|Born||24 February 1817
|Died||16 August 1882
|Years of service||1835 - 1882|
|Rank||Général de division|
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.
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, without success.
Due to this, general Abel 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 Mac-Mahon 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 Mac-Mahon. 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.
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