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14 août 1870 - Correspondant de guerre
 


My reminiscences
Lord Ronald Sutherland Gower
Ed. Boston, Roberts brothers, 1884.

Phalsbourg lay below, the shells bursting over the town, and returning the fire of the Prussian and Bavarian batteries placed on our front and to our left. The town was on fire in several places. It was a curiously entrancing sight, and a difficult one to leave; but we had a long ride that afternoon before us, and after watching heroic little Phalsbourg for about an hour, we turned our horses' heads in the direction of Blamont, which place we reached at six in the evening. We had ridden some thirty-six miles, and our poor steeds seemed almost knocked up when we arrived.
" At Mons. Keller's house, in Luneville, August 15. -We are here in the most luxurious of quarters, in great contrast to some which we have been in lately ; instead of being crowded in a small, ill-smelling room, with perhaps a bed in a cupboard, or a sofa, and a shakedown of straw, as at Soultz or at Obermorden, we have here separate rooms. Russell's looks out on a beautiful garden, and on a bosquet of fine old horse-chestnuts which remind one of the gardens of the Tuileries. The house we are in might, in fact, be in the Faubourg St. Germain, so stately are its saloons and its decorations à la Louis XVI. But Mons. Keller's house has already been turned into something like a barrack, having been full of German officers yesterday, and will probably be as full of them again tonight. For the first time since our arrival at Soultz we drove instead of riding here from Blamont yesterday - most of the way in a small machine which we had hired there. This we had to do in order to give our a rest after our thirty-six miles ride of the previous day.
“As we were leaving Blamont, a short, swarthy young Englishman wearing glasses came up to us. He turned out to be Lord Adair, who, after coming out all this way, is refused leave to proceed with the Crown Prince.” (He, however, saw a good deal later on of the war, and described what he saw with great success.) “ It seems an odd proceeding, arriving here and walking into a strange gentleman's house, and asking, as if it were a matter of daily occurrence, first where the stables are, and then for our rooms! But I think the proprietor prefers us to the German officers that he has had to see so much of lately.”
As far as one can observe, the Prussians seem treating the people with great humanity and kindness. Of course there must be black sheep in this as in any other army, and often those who least deserve it get the credit of the deeds of these ne'er-do-weels.
As we passed through several villages between Blamont and Luneville the bells of the churches were ringing merry peals, it being the Emperor's fête day - “une triste fête,” as our coachman remarked, for Napoleon and the French people. France, Mons. Keller says, cannot recover the effects of this war for ten years to come; ruin is all around already. At the first approach of the Prussians, nearly all those at Luneville who held official positions fled; even the head of the hospital department disappeared
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