So far, however, from being ahead of the Germans on the road to Verdun, the French were actually, late in the afternoon of the 15th of August, bivouacked on the plateau of Rezonville, and there their outposts were placed, not where they could see the surrounding country, but at the regulation distances of 600 to loon paces from the bivouacs.
The momentary result was a wild panic, especially among the horses; but this panic gave the alarm to the infantry all along the road, and these (Frossard's 2nd Corps) at once stood to arms and moved forward, deployed for attack - one division to the west, another division, from Rezonville, to the south.
The latter almost at once encountered the heads of the 6th cavalry division, at that moment just clearing the defile leading up to the Rezonville plateau from Gorze.
The French meanwhile had occupied Vionville and Flavigny, and other troops were moving down the slopes from Rezonville to their support, but the united onset of this whole German division overbore all resistance, and the French began to retire eastward, suffering terribly from the shell fire of the Prussian batteries.
Alvensleben, mistaking the withdrawal of the French for the beginning of a retreat, had meanwhile sent orders to the 6th cavalry division to charge in pursuit towards Rezonville; but before it could reach the field the French relieving troops had forced their way through the stragglers and showed such a bold front to the Prussian horsemen that an attack held no promise of success, more especially since they had lost their intervals in their advance and had no room for a proper deployment.
It was almost dark when the Prussians approached the French position between Rezonville and the woods to the northward, and the troops soon lost direction in the smoke and became involved in the direst confusion; the firing again blazed out for a few moments, only to die away as utter exhaustion at length put an end to the Prussian advance.
Was not due to arrive at Rezonville before 4 p.m., hence the VII.
Corps, Rezonville; XI.
Corps was standing massed about Rezonville when von Manstein's guns opposite Amanvillers suddenly made themselves heard.