François Achille Bazaine
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François Achille Bazaine (13 February 1811 – 23 September 1888) was a French general and from 1864, a Marshal of France, who surrendered the last organized French army to Prussia during the Franco-Prussian war. He was the first Marshal who had started as a legionnaire and like the great Marshals of the First Empire, had risen from the ranks.
During four decades of distinguished service (including 35 years on campaign) under Louis-Philippe and then Napoleon III, he held every rank in the Army from Fusilier to Marshal of France. He became renowned for his determination to lead from the front, for his impassive bearing under fire and for personal bravery verging on the foolhardy, which resulted in him being wounded on numerous occasions and having his horse shot from under him twice).
He was sentenced to death by the government of the Third Republic for his surrender of the fortress city of Metz and his army of 180,000 men to the Prussians on 27 October 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War. This sentence was commuted to 20 years imprisonment in exile, from which he subsequently escaped. He eventually settled in Spain where aged 77, he died alone and impoverished in 1888. To the Foreign Legion he remains a hero and to this day is honoured as one of their bravest soldiers.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Crimea and Italy
- 3 Mexico
- 4 Franco-Prussian War
- 5 Trial and death sentence
- 6 Later life
- 7 Works
- 8 Appearances in Fiction
- 9 References
- 10 Sources
François Achille Bazaine was born at Versailles, second son of Pierre-Dominique Bazaine, a Mathematician and bridge architect and engineer who was responsible for, amongst others, the building of several bridges in St. Petersburg at the request of Czar Alexander I. His father abandoned his family just prior to the birth of Achille, leaving it without financial support. He failed the entrance examination to the École Polytechnique.
Instead he enlisted in the French Army as a private soldier in 1831 with a view to service in Algeria, where in 1833 he received a commission as sub-lieutenant in the Foreign Legion, it having been formed by Louis Philippe (King of France 1830-1848) in 1831. He rose rapidly through the ranks (Lieutenant 1835, Captain 1837), through successful actions during the Foreign Legion campaign in Algeria and against the Carlists in Spain (1835–1839), where in 1835 he was cited for bravery and gallantry in action on several occasions and rewarded with the cross (Chevalier) of the Légion d'honneur after only four years in the Army. After serving a second campaign with the Foreign Legion in Spain in 1837-38 (wounded: bullet in the right leg, Battle of Barbastro, 1837), Bazaine returned to Algeria in 1839 and took part in the expeditions to Milianah, Tlemcen, Morocco and Sahara. He was mentioned as instrumental in the surrender of Abd-el-Kader. In 1844 he was promoted to Major (wounded: bullet in the right wrist during action at Macta, 1845) and then to Lieutenant Colonel in 1848 after 9 years service in Algeria and Morocco, including several years heading France's Bureau Arabe (military intelligence) as Governor of Tlemcen. In 1850, he was promoted to full Colonel and given command of the 1st Regiment of the Foreign Legion, based in North Africa. He married his first wife Maria Juana de la Soledad, on 12 June 1852 at Versailles.
Crimea and Italy
He was promoted to Brigadier General at Gallipoli in 1854, en route to the Crimea and led a Brigade (the combined 1st and 2nd Regiments of the Foreign Legion) in the Crimean War. He fought several decisive actions at the Battle of the Alma in 1854 and during the siege of Sebastopol (1854/55) where he maintained his reputation and for which he was mentioned in dispatches on several occasions. The way in which he conducted the left wing of the French forces in the final Allied assault on Sebastopol on 8 September 1855 (wounded, shell fragment in left hip, his horse killed under him), received acclaim of the highest order from the Allied Command and he was subsequently promoted to Major General (General de Division) on 22 September 1855 and selected from all the Allied Generals to assume the Governorship of Sebastopol. At 44, this made him the youngest General in the French Army. In October 1855, Bazaine was chosen to give the coup de grâce. With a mixed French and British Force, he sailed to Kinburn at the mouth of the Dnieper to attack the remaining Russian forces to the North of Sebastopol. He led a daring landing and seized the naval fortress with a frontal assault, an action for which he received particular praise: "General Bazaine who commands that portion of the French Army now operating at the mouth of the Dnieper may be cited as presenting one of the most brilliant examples of the achievement of military distinction in the modern day". At Sebastopol, on 25 June 1856 he was invested by the British Commander in Chief, Lord Gough, with the Order of the Bath, for his conspicuous contribution to the Allied campaign during the Crimean War. On his return to France in 1857, he was appointed Inspector General of the Army.
In 1859, he commanded a Division in the Franco-Sardinian campaign against Austrian forces in Lombardy. He was wounded by a shell splinter in the head on 8 June, during the action at the Battle of Melegnano. He recovered to play a conspicuous part in the Battle of Solferino, which he captured on 24 June 1859, despite being wounded again (bullet to the upper thigh) and having his horse shot from under him.
He commanded with great distinction the First Division under General (afterwards Marshal) Forey in the Mexican expedition in 1862, where he pursued the war with great vigour and success, driving President Benito Juárez to the frontier.
His decisive action was instrumental in the taking of the city of Puebla in 1863. In the same year, he was cited again for his bravery in the Battle of San Lorenzo, for which he was made Knight Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour on 2 July 1863. On 5 September 1863 he was raised to Marshal of France by Presidential decree and elected to the senate. At the same time he replaced Forey in supreme command. He personally commanded the siege of Oaxaca in February 1865, following which the Emperor Maximilian decorated him with the Médaille militaire on 28 April 1865. Here as in 1870, two of Bazaine's nephews, Adolphe and Albert Bazaine-Hayter served with their uncle as his aide-de-camp. The Marshal's African experience as a soldier and as an administrator stood him in good stead in dealing with the guerrilleros of the Juárez party, but he was less successful in his relations with Maximilian, with whose court the French headquarters was in constant strife.
His enemies whispered that he aimed to depose Maximilian and get the throne of Mexico for himself. or that he aspired to play the part of a Bernadotte. His marriage to a rich Mexican lady (Pepita de la Peña y Azcarate), whose family were supporters of Juárez, still further complicated his relations with the unfortunate emperor, and when at the close of the American Civil War the United States sent a powerful war-trained army to the Mexican frontier, Napoleon III commanded Bazaine to withdraw French forces and return to France. Bazaine skillfully conducted the retreat and embarkation at Veracruz (1867). On his return to Paris he was feted by the public. Bazaine took his seat in the Senate as a Marshal of France and was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Guard in Paris.
"Nous marchons à un désastre"
It is clear even at this early stage that Bazaine was acutely aware of his Army's shortcomings against the well known speed and menacing efficiency of the Prussian military machine, evidenced by his remark to a friend whilst boarding the train from Paris to Metz: "Nous marchons à un désastre." ("We are walking into a disaster.") He had absorbed certain lessons that were to become a vital part of French military thought. From the story of Waterloo he had learned that a line of resolute men on the defensive could again and again break an enemy attack. From Mexico he had watched Lee's dashing Confederates lose a war despite their commander's brilliance in attack. He had also learned that dramatic sorties were invaluable in North Africa but were risky against European armies. Finally, Bazaine saw with misgivings the Prussian invention all-steel Krupp breech-loading gun, which was to shape the future of artillery on the battlefield. He concluded at this time that for France defensive war is better than offensive war. "It is better," he said, "to conduct operations systematically (i.e., defensively), as in the Seventeenth Century."
Takes over as Commander in Chief from Napoleon III
Bazaine took no part in the earlier battles, but after the defeats of Marshal MacMahon’s French Forces at Wörth and Marshal Canrobert’s at Forbach, Napoleon III (who was in increasingly poor health) was swift to give Bazaine the title of Commander-in-Chief of the French Army on 13 August 1870. At the time, Napoleon’s choice was considered to be a wise one. It was widely believed by French politicians and soldiers alike, that if anyone was capable of saving France from the Prussian onslaught, it was “notre glorieux Bazaine” ("our glorious Bazaine"). He was the only remaining Marshal of France not to have suffered defeat at the hands of Prussian forces in the early weeks of the war. However, being the youngest of the French Marshals, Napoleon’s choice was met with suspicion and jealousy by the older, socially superior Marshals. Hence it was with reluctance that he took up the chief command, and his tenure became the central act in the tragedy of 1870. He found the army in retreat, ill-equipped and numerically at a great disadvantage, and the generals and officers discouraged and distrustful of one another. There was practically no chance of success. The question was one of extricating the army and the government from a disastrous adventure, and Bazaine's solution of it was to bring back his army to Metz. The day after assuming command of the Army, on 14 August at Borny he was badly wounded by a shell on the left shoulder, a fact which was to be excluded from his service roll presented at his Court Martial in 1873.
How far his inaction was the cause of the disaster of Spicheren is a matter of dispute. The best that can be said of his conduct is that the evil traditions of warfare on a small scale and the mania for taking up "strong positions," common to the French generals of 1870, were in Bazaine's own case emphasized by his personal dislike for the "schoolmaster" Frossard, lately the Prince Imperial's tutor and now commander of the army corps posted at Spicheren. Frossard himself, the leader of the "strong positions" school, could only blame his own theories for the paralysis of the rest of the army, which left the corps at Spicheren to fight unsupported. Bazaine, indeed, when called upon for help, moved part of his corps forward, but only to "take up strong positions," not to strike a blow on the battlefield.
It seems to be clearly established that the charges of treason had as yet no foundation in fact. Nor, indeed, can his unwillingness to leave the Moselle region, while there was yet time to slip past the advancing enemy, be considered even as proof of special incompetence. The resolution to stay in the neighbourhood of Metz was based on the knowledge that if the slow-moving French army ventured far out it would infallibly be headed off and brought to battle in the open by superior numbers. In "strong positions" close to his stronghold, however, Bazaine hoped that he could inflict damaging repulses and heavy slaughter on the ardent Germans, and in the main the result justified the expectation. The scheme was creditable, and even heroic, but the execution throughout all ranks, from the Marshal to the battalion commanders, fell far short of the idea. The minutely cautious methods of movement, which Algerian experience had evolved suitable enough for small African desert columns, which were liable to surprise rushes and ambushes, reduced the mobility of a large army, which had favourable marching conditions, to 5 miles a day as against the enemy's rate of 15. When, before he had finally decided to stay in Metz, Bazaine attempted halfheartedly to begin a retreat on Verdun, the staff work and organization of the movement over the Moselle was so ineffective that when the German staff calculated that Bazaine was nearing Verdun, the French had in reality barely got their artillery and baggage trains through the town of Metz. Even on the battlefield the Marshal forbade the general staff to appear, and conducted the fighting by means of his personal orderly officers.
After the cumbrous army had passed through Metz it encountered an isolated corps of the enemy near the village of Mars-la-Tour, which was commanded by the brilliant leader Constantin von Alvensleben, and promptly attacked the French. At almost every moment of the day victory was in Bazaine's hands. Two corps of the Germans fought all day for bare existence. But Bazaine had no confidence in his generals or his troops, and contented himself with inflicting severe losses on the most aggressive portions of the German army.
Two days later, while the French actually retreated on Metz (taking seven hours to cover 5 to 6 miles) the masses of the Germans gathered in front of Bazaine's Army at Gravelotte, intercepting his communication with the interior of France. This Bazaine expected, and feeling certain that the Germans would sooner or later attack him in his chosen position, he made no attempt to interfere with their concentration. The great battle was fought, and having inflicted severe punishment on his assailants, Bazaine fell back within the entrenched camp of Metz. But although he made no appeals for help, public opinion, alarmed and excited, condemned the only remaining army of France, Marshal Mac-Mahon's Army of Châlons, to rescue Bazaine at all costs. Napoleon III, unable to sit on a horse, his face rouged (to conceal his deathly pallor from his troops), followed close behind MacMahon's doomed army in a carriage. When on 2 September 1870, MacMahon blundered into a German trap at Sedan, the Emperor mounted a horse despite his pain, rode along the firing line for hours seeking death. It never found him. At last, "muttering that they must stop the guns, that they must cease firing, that there must be no more bloodshed," Napoleon III surrendered with 80,000 men. With Sedan the Second Empire collapsed, Napoleon III being taken as a prisoner of war.
Up to this point Bazaine had served his country perhaps as well as circumstances allowed, and certainly with enough skill and a sufficient measure of success to justify his appointment. His experience, wide as it was, had not fitted him for the command of a large army in a delicate position. Since the start of the war, Bazaine appeared to lack the appetite for the fight which had been his trademark in his military career to date; this, although imperceptible on the field of battle because his reputation for impassive bearing under fire was beyond question, was only too obvious in the staff offices, where the work of manoeuvring the army and framing plans and orders was chiefly done. In spite of this, it cannot be asserted that any of Bazaine's subordinates would have done better.
Siege of Metz
The Prussian army of 200,000 men now besieged the city of Metz, where 3 French Marshals, 50 Generals, 135,000 men and 600 guns were encircled. Bazaine attempted to break the siege at Noiseville on 31 August but the French were repulsed, losing 3,500 men in the attempt. There were supplies in Metz to last no more than a month, such that by early September the order was given for work horses to be slaughtered for food. By mid September, cavalry horses also began to be slaughtered. Without cavalry and horses to pull the guns, Bazaine's ability to mount effective attempts to break out rapidly diminished. On 7 October, hungry and immobilised, Bazaine dispatched two 40,000 man foraging parties along both banks of the Moselle, but the Prussian guns blew the French wagons off the road and the Prussian infantry cut swathes through the desperate French soldiers with Chassepots captured at Sedan. Over 2,000 men were lost in this operation. Typhus and smallpox was spreading and by 10 October, it is estimated that 19,000 of the French Troops in Metz were hospitalised. A further attempt was made to break the siege on 18 October at Bellevue, but again the French troops were repulsed, with the loss of 1,250 men. The city was on its knees, the troops and inhabitants on the point of starvation.
Diplomacy, then surrender
As commander of the only remaining organized army of France, Bazaine took it upon himself, perhaps justifiably, to control the country's destiny. He refused to recognise the new Government of National Defence, formed following the Paris revolt and instead engaged in a series of diplomatic negotiations with the Prussian high command and Empress Eugenie who with the Prince Imperial had fled to Hastings, England. The purport of these negotiations still remain to some extent obscure, but it is beyond question that he proposed with the permission of the Prussians to employ his army in "saving France from herself", perhaps to ignite a revolution against the government of 3rd Republic. When considered in light of the fact that Bazaine had long been a known Bonapartist, his actions were clearly designed to forge a way to restore the Monarchy.
The scheme, however, collapsed and Bazaine surrendered the Army of the Rhine who became prisoners of war to the number of 180,000. This surrender is often explained by Bazaine's lack of motivation to defend a government that corresponded less and less to his political ideals and the best interests of France, as he saw it. At the moment of the surrender a week's further resistance would have enabled the levies of the National Defence government to crush the weak forces of the Germans on the Loire and to relieve Paris. But the army of Prince Friedrich Karl of Prussia, set free from the siege of Metz by Bazaine's surrender, hurried up in time to check and to defeat the great effort at Orléans.
Trial and death sentence
The French Nation could not rest with the thought that their military supremacy had been broken by the superiority of the Prusso-German armies; their defeats could have proceeded only from the treachery or incapacity of their leaders. To this national prejudice the new Government decided to bow, and to offer a sacrifice to the popular passion. And thus the world beheld the lamentable spectacle of the commanders who had surrendered the French fortresses to the enemy being subjected to a trial by court-martial under the presidency of Marshal Baraguey d'Hilliers. The majority of them were, on account of their proved incapacity or weakness, deprived of their military honors, at a moment when all had cause to reproach themselves and endeavor to raise up a new structure on the ruins of the past. Even Ulrich, the once celebrated commander of Strasbourg, whose name had been given to a street in Paris, was brought under the censure of the court-martial. But the chief blow fell upon the Commander-in-Chief, Marshal Bazaine, to whose "treachery" the whole misfortune of France was to be attributed.
When Bazaine returned from captivity, aware that in his absence he had been put forward as a scapegoat by the new government of the Third Republic for France's defeat at the hands of the Prussians, he was keen to be given an opportunity to clear his name and put his version of events to the public. In 1872, Bazaine published his account of the events of 1870 in L'Armée du Rhin and formally requested and was granted a trial before a military court. For months he was retained a prisoner at Trianon Palace, Versailles with his wife and two youngest children, while preparations were made for the great court-martial spectacle, which started the following year on 6 October 1873 under the presidency of the Duc D'Aumale in the Gallery of Trianon Palace.
For some time the Duke and his colleagues had been looking for a way out of their difficulty, by which they could save themselves, satisfy public clamor and yet avoid responsibility before history. Bazaine stated in his defence "I have graven on my chest two words - Honneur et Patrie. They have guided me for the whole of my military career. I have never failed that noble motto, no more at Metz than anywhere else during the forty-two years that I have loyally served France. I swear it here, before Christ". Despite a vigorous defence of Bazaine's actions by Lachaud, and the presentation of a number of strong witness statements from his staff including Colonel Willette, the court found Bazaine guilty of negotiating with and capitulating to the enemy before doing all that was prescribed by duty and honour. It was clear even to the most partial observer, that the verdict bore very little relation to the evidence. For example, the Marshal surrendered only after receiving letters recommending him to do so from his Generals, but the presentation of these at the trial was ignored. "I have read every word of the evidence [against Bazaine] and believe it to be the most malicious casuistry" (New York Times Correspondent). A letter which Prince Frederick Charles wrote in Bazaine's favor only added to the wrath of the people, who cried aloud for his execution. The court sentenced Bazaine to 'degradation and death', and to pay the costs of the enormous trial (300,000 Francs), which was to leave the Marshal's young family penniless. Bazaine's reaction on being read the sentence of the court was "It is my life you want, take it at once, let me be shot immediately, but preserve my family". Since the Revolution, only two French Marshals have been condemned to death - Ney, by a Bourbon, and Bazaine, by an Orléans. But, as though the judges themselves felt a twinge of conscience at the sentence, they immediately and unanimously signed a petition for 'Executive Clemency' to the President of the Third Republic, Marshal MacMahon, although Bazaine refused to sign this petition himself.
Imprisonment and escape
MacMahon, who was a fellow Foreign Legion Officer and had served in many campaigns alongside Bazaine, was visibly disgusted when he received the news of the Court's decision and was incensed by their attempt to pass responsibility to him. The government wanted to banish Bazaine for life; MacMahon first proposed life imprisonment, though he softened and commuted the punishment of death to twenty years' imprisonment and remitted the disgrace of the formalities of a military degradation. Bazaine wrote to thank his fellow legionnaire, though he added, tongue in cheek, that he might have let his feelings run away with him. It was an academic concession for a man nearing sixty-three. Bazaine was incarcerated on the Île Sainte-Marguerite and treated rather as an exile than as a convict. During the night of 10 August 1874, using parcel rope supplied by Angelo Hayter, (son of the Court Painter Sir George Hayter) and baggage straps which he knotted into a rope, the 63-year-old Marshal attached one end to his body and tied the other end to a gargoyle and climbed down the 300 foot cliffs to a boat which his wife had brought out from Cannes. They sailed to Genoa in Italy, and from there Bazaine came to London with his young family where he stayed for a time with his Hayter relations.
By midsummer 1875, Bazaine had settled in Madrid, where he was treated with marked respect by the government of Alfonso XII, who were grateful for Bazaine's conspicuous bravery as a young Foreign Legion Officer in the Carlist War. Queen Isabella had arranged lodgings for him and his family in the Calle Hortaleza. In these spartan rooms, he toiled slowly on his book Episodes de la guerre de 1870 which was published in 1883, in which he recorded his defence against the 1873 accusation of treason. With his own means stripped of him, he had his eldest son’s pay to depend upon besides the assistance of some well-known army men who were charitable to the old soldier. As his years progressed, the numerous wounds Bazaine had received while serving France during his 40-year Army career caused the ex-marshal's health to deteriorate further each winter. The last years he spent alone. Pepita did not like Spain and took her daughter to Mexico. Pepita expected to receive compensation from the Mexican government for the loss of the couple's property. Meanwhile, Bazaine stayed in Spain with his two sons, could no longer pay his lodgings and moved to miserable rooms in the Calle Atocha. His suits were threadbare but clean, his boots worn but well polished, and he still marched erectly. He had to cook for himself, and allowed himself only one luxury: a few small cigars each week. On 20 September 1888, he was found dead in his lodgings. At seventy-seven, his heart had given out. He had never fully recovered from an infection he contracted during the harsh Madrid winter of 1887/8. Bazaine’s remains were interred on 24 September 1888 in the San Justo Cemetery in Madrid, his sons and Marshal Campos attending the funeral, his sword and epaulettes resting on his coffin. The officiating priest was a relative of his wife. French newspapers remained vitriolic in their reporting of the Marshal’s passing “Let his corpse be flung in to the first ditch. As for his memory, it is nailed forever to the pillory”. German papers refer to Bazaine kindly and repeat that he was wronged by his own people.
In the same year as Bazaine’s death, Count d’Herrison published an account in defence of the Marshal’s decisions during the Franco-Prussian war, which cast significant, verifiable doubt upon the characters and motivations of witnesses whose testimonies were key to the finding of the court that Bazaine was guilty of treason. Between 1904 and 1912, the French Court of Appeal lawyer Élie Peyron published several works in defence of Bazaine.
"MacMahon, the aristocrat survived Bazaine by five years; Paris gave MacMahon a funeral that choked the wide boulevards for hours. Canrobert, last of the Foreign Legion Marshals of the Second Empire, was buried like a prince in 1895. The Foreign Legion, which has never felt obliged to accept the French view on anything, still honours Bazaine. In its museum there exists almost no trace of MacMahon, nor of Canrobert or of Saint-Arnaud. Bazaine however has his own corner, adorned with his battered kepi, the bits and pieces of the harness he used at Rezonville and Gravelotte, and the cross Conrad pinned on him after Macta. The Legion knows that courage is not a mask that a soldier can wear or discard at will". To this day, the Legion annually pays tribute to Bazaine's courage.
- Rapport du maréchal Bazaine : Bataille de Rezonville. Le 16 août 1870. – Brüssel : Auguste Decq, 1870
- La capitulation de Metz : Rapport officiel du maréchal Bazaine. – Lyon : Lapierre-Brille, 1871
- L'armée du Rhin depuis le 12 août jusqu'au 29 octobre 1870. – Paris : Henri Plon, 1872
- Episodes de la guerre de 1870 et le blocus de Metz par l'ex-maréchal Bazaine – Madrid : Gaspar, 1883 (in France this work was immediately forbidden)
Appearances in Fiction
There is a brief reference to Bazaine in David Weber's science fiction novel, In Death's Ground (1997), the third novel in that author's Starfire series of novels.
Clamence in Albert Camus's novella "The Fall" refers to his friends as 'Bazaines'
His actions during the French interdiction in Mexico are recorded in Norman Zollinger's novel "Chapultepec."
- "Bazaine and Retain". Time. 1943-07-26. Retrieved 2008-09-22.
- Illustrated London News: 1855
- Chisholm 1911.
- Hugh McLeave: The Damned Die Hard (Page 81)
- New York Times: 12 December 1873
- New York Times: 30 September 1888
- New York Times: 25 September 1888
- La Paris: 25 September 1888
- Comte d'Hérisson, La Légende de Metz (Paris, 1888)
- Élie Peyron Bazaine fut-il un traître? (Paris, Picard 1904)
- Élie Peyron Le cas de Bazaine (Paris, Stock, 1905)
- Élie Peyron Bazaine devant ses juges (Paris, Stock, 1912)
- Hugh McLeave; The Damned Die Hard (Page 83-84)
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Bazaine, Achille François". Encyclopædia Britannica. 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 559–561.
- Memoir by Camille Pelletan in La Grande Encyclopédie
- Bazaine et l'armée du Rhin (1873)
- J Valfrey Le Maréchal et l'armée du Rhin (1873)
- Count A de la Guerronière, L'Homme de Metz (1871)
- Rossel, Les Derniers fours de Metz (1871)
- La Brugère, L'Affaire Bazaine (Paris, 1874)
- Comte d'Hérisson, La légende de Metz (Paris, 1888)
- Henri d'Orléans, duc d'Aumale: Procès Bazaine, affaire de la capitulation de Metz, seul compte rendu sténographique in extenso des séances du 1er conseil de guerre de la 1re division militaire ayant siégé à Versailles (Trianon), du 6 octobre au 10 décembre 1873 / sous la présidence de M. le Général de division Duc d'Aumale. – Paris : Librairie du Moniteur Universel, 1873
- Amédée Le Faure: Procès du Maréchal Bazaine. Rapport. Audiences du premier conseil de guerre. Compte rendu rédigé avec l'adjonction de notes explicatives. – Paris : Garnier, 1874
- F. de La Brugère (Arthème Fayard): L' Affaire Bazaine : Compte-rendu officiel et in extenso des débats, avec de nombreuses biographies. – Paris : Fayard, 1874
- Robert Christophe: Bazaine innocent. – Paris : Nantal, 1938
- Robert Burnand: Bazaine. – Paris : Librairie Floury, 1939
- Robert Christophe: La vie tragique du maréchal Bazaine. – Paris : Editions Jacques Vautrin, 1947
- Jean Cahen-Salvador: Le procès du maréchal Bazaine. – Lausanne : La Guilde du Livre, 1946
- Edmond Ruby und Jean Regnault: Bazaine coupable ou victime? A la lumière de documents nouveaux. – Paris : J. Peyronnet & Cie, 1960
- Maurice Baumont: Bazaine : les secrets d'un maréchal (1811–1888). – Paris : Imprimerie Nationale, 1978. – ISBN 2-11-080717-2
- "Bazaine, François Achille". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. 1900.
- Colonel Willette, L'évasion du Maréchal Bazaine de L'ile Sainte-Marguerite par son compagnon de captivité. Textes Inedits par André Castelot. Librairie Academique Perrin 1973.