Battle of Spicheren


August 6, 1870

 ( Location of Spicheren )

The German I Army under General Karl von Steinmetz advanced west from Saarbrucken and attacked the French 2nd Corps under Charles Auguste Frossard. The German victory compelled the French to withdraw to the defenses of Metz. The Prusians lost The Germans lost 223 officers and 4,648 men.


Famous Prussian assult on Rotherberg by 1 company of the 39th Regiment and 4 companies of the 74th Regiment, commanded by General von Francois, who was killed.

Painting Erstürmung des Roten Berges by Carl Röchling

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Frossard repulsed early German attacks, but came under increasing pressure on his flanks as more Germans arrived. Bazaine sent no reinforcements and Frossard was forced to retreat. This failure of French commanders to support each other and Failley's failure to support MacMahon at Woerth became one of the causes célèbre of the French during the war.


Another view of the Storming Spicheren

(Sturm auf den Spicherer Berg)

Anton von Werner

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The Battle of Spicheren, on August 5, was the second of three critical French defeats. The French were able to stall the German I Army until the German II Army under Prince Friedrich Karl of Prussia came to the aid of their compatriots and routed the French in a blazing attack. Together with the Battle of Wœrth, on the following day, the Prussians succeeded in separating the northern and southern flanks of the French army. The German victory compelled the French to withdraw to the defenses of Metz.


Battle of Wörth 

August 6, 1870


 ( Location of Wörth(German)  Woerth (French) )

Germany commanded by Crown Prince Frederick defeat the French commanded by Marshal MacMahon. After a closely fought engagement, the French were driven from their positions, and made a hasty retreat beyond the Vosges Mountains. General Bonnemain's cuirassier division was largely destroyed in charging the German infantry, near Helsass Hausen. The German losses amounted to 489 officers, and 10,153 men, while the French lost 10,000 killed and wounded, 6,000 prisoners, 28 guns and 5 mitrailleuses.


German artillery caused high causalities among the French. Failley, who was ordered to send a corps to support MacMahon, only sent a division which was only useful for covering MacMahon's retreat.


700 French 9th Cuirassiers under General Michel trapped in Morsbronn-les-Bains

  Jean Baptiste Edouard Detaille

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The two armies clashed again only two days later (August 6, 1870) near Wœrth in the town of Frœschwiller, less than ten miles (16 km) from Wissembourg. The German 3rd army had drawn reinforcements which brought its strength up to 140,000 troops. The French had also been reinforced, but their recruitment was slow, and their force numbered only 35,000. Although badly outnumbered, the French defended their position just outside Frœschwiller. By afternoon, both sides had suffered about 10,000 casualties, and the French army was too battered to continue resisting. To make matters even more dire for the French, the Germans had taken the town of Frœschwiller which sat on a hilltop in the center of the French line. Having lost any outlook for victory and facing a massacre, the French army broke off the battle and retreated in a western direction, hoping to join other French forces on the other side of the Vosges mountains. The German 3rd army did not pursue the withdrawing French. It remained in Alsace and moved slowly south, attacking and destroying the French defensive garrisons in the vicinity.

French heavy calvary ( cuirassier ) charge at

Helsass Hausen,

Aimé Morot

The battle of Wœrth was the first major one of the Franco-German war, with more than 100,000 troops in the battlefield. It was also one of the first clashes where troops from various German states (Prussians, Badeners, Bavarians, Saxons, etc.) fought jointly. These facts have led some historians to call the battlefield of Wœrth the "cradle of Germany". It was not without cost, however, as Prussia lost 10,500 to death or wounds. The situation of MacMahon was more dire, as France lost 19,200 to not only death or wounds but to the enemy as prisoners .


 Saarbrücken Wissembourg