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The Memoirs of General P. H. Sheridan, Complete by General Philip Henry Sheridan

Part 10 out of 10

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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
--fine old churches, ancient fortifications, a Roman gateway, etc.
--the days slipped by very quickly, though the incessant rains
somewhat interfered with our enjoyment.

For three or four days all sorts of rumors were rife as to what was
doing in Paris, but nothing definite was learned till about the 9th;
then Count Bismarck informed me that the Regency had been overthrown
on the 4th, and that the Empress Eugenie had escaped to Belgium. The
King of Prussia offered her an asylum with the Emperor at
Wilhelmshohe, "where she ought to go," said the Chancellor, "for her
proper place is with her husband," but he feared she would not. On
the same occasion he also told me that Jules Favre--the head of the
Provisional Government--had sent him the suggestion that, the Empire
being gone, peace should be made and the Germans withdrawn, but that
he (Bismarck) was now compelled to recognize the impossibility of
doing this till Paris was taken, for although immediately after the
surrender of Sedan he desired peace, the past few days had made it
plain that the troops would not be satisfied with anything short of
Paris, no matter what form of Government the French should ultimately

The German army having met with no resistance whatever in its march
on Paris, its advance approached the capital rapidly, and by the 14th
of September the royal headquarters moved by a fine macadamized road
to the Chateau Thierry, and on the 5th reached Meaux, about
twenty-eight miles from Paris, where we remained four days awaiting the
reconstruction of some railroad and canal bridges. The town of Meaux
has a busy population of about 10,000 souls, in peaceable times
principally occupied in manufacturing flour for the Paris market,
having a fine waterpower for the many mills. These were kept going day
and night to supply the German army; and it was strange to see with
what zeal Frenchmen toiled to fill the stomachs of their inveterate
enemies, and with what alacrity the mayor and other officials filled
requisitions for wine, cheese, suits of livery, riding-whips, and even
squab pigeons.

During our stay at Meaux the British Minister Lord Lyons, endeavored
to bring about a cessation of hostilities, to this end sending his
secretary out from Paris with a letter to Count Bismarck, offering to
serve as mediator. The Chancellor would not agree to this, however,
for he conjectured that the action of the British Minister had been
inspired by Jules Favre, who, he thought, was trying to draw the
Germans into negotiations through the medium of a third party only
for purposes of delay. So the next morning Lord Lyons's secretary,
Mr. Edward Malet, returned to Paris empty-handed, except that he bore
a communication positively declining mediation; which message,
however, led no doubt to an interview between Bismarck and Favre a
couple of days later.

The forenoon of September 19 the King removed to the Chateau
Ferrieres--a castle belonging to the Rothschild family, where
Napoleon had spent many happy days in the time of his prosperity.
His Majesty took up his quarters here at the suggestion of the owner,
we were told, so that by the presence of the King the magnificent
chateau and its treasures of art would be unquestionably protected
from all acts of vandalism.

All of the people at headquarters except the King's immediate suite
were assigned quarters at Lagny; and while Forsyth and I, accompanied
by Sir Henry Havelock, of the British army, were driving thither, we
passed on the road the representative of the National Defense
Government, Jules Favre, in a carriage heading toward Meaux.
Preceded by a flag of truce and accompanied by a single, companion,
be was searching for Count Bismarck, in conformity, doubtless, with
the message the Chancellor had sent to Paris on the 17th by the
British secretary. A half-mile further on we met Bismarck. He too
was traveling toward Meaux, not in the best of humor either, it
appeared, for having missed finding the French envoy at the
rendezvous where they had agreed to meet, he stopped long enough to
say that the "air was full of lies, and that there were many persons
with the army bent on business that did not concern them."

The armies of the two Crown Princes were now at the outskirts of
Paris. They had come from Sedan mainly by two routes--the Crown
Prince of Saxony marching by the northern line, through Laon and
Soissons, and the Crown Prince of Prussia by the southern line,
keeping his right wing on the north bank of the Marne, while his left
and centre approached the French capital by roads between that river
and the Seine.

The march of these armies had been unobstructed by any resistance
worth mentioning, and as the routes of both columns lay through a
region teeming with everything necessary for their support, and rich
even in luxuries, it struck me that such campaigning was more a vast
picnic than like actual war. The country supplied at all points
bread, meat, and wine in abundance, and the neat villages, never more
than a mile or two apart, always furnished shelter; hence the
enormous trains required to feed and provide camp equipage for an
army operating in a sparsely settled country were dispensed with; in
truth, about the only impedimenta of the Germans was their wagons
carrying ammunition, pontoon-boats, and the field-telegraph.

On the morning of the 20th I started out accompanied by Forsyth and
Sir Henry Havelock, and took the road through Boissy St. George,
Boissy St. Martins and Noisy Le Grand to Brie. Almost every foot of
the way was strewn with fragments of glass from wine bottles, emptied
and then broken by the troops. There was, indeed, so much of this
that I refrain from making any estimate of the number of bottles,
lest I be thought to exaggerate, but the road was literally paved
with glass, and the amount of wine consumed (none was wasted) must
have been enormous, far more, even, than I had seen evidence of at
any time before. There were two almost continuous lines of broken
bottles along the roadsides all the way down from Sedan; but that
exhibit was small compared with what we saw about Brie.

At Brie we were taken charge of by the German commandant of the
place. He entertained us most hospitably for an hour or so, and
then, accompanied by a lieutenant, who was to be our guide, I set out
ahead of my companions to gain a point on the picket-line where I
expected to get a good look at the French, for their rifle-pits were
but a few hundred yards off across the Marne, their main line being
just behind the rifle-pits. As the lieutenant and I rode through the
village, some soldiers warned us that the adventure would be
dangerous, but that we could probably get to the desired place unhurt
if we avoided the French fire by forcing our horses to a run in
crossing some open streets where we would be exposed. On getting to
the first street my guide galloped ahead to show the way, and as the
French were not on the lookout for anything of the kind at these
dangerous points, only a few stray shots were drawn by the
lieutenant, but when I followed, they were fully up to what was going
on, and let fly a volley every time they saw me in the open.
Fortunately, however, in their excitement they overshot, but when I
drew rein alongside of my guide under protection of the bluff where
the German picket was posted, my hair was all on end, and I was about
as badly scared as ever I had been in my life. As soon as I could
recover myself I thought of Havelock and Forsyth, with the hope that
they would not follow; nor did they, for having witnessed my
experience, they wisely concluded that, after all, they did not care
so much to see the French rifle-pits.

When I had climbed to the top of the bluff I was much disappointed,
for I could see but little--only the advanced rifle-pits across the
river, and Fort Nogent beyond them, not enough, certainly, to repay a
non-combatant for taking the risk of being killed. The next question
was to return, and deciding to take no more such chances as those we
had run in coming out, I said we would wait till dark, but this
proved unnecessary, for to my utter astonishment my guide informed me
that there was a perfectly safe route by which we might go back. I
asked why we had not taken it in coming, and he replied that he had
thought it "too long and circuitous." To this I could say nothing,
but I concluded that that was not quite the correct reason; the truth
is that early that morning the young fellow had been helping to empty
some of the many wine bottles I saw around Brie, and consequently had
a little more "Dutch courage"--was a little more rash--than would
have been the case under other conditions.

I rode back to Brie by the "long and circuitous" route, and inquiring
there for my companions, found Havelock waiting to conduct me to the
village of Villiers, whither, he said, Forsyth had been called to
make some explanation about his passport, which did not appear to be
in satisfactory shape. Accordingly we started for Villiers, and
Havelock, being well mounted on an English "hunter," and wishing to
give me an exhibition of the animal's training and power, led the way
across ditches and fences, but my horse, never having followed "the
hounds," was unsafe to experiment with, so, after trying a low fence
or two, I decided to leave my friend alone in his diversion, and a
few moments later, seeing both horse and rider go down before a ditch
and high stone wall, I was convinced that my resolution was a
discreet one. After this mishap, which luckily resulted in no harm,
I hoped Sir Henry would give up the amusement, but by failure
becoming only the more determined, in a second effort he cleared the
wall handsomely and rode across-country to the villages. Following
the road till it passed under a railway bridge, I there thought I saw
a chance to gain Villiers by a short-cut, and changing my course
accordingly, I struck into a large vineyard to the left, and
proceeding a few hundred yards through the vines, came suddenly upon
a German picket-post. The guard immediately leveled their rifles at
me, when, remembering my Rezonville experience of being taken for a
French officer because of my uniform, I hastily flung myself from the
saddle in token of surrender. The action being rightly interpreted,
the men held their fire, and as my next thought was the King's pass I
reached under my coat-skirt for the document, but this motion being
taken as a grab for my pistol, the whole lot of them--some ten in
number--again aimed at me, and with such loud demands for surrender
that I threw up my hands and ran into their ranks. The officer of
the guard then coming up, examined my credentials, and seeing that
they were signed by the King of Prussia, released me and directed the
recovery of my horse, which was soon caught, and I was then conducted
to the quarters of the commandant, where I found Forsyth with his
pass properly vised, entirely ignorant of my troubles, and
contentedly regaling himself on cheese and beer. Havelock having got
to the village ahead of me, thanks to his cross-country ride, was
there too, sipping beer with Forsyth; nor was I slow to follow their
example, for the ride of the day, though rather barren in other
results, at any rate had given me a ravenous appetite.

Late that evening, the 20th, we resumed our old quarters at Lagny,
and early next day I made a visit to the royal headquarters at
Ferrires, where I observed great rejoicing going on, the occasion for
it being an important victory gained near Mendon, a French corps of
about 30,000 men under General Ducrot having been beaten by the Fifth
Prussian and Second Bavarian corps. Ducrot had been stubbornly
holding ground near Mendon for two or three days, much to the
embarrassment of the Germans too, since he kept them from closing a
gap in their line to the southwest of Paris; but in the recent fight
he had been driven from the field with such heavy loss as to render
impossible his maintaining the gap longer. The Crown Prince of
Prussia was thus enabled to extend his left, without danger, as far
as Bougival, north of Versailles, and eventually met the right of the
Crown Prince of Saxony, already at Denil, north of St. Denis. The
unbroken circle of investment around Paris being well-nigh assured,
news of its complete accomplishment was momentarily expected;
therefore everybody was jubilant on account of the breaking up of
Ducrot, but more particularly because word had been received the same
morning that a correspondence had begun between Bazaine and Prince
Frederick Charles, looking to the capitulation of Metz, for the
surrender of that place would permit the Second Army to join in the
siege of Paris.

Learning all this, and seeing that the investment was about
completed, I decided to take up my quarters at Versailles, and
started for that place on the 22d, halting at Noisy le Grand to take
luncheon with some artillery officers, whose acquaintance we had made
the day of the surrender at Sedan. During the meal I noticed two
American flags flying on a couple of houses near by. Inquiring the
significance of this, I was told that the flags had been put up to
protect the buildings--the owners, two American citizens, having in a
bad fright abandoned their property, and, instead of remaining
outside, gone into Paris,--"very foolishly," said our hospitable
friends, "for here they could have obtained food in plenty, and been
perfectly secure from molestation."

We arrived at Versailles about 7 o'clock that evening and settled
ourselves in the Hotel Reservoir, happy to find there two or three
American families, with whom, of course, we quickly made
acquaintance. This American circle was enlarged a few days later by
the arrival of General Wm. B. Hazen, of our army, General Ambrose E.
Burnside, and Mr. Paul Forbes. Burnside and Forbes were hot to see,
from the French side, something of the war, and being almost beside
themselves to get into Paris, a permit was granted them by Count
Bismarck, and they set out by way of Sevres, Forsyth and I
accompanying them as far as the Palace of St. Cloud, which we,
proposed to see, though there were strict orders against its being
visited generally. After much trouble we managed, through the "open
sesame" of the King's pass, to gain access to the palace; but to our
great disappointment we found that all the pictures had been cut from
the frames and carried off to Paris, except one portrait, that of
Queen Victoria, against whom the French were much incensed. All
other works of art had been removed, too--a most fortunate
circumstance, for the palace being directly on the German line, was
raked by the guns from the fortress of Mont Valerien, and in a few
days burned to the ground.

In less than a week Burnside and Forbes returned from Paris. They
told us their experience had been interesting, but were very reticent
as to particulars, and though we tried hard to find out what they had
seen or done, we could get nothing from them beyond the general
statement that they had had a good time, and that General Trochu had
been considerate enough to postpone a sortie, in order to let them
return; but this we did not quite swallow. After a day or two they
went into Paris again, and I then began to suspect that they were
essaying the role of mediators, and that Count Bismarck was feeding
their vanity with permits, and receiving his equivalent by learning
the state of affairs within the beleaguered city.

From about the 1st of October on, the Germans were engaged in making
their enveloping lines impenetrable, bringing up their reserves,
siege guns, and the like, the French meanwhile continuing to drill
and discipline the National Guard and relieving the monotony
occasionally by a more or less spirited, but invariably abortive,
sortie. The most notable of these was that made by General Vinoy
against the heights of Clamart, the result being a disastrous repulse
by the besiegers. After this, matters settled down to an almost
uninterrupted quietude, only a skirmish here and there; and it being
plain that the Germans did not intend to assault the capital, but
would accomplish its capture by starvation, I concluded to find out
from Count Bismarck about when the end was expected, with the purpose
of spending the interim in a little tour through some portions of
Europe undisturbed by war, returning in season for the capitulation.
Count Bismarck having kindly advised me as to the possible date,

Forsyth and I, on the 14th of October, left Versailles, going first
direct to the Chateau Ferrieres to pay our respects to the King,
which we did, and again took luncheon with him. From the chateau we
drove to Meaux, and there spent the night; resuming our journey next
morning, we passed through Epernay, Rheims, and Rethel to Sedan,
where we tarried a day, and finally, on October 18, reached Brussels.



On reaching Brussels, one of the first things to do was to pay my
respects to the King of Belgium, which I did, accompanied by our
Minister, Mr. Russell Jones. Later I dined with the King and Queen,
meeting at the dinner many notable people, among them the Count and
Countess of Flanders. A day or two in Brussels sufficed to mature
our plans for spending the time up to the approximate date of our
return to Paris; and deciding to visit eastern Europe, we made Vienna
our first objective, going there by way of Dresden.

At Vienna our Minister, Mr. John Jay, took charge of us--Forsyth was
still with me--and the few days' sojourn was full of interest. The
Emperor being absent from the capital, we missed seeing him; but the
Prime Minister, Count von Beust, was very polite to us, and at his
house we had the pleasure of meeting at dinner Count Andrassy, the
Prime Minister of Hungary.

From Vienna we went to Buda-Pesth, the Hungarian capital; and thence,
in a I small, crowded, and uncomfortable steamboat, down the Danube
to Rustchuck, whence we visited Bucharest--all who travel in eastern
Europe do so--and then directing our course southward, we went first
to Varna, and from that city by steamer through the Black Sea to

We reached the Turkish capital at the time of Ramadan, the period of
the year (about a month) during which the Mohammedans are commanded
by the Koran to keep a rigorous fast every day from sunrise till
sunset. All the followers of the Prophet were therefore busy with
their devotions--holding a revival, as it were; hence there was no
chance whatever to be presented to the Sultan, Abdul Aziz, it being
forbidden during the penitential season for him to receive
unbelievers, or in fact any one except the officials of his
household. However, the Grand Vizier brought me many messages of
welcome, and arranged that I should be permitted to see and salute
his Serene Highness on the Esplanade as he rode by on horseback to
the mosque.

So, the second day after arrival, the Grand Vizier drove me in a
barouche to the Esplanade, where we took station about midway of its
length an hour or so before the Sultan was to appear. Shortly after
we reached the Esplanade, carriages occupied by the women of the
Sultan's harem began to appear, coming out from the palace grounds
and driving up and down the roadway. Only a few of the women were
closely veiled, a majority of them wearing an apology for veiling,
merely a strip of white lace covering the forehead down to the
eyebrows. Some were yellow, and some white-types of the Mongolian
and Caucasian races. Now and then a pretty face was seen, rarely a
beautiful one. Many were plump, even to corpulence, and these were
the closest veiled, being considered the greatest beauties I presume,
since with the Turk obesity is the chief element of comeliness. As
the carriages passed along in review, every now and then an occupant,
unable or unwilling to repress her natural promptings, would indulge
in a mild flirtation, making overtures by casting demure
side-glances, throwing us coquettish kisses, or waving strings of amber
beads with significant gestures, seeming to say: "Why don't you
follow?" But this we could not do if we would, for the Esplanade
throughout its entire length was lined with soldiers, put there
especially to guard the harem first, and later, the Sultan on his
pilgrimage to the mosque.

But as it was now time for His Serene Highness to make his appearance
the carriages containing his wives drove off into the palace grounds,
which were inclosed by a high wall, leaving the Esplanade wholly
unencumbered except by the soldiers. Down between the two ranks,
which were formed facing each other, came the Sultan on a white
steed--a beautiful Arabian--and having at his side his son, a boy
about ten or twelve years old, who was riding a pony, a diminutive
copy of his father's mount, the two attended by a numerous
body-guard, dressed in gorgeous Oriental uniforms. As the procession
passed our carriage, I, as pre-arranged, stood up and took off my
hat, His Serene Highness promptly acknowledging the salute by raising
his hand to the forehead. This was all I saw of him, yet I received
every kindness at his hands, being permitted to see many of his
troops, to inspect all the ordnance, equipment, and other military
establishments about Constantinople, and to meet numbers of the high
functionaries of the Empire.

Among other compliments tendered through his direction, and which I
gladly accepted, was a review of all the troops then in Stamboul
--about 6,000--comprising infantry, cavalry, and artillery.

They were as fine looking a body of soldiers as I ever saw--well
armed and well clothed, the men all large and of sturdy appearance.

After the review we attended a grand military dinner given by the
Grand Vizier. At the hour set for this banquet we presented
ourselves at the palace of the Grand Vizier, and being ushered into a
large drawing-room, found already assembled there the guests invited
to meet us. Some few spoke French, and with these we managed to
exchange an occasional remark; but as the greater number stood about
in silence, the affair, thus far, was undeniably a little stiff.
Just before the dinner was announced, all the Turkish officers went
into an adjoining room, and turning their faces to the east,
prostrated themselves to the floor in prayer. Then we were all
conducted to a large salon, where each being provided with a silver
ewer and basin, a little ball of highly perfumed soap and a napkin,
set out on small tables, each guest washed his hands. Adjacent to
this salon was the dining-room, or, rather, the banqueting room, a
very large and artistically frescoed hall, in the centre of which
stood a crescent-shaped table, lighted with beautiful silver
candelabra, and tastefully decorated with flowers and fruits. The
viands were all excellent; cooked, evidently, by a French chef, and
full justice was done the dishes, especially by the Turks, who, of
course, had been fasting all day.

At the close of the banquet, which consisted of not less than fifteen
courses, we withdrew to a smoking-room, where the coffee was served
and cigarettes and chibouks offered us--the latter a pipe having a
long flexible stem with an amber mouthpiece. I chose the chibouk,
and as the stem of mine was studded with precious stones of enormous
value, I thought I should enjoy it the more; but the tobacco being
highly flavored with some sort of herbs, my smoke fell far short of
my anticipations. The coffee was delicious, however, and I found
this to be the case wherever I went in Constantinople, whether in
making calls or at dinner, the custom of offering coffee and tobacco
on these occasions being universal.

The temptations to linger at Constantinople were many indeed, not the
least being the delightful climate; and as time pressed, we set out
with much regret on the return journey, stopping a few days at
Athens, whence we made several short excursions into the interior.
King George and Queen Olga made our stay in Athens one of extreme
interest and exceeding pleasure. Throwing aside all ceremony, they
breakfasted and dined us informally, gave us a fine ball, and in
addition to these hospitalities showed us much personal attention,
his Majesty even calling upon me, and the Queen sending her children
to see us at our hotel.

Of course we visited all that remained of the city's ancient
civilization--the Acropolis, temples, baths, towers, and the like;
nor did we omit to view the spot where St. Paul once instructed the
Athenians in lessons of Christianity. We traveled some little
through the country districts outside of Athens, and I noticed that
the peasantry, in point of picturesqueness of dress and color of
complexion, were not unlike the gypsies we see at times in America.
They had also much of the same shrewdness, and, as far as I could
learn, were generally wholly uneducated, ignorant, indeed, except as
to one subject--politics--which I was told came to them intuitively,
they taking to it, and a scramble for office, as naturally as a duck
to water. In fact, this common faculty for politics seems a
connecting link between the ancient and modern Greek.

Leaving Athens with the pleasantest recollections, we sailed for
Messina, Sicily, and from there went to Naples, where we found many
old friends; among them Mr. Buchanan Reed, the artist and poet, and
Miss Brewster, as well as a score or more of others of our
countrymen, then or since distinguished, in art and letters at home
and abroad. We remained some days in Naples, and during the time
went to Pompeii to witness a special excavation among the ruins of
the buried city, which search was instituted on account of our visit.
A number of ancient household articles were dug up, and one, a terra
cotta lamp bearing upon its crown in bas-relief the legend of "Leda
and the Swan," was presented to me as a souvenir of the occasion,
though it is usual for the Government to place in its museums
everything of such value that is unearthed.

From Naples to Rome by rail was our next journey. In the Eternal
City we saw picture-galleries, churches, and ruins in plenty, but all
these have been so well described by hundreds of other travelers that
I shall not linger even to name them. While at Rome we also
witnessed an overflow of the Tiber, that caused great suffering and
destroyed much property. The next stage of our tour took us to
Venice, then to Florence--the capital of Italy--for although the
troops of the King of Italy had taken possession of Rome the
preceding September, the Government itself had not yet removed

At Florence, our Minister, Mr. Marsh, though suffering with a lame
foot, took me in charge, and in due course of time I was presented to
King Victor-Emmanuel. His Majesty received me informally at his
palace in a small, stuffy room--his office, no doubt--and an untidy
one it was too. He wore a loose blouse and very baggy trousers; a
comfortable suit, certainly, but not at all conducing to an ideal
kingliness of appearance.

His Majesty's hobby was hunting, and no sooner had I made my bow than
he began a conversation on that subject, thrusting his hands nearly
up to the elbows into the pockets of his trousers. He desired to
learn about the large game of America, particularly the buffalo, and
when I spoke of the herds of thousands and thousands I had seen on
the plains of western Kansas, he interrupted me to bemoan the fate
which kept him from visiting America to hunt, even going so far as to
say that "he didn't wish to be King of Italy, anyhow, but would much
prefer to pass his days hunting than be bedeviled with the cares of
state." On one of his estates, near Pisa, he had several large herds
of deer, many wild boars, and a great deal of other game. Of this
preserve he was very proud, and before we separated invited me to go
down there to shoot deer, adding that he would be there himself if he
could, but feared that a trip which he had to take to Milan would
interfere, though he wished me to go in any event.

I gladly accepted the invitation, and in two or three days was
notified when I would be expected at the estate. At the designated
time I was escorted to Pisa by an aide-de-camp, and from there we
drove the few miles to the King's chateau, where we fortified
ourselves for the work in hand by an elaborate and toothsome
breakfast of about ten courses. Then in a carriage we set out for
the King's stand in the hunting-grounds, accompanied by a crowd of
mounted game-keepers, who with great difficulty controlled the pack
of sixty or seventy hounds, the dogs and keepers together almost
driving me to distraction with their yelping and yelling. On
reaching the stand, I was posted within about twenty' yards of a
long, high picket-fence, facing the fence and covered by two trees
very close together. It was from behind these that the King usually
shot, and as I was provided with a double-barreled shot-gun, I
thought I could do well, especially since close in rear of me stood
two game-keepers to load and hand me a second gun when the first was

Meantime the huntsmen and the hounds had made a circuit of the park
to drive up the game. The yelps of the hounds drawing near, I
cautiously looked in the direction of the sound, and the next moment
saw a herd of deer close in to the fence, and coming down at full
speed. Without a miss, I shot the four leading ones as they tried
to run the gauntlet, for in passing between the stand and the fence,
the innocent creatures were not more than ten to fifteen paces from
me. At the fourth I stopped, but the gamekeepers insisted on more
butchery, saying, "No one but the King ever did the like" (I guess no
one else had ever had the chance), so, thus urged, I continued firing
till I had slaughtered eleven with eleven shots--an easy task with a
shot-gun and buckshot cartridges.

The "hunt" being ended--for with this I had had enough, and no one
else was permitted to do any shooting--the aide-decamp directed the
game to be sent to me in Florence, and we started for the chateau.
On the way back I saw a wild boar the first and only one I ever saw
--my attention being drawn to him by cries from some of the
game-keepers. There was much commotion, the men pointing out the game
and shouting excitedly, "See the wild boar!" otherwise I should not
have known what was up, but now, looking in the indicated direction, I
saw scudding over the plain what appeared to me to be nothing but a
halfgrown black pig, or shoat. He was not in much of a hurry either,
and gave no evidence of ferocity, yet it is said that this
insignificant looking animal is dangerous when hunted with the spear
--the customary way. After an early dinner at the chateau we returned
to Florence, and my venison next day arriving, it was distributed among
my American friends in the city.

Shortly after the hunt the King returned from Milan, and then honored
me with a military dinner, his Majesty and all the guests, numbering
eighty, appearing in full uniform. The banqueting hall was lighted
with hundreds of wax candles, there was a profusion of beautiful
flowers, and to me the scene altogether was one of unusual
magnificence. The table service was entirely of gold--the celebrated
set of the house of Savoy--and behind the chair of each guest stood a
servant in powdered wig and gorgeous livery of red plush. I sat at
the right of the King, who--his hands resting on his sword, the hilt
of which glittered with jewels--sat through the hour and a half at
table without once tasting food or drink, for it was his rule to eat
but two meals in twenty-four hours--breakfast at noon, and dinner at
midnight. The King remained silent most of the time, but when he did
speak, no matter on what subject, he inevitably drifted back to
hunting. He never once referred to the Franco-Prussian war, nor to
the political situation in his own country, then passing through a
crisis. In taking leave of his Majesty I thanked him with deep
gratitude for honoring me so highly, and his response was that if
ever he came to America to hunt buffalo, he should demand my

From Florence I went to Milan and Geneva, then to Nice, Marseilles,
and Bordeaux. Assembled at Bordeaux was a convention which had been
called together by the government of the National Defense for the
purpose of confirming or rejecting the terms of an armistice of
twenty-one days, arranged between Jules Favre and Count Bismarck in
negotiations begun at Versailles the latter part of January. The
convention was a large body, chosen from all parts of France, and was
unquestionably the most noisy, unruly and unreasonable set of beings
that I ever saw in a legislative assembly. The frequent efforts of
Thiers, Jules Favre, and other leading men to restrain the more
impetuous were of little avail. When at the sittings a delegate
arose to speak on some question, he was often violently pulled to his
seat and then surrounded by a mob of his colleagues, who would throw
off their coats and gesticulate wildly, as though about to fight.

But the bitter pill of defeat had to be swallowed in some way, so the
convention delegated M. Thiers to represent the executive power of
the country, with authority to construct a ministry three
commissioners were appointed by the Executive, to enter into further
negotiations with Count Bismarck at Versailles and arrange a peace,
the terms of which, however, were to be submitted to the convention
for final action. Though there had been so much discussion, it took
but a few days to draw up and sign a treaty at Versailles, the
principal negotiators being Thiers and Jules Favre for France, and
Bismarck on the part of the Germans. The terms agreed upon provided
for the occupation of Paris till ratification should be had by the
convention at Bordeaux; learning of which stipulation from our
Minister, Mr. Washburn, I hurried off to Paris to see the conquerors
make their triumphal entry.

In the city the excitement was at fever heat, of course; the entire
population protesting with one voice that they would never, never
look upon the hated Germans marching through their beloved city. No!
when the day arrived they would hide themselves in their houses, or
shut their eyes to such a hateful sight. But by the 1st of March a
change had come over the fickle Parisians, for at an early hour the
sidewalks were jammed with people, and the windows and doors of the
houses filled with men, women, and children eager to get a look at
the conquerors. Only a few came in the morning, however--an
advance-guard of perhaps a thousand cavalry and infantry. The main
column marched from the Arc-de-Triomphe toward the middle of the
afternoon. In its composition it represented United Germany--Saxons,
Bavarians, and the Royal Guard of Prussia--and, to the strains of
martial music, moving down the Champ Elysees to the Place de la
Concorde, was distributed thence over certain sections of the city
agreed upon beforehand. Nothing that could be called a disturbance
took place during the march; and though there was a hiss now and then
and murmurings of discontent, yet the most noteworthy mutterings were
directed against the defunct Empire. Indeed, I found everywhere that
the national misfortunes were laid at Napoleon's door--he, by this
time, having become a scapegoat for every blunder of the war.

The Emperor William (he had been proclaimed German Emperor at
Versailles the 18th of January) did not accompany his troops into
Paris, though he reviewed them at Long Champs before they started.
After the occupation of the city he still remained at Versailles, and
as soon as circumstances would permit, I repaired to the Imperial
headquarters to pay my respects to his Majesty under his new title
and dignities, and to say good-bye.

Besides the Emperor, the only persons I me at Versailles were General
von Moltke and Bismarck. His Majesty was in a very agreeable frame
of mind, and as bluff and hearty as usual. His increased rank and
power had effected no noticeable change of any kind in him, and by
his genial and cordial ways he made me think that my presence with
the German army had contributed to his pleasure. Whether this was
really so or not, I shall always believe it true, for his kind words
and sincere manner could leave no other conclusion.

General von Moltke was, as usual, quiet and reserved, betraying not
the slightest consciousness of his great ability, nor the least
indication of pride on account of his mighty work. I say this
advisedly, for it is an undoubted fact that it was his marvelous
mind that perfected the military system by which 800,000 men were
mobilized with unparalleled celerity and moved with such certainty of
combination that, in a campaign of seven months, the military power
of France was destroyed and her vast resources sorely crippled.

I said good-bye to Count Bismarck, also, for at that busy time the
chances of seeing him again were very remote. The great Chancellor
manifested more joy over the success of the Germans than did anyone
else at the Imperial headquarters. Along with his towering strength
of mind and body, his character partook of much of the enthusiasm and
impulsiveness commonly restricted to younger men, and now in his
frank, free way be plainly showed his light-heartedness and
gratification at success. That which for years his genius had been
planning and striving for--permanent unification of the German
States, had been accomplished by the war. It had welded them
together in a compact Empire which no power in Europe could disrupt,
and as such a union was the aim of Bismarck's life, he surely had a
right to feel jubilant.

Thanks to the courtesies extended me, I had been able to observe the
principal battles, and study many of the minor details of a war
between two of the greatest military nations of the world, and to
examine critically the methods followed abroad for subsisting,
equipping, and manoeuvring vast bodies of men during a stupendous,
campaign. Of course I found a great deal to interest and instruct
me, yet nowadays war is pretty much the same everywhere, and this one
offered no marked exception to my previous experiences. The methods
pursued on the march were the same as we would employ, with one most
important exception. Owing to the density of population throughout
France it was always practicable for the Germans to quarter their
troops in villages, requiring the inhabitants to subsist both
officers and men. Hence there was no necessity for camp and garrison
equipage, nor enormous provision trains, and the armies were
unencumbered by these impedimenta, indispensable when operating in a
poor and sparsely settled country. As I have said before, the only
trains were those for ammunition, pontoon-boats, and the field
telegraph, and all these were managed by special corps. If
transportation was needed for other purposes, it was obtained by
requisition from the invaded country, just as food and forage were
secured. Great celerity of combination was therefore possible, the
columns moving in compact order, and as all the roads were broad and
macadamized, there was little or nothing to delay or obstruct the
march of the Germans, except when their enemy offered resistance, but
even this was generally slight and not very frequent, for the French
were discouraged by disaster from the very outset of the campaign

The earlier advantages gained by the Germans may be ascribed to the
strikingly prompt mobilization of their armies, one of the most
noticeable features of their perfect military system, devised by
almost autocratic power; their later successes were greatly aided by
the blunders of the French, whose stupendous errors materially
shortened the war, though even if prolonged it could, in my opinion,
have had ultimately no other termination.

As I have previously stated, the first of these blunders was the
acceptance of battle by MacMahon at Worth; the second in attaching
too much importance to the fortified position of Metz, resulting in
three battles Colombey, Mars-la-Tour, and Gravelotte--all of which
were lost; and the third, the absurd movement of MacMahon along the
Belgian frontier to relieve Metz, the responsibility for which, I am
glad to say, does not belong to him.

With the hemming in of Bazaine at Metz and the capture of MacMahon's
army at Sedan the crisis of the war was passed, and the Germans
practically the victors. The taking of Paris was but a sentiment
--the money levy could have been made and the Rhine provinces held
without molesting that city, and only the political influences
consequent upon the changes in the French Government caused peace to
be deferred.

I did not have much opportunity to observe the German cavalry, either
on the march or in battle. The only time I saw any of it engaged was
in the unfortunate charge at Gravelotte. That proved its mettle good
and discipline fair, but answered no other purpose. Such of it as
was not attached to the infantry was organized in divisions, and
operated in accordance with the old idea of covering the front and
flanks of the army, a duty which it thoroughly performed. But thus
directed it was in no sense an independent corps, and hence cannot
be, said to have accomplished anything in the campaign, or have had a
weight or influence at all proportionate to its strength. The method
of its employment seemed to me a mistake, for, being numerically
superior to the French cavalry, had it been massed and manoeuvred
independently of the infantry, it could easily have broken up the
French communications, and done much other work of weighty influence
in the prosecution of the war.

The infantry was as fine as I ever saw, the men young and hardy in
appearance, and marching always with an elastic stride. The infantry
regiment, however, I thought too large--too many men for a colonel to
command unless he has the staff of a general--but this objection may
be counterbalanced by the advantages resulting from associating
together thus intimately the men from the same district, or county as
we would call it; the celerity of mobilization, and, in truth, the
very foundation of the German system, being based on this local or
territorial scheme of recruiting.

There was no delay when the call sounded for the march; all turned
out promptly, and while on the road there was very little straggling,
only the sick falling out. But on such fine, smooth roads, and with
success animating the men from the day they struck the first blow, it
could hardly be expected that the columns would not keep well closed
up. Then, too, it must be borne in mind that, as already stated,
'campaigning' in France--that is, the marching, camping, and
subsisting of an army--is an easy matter, very unlike anything we,
had during the war of the rebellion. To repeat: the country is rich,
beautiful, and densely populated, subsistence abundant, and the
roads--all macadamized highways; thus the conditions; are altogether
different from those existing with us. I think that under the same
circumstances our troops would have done as well as the Germans,
marched as admirably, made combinations as quickly and accurately,
and fought with as much success. I can but leave to conjecture how.
the Germans would have got along on bottomless roads--often none at
all--through the swamps and quicksands of northern Virginia, from,
the Wilderness to Petersburg, and from Chattanooga to Atlanta and the

Following the operations of the German armies from the battle of
Gravelotte to the siege of Paris, I may, in conclusion, say that I
saw no new military principles developed, whether of strategy or
grand tactics, the movements of the different armies and corps being
dictated and governed by the same general laws that have so long
obtained, simplicity of combination and manoeuvre, and the
concentration of a numerically superior force at the vital point.

After my brief trip to Versailles, I remained in Paris till the
latter part of March. In company with Mr. Washburn, I visited the
fortifications for the defense of the city, and found them to be
exceptionally heavy; so strong, indeed, that it would have been very
hard to carry the place by a general assault. The Germans, knowing
the character of the works, had refrained from the sacrifice of life
that such an attempt must entail, though they well knew that many of
the forts were manned by unseasoned soldiers. With only a combat
here and there, to tighten their lines or repulse a sortie, they
wisely preferred to wait till starvation should do the work with
little loss and absolute certainty.

The Germans were withdrawn from Paris on the 3d of March, and no
sooner were they gone than factional quarrels, which had been going
on at intervals ever since the flight of the Empress and the fall of
her regency on the 4th of September, were renewed with revolutionary
methods that eventually brought about the Commune. Having witnessed
one or two of these outbreaks, and concluding that while such
turbulence reigned in the city it would be of little profit for me to
tarry there, I decided to devote the rest of the time I could be away
from home to travel in England, Ireland, and Scotland. My journeys
through those countries were full of pleasure and instruction, but as
nothing I saw or did was markedly different from what has been so
often described by others, I will save the reader this part of my
experience. I returned to America in the fall, having been absent a
little more than a year, and although I saw much abroad of absorbing
interest, both professional and general, yet I came back to my native
land with even a greater love for her, and with increased admiration
for her institutions.

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