For them, nothing exists two leagues beyond the barriers: Ivry, Gentilly, Arcueil, Belleville, Aubervilliers, Menilmontant, Choisy-le-Roi, Billancourt, Mendon, Issy, Vanvre, Sevres, Puteaux, Neuilly, Gennevilliers, Colombes, Romainville, Chatou, Asnieres, Bougival, Nanterre, Enghien, Noisy-le-Sec, Nogent, Gournay, Drancy, Gonesse; the universe ends there.
I had not, however, gone far in the direction of Le Bourget, which was still burning, when I was stopped by a regiment marching towards St. Denis, some of the officers of which told me that the village had been retaken by the Prussians the artillery, too, which I had left on the rise before Drancy, had disappeared. At a farmyard close by Drancy I saw Ducrot and his staff.
The General had his hood drawn over his head, and both he and his aide-de-camp looked so glum, that I thought it just as well not to congratulate him upon the operations of the day. In and behind Drancy there were a large number of troops, who I heard were to camp there during the night. None seemed exactly to know what had happened. The officers and soldiers were not in good spirits.
The troops outside Paris are gradually being brought back inside. A trench has been dug almost continuously from Drancy to Aubervilliers, and an attempt has been made to approach Le Bourget by flying sap. The ground, is, however, so hard, that it is much like attempting to cut through a rock.
Shells were falling into it from the Prussian batteries, and, as well as I could make out, our forts were shelling it too. Our artillery was on a slight rise to the right of Le Bourget, in advance of Drancy; and in the fields between Drancy and this rise, heavy masses of troops were drawn up in support.
From what I hear from officers who were engaged, the Mobiles fought well for some time, although their ammunition was so wet that they could only fire twelve shots with their cannon, and not one with their mitrailleuse. When they saw that they were likely to be surrounded, there was a stampede to Aubervilliers and to Drancy, the latter of which was subsequently evacuated.
The injury done to the park of Drancy by the precision of the aim of our artillery at Fort Nogent was repaired; cannon were brought to the trenches which the day before we had occupied at Ville Evrart; and, as well as it was possible, twelve new batteries, armed with cannon of long range, were unmasked.
There has been a certain amount of spade work at Drancy, but beyond this absolutely nothing. The cold is very severe. This afternoon I was outside in the direction of Le Bourget. The soldiers had lit large fires to warm themselves. Some of them were lodged in empty houses, but most of them had only their little tentes d'abri to shelter them.