Place du 18 octobre - Châteaudun. Source : carte postale
This walk is dedicated to the events of the Franco-Prussian War that marked Châteaudun
Memory Trail in the town This walk is dedicated to the events of the Franco-Prussian War that marked Châteaudun.
Five illustrated markers relate the inhabitants' heroic defence against the Prussians on 18 October. The first three are in Place du 18 Octobre, the fourth on Rue Jean Moulin and the fifth next to the defence monument on the Mall.
On 3 October 1877 a decree entitled the town to add the Legion of Honour cross on its coat of arms in recognition of its bravery. In 1884 Place Royale was renamed Place du 18 Octobre in remembrance of that day. The events On 20 September groups of highly mobile Uhlans blockaded Paris before advancing in Beauce. From 26 September 1870 to 6 January 1871 the Prussian army relentlessly crossed the Eure-et-Loir department in every direction. Since early October Châteaudun had been under the command of General Ernest de Lipowski. On the 28th the besieged town's residents put up barricades in the streets. On 18 October just 1,200 snipers, sedentary national guardsmen and firemen defended Châteaudun. A military force of 12,000 Prussians under the command of General von Wittich, armed with 24 cannons and two howitzers, showed up in the east. Seven cannons fired at the railway station at around noon.
At around 6pm the Rue Galante (Rue de Civry) barricade, which was isolated and too far forward, gave way. The Prussian thrust could no longer be repelled. The snipers retreated to the town centre, despite the darkness. The Prussians tried to overrun the square. A terrible night battle ensued. The defenders pushed the enemy back in the Rues de Chartres (Rue Jean Moulin) and d'Orléans (Rue de la République) three times. They fought by torchlight and bodies literally covered the ground. The painter Philippoteaux immortalised the fighting (the original is in the Châteaudun mayor's office). Despite the last bursts of courage, the defenders had to give up the now-hopeless struggle.
Shells and incendiary rockets rained down on the town at the rate of 10 a minute all day, ripping open roofs and destroying houses. On the night of 18-19 October the Prussians set the town on fire, pillaging, raping and driving out the inhabitants. At the Hôtel du Grand Monarque, where 70 Prussians had just been served an excellent dinner, the owner threw herself at General von Wittich's feet, begging him to spare her business. But the Duke of Saxony set the curtains on fire and the building quickly burned to the ground. Atrocities lasted all night and the next day. A monument to the victims and defenders was erected in Champdé Cemetery in 1873. A national fund-raising drive was launched to build a better monument to Châteaudun's valiant resistance. It was inaugurated on the Mall on 18 October 1897.
Antonin Mercié sculpted the bronze statue of a woman with a wall crown on her head representing the town of Châteaudun. Seriously wounded, she collapses and leans on a sniper from Paris, who, with his rifle on his shoulder, is still holding out and using up his last cartridges.
place du 18 octobre 28200