at Les Yerrieres with some companies, that the
Prussians were at Salins that Bourbaki was at
Bouclans, near Besan^on that the French army
was disorganised but that many of the officers
imagined they could still retreat on Lyons by
the mountain roads of Mouthe and St. Claud.
Next came despatches from Colonel Aubert that
the French were quitting Pont-de-Boide, which
they had held in force, and were retreating on
St. Hippolite and Maiche. These movements led
him to suppose that some large masses of the
A CROWNING SERVICE. 351
French might get away into the south, and that
his troops would only have to deal with broken
corps and separated regiments. If this were so,
the danger of poHtical conflicts would be lessened,
while the fear of isolated fights would be in-
creased. To meet these perils he must throw
his forces into every ravine leading through the
Jura, from the gates of Basel to Geneva, since the
wandering bands of French might strike his lines
at any point.
Some orders had been sent to Col. Aubert,
when, near midnight, news came in from
Col. Grandjean, at Les Verri^res, that Bourbaki
had killed himself ; that a hundred and twenty
thousand French were near Besan^on ; that the
Prussians held the roads at Quingez and St. Vit ;
that every hope of falling back on Lyons was
abandoned ; and that all these broken hosts
would soon be on his hands to fight, if they
would not submit to feed and lodge, if they
should pile their arms. A journal came by
post, with telegrams from Versailles, announcing
that Manteufel was driving Bourbaki and his
broken troops along the left bank of the river
The facts were clear at last ; for whether
352 THE SWITZERS.
General Bourbaki was alive or dead of which
there seemed some doubt a great part of his
army had been caught. That army had no choice
but either yield their arms or cross the frontier.
Herzog felt that they would cross. At once he
made his dispositions, so that every gorge and
passage of the Jura should be held in force ;
the colonels having strict commands to fire into
any body of troops, however large, which hesi-
tated at a summons to disarm.
By long quick marches, such as German troops
alone could match, the Swiss brigades were
thrown along the range, from Bassecourt to
the Sagne. These valleys in the Jura are not
rich. A race of miners, quarry-men and charcoal-
burners, dwell in villages far apart. Their life,
at all times hard, is hardest in the winter months,
when every road is buried under snow, and every
lakelet is a bed of ice. Yet when these villagers
saw the troops march in young fellows who had
left their cosy homes in Zurich and Schaffhausen,
to defend their native soU from insult they re-
ceived them gladly in their houses, set before
them what they had of best, and even turned
their class-rooms into temporary camps.
While General Herzog was arranging either
A CROWNING SERVICE, 353
to receive or to repel the French, Manteufel fell
upon the routed army near Besan9on, broke them
at a shock, and forced them back into Pontarlier,
whence they had one issue only by the gorge
of Fort de Joux, which led them straight upon
the Swiss frontiers.
A single road leads out of PontarHer eastward
to St. Pierre la Cluse, where it forks out; one
prong extending to Les Verrieres and the Val de
Travers, leading on to Neufchatel ; the other
prong deploying to the right by way of Jougne
and Orbe to Canton Vaud. The railway line from
Bern to Paris passes by the Val de Travers to
Pontarlier, and this railway line being open, it
was evident to Gen. Herzog that the French
would try to enter by this shorter path. He
therefore called in Col. Aubert from the neigh-
bourhood of Blamont, swung his right wing
round towards Neufchatel, and pushed as many
men as he could muster down the Val de Travers.
Fixing his staff at Neufchatel, he went in person
to the frontier hamlet called Les Verrieres, to be
near the broken and unruly French.
Before liim rose the battlements of La Cluse
and Fort de Joux (two strongholds which the
French have armed against the Switzers), covered
354 THE SWITZERS.
with the wintry ice and snow ; and close behind
these frowning batteries lay some eighty thousand
Frenchmen, mad with shame and hunger, who
might rush at any moment on his guns. As yet,
no word had come to tell him in what mood of
mind they stood. He drew his forces into line,
and waited, under those French guns, to hear
what France would say.
On Tuesday he received a message from Pon-
tarlier in the shape of a great train of sick and
wounded men, which rolled into Les Verrieres,
drew up in the village, and awaited orders to
go on. Four hundred men were in this train;
but no one was in charge of it no officer with
the troops no doctor with the sick. It was a
lazaretto emptied on his camp. The train
appeared to have been flung at him, as if
to try his mettle. Should his feeling get the
better of his judgment they might hope to see
him yield on other points ; but Herzog was too
wise a soldier to give way in what was matter
of the highest duty in his station at the sight of
pain. Such flinging of their sick and wounded
men into another country was a violation of the
pubHc law of Europe. Many of these sufferers
A CROWNING SERVICE. 355
seemed to be afflicted with contagious maladies
with typhus, measles, cholera and General Herzog
was amazed to think that any staff-officer should
order such attempts upon his patience to be made.
He sent his adjutant, Colonel Sieber, to the French
head-quarters at Pontarlier to protest against such
acts, and to demand the instant signing of an
article preventing them at any future time. The
French accepted his rebuke, excused their negli-
gence, and signed two articles of agreement ; one
by which they bound themselves not to send over
any soldiers who were suffering from contagious
maladies ; and a second, by which the Switzers
were to arrest all fugitives and deliver them up
at the nearest French posts.
A little after midnight (Wednesday morning,
Feb. 1st) General Herzog was requested to receive
Colonel Chevals, of the French staff, who came
to him in the name of General Clinchant
acting for Bourbaki to demand from the Swiss
republic food and shelter for a brave and friendly
army, which was forced by adverse fortune to
seek a refuge on her soil. General Herzog
named his first condition ; a complete surrender
arms, guns, horses, men and officers. Colonel
356 THE SWITZERS.
Chevals came with full authority to treat, and
the most pressing article was soon reduced to
form. It ran :
Article 1. The French army, seeking to pass
into Swiss territory, lays down its arms, equip-
ments, and munitions at the frontier.
But many other things were yet to be ar-
ranged ; in all, ten articles had to be discussed ;
and these two soldiers sat up all the night re-
ducing details into form. At four o'clock came
news from Meudon, on the frontier, that heavy
masses of French guns were pressing the Swiss
Colonel Scherrer and his infantry, as though
they meant to push across the frontier in defiance
of his arms. At night, these guns had been sent
forward from St. Pierre, and in the early watches
of the morning an attempt was being made to get
them on the other side. At once the General
rose, and ordering out a whole brigade despatched
them on the instant to repel the French.
Colonel Chevals saw with what a man he
had to deal. By half-past four the treaty was
complete. By five o'clock it was accepted and
countersigned by General Clinchant, who was
waiting in his carriage at the frontier, ready to
drive in the moment he had signed his name.
A CROWNING SERVICE. 357
Hardly was the paper signed before the mul-
titude of men and guns came swarming over ;
General Clinchant first ; close after him the
general staff; and then the troops pell-mell, in
broken, tipsy, and disordered ranks. With CHn-
chant and the staff drove strings of private car-
riages, with blinds and fastenings down. Then
rolled in many vehicles : post-wagons, ambu-
lances, military chests. Some Switzers were
amused, and some were shocked, by what they
saw. While not a few great officers had with
them actresses, and golden plate, and costly claret
and champagne, the rank and file had neither
shoes nor over-coats to keep them warm in that
high region, that inclement month. * In worn-out
shoes, in wooden clogs, and even with their feet
bound up in rags, these wretched soldiers had
to drag their rifles through the snow ! ' These
words are General Herzog's words. At Meudon
every man laid down his sword, his fusil, and
his cartridge-box ; until the heap of weapons rose
into a hill. In all the French gave up two hun-
dred and eighty-four pieces of artillery; sixty-
three thousand four hundred and twelve fusils ;
fifby-tlu'ee thousand seven hundred yatagans ;
three thousand and thirty bayonets ; eight thou-
358 THE SWITZERS.
sand and seventy swords. The powder and the
bullets were not weighed and counted. Ten
thousand six hundred and forty- nine horses were
received. So ignorant were the French officers
of their army, that they gave the numbers who
came after them at forty-two thousand men.
The actual numbers, when the Switzers counted
them for food and beds, were 83,301.
The French came hustling over frozen, tipsy,
insubordinate ; all arms in one wild welter ; lines-
men mixed with Zouaves ; cavalry riding over
guns and gunners ; stores invaded and destroyed ;
no rank and step, no time and order ; everybody
pushing to the front ; the four great army-corps
convulsed into that worst kind of mob, a military
mob. ' Your corps must gather to their standards,'
cried the Swiss Commander ; ' let your 15th corps
assemble at Couvet, your 18th corps at Motier,
your 20th corps at Fleurier, your 24th corps at
Travers.* General Borel, and other French officers,
rode off to make these efforts in the cause of
order. Here and there a regiment of the line,
and part of the artillery, fell in ; but not one com-
pany in five obeyed their captains. When the
colonels rode among the crowd, they were re-
ceived with yells and curses. Every one accused
A CROWNING SERVICE. 359
them of incompetence, and charged on them the
sufferings and disasters of their troops. With
pale, sad visage Borel rode into the Swiss head-
quarters to report that in the present temper of
his countrymen no voice would he obeyed, unless
that voice were backed by visible force.
Since the French could not keep order, Herzog
placed the four French armies under charge of his
own officers and troops. Despatching Col. Chouard
to Fleurier, Col. Schramli to Couvet, and CoL
Cocatrix to Travers with their several regiments,
he issued orders that the French should be di-
rected on those villages in bodies of a thousand
each, pell-mell, as they arrived at Meudon and
laid down their arms. These orders were received
with murmurs here and there ; but still they
were obeyed. A dozen Swiss soldiers with their
pieces charged and bayonets fixed, sufficed to lead
French columns of a thousand each ; and General
Herzog was surprised to find how patient and
obedient these French soldiers could be when they
saw that they were handled well. * They saw at
once,' he says, * whether a troop-officer knew his
duty.' Many of the French colonels asked his
leave to go at once into the Cantons, separate
from their troops.
360 THE SWITZERS.
A dangerous incident occurred.
On Thursday evening, late, a Prussian officer
of Uhlans rode into La Verrieres, with a letter
from the Prussian General Schmeling, addressed
to Gen. Clinchant, offering, on the part of Gen.
Schmeling, to restore two thousand rifles taken
from the French at Chaffbis, on account of some
irregularity in the form of capture. General Her-
zog gave his help to the accomplishment of a
chivalrous act of war ; and CKnchant having
gratefally accepted the German soldier's offer,
Herzog sent his orders to the forces stationed
at the Col des Roches, near Locle, to receive
the wagon-load of arms from the Prussian au-
thorities. A squad of German soldiers brought
this wagon to the Col des Roches, and having
given it to the Switzers were returning to their
camp, when they were fired upon by franc-
tireurs, who had gone out and lay in ambush for
them. Some of the squad were killed, some
wounded, and the rest made prisoners, by an act
of treachery, which Herzog afterwards described
as 'a revolting abuse of the asylum offered to
the French.' The Switzer in command at Locle
was a man of steel. At once he seized the mur-
derers, much to their surprise ; at once he sent
A CROWNING SERVICE. 3G1
the German soldiers back to their own camp. A
fever seized upon the French. They thought their
franc-tireurs were right ; and as this crime if
crime it were was one committed on the soil
of France, they claimed to judge them by their
local law. To this demand the Switzers were
obliged to yield. ' No man/ said General Herzog,
with the indignation of a soldier, 'could foresee
that a French tribunal would add to the original
villany the still higher ignominy of hberating
This enormous host, demoralised by pride and
misery, were received, disarmed, and led into
their cantonments by less than twenty thousand
citizen troops, without the forfeit of a single
The General who commanded the Swiss army
through this crowning service speaks of rank
and file with pride, though not without some
drawbacks to his praise. The colonels, too, are
satisfied with their men. Some Cantons have a
quicker aptitude for war than others. Basel,
Aargau, Bern, and Zurich, turn out men whom
any soldier would be glad to lead. St. Gallen,
Thurgau, and Luzem, come next. The men of
Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden, make good sol-
362 THE SWITZERS.
diers ; they are hardy, patient, brave ; but badly
taught and very poorly armed. In Canton Valais
there is but one arm the battery of mountain-
guns; in every other branch this Canton falls
below the mark. If Canton Vaud is better than
Canton Valais, it is still a fact that La Suisse
Romande is weaker in the field than even in the
school. Canton Ticino is the worst of all ; being
bad in every branch alike. Her men are weak ;
her arms are old ; her driU is loose ; her ofiicers
The lessons learnt in these campaigns have
quickened the desire for a more central system
of recruitment and instruction, such as that
adopted in the Federal pact.
Swiss Engineers receive the highest praise from
General Herzog, who is not a man to say the
word he does not mean. The gunners, sappers,
guides, and carabineers, are also highly praised ;
except the gunners from Ticino, who are thoroughly
condemned. And what about the rank and file
these weavers, tapsters, goldsmiths, herdsmen,
farmers, what not who are bugled from their
beds, and sent into the field, alike in sultry heat
and biting frost ?
'They are a set of riff-rafi",' says a foreign
A CROWNING SERVICE. 363
soldier, as we sit in Bern beneath the limes, and
watch the gold and pink fade slowly from the
Jungfrau and the Bliimlisalp ; ' you could not
call them soldiers by the side of French and
' Did you see them when they came back
from the Jura mountains?'
* Yes. Some weeks of camp had much im-
proved them. They could walk m step, and
hold their heads erect. Their skin was bronzed,
their beards were grown, and they could tell an
officer of rank by sight.'
* These fellows have good stuff in them,
another foreign soldier says ; ' they know what
they are doing ; they can read and write ; great
numbers of them speak two languages ; and
every man has been a soldier from his youth.
They do not know how brave they are. With
six months' fighting in the field, these fellows
would be able to do anything they liked.'
'They might be able to defend their homes
in case they were attacked,' remarks a Swiss
professor with a pleasant irony of voice. * There
is another thing these men can do ; when they
put up their rifles they can earn their daily bread.
Of course, they are not perfect ; and we know of
364 THE SWITZERS.
many things they cannot learn. You cannot teach
them to forget their civic rights ; you cannot
teach them to adore a leader ; you cannot teach
them to prefer their colonel to their country. In
these twenty thousand men you would not find
the making of one Csesar, though you might the
making of a hundred Wilham Tells.'
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