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Chapter 3


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 Lamécourt, 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 of Amblimont.

At the same time, at his headquarters at Chémery, Blumenthal was having
a bridge built over the Meuse by the Wurtemburg division. The 11th
Corps, astir before daylight, crossed the Meuse at Dom-le-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 Mézières. 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 Frénois; the other
division passed by Noyers, and drew up before Sedan, between Frénois 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 Frénois; 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 Frénois.

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 Givonne, the
Royal Guard; the 5th Corps at Saint Menges; the 2d at Flaigneux; the
Wurtemburgers at the bend of the Meuse, between Saint Menges and
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 of reptiles.

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.

Victor Hugo