Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/226

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220 JOAN of ARC'S VICTORY


The city of Orleans itself was on the north side of the Loire, but its suburbs extended far on the southern side, and a strong bridge connected them with the town. A fortification, which in modern military phrase would be termed a tete-du-pont, defended the bridge head on the southern side, and two towers, called the Tourelles, were built on the bridge itself, at a little distance from the tete-du-pont. Indeed, the solid masonry of the bridge terminated at the Tourelles; and the communication thence with the tete-du-pont and the southern shore was by means of a drawbridge. The Tourelles and the tete-du-pont formed together a strong fortified post, capable of containing a garrison of considerable strength; and so long as this was in possession of the Orleannais, they could communicate freely with the southern provinces, the inhabitants of which, like the Orleannais themselves, supported the cause of their dauphin against the foreigners. Lord Salisbury rightly judged the capture of the Tourelles to be the most material step toward the reduction of the city itself. Accordingly, he directed his principal operations against this post, and after some severe repulses, he carried the Tourelles by storm on the 23d of October. The French, however, broke down the arches of the bridge that were nearest to the north bank, and thus rendered a direct assault from the Tourelles upon the city impossible. But the possession of this post enabled the English to distress the town greatly by a battery of cannon which they planted there, and which commanded some of the principal streets.

It has been observed by Hume that this is the first siege in which any important use appears to have been made of artillery. And even at Orleans both besiegers and besieged seem to have employed their cannons merely as instruments of destruction against their enemy's men, and not to have trusted to them as engines of demolition against their enemy's walls and works. The efficacy of cannon in breaching solid masonry was taught Europe by the Turks a few years afterward, at the memorable siege of Constantinople.* In our French wars, as in the wars of the classic nations, famine was looked on as the surest weapon to compel the submission of a well-walled town; and the great object of the besiegers was to effect a complete circumvallation. The great ambit of the walls of Orleans, and the facilities which

  • The occasional employment of artillery against slight defenses, as at

Jargeau in 1429, is no real exception.