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In popular culture, the battle of Frœschwiller-Woerth is known as "battle of reichshoffen ", From the name of the famous so-called" Reichshoffen "cuirassiers who heroically sacrificed themselves the August 6, 1870 during unnecessary charges against a much more numerous and powerfully armed enemy, during the Franco-Prusian war of 1870. The French commanded by Marshal Mac Mahon are defeated and the Prussian troops seize Alsace and Lorraine.
The battle of Reichshoffen
The battle known as "of Reichshoffen" took place on August 6, 1870 mainly on the territories of the communes of Woerth (name given to the battle by the Germans), Frœschwiller (name given by the French) and Morsbronn. The name of Reichshoffen has passed down to posterity because MacMahon's staff was there as well as several squadrons of cuirassiers who were based there and who sacrificed themselves during the battle.
After the defeat of Wissembourg on August 4, the Prussians moved towards Woerth. The Germans, commanded by the Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia, numbered 100,000 and faced the 43,000 soldiers of Mac Mahon.
The battle began at 7 am with an exchange of cannon shots and clashes with patrols. It was these few scattered scuffles that precipitated the engagement of the main body.
Courageously, the French fought one against four and the famous "cuirassiers of Reichshoffen" (of the Michel brigade) heroically sacrificed themselves during great charges against the Prussians who trapped them and who shot them down almost at close range, as was notably the case. the case at Morsbronn where the cuirassiers charged against the village and rushed into the narrow streets, thus offering themselves to the enemy ambushed in the houses of the village.
A heroic and unnecessary charge
The Germans counted 487 officers and 10,153 men killed and on the French side, the figures vary but the total losses are estimated at around 10,000 killed and between 6,000 and 9,000 prisoners.
The consequences of this battle were terrible for the French army because it, by this defeat, abandoned Alsace to the Germans. However, the sacrifice of the soldiers allowed the army to retreat in order. This day of August 6 was so terrible that the civilians of the neighboring villages were requisitioned to bury the dead that littered the battlefield and took nearly eight days to bury them all.
Moreover, as we have seen, the name "Battle of Reichshoffen" or "Charge of Reichshoffen" has passed into posterity when the real battle did not take place in this village but about nine kilometers away.
- MILZA, Pierre, The terrible year: September 1870 - March 1871, the Franco-Prussian war Perrin, Paris, 2009.
- Atlas of the war: 1870-71: maps of battles and sieges, by Amédée Le Faure. Hachette, 2013.