The 1870-1871 war in the Butte Bapaume areas
The war of 1870 left a profound mark on the French. After the war, many memorials were erected on the battlefields encouraged by the local committees of Souvenir Francais. Successive governments wished to promote to the attentions of passers by the tombs of the soldiers whereby simple stone graves, columns, obelisks and pyramids came to represent the main focus of commemorations. in the area of the Butte,the battle for Bapaume started on 2 January 1871 where General Louise Faidherbe was to lead the Armee du Nord in order to repel the enemy. Depending on the book you read the result of the battle was a French victory. The less biased may call it a draw.
Today in Bapaume, certain streets in the town now carry the name of the generals of the Armee du Nord i.e. Lecointe, Derroja and Payen being examples. Situated in front of the Hotel de Ville of Bapaume is the statue of Louis Faidherbe, the work of sculptor Louis Noel. Inaugurated in 29 September 1890, the statue was overturned by the Germans in World War One thinking it was bronze. It disappeared shortly thereafter. The base remained empty for 13 years. In 1926, the community decided to sculpt Faidherbe again working from the original plans. The new monument was inaugurated on the 18th August 1929 by Paul Painleve, the French Minister of war. As part of a refurbishment of the square in Bapaume in September 1997, the statue and its original base were moved to in front of the Hotel de Ville. During the moving of its original base, a lead plaque was discovered below the base which highlighted the names of the municipal councillors of the era one hundred plus years earlier when the statue was first erected.
In the Butte and Bapaume area there are several memorials to the war of 1870-71.In the communal cemetery situated at the west side of Bapaume is the site of a large cross memorial and is the site of 186 combatants. The memorial was blessed in 3 January 1872, a year after the war ended. In nearby Favreuil lie 28 French and 9 Germans whilst in Biefvillers lie 290 French and Germans. In Behagnies, the ossuary holds 67 French and three Prussians. In Ligny Thilloy, another memorial is in the local cemetery just outside the village.
Probably the most viewed and pictured memorial is situated just past the first roundabout leaving Bapaume on the main N17 road to Arras. This location can be described as the cross roads to Bapaume, Biefvillers and to Favreuil. The large numbers 1870-1871 can be clearly identified on the memorial situated on the road side. This monument was erected by the Conseil General du Pas de Calais after being petitioned by the locals who wished to see a memorial in the location. Behind the monument is the grave of a Prussian soldier.