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Memoirs of Three Civil War Generals, Complete by U. S. Grant, W. T. Sherman, P. H. Sheridan

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and remain there peaceably, he defiantly refused. The consequence of
this refusal was a merited punishment, only too long delayed.

I received the first news of Custer's fight on the Washita on the
morning of November 29. It was brought to me by one of his white
scouts, "California Joe," a noted character, who had been
experiencing the ups and downs of pioneer life ever since crossing
the Plains in 1849. Joe was an invaluable guide and Indian fighter
whenever the clause of the statute prohibiting liquors in the Indian
country happened to be in full force. At the time in question the
restriction was by no means a dead letter, and Joe came through in
thirty-six hours, though obliged to keep in hiding during daylight of
the 28th. The tidings brought were joyfully received by everybody at
Camp Supply, and they were particularly agreeable tome, for, besides
being greatly worried about the safety of the command in the extreme
cold and deep snows, I knew that the immediate effect a victory would
be to demoralize the rest of the hostiles, which of course would
greatly facilitate and expedite our ultimate success. Toward evening
the day after Joe arrived the head of Custer's column made its
appearance on the distant hills, the friendly Osage scouts and the
Indian prisoners in advance. As they drew near, the scouts began a
wild and picturesque performance in celebration of the victory,
yelling, firing their guns, throwing themselves on the necks and
sides of their horses to exhibit their skill in riding, and going
through all sorts of barbaric evolutions and gyrations, which were
continued till night, when the rejoicings were ended with the hideous
scalp dance.

The disappearance of Major Elliott and his party was the only damper
upon our pleasure, and the only drawback to the very successful
expedition. There was no definite information as to the detachment,
--and Custer was able to report nothing more than that he had not
seen Elliott since just before the fight began. His theory was,
however, that Elliott and his men had strayed off on account of
having no guide, and would ultimately come in all right to Camp
Supply or make their way back to Fort Dodge; a very unsatisfactory
view of the matter, but as no one knew the direction Elliott had
taken, it was useless to speculate on other suppositions, and
altogether too late to make any search for him. I was now anxious to
follow up Custer's stroke by an immediate move to the south with the
entire column, but the Kansas regiment had not yet arrived. At first
its nonappearance did not worry me much, for I attributed the delay
to the bad weather, and supposed Colonel Crawford had wisely laid up
during the worst storms. Further, waiting, however, would give the
Indians a chance to recover from the recent dispiriting defeat, so I
sent out scouting parties to look Crawford up and hurry him along.
After a great deal of searching, a small detachment of the regiment
was found about fifty miles below us on the North Canadian, seeking
our camp. This detachment was in a pretty bad plight, and when
brought in, the officer in charge reported that the regiment, by not
following the advice of the guide sent to conduct it to Camp Supply,
had lost its way. Instead of relying on the guides, Crawford had
undertaken to strike through the canyons of the Cimarron by what
appeared to him a more direct route, and in the deep gorges, filled
as they were with snow, he had been floundering about for days
without being able to extricate his command. Then, too, the men were
out of rations, though they had been able to obtain enough buffalo
meat to keep from starving. As for the horses, since they could get
no grass, about seven hundred of them had already perished from
starvation and exposure. Provisions and guides were immediately sent
out to the regiment, but before the relief could reach Crawford his
remaining horses were pretty much all gone, though the men were
brought in without loss of life. Thus, the regiment being dismounted
by this misfortune at the threshold of the campaign, an important
factor of my cavalry was lost to me, though as foot-troops the Kansas
volunteers continued to render very valuable services till mustered
out the next spring.



A few days were necessarily lost setting up and refitting the Kansas
regiment after its rude experience in the Cimarron canyons. This
through with, the expedition, supplied with thirty days' rations,
moved out to the south on the 7th of December, under my personal
command. We headed for the Witchita Mountains, toward which rough
region all the villages along the Washita River had fled after
Custer's fight with Black Kettle. My line of march was by way of
Custer's battle-field, and thence down the Washita, and if the
Indians could not sooner be brought to terms, I intended to follow
them into the Witchita Mountains from near old Fort Cobb. The snow
was still deep everywhere, and when we started the thermometer was
below zero, but the sky being clear and the day very bright, the
command was in excellent spirits. The column was made up of ten
companies of the Kansas regiment, dismounted; eleven companies of the
Seventh Cavalry, Pepoon's scouts, and the Osage scouts. In addition
to Pepoon's men and the Osages, there was also "California Joe," and
one or two other frontiersmen besides, to act as guides and
interpreters. Of all these the principal one, the one who best knew
the country, was Ben Clark, a young man who had lived with the
Cheyennes during much of his boyhood, and who not only had a pretty
good knowledge of the country, but also spoke fluently the Cheyenne
and Arapahoe dialects, and was an adept in the sign language.

The first day we made only about ten miles, which carried us to the
south bank of Wolf Creek. A considerable part of the day was devoted
to straightening out matters in the command, and allowing time for
equalizing the wagon loads, which as a general thing, on a first
day's march, are unfairly distributed. And then there was an
abundance of fire-wood at Wolf Creek; indeed, here and on Hackberry
Creek--where I intended to make my next camp--was the only timber
north of the Canadian River; and to select the halting places near a
plentiful supply of wood was almost indispensable, for as the men
were provided with only shelter-tents, good fires were needed in
order to keep warm.

The second day, after marching for hours through vast herds of
buffalo, we made Hackberry Creek; but not, however, without several
stampedes in the wagon-train, the buffalo frightening the mules so
that it became necessary to throw out flankers to shoot the leading
bulls and thus turn off the herds. In the wake of every drove
invariably followed a band of wolves. This animal is a great coward
usually, but hunger had made these so ravenous that they would come
boldly up to the column, and as quick as a buffalo was killed, or
even disabled, they would fall upon the carcass and eagerly devour
it. Antelope also were very numerous, and as they were quite tame
--being seldom chased--and naturally very inquisitive, it was not an
unfrequent thing to see one of the graceful little creatures run in
among the men and be made a prisoner. Such abundance of game
relieved the monotony of the march to Hackberry Creek, but still,
both men and animals were considerably exhausted by their long tramp,
for we made over thirty miles that day.

We camped in excellent shape on the creek and it was well we did, for
a "Norther," or "blizzard," as storms on the Plains are now termed
struck us in the night. During the continuance of these blizzards,
which is usually about three days, the cold wind sweeps over the
Plains with great force, and, in the latitude of the Indian
Territory, is weighted with great quantities of sleet and snow,
through which it is often impossible to travel; indeed, these
"Northers" have many times proved fatal to the unprotected
frontiersman. With our numbers the chance of any one's being lost,
and perishing alone (one of the most common dangers in a blizzard),
was avoided; but under any circumstances such a storm could but
occasion intense suffering to all exposed to it, hence it would have
been well to remain in camp till the gale was over, but the time
could not be spared. We therefore resumed the march at an early hour
next morning, with the expectation of making the south bank of the
main Canathan and there passing the night, as Clark assured me that
timber was plentiful on that side of the river. The storm greatly
impeded us, however, many of the mules growing discouraged, and some
giving out entirely, so we could not get to Clark's "good camp," for
with ten hours of utmost effort only about half a day's distance
could be covered, when at last, finding the struggle useless, we were
forced to halt for the night in a bleak bottom on the north bank of
the river. But no one could sleep, for the wind swept over us with
unobstructed fury, and the only fuel to be had was a few green
bushes. As night fell a decided change of temperature added much to
our misery, the mercury, which had risen when the "Norther" began,
again falling to zero. It can be easily imagined that under such
circumstances the condition of the men was one of extreme discomfort;
in truth, they had to tramp up and down the camp all night long to
keep from freezing. Anything was a relief to this state of things,
so at the first streak of day we quit the dreadful place and took up
the march.

A seemingly good point for crossing the Canadian was found a couple
of miles down the stream, where we hoped to get our train over on the
ice, but an experiment proving that it was not strong enough, a ford
had to be made, which was done by marching some of the cavalry
through the river, which was about half a mile wide, to break up the
large floes when they had been cut loose with axes. After much hard
work a passage-way was thus opened, and by noon the command was
crossed to the south bank, and after thawing out and drying our
clothes before big fires, we headed for a point on the Washita, where
Clark said there was plenty of wood, and good water too, to make us
comfortable till the blizzard had blown over.

We reached the valley of the Washita a little before dark, and camped
some five or six miles above the scene of Custer's fight, where I
concluded to remain at least a day, to rest the command and give it a
chance to refit. In the mean time I visited the battle-field in
company with Custer and several other officers, to see if there was a
possibility of discovering any traces of Elliotts party. On arriving
at the site of the village, and learning from Custer what
dispositions had been made in approaching for the attack, the
squadron of the escort was deployed and pushed across the river at
the point where Elliott had crossed. Moving directly to the south,
we had not gone far before we struck his trail, and soon the whole
story was made plain by our finding, on an open level space about two
miles from the destroyed village, the dead and frozen bodies of the
entire party. The poor fellows were all lying within a circle not
more than fifteen or twenty paces in diameter, and the little piles
of empty cartridge shells near each body showed plainly that every
man had made a brave fight. None were scalped, but most of them were
otherwise horribly mutilated, which fiendish work is usually done by
the squaws. All had been stripped of their clothing, but their
comrades in the escort were able to identify the bodies, which being
done, we gave them decent burial. Their fate was one that has
overtaken many of our gallant army in their efforts to protect the
frontiersmen's homes and families from savages who give no quarter,
though they have often received it, and where the possibility of
defeat in action carries with it the certainty of death and often of
preceding torture.

From the meadow where Elliott was found we rode to the Washita, and
then down the river through the sites of the abandoned villages, that
had been strung along almost continuously for about twelve miles in
the timber skirting the stream. On every hand appeared ample
evidence that the Indians had intended to spend the winter here, for
the ground was littered with jerked meat, bales of buffalo robes,
cooking utensils, and all sorts of plunder usually accumulated in a
permanent Indian camp. There were, also, lying dead near the
villages hundreds of ponies, that had been shot to keep them from
falling into our hands, the scant grazing and extreme cold having
made them too weak to be driven along in the flight. The wholesale
slaughter of these ponies was a most cheering indication that our
campaign would be ultimately successful, and we all prayed for at
least a couple of months more of cold weather and plenty of snow.

At the Kiowa village we found the body of a white woman--a Mrs.
Blynn--and also that of her child. These captives had been taken by
the Kiowas near Fort Lyon the previous summer, and kept close
prisoners until the stampede began, the poor woman being reserved to
gratify the brutal lust of the chief, Satanta; then, however, Indian
vengeance demanded the murder of the poor creatures, and after
braining the little child against a tree, the mother was shot through
the forehead, the weapon, which no doubt brought her welcome release,
having been fired so close that the powder had horribly disfigured
her face. The two bodies were wrapped in blankets and taken to camp,
and afterward carried along in our march, till finally they were
decently interred at Fort Arbuckle..

At an early hour on December 12 the command pulled out from its cosy
camp and pushed down the valley of the Washita, following immediately
on the Indian trail which led in the direction of Fort Cobb, but
before going far it was found that the many deep ravines and canyons
on this trail would delay our train very much, so we moved out of the
valley and took the level prairie on the divide. Here the traveling
was good, and a rapid gait was kept up till mid-day, when, another
storm of sleet and snow coming on, it became extremely difficult for
the guides to make out the proper course; and fearing that we might
get lost or caught on the open plain without wood or water--as we had
been on the Canadian--I turned the command back to the valley,
resolved to try no more shortcuts involving the risk of a disaster to
the expedition. But to get back was no slight task, for a dense fog
just now enveloped us, obscuring all landmarks. However, we were
headed right when the fog set in, and we had the good luck to reach
the valley before night-fall, though there was a great deal of
floundering about, and also much disputing among the guides as to
where the river would be found Fortunately we struck the stream right
at a large grove of timber, and established ourselves, admirably. By
dark the ground was covered with twelve or fifteen inches of fresh
snow, and as usual the temperature rose very sensibly while the storm
was on, but after night-fall the snow ceased and the skies cleared
up. Daylight having brought zero weather again, our start on the
morning of the 17th was painful work, many of the men freezing their
fingers while handling the horse equipments, harness, and tents.
However, we got off in fairly good season, and kept to the trail
along the Washita notwithstanding the frequent digging and bridging
necessary to get the wagons over ravines.

Continuing on this line for three days, we at length came to a point
on the Washita where all signs indicated that we were nearing some of
the villages. Wishing to strike them as soon as possible, we made a
very early start next morning, the 17th. A march of four or five
miles brought us to a difficult ravine, and while we were making
preparations to get over, word was brought that several Indians had
appeared in our front bearing a white flag and making signs that they
had a communication to deliver. We signaled back that they would be
received, when one of the party came forward alone and delivered a
letter, which proved to be from General Hazen, at Fort Cobb. The
letter showed that Hazen was carrying on negotiations with the
Indians, and stated that all the tribes between Fort Cobb and my
column were friendly, but the intimation was given that the
Cheyennes and Arapahoes were still hostile, having moved off
southward toward, the Red River. It was added that Satanta and Lone
Wolf--the chiefs of the Kiowas--would give information of the
whereabouts of the hostiles; and such a communication coming direct
from the representative of the Indian Department, practically took
the Kiowas--the village at hand was of that tribe--under its
protection, and also the Comanches, who were nearer in to Cobb. Of
course, under such circumstances I was compelled to give up the
intended attack, though I afterward regretted that I had paid any
heed to the message, because Satanta and Lone Wolf proved, by
trickery and double dealing, that they had deceived Hazen into
writing the letter.

When I informed the Klowas that I would respect Hazen's letter
provided they all came into Fort Cobb and gave themselves up, the two
chiefs promised submission, and, as an evidence of good faith,
proposed to accompany the column to Fort Cobb with a large body of
warriors, while their villages moved to the same point by easy
stages, along the opposite bank of the river--claiming this to be
necessary from the poor condition of the ponies. I had some
misgivings as to the sincerity of Satanta and Lone Wolf, but as I
wanted to get the Kiowas where their surrender would be complete, so
that the Cheyennes and Arapahoes could then be pursued, I agreed to
the proposition, and the column moved on. All went well that day,
but the next it was noticed that the warriors were diminishing, and
an investigation showed that a number of them had gone off on various
pretexts--the main one being to help along the women and children
with the villages. With this I suspected that they were playing me
false, and my suspicions grew into certainty when Satanta himself
tried to make his escape by slipping beyond the flank of the column
and putting spurs to his pony. Fortunately, several officers saw
him, and quickly giving chase, overhauled him within a few hundred
yards. I then arrested both him and Lone Wolf and held them as
hostages--a measure that had the effect of bringing back many of the
warriors already beyond our reach.

When we arrived at Fort Cobb we found some of the Comanches already
there, and soon after the rest of them, excepting one band, came in
to the post. The Kiowas, however, were not on hand, and there were
no signs to indicate their coming. At the end of two days it was
plain enough that they were acting in bad faith, and would continue
to unless strong pressure was brought to bear. Indeed, they had
already started for the Witchita Mountains, so I put on the screws at
once by issuing an order to hang Satanta and Lone Wolf, if their
people did not surrender at Fort Cobb within forty-eight hours. The
two chiefs promised prompt compliance, but begged for more time,
seeking to explain the non-arrival of the women and children through
the weak condition of the ponies; but I was tired of their duplicity,
and insisted on my ultimatum.

The order for the execution brought quick fruit. Runners were sent
out with messages, by the two prisoners, appealing to their people to
save the lives of their chiefs, and the result was that the whole
tribe came in to the post within the specified time. The two
manacled wretches thus saved their necks; but it is to be regretted
that the execution did not come off; for some years afterward their
devilish propensities led them into Texas, where both engaged in the
most horrible butcheries.

The Kiowas were now in our hands, and all the Comanches too, except
one small band, which, after the Custer fight, had fled toward the
headwaters of the Red River. This party was made up of a lot of very
bad Indians--outlaws from the main tribe--and we did not hope to
subdue them except by a fight, and of this they got their fill; for
Evans, moving from Monument Creek toward the western base of the
Witchita Mountains on Christmas Day, had the good fortune to strike
their village. In the snow and cold his approach was wholly
unexpected, and he was thus enabled to deal the band a blow that
practically annihilated it. Twenty-five warriors were killed
outright, most of the women and children captured, and all the
property was destroyed. Only a few of the party escaped, and some of
these made their way in to Fort Cobb, to join the rest of their tribe
in confinement; while others, later in the season, surrendered at
Fort Bascom.

This sudden appearance of Evans in the Red River region also alarmed
the Cheyennes and Arapahoes, and their thoughts now began to turn to
submission. Food was growing scarce with them, too, as there was but
little game to be found either in the Witchita Mountains or on the
edge of the Staked Plains, and the march of Carr's column from
Antelope Hills precluded their returning to where the buffalo ranged.
Then, too, many of their ponies were dead or dying, most of their
tepees and robes had been abandoned, and the women and children,
having been kept constantly on the move in the winter's storms, were
complaining bitterly of their sufferings.

In view of this state of things they intimated, through their
Comanche-Apache friends at Fort Cobb, that they would like to make
terms. On receiving their messages I entered into negotiations with
Little Robe, chief of the Cheyennes, and Yellow Bear, chief of the
Arapahoes, and despatched envoys to have both tribes understand
clearly that they must recognize their subjugation by surrendering at
once, and permanently settling on their reservations in the spring.
Of course the usual delays of Indian diplomacy ensued, and it was
some weeks before I heard the result.

Then one of my messengers returned with word that Little Robe and
Yellow Bear were on their way to see me. They arrived a few days
later, and, promptly acceding to the terms, promised to bring their
people in, but as many of them would have to come on foot on account
of the condition of the ponies, more time was solicited. Convinced
of the sincerity of their professions I gave them a reasonable
extension, and eventually Yellow Bear made good his word, but Little
Robe, in spite of earnest and repeated efforts, was unable to deliver
his people till further operations were begun against them.

While these negotiations were in progess I came to the conclusion
that a permanent military post ought to be established well down on
the Kiowa and Comanche reservation, in order to keep an eye on these
tribes in the future, Fort Cobb, being an unsuitable location,
because too far to the north to protect the Texas frontier, and too
far away from where it was intended to permanently place the Indians.
With this purpose in view I had the country thoroughly explored, and
afterward a place was fixed upon not far from the base of the
Witchita Mountains, and near the confluence of Medicine Bluff and
Cash creeks, where building stone and timber could be obtained in
plenty, and to this point I decided to move. The place was named
Camp Sill-now Fort Sill--in honor of my classmate, General Sill,
killed at Stone River; and to make sure of the surrendered Indians, I
required them all, Kiowas, Comanches, and Comanche-Apaches, to
accompany us to the new post, so they could be kept under military
control till they were settled.

During the march to the new camp the weather was not so cold as that
experienced in coming down from Camp Supply; still, rains were
frequent, and each was invariably followed by a depression of
temperature and high winds, very destructive to our animals, much
weakened by lack of food. The men fared pretty well, however, for on
the rough march along the Washita, and during our stay at Fort Cobb,
they had learned to protect themselves materially from the cold. For
this they had contrived many devices, the favorite means being
dugouts--that is, pits dug in the ground, and roofed over, with
shelter-tents, and having at one end a fire-place and chimney
ingeniously constructed with sod. In these they lived very snugly
--four men in each--and would often amuse themselves by poking their
heads out and barking at the occupants of adjacent huts in imitation
of the prairie-dog, whose comfortable nests had probably suggested
the idea of dugouts. The men were much better off, in fact, than
many of the officers, for the high winds frequently made havoc with
our wall-tents. The horses and mules suffered most of all. They
could not be sheltered, and having neither grain nor grass, the poor
beasts were in no condition to stand the chilling blasts. Still, by
cutting down cottonwood-trees, and letting the animals browse on the
small soft branches, we managed to keep them up till, finally even
this wretched food beginning to grow scarce, I had all except a few
of the strongest sent to Fort Arbuckle, near which place we had been
able, fortunately, to purchase some fields of corn from the
half-civilized Chickasaws and Choctaws.

Through mismanagement, as previously noted, the greater part of the
supplies which I had ordered hauled to Arbuckle the preceding fall
had not got farther on the way than Fort Gibson, which post was about
four hundred miles off, and the road abominable, particularly east of
Arbuckle, where it ran through a low region called "boggy bottom."
All along this route were abandoned wagons, left sticking in the mud,
and hence the transportation was growing so short that I began to
fear trouble in getting subsistence up for the men. Still, it would
not do to withdraw, so I made a trip to Arbuckle chiefly for the
purpose of reorganizing the transportation, but also with a view to
opening a new route to that post, the road to lie on high ground, so
as to avoid the creeks and mud that had been giving us so much
trouble. If such a road could be made, I hoped to get up enough
rations and grain from the cornfields purchased to send out a
formidable expedition against the Cheyennes, so I set out for
Arbuckle accompanied by my quartermaster, Colonel A. J. McGonigle.
"California Joe" also went along to guide us through the scrub-oaks
covering the ridge, but even the most thorough exploration failed to
discover any route more practicable than that already in use; indeed,
the high ground was, if anything, worse than the bottom land, our
horses in the springy places and quicksands often miring to their
knees. The ground was so soft and wet, in fact, that we had to make
most of the way on foot, so by the time we reached Arbuckle I was
glad to abandon the new road project.

Finding near Arbuckle more fields of corn than those already
purchased, I had them bought also, and ordered more of the horses
back there to be fed. I next directed every available mule to be put
to hauling rations, having discovered that the full capacity of the
transportation had not yet been brought into play in forwarding
stores from Gibson, and with this regulation of the supply question I
was ready to return immediately to Camp Sill. But my departure was
delayed by California Joe, who, notwithstanding the prohibitory laws
of the Territory, in some unaccountable way had got gloriously tipsy,
which caused a loss of time that disgusted me greatly; but as we
could not well do without Joe, I put off starting till the next day,
by which time it was thought he would sober up. But I might just as
well have gone at first, for at the end of the twenty-four hours the
incorrigible old rascal was still dead drunk. How he had managed to
get the grog to keep up his spree was a mystery which we could not
solve, though we had had him closely watched, so I cut the matter
short by packing him into my ambulance and carrying him off to Camp

By the time I got back to Sill, the Arapahoes were all in at the
post, or near at hand. The promised surrender of the Cheyennes was
still uncertain of fulfillment, however, and although Little Robe and
his family had remained with us in evidence of good faith, the
messages he sent to his followers brought no assurance of the tribe's
coming in--the runners invariably returning with requests for more
time, and bringing the same old excuse of inability to move because
the ponies were so badly off. But more time was just what I was
determined not to grant, for I felt sure that if a surrender was not
forced before the spring grass came, the ponies would regain their
strength, and then it would be doubtful if the Cheyennes came in at

To put an end to these delays, Custer proposed to go out and see the
Cheyennes himself, taking with him for escort only such number of men
as could be fairly well mounted from the few horses not sent back to
Arbuckle. At first I was inclined to disapprove Custer's
proposition, but he urged it so strongly that I finally consented,
though with some misgivings, for I feared that so small a party might
tempt the Cheyennes to forget their pacific professions and seek to
avenge the destruction of Black Kettle's band. However, after
obtaining my approval, Custer, with characteristic energy, made his
preparations, and started with three or four officers and forty
picked men, taking along as negotiators Yellow Bear and Little Robe,
who were also to conduct him to the head-waters of the Red River,
where it was supposed the Cheyennes would be found. His progress was
reported by couriers every few days, and by the time he got to the
Witchita foot-hills he had grown so sanguine that he sent California
Joe back to me with word that he was certain of success. Such
hopeful anticipation relieved me greatly, of course, but just about
the time I expected to hear that his mission had been achieved I was
astonished by the party's return. Inquiring as to the trouble, I
learned that out toward the Staked Plains every sign of the Cheyennes
had disappeared. Surprised and disappointed at this, and discouraged
by the loneliness of his situation--for in the whole region not a
trace of animal life was visible, Custer gave up the search, and none
too soon, I am inclined to believe, to save his small party from

This failure put a stop to all expeditions till the latter part of
February, by which time I had managed to lay in enough rations to
feed the command for about thirty days; and the horses back at
Arbuckle having picked up sufficiently for field service they were
ordered to Sill, and this time I decided to send Custer out with his
own and the Kansas regiment, with directions to insist on the
immediate surrender of the Cheyennes, or give them a sound thrashing.
He was ordered to get everything ready by March 1, and then move to
the mouth of Salt Creek, on the North Fork of the Red River, at which
place I proposed to establish a new depot for feeding the command.
Trains could reach this point from Camp Supply more readily than from
Arbuckle, and wishing to arrange this part of the programme in
person, I decided to return at once to Supply, and afterward rejoin
Custer at Salt Creek, on what, I felt sure, was to be the final
expedition of the campaign. I made the three hundred and sixty miles
from Sill to Supply in seven days, but much to my surprise there
found a despatch from General Grant directing me to repair
immediately to Washington. These orders precluded, of course, my
rejoining the command; but at the appointed time it set out on the
march, and within three weeks brought the campaign to a successful

In this last expedition, for the first few days Custer's route was by
the same trail he had taken in January--that is to say, along the
southern base of the Witchita Mountains--but this time there was more
to encourage him than before, for, on getting a couple of marches
beyond old Camp Radziminski, on all sides were fresh evidences of
Indians, and every effort was bent to strike them.

From day to day the signs grew hotter, and toward the latter part of
March the game was found. The Indians being in a very forlorn
condition, Custer might have destroyed most of the tribe, and
certainly all their villages, but in order to save two white women
whom, it was discovered, they held as captives, he contented himself
with the renewal of the Cheyennes' agreement to come in to Camp
Supply. In due time the entire tribe fulfilled its promise except
one small band under "Tall Bull," but this party received a good
drubbing from General Carr on the Republican early in May. After
this fight all the Indians of the southern Plains settled down on
their reservations, and I doubt whether the peace would ever again
have been broken had they not in after years been driven to
hostilities by most unjust treatment.

It was the 2d of March that I received at Camp Supply Grant's
despatch directing me to report immediately in Washington. It had
been my intention, as I have said, to join Custer on the North Fork
of the Red River, but this new order required me to recast my plans,
so, after arranging to keep the expedition supplied till the end of
the campaign, I started for Washington, accompanied by three of my
staff--Colonels McGonigle and Crosby, and Surgeon Asch, and Mr. Deb.
Randolph Keim, a representative of the press, who went through the
whole campaign, and in 1870 published a graphic history of it. The
day we left Supply we, had another dose of sleet and snow, but
nevertheless we made good time, and by night-fall reached Bluff
Creek. In twenty-four hours more we made Fort Dodge, and on the 6th
of March arrived at Fort Hays. Just south of the Smoky Hill River, a
little before we got to the post, a courier heading for Fort Dodge
passed us at a rapid gait. Suspecting that he had despatches for me,
I directed my outrider to overtake him and find out. The courier
soon turned back, and riding up to my ambulance handed me a telegram
notifying me that General Grant, on the day of his inauguration,
March 4, 1869, had appointed me Lieutenant-General of the Army. When
I reported in Washington, the President desired me to return to New
Orleans and resume command of the Fifth Military District, but this
was not at all to my liking, so I begged off, and was assigned to
take charge of the Division of the Missouri, succeeding General
Sherman, who had just been ordered to assume command of the Army.



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 stage-coach 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 staff-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. This resolution limited my stay
in Helena to a couple of days, which were devoted to arranging for an
exploration of what are now known as the Upper and the Lower Geyser
Basins of the Yellowstone Park. While journeying between Corinne and
Helena I had gained some vague knowledge of these geysers from an old
mountaineer named Atkinson, but his information was very indefinite,
mostly second-hand; and there was such general uncertainty as to the
character of this wonderland that I authorized an escort of soldiers
to go that season from Fort Ellis with a small party, to make such
superficial explorations as to justify my sending an engineer officer
with a well-equipped expedition there next summer to scientifically
examine and report upon the strange country. When the arrangements
for this preliminary expedition were completed I started for Fort
Benton, the head of navigation on the Missouri River, on the way
passing through Fort Shaw, on Sun River. I expected to take at
Benton a steamboat to Fort Stevenson, a military post which had been
established about eighty miles south of Fort Buford, near a
settlement of friendly Mandan and Arickaree Indians, to protect them
from the hostile Sioux. From there I was to make my way overland,
first to Fort Totten near Devil's lake in Dakota, and thence by way
of Fort Abercrombie to Saint Cloud, Minnesota, the terminus of the

Luckily I met with no delay in getting a boat at Benton, and though
the water was extremely low, we steamed down the channel of the
Missouri with but slight detention till we got within fifty miles of
Fort Buford. Here we struck on a sandbar with such force of steam
and current as to land us almost out of the water from stem to
midships. This bad luck was tantalizing, for to land on a bar when
your boat is under full headway down-stream in the Missouri River is
no trifling matter, especially if you want to make time, for the
rapid and turbid stream quickly depositing sand under the hull, makes
it commonly a task of several days to get your boat off again. As
from our mishap the loss of much time was inevitable, I sent a
messenger to Fort Buford for a small escort, and for horses to take
my party in to the post. Colonel Morrow, the commandant, came
himself to meet us, bringing a strong party of soldiers and some
friendly Indian scouts, because, he said, there were then in the
region around Buford so many treacherous band of Sioux as to make
things exceedingly unsafe.

Desiring to reach the post without spending more than one night on
the way, we abandoned our steamer that evening, and set off at an
early hour the next morning. We made camp at the end of the day's
march within ten miles of Buford, and arrived at the post without
having had any incident of moment, unless we may dignify as one a
battle with three grizzly bears, discovered by our friendly Indians
the morning of our second day's journey. While eating our breakfast
--a rather slim one, by the way--spread on a piece of canvas, the
Indians, whose bivouac was some distance off, began shouting
excitedly, "Bear! bear!" and started us all up in time to see, out on
the plain some hundreds of yards away, an enormous grizzly and two
almost full-grown cubs. Chances like this for a bear hunt seldom
offered, so there was hurried mounting--the horses being already
saddled--and a quick advance made on the game from many directions,
Lieutenant Townsend, of the escort, and five or six of the Indians
going with me. Alarmed by the commotion, bruin and her cubs turned
about, and with an awkward yet rapid gait headed for a deep ravine,
in which there was brushwood shelter.

My party rode directly across the prairie and struck the trail not
far behind the game. Then for a mile or more the chase was kept up,
but with such poor shooting because of the "buck fever" which had
seized most of us, that we failed to bring down any of the grizzlies,
though the cubs grew so tired that the mother was often obliged to
halt for their defense, meanwhile urging them on before her. When
the ravine was gained she hid the cubs away in the thick brushwood,
and then coming out where we could plainly see her, stood on the
defense just within the edge of the thicket, beyond the range of our
rifles though, unless we went down into the canyon, which we would
have to do on foot, since the precipitous wall precluded going on
horseback. For an adventure like this I confess I had little
inclination, and on holding a council of war, I found that the
Indians had still less, but Lieutenant Townsend, who was a fine shot,
and had refrained from firing hitherto in the hope that I might bag
the game, relieved the embarrassing situation and saved the credit of
the party by going down alone to attack the enemy. Meanwhile I
magnanimously held his horse, and the Sioux braves did a deal of
shouting, which they seemed to think of great assistance.

Townsend, having descended to the bottom of the ravine, approached
within range, when the old bear struck out, dashing into and out of
the bushes so rapidly, however, that he could not get fair aim at
her, but the startled cubs running into full view, he killed one at
the first shot and at the second wounded the other. This terribly
enraged the mother, and she now came boldly out to fight, exposing
herself in the open ground so much as to permit a shot, that brought
her down too, with a broken shoulder. Then the Indians and I,
growing very brave, scrambled down to--take part in the fight. It
was left for me to despatch the wounded cub and mother, and having
recovered possession of my nerves, I did the work effectively, and we
carried off with us the skins of the three animals as trophies of the
hunt and evidence of our prowess.

As good luck would have it, when we reached Buford we found a
steamboat there unloading stores, and learned that it would be ready
to start down the river the next day. Embarking on her, we got to
Stevenson in a few hours, and finding at the post camp equipage that
had been made ready for our use in crossing overland to Fort Totten,
we set out the following forenoon, taking with us a small escort of
infantry, transported in two light wagons, a couple of Mandans and
the post interpreter going along as mounted guides.

To reach water we had to march the first day to a small lake forty
miles off, and the oppressive heat, together with the long distance
traveled, used up one of the teams so much that, when about to start
out the second morning, we found the animals unable to go on with any
prospect of finishing the trip, so I ordered them to be rested
forty-eight hours longer, and then taken back to Stevenson. This
diminished the escort by one-half, yet by keeping the Indians and
interpreter on the lookout, and seeing that our ambulance was kept
closed up on the wagon carrying the rest of the detachment, we could,
I thought, stand off any ordinary party of hostile Indians.

About noon I observed that the scouts in advance had left the trail
and begun to reconnoitre a low ridge to their right, the sequel of
which was that in a few minutes they returned to the wagons on a dead
run and reported Sioux just ahead. Looking in the direction
indicated, I could dimly see five or six horsemen riding in a circle,
as Indians do when giving warning to their camp, but as our halt
disclosed that we were aware of their proximity, they darted back
again behind the crest of the ridge. Anticipating from this move an
immediate attack, we hastily prepared for it by unhooking the mules
from the wagon and ambulance, so that we could use the vehicles as a
barricade. This done, I told the interpreter to take the Mandan
scouts and go over toward the ridge and reconnoitre again. As the
scouts neared the crest two of them dismounted, and, crawling slowly
on their bellies to the summit, took a hasty look and returned at
once to their horses, coming back with word that in the valley beyond
was a camp of at least a hundred Sioux lodges, and that the Indians
were hurriedly getting ready to attack us. The news was anything but
cheering, for with a village of that size the warriors would number
two or three hundred, and could assail us from every side.

Still, nothing could be done, but stand and take what was to come,
for there was no chance of escape--it being supreme folly to
undertake in wagons a race with Indians to Fort Stevenson, sixty
miles away. To make the best of the situation, we unloaded the
baggage, distributing and adjusting the trunks, rolls of bedding,
crackerboxes, and everything else that would stop a bullet, in such
manner as to form a square barricade, two sides of which were the
wagons, with the mules haltered to the wheels. Every man then
supplied himself with all the ammunition he could carry, and the
Mandan scouts setting up the depressing wail of the Indian
death-song, we all awaited the attack with the courage of despair.

But no attack came; and time slipping by, and we still unmolested,
the interpreter and scouts were sent out to make another
reconnoissance. Going through just such precautions as before in
approaching the ridge, their slow progress kept us in painful
suspense; but when they got to the crest the strain on our nerves was
relieved by seeing them first stand up boldly at full height, and
then descend beyond. Quickly returning, they brought welcome word
that the whole thing was a mistake, and no Sioux were there at all.
What had been taken for a hundred Indian lodges turned out to be the
camp of a Government train on its way to Fort Stevenson, and the
officer in charge seeing the scouts before they discovered him, and
believing them to be Sioux, had sent out to bring his herds in. It
would be hard to exaggerate the relief that this discovery gave us,
and we all breathed much easier. The scare was a bad one, and I have
no hesitation in saying that, had we been mounted, it is more than
likely that, instead of showing fight, we would have taken up a
lively pace for Fort Stevenson.

After reciprocal explanations with the officer in charge of the
train, the march was resumed, and at the close of that day we camped
near a small lake about twenty miles from Fort Totten. From Totten
we journeyed on to Fort Abercrombie. The country between the two
posts is low and flat, and I verily believe was then the favorite
abiding-place of the mosquito, no matter where he most loves to dwell
now; for myriads of the pests rose up out of the tall rank grass
--more than I ever saw before or since--and viciously attacked both
men and animals. We ourselves were somewhat protected by gloves and
head-nets, provided us before leaving Totten, but notwithstanding these
our sufferings were well-nigh intolerable; the annoyance that the poor
mules experienced must, therefore, have been extreme; indeed, they were
so terribly stung that the blood fairly trickled down their sides.
Unluckily, we had to camp for one night in this region; but we partly
evaded the ravenous things by banking up our tent walls with earth, and
then, before turning in, sweeping and smoking out such as had got
inside. Yet with all this there seemed hundreds left to sing and sting
throughout the night. The mules being without protection, we tried
hard to save them from the vicious insects by creating a dense smoke
from a circle of smothered fires, within which chain the grateful
brutes gladly stood; but this relief was only partial, so the moment
there was light enough to enable us to hook up we pulled out for
Abercrombie in hot haste.

From Abercrombie we drove on to Saint Cloud, the terminus of the
railroad, where, considerably the worse for our hurried trip and
truly wretched experience with the mosquitoes, we boarded the welcome
cars. Two days later we arrived in Chicago, and having meanwhile
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 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:

"LONG BRANCH, N. J., July 25, 1870.

"Lieutenant-General P. H. Sheridan, of the United State Army, is
authorized to visit Europe, to return at his own pleasure, unless
otherwise ordered. He is commended to the good offices of all
representatives of this Government whom he may meet abroad.

"To citizens and representatives of other Governments I introduce
General Sheridan as one of the most skillful, brave and deserving
soldiers developed by the great struggle through which the United
States Government has just passed. Attention paid him will be duly
appreciated by the country he has served so faithfully and

"U. S. GRANT."

Word of my intended trip was cabled to Europe in the ordinary press
despatches, and our Minister to France, Mr. Elihu B. Washburn, 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. Washburn pursued the matter no
further. I did not learn of this kindly interest in my behalf till
after the capitulation of Paris, when Mr. Washburn told me what he
had done 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 27, one of my aides-de-camp, General
James W. Forsyth, going with me. We reached Liverpool August 6, 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 9 for Brussels, where we were kindly cared for by the
American Minister, Mr. Russell Jones who the same evening saw us off
for 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 a Cologne, and send us
down to the headquarter 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 Bingebruck, near Bingen, and thence across
through Saarbrucken to Remilly, where we left the railway and rode in
a hay-wagon to Pont-a-Mousson, arriving there August 17, 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 sentiment. 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 9 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 next day, and remarking that I had
not had sufficient time to provide the necessary transportation, he
told me to be ready at 4 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 staff-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 4 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 battle-field. 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-decamp 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 four stout horses--logy, ungainly animals, whose
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-a-Mousson to
Rezonville, which is on the direct road from Metz to Chalons, 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
Rezonville and Gravelotte, about the centre of the battlefield of
Mars-la-Tour, and from it most of the country to the east toward 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 Roon, 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 movements 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 Moselle, and this part of
the line was separated from the Germans by a ravine, the slopes,
fairly well wooded, rising quite sharply; farther north, near the
centre, this depression disappeared, merged in the general swell of
the ground, and thence on toward 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

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 command of General Von Steinmetz, the
victors, August 6, 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-la-Tour, by which Bazaine
was cut off from the Verdun road, and forced back toward 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 toward Chalons; then, as the purposes of the French might
be, developed, these corps were to change direction toward 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 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 the 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 ihe 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 staff, 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 shortcropped 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 flank;
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 mitrallleuses 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 Chassepot
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 Rezonville. 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 Chalons 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 Re'zonville, halting, however, to rebuke in the same
emphatic style every group of runaways he overtook.

Passing through Rezonville, 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 battle-field 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 right, it was not long before
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 was 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.
One 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), leveled
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 dare 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 practice
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 so 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 related in the preceding chapter, it had been
decided that the King's quarters should be established for the night
in the village of Rezonville; 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
shakedown 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 I 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 were 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 retreat 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 battlefield
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 we 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 Rezonville, there took the Count's carriage to
rejoin the King's headquarters, which in the mean time had been moved
to Pont-a-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-a-Mousson I was rejoined by my aide, General Forsyth, and for
the next 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 21,
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 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 inquiries 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,
traveling 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 been
already 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
next 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 opportunity to smooth them down was
permitted to go unimproved.

Bar-le-Duc, which had then a population of about 15,000, 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

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 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 Chalons road at 7 o'clock, but before we got off, the
order was suspended till 2 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 traveled 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 Chalons, 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 traveled further 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 Chalons 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 was writing--a couple of rough chairs, and the
universal feather-bed, 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. Notwithstanding 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 sudden movement northward from
Bar-le-Duc was, as I have previously recounted, the result of
information that Marshal MacMahon was endeavoring to relieve Metz by
marching along the Belgian frontier; "a blundering manoeuvre," remarked
the Chancellor, "which cannot be accounted for, unless it has been
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 8 o'clock, the skies having cleared, the headquarters set out for
Grand Pre', 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 manoeuvre of the French
at this time, their march along the Belgian frontier being credited
entirely to Napoleon. Up to bed-time 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 our
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 10 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
haltered the night before, while numbers of men were lying dead with
loaves of bread or other food instead of their muskets in their

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 night-fall 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 battle-field 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 Chemery, 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 9 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 being
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

It having been definitely ascertained that the demoralized French
were retiring to Sedan, on the evening of August 31 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 Crown 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 Corps, followed by
the Fifth and a division of cavalry, was to march on St. Menges.

Forsyth and I started early next morning, September 1, and in a thick
fog-which, however, 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 Frenois and
Wadelincourt, bordering the river Meuse on the left bank, where from
the crest we had a good view of the town of Sedan with its circling
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

The battle was begun to the east and northeast of Sedan as early as
half-past 4 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
10 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, at a little
after 6 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 re-forming 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 3 o'clock, the French being in a desperate and hopeless situation,
the King ordered the firing 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 off 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 Roon, 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 King 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 4 and 5 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 Roon, 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 Roon, 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
7 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
Count's 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 Chevenge. 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 Chevenge, 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, Count 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 heard, and looking toward the
sound, I perceived the Chancellor cantering down 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 Frenois, and stands about twenty
paces back from the highway. In front is a stone wall covered with
creeping vines, and from a gate in this wall runs to the front door a
path, at this 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 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 manners, not my words, for these
we're, 'I salute your Majesty just as I would my 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

Before we set out, however, a number of officers of the King's suite
arrived at the weaver's cottage, and 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 could 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 Chateau Bellevue and

Napoleon went directly from the weaver's to the Chateau Bellevue, and
about 10 o'clock the King of Prussia arrived from Frenois,
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

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 by one of his orderlies, following him about as he walked
along. Meantime the King, leaving Napoleon in the chateau 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.



The Crown Prince having got to the bottom of his medal basket-that is
to say, having finished his liberal distribution of decorations to
his officers--Forsyth and I rode off by way of Wadelincourt to
Bazeilles to see what had taken place on that part of the field, and
the sight that met our eyes as we entered the village was truly
dreadful to look upon. Most of the houses had been knocked down or
burned the day before, but such as had been left standing were now in
flames, the torch having been applied because, as it was claimed,
Frenchmen concealed in them had fired on the wounded. The streets
were still encumbered with both German and French dead, and it was
evident that of those killed in the houses the bodies had not been
removed, for the air was loaded with odors of burning flesh. From
Bazeille we rode on toward the north about two miles, along where the
fight had been largely an artillery duel, to learn what we could of
the effectiveness of the Krupp gun. Counting all the French dead we
came across killed by artillery, they figured up about three hundred
--a ridiculously small number; in fact, not much more than one dead
man for each Krupp gun on that part of the line. Although the number
of dead was in utter disproportion to the terrific six-hour
cannonade, yet small as it was the torn and mangled bodies made such
a horrible sight that we turned back toward Bazeilles without having
gone further than Givonne.

At Bazeilles we met the King, accompanied by Bismarck and several of
the staff. They too had been riding over the field, the King making
this a practice, to see that the wounded were not neglected. As I
drew up by the party, Bismarck accosted me with, "Well, General,
aren't you hungry? This is just the place to whet one's appetite
--these burning Frenchmen--Ugh!" and shrugging his shoulders in evident
disgust, he turned away to join his Majesty in further explorations,
Forsyth and I continuing on to Chevenges. Here we got the first
inkling of what had become of our carriage since leaving it two days
before: it had been pressed into service to carry wounded officers from
the field during the battle, but afterward released, and was now safe
at the house in Vendresse where we had been quartered the night of the
31st, so, on hearing this, we settled to go there again to lodge, but
our good friend, the cure', insisting that we should stay with him, we
remained in Chevenges till next morning.

On September 3 the King removed from Vendresse to Rethel, where he
remained two days; in the mean while the Germans, 240,000 strong,
beginning their direct march to Paris. The French had little with
which to oppose this enormous force, not more, perhaps, than 50,000
regular troops; the rest of their splendid army had been lost or
captured in battle, or was cooped up in the fortifications of Metz,
Strasburg, and other places, in consequence of blunders without
parallel in history, for which Napoleon and the Regency in Paris must
be held accountable. The first of these gross faults was the fight
at Worth, where MacMahon, before his army was mobilized, accepted
battle with the Crown Prince, pitting 50,000 men against 175,000; the
next was Bazaine's fixing upon Metz as his base, and stupidly putting
himself in position to be driven back to it, when there was no
possible obstacle to his joining forces with MacMahon at Chalons;
while the third and greatest blunder of all was MacMahon's move to
relieve Metz, trying to slip 140,000 men along the Belgian frontier.
Indeed, it is exasperating and sickening to think of all this; to
think that Bazaine carried into Metz--a place that should have been
held, if at all, with not over 25,000 men--an army of 180,000,
because it contained, the excuse was, "an accumulation of stores."
With all the resources of rich France to draw upon, I cannot conceive
that this excuse was sincere; on the contrary, I think that the
movement of Bazaine must have been inspired by Napoleon with a view
to the maintenance of his dynasty rather than for the good of France.

As previously stated, Bismarck did not approve of the German army's
moving on Paris after the battle of Sedan. Indeed, I think he
foresaw and dreaded the establishment of a Republic, his idea being
that if peace was made then, the Empire could be continued in the
person of the Prince Imperial who--, coming to the throne under
German influences, would be pliable in his hands. These views found
frequent expression in private, and in public too; I myself
particularly remember the Chancellor's speaking thus most unguardedly
at a dinner in Rheims. But he could not prevent the march to Paris;
it was impossible to stop the Germans, flushed with success. "On to
Paris" was written by the soldiers on every door, and every
fence-board along the route to the capital, and the thought of a
triumphant march down the Champs Elysees was uppermost with every
German, from the highest to the lowest grade.

The 5th of September we set out for Rheims. There it was said the
Germans would meet with strong resistance, for the French intended to
die to the last man before giving up that city. But this proved all
fudge, as is usual with these "last ditch" promises, the garrison
decamping immediately at the approach of a few Uhlans. So far as I
could learn, but a single casualty happened; this occurred to an
Uhlan, wounded by a shot which it was reported was fired from a house
after the town was taken; so, to punish this breach of faith, a levy
of several hundred bottles of champagne was made, and the wine
divided about headquarters, being the only seizure made in the city,
I believe, for though Rheims, the centre of the champagne district,
had its cellars well stocked, yet most of them being owned by German
firms, they received every protection.

The land about Rheims is of a white, chalky character, and very poor,
but having been terraced and enriched with fertilizers, it produces
the champagne grape in such abundance that the region, once
considered valueless, and named by the peasantry the "land of the
louse," now supports a dense population. We remained in Rheims eight
days, and through the politeness of the American Consul--Mr. Adolph
Gill--had the pleasure of seeing all the famous wine cellars, and
inspecting the processes followed in champagne making, from the step
of pressing the juice from the grape to that which shows the wine
ready for the market. Mr. Gill also took us to see everything else
of special interest about the city, and there being much to look at

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