CHARLES E. RYAN
With an Ambulance during the Franco-German War

 

CHAPTER XII.

A TOWN CAPTURED BY FIVE UHLANS.---MANTES TO VERSAILLES.---WE ARE ANNEXED BY THE GERMANS.---GENERAL SHERIDAN AND NIGGER CHARLIE. ---SOUTHERN EXILES.

OUR horses being fatigued from the long journeys and heavy roads, we made but slow progress. On coming to Mantes we put up for the night at the Hôtel de France. This famous town is a wonder of cleanliness, with streets as tidy as they are kept in Holland, and not a disagreeable nook anywhere. Much consternation had been caused the day before, by five Uhlans coming into the market-place with a train of waggons, and carrying off all the corn and fodder they wanted for the troops about Versailles. After they had satisfied these demands, the Uhlans proceeded to set the station house on fire, as also to saw down the telegraph posts and cut the wires. "What pluck these five must have had!" will be the reader's exclamation. "Imagine such a force riding through a populous town and carrying away with them half the produce of the market, while the people looked on and never dreamt of molesting them!"

But the feat was not so daring, after all. Every one knew that, if the inhabitants had interfered with these Uhlans, the place would have been visited the day after, and reduced to ashes. Such was the punishment inflicted upon whole villages of innocent and peaceable inhabitants, sometimes in revenge of what had been done by a few individuals. I shall give, by-and-by, a proclamation which was posted up on the walls of Orleans, describing such an execution, and threatening to repeat the like under similar circumstances.

Here it was that Pratt, who was anxious to get a vehicle in which most of the medical staff could travel, produced an order which he had got from the Prussian authorities at Sedan, requiring the Mairie of any French town through which he passed, to provide him with whatever horses and vehicles he might need for the use of his corps. Hayden and I were sent to carry out this unpleasant task. Armed with our peremptory document, we made a tour of discovery through Mantes, and, by throwing a couple of francs to a lad, were informed of a large, private, four-wheeled omnibus,---the very thing we wanted,---and a dashing, stoutly-built pair of greys that might draw it. The yard gate stood open, so in we walked, with the boldness of highwaymen, and asked to see the owner. I knew by the servant's face that he suspected what was in the wind. He retreated without uttering a syllable; but soon came back, followed by his master---a middle-aged man of gentlemanly appearance. He seemed very uneasy; but, when we showed him our requisition, and told him that we had come to relieve him for a time of his carriage and pair of horses, his face wore an aspect of the blankest dismay.

We, however, gave a sign to our own ostlers outside the gate, and directed them to harness the horses and put to, which they did with as great alacrity as if they had been Prussians, the owner looking on in sullen silence. But what were his feelings, when, twenty minutes after, he saw us driving his team through the gate and out of the town, I dare not guess. This carriage and pair, I may here subjoin, we used until the end of the war, when they were returned to the Mayor of Versailles, with a request that they might be given back to the original owner at Mantes, minus, however, one of the horses, which died from overwork and hardship.

Thus it is, that, during times of war, the sacred rights of property are violated, and systematic robbery is held to be justifiable by those who can successfully practise it. In this instance the property was ultimately restored to its rightful owner; but, in how many cases is that never done? To be sure, the Government is supposed to indemnify any individual who can produce the counterfoil of the requisition: yet it would be interesting to hear from such injured persons, the story of how much they asked and how little they got.

We pushed on rapidly towards St. Germain, for Dr. Pratt was in haste to get there as soon as possible. Curious to relate, we had not thus far fallen in with a single German outpost; neither did we, until our entrance into the Forest of St. Germain, when we were challenged, and had to give up our papers for inspection. A few miles outside that town we passed through the village of Mézières, which had been burned to the ground a few days previously, and was now a smouldering heap of ruins. One burned village is like another, and I might have fancied myself in Bazeilles. Whole streets in the suburbs of St. Germain, through which we passed, had been plundered, and, in some cases, the soldiers had gone from house to house by means of holes, which they had picked through the partition walls. I rambled over a pile of such buildings, and certainly the wanton destruction within them was astounding. The Germans, I must say, when not watched, are rare good hands at pillage; but they were kept down by such rigid discipline, and so severely punished for every offence, how trivial soever, that they were, and are, I suppose (although not with their goodwill), the best conducted soldiers on active service in Europe. In the matter of discipline, nothing appears to have been changed, at least in the way of relaxation, among the Prussian rank and file, since the good old days of Frederick the Great and his eccentric and brutal father.

Soon after leaving St. Germain we came upon the heights of Marly, just below the aqueduct. From this position we commanded that historic view which is too well known for me to think of describing it, even if I could. Beneath us we observed the Palace of St. Cloud, destined in a few short hours to be a ruin; and beyond, towering gloomily above it, the fort of Mont Valérien. Nor was the garrison of the latter idle, for it kept up a brisk cannonade in our direction, even as we were looking towards it.

Presently we noticed a number of men descending beneath its guns. Evidently, something unusual was about to take place. Of this fact we were soon made certain by the shells dropping much nearer to us, some bursting at the other side of the road beneath;---which, for a moment, led us to imagine that the fort had mistaken us for an ammunition train. The shells came very close; and the ladies who were with us felt, as was not unreasonable, a good deal of alarm.

Just then two bodies of Bavarian cavalry and a regiment of infantry passed us in hot haste, doubling down the hill, along a by-road, to join other troops of the Line which were concealed in the woods beneath us, and under cover of them were advancing. Directly to our left and below us, the Prussian batteries opened fire from their positions, which covered their cavalry and infantry on the right and left flank. For some time the booming and rattling were kept up vigorously, reminding us of the 31st August and 1st September on a small scale. But in about an hour all was quiet again, and the French had retreated within their big fort.

This was only one of numberless little skirmishes, which were constantly taking place between the besiegers and besieged, according as either made excursions in the country around them in quest of provisions, fodder, or fuel.

Early in the afternoon we entered Versailles, and reported ourselves immediately to the Prussian General Commandant of the place. We established our headquarters at the Hôtel des Réservoirs, in the street of the same name. There Dr. Pratt and one or two others secured apartments, which was a troublesome business, for every room in the hotel seemed to be occupied by a Baron, a Prince, a Duke, or some high officer of King William's household. I have heard that in the Hôtel des Réservoirs alone there were four or five such magnates, among them Prince Pless, and that Prince of Hohenzollern whose candidature for the Crown of Spain was the pretext on which Louis Napoleon had declared war. This latter I used to see constantly about the Conciergerie of the hotel,---a gentlemanly, gay, and handsome youth, wearing the uniform of the White Hussars, and certainly the last man in the world one would picture to oneself as having originated this tremendous conflict.

Staying at the same hotel were two American Generals of great, but unlike celebrity, ---Sheridan, the famous cavalry hero, and Burnside, who lost the battle of Fredericksburg. They made most friendly advances towards the Americans of our Staff; but their attentions were received by the latter with the utmost indifference, as they might have anticipated; for our men, with the exception of Hayden, were Southerners, and hated the ground these Yankees trod upon. Nigger Charlie, whom their efforts had made a freeman, gnashed his teeth at Sheridan when that General condescended to notice him. It was an honour of which the darkie felt by no means proud. I may here state that no one who has not lived for some time among a number of Southerners can realise how bitter was their hatred in those years towards the North. So great was it, indeed, that, when they could avoid it, they would not even eat at the same table, or have any social intercourse with them. I must add my suspicion that this was strictly true only in the case of men like my confrères, who had been large slave-owners and landed proprietors; and who, having been completely ruined by the war, had gone into voluntary exile. On such as these the indulgent policy of the United States Government, after the ruin of the Southern cause, had no power to efface the memory of what they had lost. Wherever one travelled in Europe twenty years ago, one still found Southern exiles, as deeply imbued with hatred of the Yankee as if their subjugation had taken place only the day before. But that feeling was not likely to outlive them. And I am told that the gentlemen of Virginia and South Carolina have acquiesced now in the abolition of slavery, against which they fought so fiercely and to such little purpose, although we have just been witnessing the renewal of their efforts to disfranchise the coloured voters, and restore the local and State government to their own class.

But I am wandering from my subject. As I have already said, our chiefs private wish was, if possible, to get into Paris; and, with this object in view, Dr. Pratt held a long consultation with Colonel Lloyd Lindsay, R.A., president of the English Society, from whom we now awaited our orders. He declared the project impossible, and placed our contingent at the service of Prince Pless, Inspector-General of the German Ambulance Corps, who told us that we were wanted very badly indeed at Orleans, where there had been some days' severe fighting, with great loss on both sides. The town was full of wounded, and the medical staff quite insufficient to take charge of them.

Ostensibly, therefore, under the direction of Colonel Lloyd Lindsay and the English Society, but, as a matter of fact, under German orders, we had henceforth to carry on our mission. This change of control was disagreeable to us; but there was no help for it. We had been at first exclusively in the service of the French, but were always international; and we could not, in honour or conscience, refuse to enlist in the service of the Germans. As it had been rumoured about Versailles that we wanted to get into Paris, there was felt a certain amount of suspicion regarding our neutrality; and to have hesitated at this moment would have been fatal to our usefulness in the forthcoming campaigns. We made preparations to start as soon as might be. Colonel Lloyd Lindsay objected to our present Ambulance uniforms, and thought them too French. The Francs-Tireurs who had captured us, it will not be forgotten, had taken them to be Prussian. At his suggestion, we were to wear the undress uniform of the Royal Artillery while attached to the German Field Hospital Service; and a supply was ordered immediately from London. We received them, and wore them until we left Orleans. Such were the circumstances under which our transfer from the French to the Germans was effected.

 

CHAPTER XIII.

THE PRUSSIAN HEADQUARTERS IN VERSAILLES.---A POLISH LADY.---THE BURNING OF ST. CLOUD.---GERMAN PRINCES.---BY ÉTAMPES AND THE BATTLEFIELD OF CHEVILLY TO ORLEANS.

AS Dr. Pratt had arrangements to make for our transit, and stores to lay in, and as our horses sorely required rest, our departure was delayed for two days, during which I had ample opportunity of seeing everything that was worth while at Versailles. My quarters were comfortable; and I ought not to pass over the circumstances which enabled me to come by them.

A Polish lady of great wealth, Madame Urbonouski, who lived in the Rue des Réservoirs, hearing that our Ambulance corps had entered Versailles, came out in person and accosted Dr. Mackellar; telling him that it would give her much pleasure if he and two others of his companions would accept the use of her house and the hospitality of her table, whilst they were staying in the city. So generous an offer could not be refused. Mackellar, Hayden, and myself were only too well pleased to accept such agreeable lodgings. Our apartment were exquisitely furnished, and provided with all manner of luxuries, to which the sorry plight wherein we had come from Rouen hardly allowed us to do justice. Nothing could exceed Madame Urbonouski's kind attention during the couple of days that we lodged under her roof. Provisions were scarce and costly ; but that did not prevent her from giving us the best of everything to eat, and the choicest of wines at dinner. Before I left, my hostess, understanding that I was an Irishman, and being well aware of the sympathies which have existed between her own nation and Ireland (countries alike in their religious history and their long disasters), insisted that, if ever I returned to Versailles, I should pay a fresh visit to the Rue des Réservoirs. I promised, and should have been glad to have kept my word. But I did not see Madame Urbonouski a second time, nor do I know if she is still living.

On the day after our arrival every one was talking of the burning of St. Cloud, which occurred the previous evening. It was the unhappy result of that fighting which we had witnessed, and, thanks to the shells from Mont Valérien, had as good as shared in, on the 13th. Next morning we visited the Château of Versailles, and saw the picture galleries and the Chapel Royal. Here, too, the tokens of war made themselves conspicuous elsewhere than in the smoky battle pieces which stared at us from the walls. All the galleries on the ground floor had been turned into a Hospital, and were filled with wounded Germans. And a first-class Hospital they made,---commodious and airy, the arrangement and general organisation as nearly perfect as possible. But on the well-tended grass plots in front of the Palace, I saw numbers of the King's horses exercised, where, but a short time previously, it had been almost a crime to set foot.

I must not speak of the Grand and Little Trianon, the trim walks, or the fountain which I beheld playing into the basin of Neptune. It was all new and delightful to a raw youth, whose reading of French history had been neither extensive nor profound. Mackellar and I took a drive through the Park, out of Versailles, and enjoyed a distant view of Paris from certain heights whence now and then we could hear the booming of cannon as the forts discharged their thunder. On our homeward journey we met the old King driving in an open landau. He was accompanied by the German Chancellor. When I saw him another time, General von Moltke was in the carriage. Thus I had now set eyes on the man at Sedan who had lost one Empire, and on those who were destined, in the halls of Louis XIV, to set up another ere six months should have passed.

But, indeed, it would seem that half the inhabitants of Versailles consisted of Princes, Dukes, Barons, and commanding officers. I counted nine of these notables at the Hôtel des Réservoirs; yet some were such shabby-looking specimens of their class, that for the time they extinguished in me the respect which I had supposed myself to entertain for Royalty and its surroundings. A Prince, a Duke, or a General who walked about the streets munching alternately a piece of raw ham or sausage from one hand, and a junk of bread from the other, was not exactly one's idea of feudal, or even German dignity, and modern civilisation. Yet such were the manners of not a few whose high-sounding names read well in the "Gazette."

I have been offered a share of these rude repasts, and, famished as I might be at the time, my self-respect, nay, my very appetite, revolted; and it was not without an effort that I was able politely to decline. The proverb runs, "A la guerre comme à la guerre". I do not mean to imply that in a campaign the decencies of life can be always observed; but there is such a thing as a gentlemanly bearing, and, out of that great assembly which boasted of the oldest German blood in its members, I saw few that came up to the standard which English officers are expected to fulfil, as they do with the rarest exception.

I must confess that, when I looked at several of our attachés in the German Court, and contrasted them with their perhaps more intellectual, and certainly more uncouth and burly, cousins from across the Rhine, and from the Mark of Brandenburg, I could not help feeling proud of that sister country which gave them birth. But, alas, when we compare, not the officers and men individually, but the English army with the German, we can no longer boast: our methods of training, until lately, have been old-fashioned: our military science lags behind; and our neglect of the training, to which all young men in town and village might, with the greatest advantage, be submitted, is, I venture to think, no less shortsighted than imbecile.

On the evening of the 15th, I saw 12,000 men marched through Versailles. These were new levies from Germany, coming to reinforce the army of investment around Paris; and a splendid body of men they looked. The general topic of conversation now was the fighting about Orleans, the taking of that town, and the defeat of the Army of the Loire, news of which had just reached us. Fresh combats in the neighbourhood were expected, and Dr. Pratt made all ready to start on the morrow. At Versailles it seemed to be the general opinion that Paris could not long hold out; and, with its capitulation, the war must end.

On the same night, we had orders to report ourselves next morning at headquarters, and to be ready to start at a moment's notice.

October 16th was Sunday. I, was up at cockcrow, heard Mass at the Grande Eglise, and bade good-bye to my amiable hostess. Our staff was assembled at headquarters, in the midst of the Princes, Barons, Dukes, and the rest whom I have already mentioned. When everything was ready, and the waggons and stores had got into line, those who had horses rode forward, while we others drove in the comfortable private omnibus we had-borrowed, I suppose, is the word,---at Mantes. Our departure created a little stir in the town. As for Prince Pless, he made himself agreeable to all of us, and was even so thoughtful as to give us a supply of cigars.

Moving along in procession we made somewhat of a display. From the foremost of our Ambulance waggons floated the flags of England and America on the breeze. Just as we arrived at the broad avenue in front of the Mairie, which is the way out of the town, a Prussian regiment passed us in full marching order. As they approached, we heard orders passed along among officers and under officers, in loud harsh tones, with the result that, as each Company went by, it presented arms, our chief and those who rode with him returning the salute.

We were soon clear of Versailles and on the way to Longumeau, at which place, after a pleasant journey, we arrived towards evening, and secured quarters for the night. Before we were in the town very long, it appeared that our arrival had created a commotion among the Prussian authorities, who had no knowledge as to what we were, and whither we were going. On these points several of us were questioned repeatedly by the German officers. This was the case. Our chief, finding Longumeau such a trifling village, did not think it necessary to report himself to the Commandant. That such was not this dignitary's opinion we soon discovered by his coming down to the hotel where we had put up, and storming in most vociferous and unparliamentary language at all and sundry, but especially at Dr. Pratt, for not reporting to him as soon as we were in his jurisdiction.

However, the matter was made straight by the production of the Doctor's credentials, signed by the authorities at Versailles, upon which our boisterous little friend, who wore a uniform of rusty gold lace, fell into a surly silence. Before it became dusk, I went out with Dr. May to buy such odds and ends of eatables as might eke out what was provided for dinner. We went into a store, which was crowded with German soldiers. While I was waiting to be served, I watched the different purchases that were being made. One of our Teutons was buying butter, old and rank, another lard, another candles, another fat pork or bacon. All were investing their groschen and small change in something or other greasy. One of these fellows took a piece of butter in his fingers, weighing about half a pound, and then asked the price of it; but while the poor French shopkeeper was looking in another direction, the hero slipped out and decamped to his quarters. I felt inclined to follow him up, but judged it wiser to control my indignation, as I had to do many a time before and afterwards. Within an hour from our arrival, the towns-people learned on what errand we were going, and became, in consequence, most polite and communicative. One of the most respectable among the bourgeois went so far as to ask us into his house to tea and supper.

Some four of us accepted the invitation. We slipped across the street, after dark, to our good friend's abode, and spent a pleasant evening over an excellent cup of coffee, with fair bread and butter. No one, who has not served during a campaign, can conceive how impossible it is to get anything like a comfortable meal, or to procure good and eatable bread, not to mention good butter, which was a rarity indeed. And I am afraid the same must be said of beef and mutton, ---in fact, of all the ordinary articles of consumption.

Next morning we made an early start. Our road still lay through a finely wooded country, each side lined with cherry, apple, and pear trees, to the fruit of which we helped ourselves abundantly. The weather continued open. And, as before, we had to keep a sharp look-out for the Francs-Tireurs, rumours of whose wanton doings were rife amongst the peasants, who bore them a cordial hatred.

About midday, we arrived at the little town of Arpajon, where we made our luncheon. What struck us, in passing through the hamlets and villages on our route, was the utterly deserted and forlorn aspect of their houses, streets, and public places. The country seemed to have become a wilderness, so far as inhabitants were concerned.

Early in the afternoon we reached Etampes, a clean little town, with wide boulevards, and a prettily planted square. Curious to tell, we did not find a single German in occupation, and had no difficulty in getting quarters. I took a stroll through the town with Mackellar and Warren. The first building which drew our attention was the parish church, standing in the principal street, and not inelegant. We entered, expecting to see everything in that state of gaudy neatness which is characteristic of French country churches; but what was our horror to find the air laden with a foul odour, and the floors of the aisle and transept littered with straw! It was evident that a troop of cavalry horses had been quartered here, some having been tied to the benches, which supplied the place of mangers, and others secured to the railings of the side-chapel.

It was also plain that the stalls in the Sanctuary had been used in like manner, judging from the amount of stable débris that lay about on all sides; many of the benches, too, had been broken up, and fires lighted with them in different parts of the church. The steps and the altar showed signs of having been used for the purposes of eating and sleeping upon them. At the foot of the altar, which was flashy and splendid, lay upon straw a ham bone picked clean. All this was very revolting. Hitherto, we had indeed seen the churches in and around Sedan and Versailles turned into hospitals; but no one will describe that as an improper use of them. It was quite another thing to make of the Sanctuary a noisome den.

On quitting the desecrated church, we crossed the railway to the old Château, which stands on the hill above Etampes. It is a place of historic associations, but the Prussians had ransacked it, and all was confusion within. When we came back it was reported to our chief that the mayor had made some objection about giving fodder to our horses; so that my friend Hayden was forthwith deputed to call on him and put the matter straight. To him the mayor abruptly reiterated his objection, little knowing the character of the man whom he had to deal with. Hayden resorted to his store of strong terms, and warned him, with the audacity of a Yankee, that if the provender was not forthcoming and sent in before night, he would have his worship publicly hanged next morning from one of the trees in his own garden. Panic-stricken at the energy with which Hayden announced his doom upon the morrow, the poor man, without more ado, gave orders to have the fodder and corn delivered at once, which was accordingly done.

There was something not a little daring in this procedure of Hayden's, though nothing, perhaps, really courageous; for M. le Maire had no soldiers, and not so much as a gendarme in the town at his command. Hence his instantaneous surrender. We had a great laugh over the whole affair.

Next morning we resumed our march, and pushed on briskly, for we now heard, from two Ambulance couriers who came against us, that fighting was going on about Orleans, and that our services were much needed in that town.

As the day advanced, we could distinctly hear the ceaseless booming of cannon many miles ahead. Towards evening, when we had passed by Artenay, we found the road and the plain on both sides covered with the débris of a battle. Numbers of torn uniforms, knapsacks, arms, accoutrements, dead horses, and newly-made graves,---all were tokens that the neighbourhood had lately seen severe fighting. An unexploded shell lay beside the road, but we avoided touching it. Many of the trees were severed midway up their trunks, and nearly all had small branches broken here and there, showing that the fighting was not confined to artillery. Some of the tree trunks were grooved in a most curious manner, evidently by shell or shot.

During the whole of this day, 18th October, we pushed on as fast as we could, arriving late at the village of Chevilly. We heard from the Mayor, who kindly gave us quarters for the night, that a fierce and bloody battle had been fought both in and around the village during the previous week. His little flower-garden had been the scene of an infantry charge; and I marked by the trampled and uprooted plants, and the scattered earth, the very spot where several deadly struggles had taken place. The ground was furrowed, and the branches of the trees broken by bombshells. Our hostess, who had retreated with her husband into a cellar during the fighting, gave me a vivid description of the affair. The whole village was a heap of ruins. But I shall remember the poor lady and her kind husband, who gave us so hospitable a welcome, despite the agitation which their late experience and the spoiling of their dwelling place had caused them.

It was a problem what would become of the inhabitants in these country districts, where the Prussians (as my host and hostess informed me) had eaten up their meat, bread, and vegetables, had carried off their cattle, their hay, straw and corn, and in many instances had finished up, when they thought the people had balked them of supplies, by burning the houses over the heads of the Frenchmen. Such things, we were assured, had come to pass round Orleans. On several occasions since leaving Longumeau, we had encountered waggon-loads of women and children, who told us piteous tales how their houses had been destroyed, and themselves obliged to fly ; and, perhaps, the saddest part of their story was, that when we asked whither they were going, they seemed, in some instances, not to have the faintest idea. They were wanderers on the face of the earth, and dazed by the calamities which had fallen on them so unexpectedly.

We left Chevilly for Orleans on the morning of the 19th. Our road still lay through the heart of the battlefield; and innumerable horses, knapsacks, broken muskets, and military trappings of all sorts, were lying about on every side. The frequent graves told their own monotonous tale. It had become a strange and painful journey; but our adventures were not yet over.

 

CHAPTER XIV.

ENTERING TO THE SOUND OF CANNON.---66 QUAI DU CHÂTELET ASSIGNED TO US, ALSO THE RAILWAY TERMINUS.---DESCRIPTION OF OUR NEW QUARTERS.

ORLEANS

ABOUT midday we entered Orleans by the Faubourg Bannier. All this time the cannon had been actively engaged at the other side of the town in the direction of Châteaudun, and, as we passed in, we met several companies of German regiments marching along some byroads towards the quarter whence the sound of firing came, doubtless with the intention of joining in the fray. Orleans had fallen into the hands of the Bavarians ; but at present the garrison was small, for all the available troops had been sent to the front, where they were now pursuing the Army of the Loire in its retreat upon Tours. In passing through the Faubourg Bannier, we saw convincing proofs of a severe and very recent conflict. Whole lines of houses were burned to the ground, while others had been partially demolished by shell, or had their doors and windows riddled. Many of the doors bore marks of having been broken through by the crowbar, or the hatchet of the sapper. In the streets the litter of the bloody battle which had been fought in the previous week, lay scattered about; and, judging from appearances, the street fighting must have been a very hot affair indeed.

We reported ourselves at once to the Commandant; for I need hardly say, that during the time of war, this is the first thing to be done by every sort of men entering a town, be they Regiment, Ambulance Corps, Couriers, or any persons whatsoever. Even a stranger whose business is not well known is at once taken by the Military Police before the General Commandant, and required to give a full account of himself; which if he cannot do to that officer's satisfaction, he is placed under police supervision, and compelled to report himself every, morning at headquarters. This regulation I mention, because a certain auxiliary member of our staff was compelled to do the like, on account of his speaking unguardedly of the position of the forces to some of the townsfolk.

Our Ambulance train came to a standstill in the Place Bannier, while Dr. Pratt was making his report, and getting our quarters assigned to us. In the centre of the Place stood a large drinking fountain, around which were congregated a troop of horses, jostling each other in their anxiety to get at the water. They appeared so fatigued, that 1 judged they must have returned quite lately from the field. While our Ambulance was awaiting the return of Dr. Pratt, Mackellar and I strolled round leisurely. The excitement of the people was at this period remarkable; for they imagined that, in spite of all their recent reverses, the Army of the Loire, which was still fighting at a short distance outside the city, would beat the Germans back, and again occupy the place.

Hundreds of men, women, and children flocked about the bridge of the Loire, and kept a steady look-out down the river, in the direction of the fighting. But their expression was that of scared sheep; and when we ventured to ask one intelligent-looking young fellow why he was not fighting, and driving the invader from his country, he answered, "Sir, we have no arms, and no leaders ". It was manifest that they did not think, as others in the like circumstances have done, of improvising either.

The beautiful statue of Jeanne d'Arc, which seemed to be gazing on the battle from afar, had been entwined with wreaths and garlands, placed there by townsfolk who desired thus to win her prayers for the success of their army.

Soon after, we were informed that Nos. 66 and 68 Quai du Châtelet, on the bank of the Loire, had been allotted to us as our quarters. On arriving there we found two very spacious and elegant houses, commanding a beautiful view of the city opposite, as well as of the river, and the two famous bridges, which are among the finest monuments of the Imperial rule. Up to this date, the larger of the two houses, No. 66, had been unoccupied; and the owner, probably not knowing that we had a billet from the Commandant, was at first unwilling to let us take up the whole house. He showed a sullen countenance, and was proceeding to lock up his best suite of apartments, when our chief informed him quietly that if he gave any further trouble, and did not at once surrender the keys of every door in the house, he, Dr. Pratt, would convert the whole of his charming mansion into a hospital, and make an operation theatre of his drawing-room. This was a stern, but necessary, warning, which cleared up the situation. Monsieur yielded to force majeure thus vigorously threatened, and ever after behaved towards us with the civility which in the French nature is inherent, and which our mission at Orleans might fairly be said to demand.

Our chief had many interviews with the authorities on the two days succeeding our arrival. The question was, whether we should take on ourselves only the duties of a stationary Hospital, or follow in the track of the army. A middle course was fixed upon. We were to have a Hospital in town, and, when required, were to take the field with the German Ambulance Corps. Our services were gladly accepted by the Surgeon General, and two large Hospitals were at once handed over to us; the first-----a sick and fever Hospital---containing 150 men; the second, consisting of the railway terminus, with its waiting and refreshment rooms, stores and offices, in which lay 65 wounded; and there were beds to accommodate 150 more. We received, therewith, Hospital plant, and a staff of trained military infirmarians. We were also given a liberal supply of provisions, which were dealt out to us and our wounded by requisition. On the morning of the 21st, Surgeon-General Dr. Von Nussbaum was present at the chemin de fer d'Orleans to make us acquainted with the former staff, who were now handing over their charge to us. Our installation was a very formal proceeding. The German Guard turned out, and saluted as we passed in.

This was the beginning of our labours at Orleans. As I have stated, it was at the railway terminus, which had been converted into a Hospital by the Prussians the day after they took, possession of the town.

Entering from the Place in front of the station into the principal waiting-room, we passed through two lines of soldiers, drawn up at attention, and out on the platform. There were no carriages within the precincts of the terminus, but some dreary-looking trucks might be seen scattered about on the sidings, and, except a few men on guard at the coal depôt, there was not a human being within sight.

The terminus was covered, and of great extent. All the buildings connected with it were spacious, and fitted up in the ordinary way. We made ourselves at home immediately in the first-class waiting-room. Its sofas were placed back to back in the centre; and there were lines of beds at each side, every bed occupied by a wounded man. The second- and third-class salles d'attente were arranged in like manner, and as full as they could hold.

The next room was the Bureau des Inspecteurs, or the office of the railway directors. Here also there was a single row of wounded.

In the buffet there were double rows, and, as it was very spacious, the numbers it accommodated were proportionately great. In the ticket office were kept all the medical and surgical stores and requisites. In the telegraph office was the operation theatre, and in the station-master's private bureau the instruments to serve it were kept; there the surgeon on night duty remained during the period of his watch. In this room there was always a good fire, and outside the door paced up and down a German sentinel on guard.

At the other side of the platform, approached by the level crossing, we found the goods department, and the carriage, waggon, and engine depôt, which latter, in its general appearance, was nothing more or less than an immense shed, with open archways at both ends. In this most airy apartment lay, also, numbers of wounded.

When we pointed to several large holes in the roof (which had been made by falling shells a few days previously), and then to the open archways, suggesting to our friends that they were, perhaps, a degree too airy to be beneficial, Prof. Nussbaum informed us that the wounded in this place got better more rapidly than those in the Salles, who were kept warm, and completely protected from the weather.

We remained there nearly two hours, seeing the more interesting cases dressed, and then looked on at an operation by Nussbaum. As several of the parcel and lamp offices were also occupied by wounded, it may be conceived that the whole mass of buildings around the platforms made a very extensive hospital. It was a curious and novel sight, and for a long time afterwards I never entered a large terminus of the kind without speculating on the numbers of wounded that it would accommodate.

We were received very kindly by our German friends; and before evening were in charge of the whole place, having an efficient staff of nurses to assist us, and to look after the wants of our invalids.

As we had now enjoyed a considerable experience in the working of a military field-hospital, it took us but a few hours to get into the routine; and the Germans were evidently pleased at seeing how briskly we fell into line, and took up from them the whole management.

With regard to the Barrack across the river, which was full of sick and fever patients, it had been, I say, assigned to us; but we never actually took it over. The German surgeons who were in charge had to join their field-hospital, which was about to move in the track of the army. Nor did the Bavarians possess any medical reserve in Orleans at this time, so that we came to their assistance at a juncture when we were much needed; and they showed themselves extremely grateful. When, however, they were on the point of delivering up the second hospital to us, their orders to move were rescinded; and we were saved, thereby, an amount of labour and responsibility, to which our limited staff would have been altogether unequal.

 

CHAPTER XV.

ASSISTANT SURGEON.---IMPRESSIONS OF THE GERMAN CHARACTER.---THE ARMY AND ITS DISCIPLINE.STATE OF SIEGE.---VON DER TANN'S PROCLAMATION.---LEOPOLD SCHRENK.

I WAS now promoted to be Assistant Surgeon by our chief, and was given charge of seventeen patients, under Dr. Mackellar. As much of the doctor's time was employed in registering and taking notes of the cases in Hospital, except when he performed operations, I was virtually in sole charge of my section, though under his supervision.

We breakfasted at 7.30, dined at 12.30, and supped at 6.30; all our meals were abundantly furnished at our quarters in the Quai du Châtelet.

With such hard work in hand, there was certainly need of substantial food, or we could never have got through it. Every day brought us fresh batches of wounded, and with them news of fresh encounters, and skirmishes in the field.

On 23rd October, I had to perform my first amputation. It was the removal of a portion of a foot, which had been crushed by a waggon wheel.

The patient, I should explain, lay in a private house, at the rear of the Quai du Châtelet. Dr. Mackellar, who had kindly given me the operation, and Jean the Turco, assisted me. But when I had made the first incision, Jean bolted out of the room, and then tumbled downstairs in a faint.

I went on with my task; but no sooner was it completed, than we were both taken aback on finding that my subject had been given an overdose of chloroform: his face was livid; and it seemed that he had already ceased to breathe. In a moment, we flung the windows and door open, and were slapping him with cold wet towels, and using artificial respiration.

To my great relief, in a few seconds the poor man breathed freely again, and before long came back to himself. He made a very prompt recovery; was convalescent, and able to hobble about on crutches in a fortnight, and had still a useful limb.

My patients increased daily, until from seventeen they became double that number. And at this time it was my duty to stay up every fifth night.

Three or four days now passed away in constant hard work, part of which consisted in rearranging and cleaning up the whole Hospital, which our predecessors had left in anything but an orderly state.

Later on, when 1 had time to go out, 1 saw numbers of the Bavarian troops returning from the recent fighting,-dirty, foot-sore, and jaded they reminded me, in fact, more of French than of German soldiers. The campaign seemed to be taking an unfavourable turn for them. Occasionally, in the evening, the bands played in the Place Martroi, where the German officers and men were wont to assemble to smoke and chat. This was one of their customs at home which they had imported into France; and by no means a disagreeable one. I heartily enjoyed the musical treat which they gave; but I liked still better to listen while whole companies were singing glees in perfect harmony, during their bivouac under the trees on the Boulevards. There we saw them awaiting the assignment of their quarters with stolid patience, and cooking their food in cauldrons over wood fires, all to this delightful accompaniment, which showed them at their best.

All the German soldiers had a knowledge of music, and more than half were fairly well trained to sing. Nearly all the Infantry regiments in Orleans at this time were Bavarians; but several detachments of the Prussian Cavalry regiments were likewise quartered in the town. I could never have imagined such a variety of uniforms and colours as I have seen among the hosts of the Emperor William. Let me recall a few of them.

There were Bismarck's Cuirassiers, in scarlet and gold; a gorgeous uniform, the undress of which (pure white) is, I think, no less becoming. Then there were the Black Brunswickers, whose uniform is like that worn by the Royal Irish Constabulary, but who wear on their shakos an emblem representing a death's head and cross bones. Again, besides the dark blue with red facings of the Prussian Infantry, and the Bavarian light blue with green facings, I could count up Hussars of all colours, red, black, and white, light blue, dark blue and gold, and the Würtemburg green. The German soldiers are certainly a magnificent body of men; and, although at the bottom of my heart my sympathies and affections are altogether with the French, despite their shortcomings, I am bound to declare the superiority of their adversaries, as men of fine physique and manly bearing, and of cool undaunted courage; and I need not repeat how admirable is the discipline under which they have been brought to such perfection.

In 1870, the French did not realise that they had to deal with an army the rank and file of which not only was composed of the muscle and sinew of the German people, but included their best brains also. Perhaps the more observant of the French writers, such as the late M. Renan, or George Sand, might have summed up the war as a contest of science against civilisation. Certain it is, that the highly wrought intelligence of the invaders was a force against which the Republic and the Empire alike contended in vain. The general run of soldiers from beyond the Rhine were well educated, and few, indeed, were unable to read and write. Those few might be found among the Bavarians---in my judgment, a slow, dull race, yet accustomed to fight in a dogged fashion, who neither went into action with the dash and ardour, nor ran away with the alacrity, of Frenchmen. Their movements were on system, and according to rule: they fought because they were bidden to fight, and mowed down the enemy, not from hatred of them, but because such were their orders ; and, if they did not take to flight, it was in the same spirit of passive obedience.

I should give the result of my impressions, therefore, somewhat as follows: Take no notice of a German soldier, and do not molest or interfere with him, especially when he is carrying out the orders of his superiors, and he will be as harmless as a child, and as easily pleased. But if, on the other hand, you do meddle with him, and stir up his rage on any pretext, his revenge will be no less prompt than terrible. In the battlefield, when once he is excited, he will use his bayonet and musket as a Zulu his assegai, or an Indian his tomahawk.

As for his manners, they are, at the best of times, uncouth, not to say detestable, and when at meals, disgusting. He is an enormous eater, caring not so much about the quality of what he devours, so long as quantity is provided; and though he drinks an amount of beer that would make any other European helplessly intoxicated, he is seldom drunk. Nothing irritates him like hunger and thirst; in which circumstance he furnishes the most unpleasing contrast to a French soldier,---always patient, and commonly cheerful under such privations. When suffering in this way, physically (which seldom occurred under the admirable organisation of the German commissariat), he would pillage and plunder all before him to get food or beer. For such depredations, when caught, he was mercilessly punished. And the German soldier submits impassively to this treatment at the hands of his officer, as if he were a dog, without seeming to resent it. I have seen officers and their subalterns on the quays of Orleans strike their men repeatedly, and on parade drill make their recruits dress in line, with the flat of their broad-swords, ---a disgraceful procedure, to which neither an English nor a French lad would submit. All these features of the German system, as brutal as it has proved effective, I observed, long after I had seen them at Orleans, in the vivacious and sparkling pages of Barry Lyndon. So little does the world change in a hundred and thirty years!

For some days no one but the military had appeared in the streets. All the shop windows in the town were closed, all business suspended; and the place, in these circumstances, had anything but a lively aspect. The Commandant, however, issued an order to all shopkeepers, obliging them, under pain of severe punishment, to take down their shutters, and open their establishments. In accordance with this regulation, on a certain day, before the appointed hour, down came all the shutters; but the display of goods in the windows amused me very much. In one, exhibiting a frontage of perhaps twenty feet or more, where silks, satins, and the most costly stuffs were usually spread out, now appeared in a tasteful arrangement several pieces of glazed calico, which were, it seemed, the only goods one could purchase in that establishment. Another equally large shop in the Rue Royale, a hardware house, exhibited as its stock in trade some dozen or so of rusty kettles, saucepans, and gridirons. In like manner did nearly all the other shopkeepers.

The pastrycooks, however, drove a roaring trade; their counters were crowded at all hours of the day with the conquering heroes, for Germans eat sweetmeats and confectionery as a cow munches young clover in the month of May. But the owners of these establishments were not at all particular as to the quality of the articles they provided. I once walked into such a place, and was about to eat of some tempting-looking things in the way of tarts, when the man behind the counter recognised me, for we were acquaintances, and whispered that he would give me in a moment something more agreeable, instead of those greasy things, pointing to what was before him, which were made only for Prussians. I ought to remark on the characteristic way in which Frenchmen, who are the most ignorant people in the world with regard to foreigners and their languages, called every stranger a Prussian, no matter of what nation he might be.

Meanwhile Orleans continued in a state of siege, and strict watch was kept on every one who moved about during the daytime. After dark no one could walk abroad without being liable to be shot down by the sentries, who were placed at every hundred yards along the streets, unless he carried a lighted lantern. I took great pleasure in listening to the bugles sounding the order for citizens to retire indoors at nine o'clock. Standing four abreast at the top of each street, the musicians sounded their call, which was a most plaintive and melodious strain.

Before going on with my narrative, I ought not to omit the curious proclamation, still on the walls of Orleans, which the Bavarian General, Von der Tann, had put forth after his capture of the city, October 13. It ran as follows :---

"FRENCH CITIZENS!

"As I desire, so much as in me lies, to alleviate the burden of the population now suffering from the evils of war, I appeal to your good sense, and trust that the sincerity with which I address you will open your eyes to the real state of affairs; and will persuade you to take your stand with the party of reason and peace.

"Your late Government declared war against Germany. Never was there a declaration more frivolous. Nor could the German armies do otherwise than reply by passing the frontier.

"They won victory after victory; and your own army, deluded upon system, and demoralised, was all but annihilated.

"Another Government has arisen. We hoped that it would make peace. It has done no such thing. And why? Because it feared for its own existence; and, pretending that the German conditions were impossible, it has chosen to continue a war, the outcome of which cannot fail to be the ruin of France.

"Now, what are the conditions which they call impossible?

"They are the restoration of those provinces that belonged to Germany, and in which the German language still prevails in town and country; in other words, of Alsace and the German Lorraine.

"Is this proposal too much?

"What conditions would a victorious France have exacted?

"You have been told that the purpose of the German armies is to degrade France. That is simply a falsehood, invented to stir up and excite the masses.

"On the contrary, it is your Government which, by its conduct, is forcibly drawing on the German battalions into the heart of the country, and is leading up to the ruin which it will accomplish if it persists in itself degrading that fair France, which might have proved to be the warmest friend of the nation it has driven into hostilities.

"Orleans, 13th Oct., 1870.

"BARON DE TANN,
"General of Infantry."

The olive-branch of this good General of Infantry, held out at the point of the sword to a people than whom a more touchy or sensitive does not exist, was hardly intended to produce an effect. Orleans was eagerly waiting all through that month and down to the 10th November, in the feverish expectation of succour from without, which would rid them of M. de Tann and his proclamations.

But day passed after day, until the monotony of our routine was broken by the astounding news, long foreseen, yet, when it came, overpowering, of the capitulation of Metz, with Bazaine, 3 Marshals, 66 Generals, 3000 cannon, and 173,000 men. It was the greatest surrender in history,---perhaps, the most flagrant act of treason.

Accounts given by the wounded stragglers, whom we daily received into our Hospital, told us that a desultory warfare, but no regular fighting, was going on between the opposing armies in our front. On one day, about November , two Bavarians were admitted, rather severely wounded. They related that in the direction of Blois, a party of skirmishers, with which they were serving, came upon, and surprised, a body of French, of whom, after a desperate fight, they captured two only, but left forty dead on the field. This, they stated, had taken place eight hours' distance (i.e., 24 miles) from Orleans. A few days later, I received three others, who had been engaged in a similar small skirmish with the rear guard of the enemy. All three, by an odd coincidence, were wounded in the upper extremity. One Hussar had received a bayonet-thrust through the upper and fleshy part of his arm; but, with a beaming smile, he related how he had cleft the Frenchman's head in two, while his opponent was in the act of making his thrust. The other two had bullet wounds in their arms, evidently received at close quarters.

On another day, two men were brought in, who had been shot by a couple of Francs-Tireurs. These latter wore no uniform, and had coolly potted them from behind a hedge. Yet, as the following notice from General Wittich announced,---and it was a sample of others posted up throughout the country,---all such civilian aggressors were liable to the extreme penalty. "I declare to the inhabitants," so ran this document, "that all persons, not being soldiers, who shall be taken bearing arms against the German troops, or committing other acts of hostility or treason, will be irrevocably put to death. Only those will be considered as military who wear uniforms, or who are recognisable at rifle distance by distinctions not separable from the clothes which they have on."

In the general arrangement of our Hospital, and particularly in the nursing department, we were greatly assisted by a most generous and kind-hearted little Bavarian, named Leopold Schrenk, Captain in a Regiment of the Line. He used to come every day when off duty, and work in our Hospital, ready to help all round, but was of especial service in looking after the patients' rations. I have seen him making the beds of my wounded men, and washing their faces. This devotion to his suffering and wounded fellow-countrymen was admirable; but he displayed a hatred for all Frenchmen and Roman Catholics, and he detested priests, in a way which 1 could never account for, as it was very unusual among South Germans. However, he behaved like a staunch patriot, and was a favourite with us all. When I parted from him he gave me his address and his photograph.

Some ladies who belonged to Orleans also came and distributed soup to the wounded; among them one who was by birth from Ireland, Madame O'Hanlon. Actuated solely by motives of charity, they ministered alike to Prussians and French, with equal kindness and attention.

 

CHAPTER XVI.

CASES AND PATIENTS.---MARTIN DILGER.---HEAVY LOSSES.---FRENCH IRRELIGION CONTRASTED WITH GERMAN PIETY.

As it is my object to exclude as much as possible professional details of my labours at the bedside, description of wounds, and the like, I shall again merely mention particulars of a few cases, in order to give my reader a general idea of the nature of the wounds received by soldiers in battle.

Take No. 6, for instance, as I find it in my notes. It was a very bad case. A German soldier of the Line had received a bullet wound behind and below the calf of his leg, which passed up, without touching the bone, behind his knee joint, beneath the muscles of the thigh to the joint of the hip. Having pursued this most extraordinary course, it lodged so deep beneath the muscles that neither the German doctors nor ourselves, to whom the case was handed over, could find the exact position of the bullet; yet I laid open its track in four or five places. Despite all treatment, he died eventually of blood-poisoning. On making a post-mortem examination, I traced the bullet actually into the abdomen, and still was unable to find it, although certain of its general position. These particulars I mention to show the unaccountable course a bullet may take after entering an extremity. There were dozens of similar curious cases, for which this may suffice as an example.

In another instance the bullet, having entered the right thigh and fractured the bone, carried along with it, impacted in its centre, a splinter of this bone, and pieces of the tunic and lining, as well as of trousers and shirt. It then entered the left thigh, lodging close to the skin on the outer side, from which I extracted the different fragments in the order just described.

By this time we had evacuated the large shed, which was now only occupied by those who suffered from pyæmia, or blood-poisoning. All the rest had comfortable quarters in different portions of the building; but these unfortunates were doomed to remain in the shed, though exposed to the biting frost and bleak winds of November. The simple reason was that their presence under the same roof with their comrades would mean certain death to all. When they had contracted this dread disease, which they chiefly did by infection, their only chance,---and a poor one it proved,---was to be placed in a current of fresh air. Hence their removal to this shed was commonly but their first step to the deadhouse.

This plague of the Field Hospital made great havoc amongst our men during the month of November in Orleans, as it had done at Sedan in September. The only instance of recovery after it, which came under my notice during the whole campaign, was that of the Bavarian named Martin Dilger; and his was of a very bad type. His thigh had been amputated; and, when the symptoms set in, I sent him out to the shed, where he quickly became as bad as his comrades. I attended him several times every day but he speedily grew worse, until at last, his case seemed more desperate than all the others. The soft parts sloughed, leaving the thigh-bone protruding; while the patient was almost comatose, and had that violent hiccough which is generally, in such cases, the forerunner of death. Several of my fellow-surgeons, moved by feelings of humanity, advised me not to put him to the useless pain and annoyance of dressing his stump, since he was in articulo mortis, and his recovery beyond the range of possibility. However, I resolved that while he lived, I would do as much for him as possible ; and I continued to dress his wounds.

Dilger had prolonged and repeated rigors, followed by profuse perspiration, and was generally of a bluish livid colour,---all symptoms of most deadly omen. I gave him as much brandy as he could take, and chloral every two hours, for the hiccough, which was so violent that it shook not only his whole frame, but the bed on which he lay. Yet, in a few days these rigors subsided; he opened his eyes, and became conscious. In the face of such a decided improvement, I ventured the opinion that he would recover. He was now taking immense quantities of brandy, which was supplied from the stores, and broth which I had made for him in the town. Under this treatment his wounds took on a healthy action, his pulse and temperature came down, and rational speech returned, instead of his low muttering delirium; my colleagues now admitted that his recovery was possible. I suffered him to remain in the shed, as I felt that his safety depended upon having him there. Some suggested his removal into a warm comfortable room in the town. Indeed, it was with difficulty that I turned a deaf ear to these suggestions, and overcame my own inclinations, when, on going to visit him on a cold November night, I heard the wind whistling through that goods store in the most melancholy manner, and the rain coming pitter-patter through the holes in the roof. Nevertheless, in this cave of Æolus he outlived all the others, and found himself at last its sole occupant.

This was my first case of pyæmia at Orleans, but it was to be quickly followed by many more. A Black Hussar, in the first-class waiting-room, developed it in a most virulent form, and died in twenty-four hours. That frightened me very much, and I trembled for the safety of the rest. So I had my wards washed out with a strong solution of carbolic acid immediately. What made me still more apprehensive was the awful fact that, out of seventeen patients in a neighbouring ward, all hitherto going on favourably, fourteen died in a very short time of this dreadful scourge. In spite of my precautions, I found a few days subsequently that one of my patients had severe rigors, followed by perspiration; and bitter was my disappointment to see a case which had been going on splendidly, almost even to complete success, suddenly turn to the bad in a few hours. I had my man at once removed to the shed, and, as I well remember, on a biting November night; but I had no choice. I would have put him out on the road-side, rather than have allowed him to sow the seeds of inevitable death amongst the rest of my patients.

The poor fellow had now plenty of company in his dismal quarters, for my colleagues had sent just as many out there as I had.

Not three days afterwards, a bright, handsome, fair-haired lad of about twenty, with a quick, piercing eye, and manly countenance, showed also the dreaded premonitory symptoms. I said nothing to him, but asked the Hospital sergeant to get two of his men and have him removed on a stretcher to the deadhouse. Such I can only call the place from which none that entered it came out alive, except in the single instance I have quoted. Shall I ever forget the moment when the infirmiers came, and that poor young lad, looking me wistfully in the face, read his doom in my silence? He knew what it meant. He had seen his comrades go, and had learned their fate, which was so soon to be his own. A few days later, I lost a fourth,---a good, pious fellow, who was continually telling his beads. His name was Johann Krum, particulars of whose case have been already given. He was a man that never smiled; and when I discovered that he had left a wife and three children at home, I pitied him greatly.

I am thankful to say that this was the last of my patients who succumbed to pyæmia. Any others whom I lost died from shock, hemorrhage, or the severity of their wounds.

The days went on, until we had reached the second week of November. Skirmishes with the enemy,---that is to say, with the French, who were advancing upon Orleans,---now became an everyday occurrence; and the number of wounded that came straggling in meant a very considerable loss to the Bavarians.

About this time, Dr. Pratt made a journey to Versailles, in quest of stores and money, leaving Dr. Tilghman in command. Inspector-General Nussbaum made several visits to our Hospital, and expressed himself greatly pleased with the way in which it was conducted. The truth was that nobody could teach our veteran Americans anything new in the management of a Field Hospital. They had all served their time during the four years of the American War, and under a system of military medical organisation which, as all authorities acknowledge, they had brought to perfection. This was the secret of the undoubtedly successful career of our Ambulance. And I must not omit to observe that it was they who introduced the anterior suspension splint for fractures and wounds of the joints, which we were the means of having adopted in many of the German Hospitals.

To turn for a moment, before the Germans evacuate Orleans, to a subject on which their presence and behaviour often set me thinking. It was a fine sight when the Bavarians heard Mass in the great Cathedral, to mark them fully equipped in heavy marching order, as they stood in close military array in every available portion of the church, with sabres drawn, glittering helmets, and waving plumes. The officers, too, stood with drawn swords during Mass; and at the Elevation they gave, in their deep sonorous tones, the word to present arms. Altogether the spectacle, though not calculated to inspire devotion, was most impressive.

The Bavarians are, as a rule, good Catholics, and large numbers of them were to be seen at daily Mass, reading their prayers attentively, and going up to receive Communion. In the Hospitals also, they showed the same devout temper. Their Chaplains were zealous men, always at work among them, sharing their fatigues, and seeing that they attended to their religious duties. One of the infirmarians in the ward next to me, a common soldier, was in Holy Orders, though not yet a priest; and a more saintly young fellow I never met. He was light-hearted and merry, had a pleasant word for every one, and fulfilled punctiliously the duties devolving upon him as a soldier, and as a minister of religion. In this matter, as in other things of less importance, the Bavarians struck me as very unlike the French. When you saw a French soldier in church (which was but seldom), he never seemed to utter a prayer. And I feel bound to set down my experience, that so long as I was among them, I never noticed a French soldier with a prayer-book; nor did I ever hear one pray when dying. Others may have been more fortunate; but such was the fact in my case, and I think it deplorable. But the average French citizen appears to think nothing at all of religion.

Far otherwise was it with the Bavarians. And I have seen large numbers, also, of the Prussians and North Germans, who belonged to the Evangelical or other Churches, reading their prayer-books and their Bibles in the Hospitals, and praying earnestly as a matter of course. These manifestly had religious convictions; they served God with zeal and courage according to their lights. But in France the decadence of religion had been complete. No wonder, therefore, if she has fallen. Such, indeed, was the judgment of Europe a few months later, when the Commune, breaking out like a volcano, startled men from the Voltairean lightness which, during too many years of frivolity and thoughtlessness, had been the fashion. For a moment all were agreed in proclaiming the necessity of a return to the beliefs and practices of their Christian forefathers,---was it, perchance, too late?


Chapter Seventeen
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