving behind their tents and other camp equipage, and on inspecting the ground which they had abandoned so hastily, I noticed on all sides ample evidence that not even the most ordinary precautions had been taken to secure the division from surprise. The artillery horses had not been harnessed, and many of them had been shot down at the picket rope where they had been halted the night before, while numbers of men were lying dead with loaves of bread or other food instead of their muskets in their hands.

Some three thousand prisoners and nearly all the artillery and mitrailleuses of the division were captured, while the fugitives were pursued till they found shelter behind Douay's corps and the rest of de Failly's beyond Beaumont. The same afternoon there were several other severe combats along the Meuse, but I had no chance of witnessing any of them, and just before nightfall I started back to Buzancy, to which place the King's headquarters had been brought during the day.

The morning of the 31st the King moved to Vendresse. First sending our carriage back to Grand Pre for our trunks, Forsyth and I mounted our horses and rode to the battlefield, accompanied by an English nobleman, the Duke of Manchester. The part of the field we traversed was still thickly strewn with the dead of both armies, though all the wounded had been collected in the hospitals. In the village of Beaumont we stopped to take a look at several thousand French prisoners, whose worn clothing and evident dejection told that they had been doing a deal of severe marching under great discouragements.

The King reached the village shortly after, and we all continued on to Chémery, just beyond where his Majesty alighted from his carriage to observe his son's troops file past as they came in from the direction of Stonne. This delay caused us to be as late as nine o'clock before we got shelter that night, but as it afforded me the best opportunity I had yet had for seeing the German soldiers on the march, I did not begrudge the time. They moved in a somewhat open and irregular column of fours, the intervals between files especially intended to give room for a peculiar swinging gait with which the men seemed to urge themselves over the ground with ease and rapidity. There was little or no straggling, and being strong, lusty young fellows and lightly equipped-they carried only needle-guns, ammunition, a very small knapsack, a water-bottle, and a haversack-they strode by with an elastic step, covering at least three miles an hour.

It having been definitely ascertained that the demoralized French were retiring to Sedan, on the evening of August 31st the German army began the work of hemming them in there, so disposing the different corps as to cover the ground from Donchery around by Raucourt to Carignan. The next morning this line was to be drawn in closer on Sedan; and the Grown Prince of Saxony was therefore ordered to take up a position to the north of Bazeilles beyond the right bank of the Meuse, while the Crown Prince of Prussia was to cross his right wing over the Meuse at Remilly, to move on Bazeilles, his centre meantime marching against a number of little hamlets still held by the French between there and Donchery. At this last-mentioned place strong reserves were to be held, and from it the Eleventh Coops, followed by the Fifth, and a division of cavalry, was to march on to St. Menges.

Forsyth and I started early next morning, September 1st, and in a thick fog, which subsequently gave place to bright sunshine, we drove to the village of Chevenges, where mounting our horses we rode in a northeasterly direction to the heights of Frénois and Wadelincourt, bordering the river Meuse on the left bank, from which crest we had a good view of the town of Sedan with its encircling fortifications, which, though extensive, were not so formidable as those around Metz. The King and his staff were already established on these heights, and at a point so well chosen that his Majesty could observe the movements of both armies immediately east and south of Sedan, and also to the northwest toward Floing and the Belgian frontier.

The battle was begun to the east and northeast of Sedan, as early as half-past four o'clock by the German right wing -the fighting being desultory-and near the same hour the Bavarians attacked Bazeilles. This village, some two miles southeast of Sedan, being of importance was defended with great obstinacy, the French contesting from street to street and house to house the attack of the Bavarians till near ten o'clock, when, almost every building being knocked to pieces, they were compelled to relinquish the place. The possession of this village gave the Germans to the east of Sedan a continuous line extending from the Meuse northward through La Moncelle and Daigny to Givonne, and almost to the Belgian frontier.

While the German centre and right were thus engaged, the left had moved in accordance with the prescribed plan. Indeed some of these troops had crossed the Meuse the night before, and now, by a little after six o'clock, their advance could be seen just north of the village of Floing. Thus far these columns, under the immediate eye of the Crown Prince of Prussia, had met with no opposition to their march, and as soon as they got to the high ground above the village they began extending to the east to connect with the army of the Meuse. This juncture was effected at Illy, without difficulty, and the French army was now completely encompassed.

After a severe fight the Crown Prince drove the French through Floing, and as the ground between this village and Sedan is an undulating open plain, everywhere visible, there was then offered a rare opportunity for seeing the final conflict preceding the surrender. Presently up out of the little valley where Floing is located came the Germans, deploying just on the rim of the plateau a very heavy skirmish line, supported by a line of battle at close distance. When these skirmishers appeared, the French infantry had withdrawn within its intrenched lines, but a strong body of their cavalry, already formed in a depression to the right of the Floing road, now rode at the Germans in gallant style, going clear through the dispersed skirmishers to the main line of battle. Here the slaughter of the French was awful, for in addition to the deadly volleys from the solid battalions of their enemies, the skirmishers, who had rallied in knots at advantageous places, were now delivering a severe and effective fire. The gallant horsemen therefore had to retire precipitately, but reforming in the depression, they again undertook the hopeless task of breaking the German infantry, making in all four successive charges. Their ardor and pluck were of no avail, however, for the Germans, growing stronger every minute by the accession of troops from Floing, met the fourth attack in such large force that even before coming in contact with their adversaries, the French broke and retreated to the protection of the intrenchments, where, from the beginning of the combat, had been lying plenty of idle infantry, some of which at least, it seemed plain to me, ought to have been thrown into the fight. This action was the last one of consequence around Sedan, for though with the contraction of the German lines their batteries kept cannonading more or less, and the rattle of musketry continued to be heard here and there, yet the hard fighting of the day practically ended on the plateau of Floing.

By three o'clock, the French being in a desperate and hopeless situation, the Ring ordered the filing to be stopped, and at once despatched one of his staff -Colonel von Bronsart-with a demand for a surrender. Just as this officer was starting off I remarked to Bismarck that Napoleon himself would likely be one of the prizes, but the Count, incredulous, replied: "Oh, no; the old fox is too cunning to be caught in such a trap; he has doubtless slipped of to Paris"-a belief which I found to prevail pretty generally about headquarters.

In the lull that succeeded, the King invited many of those about him to luncheon, a caterer having provided from some source or other a substantial meal of good bread, chops, and peas, with a bountiful supply of red and sherry wines. Among those present were Prince Carl, Bismarck, von Moltke, von Boon, the Duke of Weimar, the Duke of Coburg, the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg, Count Hatzfeldt, Colonel Walker of the English army, General Forsyth, and I. The lying was agreeable and gracious at all times, but on this occasion he was particularly so, being naturally in a happy frame of mind because this day the war had reached a crisis which presaged for the near future the complete vanquishment of the French.

Between four and five o'clock Colonel von Bronsart returned from his mission to Sedan, bringing word to the King that the commanding officer there, General Wimpffen, wished to know, in order that the further effusion of blood might be spared, upon what terms he might surrender. The Colonel brought the intelligence, also, that the French Emperor was in the town. Soon after von Bronsart's arrival a French officer approached from Sedan, preceded by a white flag and two German officers. Coming up the road till within a few hundred yards of us they halted; then one of the Germans rode forward to say that the French officer was Napoleon's adjutant, bearing an autograph letter from the Emperor to the King of Prussia At this the King, followed by Bismarck, von Moltke, and von Boon, walked out to the front a little distance, and halted, his Majesty still in advance, the rest of us meanwhile forming in a line some twenty paces to the rear of the group. The envoy then approached, at first on horseback, but when within about a hundred yards he dismounted, and uncovering came the remaining distance on foot, bearing high up in his right hand the despatch from Napoleon. The bearer proved to be General Reille, and as he handed the Emperor's letter to the King, his Majesty saluted him with the utmost formality and precision. Napoleon's letter was the since famous one running, so characteristically, thus: "Not having been able to die in the midst of my troops, there is nothing left me but to place my sword in your Majesty's hands." The reading finished, the King returned to his former post, and after a conference with Bismarck, von Moltke, and von Boon, dictated an answer accepting Napoleon's surrender and requesting him to designate an officer with power to treat for the capitulation of the army, himself naming von Moltke to represent the Germans. The King then started for Vendresse to pass the night.

It was after seven o'clock now, and hence too late to arrange anything more where we were, so further negotiations were deferred till later in the evening, and I, wishing to be conveniently near Bismarck, resolved to take up quarters in Donchery. On our way thither we were met by the County nephew, who assuring us that it would be impossible to find shelter there in the village, as all the houses were filled with wounded Forsyth and I decided to continue on to Chevenges. On the other hand Bismarck-Bohlen bore with him one great, comfort-some excellent brandy. Offering the flask to his uncle, he said: "You've had a hard day of it; won't you refresh yourself ?" The Chancellor, without wasting time to answer, raised the bottle to his lips, exclaiming: "Here's to the unification of Germany," which sentiment the gurgling of an astonishingly long drink seemed to emphasize. The Count then handed the bottle back to his nephew, who, shaking it, ejaculated, "Why, we can't pledge you in return-there is nothing left !" to which came the waggish response, "I beg pardon; it was so dark I couldn't see;" nevertheless there was a little remaining, as I myself can aver.

Having left our carriage at Chevenges, Forsyth and I stopped there to get it, but a long search proving fruitless, we took lodging in the village at the house of the cure, resolved to continue the hunt in the morning. But then we had no better success, so concluding that our vehicle had been pressed into the hospital service, we at an early hour on the 2d of September resumed the search, continuing on down the road in the direction of Sedan. Near the gate of the city we came on the German picket line, and one of the officers, recognizing our uniforms-he having served in the war of the Rebellion-stepped forward and addressed me in good English. We naturally fell into conversation, and in the midst of it there came out through the: gate an open carriage, or landau, containing two men, one of whom, in the uniform of a general and smoking a cigarette, we recognized, when the conveyance drew near, as the Emperor Louis Napoleon. The landau went on toward Donchery at a leisurely pace, and we, inferring that there was something more important at hand just then than the recovery of our trap, followed at a respectful distance. Not quite a mile from Donchery is a cluster of three or four cottages, and at the first of these the landau stopped to await, as we afterward ascertained, (fount Bismarck, with whom the diplomatic negotiations were to be settled. Some minutes elapsed before he came, Napoleon remaining seated in his carriage meantime, still smoking and accepting with nonchalance the staring of a group of German soldiers near by, who were gazing on their fallen foe with curious and eager interest.

Presently a clattering of hoofs was hearth and looking toward the sound I perceived the Chancellor cantering clown the road. When abreast of the carriage he dismounted, and walking up to it, saluted the Emperor in a quick, brusque way that seemed to startle him. After a word or two the party moved perhaps a hundred yards further on, where they stopped opposite the weaver's cottage so famous from that day. This little house is on the east side of the Donchery road near its junction with that to Frénois, and stands about twenty paces back from the highway. In front is a stone wall covered with creeping vines, and from a rate in this wall runs to the front door a path, at that time bordered on both sides with potato vines.

The Emperor having alighted at the gate, he and Bismarck walked together along the narrow path and entered the cottage. Reappearing in about a quarter of an hour, they came out and seated themselves in the open air, the weaver having brought a couple of chairs. Here they engaged in an animated conversation, if much gesticulation is any indication. The talk lasted fully an hour Bismarck seeming to do most of it, but at last he arose, saluted the Emperor and strode down the path toward his horse. Seeing me standing near the gate, he joined me for a moment, and asked me if I had noticed how the Emperor started when they first met, and I telling him that I had, he added, "Well, it must have been due to my manner, not my words, for these were: ' I salute your Majesty just as I would any King."' Then the Chancellor continued to chat a few minutes longer, assuring me that nothing further was to be done there, and that we had better go to the Chateau Bellevue, where, he said, the formal surrender was to take place. With this he rode off toward Vendresse to communicate with his sovereign, and Forsyth and I made ready to go to the Chateau Bellevue.

Before we set out, however; a number of officers of the king's suite arrived at the weaver's cottage, anal from them I gathered that there were differences at the royal headquarters as to whether peace should be made then at Sedan, or the war continued till the French capital was taken. I further heard that the military advisers of the king strongly advocated an immediate move on Paris, while the Chancellor thought it best to make peace now, holding Alsace and Lorraine, and compelling the payment of an enormous levy of money, and these rumors were most likely correct, for I had often heard Bismarck say that France being the richest country in Europe, nothing would keep her quiet but effectually to empty her pockets; and besides this he impressed me as holding that it would be better policy to preserve the Empire.

On our way to the chateau we fell in with a number of artillery officers bringing up their guns hurriedly to post them closer in to the beleaguered town on a specially advantageous ridge. Inquiring the cause of this move, we learned that General Wimpffen had not yet agreed to the terms of surrender; that it was thought he would not, and that they wanted to be prepared for any such contingency. And they were preparing with a vengeance, too, for I counted seventy-two Krupp guns in one continuous line trained on the Château Bellevue and Sedan.

Napoleon went directly from the weaver's to the Chateau Bellevue, and about ten o'clock the King of Prussia arrived from Frénois, accompanied by a few of his own suite and the Crown Prince with several members of his staff; and, Von Moltke and Wimpffen having settled their points of difference before the two monarchs met, within the next half-hour the articles of capitulation were formally signed.

On the completion of the surrender- the occasion being justly considered a great one-the Crown Prince proceeded to distribute among the officers congregated in the chateau grounds the order of the Iron Cross-a generous supply of these decorations being carried in a basket bus one of his orderlies who followed him along as he walked about. Meantime the King, leaving Napoleon ill the château to ruminate on the fickleness of fortune, drove off to see his own victorious soldiers, who greeted him with huzzas that rent the air and must have added to the pangs of the captive Emperor.