Page images

discipline which has enabled them to stand stoutly in the field, and to emulate, if not surpass, the best deeds of the regular army. At their first advance in the direction of Paris, they were met and defeated by the Bavarians, under Von der Tann, at Artenay on the 11th of October, and Orleans was captured by the enemy; but in the course of a month they reappeared, and crossing the Loire obliged Von der Tann to evacuate the city, and to make a retreat in which he lost a good many prisoners and a gun. It was at this juncture that the good fortune of the Germans became apparent. Metz, as we have seen, surrendered at the end of October.

Immediately on its occupation, the Duke of Mecklenburg and Manteuffel started for the north-west, while Prince Frederick with his arıy marched upon Troyes in Champagne. An army had also been formed after the capture of Strasburg and Toul to operate, under Werder, in the direction of Lyous. It had not made much progress, but had at last arrived iu the neighbourhood of Dijon, where it had been opposed, though to little purpose, by Garibaldi and his motley host of adventurers. It now served to cover the left flank of Prince Frederick in his advance on Troyes, where he arrived on the 8th of November, and remained until the 16th of the same month. At the same time an operation may have taken place, which, although I have nowhere seen it alluded to, I feel strongly convinced really occurred.

It has been stated above, that the Duke of Mecklenburg was notified as leaving Metz at the beginning of November; he was said to have moved with 50,000 men in a westerly direction, followed immediately after by Manteuffel with 30,000 more. Manteuffel, for several days, got no further than Verdun, and when he did advance, be made a great show of detaching men against Rocroy and other places in the north, and apparently succeeded in attracting all the regards of the French to himself. It appears to ine highly probable that the Duke of Mecklenburg's corps, or part of them, came round by the north side of Paris unnoticed, for he engaged the Bretons at Dreux on the 18th, and afterwards pushed forward to near Le Mans. Now if such has really been the case, it accounts for Prince Frederick's delay at Troyes, and presents the finest combination carried out during the whole war; by which the second army, and part of the first, appear simultaneously on the two flanks of D'Aurelles army. The good fortune of the Germans, in the opportune surrender of Metz, which allowed such a movement to be carried out, is conspicuous; for had it not so happened, it is difficult to see what could have prevented the army of the Loire, in the state of efficiency to which we have since seen it had attained, from marching up to the lines before Paris, and cooperating with Trochu in bis late sorties. As it has turned out, the manœuvres of the Germans have been successful; the army of the Loire has been defeated

and driven in two or three different directions; and Paris must rely solely on her own exertions.

A word as to the defence of the city. There can be little doubt, if we are to trust to the truth of the report that the troops in the late operation on the Marne carried five or six days' provisions with them, that Trochu or Ducrot hoped to force their way through the Prussian lines and maneuvre in the open country. Whether they contemplated returning to Paris may be doubtful; but if they did not, it would seem that the sortie should have been made at an earlier period, before the works of the Germans had been perfected as they now are. The blockade of Metz has shown the difficulty, nay the almost impossibility of troops fighting in dense columns forcing their way through a line entrenched.

I conceive that the great loss sustained on that occasion by the Germans arose from their following the enemy under the fire of the detached forts. If Trochu could have trusted all his men, with the immense multitude of hands at his disposal, he might have carried a system of approaches right up and through the Prussian lines; but by all accounts his regulars and Mobiles are the only troops to be depended upon under fire--some 100,000 men out of 400,000. Even as it is, the French have greatly extended their external outworks in several directions, rendering the attack on the city very difficult; but famine will probably do the work of the besiegers.

The movements on the river Loire now become extremely interesting. General Aurelles de Paladine, after his successes of the 9th and 10th of November, did not attempt to advance beyond Toury, doubtless becoming aware of the near approach of Prince Frederick's army, and not considering himself in sufficient force to encounter them and Von de Tann combined, till such time as reinforcements of proper strength should arrive from the south and west. He therefore proceeded to strengthen his position by entrenchments round the north and north-east of Orleans, which occupied him till near the end of the month. At length, after some preliminary skirmishing on the 26th, he moved forward, and on the 28th attacked the Prussian left at Baune-la-Rolande, but was repulsed by Prince Frederick with heavy loss. The French fell back upon their entrenchments. After a lull of two days, d'Aurelles, in all probability aware of Trochu's intended sortie, threw forward his left wing and attacked the Bavarians at Arthenay with great vigour; but the Duke of Mecklenburg, who had disposed of the Bretons, bad by this time closed to his left, and uniting with Von der Tann, pierced the French left centre and drove them back on Orleans; whilst Prince Frederick assaulting their right centre from the Pithiviers road, cut it off froin their extreme right, which was thus obliged to retreat across the Loire higher up the stream. The defeated centre was then driven in confusion out of their intrenchments and over the river at Orleans, which was once more occupied by the Germans. The main French army, either from the strength of their intrenchments, or from the rapidity of their retreat, got off in tolerable order, and retired upon Vierzon and Bourges; they were followed to the first named place by the Germaus, and there up to this moment (that is the 24th of December) we, as it were, lose sight of them.

But now comes the most interesting part of the campaign. General Chanzy, who commanded the French left wing, was separated from the main body by the advance of the Duke of Mecklenburg on Orleans, and retreated on Beaugency and the forest of Marchenoir. Here he took up a position and vigorously resisted the Duke and Von der Tann, even on the 9th and 10th of December assuming the offeusive; the Germans, however, having moved a corps to the south bank of the river, and got possession of the southern suburb of Blois, he has been obliged to retire due west to the banks of the river Loir between Vendome and Moree, his right being at the former, his left at the latter place. Here again he has stood his ground stoutly, but the latest accounts state that he has been forced to evacuate his position, his left wing being threatened in its rear by the arrival at Drou of the Germans who were stationed at Chartres. He is now apparently moving upon Le Mans and the camp at Conlie, and has thus given up all connection with the former right wing of tbe army.

The question will now arise ; What does all this portend, and what will be the ultimate issue of these events ? One thing is certain, that the French authorities have exerted themselves in a surprising manner, and have found resources, both in men and matériel, perfectly unlooked for. Whence come the regiments wbich bave enabled Chanzy thus to turn upon an army that had, a day or two before, won such a victory as eye-witnesses have described that of Orleans to have been ? It is impossible to receive the numbers that are given in different dispatches, but this much is certaiu, that the French are numerous and bold, and that the Germans are not making that rapid way they did at an earlier period. Nevertheless, strategically considered, the prospects of the French are but black. What was once a great army is now cut into, at least, two parts as far asunder as Bourges and Le Mans, with a victorious enemy between them. It is difficult to imagine that Chanzy's north-westerly course is a voluntary movement; he can hardly desire to enclose himself in the Breton peninsula ; besides French partisans seem to forget that Mapteuffel is at Rouen, or the neighbourhood, not many days march from Chanzy's flank. I think we may fairly conclude, that abundant as the French resources may be (although the numbers given appear preposterous) that the recent movements of the two wings of the late Army of the Loire have been impressed upon

them by adverse circumstances, and that no general plan exists of attempting to relieve Paris by a simultaneous movement from the south and west such as some writers have imagined.

Such is the present aspect of affairs. Paris is still untaken, but the whole country between it and the Rhine, together with its fortresses, is in the hands of the Germans. The French in the west and south are apparently determined on resistance, and are abundantly supplied with the raw material of war; but their organized army, especially that part under Chanzy, is in very critical circumstances. In the south-east General Werder is still occupying the same line of country which he took up after the capture of Strasburg and Neu Brissac, he covers the flank of Prince Frederick, but has no particular enemy in bis front, nor is there any rumour of any great force assembling at Lyons or elsewhere. Meanwhile, the reinforcements ordered from Germany must be hastening to the front, for the Prussians are clearly beginning to want men. No peace seems possible in a war like this--as in the American Civil War—the complete overthrow of one party is the only alternative.


By an Ex-Hossar.

Before continuing the subject from the October No., I wish to direct attention to five or six epochs, which notably in history are lessons which the student of cavalry tactics should not miss giving his attention to.

It was in Asia, more particularly Persia, that the art of war first began to be regarded as a science, but after the death of Cyrus, luxury drove it from there to flourish ainuug the Greeks. The Egyptians, a scientilic and peaceful people, never inade much progress in warfare, and were never victorious under any of their kinys, with the exception of Sisustris. The Greeks, an ingenious and brave people, perfected the art of war to a degree that it had never before reached ; their phalanx in its compact wedge-like form, perfected and deduced into regular principles; and under such generals as Philip and Alexander the cavalry proved irresistable and overcaine all opposition.

While the Grecian arms overran the world, a small band of fugitives froin Troy settled on the coast of Italy, and where their Trojan prowess soou conquering the inhabitants of the country brought them all under the one rule. From these a party of adventurers detached themselves, and setting some iniles off they

there open d a refuge for all other dissatisfied spirits and outcasts like themselves.

To look back now through the dark veil that tradition lets fall over the early days of Greece or Rome, is as if we were endeavouring to see and admire a splendid piece of architecture through a thick mist in which it was enveloped. The outlines would be there, but the details, the fine carvings and rich specimens of sculpture, all which gave grace and beauty to the building would be wanting.

And thus our knowledge of the cavalry tactics of the earlier ages is but scanty; we have certainly a well-defined idea that uncivilized nations esteem the cavalry as their first arm in warfare, and when civilization and discipline have made greater progress it becomes of secondary importance, still, however, holding a position of consequence, being the arm that on many occasions has snatched victory froin the hands of defeat; and being of such im. portance its development to the highest degree of perfection becomes a necessity.

The Romans never achieved much with their horse, and it was not until they had suffered repeated defeats froin Hannibal by the hands of his Numidian cavalry, that they saw the necessity for increasing the strenyth of their horsemen. The number of Roman horse was, to every legion, 300 divided into ten Turmæ or troops, every Turma making tiree Decurio or divisions of ten mnen.

This number of 300 they termed Justus Equitatus, and as the average strength of a legion was 5,000 men, the proportion of cavalry to infantry was as one to seventeen, about the same ratio that the British cavalry at present bears to the reinainder of the Army; and having returned to my starting point I will proceed onward.

Although, like any other cavalry soldier I am partial to the arm in which I have served, yet I do not wish for a moment to claim special merits for this branch of the Army, holding that each, be it cavalry, artillery, or infantry, has its specific duties to perform, in the execution of which it needs the support and assistance of one or both of the others - a support that, if withheld at the particular moment, would entail rain and defeat upon the arm left in such a predicament. It is true, certainly, that infantry can act and engage without cavalry, but its progress would be slow, its efforts dangerous to itself; continually exposed to attack, and harassed in its attempts to secure its communications, its whole existence would be a struggle, and few of its operations would be attended with success.

On the other hand, cavalry without infantry would perform nothing decisive, it would find no spot to station itself in, the most tribing obstacles would become great difficulties retarding its motions, and it could never feel that defiant security which is the germ of victory ; consequently artillery, cavalry and infantry, con

« PreviousContinue »