Gravelotte Travel Guide

  • Von Bredow's Death Ride north of Rezonville
    Von Bredow's Death Ride north of...
    by mtncorg
  • Future War Museum of 1870 in Gravelotte
    Future War Museum of 1870 in Gravelotte
    by mtncorg
  • Graves in front of the Halle du Souvenir
    Graves in front of the Halle du Souvenir
    by mtncorg

Gravelotte Things to Do

  • mtncorg's Profile Photo

    by mtncorg Written Aug 11, 2009

    Scattered about - usually in pairs for some reason - are monuments to different German regiments who lost men here on the battlefield of Gravelotte-St Privat. To find them, you use your Michelin map and look for the monument symbols scattered about the countryside between Gravelotte and St Privat. With the development of the new museum in Gravelotte, I would imagine descriptive brochures or discovery trails will be developed so that a casual visitor can make more sense of the battlefield and its memorials.

    Memorial to a Kings Guard Battalion - 1944 damaged
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    by mtncorg Written Aug 11, 2009

    General von Alvensleben’s IIIrd Corps was grossly outnumbered on 16 August 1870. Most of his troops had been used up by the early afternoon. Fearing a French cavalry attack on his left flank north of Rezonville, he ordered the 12th Cavalry Brigade under General von Bredow to launch a pre-emptive strike. Using terrain and gun smoke to mask his forces as they organized for the attack, his squadrons burst across about 1000 meters of open ground and broke into French artillery positions. The attack caused a general panic on the French side and subsequent French cavalry counterattacks were dispersed by panicky French infantry who were firing at all riders by that point. Von Bredow managed to extricate his forces from the French lines - he had mentioned before the attack that “it will cost what it will” - withdrawing after leaving behind half of his force - one of the wounded being Herbert von Bismarck, son of the Prussian chancellor.

    The success of this charge had ramifications for the role cavalry would continue to play in war planning that was completely out-of-proportion to reality in the new world of industrialized death.

    Monument and land over which von Bredow's men came Information panel describing the Death Ride Husar regiment of von Bredow- another in the trees
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  • mtncorg's Profile Photo

    by mtncorg Written Aug 11, 2009

    With the scale of some of the victories of the war of 1870, one might surmise that the Prussian army was far superior to that of the French. However, the Prussians always seemed to leave their share of dead on the battlefields. They did have the advantage of usually having more men to bring to bear and their commanders were, for the most part, more aggressive than their French counterparts. They also tended to march to the sound of the guns in order to be able to take advantage of their normally larger forces while the French were happy to sit pat and await orders. Here, just east of Mars-la-Tour, an isolated Prussian corps - that would be reinforced later in the day by another - held the entire French Army of the Rhine - 127,000 strong - at bay. This was the one significant battle that the French should have won, but Marshal Bazaine simply did not take overall charge of the battle and the Germans were successful in stopping the westward movement of the French army. The Germans suffered heavy losses - 15,780 men as opposed to 13,761 French losses - but by stopping them, they allowed time for the entire German army to concentrate setting up the even larger battle that would ensue two days later a few miles to the east at Gravelotte-St Privat.

    Monuments can be found both to the north and south and along highway D 903. Some signs have begun to be erected that further explain why the monuments were erected where they are. One trail has been laid out on the south side of Vionville and I imagine further improvements will be made with the opening of the War Museum of 1870 in nearby Gravelotte.

    Monument to 6th Brandenburgers on the battlefield 3rd Brandenburgers remembered from Vionville Private memorial to a French lieutenant who fell Discovery pathway over the fields of Mars-la-Tour Mass grave left from the day's fighting
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