This success of the 18th of August had only been made possible by the preceding battles of the 14th and 16th.
The French estimate their losses at 13,000 men. In October, 173,000 were still in Metz, which proves that more than 180,000 French engaged in the battle of the 18th. The seven German Corps facing them were exactly 178,818 strong. Thus the French had been driven out of a position of almost unrivalled natural advantages by a numerically inferior force. It is self-evident that the loss of the aggressors must have been much greater than that of the defence; it amounted to 20,584 men, among them 899 officers.
Though the war-establishment provides one officer to every forty men, in this battle one officer had been killed to every twenty-three; a splendid testimony to the example set by the officers to their brave men, but a loss which could not be made good during the course of the war. During the first fortnight of August, in six battles the Germans had lost 50,000 men. It was impossible at once to find substitutes, but new companies were formed of time-expired soldiers.
The first thing to be done that same evening was to move on the foremost baggage train, and the ambulance corps from the right bank of the Moselle; ammunition was also served out all round. In Rezonville, which was crowded with the wounded, a little garret for the King and quarters for the Staff had with much difficulty been secured. The officers were engaged throughout the night in studying the requirements which the new situation created by the victory peremptorily demanded. All these orders were placed before His Majesty for approval by the morning of the 19th.
[Footnote 45: From The Franco-German War of 1870-71. Permission Harper & Brothers, New York and London.]
CONSOLATORY THOUGHTS ON THE EARTHLY LIFE AND A FUTURE EXISTENCE (1890)
TRANSLATED BY MARY HERMS
The last noteworthy use to which the aged Fieldmarshal put his pen was to commit to paper certain reflections and chains of reasoning, for which he drew upon the rich experience of his strenuous and eventful life, and in which he hoped to find consolation in his last days, and a vantage ground from which he might cast a glance over the unknown future and confirm his faith in an everlasting life.
The aim of the Fieldmarshal, in writing these pages, was to attain to clearness of vision concerning his earthly lot, to bring the forces which were at work in his soul into harmony with those which govern the universe, to reconcile faith and knowledge, and to satisfy himself that life on this earth can only be regarded as a preparation for eternal life, and must be regulated accordingly. So lofty is this aim that it alone entitles these confessions to a serious