by orders from Paris. The French III. and IV. Armies, quickly
rallied from their Ardennes-Longwy defeats, gave ground only
slowly and with frequent counter-strokes (see FRONTIERS, BATTLES
OF THE: section Ardennes), and the German III.
Army was con-
tinually drawn southward, off its line of advance, to assist the IV.
in real or supposed crises. Thus a great gap opened up between the
III. Army and the II.; and the latter, uneasy as to its left flank,
gradually drew away into a southerly direction, while Kluck's I.
Army continued S.W. on Amiens. Almost immediately thereafter,
the I. Army began to come into contact with French forces, dis-
tinctly superior in number and in quality from those hitherto met
on this outer flank. While driving these back in various minor
actions, and expanding ever westward in so doing, it was suddenly
checked and caused to swerve southward by demands for assistance
from the II. Army, which, unsupported on its left by the III., found
itself counter-attacked, with a vigour that had not been observed
since Charleroi, by Lanrezac (see GUISE, BATTLE OF). This crisis,
like similar crises on a smaller scale in the area affecting the IV. and
III. Armies, passed away after a time, but the disintegration of the
German mass-movement had now reached a climax. Apart from
regulating special questions between armies as they arose, the
German Higher Command had not intervened in the conduct of
operations since its instruction of Aug. 27. On the night of Aug. 31,
the I. Army, in the vain hope of seizing the left flank of the British
or of Lanrezac, had pushed its left far to the S. to the Aisne below
Soissons, while its right was in the Lassigny hills and W. of Mont-
didier and even farther north. The II. Army had not progressed be-
yond the Guise-St. Quentin battlefield, its front facing due S.
between Essigny-le-Grand and Vervins; the III. Army on the
contrary was on the upper Aisne on both sides of Rethel, the IV.
astride the northern Argonne between Semuyand Buzancy, theV.
wrapping itself round the N. side of Verdun while still maintaining
considerable forces in the Woevre facing the E. front of that fortress,
and the C6te de Meuse. Two corps had left for the eastern front,
belonging not to the subsidiary armies in Lorraine but to the striking
wing. One corps had been left to face the Belgians in Antwerp, one
and a quarter corps to besiege Maubeuge, other detachments here
and there to guard lines of communication or to invest small French
forts such as Givet. The only new forces on their way to the West
were the two divisions of the IX. Res. Corps and certain Ersatz
brigades, all of which were needed to support the. dangerously weak
cordon of the III. Res. Corps facing Antwerp and to be on the spot
in case of a Russian and British landing at Ostend, rumours of
which at this time filled western Europe.
In Lorraine, the pursuit from the battlefields of Morhange and
Saarburg had led the German VI. and VII. Armies in a southerly
direction, substantially on Rambervillers and Charmes. Forced to >
condense into two mam groups by the fort of Manonviller a work
condemned as useless by peace-time critics and by the forest of
Parroy, they had exposed their right flank to counter-attack by the |
restored army of Castelnau, which held the fortifications N. and E.
of Nancy and the north flank of the so-called Trouce de Charmes.
This French counter-stroke not only gravely imperilled Prince
Rupprecht's army for Manonviller resisted long enough to act as
an anvil to Castelnau's hammer but deprived the German Com-
mand in Lorraine of its initiative. With that loss, it forfeited all
real power of holding larger French forces in its front; and though j
the German Supreme Command, in the same confident general
instructions of Aug. 27 which initiated the southwestward pursuit ;
of the I.-V. Armies, ordered the Bavarian Prince to break through |
the French line in the direction of Neufchateau on the upper Meuse, I
it soon appeared that Joffre had the " inner line." He could take
troops from Lorraine for other service, while his opponent could
only continue costly holding attacks that did not hold.
On Sept. I the German Supreme Command gave up the con-
ception of a general southwesterly pursuit, which, by its incidents,
had not only lost its direction but brought the armies into a very
irregular array and resumed the original conception of the wheel ;
pivoting on Thionville, or rather, in the new situation, on the troops ;
of the V. Army facing the N. side of Verdun. By now, however, I
with losses and detachments, the frontage of such a sweep was i
reduced by the front of a whole army, if not two armies. The
appearance of French active and reserve forces N. of Paris made it
clear that a protective echelon such as had always been prescribed
and rarely formed by the I. Army would have to follow the rear of '
the army on the outer flank, and, moreover, the gap between the j
II. and III. Armies must be closed. The new general instructions, |
therefore, prescribed that the II. Army should steadily drive the
French in a southeasterly direction, followed in echelon by the I.,
which was to watch Paris and break up the communications leading
thither. But almost immediately after the I. Army, still well in I
advance of the II., received this order, one of its corps, exploiting 3
local advantage, crossed the Marne at Chezy and Chateau-Thierry, j
and Kluck determined to support it rather than withdraw it. The
Supreme Command made no protest, all the more so as he reported
evidences of real dissolution in the ranks of the retreating enemy.
Kluck pushed on. The echelon facing Paris was maintained, but it
was growing thinner and thinner. On Sept. 4 the Supreme Com-
mand, in increasing uneasiness, limited the offensive front still more.
Not only was the I. Army to stand fast between the Oise and the i
Marne, but the II. Army was to wheel outwards and fill the space
between the Marne and the upper Seine. The III. Army, now i
become the operating wing, was to march on Troyes and to the E. I
thereof, continuing in close liaison with the IV. and V. while the '
Lorraine armies were to renew their attempt to break through the '
upper Moselle front.
The final phases of the battle in Lorraine represent the endeavour
of exhausted forces to carry out their part in this scheme. The
central and western portion came to nothing, for although Kluck
began at 23:00 hours (n P.M.) on Sept. 5 to counter-march his
army so as to fill the space between the Oise and the Marne, now j
guarded only by the last relic of his echelon, and Billow gained
ground between the Marne and the Seine as far as Montmirail and
the marshes of St. Goud, General Joffre had, on the afternoon of
Sept. 4, issued the command to his armies to face about and attack.
The Preparation of the Counter-Offensive. While on the Ger-
man side we see the battles of the frontiers followed by a high-
WESTERN FRONT CAMPAIGNS
spirited chase in which the driver was able to keep little more
than the semblance of order in his team, on the French side the
picture is one of an astonished and confused, but in no sense a
routed citizen-army, too clear-sighted to believe itself betrayed
and yet too ignorant of the ensemble to see where miscalculations ,
had led to disaster. In the hands of one who had specialized in
the art of inspiring confidence, whose silence even was imper-
turbable, and whose career had been spent not in technical
subtleties of operations but in varied branches of administration,
it had every chance of early recovery, provided that it was han-
dled according to a definite policy and not exposed to incidents.
This definite policy was laid down in a general order of Aug. 25,
which began with the phrase: " As it has proved impossible to
carry out the projected offensive, the next operations will be
regulated so as to constitute on the left, by means of the IV.
and V. Armies, the British army, and new forces from the eastern
front, a mass capable of resuming the offensive while the others
hold up the enemy for the required time." Following this cool
and convincing statement, the detail paragraphs prescribe a
retreat to the line Braye-sur-Somme-Ham for the British, to
Vermand-Moy for the offensive portion of the V. Army, to La
Fere-Laon-Craonne-St. Erme for the defensive wing of that
army, to the middle Aisne for the IV. Army and to the Argonne-
Verdun line for the III. " From this situation the offensive will
be resumed," said the order. On the left of this line a barrage
against cavalry inroads was to be formed between Picquigny
and the sea, and either between Domart and Corbie or between
Picquigny and Villers-Bretonneux there was to be formed a new
army, soon to be designated the VI., and composed, as regards
its staff and several of its divisions, of the troops which had just
defeated the left of the German Crown Prince as it sidled past
Etain. This was to be ready for action on Sept. 2, and the
direction of its offensive would be either St. Pol- Arras or Arras-
Bapaume, according to the position of the extreme right of the
Germans. The British would attack on Bertincourt or Le Cate-
let, according to the situation, the V. Army wing on Bohain.
The right of the V., the IV., and the III. were to defend the line
laid down and eventually to attack from it. To the I. and II.
Armies went the laconic instruction, " the role of these armies is,
But the pressure of the German pursuit in its first freshness
did not admit of the British coming to a halt on the line ordered,
and when the elements of the new VI. Army began to assemble
about Amiens the battle had passed far to the south of them.
Similarly, with the V. Army, the battle of Guise, which may be
considered as a section of the proposed general offensive, led to
small results because the British element was wanting on its
outer flank. The controversies which have arisen as to the rapid-
ity of the British retirement from the battlefield of Le Cateau to
behind the Oise need not here be discussed, for it is more than
doubtful in any case whether the state of the French army, in its
ensemble on Aug. 31, justified the risk of incurring final defeat.
Be this as it may, Joffre put aside all temptations to exploit the
local successes at Guise on the Meuse, and in a new general order
of Sept. i laid down that the VI. Army and the British having
insufficiently checked the enemy's turning movement, the whole
system must pivot about its right continuing to retreat, until the
left of the V. Army should be free from the menace of envelop-
ment. Then the armies would take the offensive, this time
utilizing the position of the III. Army, protected by Verdun on
the N. and the Cote de Meuse on the E., to strike the chief blow.
The position from which the offensive would be resumed was
now well back from Paris, which was to be left to itself (though
Joffre suggested that its troops might cooperate in the general
offensive), the V. Army behind the upper Seine (Nogent), the de-
tachment Foch (IX. Army) and the IV. Army behind the Aube
and S. of Vitry, the III. Army, augmented by defence troops
borrowed from the Cote de Meuse and possibly by troops from'
the Lorraine front, N. of Bar-le-Duc. The British and the VI.
Army were to constitute with Gallieni's local troops a Paris
group which should hold the Seine from Melun to Juvisy, and
the E. and N.E. fronts of Paris.
Thus was prepared the initial situation of the battle of the
Marne. The scheme as outlined at first underwent many modi-
fications, due to the ardent initiatives of Gallieni in Paris, and of
Sarrail, commander of the III. Army, S. of Verdun, as well as to
other causes. These are discussed in the article MARNE, BATTLE
OF THE. Here it is not necessary to analyse too closely the form
projected for the battle. Essentially, the fact to be retained by
history is that a great army, in retreat after failure, could be
energized, ordered to turn about, and launched to the attack,
by a modern commander-in-chief whose influence must filter
through a complex hierarchy before reaching the fighting soldier.
Many had believed this to be an impossibility, and they were
proved wrong. The operative scheme of the battle of the Marne
and even its apparent barrenness of specific military results, are
of insignificant importance compared with the fact that the bat-
tle of the Marne was actually fought. (X.)
The " Race to the Sea" The establishment of the German
defensive on the line of the Aisne, prolonged across the plain of
Champagne, which ended the Marne battle, did not put an end
to the Anglo-French offensive. The front between Compiegne
and Verdun was stabilized here and there, but the battle of
movement continued at the free extremity, that is, to the W. of
Compiegne, and beyond. This new offensive has improperly
been called the " Race to the Sea." In reality it was not a ques-
tion of reaching the coast as quickly as possible, so as to obtain
there an absolute protection against turning movements. If it
had been so, the shortest line for the Allies, and the easiest to
hold, would have been that of the Somme, from Compiegne to
Montdidier and Amiens. To the estuary of the Somme, this line
does not measure much more than 100 km., while the line from
S. toN., which was that of the actual " Race to the Sea," ended
N. of the Yser and was nearly double that length, presenting
features of very various nature, among which some entirely
lacked defensive value.
The truth is that the offensive, which was throughout the
policy of the French Command, did not stop at the Marne vic-
tory. On Sept. n, when the VI. Army (Maunoury) arrived at
Compiegne, the Commander-in-Chief gave the order for this
force to place immediately as many troops as possible on the
right bank of the Oise. On Sept. 17 he indicated his plan by
ordering the formation, on the left wing, of a force capable of
parrying a flanking movement by the enemy as the best pre-
caution to be taken. But Sir John French has stated that on the
very next day (Sept. 18) General Joffre informed him that he was
developing a new plan which aimed at attacking and enveloping
the German right flank. The enemy, moreover, showed by his
method of occupying the ground that the initiative no longer
rested with him.
At the extreme end of the Allied line on the Oise the valley of
the Aisne cleaves its way through a forest-clad massif, cutting
it in two S. of the Aisne; the larger part of this mass consists of
the forest of Compiegne and the northern part is the forest of
Laigne. If the Germans, very skilled in turning forests to mili-
tary account and manoeuvring in them, had retained any hope
of resuming the offensive against the Allied left flank, they
would have occupied the forest of Compiegne in order to make
it the starting point of their turning movement and force the
Allied left to retreat towards Paris. But they abandoned that
front; nor did they retain the forest of Laigne, on the plateau to
the N. of Attichy. The offensive impulse in the World War was
thus on the side of the Allies and they kept it until the fatal day
of Russia's defeat on the eastern front. Until that time every
attack which resulted in the gain of ground came from the Allies,
who, save for a few occasions, methodically pushed back the
enemy from one entrenched position to another. The Germans
had later to defend their right flank, more and more threatened
as it became more and more prolonged. And, as the best way of
arresting the progress of the Allies would have been to strike at
their offensive, they tried without ceasing to outflank them,
while they were resisting in front.
Thus the " Race to the Sea," viewed as a whole, consisted in
establishing an offensive Allied flank against the German right,
WESTERN FRONT CAMPAIGNS
and, this flank being always unsupported at one extremity, in
German efforts to seize this extremity from two directions. These
attempts, on either side, taking place farther and farther from
Compiegne, appeared as a "Race to the Sea"; but in reality
neither side was deliberately making for the coast. The S.-N.
direction taken by the line of contact was not sought by either
opponent; it resulted from the balance of forces.
It is evident that, whatever resources on either side were fur-
nished by reserves and new formations, the extension of the
front of contact over a length of 200 km. was only possible on
condition of leaving much thinner forces on the stabilized front
than had been required for the battle of movement, from Aug.
20 to Sept. 12. In proportion as the lines extended to the N.,
transferences took place, depleting the line from Belfort to
Compiegne, as had already been done in the Vosges and in
Lorraine, to enforce the regions where the struggle was being
carried on in open country.
As regards such transferences, the advantage was with the
Germans, because they occupied the interior of the angle whose
apex points to Compiegne, while the Allied troops had to be
moved around this point.
On the German side, the manoeuvre brought 18 new army corps
into the line. On the Allied side it resulted in the transference
of the II. Army (de Castelnau) between the Oise and the Somme;
the formation of the X. Army (Maud'huy), N. of the Somme,
and the VIII. Army (d'Urbal), which included the Belgian army,
brought back from Antwerp; and lastly in the shifting of the
British army into Flanders. To these transfers and new crea-
tions must be added various formations constituted on the spot,
of which the most important was a group of territorial divisions
placed under the orders of General Brugere. Some of these for-
mations had already joined in the offensive after the battle of
the Marne, notably at Amiens, which they had cleared of the
German units scattered through Picardy and Artois. This
ensemble was placed under the command of General Foch, but
was only brought to completion by degrees. The successive steps
will now be described. '
The first offensive action against the German right began on
Sept. n, in accordance with the order given by General Joffre.
It was carried out by the VI. Army, with one additional corps
on the right bank of the Oise. It immediately encountered ener-
getic resistance on the Aronde, a small tributary prolonging the
depression of the Aisne valley on the opposite side of the Oise.
On the northern bank of this stream wooded heights extend be-
tween Compiegne, Lassigny and Noyon, and surround Ribe-
court names which all became famous during the war.
The VI. Army had a difficult task in the subduing of them, and
could hardly have achieved it, threatened as it was with an at-
tack in flank, without the help of the II. Army (de Castelnau),
which, detraining in the Clermont-Beauvais area, had to cover
30 or 40 km. in order to outflank the German right. At the same
time the cavalry and the territorial divisions of General Brugere
extended the movement towards the north.
The resulting battles were prolonged until the end of Sept.
with alternations of success and reverse, through Lassigny, Roye,
and Chaulnes, as far as Peronne. From Peronne to Lassigny,
where the wooded hills ceased, the terrain consisted of undulating
plains, where no line of battle could be found. It was thus the
balance of forces that determined the front of contact, which
was gradually fortified on either side.
On Sept. 24 the French retook Peronne and lost it again.
This little place, in a hollow, offering no possibility of outlook or
of action outside its walls, had no military value. The positions
which should have been occupied in the circumstances were the
heights of the Somme above Peronne which formed a very con-
siderable obstacle. The great value of this line, especially facing
eastward, owing to the command of the country in that direction
given by the heights, did not escape the German staff, and for a
long time their efforts were directed towards preventing the
Allies from securing the heights, by the defence of improvised
fortifications, at some distance in front of them. Later it will
be seen how these lines were linked up with that of the Ancre.
It will now be shown how, after the preliminary fighting, the
German front became established between the Aisne and the
Oise. A salient is always a weakness. The front was fixed from
E. to W. along the Aisne; and the flank resolving itself into a new
front running N. and S. the German line exhibited a right-angle
salient pointing towards the forest of Laigne. It was very largely
to smooth out this salient that the line was traced behind the
forest in such a way as to form a great arc instead of a point.
South of the portion of the line of the Somme between Peronne
and Ham it was necessary to connect this arc with the fortified
line S. of Peronne; the line Chaulnes-Roye-Lassigny was thus
strongly indicated as the connecting line.
On Sept. 23 there was fighting near Lassigny, on Sept. 25 near
Roye, and on Sept. 29 in the same places and also at Chaulnes,
where the Allies were repulsed, as they were at the salient itself.
On Oct. i the fighting-line extended to near Arras. It will be
seen how it came to be fixed on the N. of Peronne.
The old fortress of Arras, which was no longer more than
half fortified, but whose citadel had been maintained in good
condition, was a point d'appui for the Allies. The interval, 40
km. wide, between Arras and the Somme, provided some fea-
tures which were favourable to the establishment of a line.
First, near Arras, there was the little valley of the Crinchon.
The stream itself is unimportant, but its banks afford positions
which are good in default of better ones. Next, a connecting
line had to be ensured over about 15 km., from N. to S., across
the undulating plateau, to the course of the Ancre, which forms
a deep ravine both above and below Albert. The river bends
in a S.W. direction as far as Corbie on the Somme.
Thus the line traced by the depression favourable to a line
of resistance forms a series of zigzags: the Ancre near Albert, the
Somme from Corbie to Peronne, the Somme from Peronne to
Ham; It was because of this peculiarity that the Germans, when
they were defending the line of the Ancre, opposite Albert,
could not make use of the section of the Somme between Peronne
and Ham, because it was 20 km. to the rear. Their solution con-
sisted therefore of drawing a line through the Corbie salient,
behind which lay Combles, transformed into a magazine and
supply depot. This brought them in front of the section of the
Somme between Peronne and Ham.
During the " Race to the Sea" the fighting round Albert and Arras
(see ARTOIS, BATTLES IN) began at the end of Sept. and on Oct. I
respectively. The X. French Army then came into the line. The
Germans were already strongly entrenched on the Thicpval plateau,
opposite Albert, where they were to pile up the defensive works
which the British were to capture, one by one, two years later.
On Oct. 2-3 the X. Army (Maud'huy) made an effort to seize
the German flank at its northern extremity by moving forward to
Douai, where there had been for some time a detachment of the
territorial army, which did not succeed in maintaining its hold.
But the Germans opposed with heavy forces of infantry and cavalry.
The French were pressed back; the enemy occupied Lens and made
a vigorous but unsuccessful attack on Arras. For a long time after-
wards the Allies' line left Lens in possession of the Germans, lying
farther westward on a line from Arras towards B6thune. Arras was
included indeed, but the important positions of Vimy and Notre
Dame de Lorette, of which the Germans would not lose hold, were cut
off. Their importance consisted in their facing N.E. and later their
capture necessitated long and painful effort.
The German cavalry was in all the country which lay beyond in
the N. ; it occupied Ypres and Bailleul, and sent out patrols still
farther forward. The situation was very difficult for the Allies, and
its improvement was an urgent matter. The VIII. Army (d'Urbal)
had its base at Dunkirk, but it was still inadequately constituted.
The French cavalry and General Brugere's territorial divisions were
maintaining an arduous and very fatiguing struggle. At that mo-
ment the British army, which could now be withdrawn from the
Aisne, as that front was strong and solid and could be held by a small
force, was summoned N. Reinforcements were also brought from the
eastern area, and lastly the Belgian army, no longer of any use in
Antwerp, came to take its place in the ensemble. The story of the