Army of the Rhine (1870)
The Army of the Rhine was created after the declaration of war on July 18, 1870. This French military unit fought in the Franco-Prussian War; the unit participated in combats in Lorraine divided to form a second army, the Army of Châlons. The unit surrendered on October 27 at the Siege of Metz; the Army of the Rhine was the first French Army constituted after the declaration of war, formed from the available troops during peacetime. Commanded by the Emperor, the Army included The Imperial Guard, 7 Army Corps and a general reserve; each Army Corps was constituted of 3 or 4 infantry division and 1 cavalry division made up of 2 or 3 brigades each, one artillery reserve and one engineer reserve. Each brigade counted line cavalry regiments; the infantry divisions included an artillery component with 2 batteries de canons de 4 and 1 de mitrailleuse, while the cavalry divisions constituted 2 batteries horse mounted. Formation of the army corps: The Imperial Guard of the Second Empire, with commander, général Bourbaki, garrisoned in Paris in times of peace.
The Imperial Guard reached Metz on July 28 and the Guard reserves on the 30. The 1st Army Corps, commanded by Maréchal de France Patrice de Mac Mahon, Duc de Magenta was formed in principal by troops from Algeria and the regiments of Eastern France; this Army Corps activated on August 1, 1870. Its initial role was to cover the Alsace; the 2nd Army Corps was consisted of troops of the Camp de Châlons, commanded by Frossard, aide de camp of the Emperor. These units made their way to Forbach; the 3rd Army Corps was formed by troops from Paris and Nancy. Commanded by Marshal François Achille Bazaine until August 12 général Decaen killed at Borny and commanded by Marshal Le Bœuf; the 4th Army Corps, formed at Thionville on July 23 from the garrisons of the north and north-east, commanded by général de Ladmirault. The 5th Army Corps, formed with the Army of Lyon, commanded by general de Failly; this Army Corps assembled in the regions of Haguenau. The 6th Army Corps of Marshal François Certain de Canrobert consisted of troops from Paris, Châlons, Soissons and assembled at the camp de Châlons.
The 7th Army Corps had difficulty assembling due to its units being dispersed. Troops of the Army Corps hailed from the south-east, Clermont-Ferrand, Perpignan and had to make their way to Colmar and Belfort; this Army Corps was commanded by général Douay. The general Cavalry Reserve was supposed to be formed of 3 divisions with 2 brigades each. However, only 2 divisions were available as the 1st Division was employed to reinforce the Army of Châlons as the cavalry of the 6th Corps; the general Artillery Reserve, commanded by général Canu, made its way to Metz. The general Engineer Reserve was commanded by colonel Rémond. On August 1, 1870, the Army of the Rhin was constituted of seven Army Corps and of artillery and reserve cavalry. Lieutenant-colonel Rousset tendered an estimative decomposition by grand units: Commander-in-Chief: Napoléon III Major General: Maréchal Le Bœuf Aides-major generals: général Lebrun général Jarras Artillery Commander: général Soleille Engineer Commander: général Coffinières de Nordeck Intendant of the Army: général Wolff Medical Chief of the Army: baron Larrey 1st Infantry Division The 1st Infantry Division of the Imperial Guard was commanded by général Deligny 1st Brigade of général Brincourt Imperial Guard Chasseur Battalion Imperial Guard 1st Voltigeurs Regiment Imperial Guard 2nd Voltigeurs Regiment 2nd Brigade of général Garnier Imperial Guard 3rd Voltigeurs Regiment Imperial Guard 4th Voltigeurs Regiment 3 Artillery Batteries and 1 Engineer Company 2nd Infantry Division The 2nd Infantry Division of the Imperial Guard was commanded by général Picard 1st Brigade of général Jeanningros Imperial Guard Zouaves Regiment Imperial Guard 1st Grenadier Regiment à Pied 2nd Brigade of général Le Poittevin de La Croix-Vaubois Imperial Guard 2nd Grenadier Regiment à Pied Imperial Guard 3rd Grenadier Regiment à Pied 3 Artillery Batteries and 1 Engineer CompanyCavalry DivisionThe Cavalry Division of the Imperial Guard was commanded by général Desvaux 1st Brigade of général Halna du Frétay 13e Régiment de Chasseurs à Cheval Chasseurs Regiment 2nd Brigade of général de France Lancers Regiment The Empress's Dragoon Guards 3rd Brigade of général du Preuil Cuirassiers Regiment Carabiniers Regiment of the Imperial Guard (French: Régiment de Carabiniers de la Garde Impéri
Helmuth von Moltke the Elder
Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke was a Prussian field marshal. The chief of staff of the Prussian Army for thirty years, he is regarded as the creator of a new, more modern method of directing armies in the field, he is described as embodying "Prussian military organization and tactical genius." He is referred to as Moltke the Elder to distinguish him from his nephew Helmuth Johann Ludwig von Moltke, who commanded the German Army at the outbreak of World War I. Moltke was born in Parchim, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, son of the German Generalleutnant in Danish service Friedrich Philipp Victor von Moltke. In 1805, his father settled in Holstein, but about the same time was left impoverished when the French burned his country house and plundered his townhouse in Lübeck, where his wife and children were during the War of the Fourth Coalition of 1806-1807. Young Moltke, grew up under difficult circumstances. At nine he was sent as a boarder to Hohenfelde in Holstein, at age twelve went to the cadet school at Copenhagen, being destined for the Danish army and court.
In 1818 he became a page to the king of Denmark and a second lieutenant in a Danish infantry regiment. At twenty-one, Moltke resolved to enter the Prussian service, in spite of the loss of seniority. In 1822 he became a second lieutenant in the 8th Infantry Regiment stationed at Frankfurt an der Oder. At twenty-three he was allowed to enter the general war school, where he studied the full three years, graduating in 1826. For a year Moltke had charge of a cadet school at Frankfurt an der Oder he was for three years employed on the military survey in Silesia and Posen. In 1832 he was seconded for service on the general staff at Berlin, to which he was transferred in 1833 on promotion to first lieutenant, he was at this time regarded as a brilliant officer by his superiors, including Prince William a lieutenant-general. Moltke was well received in the best society of Berlin, his tastes inclined him to historical study and to travel. In 1827 he had published The Two Friends. In 1831 he wrote an essay entitled Holland and Belgium in their Mutual Relations, from their Separation under Philip II to their Reunion under William I.
A year he wrote An Account of the Internal Circumstances and Social Conditions of Poland, a study based both on reading and on personal observation of Polish life and character. In 1832 he contracted to translate Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire into German, for which he was to receive 75 marks, his object being to earn the money to buy a horse. In eighteen months he had finished nine volumes out of twelve, but the publisher failed to produce the book and Moltke never received more than 25 marks. In 1835 on his promotion as captain, Moltke obtained six months leave to travel in south-eastern Europe. After a short stay in Constantinople he was requested by the Sultan Mahmud II to help modernize the Ottoman Empire army, being duly authorized from Berlin he accepted the offer, he remained two years at Constantinople, learned Turkish and surveyed the city of Constantinople, the Bosphorus, the Dardanelles. He travelled through Wallachia and Rumelia, made many other journeys on both sides of the Strait.
In 1838 Moltke was sent as an adviser to the Ottoman general commanding the troops in Anatolia, to carry on a campaign against Muhammad Ali of Egypt. During the summer Moltke made extensive reconnaissances and surveys, riding several thousand miles in the course of his journey, he visited and mapped many parts of the Ottoman Empire. In 1839 the army moved south to fight the Egyptians, but upon the approach of the enemy, the general refused to listen to Moltke's advice. Moltke took charge of the artillery. In the Battle of Nezib on 24 June 1839, the Ottoman army was beaten. With great difficulty, Moltke made his way back to the Black Sea, thence to Constantinople, his patron, Sultan Mahmud II, was dead, so he returned to Berlin where he arrived, broken in health, in December 1839. Once home Moltke published some of the letters he had written as Letters on Conditions and Events in Turkey in the Years 1835 to 1839; this book was well received at the time. Early the next year he married a young English woman, Maria Bertha Helena Burt, the daughter of John Heyliger Burt esq. of St. Croix in the Danish West Indies, who married his sister Augusta.
It was a happy union. In 1840 Moltke had been appointed to the staff of the 4th Army Corps, stationed at Berlin and he published his maps of Constantinople, jointly with other German travellers, a new map of Asia Minor and a memoir on the geography of that country, he became fascinated by railroads and he was one of the first directors of the Hamburg-Berlin railway. In 1843 he published an article What Considerations should determine the Choice of the Course of Railways?. In 1845 Moltke published The Russo-Turkish Campaign in Europe, 1828–1829. In that year, he served in Rome as personal adjutant to Prince Henry of Prussia, which allowed him to create another map of the Eternal City. In 1848, after a brief return to the General Staff in Berlin, he became Chief of the Staff of the 4th Army Corps, of which the headquarters were at Magdeburg, where he remained seven years, during which he rose to Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel. In 1855 Moltke served as personal aide to Prince Frederick, he accompanied the prince to England, as well as to Paris and to S
France the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean, it is bordered by Belgium and Germany to the northeast and Italy to the east, Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic and Indian oceans; the country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nice. During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by a Celtic people. Rome annexed the area in 51 BC, holding it until the arrival of Germanic Franks in 476, who formed the Kingdom of Francia.
The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned Francia into Middle Francia and West Francia. West Francia which became the Kingdom of France in 987 emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages following its victory in the Hundred Years' War. During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world; the 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Protestants. France became Europe's dominant cultural and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, established one of modern history's earliest republics, saw the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day. In the 19th century, Napoleon established the First French Empire, his subsequent Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870.
France was a major participant in World War I, from which it emerged victorious, was one of the Allies in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis powers in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and dissolved in the course of the Algerian War; the Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, remains today. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s and retained close economic and military connections with France. France has long been a global centre of art and philosophy, it hosts the world's fourth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the leading tourist destination, receiving around 83 million foreign visitors annually. France is a developed country with the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP, tenth-largest by purchasing power parity. In terms of aggregate household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, human development.
France is considered a great power in global affairs, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state. It is a leading member state of the European Union and the Eurozone, a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, La Francophonie. Applied to the whole Frankish Empire, the name "France" comes from the Latin "Francia", or "country of the Franks". Modern France is still named today "Francia" in Italian and Spanish, "Frankreich" in German and "Frankrijk" in Dutch, all of which have more or less the same historical meaning. There are various theories as to the origin of the name Frank. Following the precedents of Edward Gibbon and Jacob Grimm, the name of the Franks has been linked with the word frank in English, it has been suggested that the meaning of "free" was adopted because, after the conquest of Gaul, only Franks were free of taxation.
Another theory is that it is derived from the Proto-Germanic word frankon, which translates as javelin or lance as the throwing axe of the Franks was known as a francisca. However, it has been determined that these weapons were named because of their use by the Franks, not the other way around; the oldest traces of human life in what is now France date from 1.8 million years ago. Over the ensuing millennia, Humans were confronted by a harsh and variable climate, marked by several glacial eras. Early hominids led a nomadic hunter-gatherer life. France has a large number of decorated caves from the upper Palaeolithic era, including one of the most famous and best preserved, Lascaux. At the end of the last glacial period, the climate became milder. After strong demographic and agricultural development between the 4th and 3rd millennia, metallurgy appeared at the end of the 3rd millennium working gold and bronze, iron. France has numerous megalithic sites from the Neolithic period, including the exceptiona
Battle of Sedan
The Battle of Sedan was fought during the Franco-Prussian War from 1 to 2 September 1870. It resulted in the capture of Emperor Napoleon III and large numbers of his troops and for all intents and purposes decided the war in favour of Prussia and its allies, though fighting continued under a new French government; the 130,000 strong French Army of Châlons, commanded by Marshal Patrice de MacMahon and accompanied by Napoleon III, was attempting to lift the Siege of Metz, only to be caught by the Prussian Fourth Army and defeated at the Battle of Beaumont on 30 August. Commanded by Generalfeldmarschall Helmuth von Moltke and accompanied by Prussian King Wilhelm I and Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the Fourth Army and the Prussian Third Army encircled MacMahon's army at Sedan in a gigantic battle of annihilation. Marshal MacMahon was wounded during the attacks and command passed to General Auguste-Alexandre Ducrot, until it was taken over by General Emmanuel Félix de Wimpffen. Pulverized from all sides by superior German artillery firepower and with all breakout attempts defeated, the French Army of Châlons capitulated on 2 September, with 104,000 men passing into German captivity along with 558 guns.
Napoleon III was taken prisoner, while the French government in Paris continued the war and proclaimed a Government of National Defense on 4 September. The German armies besieged Paris on 19 September. After its defeat at the Battle of Gravelotte on 18 August, Marshal François Achille Bazaine's 154,481-man Army of the Rhine retreated to Metz where it was surrounded by 168,435 Prussian troops of the First and Second Armies in the Siege of Metz beginning on 19 August. Emperor Napoleon III, along with Marshal Patrice de MacMahon, formed the new French Army of Châlons on 17 August to march on to Metz to rescue Bazaine. With Napoleon III leading the army, with Marshal MacMahon in attendance, they led the Army of Châlons after 23 August in a left-flanking march northeast towards the Belgian border in an attempt to avoid the Prussians before striking south to link up with Bazaine; the Prussians had outmaneuvered the French in the string of victories through August 1870, the march both depleted the French forces and left both flanks exposed.
The Prussians, under the command of von Moltke, took advantage of this maneuver to catch the French in a pincer grip. Leaving the Prussian First and Second Armies besieging Metz, Moltke took the Prussian Third and Fourth Armies northward where they caught up with the French at the Battle of Beaumont on 30 August. After a major defeat in which he lost 7,500 men and 40 cannons, MacMahon aborted the planned link-up with Bazaine and ordered the Army of Châlons to withdraw north-west towards the tiny, obsolete 17th-century fortress of Sedan, his intention was to rest the army, involved in a long series of marches, resupply it with ammunition and, in his words, maneuver in front of the enemy. MacMahon underestimated the German strength and believed the hills surrounding Sedan would offer him a major defensive advantage; the French rear was protected by the fortress of Sedan, offered a defensive position at the Calvaire d'Illy, which had both hills and woods to provide cover for any defense. MacMahon denied a request from General Félix Douay, commander of 7th Corps, to dig trenches, claiming the army would not remain at Sedan for long.
Upon arrival in the vicinity of Sedan on 31 August, MacMahon deployed Douay's 7th Corps to the north-west on the crest between the Calvaire and Floing. Auguste-Alexandre Ducrot's 1st Corps faced east; the recently-arrived General Emmanuel Félix de Wimpffen took over command of 5th Corps from Pierre Louis Charles de Failly, the unit having been routed at Beaumont. 5th Corps was placed in reserve in the centre. Moltke divided his forces into three groups: one to detain the French where they were, another to race forward and catch them if they retreated, a third to hold the river bank; the Saxon XII Corps crossed the Meuse with the Prussian Guards on their right. The I Royal Bavarian Corps under General Baron von der Tann moved up to Bazeilles and the Bavarian engineers threw up two pontoon bridges across the Meuse to secure their way across; the Prussian V and XI Corps completed the encirclement of the French army to the north-west by 0900 on 1 September. The battle opened with the Army of Châlons, with 202 infantry battalions, 80 cavalry squadrons and 564 guns, attacking the surrounding Prussian Third and Fourth Armies, which totaled 222 infantry battalions, 186 cavalry squadrons, 774 guns.
Napoleon had ordered MacMahon to break out of the encirclement, the only point where that seemed possible was La Moncelle, whose flank was protected by a fortified town. The Prussians picked La Moncelle as one point where they would mount a breakthrough. Prince George of Saxony and the Prussian XI Corps was assigned to the task, General Baron von der Tann were ordered to attack Bazeilles on the right flank; this was the opening engagement, as the French 1st Corps had barricaded the streets, enlisted the aid of the population. Von der Tann sent a brigade across pontoon bridges at 0400 hours in the early morning mist, the Bavarians rushing the village and capturing it through surprise; the French Marines of the 1st Corps fought back from stone houses and the Bavarian artillery shelled the buildings into blazing rubble. The combat drew new forces, as French brigades from the 1st, 5th, 12th Corps arrived. At 0800 the Prussian 8th Infantry Division arrived, von der Tann decided it was time for a decisive attack.
He had not been able to bring artillery to bear from long range, so he committed his last brigade to storm the town, supported by artillery from the other side of the Meuse. His art
Siege of Belfort
The Siege of Belfort was a 103-day military assault and blockade of the city of Belfort, France by Prussian forces during the Franco-Prussian War. The French garrison held out until the January 1871 armistice between France and the German Empire obligated French forces to abandon the stronghold in February 1871. Belfort is located in a gap between the mountainous southern Vosges and the Jura Massif, strategically positioned as the gateway between Alsace and central France. At the beginning of the war, the French Army of the Rhine was routed in northern Alsace; the fall of Strasbourg on 28 September 1870 allowed the German army under August von Werder to move south against Belfort. Upon hearing of the approaching German army, Pierre Philippe Denfert-Rochereau, commander of Belfort, began constructing fortifications around the city, expanding those built by Vauban. Werder's forces invested the city on 3 November; the intransigent resistance by the French forces stopped the Germans from completing an effective encirclement of the city.
General Charles Denis Bourbaki assembled an army intending to relieve Belfort. On 15 January 1871 Bourbaki attacked Werder along the Lisaine River. German forces grew impatient with the length of the siege and on 27 January 1871, General von Tresckow launched an attack on the city, repulsed and the siege operations resumed. On 15 February an armistice was signed between Germany. Louis Adolphe Thiers, president of the Government of National Defense sent an urgent message to Denfert-Rochereau ordering him to surrender the fortress. On 18 February the Belfort garrison marched out of the city with their weapons and honor. In recognition of the French defense of Belfort, under the terms of the Treaty of Frankfurt, the city and its surrounding area were not handed over to Germany, unlike the remainder of Alsace. Fortified region of Belfort Howard, Michael The Franco Prussian War ISBN 0-415-26671-8
Kingdom of Saxony
The Kingdom of Saxony, lasting between 1806 and 1918, was an independent member of a number of historical confederacies in Napoleonic through post-Napoleonic Germany. The kingdom was formed from the Electorate of Saxony. From 1871 it was part of the German Empire, it became a Free state in the era of Weimar Republic in 1918 after the end of World War I and the abdication of King Frederick Augustus III of Saxony. Its capital was the city of Dresden, its modern successor state is the Free State of Saxony. Before 1806, Saxony was part of the Holy Roman Empire, a thousand-year-old entity that had become decentralised over the centuries; the rulers of the Electorate of Saxony of the House of Wettin had held the title of elector for several centuries. When the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved in August 1806 following the defeat of Emperor Francis II by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz, the electorate was raised to the status of an independent kingdom with the support of the First French Empire the dominant power in Central Europe.
The last elector of Saxony became King Frederick Augustus I. Following the defeat of Saxony's ally Prussia at the Battle of Jena in 1806, Saxony joined the Confederation of the Rhine, remained within the Confederation until its dissolution in 1813 with Napoleon's defeat at the Battle of Leipzig. Following the battle, in which Saxony — alone of all the German states — had fought alongside the French. King Frederick Augustus I was deserted by his troops, taken prisoner by the Prussians and considered to have forfeited his throne by the allies, who put Saxony under Prussian occupation and administration; this was more due to the Prussian desire to annex Saxony than to any crime on Frederick Augustus's part, the fate of Saxony would prove to be one of the main issues at the Congress of Vienna. In the end, 40% of the Kingdom, including the significant Wittenberg, home of the Protestant Reformation, was annexed by Prussia, but Frederick Augustus was restored to the throne in the remainder of his kingdom, which still included the major cities of Dresden and Leipzig.
The Kingdom joined the German Confederation, the new organization of the German states to replace the fallen Holy Roman Empire. During the 1866 Austro-Prussian War, Saxony sided with Austria, the Saxon army was seen as the only ally to bring substantial aid to the Austrian cause, having abandoned the defense of Saxony itself to join up with the Austrian army in Bohemia; this effectiveness allowed Saxony to escape the fate of other north German states allied with Austria — notably the Kingdom of Hanover — which were annexed by Prussia after the war. The Austrians and French insisted as a point of honour that Saxony must be spared, the Prussians acquiesced. Saxony joined the Prussian-led North German Confederation the next year. With Prussia's victory over France in the Franco-Prussian War of 1871, the members of the Confederation were organised by Otto von Bismarck into the German Empire, with WIlliam I as its emperor. John, as Saxony's incumbent king, was subordinate and owed allegiance to the Emperor, although he, like the other German princes, retained some of the prerogatives of a sovereign ruler, including the ability to enter into diplomatic relations with other states.
Wilhelm I's grandson Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated in 1918 as a result of Germany's defeat in World War I. King Frederick Augustus III of Saxony followed him into abdication and the erstwhile Kingdom of Saxony became the Free State of Saxony within the newly formed Weimar Republic; the 1831 Constitution of Saxony established the state as a parliamentary monarchy. The king was named as head of the nation, he was required to follow the provisions of the constitution, could not become the ruler of any other state without the consent of the Diet, or parliament. The crown was hereditary in the male line of the royal family through agnatic primogeniture, though provisions existed allowing a female line to inherit in the absence of qualified male heirs. Added provisions concerned the formation of a regency if the king was too young or otherwise unable to rule, as well as provisions concerning the crown prince's education. Any acts or decrees signed or issued by the king had to be countersigned by at least one of his ministers, who thus took responsibility for them.
Without the ministerial countersignature, no act of the king was to be considered valid. The king was given the right to declare any accused person innocent, or alternately to mitigate or suspend their punishment or pardon them, he was given supreme power over religious matters in Saxony. He appointed the president of the upper house of the Diet, together with a proxy from among three candidates suggested by that house, appointed the president and proxy of the lower house, as well; the king was given sole power to promulgate laws, to carry them into effect, only by his consent could any proposal for a law be advanced in the Diet. He had authority to issue emergency decrees and to issue non-emergency laws that he found needful or "advantageous," though such instruments required the counter-signature of at least one of his ministers, had to be presented to the next Diet for approval, he could not, change the constitution itself or the electoral laws in this manner. He was permitted to veto laws passed by the Diet, or to send them back with proposed amendments for reconsideration.
He was permitted to issue extraordinary decrees to obtain money for state expenditures refused by the Diet, through the
Battle of Le Mans
The Battle of Le Mans was a German victory during the Franco-Prussian War that ended French resistance in western France. After capturing the armies of the French Empire at Sedan and Metz in the fall of 1870, the German armies under the command of Helmuth von Moltke besieged Paris in September 1870; the newly-formed French Third Republic rejected a German peace offer and decided to continue the war and raise fresh armies to defeat the Germans. The first French attempt to relieve Paris was defeated by the Germans at Orléans from 2 to 4 December by Prince Friedrich Karl of Prussia's Second Army. After a second defeat at Beaugency on 10 December, General Antoine Chanzy's poorly supplied Armée de la Loire retreated undisturbed west to Le Mans on 15 December. Friedrich Karl's army was at the limits of its lines of communications and subject to franc-tireur attacks, his cavalry could not pursue along the icy roads. The war was taking its toll on the Germans, with much of the Prince's infantry by now being composed of inexperienced recruits unaccustomed to long marches.
Two days Moltke confirmed the order to not pursue. The retreat to Le Mans through the muddy and hilly terrain proved disastrous for the French army. Thousands of soldiers deserted, hiding in the forests. Lack of paved roads resulted in entire convoys getting immobilized along the way; the force that arrived in Le Mans was exhausted from the poor march organization and constant defeats. Le Mans had rail lines to Nantes and Paris and thus provided the French with lines of retreat. Chanzy began to prepare the city for the defensive; the city had no significant geographical or fortified defenses and Chanzy's maintenance of his position was dependent on German supply difficulties south of Paris. The German General Staff was able to overcome these deficiencies and prepare Friedrick Karl's army for an offensive to destroy the Armée de la Loire. Moltke observed the French attempts to reform their defeated armies and decided to finish them off before they could do so. With the benefit of the improved supply situation, on 1 January 1871 he ordered Friedrich Karl to advance west between Vendôme and Chartres and destroy Chanzy's forces.
Chanzy submitted plans to the Government of National Defense for another attack on the German siege army at Paris. The government persuaded him to await until the second week of January, when two new army corps would have been raised at Cherbourg and Vierzon; the French plan was to inflict as much attrition as possible on the Germans to soften their peace terms. Chanzy sent a division-sized column under General Alphonse Jouffroy to harass the German Second Army, while the rest of his 100,000-strong army dug in. Jouffroy ambushed two German battalions on 27 December at Troo but the Germans fought their way out; the French column attacked the German position in the town of Vendôme on 31 December but was defeated. Jouffroy prepared for another attack on 5 January that ran headlong onto Friedrich Karl's offensive. Friedrich Karl arranged his army on a broad arc to encircle the French at Le Mans and began the offensive on 6 January; the Württembergian XIII Corps under the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg advanced on the right flank along the Huisne river.
X Corps under General Konstantin Bernhard von Voigts-Rhetz covered the left flank by advancing down the Loir. In the center, III Corps and IX Corps followed each other down the main road to Le Mans; the Germans defeated Jouffroy's attack and pursued his retreating men west, using the same routes as Chanzy's army had done weeks before. French delaying tactics and the difficult terrain did not prevent the Germans from advancing 50 miles in six days. Chanzy was angered by the speed of the German offensive and on 8 January gave his most trusted lieutenant, Admiral Bernard Jauréguiberry, command over the forward columns to shore up their retreat; the advance of the German X Corps was halted for the day. The two German corps in the center continued to push forward with little opposition and on 9 January Chanzy sent a division to check them at Ardenay; the French held their positions in the snow until nightfall. These delaying actions could not stop the Germans and on 10 January Chanzy launched a general counter-attack to buy time for his defensive preparations in Le Mans.
The French army was demoralized and ill-equipped. Much of the French ammunition had been soaked in the rain giving the Prussians a major advantage against the obsolete French gunnery, but Chanzy still ordered his forces into trenches prepared before Le Mans. The Germans hit the French left flank guarded by the Huisne River; the flank was turned and nearly routed until artillery and a counterattack halted the German attack. A bold German attack was overwhelmed the French right flank. Jauréguiberry failed to do so; the French defense dissolved, the stragglers falling back into Le Mans. The battle had ended French resistance in the west. Friedrich Karl's supply lines were stretched thin and his army was so exhausted from its campaign along the Loire River that he did not pursue Chanzy; the French retreated first to Alençon and to Laval on 13 January. Chanzy continued to plan further attacks but his hungry and fatigued horde of an army was incapable of offensive action and the fighting around the Loire came to an end.
More than 25,000 Frenchmen were killed and wounded and 50,000 French soldiers deserted during and after the battle. Friedrich Karl noted German casualties of 3,000 men in his diary. Howard, M.. The Franco-Prussian War: The German Invasion of France 1870–1871. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-26671-8. Wawro, G.. The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870–1871. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-584