Auguste-Alexandre Ducrot

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Auguste-Alexandre Ducrot
Auguste-Alexandre Ducrot.jpg
Born (1817-02-24)24 February 1817
Nevers, France
Died 16 August 1882(1882-08-16) (aged 65)
Versailles, France
Allegiance France Kingdom of France
 French Second Republic
 Second French Empire
 French Third Republic
Service/branch French Army
Years of service 1835–1882
Rank Général de Division
Battles/wars Crimean War
Franco-Prussian War
Awards Legion of Honour (Grand Officier)

Auguste-Alexandre Ducrot (24 February 1817 – 16 August 1882) was a French general. Ducrot served in Algeria, in the Italian campaign of 1859, and as a division commander in the Franco-Prussian War.

At the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, Ducrot was tasked with overseeing the deployment of French forces due to his familiarity with the terrain near Wissembourg. Having received flawed intelligence, he told General Abel Douay, commander of the 2nd Division, on 1 August that

The information I have received makes me suppose that the enemy has no considerable forces very near his advance posts, and has no desire to take the offensive.[1]

Two days later, he told MacMahon that he had not found

... a single enemy post ... it looks to me as if the menace of the Bavarians is simply bluff.

Even though Ducrot shrugged off the possibility of an attack by the Germans, MacMahon tried to warn the other divisions of his army, but without success.[1] Due to this, General Douay's unsupported division was surprised and defeated by a large force of Prussians and Bavarians.

At the Battle of Sedan on 1 September 1870, he succeeded to command of the French army when Marshal MacMahon was wounded early in the morning. By that time, it was obvious that a disastrous defeat was inevitable. Ducrot summed up the situation with the famous remark

Nous sommes dans un pot de chambre, et nous y serons emmerdés. ("We are in a chamber pot, and we're going to be shit on.")

Ducrot ordered the army to withdraw, but then General de Wimpffen presented a commission authorizing him to succeed MacMahon. Wimpffen overruled Ducrot, and ordered a counterattack that failed completely. Emperor Napoleon III then surrendered the army to the Prussians.

Ducrot refused to sign the articles of surrender, and was imprisoned by the Prussians. He soon escaped, and took part in the Siege of Paris.

Ducrot commanded the most important French attack against the Prussian besiegers (the Battle of Villiers), 29 November–3 December 1870. After the defeat of this attack, Ducrot urged the French government to make peace.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Howard, Michael (1961). The Franco-Prussian War; the German invasion of France, 1870-1871. New York: Macmillan. pp. 100–101. 

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWood, James, ed. (1907). "DUCROT". The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne.