12 MARCH 1892, Page 16



Sts,—In your short notice of Mr. Archibald Forbes's article in the Nineteenth Century on Napoleon III. at Sedan, you write —" We wish Mr. Forbes had added a definite opinion whether an attempt to break through was or was not incapable of success."

Having revisited the battle-field of Sedan innumerable times during the last twenty years, while visiting my brother- in-law, Pasteur Goulden, at his country-house in the famous Bois de la Gareane, adjoining the Calvaire d'Illy, where the German right and left joined hands, I have no doubt that Mr. Forbes would agree with me, that breaking through any- where at 4 p.m. was quite impossible.

As a matter of fact, there was no solid body of French troops left wherewith to make an effectual outbreak. The French army was already knocked into a "cocked hat." General Wimpfen, who actually did break out of Sedan, by the Porte- de Balan, towards Montmedy, with about 1,500 men of all arms, found the attempt utterly hopeless. At the outset, he- managed to push the foremost Bavarians a few hundred yards back from the ramparts of the fortress of Sedan along the high-road connecting Sedan with Balan and Bazeilles. But he could make no further progress, being confronted with- solid bodies of Bavarians and Saxons, with the 4th Prussian Corps almost intact behind them, between Bazeilles and Dowzy.

General Wimpfen's attempt was a mere act of bravado, with which the Emperor very properly declined to associate