Imágenes de páginas

were not temporary, but have been a constant progress, rendering vain the attacks of the Germans.

It has been demonstrated by facts that Gen. Joffre has read the plans of the German commanders and is ready for them everywhere and always. As for the allied troops, they have gained the qualities they perhaps lacked most in the beginning, particularly as regards rapid organization for the defensive and the digging of trenches. Today our troops are as expert in trench work as are the soldiers of the enemy.

France remains unconquered. Since Sept. 6 she has registered only successes, in spite of the massing against her of fifty German army corps. These fifty German corps, it must be said, and said again, for such is the truth, are still facing us. Fifteen German army corps and the whole of the Austrian force are facing Russia. Yet the formidable mass which assails us has not made us flinch in any part of our line and in many cases our enemy has drawn back under the weight of the Allies' efforts.

Four Months of War

French Official Summary

The Bulletin des Armées, the newspaper published by the French Government for the soldiers at the front, in the issue of Dec. 6, 1914, contained an article bearing the title, "Four Months of War," which was a summary account of the events that had taken place since the outbreak of hostilities. This document estimated as fifty-two army corps and ten cavalry divisions the military forces which Germany had hurled against France. In a chapter entitled "Our Reverses in August," it summed up the events that preceded the battle of the Marne, as presented below.

[ocr errors]

UR concentration had to be flexible enough to enable us to bring our chief effort to bear upon the spot where the enemy would prove most active. The violation of Belgium made us acquainted with the intentions of the German staff-the great conflict would take place in the north.

As we were obliged, before engaging in it, to wait for the coming into line of the English army, which was to take place only on Aug. 20, we at once took measures to retain the greatest possible number of German troops in Alsace and in Lorraine.

In Alsace our first attack, which was badly conducted, took us to Mülhausen, but we could not hold the city (Aug. 7.)

A second attack, led by General Pau, brought us back there. On Aug. 20 we held the road to Colmar through the

Vosges and the plain. The enemy had sustained great losses.

But from that time the unfortunate events in Lorraine and, Belgium forced us to limit the field of operations in Alsace as well as the intensity of our efforts (Aug. 20.)

In Lorraine our offensive had first been brilliantly successful. On Aug. 19 we had reached Sarrebourg, Les Etangs, Dieuze, Morhange Delme and ChâteauSalins.

But on the 20th, 23d, and 24th we were intrenched on thoroughly fortified territory, resumed the offensive.

On the 22d, 23d, and 24th we were compelled to fall back on Grand-Courenne de Nancy and south of Lunéville.

On the 25th simultaneous counterattacks from the armies of Gens. Dubail

[ocr errors]

and Castelnau greatly strengthened our positions.

But seven or eight German army corps and four divisions of cavalry had overcome the magnificent resistence of Liége. Every one knows of the conditions under which the French took the offensive in Belgium with the armies of Gens. Ruffey and Langle de Cary.

As soon as the English Army was ready in the region of Mons we took the offensive in Belgian Luxemburg with the armies of Gens. Ruffey and Langle de Cary. This offensive was at once checked with great losses on our side.

Here again the ground had been strongly fortified by the enemy. There was also, in some of our army corps, a failure to transmit and carry out orders (Aug. 21-23.)

On the left of these two armies and in conjunction with the English army Gen. Lanrezac's army, anxious for its right wing, then fell back (Aug. 24) on the line that stretches between Beaumont and Givet.

On the 25th and 26th the English army, kept in check at Landrecies and Le Cateau, withdrew toward the Marne.

These days were marked by bloody contests. The enemy lost heavily, but constantly gained ground.

At that time we either had to hold the ground under the perilous conditions resulting from the retreat of our left wing or else retreat along the whole front until it were possible to resume the offensive under favorable conditions.

The Commander in Chief decided upon the latter alternative.

The first object to attain was withdrawing in good order while weakening and delaying the enemy by constant attacks. Several of these attacks were brilliantly conducted, especially those of Lanrezac's army at Saint-Quentin and Guise, of Langle's army on the Meuse, and of Ruffey's army further east. They were supported from Nancy to the Vosges by Castelnau's and Dubail's armies. In order to prepare for the offensive a new army had been formed, that of Gen.

Maunoury. It was to be concentrated in the last days of August in the vicinity of Amiens.

But the advance of the enemy, by stages of forty-five kilometers a day, was so swift that Gen. Joffre, in order to realize his plan for the offensive, had to order the retreat to be continued.

The army should withdraw to the Aube and as far as the Seine if necessary; everything should be subordinated to preparing a successful offensive.

On Sept. 5 the conditions which the General in Chief sought to realize were fulfilled our left wing (Maunoury's army, the English Army, the army of Lanrezac which was now d'Espérey's army) was no longer in danger of being cut off.

On the contrary, the German right, (Gen. von Kluck,) marching to the south toward Meaux and Coulommiers, was exposing its right wing to Maunoury's


On the evening of the 5th the General in Chief ordered a general advance, adding: "The hour has come to advance at any cost and to die rather than fall back."


As early as Sept. 8 the menace directed by Gen. Maunoury against the German right was beginning to tell.

The enemy brought back from the south to the north two army corps and wheeled about facing west.

Thus it presented a weak point to the English Army, which, having advanced from the line stretching from Rozoy to Lagny, (on the 6th,) straightened its line toward the north, crossed the Marne on the 9th, thus flanking the German Army already battling with Gen. Mau


On the right of the British d'Espéray's army also crossed the Marne, forcing the enemy to retreat, and at the same time supporting the action of its neighbors, that is to say, the English Army on the left and Foch's army on the right.

For it was on our centre, made up of Foch's army, which had been constituted on Aug. 20, that the Germans were going

[merged small][merged small][graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]

(1) Point where Germans failed to hold Nancy, Sept. 12, 1914.
(2) Extreme limits of the dash to Paris, terminating Sept. 8, 1914.

(3) Point to which the first unsuccessful flanking movement against the French left wing extended, Aug. 30, 1914.

(4) Point of extension of similar flanking operations, balked Nov. 12, 1914. (5) Scene of frustrated efforts to break through French centre, Sept. 26, 1914. (6) Line of attacks upon Calais and Dunkirk, defeated Oct. 18, 1914.

(7) Ypres, where desperate and fruitless assaults, ending Nov. 15, 1914, were made by the Germans.

(8) Intrenched line of battle, Feb. 1, 1915.

to seek revenge for the check of their right wing; if they had succeeded in cutting us off between Sézanne and Mailly, the situation would have been reversed with the advantage on their side.

From Sept. 6 to Sept. 9 Foch's army met with repeated assaults, but on the evening of the 9th the left of his army, shifting from west to east toward FèreChampenoise, flanked the Prussian Guard and the Saxons who were advancing southeast of this town.

This bold manoeuvre insured success. The Germans withdrew in great haste, and on the 11th in the morning Gen. Foch entered Châlons-sur-Marne.

On his right Langle de Cary's army had also moved forward, and on the 12th, after spirited encounters, it joined, and added to, the line of Gen. Foch's army.

Meanwhile Ruffey's army (now Darrail's) had succeeded in stretching its lines north, and, although meeting with a stubborn resistance, hastened the German retreat, which was accelerated by the offensive taken by Castelnau's and Dubail's armies from Nancy to the Vosges.

Thanks to this strategic offensive, the campaign turned in our favor. We have maintained this advantage over the enemy ever since.

[ocr errors]


After Sept. 13 the German resistance, strengthened by strong defensive works prepared in advance, checked the French and English pursuit; then began the race for the sea." During this long battle the German staff never lost the hope of turning the allied left wing, while we hoped to be able to outflank their right wing. The result was a race which at the end of October extended the fronts of the opposing armies as far as the North Sea.

In this race the Germans had an advantage over us, namely, the concentric shape of their front which simplified the problem of carrying troops and supplies.

In spite of this advantage, the turning movement attempted by their right, with

[ocr errors]

twelve army corps, six reserve corps, and four corps of cavalry, utterly failed.

This failure confirmed the victory of the Marne.

As early as Sept. 11 Gen. Joffre had directed the effort of Maunoury's army against the German right wing. But this army was not large enough to cope with the situation.

So about Sept. 20 a new army was formed on the left of Maunoury's army and intrusted to Gen. de Castelnau.

This army strongly intrenched itself in the district which stretches over Lassigny, Roye, and Péronne. It was supported on its left by the territorial divisions of Gen. Brugère. (Sept. 21-26.)

But still it was inadequate to achieve our end, and on Sept. 30 further north than the army of Castelnau, Maud'huy's army came to the front, and occupied the region of Arras and Lens, extending toward the north to co-operate with the divisions coming from Dunkirk.

Nevertheless, all these troops, in presence of the strenuous exertions of the enemy, formed too thin a line, a line too extended to allow any breaking.

At that time and at the request of Field Marshal French the transportation of the English Army from the Aisne to the Lys region was decided upon.

The valiant Belgian Army which had left Antwerp on Oct. 9 thanks to the protection of the British and French marines was also on its way to the Yser region to reinforce the barrier which had to be created and maintained.

These moves took time. The English Army was only to come into action by Oct. 20. On the other hand, the Belgian Army, which had been fighting for three months, was momentarily lacking ammunition. Gen. Joffre ordered a new effort.

On Oct. 4 he had intrusted to Gen. Foch the mission of co-ordinating the operations of the armies in the north.

On the 18th he placed at his disposal reinforcements which, continually increasing until Nov. 12, were to form the French army of Belgium under the command of Gen. d'Urbal.

This army, in conjunction with the

Belgians and an English corps, was henceforth to fight between the sea and the Lys River.

The Journal de Genève, judging this phase of the war, has written that the French General Staff, by shifting so swiftly such huge bodies of troops, gave evidence that it had the situation splendidly in hand.

The result of this effort was a total failure of the German attack in Flanders.


This attack was especially violent; twelve army corps and four cavalry corps were massed between the Lys and the sea.

The Emperor was at the head of his armies. He addressed his men, stating that a "decisive blow" was to be delivered. For three weeks the German staff hurled furious assaults in mass formation. But as early as Nov 12 we were in a position to state that the outcome of these assaults had been a victory for the Allies.

From the sea to Dixmude the Belgian Army, Gen. Grossetti and Admiral Ronarc'h held first the railroad from Nieuport to Dixmude, then the left bank of the Yser.

A hostile army corps, which had succeeded in reaching the left bank, was forced to withdraw. It has never been able to go further than Dixmude.

More to the south, from Dixmude to the north of Ypres, a like situation.

The Germans, on Nov. 12, had crossed the river at two points, were pushed back to the other bank, thus giving Gen. Humbert the command of the bridges.

East of Ypres, Gens. Dubois, Balfourrier, and Douglas Haig had not yielded an inch of ground.

Further south the German attack, aiming at our lines of communication, had been particularly violent, but the English and the French regained all the ground that had been momentarily lost and made it impregnable.

During the second half of November the shattered German attacks weakened.

The infantry engaged us less frequently and the artillery showed less activity.

The enemy, in the battle of Ypres alone, had lost at least 120,000 men. Never had such a thoroughly prepared and spirited offensive undergone such a complete failure.


Meanwhile, from the banks of the Lys to the ridges of the Vosges a war of siege was ceaselessly raging. The Bulletin des Armées says:

It is hardly necessary to emphasize the meritorious behavior of our troops in waging this war inch by inch, never yielding, progressing often in spite of the added difficulty of transporting important French and English contingents to the north.

In close conjunction with the armies of the north the armies of Gen. Maud'huy and Gen. de Castelnau held without flinching in the slightest the line between the Lys and Noyon, from the middle of October till the end of November.

Their progress has been continuous since the end of October; our positions in Arras and La Bassée have been strengthened, Quesnoy-en-Santerre has been captured, and in all the encounters with the enemy our artillery and infantry have constantly made gains.

Between the Oise and the Argonne the armies of Maunoury, d'Espérey, and Langle de Cary were confronted with very strong positions, viz., the heights of the Aisne, of Berru, Nogent-l'Abbesse, Moronvilliers, and the wooded hills of Western Argonne.

In September they had to resist a very violent general attack. This attack was a failure, especially east of Rheims, (Sept. 26.)

The Emperor had witnessed this check of his troops just as a week later he was to witness the failure at Ypres.

Our armies, that is to say, Sarrail's and Dubail's, fulfilled with method and success the task intrusted to them, viz., to protect our right flank against attacks on the line from Metz to Thionville; to retain in front of them the greatest possible number of German Army corps;

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »