Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Battle of Coulmiers 1870 – A false dawn


Today is the 140th anniversary of the Battle of Coulmiers, the first clear French victory of the Franco-Prussian war. The Wiki entry on the battle is here.

My wife and I visited the Coulmiers battlefield in 2007. Like many of the 1870 battlefields, it is largely unchanged. We walked round the walled park of the chateau, in which the outnumbered Bavarian troops made a stand.

The 38th Régiment de Marche advances to storm the park.

The Bavarians’ view of the ground over which the 38th advanced.

A memorial commemorating the point at which the French troops entered the park.

The French monument on the battlefield.

The Bavarian monument in Coulmiers cemetery.

The French victory at Coulmiers, followed as it was by the recapture of Orleans the following day, provoked wild enthusiasm in France. Romantic spirits imagined that history was going to repeat itself, with success at Orleans being followed eventually by final victory, as in the days of Jeanne d’Arc. Events in the following month (to which I hope to return) showed these hopes to be sadly misplaced.

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