Siege of Toul

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Siege of Toul
date August 16 to September 23, 1870
place Toul
output German victory
Parties to the conflict

North German ConfederationNorth German Confederation North German Confederation Bavaria Württemberg
Kingdom of BavariaKingdom of Bavaria 
WurttembergKingdom of Württemberg 

Second empireSecond empire France


North German ConfederationNorth German Confederation Friedrich Franz II.


Troop strength
up to 13,000 soldiers approx. 2400 soldiers with 120 guns

The siege of Toul , which lasted from August 16, 1870 to September 23, 1870, was an episode in the Franco-Prussian War .

initial situation

After the battle of Wörth on August 6, 1870, Marshal Mac-Mahon's army withdrew via Nancy and Toul towards the camp of Châlons-en-Champagne . Here his corps were so vigorously pursued by the German troops of the 3rd Army under Crown Prince Friedrich that the retreat became a flight. Parts of the French corps were able to withdraw by rail, but hardly any organized resistance was met with the advance of the German troops.

First stage of the siege

On August 14th, the fortified town of Marsal was conquered and, among other things, 60 guns were captured. Nancy was taken without major fighting, but the capture of the small fortress of Toul on August 16 by parts of the IV Corps and the II Bavarian Corps failed due to the resistance of the occupation. The 5th Bavarian Infantry Regiment was involved in this first attempt at conquest, and it also used the guns captured two days earlier in Marsal. However, it was hardly expected that the French would resist any longer at this point. No attempt was made to storm the fortress; the siege was limited to containment and sporadic artillery fire.

Importance of the fortress

The fortress of Toul blocked the railway line from Paris to Nancy , which leads to Strasbourg . This did not yet play a major role in August 1870, as the Prussian high command was still planning to destroy the French army in a major field battle at that time. When it became clear after the Battle of Sedan that Paris might be besieged , the interruption of the railway line at Toul for supplying the German troops became a problem. Only the Strasbourg - Nancy - Toul - Paris line was available. This was interrupted in the further course by the blasting of a tunnel, but the conquest of Toul was supposedly a problem that was supposed to be easier to solve. The German XIII. Army Corps was tasked with taking the fortress of Toul and clearing the railway line for supplies.

Second stage of the siege

The siege began on September 12, 1870. The fortress was already out of date according to the state of the art at the time, but the bombardment did not begin immediately, as peace negotiations between Otto von Bismarck and Jules Favre were still ongoing at that time , which involved the surrender of the besieged fortresses of Strasbourg , Toul and Verdun played a significant role. Among other things, it was disputed whether the crews should be allowed to withdraw freely or be taken prisoners of war.

In the meantime, heavy artillery was brought in to take the fortress, including new 24-pounder rifled cannons. The bombardment began on September 23, 1870. The fortress withstood the bombardment for about eight hours and surrendered that same day without a storm attack. The fortress garrison was made more difficult by the fact that the 9th Company of the Grand Ducal Mecklenburg Grenadier Regiment No. 89 set a mill on fire on the night of September 19-20. This mill had been in the approach to the fortress and supplied it with flour. The remaining stocks of flour could not be transported away, so that the supply situation in the fortress of Toul deteriorated noticeably in the following days. No precise figures are available about the losses. A total of 2300 French soldiers were taken prisoner and the fortress equipment, including 71 heavy artillery pieces, was captured.

Effects of Surrender

The undisturbed use of the railway line via Toul was essential for supplying the German troops in front of Paris. Another railway line via Metz was only available a long time later after the siege there had ended. Along with the fall of Strasbourg on September 28, a large part of the material needed for the siege of Paris , particularly heavy artillery, became available. The German siege troops totaling 63,000 men could be used for other tasks. The Grand Duke of Mecklenburg was given command of the army group that fought against the French Loire Army over the next few months .


  • Inge and Dieter Wernet: Toul. The story of a French camp fortress. Helios Verlag, Aachen 2009, ISBN 978-3-86933-000-6 .
  • von Werder, The operations of the German armies against Toul in 1870 , 1875, digitized

Sources and web links


  1. cf. Engels