Battles Of The Frontiers - Encyclopedia




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"BATTLES OF THE. FRONTIERS - The generic name of " battles of the frontiers " covers the whole of the actions fought at the opening of the World War in Aug. 1914 on or near the French frontiers. They are described separately below.

(I.) Early Operations In Upper Alsace First Entry of the French into Mulhouse. - In 1914 the Upper Vosges formed a wall between the French Lorraine and the plain of Alsace, taken from France in 1871. On the other hand, to the S. of this wall, the large open gap between the Vosges and the Swiss Jura presented an easy crossing from the Rhine valley into the Mediterranean basin. This gap, a historic gate of the Gauls, was defended on the French side by the fortress of Belfort which gave it its name. A little E. of the fortress the Franco-German frontier separated the area of Belfort from that of Upper Alsace which has Mulhouse as the centre and is conymonly called Sundgau.

In the critical days at the end of July 1914, the French Government, wishing to avoid all chance of premature collisions, directed its covering troops to hold themselves at a distance of at least To km. back from the frontier, a precaution which served only to deplete of French troops the heights of the Upper Vosges, of which the Germans took possession without firing a shot, and to confine the troops of Belfort within their fortifications while the enemy made repeated incursions into French territory.

Mobilization had only just been ordered when Gen. Bonneau, who was in command of the French troops from Gerardmer to the Swiss frontier, received instructions to take the offensive, and to advance on Mulhouse with the 8th Cavalry Div., the VII. Corps (14th and 41st Divs.) and a brigade of infantry from the garrison of Belfort attached to the 14th Division. The object of this offensive was, it seems, to destroy the Rhine bridges, and to mask Neubrisach; but without doubt the High Command counted much on the political effect that the immediate arrival of the French would produce.

However that may be, the offensive began on the morning of Friday, Aug. 7th, and its start was promising. During the day, on the right Altkirch was captured after hand-to-hand fighting by a brigade of the 14th Div. and a brigade of dragoons; in the centre, the two other brigades of the 14th Div. occupied, after an advance-guard action, the line Aspach - BurnhauptAmmertzwiller; on the left, the 41st Div., which had descended the Thur valley, reached Thann and threw out an advance guard towards Cernay.

The next day, while one of its brigades stationed itself at Altkirch, the VII. Corps continued its march forward without resistance. The 41st Div. thus advanced to Lutterbach, and the 14th Div. reached Mulhouse, which it entered at about 6 P.M., with bands playing and flags unfurled, having been preceded by a strong advance guard which pushed beyond the town towards Madenheim and Rixheim.

This unresisted advance was so abnormal that it filled Gen. Cure, commanding the 14th Div. already warned by uncertain rumors, with fears which were soon confirmed by more definite information. The general learned that large German forces had been observed both in the directions of Miilheim and towards Neubrisach, that the Harth Forest swarmed with Pickelhaubes, and that the German advance guards had been seen in the Ile Napoleon at a distance of a few kilometres from Mulhouse. Not wishing to run the risk of being caught in a trap, he decided to withdraw his troops from the town, taking advantage of the night to establish them on the heights. The evacuation commenced at 2 A.M., eight hours after the entry into Mulhouse, and on Sunday (Aug. 9), at the break of day, one of his brigades was concentrated with the corps artillery on the plateau of Riedisheim, and the other to the S. of Dornach.

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The apprehensions of the commander of the 14th Div. were only too well justified. The German plan of concentration provided for the formation of an army under Gen. von Heeringen between Strassburg and Colmar. Two of the corps belonging to it, the XIV. and XV., were already mobilized and had practically finished their concentration on Aug. 7 when the Germans first heard of the audacious French advance. The smallness of the numbers opposing them caused the Germans no anxiety. They therefore made no attempt at resistance, but utilizing their roads and railways to the full assembled superior forces behind the Harth and Nonnenbruch forests. Thus on the morning of the 9th an armoured train of eight trucks, on which the French artillery fired unsuccessfully, went to and fro between Miilheim and the Ile Napoleon, bringing up infantry units on each trip. In a few hours hostile columns advanced from all directions, and by about 5 P.M. the VII. French Corps was -Battenhdil 1,0 1.4 F I F G B r D aaidersh rorucigi 0, 4 ] "Oschf' r ? ??

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G A C violently attacked all along the line by the superior forces of the XIV. and XV. German Corps. It held its ground till nightfall, and counter-attacking drove back the enemy on Rixheim and the Ile Napoleon, but was eventually forced to break off the action under cover of darkness to avoid envelopment. The artillery got away in good order, and despite the difficulty of disengaging the infantry in the darkness and in the enclosed country the withdrawal westwards was successfully effected without interference from the enemy. On the 10th order was established in the units of the VII. Corps, which on the morrow took up a position on the frontier behind the St. Nicholas.

If the French general staff had acted very imprudently by taking such an early offensive in the Sundgau that it could not keep it up, the German general staff showed singular indecision in not profiting by their superior numbers to follow up and overwhelm the French corps, as early as Aug. 10, and to attack Belfort during the confusion following its defeat. It held strictly to its plan of operations, and, having prepared a massed attack on Luxemburg and Belgium, provided for a strict defensive between Switzerland and the Donon. The XIV. and XV. Corps rejoined the army of von Heeringen on the loth, and the defense of Upper Alsace was given over to Gen. von Gaede, who received for that purpose the command of four brigades of Landwehr. The organization of this detachment took time, and when the Landwehr at length undertook a tardy pursuit they had lost touch with the VII. Corps. Instead of marching towards the W. they advanced to the S., in the hope, doubtless, of being able to force the defile which formed the easiest approach to Belfort. But they had been forestalled in this direction by the garrison of Belfort (57th Div., Gen. Bernard), which on Aug. 13 checked their advance before Montreux-Vieux. Having lost during the day 1,800 to 2,000 men, the Germans suspended their counter-offensive, and fell back rapidly towards the E., abandoning arms, equipment, and munitions.

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The Operations of the Army of Alsace

As early as Aug. 10, however, Gen. Joffre, wishing to react against the effects of the repulse of Mulhouse, had decided to form an Alsatian army in the vicinity of Belfort under the command of Gen. Pau, which was to renew the advance in greater strength. It had also the mission of covering the right flank of the I. Army, which under the orders of Gen. Dubail, was to operate in the direction of the Donon, and the Bruche valley.

The Army of Alsace comprised the 8th Cavalry Div., five detachments of Chasseurs Alpins, the VII. Army Corps, the 44 th Infantry Div. consisting of the troops from Africa, the 58th, 63rd and 66th Reserve Divs. from the centre and the S. of France, and the 57th Reserve Div. with two heavy batteries detached from the Belfort garrison.

Before all these formations had arrived the army took the offensive on the left; and the five battalions of Chasseurs crossing the passes of Bussang and Schlucht, which the Germans had abandoned at the beginning of August, descended towards Thann, Cernay and Colmar. The main body of the army advanced on the 16th, the advance being methodically executed with the idea first of cutting off the enemy's retreat to the N., then driving him back beyond Mulhouse, and either hemming him in against the Swiss frontier or forcing him back to the other side of the Rhine.

Disconcerted by a counter-offensive which they had not expected so soon, and by the superior numbers of their adversaries, the Germans under von Gaede fell back rapidly everywhere, offering little resistance. In three days all the territory to the S. of the Vosges was cleared, and at 10 A.M. on the 19th the main body of the Army of Alsace attacked the enemy forces concentrated before Mulhouse, their right at Lutterbach and Pfastatt, their centre at Dornach, their left towards Brunstatt. Fighting continued during the afternoon, being particularly severe around Dornach. The eventual capture of this village by the French decided the day, and the defeated Germans fell back towards the Harth and the Rhine, leaving behind them 24 guns and i,000 prisoners. At 4 P.M., for the second time in a fortnight, the victorious French entered Mulhouse. They were again warmly greeted by their brethren of Alsace, who were inspired by this rapid return to hope that this time they were definitely freed from the yoke of the oppressor. In the joy of triumph they refrained from further advance, and the conquered Germans were able to fall back unmolested when a vigorous pursuit might have turned their defeat into an irreparable rout.

A second battle, without any definite connexion with that of Dornach, took place on the same day, Aug. 19, some distance to the S. of Mulhouse. The 44th Div., which covered the right flank of the Army of Alsace, was attacked, between Leumschwiller and Tagsdorff, by a German division which had been brought over from the other side of the Rhine. This division was beaten off and obliged to beat a hasty retreat; but the French division, which had paid dearly for its victory, had to be withdrawn in order to refit. On the 21st it was relieved by the 57 th Div. which occupied Altkirch with advance posts on the right bank. The 14th Bde. of Dragoons, supported by two battalions at Hirsengen and Hirtzbach, extended the line to the right and completed the screen covering the Army of Alsace.

Fortune for the moment seemed to smile upon the French, but suddenly the situation underwent a change, and their hopes were dashed to the ground by the disasters of Sarrebourg, Morhauge and Charleroi. The withdrawal of the XI. Army had an immediate repercussion on the situation of the I. Army, which had to conform to the retreat of its left-hand neighbour. The Army of Alsace was in its turn affected by the general withdrawal, and by orders from G.H.Q. was broken up in order that its various elements might be allotted to other formations.

The 44th Div. was the first to leave on Aug. 22 to rejoin the I. Army. On Aug. 24 the 57th Div. was again placed at the disposal of the governor of Belfort, and had to abandon its position at Altkirch and fall back first to Dannemarie, and thence to the line Montreux-Vieux - Foursemagne - Fontaine. On the 25th Mulhouse was evacuated, and the VII. Corps together with the 63rd Div. was entrained in order to form the nucleus of the VI. Army, of which Gen. Maunoury was to take command. On the 26th, the 66th Div. was sent to Montbeliard with the 14th Bde. of Dragoons. The 58th Div. fell back to the Upper Thur valley, one of its brigades being left to occupy the mouth of the defile at Thann.

The Chasseurs battalions and the 8th Dragoon Bde. marched by Minster road to the crest of the Vosges. The bridges of Illfurth and of Aspach were destroyed, the canal sluices between the Rhone and the Rhine were blown up, and the two large viaducts on either side of Dannemarie station were cut. The disbandment of the Army of Alsace thus left the Sundgau once more clear of French troops, and abandoned to the mercy of the Germans. At the same time Belfort was left exposed and open to hostile attack.

Renewed Offensive of the Belfort Garrison

The role assigned to Belfort in the French defensive scheme was to support the right wing of the armies resting on the Swiss frontier, and to command the gap by which the enemy might endeavour to penetrate between the Vosges and the Jura, in order to gain a decisive advantage by taking the French armies in reverse. It was a vitally important role, since if the Germans once secured the gap they might penetrate into the heart of France 'by Besancon and Dijon.

A vast amount of work had been done in the last 40 years in constructing, on the basis of the small fortress of 1870, the great stronghold of 1914. Much, however, remained to be completed. The work necessitated by the invention of armour-piercing shells dragged on endlessly, hindered by the want of funds and by manufacturing delays in the workshops, to which must be added the alterations caused by the progress of armament leading to a constant modification of the plans. The result was thus a miscellaneous array of old works and new forts with others still in the course of construction.

The forts Roppe, Bessancourt, Veselois, Fourgerais, and Bois D'Oye were splendid modern or modernized works. On the other hand, the construction of the forts of Giromagny and Salbert had not even been begun; and La Chaux and Mont Vaudois, the reconstruction of which had just been undertaken, were half demolished and transformed into enormous building yards so that they were quite incapable for the moment of playing any part in the defence. As in all the French fortresses, there was not enough heavy artillery; the guns were good, but their mountings were out of date; and as these could only be fired from platforms which took a long time to erect, they had not the necessary mobility; the r,000 rounds apiece which was allowed them was totally insufficient, and the method of firing, as then practised, did not allow them to make full use of their range. Altogether, the defence of Belfort in 1914 presented grave deficiencies, and the command had no illusions as to its inconveniences or dangers, but there existed no means of remedying them save by hasty makeshifts and by special alertness. Nevertheless, confidence reigned in the fortress, everyone there knowing that will, energy, and moral courage are the first essentials for the defence of a besieged fortress.

Despite this confidence, the days which passed between July 26 and Aug. 2 1914 appeared painfully long to the Belfort garrison, helpless as it was in face of the German raids, owing to the order to remain at a distance of 10 km. from the frontier, which prevented them from taking even elementary measures of precaution. As elsewhere, mobilization at Belfort was only commenced on the morning of Sunday Aug. 2, and it was extremely complicated, involving as it did the mobilization of both reservists and territorials and their incorporation into their units, requisitioning, transport, supply of provisions, and placing of the fortress in a state of defence.

The mobilization had been well prepared and was carried out with singular regularity; but the fact of troops being diverted from Belfort for the operations which were immediately undertaken in Alsace rendered difficult the normal organization of the garrison. This was to have been composed of an actual brigade of infantry with five battalions of the 57th Res. Div. (12 battalions of infantry, three groups of field artillery, and a company of engineers, and two squadrons of dragoons), 19 battalions of territorial infantry, 15,000 artillery, and 3,000 sappers, together with detachments of custom-house officers, foresters, telegraphic and postal operators, hospital orderlies, clerks, and depot personnel of the various arms, altogether about 75,000 men. As a matter of fact, a half-mobilized brigade of the 57th Div. was called away as early as the 6th, to take part in the first offensive on Mulhouse, then the other brigade of the division was sent forward when barely completed, and it was to the 57th Div., thus formed in the face of the enemy, under the command of Gen. Bernard, that there fell the honour of checking the Germans at Montreux on Aug. 13, after the retreat of the VII. Corps. Without a moment's respite the division then took part in the operations of the Army of Alsace, and it was only on the 26th, after this army was broken up, that it returned to the vicinity of Foursemagne under the cannon of Belfort. While the reserve division was thus engaged, the active brigade took part in front of the fortress at Felon and Lagrange. The rest of the garrison had been assembled, and as soon as its various units were formed they were set to work, in conjunction with all the men from 15 to 60 years of age not subject to military service, to push on vtith the works laid down in the scheme of defence.

The completion of this task was necessarily impeded by the fighting in which a part of the garrison was engaged during August; but thanks to the willingness of all the workers, the enormous undertaking was achieved by the time that the Army of Alsace was dissolved. The armament of the forts had been completed, numerous batteries had been constructed and armed, and munition depots had been organized. Centres of resistance, united by continuous lines of trenches, which were again covered by accessory defences, had been erected around Roppe fort, the fort and the village of Bessancourt, Fort Meroux, the spur of Oye Wood, the work of the Bambois, and Salbert hill. Finally the organization of the principal zone of defence had been strengthened by large inundations on part of the front.

In front of this zone other works had been undertaken with a view to strengthening the fortress, and towards Frais, Chevre ment and Bourogne. The works of Mont Vaudois were pushed forward, and in the fortress of Chaux itself, the dismantling of which had left the road from Montreux to Montebeli ! ard open to attack, the parapets were rebuilt, concrete shelters constructed and every device utilized which could render the dilapidated work capable of effective action.

All this might have been reassuring, if the experience of a few weeks of warfare had not confirmed the insufficiency of French heavy artillery material, and the power of the German heavy artillery which had crushed the resistance of Liege, Namur and Longwy. On Aug. 25, there could be no possible doubt that if the enemy could approach near enough to Belfort to establish his guns 8 km. from the forts, the heart of the place would be bombarded and the forts themselves smashed before the artillery of the defence could fire a shot. Under the circumstances, at the very moment that the generalissimo was recommending a defensive based on the fortresses, it was manifestly unwise to uncover the most useful of them all by rapidly evacuating the Sundgau and breaking up the Army of Alsace instead of using a part of it to prepare, occupy, and defend strong defensive positions at important points. G.H.Q. might have need elsewhere of the VII. Corps, the 44th and 63rd Divs. and part of the cavalry, but it did not remove either the 57th Div. or the 58th or the 66th Divs., or the 14th Dragoon Bde., so that these formations together were in effective strength superior to the enemy, who had left in front of the Army of Alsace only Ersatz and Landwehr troops.

Instead of these troops being withdrawn, and dispersed over the area of Montbeliard - Foursemagne - Wesserling, they might well have been ordered to stand fast in the Sundgau. Even if Mulhouse appeared to be too distant, or too exposed a position to hold, a judicious use of field fortifications would at least have enabled them to cover Thann, and to establish between Altkirch and Heidwiller a strongly fortified centre, from which it would have been possible to control the road to Basle, the valley of the Ille, the railway and the canal, while the 14th Dragoon Bde. watched all the country in the direction of Ferrette, the Harth, Mulhouse and the Nonnenbruch.

Nothing of this kind was done, and von Gaede was thus able to reoccupy the Sundgau at his leisure. It was now to be feared - the bad news coming in from all sides appeared to justify all manner of fears - that the Germans would make a vigorous attack on Belfort, in order to destroy the pivot of the extensive withdrawal of the Anglo-French troops, which was now being carried out along the whole Swiss frontier to Belgium.

Under these conditions, knowing he had only his own resources to count upon for the defence of the gap, Gen. Thevenet, governor of Belfort, decided not to await the enemy's attack, but at once to assume the offensive, based on the fortress, so as to clear the immediate outskirts of the place and to maintain the initiative. His original plan was to push forward the active brigade and the 57th Res. Div. in front of the fortress, to carry out offensive reconnaissances on an increasing scale, to gain ground by infiltration, to organize the positions gained, and thus to establish, little by little, an effective barrier across the gap. To his mind, the advance should be sufficient to place Belfort beyond the range of the enemy's artillery, and to reduce the line to be held as much as possible by establishing it at the point where the Swiss frontier salient of Porrentuy reduced to a minimum breadth the practicable part of the gap-30 km. - between the Vosges and Switzerland. While this brigade and division were advancing, the governor proposed to employ the rest of the garrison on completing the defences of the fortress and the extension of its perimeter. He also proposed, while making the territorials cooperate with the available civilian labour in constructing these works, to carry on with their training so that they could be employed on the front when the occasion arose. This plan was immediately put into operation. The offensive reconnaissances in front of the fortress began as from Aug. 28 and from that date were pursued without interruption.

The 57th Div., moving forward from its position between Montreux and Fontaine, performed the role assigned to it with remarkable energy. Its first reconnaissances were carried out by detachments of cavalry, patrols of infantry, and numerous squads of cyclists mounted on bicycles bought from the local shops, who pushed forward in every direction and drove back the small enemy detachments encountered by them. After Sept. 2 these reconnaissances were extended. Small columns consisting of one or two battalions, one or two sections of artillery, a few cavalrymen, and cyclists, repulsed the enemy in a series of engagements which were practically without exception successful. They appeared simultaneously in the direction of Falckwiller, Waldighoffen, tiberkumen, Burnhaupt, Gildwiller, Sternemberg, Heimsprung, thus giving the illusion of a force very superior to that which the fortress of Belfort was in fact able to furnish. Thus covered, the 57th Div. was able to advance from village to village, organizing the localities as it occupied them, and on Sept. Io the advance guards were on the line Ballersdorff-Gommersdorff-Tranbach beyond Dannemarie.

The active brigade had also carried out reconnaissances well in advance of its front Felon-Lagrange; on Sept. 6 it established its connexion with Thann, the most advanced point held by the 58th Div., which, since the break-up of the army of Alsace, had been bottled up in the Thur valley by the Germans, holding Cernay and the Nonnenbruch forest. On the 9th it advanced to the heights of the left bank of the Doller; its artillery broke up an attack of the 55th Brigade of Landwehr against Vieux-Thann, and at the close of the day it occupied Michelbach, Aspach-lebas, and the important position of Kalberg, thus holding the highroad to Cernay, commanding the Nonnenbruch and overlooking the plain in the direction of Mulhouse.

After a day spent in massing strong forces at Cernay and in the Nonnenbruch, von Gaede on the nth carried out a new demonstration against Thann, preceded by a bombardment, and directed a very violent, heavy attack against the positions held by the Belfort brigade. Despite serious losses, the latter held its ground; but its commander, feeling his position to be too exposed, and fearing to be cut off from the fortress, fell back under cover of darkness and regained his cantonments behind La Chapelle sous Rougemont.

It was not long before the advance of the 58th Div. on his right allowed him to push his advance guards forward to the Soultzbach, from Mortzwiller to Dieffmatten, while on his left Massevaux was held by a detachment which was supported in its turn by a Territorial battalion occupying the Ballon of Alsace, and the upper valley of the Doller.

On Sept. 18, wishing to put an end to the raids which the enemy patrols were still carrying out on his right, the governor of Belfort occupied Chavannate, Suarce, Lepuy and Rechezy with strong posts of custom-house officers, who from that day assured the safety of these villages.

On this same day, Sept. 18, the H.Q. of the 57th Div., whose daily reconnaissances had been carried on uninterruptedly in advance of its front, was transferred from Foussemagne to Dannemarie. This transfer was, from the point of view of the garrison of Belfort, the affirmation of their possession of this place, and it was completed on the day following the Marne victory, with the express intention of marking out a new permanent line of defence; it thus made a great impression in France, as also in Alsace, and had all the importance of a victory. It was indeed a considerable success, for the occupation of Dannemarie had been carried out with such precision and solidity that it had now to become definite. From Sept. 18 1914 onwards, the tricolor flag never ceased to fly over the little Alsatian town thus reconquered. (F. T.) (2.) THE First Battles In Lorraine The first plan of the French High Command, as shown in the General Instruction No. 1, of Aug. 8, was of a purely offensive nature; it was a question of seeking a battle, with all forces concentrated, with the right of the army resting on the Rhine. In Lorraine there were two French armies, the I. and II.; the I. Army was to move against the German Army of Saarburg (the VII.) and endeavour to throw it back in the direction of Strassburg and Lower Alsace. One isolated corps (the VII.) was to make a diversion to the E. of the Vosges; the II. Army, throwing out a flank guard to face Metz, was to take the offensive in the general direction of Saarbriick, on the front DelmeChateau Salins-Dieuzes, keeping touch with the I. Army in the region of the lakes. It was to leave its two left corps at the disposal of the generalissimo, in the area Bermecourt-Rozieres en Haye (W. of the Moselle), with a view to their possible employment in the north.

In front of the I. and II. Armies were the VI. and VII. German Armies, the VI. (Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria) consisting at first of the I., II. and III. Bavarian, and I. Bavarian Reserve Corps and the XXI. Corps, together with two independent divisions and three cavalry divisions; the VII. (Gen. von Heernigen) of the XIV. and XV. Active and XIV. Reserve Corps and the 30th Reserve Division. Both armies were at first to remain on the defensive.

The extreme rapidity of the German invasion of Belgium, and the importance of this theatre, from the first moment induced the French High Command to hurry on the operations in Alsace and Lorraine in order to disengage the Belgian front. By Aug. 13 the VIII. and XIII. Corps were on the Meurthe, the XIII. in the triangle Baccarat-Raon l'Etape-Bazient, the VIII. in that of Fraimbois-Vathimenil-Gerbeviller. Gen. Dubail, commanding the I. Army, counted in addition on the cooperation of the two right corps of the II. Army 1 and on that of the XXI. Corps, descending from the Vosges on his right. On Aug. 16 the II. Cavalry Corps, with a division from the I. Army and two from the II., came under his orders.

It must be noted that the concentration, though completed as far as concerns the fighting troops, was to be entirely finished only on Aug. 18. However, the XIII. and VIII. Corps, commenced their movement on Aug. 14; the next day they entered Cirey and Blamont, driving back the I. Bavarian Corps, which, menaced with envelopment, retired on Saarburg. By the evening of Aug. 17 the two French corps had reached the line Vasperviller-Aspach-St. Georges, and the XXI. Corps was in line with them towards the Vosges. The II. Cavalry Corps had been ordered to lead the advance on Aug. 18 towards Saarburg, which fell into its hands after some fighting. The XXI. Corps pushed its advance guards north-eastwards to Walscheid; the XIII. held the heights N. and E. of Saarburg; the VIII. Corps, marching on Heming, seized the crossings over the MarneRhine canal and entered Saarburg. The II. Cavalry Corps bivouacked in the Diane Capelle area, in touch with the II. Army, which had reached the front Bisping-Château Salins on the left of the first. The Germans held strongly fortified positions facing the I. and II. Armies on a front of 37 m. from near Dommenheim to Biberkirch.

Both Gen. Dubail and his troops appeared full of confidence, as also did Gen. Joffre. It was decided that the I. Army should attack with its left N.W. of Saarburg, reposing its right and centre in view of the possibility of a German counter-attack in the Vosges, of which there were certain indications. The II. Cavalry Corps was to be directed on Saar Union and to operate to the S. of the Saar.

On Aug. 19 the left of the attack (VIII. Corps) commenced before daybreak, gained ground to the N.W. of Saarburg, despite the strength of the enemy's positions, and repulsed a counter-attack from the direction of Dolving. On Aug. 20 the advance was resumed, and early in the morning it became evident that the VIII. Corps would be unable to open the way for the II. Cavalry Corps. The 15th Div. could neither cross the Saar nor maintain its hold on Gosselming; counter-attacked from the N. it fell back on Kepprich and the wood to the E., then to the Marne-Rhine canal, after suffering severely from the fire of the German heavy artillery.

1 The I. Army comprised at the beginning of hostilities the Viii., Xiii., Xxi., and XIV. Corps, the 12th, 13th, 22nd, 28th and 30th groups of Alpine Chasseurs, and the 71st Reserve Division. The XIV. Corps, the Alpine groups and the 71st Div. remained at first in the Vosges or at Epinal.

In the centre and on the right the French fared better. On Aug. 19 the XXI. Corps had extended its front to the S.E. of Saarburg, in the direction of Plaine de Valsch-Walscheid, without encountering any resistance; the XIII. Corps, which was in army reserve, had not yet been engaged. Next day the XXI. Corps, violently assailed by the XIV. German Corps, inflicted on it a serious defeat near Walscheid; the XIII. Corps, coming at last into line, attacked N.E. of Saarburg, disengaging the 16th Div. (VIII. Corps), which held the town till nightfall. Gen. Dubail's intention was to entrench himself astride the Saar on the front Kerprich-Soldatenkopf, and thence to resume a methodical advance foot by foot. But the defeat of the II. Army induced Gen. Joffre to order, on the evening of Aug. 20, the withdrawal of both armies. On the morning of Aug. 21 Gen. Dubail ordered the I. Army to retire slowly as far as Blamont. The withdrawal was carried out at first without serious difficulty, but was soon accelerated by the rapidity of the II. Army's retreat and by various untoward and costly incidents. On the evening of Aug. 22 the army, which had been joined by the XIV. Corps and 71st Reserve Div. from the Vosges, held a line from N. of Moudon forest to the Bonhomme pass; on the evening of Aug. 23 it had fallen back a good deal further, and, pivoting on its right, had thrown back its left to Damas aux Bois. At this point Gen. Dubail gave orders to stop the retreat and prepare for the resumption of the offensive. After this series of unfortunate movements the weariness of the French troops was extreme, and the infantry had suffered heavy loss - indeed in the VIII. Corps it exceeded 50% of the total strength.

The parallel offensive of the II. Army had been even less fortunate. Its mission was twofold: at all costs it was to protect Nancy, mainly because of the moral effect of the loss of that city; it was also to prolong the attack of the I. Army to the W., on the front Dieuze-Château Salins, with a flank guard facing Metz. The army, under Gen. de Castelnau, at first comprised the Xviii., Ix., Xx., Xv., and XVI. Corps, three reserve divisions (59th, 68th and 70th) and two cavalry divisions. But in view of the necessity of parrying the German advance in Belgium by reinforcing the V. French Army, on the left of the line, the XVIII. Corps was sent north-westwards, on Aug. 13, to form Gen. Lanrezac's left. In the middle of the offensive, however, the greater part of the IX. Corps was sent off to reenforce the IV. Army. The two cavalry divisions were later incorporated into the II. Cavalry Corps and placed under the orders of the I. Army.

On Aug. 13, on the eve of the Lorraine offensive, the IX. Corps held the northern front of the Grand Couronne de Nancy,' with outposts on the Seille; the 70th Reserve Div. was towards Amance; the XX. Corps in the area Hueville-LaneuvevilleNancy, with forward troops on the Loutre Noire; the XV. Corps at Heraucourt, Drouville-Lerres-Courbessaux; the XIV. Corps at Luneville-Xermamenil; the S9th and 68th Reserve Divs. in second line at Laxose and Vendoeuvre, and four Chasseurs battalions at St. Nicholas.

The generalissimo having prescribed that the I. and II. Armies should take the offensive, Gen. de Castelnau ordered the XVI. and XV. and the greater part of the XX. Corps to advance on Aug. 14 on Avricourt, the XX. Corps covering the northern front with the rest of its forces. On the evening of Aug. 14 the army held a line between Vuvrecourt and Goudrexon, facing N.E.; only the XV. Corps had met with serious resistance and been held up at Moncourt. Next day the situation of this corps, after the losses it had suffered, still checked further progress; the XVI. Corps advanced to Igney-Avricourt, the XX. to Bexange-la-Petite, Xanrey, and the northern edge of the Bezange la Grande forest; the IX. from its position on the Grand Couronne sent out detachments to Nomeny, Benicourt and Clemery. On Aug. 16 the German withdrawal continued, and the French followed rapidly; the XVI. Corps reached Mondange-Rechicourt-La Garde; the XV. Donnelay 1 A group of steeply sloping hills forming a semicircle around Nancy, on the E. bank of the Moselle.

Maremont; the XX. Vic-Moyenvic, the hills N. and N.W. of Donnelay; the IX. retaining its position.

On Aug. 17 the right of the II. Army was to swing up to the N.W., with the object of reaching the line Delme-Château Salins-Dieuze, the first objective fixed by Gen. Joffre. The XVI. Corps pushed forward without difficulty to the region AngvillerBisping-Guerdemange; the XV. reached the Seille and occupied Marsal without resistance but failed to effect the passage of that river with its main body; the XX. Corps entered Château Salins and pushed reconnaissances northwards. The absence of the cavalry divisions was much felt at this time. Despite heavy night fighting at Rorbach, in which a fraction of the XVI. Corps was engaged, it was believed that the enemy was merely fighting rear-guard actions and that his main bodies were retiring, the I. Bavarian Corps on Saarburg, the XXI. and the left of the II. Bavarian Corps on Morhange.

Aug. 18 was to be given up to the crossing to the right bank of the Seille, but from the early morning the XVI. Corps encountered important hostile forces at the exits from the woods. On its right, the II. Cavalry Corps (I. Army) was not in position to support it, being itself held up at Dolving and Gosselming S. of the Saar. To the left the German heavy artillery pinned the XV. Corps to its ground on the Seille between Marsal and Zommange, preventing it even from occupying Dieuze. The XVI. Corps, being too far forward, was compelled to fall back on Angviller; only the XX. Corps advanced to the N. of Morville les Vic and Château Salins.

In spite of the departure of the IX. Corps, ordered on Aug. 18, to the IV. Army area, Gen. de Castelnau ordered on Aug. 19 that the offensive should be continued with the utmost energy, both to conform with the instructions of the generalissimo to hold fast as many as possible of the enemy in Lorraine, and in order to disengage the I. Army, now menaced by. strong hostile forces from the direction of Phalsburg and Obersteigen. The XVI. Corps, while still continuing to cover the II. Army to the eastwards on the canal of Houilleres, was to debouch from the region of the lakes to the N. of Loudrefing. The XV., operating to the E. of the Bride and Koeking forests, was to march on Bensdorf, and the XX. Corps, to the W. of these forests, on Morhange.

In order not to risk being taken in the flank by an attack from Metz, the II. Army was ordered for the moment not to cross the line of the Lower Albe below Bening Virming and Morhange. Thus the offensive of the right and not that of the left was limited, though the contrary was more natural.

On the morning of Aug. 19 the French right was checked by the enemy. As regards the XVI. Corps, the 31st Div. could not debouch to the N. of the Salines canal and had to be relieved by the 32nd; the XV. Corps captured Zommange and Vergaville, but could get no farther; only the XX. Corps made a considerable advance, reaching the northern edge of Château Salins forest, occupying Oron and pushing a brigade well forward on Morhange. The 68th Reserve Div., which had relieved the IX. Corps in its positions, covered the left flank of the XX. Corps very insufficiently at Fresnes en Saulnois-La Neuveville. The 70th Div., in the Scille around Manhoue, and the S9th on the Grand Couronne from Leyr to Ste. Genevieve, assured the immediate protection of Nancy. The enemy's intentions were still obscure.

In these circumstances Gen. de Castelnau deemed it advisable to clear the passages for the XVI. Corps over the Salines canal as soon as possible, and ordered that corps and the XV. to carry out a united attack on Aug. 20 against the line CuttingDomnom-Bassing, and to drive back the enemy as far as the Saarburg-Bensdorf railway. The XX. Corps consolidated its positions taken the previous day, and prepared either to continue its advance to the N. or to the N.E., or to face any possible attacks coming from Metz.

On the morning of Aug. 20 mist delayed the offensive of the XV. and XVI. Corps, which were in fact later violently attacked themselves and checked and even forced back. The XX. Corps had received from its commander, Gen. Foch, orders inspired, it would seem, rather by the doctrine of the resolute offensive then in favour in the French Army than by the orders of Gen. de Castelnau; they laid down that the heights of Baronville and Morhange, reached the previous evening, should be secured and that the right should then endeavour to disengage the XV. Corps and facilitate its attack.

On Aug. 20 the i r th Div. attacked the front MorhangeRacrange, in conjunction with the XV. Corps; to the left, the 39 th Div. the line Brehain - Baronville. About 6:30 A.M. Gen. de Castelnau stopped this offensive, which he considered inopportune, and ordered that the right of the XX. Corps should support the XV., while the left should hold and fortify the position then held by it and should even prepare a second position farther south. But these arrangements were upset by the enemy taking the offensive; the left of the XX. Corps (39th Div.), heavily assailed, had to retire on Château Salins, involving the withdrawal of the right (rith Div.), which fell back on Lidrequin, and of the 68th Reserve Div., which withdrew from Lenoncourt to its position of Aug. ig. The situation of the II. Army became so perilous that at 4 P.M. Gen. de Castelnau ordered the retreat. The corps were moved away that night, with the intention of re-forming their most sorely tried units farther south; rear guards facing N.E. from Maizieres to Fresnes en Saulnois were to cover the withdrawal.

These movements were carried out that evening and night, and during Aug. 21, under the protection of the XX. Corps and the 68th Reserve Div., which had orders to hold on to Château Salins as long as possible and to fall back thence on St. Nicolas. The remainder of the army reached the area Dombasle - Luneville, and were there reinforced by two reserve divisions, the 64th and 74th; the 73rd Reserve Div., forming part of the mobile garrison of Toul, moved to the N.W. of Nancy, and the II. Cavalry Corps (less the 6th Cavalry Div. which was left under the orders of Gen. Dubail) was on Aug. 22 transferred from the I. to the II. Army and was ordered to cover the latter's right. The enemy at first followed slowly, but soon violently attacked the XVI. Corps at Crion and Lionviller, and forced it back over Luneville, whence it went back to reform in the Xermamenil area. Finally, while the XX. Corps was waging a series of successful actions in the heights of Flainval, before retiring on St. Nicolas, the remainder established themselves on the W. bank of the Meurthe, the XVI. Corps holding the hills of Belchamps, the 74th Reserve Div. astride the Luneville - Bayon road, the XV. Corps at Haussonville and Ferrieres, and the 64th Reserve Div. in the Sappais plateau. The Grand Couronne was still held by the 18th Div. (IX. Corps), the dispatch of which to the S. had been delayed, and by the 59th and 68th Reserve Divisions. The offensive of the II. Army, as well as that of the I., had thus been a complete failure. Various factors contributed to this result, the most important being the French inferiority in material and the insufficient preparation of the attacks.

Meanwhile the I. Army also had stopped its retreat. On Aug. 23 Gen. Dubail laid down that its mission henceforward would be to forbid any new hostile advance and refit so as to be in a condition to resume the offensive in the near future; it was also to support the II. Army, which was being heavily attacked, on its left. This was the object of a three weeks' battle, the first act of which was to take place on the Mortagne. On Aug. 23 Gen. Dubail ordered the VIII. Corps, supported on its left by the cavalry division, to operate against the flank of the Germans then attacking the right of the II. Army. The VIII. and XIII. Corps, forming the I. Army's left wing, were holding the line Damas aux Bois - Anglemont.

On Aug. 24 the II. Army was attacked on the front Haussonville - Borville. The VIII. Corps was directed to take the offensive in the direction of Venezey - Moriviller, while the XIII. Corps, covering its right, moved to the vicinity of Menarmont, ready to face N. or E. according to circumstances. These movements, carried out on Aug. 24 and 25, were of considerable assistance to the II. Army, before which the enemy fell back on Aug. 26 to the north-east. Next day the VIII. Corps reached the Mortagne, but from Aug. 28 to Aug. 30 it could do no more than repulse the enemy's attacks, without itself getting forward. On Aug. 30 and 31 the Germans, entrenched to the E. of the river, on the heights of Domptail, held up the French advance, but were themselves unable to make any progress. The utility of the VIII. and XIII. Corps' action was all the greater, as at this time the II. Army was being heavily assailed, first in the direction from Luneville to Charmes, and then in the Grand Couronne. It appears, indeed, to have been the Germans' first intention to advance with the VI. Army along this former line, and with the VII. by Raon 1'Etape and Rambervillers on Charmes, their common effort being directed to forcing what is usually known as " the gap of Charmes." The I. Army was further weakened by the departure from its position on the right of the XIII. Corps, and of the XXI. Corps, which left to join the IV. Army in Champagne, arriving there in time to take part in the last days of the battle of the Marne.

From Sept. 5 to 7 the VIII. and XIII. Corps merely maintained their positions. On Sept. 6 the German VII. Army, which faced the French I. Army, was dissolved by order of the supreme command. Two of its corps joined the VI. Army, now left alone in Lorraine; the staff and one corps were sent W. to reenfotce the German right wing, heavily engaged with Maunoury (French VI. Army) on the Ourcq. On Sept. 7, as the enemy in front of the VIII. and XIII. Corps seemed to be weakening, an attempt was made to resume the French offensive; and on Sept. 9 the VIII. Corps was ordered to capture St. Pierremont and Magnieres by a night attack; the XIII. Corps and a provisional corps formed of troops already on the army front, and put into line in place of the XXI. Corps, were also to attack farther to the east.

The operation thus projected was a success only on the right and in the centre; the VIII. Corps attack failed. At this moment the I. Army was still further and more seriously weakened by the arrival of orders for the transfer of the XIII. Corps elsewhere. While it was being transported to the W. of the Oise, where it was to prolong the left of the VI. Army, the I. Army consolidated its recent gains. On Sept. 12 the VIII. Corps attacked towards Domptail and Azerailles, and the 71st Reserve Div., which had replaced the XIII. Corps, towards Baccarat, and the provisional corps towards Raon 1'Etape. By the evening the I. Army had reached the Meurthe; unfortunately the pursuit was stopped by another transfer, this time of the VIII. Corps on Sept. 13 to St. Mihiel on the Meuse, where another German offensive was being prepared. The left wing of the army (7 i st Reserve Div. and provisional corps) took up position along the Meurthe from Raon l'Etape to Azerailles. The fighting known as the battle of the Meurthe now came to an end.

Meanwhile the XXI. and XIV. Corps, on the right of the I. Army astride the Meurthe, had also attempted to carry out the mission assigned to them by Gen. Dubail, to stop the enemy's advance, and prepare for a resumption of the offensive. Their first efforts met with little success; in fact, up to Aug. 27 they had lost ground; and the 44th Div., which was being brought up from the Vosges to reenforce the I. Army's left, had to stop and support them (Aug. 25). On Aug. 26 the right of the XIV. Corps was driven back in the Ban de Sapt; next day, the enemy entered Ste. Die, and the withdrawal of the 58th Reserve Div. from Anozel pass uncovered the eastern flank of the XIV. Corps, which fell back from Nompatelize and then from La Bourgonce (Aug. 29). The Germans endeavoured to cut off the corps from the Vosges and menace the I. Army's right flank; and successful though costly counter-attacks by the XIV. Corps on Aug. 30 recovered both Nompatelize and La Bourgonce. On Aug. 31 and Sept. r its right maintained itself at Anozel; on Sept. 3 the corps held a line thence to Rougiville and the N. edge of the forest of Mortagne, but its situation remained anxious up to and including Sept. 6. Not till Sept. 7, when the army had consolidated its line in the Vosges, could the XIV. Corps make a little progress; it then accentuated its offensive, reoccupied Ste. Die on Sept. II and reached the Meurthe along its whole front, as the VIII. Corps, the 71st Reserve Div. and the provisional corps had done. By this time the " Vosges group " had got into definite touch with the right of the XIV. Corps from the Bonhomme pass. The I. Army had been successful in fixing important enemy forces on its own front, and in bringing considerable relief to the rest of the French line, despite the fact that many men had been withdrawn from it to reenforce those armies to whom decisive roles had been assigned.

The II. Army also had passed no less difficult days. On the morning of Aug. 21, after the defeat of Morhanges, Gen. Joffre wired, " The II. Army will endeavour to reconstitute and hold fast on the Grand Couronne and on the Meurthe and the Moselle." Gen. de Castelnau decided therefore to maintain at all costs the Grand Couronne and the line held by the XV. and XVI. Corps and the 64th and 74th Reserve Divs., while holding the rest of the army ready for a counter offensive in the area of Lenoncourt. But the situation rapidly changed, and it fell to Gen. de Castelnau's lot to prepare, not a counter-attack but an attack.

Early on Aug. 24 it was reported that at least two hostile corps were moving southwards, exposing their right flank to the II. Army. Gen. de Castelnau, seizing his opportunity, ordered an advance in the direction of Serres by one division of the XX. Corps and the available troops of the reserve divisions holding the Grand Couronne. The XVI. and XV. Corps, the 64th and 74th Reserve Divs. and the rest of the XX. Corps, were to contain the enemy in front, the II. Cavalry Corps covering their right. The VIII. Corps on the left of the I. Army was requested to cooperate by advancing on the front .Rozelieures - Vennezey, in a direction almost at right angles to the II. Army front. Thus ensued the battle of Aug. 25.

Gen. de Castelnau's objective was Arracourt - Einville, which appeared to be the enemy's line of communication from the north. The main attack was to be supported on the right by the XVI. and one division of the XV. Corps, in concert with the VIII. Corps. But it soon became clear that the last-named formation would not be able to debouch to the N. of Essey and St. Boingt, and it became necessary to make the action of the II. Army more prompt and more intense. The II. Cavalry Corps, the XVI. and one division of the XV. Corps, were pushed forward, driving the enemy back to the E. of Rozelieures; at nightfall the XVI. Corps was in possession of this village and the XV. of Lamath and Blainville, while the main body of the II. Cavalry Corps was moving on Deinvillers. On the French left, progress, rapid at first, had been checked by a strong counter-attack on Flainval; by evening, however, the XX. Corps held the heights of Sommerville, Flainval and Hudiviller with its i ith Div. and its 39th Div. remaining in the region of St. Nicolas. To the N., portions of the IX. Corps and the 68th Reserve Div. held the eastern edges of the forest of Champenois.

After the battle of Aug. 25 Gen. de Castelnau proposed to seize the passages over the Meurthe S. of Luneville, and then to advance on the Einville - Arracourt road by attacking between the Meurthe and the Sanon and by seizing the heights of Serres. The fatigue of the troops, who had been marching and fighting continuously since Aug. 14, was the first cause of difficulty; and since the left centre and right of the I. Army were violently attacked one after the other, the II. Army had to manoeuvre by its right, while refusing its left, and the offensive on Serres could not be carried out with the necessary vigour.

However, in the course of Aug. 21 the II. Army made some progress. The XVI. Corps reached Remenoville and the XV. occupied Mont sur Meurthe, but could get no farther. The XX. Corps got as far as the line Friscati (N.W. of Luneville)- Deuxville - Maixe, prolonged to the left by the 10th Reserve Div. which held Drouville. To the N. the z8th Div. (IX. Corps) maintained its positions in the area CourbessauxRemereville - Champenois.

On Aug. 27 the XVI. and XV. Corps, to which the 74th and 64th Reserve Divs. were attached, fought a series of successful actions at Xermamenil and Blainville. The rest of the army remained halted. On Aug. 28 its right undertook a general offensive, with the idea of reaching the Meurthe, but the XVI. Corps and the 74th Div. after capturing Gerbeviller were held up and finally driven out of the town and back to the Mortagne. The XV. Corps was checked at the St. Mansey wood, between the Mortagne and the Meurthe, and did not push its left towards Vitrimont forest, while the XX. Corps made little headway N. of the Meurthe.

On Aug. 29 the XVI. Corps retook Gerbeviller, but was then checked all day in frontal fighting, which also delayed the advance of the XV. Corps on the Meurthe. Aviation reports stated that the enemy was preparing a second line of defence, facing the French left, and was evacuating the first line, which seemed to indicate that he was growing weaker. Gen. de Castelnau therefore decided to attack on Aug. 30 between the Sanon and the Nancy - Château Salins railway, and to take and consolidate the Serres heights. However, in view of the violent hostile attacks against the I. Army, the plan had once more to be modified, and again the II. Army was driven to manoeuvre by its right in conjunction with the I. Army. On Aug. 30 the principal action took place around the clearing of Fraimbois, S. of Luneville, between the Meurthe and the Mortagne. The XVI. Corps and 74th Reserve Div., despite their losses, failed to take Fraimbois, but to the N. the XX. Corps occupied the signal of Frascati. On Aug. 31 the enemy's attacks on Rehainviller (S.W. of Luneville) were repulsed, and the French consolidated their positions.

It was not till Sept. i that Gen. de Castelnau could resume the manoeuvre originally planned for Aug. 30; he ordered that on this date the army should attack between the Meurthe and the Sanon, and take and hold the heights N. of Luneville. The XX. Corps was only partially successful in reaching its objective, and on the rest of the front the positions were unchanged.

The situation of the II. Army had by this time considerably changed. Gen. Joffre intended eventually to resume the offensive on the centre and left of the Allied armies, but did not believe that the opportunity would come as it actually did; he therefore deemed it necessary to withdraw troops to the fullest extent from his right-wing armies, which were not called on to play a decisive part in this manoeuvre. On Sept. i orders were issued for the westward move of a cavalry division and a Chasseur brigade; on Sept. 2 the 18th Div. (IX. Corps) and the XV. Corps were also sent off. In view of this additional weakening the II. Army seemed condemned to the defensive.

Moreover, at this moment, the fighting before Nancy necessitated new and great efforts on the part of that army. On Sept. 4 the enemy's activity became more intense on the Meurthe and in the Serres area, and towards evening they opened a bombardment on all the front between Vitrimont forest and Courbessaux. Emperor William II. had arrived from Metz with the intention of making a triumphal entry into Nancy in a few days' time. The Germans possessed an immensely powerful heavy artillery and did not hesitate to employ it to the fullest possible extent; on the night of Sept. 5-6, in eight hours, over 3,000 shells fell on the hill of Amance in an area of little over i,000 sq. yards.

By Sept. 5 both Gen. Joffre and the commander of the II. Army had appreciated to the full the seriousness of the situation. For a time they hesitated as to whether they should withdraw the army's left to the strong positions of the forest of Haye and the heights of Sappais and Belchamps S.W. of Nancy, or hold the line in front of the city at all costs. This hesitation seems. to have lasted right up till Sept. 7; fortunately the second plan was adopted and carried out.

During the battle of Nancy, the French right, the XVI. Corps, the 74th Reserve Div., the XV. Corps and the 64th Reserve Div., fighting in the area Rehainviller - XermamenilGerbeviller, maintained their positions practically intact from Sept. 6 to z i. In the centre and on the left, however, the fighting was extremely fierce, and the French line swayed to and fro, from the Sanon to the northern edge of Champenois forest.

On Sept. 5 the enemy seized Maixe and Remeroville, but lost the latter place again in the evening, and failed to dislodge the French from the eastern edge of Champenois forest. On Sept. 6 the 39th Div. (XX. Corps) attacked and reoccupied Crevic and the wood of the same name. Next day a German force advancing from Pont a Mousson violently assaulted the N. front of the Grand Couronne; the commanding village of Ste. Genevieve was for a time evacuated, but was reoccupied by the French on Sept. 8, 2,000 enemy dead being counted on the ground. On Sept. 7 also another attack was delivered on the eastern front in the direction of Mont d'Amance and Laneuvellotte, and the 68th Reserve Div. fell back into the defile of La Bouzule between the two ridges in Champenoux forest. The French line was forced back to its western edge, and had also to be withdrawn from the forward positions to the S., towards Courbessaux and Drouville.

The German attacks continued in the night of Sept. 7-8, and on Sept. 8, but on neither occasion did they meet with any success. Violent fighting occurred on Sept. 9 on the western border of Champenois forest, but the French maintained their positions. To the S., in order to relieve the pressure on the 59th and 68th Reserve Divs., the XX. Corps undertook an offensive in the direction of Drouville and Courbessaux; some ground was gained, including Crevic wood, which had previously been lost, and the French line was pushed forward to the centre of St. Paul forest. Gen. de Castelnau ordered a vigorous offensive on Sept. 10, by the 59th and 68th Reserve Divs., in Champenoux forest and on the Bouzule, by the XX. Corps on Remereville, and by the XVI. Corps towards Luneville; although the results achieved were incomplete, the enemy's resistance appeared to be weakening all along the line, and on Sept. i 1 the French succeeded in retaking the eastern edges of Champenoux forest, St. Paul forest and Haraucourt wood. Next day it was learnt that the Germans were retiring, abandoning large quantities of arms and ammunition at Luneville; the left of the I. Army was advancing northwards without encountering any resistance. The II. Army began the pursuit on its front, occupying Fraimbois, Luneville, Drouville, Courbessaux, Remereville, Nomeny, and Pont a Mousson; the cavalry pushed forward to Einville, Serres and Morville.

On Sept. 13 the French occupied the heights of Crion and Sionviller, and those to the N. of Serres, together with the wood to the W. of Sorneville. The I. Army's left was at Vathimenil, and the line of the Meurthe had thus been definitely and completely secured, never again to be lost. Meanwhile another German offensive was in preparation W. of Nancy, in the Woevres and on the Meuse, and the II. Army had to dispatch in this direction to meet it, first the 2nd Cavalry Div., then the 73rd Reserve Div. from Toul, and finally, on Sept. 13, the XX. Corps. This new development brought to an end the pursuit which had been begun after the battle of Nancy, and in a few days the II. Army was broken up, to be reconstituted anew on the left of the French VI. Army during the " race to the sea." Thus, after a difficult beginning, with a defeat resulting from an inopportune offensive, the I. and II. Armies had been successful at first in checking the enemy's progress, and then in driving him back practically as far as the former French frontier. Their role, in itself no easy one, had been rendered even more difficult owing to the constant weakening of their effectives by the removal of their best elements to other parts of the front. During the battle of the Marne they formed the unshakable pivot of the centre and left of the Allied armies, and freed them from all anxiety as to their right flank. If, thanks to the memorable initiative of Gen. Gallieni, Gen. Joffre succeeded in carrying out on the Marne and on the Ourcq the manoeuvre which caused the enemy's retirement to the Aisne and completely ruined his original plan of campaign, it was because of the efforts and sacrifices of the I. and II. Armies. By holding fast on the Meurthe and before Nancy, three hostile corps and numerous reserve formations, the II. Army had fulfilled, as had the I. at the foot of the Vosges, a task indispensable to the strategic reestablishment of the whole of the Allied forces. The price had unhappily been a great one. Between Aug. 24 and Sept. 12 the 74th Reserve Div. (to take only one example) lost 140 officers and over 5,000 other ranks, practically a third of its effective strength, and the casualties in other units had been even heavier. (B. E. P.) Battle Of The Ardennes Directly the large concentration transports, which were at their height from Aug. 8-14, began, the III. French Army was formed in the region of Verdun under the protection of the VI. Army Corps, which took up protective duties on July 31 1914. Gen. Ruffey, with Gen. Grossetti as his chief-of-staff, was in command. On Aug. 14 that army consisted of the IV. Corps, to the E. of Damvilliers; the V. Corps, to the W. of Etain; the VI. Corps in the Woevre to the E. of Fresnes-en-Woevre, Vigneulles and St. Baussant. A group of reserve divisions, commanded by Gen. Pol Durand, was then under the orders of Gen. Ruffey, but they were not all completely disembarked by that date (Aug. 14). The 7th Ca y. Div. (Gen. Gillain), attached to the III. Army, covered the right wing of that army towards Metz. The IV. French Army was at first designed to form a general reserve in the hands of the general-in-chief; and, with a force of three army corps and one cavalry division, was grouped in the region between Vitry-le-Francois and Ste. Menehould. But on hearing of the German attack on Liege Gen. Joffre decided to send the IV. Army in the first line, to the left of the III. Army, in the region of Stenay (Aug. 8 1914). The II. Corps, which protected the V. Army to the E. of Stenay, as did the VI. Corps to the E. of Verdun, remained on the spot, while the V. Army (Gen. Lanrezac) returned farther to the N.E., first in the region of Vouziers-Auberton, and then towards Charleroi.

Directly it entered the lines the IV. Army - commanded by Gen. de Langle de Cary, with Gen. Maistre as chief-of-staffwas considerably reenforced. The II. Army Corps was the first to join it, followed by the XI. and IX. Corps, and the 52nd and both Reserve Divisions. In the Ardennes the 4th and 9th Ca y. Divs. were at its disposal. This IV. Army was, on Aug. 22 1914, by far the strongest of all the French armies.

According to Plan 17, which regulated the concentration operations, there would be little 'more than protective corps on the frontier until Aug. 8. Between Aug. 8 and 14 the concentration transports, working with their maximum efficiency, were to bring all the army corps stationed in the interior to the concentration zone of their armies. It was not before Aug. 15 or 16, therefore, that Gen. Joffre would have all his resources at command. But the general-in-chief was determined to keep to the defensive, even a yielding defensive, which would be willing to lose ground until the concentration of all the French forces had been effected. Owing to this decision the protective corps formed a rigid cordon, with only very small detachments - rifle and cavalry battalions - ahead of it.

On the other side the Germans were proceeding in the same way. They were determined to fight with extreme violence everything that opposed the bringing into position of their armies, but would make no efforts to thwart the enemy's concentration, or even to know how the French High Command organized its distribution of forces.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the first great battle was the "battle of the two blind men." Neither belligerent knew exactly where the encounter would take place, nor what forces they would have to fight. On Aug. 10 1914, when the IV. Army Corps had only just joined the lines, to the left of the IV. Army, a German mixed brigade, starting westwards at a venture from Thionville, had the mad idea to attack at Mangiennes, the spot where the junction of the III. and IV. Armies was taking place. Without thinking, it engaged a fond. Then it was that Gen. Cordonnier came and took this brigade in reverse, after it had already been roughly handled in the frontal attack, and destroyed it. The Germans did not try to avenge their defeat; they made no further attempt against the protective troops of the III. and IV. Armies. The Germans were absorbed in the deployment of their armies: the V., to the W. of Thionville as far as Tintigny; the IV., from Tintigny to Dinant; the III., from Dinant towards Charleroi; the II., on the Sambre; the I., towards Mons, in accordance with a plan mathematically determined in the pre-war period.

The French, bringing into play the variant which placed their IV. Army between the III. and V. Armies, formed up ladderwise. If the III. and IV. Armies faced eastwards, the VI.

Corps served to form the highest rung, while the lowest was occupied by the IX. Corps. If they faced N., the lowest step would be the VI. and V. Corps, then the IV., then the II.; such would be the following steps, each rising higher and higher.

When Gen. Joffre launched his rigid formation brutally to the N., the German deployment was not yet effected; thus it was that the German III. Army, entangled behind the IV. Army, did not appear upon the battlefields of the Ardennes; it was a wasted force. The offensive, which drew such criticism against the French general-in-chief, thus produced this happy result, that a battle was brought about at a time when the enemy could not avail themselves of all their resources.

The battle of the Ardennes was to take place between the French III. and IV. Armies on the one side, and the V. Army, commanded by the German Crown Prince, the IV. German Army, under the Duke of Wurttemberg, and the III. German Army, under Gen. von Hausen, on the other; but the German III. Army was not destined to fire a single gun, either against Gen. de Langle de Cary's troops, or against those of Gen. Lanrezac; its cavalry alone took part in the Dinant skirmish.

On Aug. 16 1914 Gen. Ruffey's army moved slightly northwards. The IV. Corps advanced to Jametz, the VI. Corps pushed forward as far as Etain, the V. Corps took up its position between these two localities. As this army left the Hautsde-Meuse region it was replaced by the reserve divisions of Gen. Pol Durand. Fresh reserve divisions arrived shortly, and on Aug. 19 they formed the Lorraine army, under Gen. Maunoury. The mission of the Lorraine army - which consisted of the reserve division groups of Gens. Pol Durand and Beaudenom de Lamaze and the mobile reserve divisions of Toul and of Verdun - was to invest Metz, should the III. Army be victorious near Longwy; its defensive mission was to stop any German troops attempting to force the Hauts-de-Meuse.

The Lorraine army was not under Gen. Ruffey, but it covered the rear of the IV. Army. No army, when fighting is carried on in the same theatre of war, is truly independent; each must communicate with and help its neighbour as far as possible. This solidarity was not to be found to a desirable degree between the III. Army and the Lorraine army; but if one realizes that, in spite of its small population, France managed in Aug. 1914 to face the Germans with forces nearly equal to those of the Kaiser's army, it is easy to understand that the French reserve divisions were composed of elderly men, slow to acclimatize to war, and that their cadres and staffs needed considerable time to acquire the desirable manoeuvring qualities.

On Aug. 20 1914 the French III. and IV. Armies faced N.; they were ordered to keep in touch with each other on the axis Marville-Virton-Etalle, during the advance northward. They formed a strict whole, and yet there was no army group commander to impart unity to this ensemble.

To the right of the bloc was the VI. Corps, whose direction of attack was the neighbourhood of Audun-le-Roman and Longwy. This army corps, commanded by Gen. Sarrail, consisted of three divisions, and was to advance in echelon and to the rear of the V. Corps with two divisions, while the third was to be a flank guard, facing the fortified region Metz-Thionville.

The Lorraine army, as has been said, prolonged the flank guard of the III. Army through the Woevre to Toul; in the E., it was in touch with the II. Army (Gen. Castelnau). Thus in proportion as one advanced farther W. the initial dispositions gained ground towards the north. At the extreme left the IX. Corps was disembarking near Mezieres-Sedan; taken away from the French II. Army it retained only one of its divisions, the J. B. Dumas Div., which, even before all its troops had been able to join it, was to launch advanced guards between the Semoy and the Lesse. A Moroccan division was soon to ranforce the IX. Corps. Gen. Lanrezac was obsessed by fears for his right flank, whereas his real danger lay in front and on his left flank. By a spirit of camaraderie for the commander of the V. Army, Gen. de Langle de Cary sent advanced guards, disposed somewhat at random, to occupy Gedinne, Houdremont and Bievre; the 60th Res. Div. was ordered to hold the crossings of the Semoy, from below Bohan to its confluence with the Meuse at Montherme, while the 52nd Res. Div. was to keep watch on the Meuse as far as Revin, where the operation zone of the V. Army began. The 4 th and 9th Ca y. Divs., forming one cavalry corps, reconnoitred in front of the IX. and XI. Army Corps, to the left of the IV. Army; and the 7th Ca y. Div. reconnoitred to the right of the III. Army. On Aug. 22, on the extensive front from Bertris to about Audun-le-Roman, there was only the cavalry of the French army corps.

In the night of Aug. 20-21 the whole French system moved forward; the day's march was long for all; for some it was a forced march. The only instructions given by the French High Command were " to attack the enemy wherever they were encountered "; and as the marching directions were prolonged very far northwards in the orders many unit commanders supposed the enemy to be far in the north. Although, here and there, they came violently into touch with the enemy, as for instance the 9th Ca y. Div. at Neufchateau, that was not enough to raise the alarm; and the following day, in the night of the 21st to 22nd, the same illusions caused the same imprudences to be repeated. The advance was all the more unhesitating in that it was expected that the enemy would be caught manoeuvring. The Germans were not ready; von Kluck's great enveloping movement was only in a fair way of being carried out; von Hausen's army had not yet disengaged from the right of the Duke of Wiirttemberg's army. Hence the sole task of the German army was to remain in readiness behind the trenches it had dug for itself.

One of the belligerents was waiting along a large battle-line extending from the Moselle, near Thionville, to the Meuse near Dinant. The other was advancing in countless columns, along all the roads leading from S. to N. between the Moselle and the Meuse. Engagements might be expected between cavalrymen everywhere, then between advanced guards and outposts; neither side would be surprised. Division battles would take place side by side with one another, thus forming one great battle without any break on the front, since the III. and IV. Armies were contiguous. The IV. Army was to push ahead; the III. Army " to cover the right flank of the IV. Army against forces which might still be in the Luxemburg region." On Aug. 21 the higher formation vanguards of the IV. Army were on the Semoy, and between Semoy and Lesse on the left; but the vanguards of the II. Corps were farther S., at Meixdevant-Virton, the cavalry regiment only being at Bellefontaine. On the evening of that same day the III. Army reached Virton with the IV. Corps, Tellancourt with the V.; as for the VI. Corps, although its most advanced division was at Beuzeville, its 40th Div. (Gen. Hache) occupied Monaville in the rear, facing Briey, forming a flank guard to the 54th and 67th Res. Divs., disposed in echelon relatively to the 40th Division. The IV. Army had been engaged in action, and reported strong enemy forces to be in the Neufchateau region; the III. Army declared it had seen no other enemy than a few small detachments, whereas the whole army of the Crown Prince of Germany was within its reach.

The orders for Aug. 22 were as follows: The IV. Army was to advance northwards and the III. Army was to cover the right of the IV. Army and face any attack from the N. and the E. Two of Gen. Pol Durand's reserve divisions were to occupy Spincourt and Monaville, by 8 o'clock on the 22nd, and be ready to counter-attack " everything that debouched from Briey." Directly it debouched from Virton, the left division of the IV. Corps was driven sharply back to the S. of the Basse-Vire. Thus, as early as the morning of the 22nd, the III. Army failed in its mission to cover the right flank of the IV. Army; it knew nothing of the enemy, and its cavalry division remained inert. Badly commanded, it did nothing on that day, and neither its army commander nor the commander of the VI. Corps brought it into action. The V. Corps neglected to put itself in touch with the IV., and stormed the enemy positions without making use of guns to support the infantry. This soon led to a panic, and Gen. Grossetti was obliged to take the place of the army corps commander to restore order in this large unit where whole regiments retreated without fighting. The left division of the VI. Corps, while attempting to cross the Chiers at Cons-Lagrandville, was soon drawn into the retreating movement of the V. Corps. The centre division, which knew nothing of the enemy, engaged badly and was unable to progress farther than Ville-au-Montoir. The right division, stationed on the FillieresMercy-le-Haut front, facing Audun-le-Roman, and badly served by the reconnaissance service of the 7th Ca y. Div., which forgot it was not alone, was attacked towards noon by the three divisions of the German XVI. Corps. But Gen. Hache, an able tactician, was there, and although both the cavalry division and the reserve division which should have protected his right and rear abandoned their post, he managed to make head against forces three times stronger than his own.

A lack of cooperation and of understanding had made itself felt between the Ruffey and Maunoury armies, due perhaps to a faulty transmission of orders. By the evening of the 22nd the III. Army had retreated on the Virton - Spincourt front.

In the IV. Army, the leading division of the II. Corps, warned by the corps cavalry regiment which had spent the night in a state of readiness near Bellefontaine in touch with the German positions and had identified their forces, deployed and got into touch with the enemy by its patrols. It expected its artillery to debouch N. of the woods. At about 9 A.M. the enemy attacked the French advanced guards, whose artillery had not yet appeared; but thanks to the woods and the preparations for defence of the village of Bellefontaine these first attacks were not successful. After io o'clock the advanced guard was reenforced by two groups of 75-mm. guns, and from that time was mistress of the situation; attacked at nightfall by a whole German army corps, it had lost no ground whatever at the end of the day; it had fought " like a lion." Owing to the reverse of the IV. Corps at Virton, a gap had formed between the IV. and III. Armies at Villers-la-Loue. But fortunately, on the preceding day, Gen. de Langle had withdrawn the 3rd Div. from the front and disposed it in second line, behind his right. A division of the IV. Army, actuated by Gen. Gerard, the commander of the II. Corps, was thus at hand to ensure the liaison between the two armies. This saved the day. On Aug. 22 the II. Corps took part in two battles, separated by the large forest of Virton, at Bellefontaine and at Villers-la-Loue; both battles resulted in the defeat of the V. and VI. German Army Corps, and prisoners belonging to five different German divisions were taken. On the left of the II. Corps the Colonial Corps advanced on Rossignol in two columns; one mixed brigade on the left and one division on the right. The Ravenez Div., in column without advanced guard or flank guard, was crushed under the German projectiles to which it served as an extensive target. Its commander collected some remnants of his troops and rushed upon the enemy, gun in hand. He was killed, and " all was lost, save honour." It is difficult, in that forest district, to make the most of a success; the Germans did not pursue their attack; so, by the evening, the Colonial Corps still held the Semoy and its outlet N. of Florenville. An army reserve colonial division arrived in the night to form the connecting link between the II. Corps and the XII. The XVII. Corps also had let itself be surprised, so that the XII. Corps, flanked on the right by the Colonials and on the left by the XVII. Corps, was in a critical position. Farther westward, the XI. Corps attacked Offagne without success, and the IX. gained ground on the left, being kept informed by the cavalry corps. In sum, there were tactical reverses nearly everywhere; nevertheless, the general commanding gave orders to resume the attack next day (Aug. 23).

It was now a recognized fact that, contrary to Joffre's belief, there was no gap in the Ardennes; the Duke of Wurttemberg's corps were being identified one by one, as well as those of the Crown Prince's right wing; and, near the extreme left, the IV. Army was in touch with cavalry of the German III. Army.

On Aug. 22 the French III. Army had given way badly in the centre and on the right; and the IV. Army had lost its offensive power. On Aug. 23 the attacks contemplated had to be given up and a retreat was made, during which the XII. Corps suffered a severe reverse.

Meanwhile the I. Army at Sarrebourg, the II. at Morhange, the V. at Charleroi, suffered tactical reverses at least as great as those experienced by the III. and IV. Armies, between Longwy and Dinant. The tactical instruction of the French army, badly given owing to a lack of training camps, and for various other reasons, was the real cause of the reverses at the beginning of the campaign. If, in addition to this, one notes the splendid conduct of the I. Corps of the V. Army, the II. Corps of the IV. Army, the VI. Corps of the III. Army, the XX. Corps of the II. Army; if, in contrast, it is stated that at Dinant the Boutegourd Res. Div. was seized by panic and announced the presence of a German army whereas there was only some cavalry supported by a few infantrymen; that to the left of the IV. Army two reserve divisions were doing nothing, and to the right of the III. Army were others which were of no help to the 40th Active Div., one begins to realize that the frontier army corps, which included hardly any reservists, the I., II., VI., and XX., were splendid; that the army corps stationed in the interior had much to learn and were receiving hard lessons; finally, that the reserve divisions were as yet useless. An army requires an acclimatization more or less long in proportion as it contains inexperienced and older men. A still more important deduction may be made: since the lesson was needed to teach the French army the same lesson would have resulted in defeat anywhere else. The French army was bound to lose the first battle, whether it took place in plain or forest, in the offensive or in the defensive. Joffre's strategy could not make up for the tactical insufficiency of Joffre's army. The German armies beyond the Moselle and the Meuse were effecting their strategic deployment. The first ready were to wait for the entire completion of the plan established by the Berlin staff. A battle accepted before all the armies were placed would be a strategic reverse. The much-criticised French offensive inflicted this reverse upon German strategy. The German III. Army was not at the battle; the German. I. Army only arrived after Lanrezac had escaped, and although the English army was in great danger, on Aug. 23, it was nevertheless able to avoid the destruction reckoned on by the enemy. The German V. and IV. Armies, obliged to wait until the deployment of the ensemble was completed, merely engaged a defensive battle, to which, it is true, fierce counter-attacks were added; but the counteroffensive which the Crown Prince of Germany and the Duke of Wurttemberg ought to have led, and which might have had incalculable consequences, was not forthcoming.

Joffre, Ruffey, de Langle de Cary, had a powerful influence over their subordinates. There were blunders of appreciation on their part in this " battle of the two blind men," but a determination to manoeuvre. This determination to manoeuvre was to be found again at the Marne, and this time Joffre's eyes were opened. The German commanders kept to their book knowledge, merely carrying out what was written; they allowed their troops to act; their troops, not they, won the battle. The lesson of Charleroi instructed the French army; time, and subsequent battles, accustomed the active and reserve units to war. At the Marne German tactical superiority existed no longer; Joffre's strategy defeated the strategy of the German Supreme Command.

The French general-in-chief was still blind on the morning of Aug. 23; during that day he received the reports; on the evening of Aug. 24 " the veil was torn "; he saw his strategic mistakes, saw into the enemy's game, and understood the causes of most of the tactical reverses met with. He determined to carry the centre of gravity of his forces westwards; to recall to the minds of all that the true French fighting doctrine is based on protection and the cooperation of arms; to take their command from those chiefs who gave way. These were the results of the battle of the Ardennes, results unfortunately obtained at far too high a price. The Germans learnt nothing at the battle of the Ardennes. Their self-confidence was increased. At the battle of the Ardennes, we may say, there were two blind men; at the battle of the Marne, Joffre had been operated on for cataract, while the Kaiser had allowed the film on his eyes to grow thicker.

Battle of the Meuse

By the evening of Aug. 231914 the intention of the French general-in-chief had not met with success at any point. Gen. Ruffey showed a desire to take up the offensive, but his troops were unfit for it. The III. Army, while retreating, had turned round the left of the IV. Corps. The latter was firmly supported by the right of the II. Army Corps, which had not given way. The point of touch between the armies was at Mont-Quintin, to the N.E. of Montmedy. The V. Corps needed to recover its strength and the 40th Div. of the VI. Corps was in a bad condition after its efforts of the previous day. The Colonial Div., which had formed Gen. de Langle de Cary's army reserve, had been pushed on by him to the first line, and was ordered to resume the attack by pivoting round the II. Corps, which was to wait until the Ruffey army was enabled by an advance northward to cover its right flank. But the IV. Army was not in a condition to attack; on the left the J. B. Dumas Div. of the IX. Corps, which was fresh, pushed forward, but found itself in a difficult position, since on its right the XI. Corps remained in the rear. During that day the XII. Corps, both its flanks uncovered owing to its neighbours having given way, had a serious check.

Generally speaking, on the evening of the 23rd, the front of the IV. Army was marked by a straight line drawn from Montherme to Mont-Quintin, near Virton, and facing north-eastwards; the front of the III. Army, by a straight line extending from Mont-Quintin to Nouillon-Pont-Spincourt through Marville. Gen. de Langle de Cary was ready to make any sacrifice to prevent the right flank of the V. Army from being uncovered; Gen. Lanrezac, on the other hand, had retreated on his own authority and without warning his neighbours.

On the 24th the IV. Army was astride the Meuse, its front being marked by Revin, Mezieres, Donchery, Douzy, St. Walfroy and Avioth; at Mont-Quin tin it was in touch with the III. Army. There was some fighting during the day in different parts of the front of the IV. Army. On the left wing, the IX. Corps, which had been joined by the Moroccan Div., moved from the Semoy to Mezieres without being followed by an enemy on whom it had inflicted a severe lesson. On the morning of the 25th the II. Army Corps sent patrols from Avioth to Lahagne, near Bellefontaine, to bring back wounded men who had been left there because unfit to be moved. One of the patrols (Lt. Benoit, of the 18th Chasseur Battalion) killed a German staff commander on whom were found the orders given to the German IV. Army for the forcing of the Chiers and Meuse crossings, on Aug. 26 and 27.

In the IV. Army, a patrol (Sergt. Ronchon of the 3rd Hussars) attacked a German motor-car and seized orders which showed that the German 33 rd Res. Div. was to attack from Metz towards Etain. A trap was set for that division, not without great difficulty, owing to the lack of coordination between the staffs of the III. Army, the Lorraine army, and that of the general-in-chief. All the energy of Col. Tanant, staff sub-chief of the III. Army, was required to organize a manoeuvre. If, however, the German 33 rd Res. Div. managed to escape on account of these difficulties and because the reserve troops were slow to move, they did not do so without confusion and considerable losses. Thus, the French IV. and III. Armies had not lost all material and moral value, as was believed in the German camp. As soon as the ground was in their favour they would be able to resist the enemy.

During Aug. 24 the Colonial Corps had had to repulse violent attacks at St. Walfroy, and the V. Army Corps had beaten a somewhat hasty retreat. On the 25th the right of the IV. Army retired between Chiers and Meuse; the same day the IV. Corps experienced so serious a check at Marville that its chief, Gen. Boelle, who was in close touch with Gen. Gerard, asked him to undertake to bring back his corps artillery regiment to him. This detail shows how intimate was the cooperation between the III. and IV. Armies.

The right of the III. Army, badly covered by the cavalry division, whose chief was, moreover, relieved of his command, was left in the air by the suppression of the Lorraine army (night of Aug. 25-26). Gen Maunoury, indeed, received orders to leave the defence of the Hauts-de-Meuse to Gen. Pol Durand and to return their respective forces to Verdun and Toul. Gen.

Maunoury himself, with his staff, with Gen. Beaudenom de Lamaze and the 55th and 56th Res. Divs., was to proceed to Montdidier. It is well known that this was how the VI. Army was formed; their attack on the Ourcq, in concert with the English army and the French V. Army, brought about the rout of the German right at the Marne.

In the morning of Aug. 26 the right of the IV. Army and the III. Army crossed to the left bank of the Meuse. Dun (IV. Corps) was the point of junction between the IV. and III. Armies on the morning of the 26th. By the evening of that day the III. Army was almost entirely on the left bank of the Meuse, facing eastwards; the IV. Corps to the N., the W. and the S. of Dun; the V. Corps in the Montfaucon region, the VI. Corps to the S. of Montfaucon and the N. of Verdun (H.Q. at Esnes). The 7th Ca y. Div. was sent to Dombasle, between Verdun and Clermont, as though the army commander feared the enemy might turn Verdun by the S. and take the III. Army in reverse. The 42nd Div. had remained as an advanced guard on the right bank of the Meuse; on the afternoon of Aug. 27 it received orders to cross to the left bank; on the 28th it passed into the army reserve at Varennes. This division was, moreover, to be taken from the VI. Corps and allotted to the army detachment under the command of Gen. Foch.

The III. Army did not come in contact with the enemy on the 26th and 27th. But the 7th Inf. Div. was summoned towards Beauclair, to the W. of Stenay, and placed at the disposal of the II. Corps, while the front of the 8th Div. was extended nearly as far as the road from Stenay to Beauclair. Thus the German V. Army was not in pursuit; it was slowly advancing towards the Meuse, its left at Ornes alarming the governor of Verdun who asked the IV. Army for assistance. The centre passed through Damvillers; the right caused uneasiness towards Stenay.

On the evening of the 25th the orders to the IV. Army ran: " To-morrow the IV. Army will establish itself on the left bank of the Meuse in order to resist." On the evening of the 26th the orders were as follows: " From to-morrow the IV. Army will engage the decisive battle on the Meuse." These last instructions were enthusiastically received by the troops. The II. Corps was to defend the left bank of the Meuse, from Stenay to Luzy. The Colonial Corps, on its left, was to defend the crossing in the neighbourhood of Inor, leaving one division as an army reserve at Vaux-en-Dieulet. The XII. Corps was to hold the crossings of the Meuse in the Joncq region, the XVII. Corps facing Mouzon. The XII. Corps, reenforced by the 52nd and 60th Res. Divs., was to prevent the crossing of the Meuse between Remilly and Mezieres. By the evening of Aug. 24 the 4th Ca y. Div. had been given back to the V. Army. The mission of the 9th Ca y. Div. (Gen. de l'Espee) was to ensure the communications, in conjunction with the IX. Corps.

On the evening of Aug. 25 the IX. Army Corps (Gen. Dubois) received the special mission of covering the Signy-l'Abbaye region and forming the connexion between the IV. and V. Armies. The situation, indeed, was becoming serious on the left of the IV. Army. The Saxon III. Army, of whose existence the French army had long remained ignorant, had shown signs of its presence since the 24th. The French V. Army, thanks to its retreat, no longer risked being taken in reverse; but as a large space unoccupied by troops existed between the IV. and V. Armies, it was to be feared that the German III. Army might penetrate there in order to act against the wing of one or other of the two French armies, according to its inclination. Gen. Dubois found himself thrust into the space, with the 9th Cay. Div. to assist him. His position was unique all through the campaign, and it was owing to the suppleness of his manoeuvring that Gen. Dubois succeeded in performing the difficult mission with which he had been entrusted. On the evening of Aug. 25, he placed one of his divisions at Renwez (ro km. N.W. of Mezieres), facing the Meuse and the N.; and the other division farther eastward towards Rocroi in the N. and Signy-1'Abbaye in the south. He thus completely covered the left flank of the IV. Army.

At the very moment when Gen. de Langle de Cary gave orders to engage the decisive battle on the Meuse (Aug. 26, 2 P.m.), the right of the German IV. Army forced the crossing of the Meuse at Donchery; the French V. Army had given ground on the Serre, thus completely uncovering the left of the French IV.. Army, and important enemy forces were reported in the Rocroi region (von Hausen army).

The commander of the IV. Army ordered Gen. Dubois to proceed, on the 27th, to the Signy-l'Abbaye - Launois region in order to cover the left flank of the IV. Army.

Already by the morning of the 27th, as the fog lifted, the Germans, who had been allowed to cross the Meuse freely between Stenay and Inor, passed to the attack. Gen. Gerard had given orders to throw back into the Meuse all enemies who sought to debouch therefrom. A division of the German VI. Corps was therefore allowed to emerge from Luzy and Cesse; then, after being taken under the fire of the batteries, it was counter-attacked by a Colonial regiment and two rifle battalions and thrown into the Meuse. In this part of the battlefield the Germans experienced nothing but reverses, their attacks being always badly supported by their artillery, which contented itself with throwing large projectiles at random.

The Colonial Corps engaged fierce battles with the German troops that had crossed the Meuse at Pouilly; Gen. Leblois' division was beginning to retreat when the arrival of reserves from the II. Corps reestablished his position. The XII. Corps, weakened by the losses sustained during the previous engagements, seemed, at one moment, to have imperilled its situation; it managed nevertheless to maintain its position. The XVII. Corps had deprived itself of one of its divisions, according to the orders of the commander of the IV. Army, to relieve the XI. Corps. It now comprised only the 33rd Div., some of the artillery of which had been lost at the battle of the Ardennes; fortunately the whole German effort was directed to the battle of La Marfee, and the XVII. Corps was able to remain on its positions.

The XI. Corps, established on the evening of the 25th in the woods of La Marfee, was attacked there early on the 26th by the enemy forces which had crossed the Meuse at Donchery on, the one hand and at Remilly on the other. After fighting all day the XI. Corps and the 60th Res. Div. were obliged to retire somewhat. On the same day, the 52nd Res. Div., threatened by the XII. Saxon Corps on its left, concentrated to the W. of Mezieres and took up its positions between the 60th Div. and the IX. Corps. On the 27th the fighting continued. The enemy, surprised in dense masses, was crushed by the 75-mm. guns and thrown back in disorder on Noyers, leaving the flag of the 68th Prussian Regt. (VIII. Corps, 26th Div.) in the hands of the 137th French Infantry. On the right, then, the XI. Corps won a great success; but on the left, the battle long remained doubtful. In the evening an imprudent move, similar to that of Noyers, was made by the Germans at La Marfee, and after heavy losses they were driven back towards the Meuse. On the same day, under a slight pressure from the enemy, the IX. Corps and the 52nd Res. Div. came and occupied the positions fixed by the orders.

The French IV. Army considered itself victorious, and Gen. de Langle sought leave from H.Q. to continue the battle and take the offensive. " We see no objection," was the answer, " to your keeping your positions to-morrow, Aug. 28, in order to assert our success and to prove that our falling back is merely strategic; but on Aug. 29 everybody must be in retreat." On the evening of Aug. 25 the German III. Army was in the region of Fumay; on the 26th in the neighbourhood of Rocroi; during the night of the 27th-28th it came in touch by its right with the IX. Corps in the Signy-1'Abbaye region, and, by its left with Mezieres, in touch with the IV. Army. The VIII. Corps and the VII. Res. Corps of the German IV. Army were fighting S. of Donchery and Sedan. More to the left the XVIII. Corps had crossed the Meuse at Remilly, the XVIII. Res. at Mouzon, and the VI. Corps at Luzy-Cesse, in touch with the V. Army.

On the 28th nothing took place between Stenay and Inor; there was some slight action near Joncq, but with no result.

In the XII. French Corps there was some hesitation; in the XVII. Corps nothing of importance took place, except a few falsely interpreted orders which made void some slightly successful results.

In the XI. Corps the successes of the previous day were continued. At about 6 P.M. a finely conducted charge drove the enemy from all the positions they had previously conquered and for which they had paid heavily. But evening was drawing near and, in order to conform with the orders of the general-inchief, though much to their distress, Gen. de Langle de Cary and his troops were obliged to retire.

The battle of the Meuse was ended; and Gen. de Langle, in general order No. 27, on the evening of Aug. 28, said: " The Army inflicted heavy losses upon the enemy, yesterday and to-day. It returns to the Aisne line, in accordance with orders received, to prepare for the offensive in a new direction." While the IV. Army was fighting, the III. Army remained practically inactive opposite the German V. Army, which showed no particular dash.

Bellies of Signy-1'Abbaye

On the left of the French IV. Army Gen. Dubois was fighting on the same day (Aug. 28) at Signy-1'Abbaye against troops as numerous as they were badly commanded. A German Army (XII. Active Corps, XII. Res. Corps and XIX. Active Corps), of which the French staff knew only the XII. Active Corps, was advancing towards Rethel, in the gap between the IV. and V. Armies. On the 28th, at 3 A.M., the outposts of the Moroccan Div. (Gen. Humbert) were attacked; the Zouave Regt., threatened with envelopment, escaped towards the S.E., after three hours' fighting, leaving the road to Signy-l'Abbaye open to the enemy, who entered, at II A.M., after a slight engagement. This German advance to the S., towards Rethel, threatened the communications between the IX. Corps and the troops in the rear, and cut off those between the French IV. and V. Armies. Gen. Dubois then gave the Humbert Div., which was very flexibly quartered in the region N. of Launois (6 km. S.E. of Signy-l'Abbaye), orders to attack Signy-1'Abbaye. A fierce battle was engaged midway, at Dommery, which was taken, lost and retaken. The fighting front spread northward, both sides being reinforced. At nightfall nothing was decided, but the enemy's advance to the S. was checked. The commander of the 17th Div. (J. B. Dumas) could hear the guns from La Marfee, and claimed leave to hasten in that direction. The 9th Ca y. Div. gave the support of its guns to the Moroccan Div., but would have done better to interpose between Signy-1'Abbaye and Rethel. A French infantry and cuirassier detachment took up position at NovionPornin, thus cutting off the road to Rethel. But although the enemy were unable to enter Novion-Pornin they remained in touch, and the following morning entered the town without resistance, its defenders having withdrawn to join their respective corps. Thus, on the morning of the 29th, the road to Rethel was in the hands of the enemy; the IV. Army was retreating; the IX. Corps was still under orders to cover the left of the IV. Army and to remain in touch with the V. Army. But the enemy had now interposed between the IX. Corps and the V. Army. The commander of the IV. Army, who was not yet informed of the battle of Signy-l'Abbaye, gave orders, on the evening of Aug. 28, to maintain the positions: in the PoixTerron region on the 29th, and before Rethel on the 30th. Gen. Dubois decided to interpose between Signy-l'Abbaye and Rethel. He sent the 9th Ca y. Div. to the S. of the forest of Signy; gave orders to the J. B. Dumas Div. to advance on and capture Novion-Pornin; to the Moroccan Div. to act as a screen in front of the J. B. Dumas Div. while this movement from the N.E. to the S.W. was being effected, then to stop the fighting and take up position E. of that division.

By the evening, not without fighting or without difficulty, and in spite of a whole German Army to oppose the proposed manoeuvre, Gen. Dubois was in front of Rethel, at the spot where the situation made his presence necessary. On the same day he was to pass under the command of Gen. Foch, commander of an army in formation, the IX. Army. The French army, on the evening of Aug. 29, was no longer the French army of Aug. 22; it was soon to become the army of the Marne. (V.L.E.C.) (4.) Battle Of Charleroi On Aug. 21, 22, and 23 1914 the French V. Army fought the battle of Charleroi, E. and W. of that place, in the angle formed by the rivers Sambre and Meuse.

By Aug. 20 1914 the forward movement of the German rightwing armies into Belgium, and the failure of the offensive of the French I. and II. Armies, had caused a modification in Gen. Joffre's original plan of campaign; and the plan of operations, after being adapted each day to the general situation, finally took a definitely new shape. Broadly speaking the intention now was to make the principal attack through Luxemburg and Belgian Luxemburg with the object of threatening the communications of such German forces as had crossed the Meuse between Namur and the Dutch frontier. This duty devolved primarily on the III. and IV. Armies of the French. In the S. the I. and II. Armies were to make a secondary offensive between Metz and the Vosges to hold the enemy, who might otherwise be able to take in flank the French advancing through Luxemburg; and the French V. Army and the British army were to act upon the offensive, though this offensive would depend almost entirely on success by the III. and IV. Armies to their right. The offensive of those armies, however, collapsed, and this had an immediate effect upon the French V. and British Armies in the zone Charleroi-Mons, for they were then left in an isolated state some 40 m. to the N. of the remainder of the French battlefront. It has been said that " the battle of Charleroi was lost before it was fought "; and though this statement may be demurred to, the peculiar situation of the V. Army must be borne in mind in studying the battle.

On the evening of Aug. 20 1914 the situation of the V. Army was as follows: Of the I. Corps (reinforced by the 8th Infantry Brigade) the main body was W. of Dinant, with detachments on the Meuse from Revin to Namur, and on the Sambre from Namur to Floreffe; the 51st Reserve Div. attached to the corps was about Rocroi en route for Dinant. The X. Corps (reinforced by the 37th Div.) had its main body in the area Fosses-Philippeville, with detachments along the Sambre from Ham to Tamines. The III. Corps (reinforced by the 38th Div.) had its main body in the area Gerpinnes-Joumioux-Gourdinnes, with detachments on the Sambre from Rosalies to Marchiennes. The cavalry corps of Gen. Sordet was behind the Brussels-Charleroi canal, with detachments holding the passages from Gosselies to Seneffe. The head of the XVIII. Corps - which had been transferred from the II. Army - had reached Beaumont in its march to Thuin. The 53rd and 69th Reserve Divs. of Gen. Valabregue were in the area Vervins-Hirson. Army headquarters were at Signy-lePetit. The V. Army was commanded by Gen. Charles Louis Lanrezac, an officer with an extremely high reputation in France. On April 10 1914 he had been made a member of the Conseil Superieur de la Guerre.

Throughout the 10th the French cavalry had been in contact with that of the Germans. North of the Sambre this contact had been gained by the cavalry of the I., X. and III. Corps, while the cavalry corps of Gen. Sordet was in touch with German mounted troops on the line Charleroi-Nivelles. It was on this day that there arrived from G.H.Q. the orders for Gen. Joffre's new offensive. The orders were to the effect that all information pointed to the intention of the Germans to carry out an outflanking movement in the north. The French III. and IV. Armies had been ordered to march against the line NeufchMteau-Arlon. As for the V. Army, its task was to pivot on Namur and the Meuse, and to seek out the main enemy mass in the north. On the left of the V. Army the British army would advance towards Soignies in the direction of Nivelles.

Gen. Lanrezac considered that it was not possible to carry out the order, so far as it affected his V. Army, at once. To begin with, the I. Corps, to be made available, must await relief by the 51st Reserve Div., marching up from Rocroi to Dinant, and this relief could not be effected until the evening of the 22nd. The XVIII. Corps on the left might, it is true, be up by the afternoon of the 21st; but even with this reinforcement Gen. Lanrezac considered it imperative to wait until the I. Corps - his best troops - should be available. Then it had to be borne in mind that the British had not yet come up on the left, and that the action of the V. Army would also depend upon the success of the French IV. Army on the right. Gen. Lanrezac therefore confined himself for the moment, while awaiting the opportunity of assuming the offensive, to issuing orders for the occupation of a defensive position by the X. and III. Corps S. of the Sambre.

On the side of the Germans a combined attack had been arranged in which the II. and III. Armies were simultaneously to attack the French V. Army, from the N. and E. respectively. This operation had been ordered on Aug. 20 by Supreme Headquarters, who had directed that the I. and II. Armies were to close up to the line reached on that day, and that an offensive against the enemy W. of Namur was to be carried out in cooperation with an attack by the III. Army against the line of the Meuse between Meuse and Givet, details being left for decision by the Army headquarters concerned. It was stated that at least three French corps were between Namur and Givet, and that more enemy columns were advancing northwards between Namur and Maubeuge. As regards the British the German Intelligence Department was woefully at fault, for it was stated that " a disembarkation of the British forces at Boulogne and the neighbourhood must be taken into account. It is the opinion here, however, that a landing on a large scale has not yet taken place." At the time two-thirds of the British force was within 30 m. of Gen. von Billow - a striking testimony to the celerity and secrecy with which the transport of the British army to the continent had been accomplished.

During the day the Germans attacked the French detachments on the Sambre. Tamines and Rosalies were taken, and early in the afternoon some of the Prussian Guards crossed the river at Auvelais and held it against French counter-attacks. Farther W. the cavalry of Gen. Sordet was also attacked about half-past three in the afternoon, and it was found necessary to send an infantry brigade to its support. Thus Charleroi was threatened from both E. and W., and during the night shells fell upon the railway station in the town. The events of the day had resulted in dislocating Gen. Lanrezac's preparations for the offensive, and at 12:30 P.M. he wrote to Gen. Joffre as follows: " I consider it dangerous to let the V. Army cross the Sambre during the 22nd minus on the one hand the I. Corps, which must hold the Meuse until the IV. Army has made sufficient progress N. of Semoy, and minus on the other hand the English who on the 22nd will not be able to get farther than Mons." During the evening a reply came from Gen. Joffre to say that Gen. Lanrezac could choose his own time for the offensive, and he accordingly decided that it would be launched on the 23rd.

Early on the 22nd fighting was resumed all along the French front on the Sambre. The X. Corps was forced back, and during the afternoon the road from Fosse to St. Gerard was crowded with artillery, infantry and transport moving southward, which was probably the disquieting incident witnessed by Sir John French in his visit to the zone of the V. Army on this day. Fosse was occupied by the Germans about 8 P.M. Farther W. the III. Corps had likewise to give ground. Severe fighting took place early in the afternoon round Chatelet, and both divisions had to retire, the 5th towards Tarcienne and the 6th to Nalinnes. By one o'clock the III. Corps had definitely to renounce its grip on the southern outskirts of Charleroi. The city had witnessed fighting of extraordinary severity, and according to some accounts it was lost and won five times before the Germans were permanently masters of it. In the narrow streets between the Sambre and the canal the carnage was almost indescribable, and in places the dead and wounded blocked the way to those who were still unscathed. Here and there the bodies of the slain formed ramparts from which sharpshooters kept up a murderous fire; and the Germans as they pressed on marched on a veritable chaussee of corpses. A French survivor has left on record a vivid description of the scene in the town. " In the narrow streets the Germans pushed on in close order, and the French guns made such havoc in their ranks that the air was full of flying arms and heads and legs, of boots and helmets and swords and guns, that it did not seem to be real - it looked like some burlesque. Even one of the gunners turned sick at the sight and turned to his commander saying, ' For the love of God, Colonel, shall I go on?' And the Colonel, with folded arms, replied, ' Fire away.' " As for the XVIII. Corps, it came upon the field, but was S. of the Sambre between Thuin and Malines instead of being, as Gen. Lanrezac had hoped, on the Mons-Charleroi road in touch with the British. The Cavalry Corps of Gen. Sordet had fallen back during the night to Solre, and in the afternoon was sent to guard the crossings from Jeumont to Thuin, and also to hold the cross-roads at Merbes Ste. Marie on the far side of the river. The night march following on long and arduous work in Belgium had been fatiguing to the horses, and the cavalry corps was in need of rest. Gen. Joffre had prescribed that it was to move to the British left, but Gen. Lanrezac considered that it was not in a fit state to move until the evening of the 23rd. It was not, however, until the 26th that it arrived on the outer flank of the British in the battle of Le Cateau.

To Gen. Lanrezac on the evening of the 22nd the situation of the V. Army seemed grave, but by no means desperate. Only two of his corps, the X. and III., had been engaged, and if these had suffered heavily they had also made the enemy pay the price. Withdrawn to more open terrain, where their artillery could render better support, they could re-form and, so he hoped, in their turn take the offensive. Further, the I. Corps was intact and now becoming available on the right, as was also the case with the XVIII. Corps on the other flank; and the reserve divisions of Gen. Valabregue were coming up to support it. And as for the British, they were now arriving in position on the left round Mons. In one way Gen. Lanrezac was much more fortunate than he knew. Gen. von Billow had attacked prematurely by forcing the Sambre on the 22nd instead of waiting for the attack of the III. Army against the Namur-Givet section of the Meuse to take effect, and the retirement of the V. Army during the 22nd had seriously discounted the German chances of enveloping it.

The chief interest in the battle of Charleroi is bound up with the narrative of the operations of Aug. 23, the day on which the British forces were engaged in the battle of Mons on the left of Gen. Lanrezac's army. Particulars of the battle were long shrouded in mystery, and the phrase "L'enigme de Charleroi" even came into current use.

On the morning of Aug. 23 the situation of the French V. Army was as follows: The I. Corps had one division echelonned from Sart St. Laurent to Lesves; the main body were assembling in the area Ermerton-sur-Biert-Anthee; three battalions were detached to Namur; the 51st Reserve Div. was holding the Meuse from Hermeton to Yvoir; all bridges had been destroyed except those at Dinant and Hastiere. The X. Corps had its right on the high ground S. of Fosse and Vitrivel, left at Scry. The III. Corps (reinforced by a brigade from the XVIII. Corps) was deployed on the line Gerpinnes-Nalines-Claquedent. The XVIII. Corps was on the line Ham-sur-Heure-Thuin, with detachments on the Sambre as far as Merbes-le-Château. The cavalry corps of Gen. Sordet was holding the passages of the Sambre from the left of the XVIII. Corps to Maubeuge. The 53 rd and 69th Reserve Divs. (Gen. Valabregue) were about Solre le Château.

Gen. Lanrezac's orders were to the effect that the X., III., and XVIII. Corps should hold on to their positions; the I. Corps should form up on the right of the X., and, if possible, act against the left flank of the Germans attacking the corps. The reserve divisions of Gen. Valabregue were to relieve the cavalry corps of Gen. Sordet, which was to make for Maubeuge with the object of emerging eventually on the left flank of the British army.

On the German side the orders of Gen. von Billow were briefly as follows: - The attack was to be continued on the 23rd on the following frontages: the VII. Corps, left of the line ThuinBoussu-Cerfontaine, was to cover the right of the II. Army from Maubeuge and to reconnoitre in the direction of Avesnes; the X. Reserve Corps was to attack E. of the line CharleroiPhilippeville; the X. Corps was to attack E. of line TaminesMette-Rosee; the Guard Corps was to attack on the left of the X.; the line Fontaine-Valmont-Mettet was to be crossed at 8 A.M.

In his published account of the battle Gen. Lanrezac divides it into two distinct phases, the first from daybreak until 4 P.M., and the second from that hour until nightfall. In the first phase the course of the battle was as follows: The right wing of the X. Corps was driven back, and it re-formed between Scry and St. Gerard; the I. Corps deployed on the high ground round St. Gerard with its right about Sart-St. Laurent. This operation was completed about midday, and the I. Corps was then well placed to act against the flank of the Guard Corps, which was then attacking the X. Corps sharply. Gen. Franchet d'Esperey, commanding the I. Corps, instantly resolved to seize the opportunity and to attack au fond. His artillery prepared the way by an intense fire, and the Germans, apparently taken by surprise, suspended their attack to deal with this new danger. It was now about one o'clock, and Gen. Franchet d'Esperey was about to launch his infantry when disquieting news reached him from his right rear. The 51st Reserve Div., which had relieved the I. Corps on the Meuse, had failed in its task, and had allowed troops of the German III. Army to cross the river. The report went on to say that the reserve battalions had fallen back in disorder and that a detachment of the enemy had occupied Onhaye behind the V. Army. Gen. Franchet d'Esperey had no alternative but to suspend his attack and to send a division and a brigade to deal with the peril behind. Emboldened by the enforced inaction of the French the Guard Corps again pressed on, its artillery maintaining a very severe fire. The French X. Corps and the fraction left of the I. Corps resisted energetically, with the result that in this portion of the field but little ground was lost, and connexion was still maintained with the fortress of Namur.

While such was the state of affairs on the right wing, little was, in this first phase, taking place on the left wing. But after four o'clock a change for the worse set in in that portion of the field. The left wing of the III. Corps was taken by surprise and driven back by a sharp attack, with the result that the whole III. Corps fell back in confusion to the line Chastres-Morialme, while the XVIII. Corps, with its right now uncovered by the retirement of the III. Corps, was forced to withdraw to the stream which runs from Thuilles to Thuin. The reserve divisions of Gen. Valabregue, however, had come up to Bousignies and Thirimont. On the right wing, in this second phase of the battle, the X. Corps had been forced to admit a loss of ground, but it was only slight, and when night fell the corps was holding the line Graux-Mettet-Wagnee. As for the I. Corps the portion left at St. Gerard was holding its ground.

Reference has been made to the danger which was threatening the right rear of the V. Army by a German advance across the Meuse. The attack in this quarter was being carried out by the German III. Army in which the XII. Corps had been ordered to force the passage of the river at Houx and Dinant. To the right the XII. Reserve Corps had been directed to seize Yvoir, while on the left the XIX. Corps was ascending the river on the right bank towards Givet and Fumay.

During the 23rd, as already related, Gen. Franchet d'Esperey had been called upon to deal with the presence of a detachment of the III. Army which had forced its way over the river. A brigade was directed upon Anthee, and to it was attached the provisional cavalry brigade from the X. Corps. On arrival at Anthee, about 6 P.M., the cavalry proceeded to reconnoitre in the direction of Dinant, as well as the villages of Onhaye and Leune. Some sharp fighting took place, and about io P.M. the French infantry carried Onhaye with the bayonet. It appears that this attack by the French came upon the Germans somewhat by surprise, and the units of the III. on the right bank of the Meuse were in consequence retained there for the moment.

In addition to the above-mentioned French detachment the 2nd Div. had been sent from the I. Corps. That division moved upon Morville but was not engaged.

At the end of Aug. 23 Gen. Lanrezac weighed in his mind the various happenings of the day, and quickly came to the conclusion that immediate retreat was called for on the part of the V. Army. The chief causes of his decision are given by himself as follows: In the first place he had learnt definitely that the offensive of the IV. Army had failed and that the beaten troops were falling back to the Meuse with the left of the army on Mezieres. The line of the river between that place and Givet was guarded by but a few battalions of reserve troops, whose efficiency Gen. Lanrezac had reason to suspect. The rear of the V. Army was thus threatened once again. In the second place Namur had fallen, and this incident undoubtedly made a profound difference to the strategic situation; in addition the roads on the right flank of the V. Army, already encumbered with thousands of civilian refugees, would be further blocked by the retreating Belgian troops from the fortress. Thirdly, the British army was checked, and l'on peut prevoir qu'elle va 'etre obligee de retrograder. It is perhaps a sufficient refutation to this statement to say that half the British army had not been engaged at all, that the other half had held off the Germans without serious difficulty, that the total British losses were less than 2,000, while a moderate estimate of the casualties inflicted on the Germans would be more than twice that number, and that when night fell the universal opinion among the British rank and file was that they had won a victory. Gen. Lanrezac, however, issued orders for the V. Army to retire on the 24th to the line Givet-Philippeville-Beaumont-Maubeuge. Amongst the officers of his own staff the decision does not seem to have been well received; and Gen. Lanrezac relates that " quelques officiers de mon etat-major loin de reconnaitre ma clairvoyance me taxent de pusillanimite; pour eux je ne suis ` qu'un catastrophard' dont it faut se debarrasser au plus vile." On the 24th the retreat began before daybreak, and the line Givet-Maubeuge was reached without incident other than the action of rear guards, who easily held off the advanced guards of the German II. Army. The right flank was covered by the 2nd Div. of the I. Corps, which fell back slowly from position to position without any interference by the enemy, and at nightfall it bivouacked immediately N.W. of Givet. (F. E. W.*) (5.) Mons And Le Cateau The battles of Mons and Le Cateau were fought by the British on Aug. 23 and 26 1914 respectively, against the extreme right wing of the Germans during the advance of the latter through Belgium and northern France.

When England declared war on Germany during the night of Aug. 4-5 her forces available to take the field consisted of a cavalry division, six infantry divisions, and some battalions of lineof-communication troops, the whole forming the Expeditionary Force for service overseas. The Government decided to retain two divisions temporarily in the United Kingdom and to transport the rest of the Expeditionary Force to France. The first ships sailed on Aug. 9, and, thanks to the perfection of the arrangements for mobilization and transportation, the operation was completed without a hitch by Aug. 18. Sir John French, the British commander-in-chief, had reached his headquarters at Le Cateau on the previous day; and his army consisted of the I. Corps (1st and 2nd Divs.), Lt.-Gen. Sir Douglas Haig; II. Corps (3rd and 5th Divs.), Lt.-Gen. Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien; and the cavalry division under Maj.-Gen. Allenby. Concentration was completed by the 10th S. of Maubeuge, and the post assigned to the British was on the left of the French V. Army, preparatory to an advance N. of the Sambre towards Soignies.

The two following days were spent in moving forward to positions about Mons which were reached on the 22nd; and on Aug. 23 the position of the Allied forces in the N.W. of France was as follows: From Valenciennes by Lille to Dunkirk were some French territorial divisions, of which one, the 84th, was at Conde. Working from left to right, then came along the canal the British 19th Bde., made up of battalions of line-of-communication troops. Then came the 5th Div., while next on the right was the 3rd Div., holding a salient round Mons as far S.E. as Villers St. Ghislain. The line was continued by the British I. Corps farther south-eastwards to Peissant. The cavalry division was in rear of the British left, except the 5th Ca y. Bde., which was posted in advance of the right flank. The French V. Army, farther to the right, was now in rear of the line held by the British.

The British position was thus in shape somewhat that of a broad arrow, with the two army corps practically at right angles to one another and facing, generally speaking, E. and N. respectively. As matters turned out the German attack was directed almost entirely against the II. Corps, and here on the left the situation was favourable to the British, for the canal made a valuable defensive line, while the terrain on the farther side held numerous difficulties for the attackers. Muddy ditches and barbed-wire fences impeded their movement, although on the other hand groups of trees and bushes gave useful cover from view and were of service for the enemy's machine-guns. South of the canal the crests of the high ground afforded the British useful sites for artillery, but the slag heaps of the numerous mines limited observation to some extent. The line of the canal, however, had one very disadvantageous feature: after running from Conde to Mons in a mathematically straight line, it forms a loop round Mons, thus constituting a marked salient. Such a position might easily be found to be untenable, and Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien had prepared another and more defensible line in rear running through Frameries-Paturages-Wasmes-Boussu. During the 22nd Sir John French had visited the area of the French V. Army on his right, and had been somewhat disconcerted to meet columns of infantry and artillery moving south. As the left of the V. Army, formed by some reserve divisions, was drawn back, and the centre and right were in process of retiring, Sir John French considered that his own position on the Mons canal might quickly become very precarious. He accordingly informed Gen. Lanrezac that he would hold his position for 24 hours, but that the retirement of the V. Army might require a withdrawal of the British, after that time, to the Maubeuge position.

On the German side the battle of Charleroi (see above) was not producing all the effect hoped for by the Germans. The German plan had been that the II. Army was to attack S. across the Sambre, while the III. Army was to cooperate by attacking W. across the Meuse, towards Mettet, sending a strong force across the Meuse by Dinant towards Rocroi to bar the French line of retreat. As for the extreme right army of the Germans (the I. under Gen. von Kluck, who was temporarily subordinated to Gen. von Billow) during the 23rd, it was, generally speaking, to conform to this offensive movement. Gen. von Billow had, however, made the mistake of attacking prematurely with his II. Army; the combined movement with the III. Army was unsuccessful, and consequently the trend of the fighting drifted westwards to where the advanced guards of the I. Army were coming into contact with the British on the Mons-Conde canal.

When day broke on Aug. 23 Gen. von Kluck had three active corps and Gen. von Billow one (the VII.), or about 1 so,000 men and 600 guns, within striking distance of the British force of some 75,000 men and 300 guns. Further, Gen. von Billow had been for two days successfully engaged against the French V. Army, which had been pushed back some way S. of the Sambre. Not only, therefore, was the British army heavily outnumbered, but it was becoming isolated. The great advantages which the Germans possessed in this respect were, however, neutralized by their lack of accurate information. By the 20th it had not been definitely ascertained that the British Expeditionary Force had completed its landing, and its line of advance when landed was expected to be towards Lille. Not only at the time, but for several days after the battle of Mons, it was believed that the British were based on Calais and the ports near it instead of upon Le Havre and Rouen.

On the evening of Aug. 2 2 the German I. Army had halted E. of the line Mignault-Laugrenee (IX. Corps), Chaussee Notre Dame de Louvignies-Thoricourt (III. Corps), Silly-0111gnies (IV. Corps), Niove (II. Corps). The III. Reserve Corps had been detached towards Antwerp, while the IV. Reserve Corps had just arrived at Brussels. Army headquarters were at Hal. The II. Ca y. Corps under Gen. von der Marwitz was W. of Ath. Gen. von Kluck's task for the 23rd was to continue the advance of his I. Army into the area N.W. of Maubeuge, and he issued orders in which the destination of his various corps were to be as follows: The II. Corps was to be at La Hemaide, the IV. Corps at Basecles and Strambuges, and the III. Corps at St. Ghislain and Jemappes. The high ground on the S. side of the canal to be occupied. The IX. Corps was to cover the movement on the Maubeuge side. The IV. Reserve Corps to follow in rear as second line. The heads of the IV., III. and IX. Corps were to cross the line Ath-Roeulx at 8:30 A.M.

The German I. Army was thus to march in a south-easterly direction. The British II. Corps on the Mons canal was facing north. Consequently the left of the army of Gen. von Kluck must collide with the II. Corps in the neighbourhood of Mons. As a matter of fact the German commander was in ignorance of the position of the British force; in the orders referred to above there is no mention of the fact that it was along the Mons canal, and, indeed, the German cavalry had reported the ground clear for 50 miles. The march of the I. Army, on the 23rd, was therefore shrouded in the fog of war, and quite early in the day delay was caused by a report that Tournai was held by British troops. These were actually two French territorial battalions, but, under the impression that they were British, orders were sent to the IV., III. and IX. Corps to halt on the Leuze-Mons-Binche road in view of the possibility that it might be necessary to make a wheel to the right so as to envelop Tournai. Later reports showed that the British were in strength on the canal, and that the troops at Tournai, now known to be French, had retired towards Lille. The advance of the German I. Army was therefore resumed. But the orders for this resumption of the march were late in reaching the III. and IV. Corps, with results that reacted on the German chances in the battle.

The left column of Gen. von Kluck's army was the 17th Div. of the IX. Corps, and its march was directed towards St. Symphorien and Villers St. Ghislain. On the British side the I. Corps was on the line generally Harmignies-Peissant, and as it faced a gap between the German I. and II. Armies its share in the battle of Mons was destined to be very small. It was shelled by German artillery, covered in its advance by the 16th Dragoons, but the British casualties were slight, only about zoo, and these were chiefly in two batteries upon which the German fire was concentrated. Of active fighting there was none save for some spirited minor actions between the British divisional cavalry and cyclists on the one hand and German patrols on the other. The bulk of the day's fighting fell upon the salient formed by the canal loop round Mons. So soon as Gen. von Kluck had grasped the real state of affairs - namely, that the British were not at Tournai but along the Mons-Conde canal - his plan appears to have been to envelop both the British flanks while bombarding the front heavily with his guns. The envelopment of the British left did not succeed, owing chiefly to the delay referred to above.

The battle opened in earnest about io:30 A.M. with a bombardment by some batteries of the German IX. Corps which came into action on a ridge to the N. of Orbourg, and from that time onward the guns were gradually extended westwards as battery after battery, first of the IX. and then of the III. Corps, came into action. At I P.M. the Germans had established a great superiority of artillery against the front of the British II. Corps. The actual loop of the canal was held by the 4th Royal Fusiliers and the 4th Middlesex Regt., the former being responsible for the bridge at Nimy while the right of the latter regiment held the crossing at Orbourg. At both these places the fighting was very severe, but the British musketry proved a terrible surprise to the Germans, who came on in masses which it was impossible to miss, and the British guns, though outnumbered by the German artillery, gave most effective support. Finally, however, the Germans were able through their superiority in numbers to make a converging attack against the salient from the N. and E., and the British were gradually forced back E. and S.E. of Mons. But the Germans were cautious about pushing into the town, and it was not until after 7 o'clock that the 84th Regt. of the 18th Div. of the IX. Corps entered Mons, where it was thrown for a time into confusion by heavy fire. The British 3rd Div. fell back to a line running E. and W. through Nouvelles.

West of Mons the left division of the German III. Corps attacked the left of the British 3rd Div.; and still farther W. along the canal the right division of the III. Corps, and later towards evening, the advanced guards of the IV. Corps, attacked the 5th Div. of the British. The retirement of the 3rd Div. from the salient round Mons inevitably led to a slight withdrawal of the 5th Div., and by nightfall the II. Corps was on a line which showed an average retirement of some three miles from the canal.

During the late afternoon and evening Sir John French had been receiving disquieting news as to the situation of the French V. Army on his right. At II:30 P.M. a telegram arrived confirming the reports, to the following effect: Namur had fallen during the day; the French V. Army had been heavily attacked, and was falling back to the line Givet-Philippeville-Maubeuge; Hastiere had been captured by the Germans; the Meuse was falling rapidly and had added to the difficulty of defence. In these circumstances Sir John French decided to retreat to a previously reconnoitred line from Jerlain eastwards to Maubeuge, and orders were issued accordingly in the small hours of the 24th. The withdrawal was effected without serious loss, and for a moment Sir John French thought of taking advantage of the fortifications of Maubeuge; but recollections of the fatal attraction of Metz for Bazaine induced him to pass the fortress, and orders were issued at 3 P.M. on the 24th for the retreat to be continued to the line Le Cateau-Cambrai. After Bavai the retreat was handicapped by an incident of terrain, for the Fora de Mormal compelled the British army to march in two separated portions, the I. Corps E. of the forest and the II. on the west. In the latter corps a crossing of routes had taken place, with the result that the 3rd Div. had changed places with the 5th and was now on the outer flank. Towards nightfall on the 24th the pressure of the enemy became greater on the British left, but the British cavalry division performed excellent service in keeping the enemy at bay, and early on the 2 5th the retreat was continued, again covered skilfully by the mounted troops. During the night the detrainment of the 4th Div. from England was almost completed, and it moved to its position towards Cambrai.

Meanwhile reports which had been coming in during the day (25th) showed that the French were retiring all along the line, and Sir John French had now to come to a momentous decision. Was he to stand and fight on the line to which the British were now retiring (Le Cateau-Cambrai), or ought he to continue the retreat at daybreak on the 26th? After long and anxious deliberation the commander-in-chief came to the conclusion that the retreat should be continued, and orders to that effect were accordingly issued. The order was complied with by the I. Corps. That corps had been delayed in starting on the 2 5th, and had only been able to reach the neighbourhood of Landrecies. When darkness fell the Germans sent forward advanced troops in motors and lorries through the Fork de Mormal, and this culminated in a violent attack on Landrecies, which was, however, beaten off, chiefly by the 4th Guards Brigade. Sir Douglas Haig then proceeded to carry out the orders of the commanderin-chief, and the retirement of the I. Corps was continued in the direction of Guise. In the II. Corps, however, shortly after midnight Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien came to the conclusion that, in view of the fact that many of his troops had only just come in after over 20 hours of heavy and continuous work, and that the enemy were close along his front, it was out of the question to continue his retirement at dawn. He therefore issued orders to fight on the ridge just S. of the Le Cateau-Cambrai road.

When dawn broke on the 26th Smith-Dorrien's force was disposed as follows from right to left: The greater part of the cavalry was between Le Cateau and the Sambre; later it moved to the left flank to get in touch with the French I. Ca y. Corps of Gen. Sordet, which all through the 25th was moving in rear of the battlefield to protect the British left. Then came the 5th Div., which held the front from the southern outskirts of Le Cateau to Troisvilles, with the 19th Bde. in support. The 3rd Div. held the centre as far as Caudry, and on the left lay the 4th Div., part of which had moved forward N. of the Cambrai-Le Cateau road the day before to protect the retirement of the II. Corps, but the left of which was now about Esnes. Thence to Cambrai was a gap filled by the 4th Ca y. Bde., and later by Gen. Sordet's cavalry corps. The French 84th Territorial Div. was retiring slowly through Cambrai.

The German force on the heels of the British II. Corps was the I. Army, whose commander, Gen. von Kluck, at one time or another before, during, and after the battle was the victim of faulty conclusions. He believed that the whole of the British Expeditionary Force was opposite him; he diagnosed that it was holding a position running N. and S., whereas the line of the II. Corps was almost due E. and W., and he was sure that it was either retreating or about to retreat in a westerly direction. His plan was similar to that which had been tried at Mons, a frontal attack mainly with artillery followed by enveloping movements against both flanks. The II. Corps was to march through Cambrai and the IV. Reserve Corps to Catherieres, thus enveloping the British left. The IV. Corps was to make the attack on the British front from the W. of Le Cateau to Caudry. The III. Corps was to march W. of the Sambre on Le Cateau in order to envelop the British right. The II. Ca y. Corps under Gen. von der Marwitz was to pin the British left until the German infantry should arrive upon the field.

Soon after daybreak the British were engaged upon both flanks. On the right some troops of the German IV. Corps entered Le Cateau and some confused fighting ensued, while on the left the 4th Div. became engaged with the II. Ca y. Corps of the enemy. Here the 4th Div., after defending an advanced position for some time, fell back slowly to a second line and brought the enemy advance to an abrupt standstill. These events were but preliminaries, and the battle of Le Cateau proper opened with a heavy bombardment, which grew in intensity as the artillery of four German corps came into action. The British artillery made a spirited reply, though heavily outmatched in numbers and weight of metal, and dealt severely with attempts of the German infantry to push forward. These attempts were, however, practically limited to the ground near Le Cateau on the British right, and to the village of Caudry, which now formed a salient in the centre of the line. Throughout the forenoon constant infantry attacks varied by bouts of heavy shelling were made against the latter village, from which about noon the defenders were forced out by artillery fire; but a counter-attack at once regained part of it and the German infantry advance was held up.

It was now about 1 P.M. and the line of the II. Corps was still everywhere intact in spite of the superior numbers arrayed against it. But on the right the situation was becoming grave, for the 5th Div. with its right flank uncovered by the retirement of the I. Corps was being threatened by more and more German columns converging upon the field. Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien realized that the moment had come when at all costs the fight must be broken off if his force was to be saved. He was now faced with one of the most difficult operations of war - that of extricating tired troops from contact with an enemy largely superior in force. Orders were, however, sent to break off the fight and to continue the retirement of the previous days, and the operation was very neatly accomplished with entire success, difficult though it was. Against the exposed flank of the 5th Div. the Germans were now vigorously pressing, and this to some extent precipitated matters, for before the orders for retreat had reached all concerned, the British right had given way before overwhelming superiority of numbers. But the Germans failed to exploit this success, and the withdrawal of the II. Corps, thanks largely to the devotion of the British artillery and to the arrival of Gen. Sordet's cavalry corps on the left, which held off the German enveloping movement in that quarter, was effected with less difficulty than had been expected. Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien successfully withdrew his columns, and marched them swiftly to the Somme at and near Ham, and by the 28th had got the II. Corps safely across the river.

The losses of the British had been severe, and 38 guns had been taken by the enemy. The men were exhausted after the severity of the marching and fighting of the first stage of the war, and a vigorous pursuit by the Germans might have meant disaster for the British II. Corps. The retreat, however, was practically unmolested, for Gen. von Kluck hurried S.W. instead of S., and thus missed a chance not likely often to occur in war.

(F. E. W.*)

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