Sunday 27 August 2023

Three Hundred and Sixty-Two

That is the number of French Franco-Prussian War infantry I have painted since 10 June, 326 of them with red pants.

These last last few vignette bases are what I will use as skirmish markers, as I did with the Prussians. They may also find a role in some sort of skirmish game in the future.

Also completed are a bunch of casualty figures.

These are the last of the French infantry for a month or two.

Friday 25 August 2023

Zouaves Through the Ages...Well as they appear in my armies from 1830 to 1914 at least...

An exchange of comments with Stew about zouaves in my last post got me thinking about the colour and panache these troops brought to the military forces of the world from the 1830s to 1962. It also made me think that there are quite a few units represented in my wargames armies.

The Zouave, painted by Vincent Van Gogh 1888

In 1830 the French invaded and conquered Algeria under the pretext of a slight to its consul, but by October 1830 much of the invading force had been withdrawn to France and local sources of manpower were sought. The first troops raised were recruited from a Berber tribe, the Zwāwa or Zoudaoua, that had provided soldiers to the previous rulers. From these two battalions of zouaves were formed, each of ten companies, eight of the Zoudaoua and two from French settlers, all under French officers and NCOs. A third battalion was raised in 1838.

In 1840 another type of zouave, the tirailleurs algériens (they were never called zouaves, but the uniform was pretty much the same in all but colour), were formed from the Berber and Arab tribes again under the command of French officers. At that same time the basis for enlistment of the zouaves changed and they were universally recruited from French settlers. In 1852, under the Second Empire, the three battalions of zouaves were expanded into three full regiments, each of three battalions. The tirailleurs would also be expanded to three regiments in 1855.

For twenty-three years after their creation the zouaves developed a solid reputation as hard fighters in the colonial conflicts in North Africa, but it was not until they went to the Crimea in 1853 that they gained real fame. Their flamboyant uniform - volumous red pants (these guys pre-empted MC Hammer by 155 years), short blue jackets piped with yellow, a red fez and white turban - plus their ferocity in battle and the bloody big sword bayonets on the end of their rifles caught the attention of the war correspondents and military observers alike. 

My first zouaves, in chronological order, are the three battalions in my Crimean army, but could easily be used in the 1830s and 1840's.

The Zouaves and Tirailleurs further enhanced their reputation in the Italian War of 1859. It was from the wars in the Crimea and Italy that they captured the imagination of the American militia of the late 1850s. In the Civil War more than 70 regiments fought for the Union and some 25 companies served the Confederacy.

For my ACW armies I have done the 5th and 146th New York.

My next zouave unit is the Bahia Zouaves, a unit of the Brazilian Army in the Great Paraguayan War recruited from freed slaves in Bahia State that served briefly in the Great Paraguayan War.

I created a regiment of three battalions of Tirailleurs algériens that for use in the Franco-Prussian War. These chaps along with the zouaves above can be used in the Crimea, Italy and France although technically the models are all armed with rifled muskets rather than Chassepôts, but I can live with that.

My final unit is a small company of zouaves for use in the opening stages of the Great War.

Zouaves continued their fine reputation through the Great War and fought in the opening stages of the Second World War. Disbanded in 1940 they were reformed in 1945 and continued in French service until the end of the Algerian conflict in 1962.

All in all I have ten units of zouaves and tirailleurs algériens that I use in five conflicts and could be used in many other French colonial conflicts...if I choose to game them.

Tuesday 22 August 2023

23e Régiment d'Infanterie

The 23e Régiment d'Infanterie was the second regiment in Haca's Brigade and like it sister regiment, 8e Régiment d'Infanterie it had a strong history from the Revolution forward.

The First Battalion

Formed in 1791 from the Régiment du Roi from the Ancien Regime, the 23e fought at numerous actions in in the Revolutionary Wars as the 23e Demi Brigade including Bamberg, Neuwied, Zurich, Engen, Stockach, Moeskirch and Honelinden.

The Second Battalion

Under the Empire it did four years service in Italy fighting in many actions, including Sacile and Piave. It fought at Wagram in 1809 then did three years service in Spain before going to Germany for the 1813 campaign, where it fought at (amongst others) Lutzen, Bautzen, Freiburg and Leipzig and Hanau. A year later it fought in the campaign in France at Briengen, Chambrey, Macon and Limonest. In the 100 Days it fought at Ligny and Wavre.

The Third Battalion

With the rebuild of the army in 1820 it served in Spain in 1823 followed by a period of service in Algeria from 1830-1841. Then based in France two battalions took part in the suppression of the revolts in Paris in 1848 and in 1854 was posted on the northern frontier when there was a risk of a German invasion in response to the French involvement in the Crimea, before returning to Algeria in 1856. Three years later it served in the Italian campaign, fighting at Magenta.

The Whole Regiment

In 1870 it served under Colonel Rolland in 2nd Corps. It was only lightly engaged at Spicheren, coming into the line quite late in the fight and only suffered losses of 75. It was more heavily engaged at Rezonville where it suffered the loss of 18 officers and 385 men. At Gravelotte it participated in the repulse of Steinmetz's attacks, but well positioned the regiment only suffered 61 casualties. It as involved in the failed sortie from Metz at Noisseville. The 4th battalion formed part of the 7e Régiment de Marche and fought in the Loire.

Following the war a battalion was sent to the far East and was in action at Bac-Ninh in Vietnam. In garrison in France until 1914 it fought in multiple theatres in the Western Front. In the Second World War it was served as a fortress regiment near Haugenau and was disbanded in 1940, reformed in 1945, served in Algeria from 1952-62 and was finally disbanded in 1976. On dissolution it's colours bore the honours of:

Zurich 1799
Wagram 1809
Lutzen 1813
Magenta 1859
L'Aisne 1917
Soissonnais 1918
Roulers 1918
L'Escaut 1918
Secteur fortifie d'Haugenau 1940
AFN 1952-1962

Friday 18 August 2023

Hidden Terrain Items

Following on from a series of comments after my "The Charge of the French Cuirassiers" post I have decided to develop the idea of hidden terrain.

My idea is that each player will have a markers that they can place at any time during the game after initial deployment provided that:

  • The ground has not yet been traversed by either side
  • It is not within 150mm of any deployed unit.

The process is that once placed any unit that comes within 100mm of the marker will roll 1xD6 to determine what the hidden terrain is:

1,2 or 3 - false alarm and the marker is removed

4 or 5 - the unit has encountered some sort of unseen obstructive terrain that is impassible to cavalry and artillery and through which infantry can only move at half speed. A marker is placed representing any one of the following:

      • a patch of marshy ground
      • an area of rocks or boulders
      • a gully, escarpment or wide ditch 
      • an area of brush

6 - the unit had found a swale or dip sufficient for some or all of the unit to temporarily disappear from view. In any turn that a unit occupies or passes through that area it will be classed as being in cover.

With all this in mind I started to make some markers. I decided to use some old CD ROMs as the base. Why CD-ROMs? Because I had a stack of them, they are of a standard size, they will not warp and they were free.

For the basic marker I just covered up the central hole, painted the top of the CD dark brown and covered it with my basing mix. 

Over a couple of evenings I made three of these and will make a few more.

For the rocks and boulders I used some rock pieces made of air dry clay using an old Woodlands Scenics mould.

For the marsh piece I applied some water effect to a CD and then applied my basing mix and a few grass tufts.

The escarpment was just a piece of carved foam board covered with sand, painted and then my basing mix nd grass tufts added.

The area of brush was made with a couple rock mould castings, some clumped foliage, some of my basing mix and a few twigs from the garden.

I am quite pleased with the way these have come out and I will make more although it may be some time before they make it to the table.

Monday 14 August 2023

8e Régiment d'Infanterie

Posted here are the three battalions of 8e Régiment d'Infanterie. 

The regiment had served the Ancien Regime Regiment d'Austrasie from 1776, but had associations dating back as far as 1558 with the Legion de Champagne and Regiments Gohas, Saint-Colombo, d'Eperon, Montcassin, Champagne, de Pontrthieu a Calais. It fought in the Indies during the American War of Independence.

The First Battlaion

Renamed 8e Régiment d'Infanterie at the commencement of the Revolutionary Wars, it fought at Valmy, in the Belgian Campaign, in the Vendee and on the Rhine. In reserve at Austerlitz it was stationed in Bavaria in 1806 but was not engaged Jéna or Auerstaedt, although it fought in the later battles in  the campaign.

Second Battalion

It fought in the Russian campaign in the following year, including Friedland and Danzig.

In 1808 the regiment went to Spain, where it established a fabulous record  fighting at Espinosa, Alcantara, Talavera, Zamora, Villaruibie, Montecy, Villalon, the Siege of Cadiz, Barossa, Fuentes-d'Onoro, Albuera, Ségovia, Vittoria and in the Pyrenees.

Third Battalion

Meanwhile the 4th Battalion had remained in Germany and fought at Essling and Wagram and then served on garrison duty in Prussia during the 1812 campaign, fighting again at Lützen and Dresden in 1813.

In the campaign if 1814 the regiment was engaged at Bar-sur-Aube and Arcis-sur-Aube. It was renamed Régiment Conde in the First Restoration only regain the 8e title for the 100 Days, where it fought at Ligny and Waterloo.

In the Second Restoration it was renamed the 8e Legion du Cantal et de la Vendee then in the reformation of the army in 1820 the 8e was raised afresh and established an impressive portfolio of campaigns including the 1823 Expedition from Spain, involvement in the Greek War of Independence, the suppression of the Republican insurrection in Paris in 1832 and campaign of Belgium in that same year. It served in Algeria  and earned battle honours at Zaatcha. In 1859 it went to Italy fighting at Solferino (below).

In the Franco-Prussian War it was engaged in the opening action at Saarbrucken. At Spicheren it was heavily engaged - the 2nd and 3rd battalions conducted a brilliant attack that drove the German from the western slopes of the Spicheren Heights - and cost the regiment the loss of 15 officers and 283 men. It had another hard fight at Rezonville losing another 10 officers and 277 men. Only lightly engaged at Gravelotte it went into captivity after the fall of Metz.

The depot companies were formed into the 29e Régiment de Marche and fought in the Loire Campaign. After that war the regiment went on to serve in Algeria, had a distinguished record in the Great War. It fiercely resisted the German advance on the Meuse in May 1940 and after the armistice served with the Vichy Government, retiring to French service in 1945. It continued in French service until 1997.

Monday 7 August 2023

The Charge of the French Cuirassiers

So the mystery of my missing post has turned up out of nowhere. It's a day late for the anniversary (although it is still the 6th in some places east of the Internatioal Date Line), but I'll publish it all the same.

One hundred and fifty-three years ago on 6 August 1870, the villages of Spicheren and Froeschwiler, 61 kilometres apart - the former in Lorraine and the latter in Alsace - gave their names to two battles early in the Franco-Prussian War. Of the many dramatic incidents that took place on those bloody fields none were more dramatic or tragic than the charges at Froeschwiler by six regiments of cuirassiers and two squadrons of lancers that were  sacrificed in order to allow the army to escape total destruction. 

The first charge occurred early in the afternoon as the German infantry from Von Bose's XI Corps turned the right of the French line. The German flanking column had progressed faster than expected and General Lartigue, commanding the division on the French right, belatedly ordered his guns back to a position north west of Ederbach. To cover the withdrawal of the guns the infantry had to hold on longer, but that delay placed the infantry at serious risk of being overwhelmed. Earlier Lartigue had appealed to Marshal MacMahon for help, but received the reply that was no help available. At the same time the Marshal reminded Lartigue that Michel's cavalry brigade had been assigned to him to use as he felt necessary and with that in mind Lartigue sent Colonel Andigné from his staff to General Duhesme, commanding the divisional cavalry, with instructions to commit Michel's Cuirassier brigade.

Andigné found Duhesme, who was ill and unable to ride, near Ederbach and delivered his message. Duhesme was astounded by Lartigue's order and replied “Tell General Lartigue that what he asks is a folly and will only destroy my cuirassiers.” Andigné replied “Sir... the General has no other way to save the remnants of his division...” Duhesme understood, but was so overcome with emotion that as Andigné later reported he “...wiped his eyes with the back of his hand, saying: ‘My poor cuirassiers!', and he shook my hand.  I never saw him again.”

Michel's Brigade stood in the Ederbach valley on the right bank of the stream, facing east between the Niederwald and the Gunstett-Ederbach road. The brigade comprised of  Colonel Guilot de la Rochière's 8th Cuirassiers  and Colonel Waterman 9th Cuirassiers,  with two squadrons of  the 6th Lancers under Colonel Tripart from de Nansanty's brigade attached. The brigade was formed in two lines with the 8th Cuirassiers in the first line with all four squadrons in line abreast. The second line consisted of the three squadrons the 9th Cuirassiers, the 1st Squadron having been left to guard the divisional trains.  The 1st and 3rd Squadrons, 6th Lancers were in line to the right of the 9th. 

The Attack of Michel's Brigade

The cavalry wheeled right, to face south east, anchoring their right flank on the Ederbach, but as they advanced they found that their front was too broad for the narrow gap through which they needed to pass to reach their intended position. The regiments formed close column before proceeding up the slope of the valley. Michel and de la Rochière rode forward to the ridge where Lartigue waited to give them the direction of attack. Moments later the cavalry rode out of the Ederbach valley and wheeled right to face Morsbronn. There, as they came within range of the German rifles for the first  time, the familiar clink of their harnesses and the rattle of their sabres in their scabbards were replaced by the sinister ping of bullets striking their steel breastplates. 

Looking towards Moorsbron from the southwest. The heights beyond the town is the ground over which Michel's troopers advanced

At first glance the terrain over which Lartigue instructed Michel to charge appeared open and clear, but when the 8th Cuirassiers rode onto the slopes they found that it was totally unsuited for cavalry actions. The entire expanse between the Ederbach ridge and Morsbronn was traversed by rows of trees, stumps that had been cut off at ground level and deep ditches. The ground was otherwise relatively gentle and open, offering the Germans a clear field of fire. The nature of the slope also prevented the remaining French infantry from providing any fire support. As the 8th Cuirassiers attempted to form for the attack a small area of woods constrained their movement. Attempting to get around this obstacle they were struck by rifle fire from the German infantry near the Lansberg Farm and shell fire from the artillery near Gunstett. Unable to complete their deployment unmolested the 8th charged in their disordered state.

The constricting terrain on the edge of Morsbron that disrupted the Cuirassiers

Guilot de la Rochière led his squadrons directly for Morsbronn, from which two companies of the German 32nd Regiment had just emerged. He intended to catch the Germans while they were in the process of forming up. The cavalry rode across the broken ground and got as close as 400 yards to the Germans before the alarm was raised. There was no panic amongst the infantry, who were so confident in their ability to repulse the cavalry that they did not bother to attempt to seek cover in the vineyards or hop fields, nor did they attempt to form squares. Instead they calmly delivered two aimed volleys by command and then independent Schnellfeur, or rapid fire, as the troopers thundered closer. The charging squadrons, unable to manoeuvre in the awkward terrain, rode between the companies and were caught in a deadly crossfire. The two half battalions of 32nd wheeled right and opened fire. Some elements of the 1st and 3rd Squadrons managed to push their way through the skirmishers of the 32nd, but the larger part of the squadrons, now completely out of control, dashed into Morsbronn itself at the gallop. They swept through the narrow streets, between houses occupied by German infantry. Men and horses were shot down as the Cuirassiers desperately sought to find an exit. However, when the troopers reached the opposite side of the village they found their way barred by the barricades erected by two companies Tirailleurs when they occupied the village earlier. Trapped in the confined space by the main bodies of 32nd the Cuirassiers were compelled to turn about under the deadly fire and ride back through the town, exiting through the northern side. There they reformed under fire before charging again, breaking through the hop fields towards Durrenbach where they encountered two companies of the German 80th Regiment. In the few minutes of furious action the 8th Cuirassiers lost 295 officers and men and 275 horses from the 529 that had started the charge. 

While the 8th Cuirassiers floundered in Morsbronn, Duhesme sent Colonel Waternau's 9th Cuirassiers to the attack. Swinging further to the west than the 8th, the three squadrons of the 9th made for the left of the German line where Captain Küster's 3/11th Pioneers stood. The Pioneers opened fire with Schnellfeur at a range of 300 yards, but they could not halt the cuirassiers and part of Küster's company gave way as the French cavalry swept past their right. The fire of the 32nd drove the troopers further west. Redirecting their charge the troopers of the 9th veered left and entered the main street that ran east-west through the village. This part of the village was occupied by portions of the 94th Regiment that opened a devastating fire. “Here ensued the great slaughter, these poor riders, packed tight in a banked road, were shot point blank by infantry stationed in the gardens overlooking the road and there was no struggle, not an enemy within reach of the cuirassiers...”  In the ensuing chaos Waternau had his horse shot from under him, but taking one from a sergeant, attempted to lead the regiment out of the village to the south. Again the barricades foiled the attempt. The troopers swirled in the streets, mingling with trapped portions of the 8th Cuirassiers, desperately seeking escape, but to no avail. Within minutes Waternau was unhorsed again and almost every trooper left in the village was killed, wounded or captured. Of the 400 men who charged, 30 officers and 338 men, plus 366 horses, were lost. 

Charge of the 9th Cuirassiers by Edouard Detaille, photographed at Musee de 6 Aout in 2018

Colonel Tripart's 6th Lancers also headed for the German left. The 8th Company, 32nd wheeled to face their attack and delivered a disciplined volley before opening Schnellfeur. Three officers and 52 troopers fell in the charge. Like the cuirassiers only a handful of lancers succeeded in getting through the German infantry and they flowed around the village with the other French troopers to the south east. 

Fifty or so troopers from the three regiments, nearly all of their horses injured or blown from their charge, managed to escape from the village and drifted towards the Ederbach stream where they rallied under a captain of the 8th Cuirassiers. There they encountered the three squadrons of Colonel von Henduck's 13th Hussars, formed in column of divisions facing the opposite direction, guarding the extreme left of the German line. When the disorganised muddle of French troopers came within 300 yards of the Hussars, the German troopers wheeled about by division and advanced on the French. Neither side appeared willing to force the issue although the hussars seriously outnumbered the French troopers. The two bodies of cavalry approached each other cautiously and closed to within as little as ten yards before a brief exchange of pistol fire broke out. This was all too much for the exhausted French troopers who turned and attempted to dash back towards their own lines. Pursued hard by von Henduck's Hussars and unable to go back the way they had come, the French cavalry attempted to move south west towards Laubach, but when they found that route to be blocked, they remnant drifted east of Morsbronn dispersing as they went. 

Michel's Brigade was almost completely destroyed. Of the 1,200 troopers that charged only a handful returned to the lines. The southeastern slopes in front of Morsbronn were littered with the dead and dying, riders and horses. The charge caused only a temporary inconvenience to the German infantry battalions which quickly reformed and prepared to continue their advance. However, the sacrifice of these magnificent cavalry regiments did provide Lartigue the pause he needed to safely extract his infantry.

About an hour and a half later the situation for the French had worsened when the German XI and V Corps linked up and the French right was in a state of collapse. In a desperate effort to  gain some time to permit the escape of the infantry and artillery MacMahon looked to his cavalry and called on général de division Charles Bonnemains' 2nd Reserve Cavalry Division. Bonnemains' division consisted of two brigades each of two regiments of cuirassiers. The First Brigade, comprising Colonel de Vandoeuvre's 1st Cuirassiers and Colonel Billet's 4th Cuirassiers, was commanded  by général de brigade Girard and counted 1,065 troopers in the ranks. The Second Brigade, under général de brigade de Brauer consisted of Colonel Rosetti's 2nd Cuirassiers and Colonel Lafuntsun de Lacarre's 3rd Cuirassiers, and had counted 1,095 men at the commencement of the day. 

The cuirassiers were posted to the southwest of Froeschwiller in the valley of the Eberbach, a position they had held since daybreak. During the German mid-morning bombardment, the cavalry had been compelled to change positions several times in order to avoid the German shells that overshot the ridge, but at around 1230 the division had finally reformed in its original position in tight column of half regiments. Shortly after this MacMahon had ordered the Girard's Brigade to move to the left bank of the Ederbach, about 400 yards from the Froeschwiller-Morsbronn Road, while de Brauer's remained on the right bank.

Around 1500, as the situation on the French right was at its most critical, MacMahon rode up to Girard and said, “You are to charge your first regiment, squadron by give confidence to those troops who have been beaten”. Unable to see anything more than a line of skirmishers in front of him Girard asked the Marshal to clarify the purpose of the charge. MacMahon replied that he did not want a serious charge, but rather a series of feint charges that would halt the German advance. “...I just want to save time,” he said. 

There was no time to reconnoiter and Girard led the brigade forward.  He soon discovered that the terrain over which the charge was to be made was every bit as unsuited for cavalry as was the ground over which Michel's troopers had charged earlier. Sloping away some 800 yards to the southeast the ground was crossed with hedges, fences, ditches, small quarries and tree stumps, some of which were chest high and barely visible from a distance. Vineyards, apple orchards and hop fields broke the terrain up further. 

The terrain over which the cuirassiers charged. Froeschwiler is in the centre in the distance and Elsasshausen is to the left of shot.

This broken terrain provided excellent firing positions for the German infantry and artillery that were present in considerable force. To the west of Elsasshausen 45 guns were posted, assisted by portions of four XI Corps battalions and elements of three V Corps regiments. 

Colonel Vandoeuvre's 1st Cuirassiers led the division riding due east to a position approximately 500 yards north of Elsasshausen. Girard had repeated MacMahon's instructions to Vandoeuvre, telling him specifically to avoid any obstacles. The squadrons turned successively and charged. 

Almost immediately they found their path blocked by a ditch and halted under a heavy fire from the German infantry.  Unable to cross the ditch the regiment was compelled to retire. As the squadrons returned Girard called forward the 4th Cuirassiers, but before that regiment could arrive MacMahon, who had ridden forward to Girard, ordered that the 1st Cuirassiers should charge again. Holding back the 4th Squadron Girard ordered the other three squadrons to charge. The result of this second charge was as much of a failure as the first and the squadrons returned counting a loss of 65 officers and men

While the disorganised 1st retreated Colonel Billet brought the 4th up in close column several hundred yards to the left of the 1st where the ground was less obstructed. The 1st Squadron, led by Captain Billot, galloped up to the ridge line where it deployed into column of platoons. Crossing the paved road the cavalry soon found their front covered by refugees from almost every regiment that had fought on the French right, including a group of cuirassier's from Michel's brigade. The remaining squadrons of the Regiment came up and formed column of platoons about 100 yards east of the road. There they came under an increasing volume of fire and the sound of the bullets on the iron breastplates of the troopers was likened to “the impact of hail on a window pane.” 

Once the regiment was deployed the Colonel ordered Captain Billot to lead the 1st Squadron to attack some German infantry that were posted in a hop field some 600 yards distant and were directing their fire on the cavalry. The squadron passed 250 yards to the north of the now burning village of Elsasshausen where the ground appeared clearer than that over which Vandoeuvre had charged. The squadron broke into the charge down hill across the slope right up to the hop field. The ground that had appeared clear soon disproved that initial view. The hop poles in the plantation were bound together with iron wire and proved to be an impassable obstacle for the troopers. The charge faltered and many a trooper fell victim to German bullets there. Billot was compelled to turn the squadron back and extract it as best he could. 

Captain Millas' 2nd Squadron, accompanied by the colonel, followed Billot closely. Millas took his squadron to the left, but the ground there was no more favourable and the attack faltered when the troopers found  themselves faced by a vineyard. For a while the cavalrymen rode back and forth, trying desperately to find a way to strike the Germans, but they were cut down by the enemy fire. Millas' arm was carried off by a shell and the senior lieutenant was also wounded. The squadron dashed back beyond Elsasshausen and rallied behind the remaining squadrons. 

At that point MacMahon rode up and asked that  Billet make a more concerted effort to avoid the obstacles that were breaking up the charge. Billet called to Captain Negroni's 4th Squadron “follow me” and set off towards the right.  In an attempt to find an unobstructed path he led them  through a section of sunken road south that ran from Froeschwiller to Morsbronn. From there Billet discovered a clear stretch of land in the form of a grassy valley that ran towards Woerth. The 2nd platoon soon found a passage out of the sunken road  and the rest of the column quickly followed. The 4th Squadron filed into the valley and quickly formed line of battle. Billet gave the word and they set off at the gallop towards the east, although no enemy was in view. The troopers raced forward perhaps 1,000 yards still without sighting any enemy when suddenly the standard bearer, Lieutenant Ginder,  called out “there they are” pointing to a group of German skirmishers in an apple orchard 50 yards to the right. Billet swung the attacking line in their direction and in no time the cavalry were amongst the enemy skirmishers, who rapidly fell back on their main line. The fight was short and sharp. Of the six officers of the 4th squadron, four were shot down, while the German main line was not reached. Trapped in terrain broken by trees and hedges, and under fire from all directions the cuirassiers fell back to rally on the ridge. The 5th Squadron had supported the 4th, but also failed to make an impact and retreated to the ridge. There both squadrons joined the regiments of de Brauer's brigade that had been brought across the Ederbach. In its charge the 4th Cuirassiers lost eight officers and 170 men. 

Colonel Negroni - also credited with the creation of the Negroni cocktail.

Not convinced that Girard's attack had gained him enough time, MacMahon asked Bonnemains if another effort could be made. Bonnemains replied that he could and gave the order for de Brauer to charge in a column of half regiments. The 2nd Cuirassiers led the way with the 1st and 2nd Squadrons under Chef d'Escadron Corot-Laquiante forming the half regiment in the lead. General Wolff, who had led an infantry attack across this ground earlier, rode forward with them for a short way to give the column direction toward an enemy that was as yet unseen. The 1st Squadron was on the right and the 2nd on the left. When Corot-Laquiante rode onto the flat land northwest of Elsasshausen he turned both squadrons a quarter to the right and prepared to charge the Germans to his front which consisted of a line of skirmishers with heavy lines to their rear, coming up from Woerth. But when the 2nd Squadron began to advance it found its way blocked by an unseen obstacle, a wide ditch lined with apple trees. A number of horses tumbled into the ditch and the advance faltered. On the right the 1st Squadron charged into a narrow gap between a hop field and a grove of low trees, both of which were occupied by German infantry who opened fire at a range of 30 yards. The whole area was quickly swept by fire. Lieutenant-Colonel Boré-Verrier, who had accompanied the two squadrons, quickly saw the futility of the charge and sounded the retreat. The second half regiment, under Chef d'Escadron Lacour, accompanied by Colonel Rosetti, followed the first a few minutes later and met with a similar fate. A few troopers, disconnected from the main body had made for a German gun that was posted in the corner of an orchard. As the troopers approached the gunners abandoned their gun and took shelter behind the trees. Unable to get at their prey, the cuirassiers turned away and the German gunners returned to their piece and blasted them. Hardly any of the 4th Squadron got near the enemy and Rosetti withdrew them from the fight, reforming them near the Gross Wald for a fresh charge. In the few minutes of action the 2nd lost seven officers and 141 men. 

A rather fanciful depiction of the charge

Colonel Lafuntsun de Lacarre's 3rd Cuirassiers had formed in squadrons ready to advance. The 1st and 3rd Squadrons were in the front line and the 2nd and 5th to the rear. For nearly half an hour the regiment was held in this position, under a hail of bullets, impassive spectators of the carnage in front of them. When the attack of the 2nd Cuirassiers had clearly failed, de Brauer rode up to Lafuntsun de Lacarre and gave him the direction of advance. Lafuntsun de Lacarre, who was in front of the regiment, raised his sword to lead the charge when a shell tore his head off. The whole of the first line galloped off the field in shock, following the remnants of the 2nd Cuirassiers. The second line held is ground, but was soon withdrawn, at MacMahon's order, and rallied near the woods to the rear, where the remnants of Bonnemains' two horse batteries had taken up their final position. The 3rd Cuirassiers counted a loss of six officers, including all four of the squadron captains, and 34 men. While the cavalry failed to drive off the German infantry, it did have some measure of success in that it delayed their advance, if only momentarily. 

Primary sources, German and French official histories.