Some Statistics arising from the German Victory
As published in German Newspapers after the War
The Franco-Prussian War was a stunning victory for the united German armies. After the war the German press published statistics concerning numerous aspects of the operations, and the following is a selection of those which appeared in the "Staats-Anzeiger".
France declared war on 19th July 1870. The war ended for most theatres on 28th January 1871 with the capitulation of Paris, and for the remaining theatres on 16th February. The war therefore lasted for 210 days.
During the opening period until 26th July the armies of the North German Confederation and the South German States were mobilising, and the full strategic deployment on the line Trier-Landau took 13 days.
In view of the period of mobilisation and deployment and the begimnning of negotiations at Versailles on 28th January 1871, some 30 days need to be deducted from the total of 210, leaving a period of 180 days during which the German armies achieved their great victories.
During this period of 180 days the German armies were involved in 156 more or less significant smaller actions, fought 17 major battles, took 26 fortresses, captured 11650 officers and 363000 men, over 6700 guns, and 120 eagles or flags.
Therefore during each of the 6 months of the actual operations the German armies fought on average 26 actions and 3 battles, took 4 fortresses, captured 1950 officers and 60500 men, 1110 guns and 20 eagles or flags.
There was a smaller action on average nearly every day, a major battle every 9 days, a fortress captured every 6 days. For each day there was an average bag of 65 officers and 2070 men, and 38 guns, and 1 eagle or flag for every 2 of each 3 days.
Actions, Battles and Fortresses taken by Month
Up to the Capitulation of Sedan- 13 actions, 8 battles (Wissembourg, Wörth, Spicheren, Courcelles, Vionville, Gravelotte, Noisseville, Beaumont-Sedan); 4 fortress were taken- Lützelstein, Lichtenberg, Marsal, Vitry.
September- 13 actions; 4 fortresses were taken- Sedan, Lyon, Toul, Strasbourg.
October- 37 actions; 3 fortresses were taken- Soissons, Schlettstadt, Metz.
November- 15 actions, 2 battles(Amiens, Beaune-la-Rolande); 7 fortresses were taken- Verdun, Montbéliard, Neuf-Brisach, Ham, Thionville, La Fère, the Citadel of Amiens.
December- 30 actions, the battles around Orleans and on the Hallue; 2 fortresses were taken- Pfalzburg, Montmédy.
January- 48 actions, 3 battles (Le Mans, Montbéliard, St.Quentin); 5 fortresses were taaken- Mézières;, Rocroy, Péronne, Longwy, Paris.
February- the fortress of Belfort was occupied by German troops.
Paris was encircled from 19th September until 28th January, a total of 130 days, during which 22 larger actions were fought as the French sallied out. These have been added to the total of actions, although from their size and extent several of them might be included in the list of major battles. 22 actions in 130 days gives an average of 5-6 per month, and they actually took place as follows- September- 3, October- 8, November- 2, December- 4, January- 5.
The Germans also captured vast amounts of equipment, uniforms, transport, etc. of all kinds. The figures presented give a good idea of the extent of the French military defeat.
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© Martin Tomczak 2002