- Battle of Wissembourg
- 15th July 1870 Napoleon III declared war against Prussia because
a German candidate was put forward for the Spanish throne. This
was the opportunity which Prussia's chancellor, Otto von Bismark,
had been waiting for to unite Germany. General Helmuth von Moltke
immediately launched three armies and on 4th August 1870 the first
battle began at Wissembourg only 40 miles north of Strasbourg.
25,000 men of the Prussian 3rd Army under the Crown Prince
Frederick Wilhelm, attacked the town held by the French army.
Comte de MacMahon's 4,000 men could not hold the town and the
Prussians took Wissembpurg after only 6 hours. French casualties
were c. 2,300 among whom was General Charles Douay, while the
Prussians lost c.1,500 men.
- Battle of Gravelotte
- Marshal Achille Bazaine's army of 113,000 troops found the rout
towards Verdun blocked by General Helmuth von Moltke's 1st and 2nd
Prussian armies. The French marshal decided to make a stand at
Gravelotte with one wing holding Saint-Privat. Under the command
of King Wilhelm the might of the Prussian troops (nearly 200,000
men) attacked the French positions. The French managed to defend
and hold their lines at Gravelotte and Saint Privat until the
Prussian armies gained their Saxon reinforcements and extra
artillery. Only then did the French yield and by nightfall,
Bazaine had withdrawn his troops to Metz. The Prussian losses were
c.20,000 men, while the French losses were c.13,000 with another
5,000 taken prisoner.
- Surrender of Metz
- Withdrawing his forces from Gravelotte to the nearby fortress of
Metz by the Moselle, Marshal Achille Bazaine was besieged by the
Prussian army under Prince Frederick Charles. Bazaine tried to
gain ground with a sortie and initially succeeded before being
driven back the next day losing 3,000 men in the process. After
the disaster at Sedan, immediate relief seemed hopeless and so
Bazaine surrendered, his army of 170,000 men and over 1,000
guns to the Prussians on 27th October 1870. Bazaine did not
escape, however, his own country convicted him of treason after a
court-martial and he was given a 20 year sentence!