Sunday, July 19, 2020

The War in Europe -- July 19, 2020

Philadelphia Evening Telegram, 19-July-1870
150 years ago today, on 19-July-1870, Napoleon III, Emperor of the French, declared war against the North German Confederation, led by the Kingdom of Prussia under King Wilhelm I. 


The Scene of Operations.
Saarbruck and Saarlouis.
The Opposing Navies
Their Relative Strength.
Prussia's Coast Defenses.
Maritime Seizures.
The Law Affecting Them.
Our Commercial Interests.
How They will be Affected.
Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc.

The Prussian Strongholds on the Rhine.

The latest cable telegrams at this writing speak of the Prussian forces having occupied at noon yesterday Saarbruck in Rhenish Prussia, and Henberg in Rhenish Bavaria, two towns directly on the frontier; and also of a report that the French troops had commenced the bombardment of the town of Saarlouis.


is situated forty miles S. S. E. of Treves, and three miles from the French border, on the river Saar, a stream rising in the Vosges Mountains and joining the Moselle near Treves. The Saar is crossed by a stone bridge at the town, by which it is connected with its suburb St. Johann. The population is about 9000. The town was founded in the tenth century, was given by the Emperor Henry III to the Church of Metz, and subseqnently governed by its own counts until 1380, when it came by marriage into the family of Nassau. It was afterwards fortified and suffered much during the wars which have been waged in its neighborhood. In 1676 it was almost entirely destroyed by fire, and its fortifications dismantled, so that at the present time it is of no stragetic importance.


however, which is also situated on the River Saar, but 30 miles S. S. E. of Treves, and five miles from the frontier, although it has a population of only about 4500, is of greater importance. The town was founded by Louis XIV, and was strongly fortified by Vauban. It belonged to France until 1815, when it passed under Prussian control, and has since formed an important border stronghold of that power. In fact, it is the only well-advanced Prussian fortress for the defense of the Rhine immediately on the frontier. Saarlouis, as well as Saarbruck, is connected by excellent roads with Metz, Neves, Mayence, Manheim, and Landau. These roads afford an excellent opportunity for the rapid movements of troops, but the fortlfications are inadequate for the requirements of an advanced post to hold the enemy in check, while the army is being brought forward, or to serve as the base of operations against Metz, Thionville, Verdun, and Paris. Last year it was proposed to build several single forts in the most important passes of this district, but it is impossible to say how far these proposed defenses have progressed.


In Rhenish Bavaria, is a small village on the Rhine, some fifteen miles southeast of Landau and less than ten miles from the French fortified city of Lauterburg. It is also within easy distance of Carlsruhe. Here a Prussian force is also reported to be stationed, but the place has no strategical importance whatever.


where the soldiers of Baden are concentrating, is one of the strongholds of South Germany, although the town itself is quite insignificant, the population hardly exoeedlng 6000. Its fortifications are of immense strength. Rastadt is situated in Baden, on the right bank of the Rhine, fourteen miles south-southwest of Carlsruhe, and is on the Basle and Manheim Railroad. It is about ten mile southeast of Lauterburg and thirty miles northeast of Strasburg, but has no direct road uniting it with either place. The present fortifications of Rastadt were commenced in 1641. In 1849 the garrison mutinied and the town had the honor of being the last place held by the German republican revolutionists. Under the leadership of Mieroslawskl, it held out for a time against the forces commanded by the Prince of Prussia, but finally surrendered. Since then its fortifications have been vigorously pushed forward and are now exceedingly strong.


where another Prussian force is reported, is in Hesse-Darmstadt, on the railroad running from Frankfort northward through Giessen, between which places it is situated. The village is at least forty miles from the nearest point on the right bank of the Rhine.


The Marine Defenses of the North German Confederation

In the EVENING TELEGRAPH of July 13 we gave an elaborate statement of the armies and navies of France and the North German Confederation, showing at a glance the vastly superior strength of France upon the sea. The following summary of the navies of the two countries will show how great is the disparity:--

The French Navy.

At the commencement of the present year France had a fleet of 62 iron-clads, 264 unarmored screw steamers, 62 paddle steamers, and 113 sailing vessels. The following shows the strength of this formidable navy:--

Class.No.Horse Power.Guns.
Screw steamers26455,8121,547
Paddle steamers628,655154
Sailing vessels113...672

The French navy is commanded by 2218 officers of different grades. The sailors, afloat and on shore, numbered 39,846 in 1869, which, together with engineers, dockyard laborers, navy surgeons, and others connected with the force, bring the grand total of men engaged in the service of the Imperial fleet up to 74,403. On the war-footing the strength of the navy can be raised to 170,000 men, this being the number entered on the lists of the maritime conscription. Exclusive of the above are the marines and the colonial troops, amounting to 28,623 men.

The Prussian Navy.

Since the organization of the North German Confederation in 1866, the most strenuous exertions have been made to place the navy on a substantial basis, and great progress has been made. At the commencement of the Regency of King William I, in 1858, the Prussian navy consisted of 1 decked corvette, with 28 guns; 1 level decked corvette, with 12 guns; 1 yacht, 1 garrison ship, 2 old sailing frigates, 1 sailing corvette, 2 schooners, 1 transport ship, and 38 gunboats, etc., propelled by oars. On the docks lay the Gazelle, a vessel of 28 guns. The North German fleet now consists of the following:--

Iron-clad screw steamers75,150102
Frigates and corvettes93,200200
Sailing vessels59...247

The Prussian and North German navy is manned by about 3500 seamen and boys, and officered by one admiral, one vice-admiral, one rear-admiral, 27 captains, 44 conmanders, and 133 lieutenants. There are besides five companies of marines, four of Infantry, and three of artillery, numbering 1200 men.

The comparison between the two fleets shows the following:--

...France.North Germany

This comparison shows that King William's fleet is by no means able to cope with that of his antagonist, and will be placed throughout the war entirely on the defensive. Frequent rumors have, indeed, already reached us to the effect that the French navy was amusing itself by chasing the German navy towards the Baltic; but, although there have probably been no important naval movements as yet, they will not long be postponed. In view of the inability of Prussia to cope with her antagonist on the sea, it becomes important to know something about the land fortifications which she is able to oppose to Napoleon's overwhelming navy. We therefore present the following concerning her maritime defenses:--

Prussian Fortresses and Naval Stations.

The princinal naval station of the North German Confederation, as far as ship-building and the training of sailors are concerned, is


which was formerly the chief seaport of Denmark. At this town, which is in the Schleswig-Holstein portion of Denmark, is the great naval school situated. This arm of the Prussian service has risen into great popularity. There are now 400 marine cadets against 72 that were there two years ago. Of those 72, 59 have become naval officers. Kiel, which was the capital of the duchy, is situated on the Kielerlford, a fine harbor of the Baltic. The population is about 17,000. It is a handsome walled town, contains the Gluckburg palace, four churches, and a university, founded In 1665, with an observatory, a library of 8000 volumes, a botanic garden, and 300 students. It has been considered the only great naval harbor on the south side of the Baltic. It is the terminus of the Holsteln Canal, which connects the Baltic with the German Ocean, it is connected by steamers with all the principal ports of tne Baltic. since the construction of the railroad, Kiel has flourished at the expense of Lubeck. A treaty of peace was concluded at Kiel In 1814 between England, Sweden, and Denmark. The city was blockaded in 1849, and occupied by Austrian troops In 1851-52.


Dantzic, the capital of an administrative division of the province of West Prussia of the same name, is a large and ancient city. In 1855 it had a population of 63,461, besides 8800 soldiers. It has long been an important fortress, but has been recently much strengthened by the Bund. It is situated on the left bank of the Vistula, about three and a half miles from the mouth, with a circumference, including its nine suburbs, or more than twelve miles. The principal buildings are three citadels, the Church of St. Mary, one of the largest In Europe, the Cathernian Kirche, the council house, the government building, the old armory, the exchange, and 175 granaries and workshops on the Speicher (Granary) Island, where no dwelling-house ts allowed, where no fire must be kindled, and where at night all streets are closed except one. There are thirteen Protestant and six Catholic churches, a Mennonite Church, and five synagogues. The city abounds with learned, charitable, and artistic institutions, and is celebrated for its monuments and antiquities. The harbor was excellent up to 1829 and 1830, when the Vistula broke above the city, througn the high ridge of the Downs, and formed a new outlet, reducing the depth of the old branch, so that a new port, Newfahwosser, had to be built at the mouth, which is defended by two forts. The commerce of Dantzic was at an earlier period far more important than since the partition of Poland, when the prohibitory tariff of Russia, the Sound dues, the sufferings from the Napoleonic wars, the ascendancy of Hamburg, Bremen, and Stettin, made it decline, but the last twenty years have given it a new impetus. The great staples are Polish and Prussian grain, in exports it Is the first Prussian port ; in imports, the second after Swinemunde. Ship-building has always been extensively carried on there. In I860 the tonnage of the vessels owned there was 75,000. Manufactures are gaining ground there. The Eastern Prussian Railway connects Dantzic with Berlin, Konigsberg, and a branch road with Posen, and new railroads are being built. In 1310 it fell under the sway of the order of Teutonic Knights, and became a German city, in the midst of a Polish population, and up to this day is not perfectly Germanized. In 1454 it subjected itself to the King of Poland, for the purpose of securing from him commercial privileges, became a free city with some verv rich territory, and fell under the dominion of Prussia in 1793, after a struggle or six days. The siege by Lefevre in 1807, after which it became a so-called free city under Napoleonic protection, with a strong French garrison: the frightful siege In 1813 and 1814 (when General Rapp made a famous defense of twelve months against the Prussians and Russians, and the city was half destroyed and the population half starved) ; and the French war contributions and continental system gave a severe blow to the prosperity of Dantzic, from which, however, it has since recovered, especially within the last few years, by the improvements in the river, by being made a naval station, and, above all, by railway communications.


Alsen is a fortified place on the island of Alsen which is situated in the Little Belt, and is about twenty miles long and eight wide, is very fertile, and one of tne most beautiful islands in tne Baltic. The fortifications at Hoerup Haaf will be very formidable. They will comprise three star-shaped forts, with double tiers of guns and five coast batteries commanding the passage of the Little Belt. All these will be iron-faced and armed with the heaviest ordnance, and will not only command the Strait, but also the canal of Bisensund with the port, and maintain communication with the military depot of Sonderberg, tne capital of the island of Alsen. Then there is the formidable position of Duppel, whicn aids Prusaia greatly in controlling the North Sea, the Baltic, and the Straits.


Stralsund, now, of course, every day changing under the vigorous hand of Bismarck into a great naval statlon, has long been a strongly fortified seaport of Prussia In Pomerania. It is the capital of the administratlve station ot the same name, and is situated on the strait which separates the island of Rugen from the mainland. It is 120 miles north of Berlin, and has a population of 20,000. The site of the town is so completely surrounded by water that it can only be approached by bridges which connect it with its three suburbs on the mainland. Though the town has a gloomy appearance, it Is clean and well paved. The principle churches are those of St. Nicholas and St. Mary, the former dating from the thirteenth, the latter Irom the fourteenth century. They are both fine specimens of the pointed style of architecture, and have many valuable paintings. The town hall contains a public library, and the gymnasium has both a museum and library. Ship-building is carried on, and there is an active trade. The harbor is large, and shoals prevent vessels drawing more than fifteen feet of water from entering it. Stralsund was built by Jaromar, first prince of Rugen, about the year 1209, and soon rose to be a place of importance, and become a member of the Hanseatic League. It successfully resisted Wallenstein, who besieged it In 1628, and lost 12,000 men before its walls. The Swedes gained possession of it by the peace of Westphalia, and Frederic William, Elector of Brandenbnrg, captured it from them in 1768. but restored it the following year. Stralsund surrendered to the Prussian, Danish, and Saxon forces in 1715, but was given back to Sweden in 1720. It was surrendered to the French in 1807, who destroyed a great part of the fortifications ; and by the treaty of Kiel in 1810 It was ceded to Denmark. In 1816 Denmark surrendered it to Prussia.


The Law of Nations as It Stands at Present --
Provisions of the Treaty of 1866 -- Neutral
Goods and Privateering.

In view of the possible operations of the French and North German fleets, the present state of international law on the subject of maritime seizures becomes of interest and importance not only to the belligerents, but to neutral nations, and especially to the United States, whose commerce is just recovering from the disastrous results of the recent Rebellion. Maritime seizures are at present regulated by the official declaration of the representatives of the great powers of Europe who participated in the treaty of Paris of March 30, 1856. The following is the declaration in respect to the capture of neutral goods under belligerent flags, and also against privateering or the granting of letters of marque and reprisal:--

Declaration respecting maritime law, signed by the Plenipotentiaries of Great Britain, Austria, France, Prussia, Russia, Sardinia, and Turkey, assembled in Congress, at Paris, April 16, 1856: the Plenipotentiaries who signed the treaty of Paris of the 30th March, 1856, assembled in conference, considering that maritime law. In time of war, has long been the subject of deplorable disputes ; that the uncertainty of the law, and of the duties in such matter, gives rise to difference of opinion between neutrals and belligerents, which may occasion serious difficulties and even conflicts; that it is consequently advantageous to establish a uniform doctrine on so important a point; that the Plenipotentiaries assembled In congress at Paris cannot better respond to the intention by which their governments are animated than by seeking to introduce into international relations fixed principles in this respect. The above-mentioned plenipotentiaries, being duly authorized, resolved to concert among themselves as to the means of attaining this object: and, having come to an agreement, have adopted the following solemn declaration:--

1. Privateering is, and remains, abolished.
2. The neutral flag covers enemy's goods, with the exception of contraband of war.
3. Neutral goods, with the exception of contraband of war, are not liable to capture under enemy's flag.
4. Blockades, in order to be binding, must be effective; that is to say, maintained by a force sufficient really to prevent access to the coast of the enemy.

The Governments of the undersigned Plenipotentiaries engage to bring the present declaration to the knowledge of the States which have not taken part in the Congress of Paris, and to invite them to accede to it. Convinced that the maxims which they now proclaim cannot but be received with gratitude by the whole world, the undersigned Plenipotentiaries doubt not that the efforts of their Governments to obtain the general adoption thereof will be crowned with full success. The present declaration is not and shall not be binding except between those powers who have acceded or shall accede to it. Done at Paris, the sixteenth of April, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-six.


The Trade of the United States with Germany
and France -- The Damage that the War will
Inflict Upon Us.

The statistics contained in the following statements supply information which must prove of the highest interest by showing the extent to which our commerce will be interrupted if the French-German conflict continues, and the German ports are blockaded.

Our Imports from Germany.

Our imports from the States in the Zollverein, which embraces nearly all Germany, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1868, amounted to $21,569,988, and were received from the following States in the quantities given:--
Philadelphia Evening Telegram, 19-July-1870

Our Exports to Germany. 

Our exports to Germany during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1869, amounted to $39,427,403 (including gold), and appear in the official returns as having been divided as follows the ports of Bremen and Hamburg, as will be seen, being the great distributing points for all Germany:--

Philadelphia Evening Telegram, 19-July-1870
Cotton, petroleum, lard, and tobacco are the chief products we send to Germany, but as there is a large indirect trade in these and other commodities transacted through the English markets, the figures do not represent the full extent to which we find purchasers in Germany for our productions.

Our Trade with France 

is not likely to be materially interfered with by the war, unless Russia and other European powers should conclude to participate in the struggle, taking sides with North Germany. Our exports to France during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1868, amounted to $45,945,864, of which $43,386,384 were to Atlantic from France amounted to $26,921,951, of which $23,444,815 were to Atlantic and $3,477, 136 to Mediterranean ports.

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