CONCLUSION—THE FALL : CHAPTER III.
At a quarter to two in the morning,
at his headquarters at Mouzon, Albert, Crown Prince
of Saxony, set the Army of the Meuse in motion; the
Royal Guard were beat to arms, and two divisions marched,
one upon Villers-Cernay, by Escambre and Fouru-aux-Bois,
the other upon Francheval by Suchy and Fouru-Saint-Remy.
The Artillery of the Guard followed.
At the same moment the 12th Saxon
Corps was beaten to arms, and by the high road to
the south of Douzy reached Lamecourt, and marched upon
La Moncelle; the 1st Bavarian Corps marched upon Bazeilles,
supported at Reuilly-sur-Meuse by an Artillery Division
of the 4th Corps. The other division of the 4th
Corps crossed the Meuse at Mouzon, and massed itself
in reserve at Mairy, upon the right bank. These
three columns maintained close communication with
each other. The order was given to the advanced
guards to begin no offensive movement before five o’clock,
and silently to occupy Fouru-aux-Bois, Fouru-Saint-Remy,
and Douay. They had left their knapsacks behind
them. The baggage-wagons did not stir. The
Crown Prince of Saxony was on horseback on the heights
At the same time, at his headquarters
at Chemery, Blumenthal was having a bridge built over
the Meuse by the Wurtemburg division. The 11th
Corps, astir before daylight, crossed the Meuse at
Dom-lé-Mesnil and at Donchery, and reached
Vrigne-sur-Bois. The artillery followed, and held
the road from Vrigne to Sedan. The Wurtemburg
division kept the bridge which it had built, and held
the road from Sedan to Mezieres. At five o’clock,
the 2d Bavarian Corps, with the artillery at its head,
detached one of its divisions, and sent it by Bulson
upon Frenois; the other division passed by Noyers,
and drew up before Sedan, between Frenois and Wadelincourt.
The artillery of the Reserve was drawn up on the heights
of the left bank, opposite Donchery.
At the same time the 6th Cavalry Division
was sent from Mazeray, and passing by Boutancourt
and Bolzicourt, reached the Meuse at Flize; the 2d
Cavalry Division quitted its encampment, and took up
its position to the south of Boutancourt; the 4th
Cavalry Division took up its position to the south
of Frenois; the 1st Bavarian Corps installed itself
at Remilly; the 5th Cavalry Division and the 6th Corps
were posted to observe, and all in line, and order,
massed upon the heights waited for the dawn to appear.
The Crown Prince of Prussia was on horseback on the
hill of Frenois.
At the same moment, upon every point
of the horizon, other and similar movements were taking
place from every side. The high hills were suddenly
overrun by an immense black army. Not one shout
of command. Two hundred and fifty thousand men
came silently to encircle the Givonne Valley.
This is what the circle consisted of,
The Bavarians, the right wing, at Bazeilles on the
Meuse; next to the
Bavarians the Saxons, at La Moncelle and Daigny; opposite
Royal Guard; the 5th Corps at Saint Menges; the 2d
at Flaigneux; the
Wurtemburgers at the bend of the Meuse, between Saint
Donchery; Count Stolberg and his cavalry at Donchery;
in front, towards
Sedan, the 2d Bavarian Army.
All this was carried out in a ghostly
manner, in order, without a whisper, without a sound,
through forests, ravines, and valleys. A tortuous
and ill-omened march. A stealthy gliding onwards
Scarcely could a murmur be heard beneath
the thick foliage. The silent battle swarmed
in the darkness awaiting the day.
The French army was sleeping.
Suddenly it awoke.
It was a prisoner.
The sun rose, brilliant on the side of God terrible
on the side of man.