The author of this work, Louis Faidherbe was given command of the Army of the North on 18 November 1870 after the disaster of Sedan. Faidherbe was a modest man and well aware that the raw material with which he had to fashion his army was most inadequate.
Nonetheless, by the end of 1870 Faidherbe had made fairly good progress when the government ordered him to link up with the army in Paris. He dutifully moved south and engineered a striking success by capturing the fortress of Ham, thereby cutting German rail communications to the west and threatening their rear areas. However, he realised his troops were fast deteriorating in the wintry weather and that German reinforcements were coming in, and so he withdrew north to Arras.
The government urged on him the necessity of doing something to divert the German efforts at Paris, and Faidherbe determined on a move southeast to cut across German communications. However the terrible winter weather and the poor condition of Faidherbe's troops complicated the manoeuvre, and by the time Faidherbe's army arrived around Saint-Quentin the Germans had anticipated it. All that the French could do was to fight another defensive battle in and around the town. Faidherbe's men fought well in parts, but their morale was low, and in spite of their numerical superiority they were forced into a disorderly retreat, shedding refugees with every mile, until once more they were under the shelter of the fortresses. There they remained until the war ended.
This is a translation of Faidherbe's volume entitled Campagne de l'Armee du Nord published in 1872. It sets out in some detail the operations of the Army of the North and includes many appendices which give supporting evidence and documents.