Battle of Hallue

Battle of Hallue
Part of the Franco-Prussian War
Date23–24 December 1870
Locationnorth-east of Amiens, France
Result Minor French victory
 Kingdom of Prussia  France
Commanders and leaders
Edwin Freiherr von Manteuffel Louis Faidherbe
22,500 soldiers 40,000 soldiers
Casualties and losses
996 soldiers killed and wounded 1,000+ soldiers killed,
1,300 soldiers captured

The Battle of Hallue was a battle of the Franco-Prussian War on December 23 and 24, 1870.

The battle was fought between 40,000 French under General Louis Faidherbe and 22,500 Prussian troops under Edwin Freiherr von Manteuffel. The French lost heavily in the village lying in front of their position. However, the Prussians were unable to carry the entrenchments on the heights. After the attack was repulsed, the French assumed the offensive, but with no decisive result. One thousand French soldiers were killed, and 1,300 were imprisoned. About 927 German troops were killed and wounded.

French Northern Army

After the fall of Amiens, on September 27, 1870, and its occupation by the Prussian Army, the French Northern Army fell back towards Doullens and Bapaume to build up its strength again. It received a fresh supply of troops, allowing it to turn out three divisions.

General Faidherbe, lately entrusted with the command of this army, at once gave guiding rules and orders. He sent General Lecointe towards Saint-Quentin with the mission to act on the Haute Somme. Four battalions, including one of light-infantry and a battery of 4, succeeded, on September 9, in taking possession of Ham and its fortress. Faidherbe, coming on the place, gave the order to withdraw and go towards Amiens.

On December 17, the Northern Army, regrouped, came settling to the Hallue valley from Bavelincourt to Daours. The troops (about 43,000 men) were divided into two army corps :

These troops were billeted in all the villages of the valley and outposts settled on a line passing through the woods of Saint-Gratien, Allonville and Querrieu (La Gorgue).[1][2][3]

French Army tactical positions on December 19th

Prussian Army

At the same time, General von der Goeben, chief commander of the 8th Prussian Corps, set:

Skirmish on Querrieu, December 20

General-Major von Mirus in command of the 6th Cavalry Brigade staying in Amiens for two days, sent a strong reconnaissance party consisting of a cavalry troop, an infantry battalion and a field artillery battery, to Querrieu village.

Reaching the La Gorgue[5] wood skirt, the party knocked against a French outpost and, sustained by its artillery, joined a lengthy battle.

Two French battalions strenuously fought back, so much that General Du Dessol launched three companies coming from Bussy-lès-Daours to the right flank of the enemy, who is constrained to a withdrawal towards the Alençons farm, then to Amiens.

In this battle the Prussians lost 3 officers and 69 men killed or wounded; French casualties were 7 dead and 20 wounded.[6]

Battle on the Hallue valley, December 23rd

Succeeding to General Steinmetz, General Manteuffel, recently appointed at the head of the 1st Prussian Army, arrived in Amiens on December 22 and gave the offensive order for the next day at 8 a.m.:

French dispositions remain unchanged.

The battle is going to stretche out a front line of 12 kilometres wide and 4 to 5 kilometres deep, on a snow-covered ground and an icy temperature increased by a wind blowing from the north.[7]



The French used the Chassepot model 1866, breech-loading gun, with paper cartridges and 11mm bullets.[8]

The Prussians used the Dreize created in 1848, breech-loading gun, with paper cartridges and 15mm bullets.


The French used cannons made in bronze dating from the Napoleonic period, loading from the muzzle, and iron inner-tubes ones, model 1858. They also use canons à balles (machine-guns) able to project 25 bullets.

The Prussians used Krupp breech-loading cannons and shrapnel shells.[9]

Prussian offensive

The 8th Prussian Corps started on its way on December 23 at 8 a.m. The 15th Division received an order to reject French troops beyond the Hallue river, but not to venture on the left bank until the effect of an outflanking motion of the 16th Division, more on the north, would be felt. Therefore, the 15th Division moved towards Allonville, followed by three horse field artillery and artillery corps, then turned to Querrieu. French outposts withdrew to the river, giving the alarm to the troops located in the back.

Battle in the dusk

On 4 p.m. night was about to fall. The Prussians keep under control the right side of the river and Pont-Noyelles village. Their turning movement on the north had failed and their troops were threatened by the Aynes Brigade of the Derroja Division, coming into sight on the south-east of Contay, marching to Beaucourt. At that time, General Faidherbe gave the attack order on all the front line. This attack continued from 4 to 6 p.m.:

Colonne Faidherbe memorial

Withdrawal movement

On the next day, December 24 at 9 a.m., the French artillery launched a cannonade to Béhencourt without any Prussian reply. General Faidherbe made up his mind to retreat. The withdrawal, protected by a line of retarding units, began at about 2 p.m. The Prussians would only start the pursuit on the following day, December 25; at that time, the French Army was arriving near Bapaume.


A war memorial named "Colonne Faidherbe" was erected in 1875, on the heights of Pont-Noyelles, on the place where General Faidherbe directed the last combats.

An ossuary contains the bodies of 74 soldiers killed during the battle in and around Pont-Noyelles.

On every village of the valley, many soldiers' bodies lie in their communal cemeteries.

In the Querrieu communal cemetery, a military grave surmounted by a stele and a cavalry, erected in 1875, contains the bodies of 12 unknown French soldiers. Another grave, also surmounted by a stele, contains the bodies of 18 Prussian soldiers; only the name of one of them is known.


  1. Upper watercourse of the Hallue river (Cassini map)
  2. Middle watercourse of the Hallue river (Cassini map)
  3. Lower watercourse of the Hallue river (Cassini map)
  4. Battle Order of the Prussian Army on 1.8.1870
  5. La Gorgue : south-eastern part of Querrieu wood
  6. La bataille de Pont-Noyelles, par Georges Pierson, in "Histoire et traditions du pays des coudriers", number 8, pages 37 to 42
  7. La bataille de l'Hallue, par Gilles de Monclin, in "Histoire et traditions du pays des coudriers", number 21, pages 29 to 36
  8. Chassepot rifle (french)
  9. Shrapnel shells (French)
  10. Mobile : soldier of the French Garde nationale mobile
  11. Parmont : Fréchencourt wood, on the left side of the river

External links

Coordinates: 49°56′27″N 2°26′31″E / 49.9408°N 2.4419°E / 49.9408; 2.4419

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