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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

Then besieged by General Werder



After these successes, the capture of Paris became only a question of time. Although the Republican leader, Gambetta, escaped from the city in a balloon, and by his fiery eloquence aroused the people of Central and Southern France, every plan for raising the siege of Paris failed. The French volunteers were formed into three armies--that of the North, under Faidherbe; of the Loire, under Aurelles de Paladine (afterwards under Chanzy and Bourbaki); and of the East, under Keratry. Besides, a great many companies of _francs-tireurs_, or independent sharp-shooters, were organized to interrupt the German communications, and they gave much more trouble than the larger armies. About the end of November a desperate attempt was made to raise the siege of Paris. General Paladine marched from Orleans with 150,000 men, while Trochu tried to break the lines of the besiegers on the eastern side. The latter was repelled, after a bloody fight: the former was attacked at Beaune la Rolande, by Prince Frederick Karl, with only half the number of troops, and most signally defeated. The Germans then carried on the winter campaign with the greatest vigor, both in the Northern provinces and along the Loire, and Trochu, with his four hundred thousand men, made no further serious effort to save Paris.

Frederick Karl took Orleans on the 5th of December, advanced to Tours, and finally, in a six days' battle,

early in January, 1871, at Le Mans, literally cut the Army of the Loire to pieces. The French lost 60,000 in killed, wounded and prisoners. Faidherbe was defeated in the North, a week afterwards, and the only resistance left was in Burgundy, where Garibaldi (who hastened to France after the Republic was proclaimed) had been successful in two or three small engagements, and was now replaced by Bourbaki. The object of the latter was to relieve the fortress of Belfort, then besieged by General Werder, who, with 43,000 men, awaited his coming in a strong position among the mountains. Notwithstanding Bourbaki had more than 100,000 men, he was forced to retreat after a fight of three days, and then General Manteuffel, who had been sent in all haste to strengthen Werder, followed him so closely that on the 1st of February, all retreat being cut off, his whole army of 83,000 men crossed the Swiss frontier, and after suffering terribly among the snowy passes of the Jura, were disarmed, fed and clothed by the Swiss government and people. Bourbaki attempted to commit suicide, but only inflicted a severe wound, from which he afterwards recovered.

[Illustration: The German EMPIRE 1871.]

[Sidenote: 1871. SURRENDER OF PARIS.]

The retreat into Switzerland was almost the last event of the _Seven Months' War_, as it might be called, and it was as remarkable as the surrenders of Sedan and Metz. All power of defence was now broken: France was completely at the mercy of her conquerors. On the 28th of January, after long negotiations between Bismarck and Jules Favre, the forts around Paris capitulated and Trochu's army became prisoners of war. The city was not occupied, but, for the sake of the half-starved population, provisions were allowed to enter. The armistice, originally declared for three weeks, was prolonged until March 1st, when the preliminaries of peace were agreed upon, and hostilities came to an end.

By the final treaty of Peace, which was concluded at Frankfort on the 10th of May, 1871, France gave up Alsatia with all its cities and fortresses except Belfort, and _German_ Lorraine, including Metz and Thionville, to Germany. The territory thus transferred contained about 5,500 square miles and 1,580,000 inhabitants. France also agreed to pay an indemnity of _five thousand millions_ of francs, in instalments, certain of her departments to be occupied by German troops, and only evacuated by degrees, as the payments were made. Thus ended this astonishing war, during which 17 great battles and 156 minor engagements had been fought, 22 fortified places taken, 385,000 soldiers (including 11,360 officers) made prisoners, and 7,200 cannon and 600,000 stand of arms acquired by Germany. There is no such crushing defeat of a strong nation recorded in history.

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