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BATTLE OF BEAUNE LA ROLANDE., North Otago Times, Volume XV, Issue 602, 24 February 1871, Supplement
BATTLE OF BEAUNE LA ROLANDE.
General Voigta Efcetz gives the following aeoount of the engagement at Beaune la Rolanda : — " The IGth Army Corps haa distinguished, itself in an obstinate contest, has brilliantly manoeuvred and driven back into the woods of Orleans three divisions of the Army of the Loire, including the troops of General Miohel, which were brought up by railway from Aufcun to Gien, on the Loire, and thence pushed forward against us. Wedell's brigade had taken up a position at Beaune on the 23rd, with Biz squadrons of the Hessian cavalry brigade. On the 24th Lehmann's and Yalentim'a brigades marched, by two
rottd«?rom Montwrgis, tltta»gh Ladom*fid Corbeille& thfc latter, with thfc attilkey corps, likewise marching ox. Bmune, where the <oorpt was %o unite. The «aemy advanoei, from the woods in three strong columns of all cirms against; the left flank of thia difficult flank utarch. His whole strength was about 31,000, while our tor«ops available for the fight were onlj K>,'000 to 12,000 -strong. _ The enemy h»d already oooupied Ladon. and Maizieres on the aouthern road tin considerable force, and pushed forward oa Beaure, through Bois Commun and St. Loupe, While the artillery corps was sent forward to ftswuna, Valentim'u brigade went by Juranville the 'southern road, in order to Bupperfc LaiLmann'sHitiRade. It oaptured Ladon after* warm | coato'#» to»k Maizieres, and effected a junotion with Ifehm»t«i'B brigade. Tne fighting was BtiU hotter at the bisection of the Beilerille-Aury and BeauneLadon r<«,ds. The enemy w*S here also repulsed in the direction of Ballegarde^ "*nd towards evening both brigades gained Beaune, where the corps is now '(25thi" united and in communication with the 3rd LA.rmy Corps. The fighting began in the morning and ■hated till 5.30 p.m. The last troops passed Beaune [ja the night, in high spirits, in spite of excessive Itfjitigues. Our losses are extremely small, the einemy's considerably larger. More than 100 prinoT'iors fell into our hands. The enemy's strength •vr'as shown by an order of battle found on a fallen afcaff officer. I reserve a more detailed report."
SORTIE ON EPINAY. It was about three o'clock in the afternoon, Bays a correspondent at tho Saxon head- quartern, that tho French made their rush. Had I passed through Montmorenoy twenty minutes later, I should have got such news as would have enabled me to be a spectator. No doubt they succeeded in surprising the battalion of the 7l8t, which occupied Epinay. The fu-e from La Briohe had been all day so strong that it was necessary in Epinay to huddle very close under cover. The Frenoh simultaneously burst out of St. Denis at the double, and started the gunboat with its living freight. The vessel as it came down stream swept the banks clear of the German outpostB with ita fire, and landed its cargo at Epinay just as the troops arrived that had come by terra firma. The houses by the river side and round to the west side of the village were occupied, and the 71st at least half surrounded befoie it had well realised the fact that it was attacked. It had got so late in the evening that no sortie was anticipated. While the Frenoh wore crossing the plain the German batteries on the crest; in front of Montmorency played upon them with considerable effect. A lodgment having been effected in the village by a force so immensely superior, nothing remained for the battalion of the 71st but to extricate itself, with as much credit as possible, from its awkward plight. It evacuated the village, fighting as it retreated, and fell back toward St. Gratien. Here it found immediate reinforcement. The French utilised the time by barrioading themselves in Epinay, and making preparations to give a warm reception to the force which should attempt to retake it. That force consisted of the whole of the 15th brigade, the 71st and 31st Regiments, in all Bix battalions, with three companies of the 26th Regiment lent by the 16th brigade. The whole belong to the 8th division, which is commanded by General Von Sohoeler. A rapid march was made on Epiuay, the ardour of which the French were unable to baulk, and the place was retaken after having been held by the French not quite two hours. The loss of the Germans was very considerable, to be accounted for from the fact that they were the assailants.
SOETIE FOE FOOD. At the Saxon head- quarters information had been received that there would be a sortie from Paris oh the morning of the 12th, aBd that the movements would be directed against Le Bourget. By seven o'clock suoh of us as wished to see the sight were on the heights between Blanc Memel and Le Bonrget. At half-past seven we could eee that a force was coming out from the direction of St. Denis. As it approached the Prussian outposts we could perceive that there were two battalions of regular troops, followed by irregulars and by a line of wagons. The whole of the Prussian line, from Aulnay-les-Bois round to Gouesne, was put is. a state of preparation for repelling an attack. We concluded that the two battalions would be followed by an additional force, as it was known that on the previona afternoon large bodies of troops had been conveyed by rail to Sb. D«nis from various quarters of Paris. As the first column of French advanced near to the Prussian outposts the latter fired a volley or two. There was no response from the advancing battalions. They retreated a little, and whea out of rifle range halted. Men, women, amd children then descended from the wagons and commenced digging in the potato-fields; it was evident they were in searoh of provisions, and as they kept within their own lines no attempt was made to molest them. Having dug for a Bhort time, but in considerable numbers, under the protection of the French troops, they set out on their return to Paris by St. Denis, still covered by the soldiers. So ended the sortie. The forts expended some ammunition in the afternoon, but without any result.
"DYING WITH HARNESS ON HER BACK." Dr. Russell says : — The uprising of Franoe at the moment when her last shaft was spent, when Bword and ]ance were broken, her banner in the dust, her armour pierced, has undoubtedly surprised the German princes and statesmen, and caused disappointment. Numerous as are the German hosts, the strain on their powers is far greater than it was before when two vast armies were to bo beaten. Although tho troops are very healthy considering the winter work, the reductions caused by sickness are perceptible. Muoh of France has been overrun, and where the German foot has once troddon the impress is visible, even in Orleans ; but the part of France untouched by hostile hand ia larger still, and the •hivalrous Bretons and the fiery child-en of the Rhone Provinces seem resolute in their determination to resist to the end. France, at least, " will die with harness on her back." Well, to an unmilitary people it should be some comfort to see that trained soldiers may be beaten; that all the glorious circumatance of Imperial standing 1 armies may vanish, and that a people — hopeless as tho contest may be — can still resist, and, in some sonse, stay the march of the conqueror over their country.
NOBLE SELF-SACRIFICE. The following aneodote ib related by a medioal officer who has returned from Metz : — Among 1 the articles which ran very short aa tha Biego progressed was chloroform. After oqg of the sorties a soldier came to the hospital with his hand smashed by a piece of a shell. A briftf examination showed that some of the shattered bones must be removed. " Do you wish to bo insensible while the operation is being performed t" aaked the surgeon. " I should think no," the soldier answered; "I have been Buffering terribly for the last two hours, and I do »ot believe ftiat I could support any further pain." The surgeon •was silent. It was a vory painful operation, but the ahloroform was all but gone. " Why do you ask, M. le iaot&ar" — the soldier went on, after a pause — " is it >tiiat the stuff that makes one sleep is getting short?" "Terribly short," the surgeon said; "it haa nearly como to an end." The soldier was silent for a minute or two ; then he said, " Very well, M. le docteur, then I will do without it ; gome of those who have \rorae wounds than I have will want it more ; only be quick about it." So saying, the soldier laid down, stuffed his neckhandkerohief into his mouth, and held out his hand for the operation to be performed There is a quiet heroism about these traits whioh throw into the shade many deeds of daring and gallantry. Here was a poor fellow, weakened by many hours of intense suffering, and yet quietly relinquishing the use of the chloroform in order that it might be kept for others who might want it more. That a man in full health and vigour should have made such a Eacrifioe would have been noble, but for one already weakened by acute pain to oonsent to abandon the alleviation of his torture was true heroism.
A BRETON'S LBTTEE. The following letter from a young Franc-tvrewr de Cathelneau, or Breton corps, appears in a Freiick paper. The writer is only eighteen years old, and dates his letter to his mother from Orleans, November If : — " At last we have made oorgelres masters of this town. We have made a great many prisoners. I have taken a musket, a oarbine, a pistol, » coupe thovm (sabre), and, a bayenet, beside*
N&roa ot&tridge box«s, which I am gfod< to send j*m, I am staying with one o£ my noboot «ompamonc This^orning I breakfasted with him. I -aeenra yon tt fed quite happy of Bleeping to-nigfc<b on a bed — a ohaace tkat has not presented itagtt to me dsoe I 'loft you. Show all my Bpoits to the people erf EtareMO, and they will then sea that I hare really "been under fine. It was my fourth time. In a week we shall be under the walla of PariB. My health is very good, and I am getting -qmite st«ut upon the pleasure of killing Prussians. Let ua hope that we shall all coitinne in. good health, and that the FranoBtireura de Cathelineau will bo the first to enter the towns invaded by the enemy, and that they will have I the glory of seeing their prisoners defile before them. This morning everybody threw flowers to n«. My I musket is garlanded vrith laurels. I thought at one time that I should be carried off, as I was one of the ■malUst, and especially when I was laden with my ipoils. This morning we went to hear maBS at the oathedral."
STERN REPRISALS. A oorrespondent, who describes the Grand Duke of Meoklenburg'B movements as resembling a corkscrew, owing to the uncertain tactics of the enemy, eays : — " Oar soldiers will give no quarter, and their exasperation knows hardly any forbearance when they see the peasants in the battle or marohing in troopa in their blue smocks, with the lace of the Mobile Guard on their trousers. They know that they are the men who daily shoot down their oomradeB from an ambush, and, therefore, make short work with them. The blindness whioh makes the peasantry grasp the musket is inconceivable. Their resistance is useless, as they already feel and confess, yet their fanatioism is always extreme. To realise all the misery which this foolish and fruitless national resistance brings on their families, one must see the incensed and haughty mien of the prisoners as they are carried away by hundreds, while the women stand weeping and wringing their hands at tho doors of the villages, or throng the churches to pray for the rescue of the unfortunates out of the hands of the Prussians. Tet, whoever has luokily esoaped from captivity again seizes his gun, in order the more certainly to como to grief. In varions villages I have already beheld the most pitiable scenes. The fathers and sons bad been carried off by the Bavarians or Prussians as captured Mobiles, the houses were ravaged, the hearth had seen no fire for eight days, the cold ashes lay in the Btove, no bread in the whole place. What will become of all these unfortunates and how many more of them will be created by the war if it does not soon end ? With us thiugB go well. The Bun is again shining 1 , a warm breeze blows from the south like spring, animating everybody with fre3h courage."
THE SLAUGHTER-GBOUND BEFOBE PABIS. One of the first groat groups I came upon (says a correspondent) was composed of 60 French soldiers. A few Paxons and Wurtembergors lay around them; but the Germans had already removed and laid in their last Bleeping-place moBt of their dead. The centre of the group was formed of a close lino of 46. You could not have placed a body between any two. They fell shoulder to shoulder just as they had stood to fire. By far the greater number of them were on their backs with their feet to Paris and their heads to ViUiers. Alas, it was painfully evident that many of them, and of others whom I saw subsequently, had not died instantaneously, but had lived probably many hours without a hand to lend them succour, and in piercing snovr and frost. One poor fellow lay on his face. He had two rifle - wounds in his back. He had partly stripped himself, and he died with a hand on each bullet-hole. Several had taken off their knapsacks and placed them under their heads, and so pillowed had breathed their last breath. Others clenched their water bottles in one hand, but had been unable to remove the cork, and died without being able to wet their lips in their last agony. Some, in their sufferings, had burrowed their faces in the thick clay on whioh they lay, and turned their bloody and earth-atained faces upwards before they expired. Two I saw had their arms fixed and their fists clenched as if while dying they were engaged in a pugilistic encounter. Only very few were on their Bides. These had their knapsacks under their heads. There were men on whose faces beamed the smile cf an infant, and whose countenances were like handsome wax-work. The expression of others was that of terrible agony. Every feature was contorted ; their legs had been convulsively jerked up until their knees stuck into their "stomachs, and their finger and thumb nails had been squeezed until they became riveted into the palms of their hands. Behind, before, and at the corners of this line of 46 dead men were others, Saxon and French. One had a frightful wound in the face. He had pulled his hands up into his sleeves to warm them, but his cap had fallen off, and the blood clotted on his hair till it was all in bloody mats.
BRILLIANT CAVALRY CHARGE. A Berlin correspondent, writing on tjihe 12th, says : —According to a letter from King William to Queen Augusta — bearing no date — of which an extract has been published here, a very brilliant cavalry charge was executed near Orleans ; the let and 6th Uhlan Regiments, under GeneralBernhardt, riding down two entire battalions, scattering three squadrons of horse, capturing a battery of four guns, and all this in a single breath. A squadron of the 4th Hussar Regiment also captured a battery concealed in the thickets; they rode into the battery from behind while it was firing, aad the guns were taken intact as they stood. I am enabled to add one or two details of this interesting incident. The battery, which was one of horse artillery — artillerie volante — was brought to Versailles by Captain Baron Von Witzleben, of the 1st; Cuirassiers and the guns ware cleverly captured by Captain Von Wartensleben, who commanded the squadron of the 4th Hussars. Just at the edge of the Forest of Orleans, the battery was posted behind a strong earthwork, and was aotively engaged in pounding away at the assailing Germans. Count Von Warfcensleben drew off his squadron to the flank, made along ddtour at the gallop over frozen ploughed fields, stole quietly into tke wood behind the gunners, and rode down upon the battery. The French had time only to swing round a single piece against the intruding troopers ; and the sergeant in command of this gun waa sabred by the gallant commander of the squadron himself. The count brought in the whole battery — officers, men, horses and pieces — in perfect order, just as if he had been marching past on parade. Baron von Witzleben, who had ridden one hundred and twenty miles in twenty-three hours to join the Army of the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg, volunteered to take charge of the captured battery to Versailles ; and he actually brought the gunb to head-quarters without any escort whatever beyond his own orderly. The King, when inspecting the battery, paid Baron von Witzleben a handsome oompliment for his achievement.
BATTLE OF SOUGY. One o£ the many affairs which preceded t*he fall of Orleans is called the battle of Sougy, whioh occurred on Friday, December 2, and ia thus deseribed by the Impartial dv. Loiret : — The combat took place between Pafe»y and Artenay, and the principal fighting occurred near the little village of Sougy. At an early hour, almost before daybreak, the battle began on the loft of Patay. Oar soldiers bravely sustained the shock of an enemy very superior ia numbers. At about ten o'clock they were reinforced by a detachment of the 16th Corps. The fighting then became very hot. Our men repeatedly repulsed the enemy at the point of the bayonet. Bat as they were borne down at length by the masses of the enemy, and the courage of some of them gave way, a part of the 17th Corps came to their assistance about three o'clock. Such in its general aspect was the oombat of December 2. The terror of some runaways strangely exaggerated its proportions yesterday evening. The results of tke day are far from being bo disastrous as was for a moment supposed. True it was bloody ; we had, too, an enemy rendered desperate by his many checks ; but our want of success is not a defeat. The numbor of French troops whioh took pact in the engagement was not considerable — certainly not more than 15,000. The son of the Dake de Luynes was among the killed. Colonel de Charrette was wounded and taken prisoner. General de Chanzy, commanding the 16th Corps, was wounded. The MobileB of the Sartho are Baid to have displayed rare valour, and they suffered great loss. The loss of the enemy was considerable. We have no authentic report, no official information to guarantee the absolute certainty of the above account, whioh, hotwer, we believe to be correct.
BATTLE OF BEAUNE LA ROLANDE., North Otago Times, Volume XV, Issue 602, 24 February 1871, Supplement
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