"His Majesty the King thereupon refused to receive the ambassador again and through his adjutant informed the ambassador that he had nothing further to say".
Meanwhile, the French experienced a much steeper learning curve.
In his book on the war, Stephen Badsey describes their mobilisation as degenerating into chaos:
"Regiments were recruited from across France and reservists might live anywhere, meaning that formations would take about a month to reach full strength. But given the urgency of the situation, French plans combined mobilisation with concentration, so that regiments departed for their frontier concentration areas understrength, leaving the rest of their men and equipment to follow. "
"About 2,000 separate contingents, each of 50–300 reservists, gathered together at towns throughout France, travelled first to their regimental depots, and then on to join their regiments.
"Stories became rife after the war of reservists living almost on the frontier with Germany, journeying to their depots in southern France, Algeria or Corsica, and then back to their regiments on the frontier, only to arrive too late [for battle]".
But it wasn't an easy process for the Germans either - the 'fog of war' certainly affected both sides, with neither one being familiar with the other, and with both happening to wear similar uniforms both consisting of dark blue tunics - a coincidence that resulted in confusion in the early stages, with many of the antagonists unable to recognise each other when they stumbled into battle.
The industrial developments that had been seeping into the battlefield throughout the 19th century also played out in different ways on either side, giving the French a far superior infantry rifle, and the Germans better artillery.
The two sides engaged in a number of random battles as they moved through the shifting frontier - blind to each other's movements because of a shortage of scouts, a situation born out of the belief by both sides that technology had made cavalry obsolete.
Yet, on August 18th, the two sides finally met for the first engagement of full-strength field armies: The Battle of Gravelotte-St Privat.
Unfortunately for the French soldiers, the battle went very badly - their command was, for all intents and purposes, negligent.
Marshal Bazaine, head of III Corps, issued barely any orders for the battle, and it's claimed that his staff at headquarters spent most of the day discussing awards and promotions coming out of the previous battle at Mars-la-Tour.
Despite this, the battle started with heavy Prussian losses as they hurled themselves on the French defenders and found them to be stronger than they'd expected.
In the north, at the village of St Privat, a staffing mix-up also caused a blundered advance for the Prussians, followed by a long-distance shootout between the Prussian Guard and the French, who outmatched their foes with their superior long-ranged Chassepot rifles.
Eventually, the Germans brought their artillery advantage into play, raining shells down on the French, forcing them into a panicked retreat that became a rout.
They were forced to fall back to their forts at Metz, where they planned to fight on, and were, in fact, besieged until the end of major hostilities.
The fleeing Napoleon III had gone into despair by this point, saying 'I seem to have abdicated' as he became increasingly disengaged.
After a few more weeks of cat and mouse between the Prussians and himself, the retreating Emperor ended up with what was left of his forces at Sedan, not far from the Belgian border.
Bismarck, Kaiser Wilhelm I and his army chiefs, and some visiting dignitaries, appeared on the heights above and watched their forces surround and engulf the French with superior numbers and materials.
Wilhelm is said to have felt admiration for the enemy soldiers who fought bravely on despite the overwhelming odds.
But, despite their best efforts, it was clear that the battle was over before it had started.
The French leadership surrendered at the end of the day on September 1st, commencing talks about the terms the following day.
AFTERMATH OF THE WAR
Although Napoleon III's surrender at Sedan on September 2nd marked the end of the war in real terms for the Germans, their forces stayed on in France until the defeat of the revolutionary government that had risen up in response to the fall of the Emperor, in May 1871.
France never recovered as the dominant military power in Europe, with that mantle now passing to the newly-unified Germany, which continued to industrialise more quickly than its rival.
Meanwhile, Britain became the continent's key financial and naval power, and foreign investor.
After the war, Napoleon III was exiled in Britain and died a broken man in 1873. His son joined the British Army but was killed fighting the Zulus in 1879, while the Empress lived until 1920, long enough to see the Germans defeated in the First World War.
The German high command, meanwhile, continued to prepare for the wars of the future.
'Moltke the Elder', who'd done the military planning for the war, was given this namesake precisely because his nephew, 'the Younger', succeeded him as Chief of the German General Staff and played a key role in World War 1, the opening moves of which were meant to replicate the rapid success of 1870, so that the bulk of German forces could then turn and take on the Russian steamroller.
But fate intervened, and the subsequent war of attrition became the western end of World War 1.
The King of Prussia became the Emperor of all of Germany upon his coronation in 1871, and thus the German Empire, or Second Reich, was started, and lasted until 1918 (the Nazis proclaimed the start of the 'Third Reich' when they came to power).
Kaiser Wilhelm I died in 1888, and after a few months under Kaiser Frederick III, Kaiser Wilhelm II ascended to the throne.
Bismarck had got everything he wanted - the 1870 war had been the final stage of his grand project to unite all of Germany, a process completed using the 'political capital' the victory of 1870 had generated, uniting all German peoples against their 'common enemies' like France.
But ultimately, he too would suffer a defeat of sorts.
Having done so much to engineer the war he needed to help cement Germany together, he settled into a new role as careful arbiter of the peace once this work was done.
He counselled the new German ruler, Kaiser Wilhelm II, not to antagonise their European neighbours with any more expansionism, colonialism, or militarism, lest Germany end up surrounded by enemies.
Wilhelm II sent the Chancellor into retirement in 1890, and Germany was eventually sandwiched between an alliance of Britain, France, and Russia - a reaction to his belligerent policies and posturing.
Anger in France was also a result of the war, particularly over the loss of territories taken by the Germans as part of the terms of surrender.
And Marshal Bazaine, infamous for the debacle at Gravelotte-St-Privat, was scapegoated and imprisoned.
The Franco-Prussian War can be seen, then, as the first in a series of dominoes to fall on the continent.
German planners either intended for the war, or used the war, to galvanise a shared German identity and cement their allies into a single German state.
But the war also inflamed French passions and, with the ascension of Kaiser Wilhelm to the throne, Germany started down the path towards another war with France and her allies.
World War 1, and then World War 2, were just around the corner.
For more about the Franco-Prussian War, read 'The Franco-Prussian War 1870-1871 by Stephen Badsey' or 'German Armies 1870 - 71 (1): Prussia' by Michael Solka and 'French Army 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War (1): Imperial Troops' by Stephen Shann & Louis Delperier. Visit Osprey Publishing for more military history.