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They pushed us pretty hard back to our infantry. We were supposed to have done well.
Since then we have been doing infantry work in the trenches. We have been out of work in our trenches; only shrapnel and snipers. Some one described this war as Months of boredom punctuated by moments of terror." It is sad that it is such a bad country for cavalry. Cavalry work here against far superior forces of infantry, like we had the other day, is not good enough. The Germans are dashing good at that house-to-house fighting business.
It is horrible having to leave one's horses; it feels like leaving half one's self behind, and one feels the dual responsibility all the time. I hope we get them on the run soon, then will come chance. They have been having terrific fighting on the line on each side of us, and it has gone well.
I adore war. It is like a big picnic without the objectlessness of a picnic. I've never been so well or so happy. Nobody grumbles at one for being dirty. I've only had my boots off once in the last ten days, and only washed twice.
We are up and standing to our rifles at 5 A. M. when doing this infantry work, and saddled up by 4:30 A. M. when with our horses. Our poor horses don't get their saddles off when we are in trenches.
The dogs and cats left in the deserted villages are piteous, and the wretched inhabitants trekking away with great bunIdles and children in their hands.
I can't make out what has happened to the battle of the Aisne; it seems to have got tired and died.
The Indians had two men killed directly, and said, "All wars are good, but this is a bot'utcha war. Now we advance." A Colonel of a French regiment on our flank was sitting in a pub. in the village when the Germans came around that flank and started firing their Maxim gun. The Colonel and his orderly rushed into the street, and each discharged ten rounds quick, and then went back and finished their drinks. It's horrible when they put "Jack Johnsons into your bivouac at night from about twelve miles off. You can hear them coming for about 30 seconds, and judge whether they are coming for you or a little to one side.
An All-Night Attack
ARIS, Jan. 9, 1915.-The most picturesque, description of night fighting in the trenches written by any French correspondent the front is published today in Le Figaro. It comes from Charles Tardieu, Corporal in an infantry regiment, and is a detailed record, half hour by half hour, of a night of attacks and counterattacks from 6 o'clock in the evening until dawn. After describing three successive German assaults, during which searchlights and flashlights played important parts, the Corporal notes:
2:25 A. M.-All the Corporals run back for ammunition. We had expended
a hundred rounds each. Away we go to our ammunition reserve, hid in a big hole twenty yards to the rear, and we come running back and distribute packages of cartridges. Each man cleans his rifle. An hour passes in silence, broken only by the intermittent volleys and by the moaning of the wounded and dying, some of whom exclaim: "Kamarades, kamarades, drink, drink!" We will look after them when the day breaks.
3:15-Here they come at us again. Bullets whistle over our heads. Our Captain passes the order in whispers not to open fire until the "boches sales reach our wire network, then to shoot like hell. We smile grimly and keep still.
Every minute the firing draws nearer. We wait behind our loopholes, now and then risking a peep through them. These loopholes are only fifteen or twenty centimeters wide, but if a bullet comes through them it is a skull pierced and certain death. This silent waiting is a tremendous mental and nervous strain.
We keep still as mice, with clenched teeth. Luminous fuses, like roman candles, burst forth in every direction, exploding in dust over our heads. moment later a dazzling signal light rocket bursts fifty yards high, just above our trenches, lighting them up as clear as day for several seconds. We crouch down under the lower parapet like moles. Immediately afterward a mad fusillade, and the German .77 guns, having got a better range than during the previous attacks, throw shells that burst, luckily for us, nearly one hundred yards behind our trenches. This attack must be general, for we hear fusillades cracking far away to the right and left.
Suddenly we tremble in spite of ourselves. The hoarse sound of the short German bugles pierces the night with four lugubrious notes in a minor key, funereal, deathly. It is their charge. Yells, oaths, and vociferations are heard in front of us. Our Captain commands us to fire by volleys: "Aim! Fire! "They must have felt something," drawls out some one of us in a nasal, Montmartre-like voice. Then again: Fire!" What sport! Then comes the cric-crac-cric-crac, sewing machine-like hammering of our mitrailleuses. Captain passes the word: "Fire low! fire low! Aim! Fire!" Volley follows volley. The enemy's dash seems checked. Their fire slackens. We hear their officers swearing and yelling at their men in shrill, high-pitched, penetrating voices. Joyful exaltation gives us a sort of fever. "Aim! Fire!" But the boches sales make another rush at us. Driven
on by their infuriated officers, they again reach our wire network. Our Captain commands, "Fire at will." Then, "Fire at repetition, fire until the magazine is exhausted." Just as the Germans, in wavering, hesitating groups, presenting vague outlines, try to cut our networks they tumble over like marionettes. Already some of our men, intoxicated with fury, stand up in the trenches.
Our Captain commands, "En avant à la baionnette! ("At them with bayonet.") A fierce roar from our chests, and the only bugler left alive in our company sounds the charge. Away we go with our bayonets. We scarcely reach them when the bouches are put to rout. Some of them escape helterskelter, throwing down rifles and knapsacks. "Halt!" commands our Captain. We lie down and keep up the firing on the retreating remnants of the enemy. "Back to the trenches!" is the next command. A few more volleys in the direction of the Germans, then comes the command, "Cease firing. Take your haversacks, eat, and rest." All becomes silent again except for the harrowing moans of the wounded. We learn that the German assault has been repulsed all along the line. Their losses must have been awful.
5 A. M.-Gray, misty dawn breaks from behind the orme trees. Soon we are able to see what has happened. Over three hundred boches are on the ground in front of our company's trench, lying dead or wounded. Our cooks with their soup pots get out of our hole and go to the rear to prepare in the underground kitchens our well-earned coffee and cabbage soup. Our Captain rubs his hands with satisfaction. A strong patrol goes out of our trenches to reconnoitre the enemy's positions in the pine wood. The rest of us try to get some sleep.
The Germans as Seen From a Convent
Some interesting sidelights on the first days of the war in Belgium are provided by extracts from the diary of a young English girl, Miss Lydia Evans, who had returned from a convent school at Fouron, near Visé. The following are among the entries in this graphic narrative, published in The Evening News of London:
UG. 2, 1914.-All the people of the village passed down with cows, calves, horses, hay, &c., which they were obliged to send in for the Belgian Army near Liége. The first troop of Prussians came into the village this afternoon on the pretense of having a horse shod.
Aug. 3.-Two more troops of soldiers arrived. The Prussians slept at our convent, some in the park, others on beds in the recreation room. The reverend mother put everything at their disposal. They asked nicely, but gave the impression that if refused they would take more. We all went to bed at 10 o'clock. Everybody got an alarm to dress half an hour afterward. We came down and found the place full of Germans, who were exceedingly polite. They are magnificent. The meanest soldier is perfectly equipped, everything perfectly new, and splendid horses. They are like theatre soldiers, they are so perfect. They were awfully nice, and talked a lot.
Aug. 4.-Between Monday and Tuesday there was a terrible fight between the Germans and Belgians at Visé because the Belgians would not let the Germans pass to get to Liége. The Belgians blew up several big bridges between Visé and Liége, also the one at Visé.
Aug. 5.-One man told us all the villagers had left except himself. The German soldiers were here all day, but are very polite. They always bow and salute. We hear a terrible noise at Visé of
bombardment, and a great fusillade in the convent. A wounded man was brought to the convent.
Aug. 6.—A curate near here has been shot. The Germans are very nice if you give them what they want, but if they are refused the pistol comes out. Old Mother Thérèse was at the door when a soldier asked her for a kettle. She refused, and he nearly shot her.
Aug. 7.-A most fearful noise was heard about 2 o'clock. They say that it was a fort blown up. A German aeroplane passed yesterday. The soldiers are camping in the woods. There are seven wounded here. Nearly all the others are taken to Aix-la-Chapelle.
Aug. 8.-Went to mass in the village. A man told us that the Germans had burned two big farms at Warsage, (the next village.) Two women and two men arrived from Liége. They said that the people had been living in caves for the last two days and nights. These poor people saw awful sights in coming across the fields, which were covered with dead. We have heard that Berneau is burned and the women and children hung. The Germans are furious at having lost such a number of men before seeing the French A soldier passed last night, and Maria lifted up a corner of the curtain. In a minute he had out his revolver and threatened to shoot her. Some of the soldiers opposite the convent were drunk.
Aug. 9.-An aeroplane passed right over us, and seemed to drop something white. The soldiers are going about in bands destroying and laying waste every house and garden. They pass with bottles of wine and their pockets bulging out with things they have stolen. They set a house on fire just near the convent. There are 40,000 soldiers between here and Niouland.
Aug. 10.-There was a terrific crash
at the door. Four German officers, who had come in a motor, pointed their revolvers and asked for wine. They looked as if they had been drinking. We had a fearful fright after dinner. An officer, followed by a soldier, came to ask us where the curé was, and threatened to shoot us because we could not tell him. Miss MacMahon had to lead him to the rector's house, with a revolver pointed at her back all the way. The houses on either side are burning. The nuns asked the German officers if they would spare the convent. They laughed and said they
would make it a cemetery for their dead. They took away the wounded, and as soon as they had gone the nuns woke us up, and we started out, following all the back roads.
A postcard has been received from Miss Agnes Holliday, daughter of a Hammersmith builder, who is at a convent school near Liége, in which she states that on Tuesday night last "the convent was full of German soldiers, to whom we spoke. At Fouron they have had a terrible time."
War-Time Scenes in Rouen
The following is a literal translation of a letter received in New York by a French lady's maid from her sister at Rouen. It gives the point of view of the modest laboring classes in France:
ROUEN, Aug. 21, 1914.
Y Dear Sister Henriette:
If I judge according to our impatience to get you: news, I understand you are anxious for ours. I hope that you made a good voyage and that nothing disagreeable has happened to you during the journey. There is a little change in life in Rouen. Numerous factories are closed, for the reason that the men are gone to war, and women are powerless to operate the machinery. As for me, the sewing is still going a little, but I do not think that it will last long. Business stops little by little; the most of the stores are closing, which gives the city a sad appearance. Per contra, there is a big bustle in and around the railroad station of the Rue Verte. Hundreds of persons stand on the square near the station, to assist the passing of the English troops on their way to Paris; they are acclaimed by the cry of "Vive la France!" "Vive l'Angleterre!" "Down with Germany and the barbarians!
Numerous trains bring hundreds of young wounded English, French, and Belgian soldiers. Many offices of the Red Cross are settled in the largest hotels of the city. Many citizens have asked to take some of the wounded into their homes. We are going to have several of them at our home. Mother is already preparing two rooms. She has moved Lili's bed into the kitchen. As for us, we are going to sleep in the armchairs. Lili talks of the war like a grown-up person, and so seriously! She also wants to take care of the wounded. She will divert them. She made dresses for all her dolls and put them to bed. She set on the table all the history books to interest the soldiers. Of course she will do the reading herself. Then she collected all the pieces of old sheets to make some lint out of them, but she will do that in the kitchen when the wounded are sleeping, so as not to worry them. If you were in Rouen now you would be proud of your god-child. Maman had to have made for her a big white table "for nurse." She goes to school every day, and I promised that I would take her with me this afternoon to see an English warship which arrived in the Seine yesterday. It seems that the ship had nar
rowly escaped capture by the Germans, but I cannot give you much information. We don't have any news from our own soldiers. I do not know where father is. George and Maurice must be artillerymen in Belfort. Jeanne and Helene are in despair, thinking of their husbands. Maurice's baby is always so sweet; he does not suspect that his father is at war. Our aunt has no news from Leon, André, and Joseph.
This is all the news. I hope that my letter will reach you. Do not worry. But if the Germans arrive in Rouen they will find somebody to receive them. If the
"It Is for Us and for France”
To those who believe, as Germans would have the world believe, that the French Nation is decadent, fit only to disappear from the face of the earth, the following letter, simple as any letter can be, yet full of the Spartanlike qualities that even a German must admire, will serve as an inspiration. It was written to a French soldier by his sister. The soldier showed it to his officer, who was so pleased that he had it published anonymously for the troops. A translation of it follows:
permission. Jean had the Legion of Honor; succeed him in this.
Of the eleven of us who went to the war eight are dead. My dear brother, do your duty, whatever is asked of you. God gave you your life, and He has the right to take it back; that is what mamma says.
We embrace you with all our heart and long to see you again.
The Prussians are here. Young Joudon is dead; they have pillaged everything. I have come back from Gerbervillers, which is destroyed. The brutes!
Now, my dear brother, make the sacrifice of your life. We have hope of seeing you again, for something gives me a presentiment and tells me to hope. We embrace you in all our hearts. Adieu and au revoir, if God permits. THY SISTER.
It is for us and for France. Think of your brothers and of grandfather in '70.