James Bryce Bryce.

The book of history. A history of all nations from the earliest times to the present, with over 8,000 illustrations (Volume 16) online

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but on both occasions he h?.d failed.
When he had found the French Sixth


Army moving up on the British left, he
had promptly moved in a southwesterly
direction against them, with the ap-
paient object of continuing his out-
flanking movement. On August 30
he was occupying a line from Amiens
to St. Quentin, and was in touch only
with the British left.

Von Kluck doubtless hoped that the
Allies would give battle on this line,
in which case he would have had a
third chance to bring his enveloping



The private soldiers and even the
junior officers were obsessed by the
idea that they were bound "nach
Paris"; but the staff had been brought
up on the doctrine of Clausewitz, that
the first object of military operations
is the annihilation of the enemy's
forces in the field, and that once that
object is attained fortresses and capitals
will fall like rioe fruit from the tree.


This chart depicts the defenses of Paris, the city that the Germans planned to enter in September, 1914. The
inmost line is formed by the old ramparts 21 miles long. The next circle includes the forts built in 1870. Out-
side of these lies another line of fortresses and batteries 40 in all constructed in 1878. Through the northern
gates of the city refugees flocked in during the first weeks of the war.

movement into play; but on August
31 Manoury began to retire on Paris,
yielding Amiens to the enemy. Von
Kluck was now presented with these
alternatives: he could either follow
Manoury, in which case he would very
soon come up against the girdle of
fortifications surrounding Paris, or he
could, by means of a dangerous flank
march in a southeasterly direction iji
front of Manoury and the Paris forts,
recover contact with the German
armies on his left, and join them in
attacking the Allied positions on the
Marne. He chose, or von Moltke
chose for him, the latter alternative.
To attack Paris with his siege artillery
still far in the rear would have been a
tedious business; and in any case the
siege of Paris does not seem to have
come within the scope of the original
plans of the German General Staff, in
spite of the general belief.

We know, as a matter of fact, that in
the first group of maps issued to von
Kluck's army, the map of the Paris
area was not included, though maps of
the Marne valley to the east of Paris
were included. In undertaking the
risky experiment of the flank march,
von Kluck doubtless made a virtue
of necessity; but he probably counted
also on the Sixth French Army shutting
itself up in the intrenched camp of
Paris, and he certainly feared nothing
from the British, whom he regarded
as already out of the fighting.

The Allied armies fell back on the
Marne in good order. The Third
French Army, which had now passed
from the command of Ruffey to that
of Sarrail, swung back, pivoting on
Verdun, until it faced in a north-
westerly direction, with its left flank
resting on the Ornain. Langle de
Gary's Fourth Army and Franchet



d'Esp6rey's Fifth Army fell back
below the Marne, destroying the
bridges in their retreat; while Foch's
new Ninth Army came up between
them, with his centre resting on La
Fere-Champenoise. The British army,
which had retreated by easy stages
from the Oise and the Aisne, crossed
the Marne on September 3, and took
up a position to the south of the river
between La Ferte-sous-Jouarre and
Lagny. Manoury's Sixth Army, now
further reinforced by Joffre, who
seemed to produce fresh troops from no-
where, stood guard in front of Paris.


The Germans, exulting in the belief
that they had before them a beaten
foe, who was incapable of making a
stand, pressed on in pursuit. The right
flank of the Crown Prince's army
swung south, pinning in Sarrail to
Verdun, and virtually surrounding the

, Verdun forts on three sides. Duke
Albrecht of Wurtemberg's Fourth

1 Army, swinging southeast, pressed in
on the .left flank of Sarrail and the
right flank of Langle de Gary. Von
Hausen's Third Army moved south
through Chalons opposite Langle de
Gary's left and Foch's right; and von
Billow's Second Army, in close touch
with it, came south facing Foch's left
and Franchet d'Esperey's right. Mean-
while, von Kluck was executing his
daring flank march in front of Paris.
Moving southeast by way of Senlis,
he left the Fourth Reserve Corps
along the Ourcq as a flank guard, and
crossed the Marne on September 4.
Disregarding the British on his right,
he then moved toward Coulommiers,
with the apparent object of attacking
Franchet d'Esperey's Fifth Army.


In this advance, the German armies
unfortunately once more sullied the
German name by deeds of unspeakable
barbarity. The German atrocities in
Belgium are well known and as well
attested as any fact in history. The
German atrocities in France are not
so well known, but they are no le"ss
well attested. No one can read the


report of the French commission ap-
pointed to investigate these atrocities
without being convinced that prac-
tically all the crimes against humanity
with which the Germans have been
charged in France were actually com-
mitted; in many cases the commission
had before it ocular evidence.

The most outstanding case was that
of the beautiful old-world town of
Senlis, twenty-five miles north of
Paris. Senlis was defended by a French
regiment, which gallantly resisted the
advance of von Kluck's troops. When
the Germans entered the town, on the
pretext that civilians had taken part
in the fighting, they burned it to the
ground; and having arrested the white-
haired mayor and others of the prin-
cipal inhabitants, they forced them,
after the mockery of a court-martial,
to dig their own graves and then face
a German firing-party. The fate of
Senlis is a true pendant of the fate of
Lou vain.


But what Happened at Senlis hap-
pened also in many obscure villages
in the valley of the Marne. Here old
men were shot down in cold blood,
babes were skewered with bayonets,
children had their hands cut off,
women were raped and disembowelled.
The most perverted efforts of the
imagination could hardly exhaust the
category of German crimes. How far
these crimes are to be laid at the door
of the German military authorities,
and how far they were due to the
excesses of German private soldiers,
flushed by the unaccustomed wines of
northern France, is difficult to say.
Certainly the German General Staff
cannot escape the chief responsibility.
Just as the Jacobins in France in 1791
made terror a political weapon, so the
German General Staff in 1914 made
terror (Schrecklichkeit} a military wea-
pon. The Kriegsbrauch im Landkriege,
a manual issued by the German
General Staff before the war for the
instruction of German officers, express-
ly lays it down "that certain severities
are indispensable in war, nay, .more,
that the only true humanity very often


Arras, though in France, looked like a Flemish city. This square, the Petite Place, shows old buildings in Flemish
style with upper stories overhanging the footway and supported by columns that formed arcades. The belfry of
the Hotel de Ville, rising above the Renaissance facade with its seven different arcades and its ornate Gothic
windows, housed a fine peal of bells, and was topped by a gilded ducal crown. Under buildings and squares were
the usual large cellars, which, throughout the invaded region of northern France, were utilized during the war as
fortified defenses. In ancient days, the capital of the Atrebates, a Gallic tribe; in the fifteenth century, the meeting
place of a Peace Congress; in the eighteenth century, Arras became the birth-place of Robespierre.

Before Shakespeare, Arras was a thriving city famous for its tapestries. "Arras" was even used as the name for a
curtain of such tapestry. Until the first year of the World War the old flavor clung to the place (although no Arras
tapestries were to be found there). On market-days the squares were gay with booths and carts and peasant folk.
Then came bombardment and ruin, the belfry crushed to a weather-worn crag; gaps torn between houses, tb
people, fled ! In two years no vestige remained of the Hotel de Ville.



lies in a ruthless application of them;"
that "if the necessity of war demand,
. . . every sequestration, every tem-
porary or permanent deprivation, every
use, every injury, and all destruction
are permitted"; and that "interna-
tional law is in no way opposed to
the exploitation of the crimes of third
parties (assassination, incendiarism,
robbery, and the like) to the prejudice
of the enemy."


Such doctrines, indeed, were merely
in line with Bismarck's famous injunc-
tion to leave the enemy population
"nothing but eyes to weep with," and
Wilhelm II 's advice to his troops to
model their behavior on that of
"the Huns under their king Attila."
There must have been many German
officers and men who did not approve
of this policy, and who were ashamed
of the excesses of their comrades. A
captured Saxon officer who had been
at Rethel was found to have written
in his diary, "The place is a disgrace
to our army." But those who repro-
bated the excesses were helpless in
view of the avowed attitude of the
German General Staff. The blond
beast was in command.

Of the issue of the battle which was
about to be joined, the Germans ap-
pear to have been supremely con-
fident. They regarded the French
armies, and especially the British
army, as already decisively beaten;
and they seem to have thought that
all that was necessary was to admin-
ister to .them the coup de grace. Sep-
tember i was the anniversary of Sedan,
and the omens seemed propitious for a
newer and greater Sedan. Not only
were the people of Germany, whom the
victories of the end of August had
naturally raised to a state of patriotic
delirium, filled with these great expec-
tations; but even the German High
Command itself entertained them.
Evidence of this is indisputable. A
German officer who saw von Kluck
on September 4, and who had a con-
versation with one of von Kluck's
staff, wrote in his diary, which was
captured and published by the French:


"The reports of spies who had seen
the enemy in retreat are very satis-
factory. They are a disorganized and
discontented horde, and there is no
chance of their being able to do us any
harm. The General fears nothing
from the direction of Paris. We will
return to Paris after we have destroyed
the remains of the Franco-British
Army. The Fourth Reserve Corps
will have the honor of the triumphal
entry into the French capital."

Yet at the very moment when these
lines were being written, Joffre was
preparing the orders for his long-
looked-for counter-offensive, and was
laying the trap out of which the Ger-
mans were, a few days later, to come
reeling backward, outgeneraled and

It was on September 3 that General
Gallieni, the military governor of
Paris, discovered by means of his
aerial observers that von Kluck was
marching in a diagonal direction
through Senlis in front of Paris. He
promptly communicated the fact to
Joffre by telephone; and the two
generals between them planned the
operations which were to result in
what the French call "the miracle of
the Marne." It was arranged that the
army of Manoury, now augmented to
a formidable force, should be placed
under Gallieni's orders, and that Gal-
lieni should launch against von Kluck's
rear flank along the Ourcq a powerful
attack, while the Allied armies south
of the Marne were to turn and advance
along the whole front. Von Kluck
would thus be caught between two
fires, and would, it was expected, find
great difficulty in extricating himself
from the trap into which, in his over-
confidence, he had fallen. In the actual
execution of this plan, Joffre and Gal-
lieni appear to have worked to some
extent at cross purposes. On Septem-
ber 4 Joffre issued his orders for the
battle, which began as follows:

"It is necessary to profit by the
dangerous situation in which the First



German Army has placed itself, by
concentrating against it the efforts of
the Allied armies on the extreme left.
During September 5 all arrangements
will be made to begin the attack on
the 6th."

Manoury was to drive the Germans
over the Ourcq; the British were to
advance in a northeasterly direction
toward Coulommiers and Mont-
mirail; the French Fifth Army was to
move due north; and Foch's Ninth
Army was to hold the weight of the
enemy in the centre of the line, and to
cover the advance of the Fifth Army.
Unfortunately, Gallieni and Manoury
decided to attack on September 5.
On September 4 they both motored out
to French's headquarters and requested
the co-operation of the British in this
attack. French, however, had already
been requested by Joffre to retire
through the forest of Crecy toward the
valley of the Seine. The object of this
manoeuvre is not certain; but it was
probably undertaken in the hope that
the Germans would move forward into
the pocket thus created. It was per-
haps an invitation from the spider to
the fly to walk into his parlor. Apart
altogether, therefore, from the fact
that French no doubt preferred to act
under instructions from Joffre, he
found himself unable to accede to the
request of Gallieni and Manoury, since
he calculated that it would take him
at least forty-eight hours to resume
the offensive. Consequently, when

Manoury attacked on September 5, he
attacked alone; and the opportunity
for a simultaneous double attack
upon von Kluck in his exposed posi-
tion, was lost.


If only Manoury and French had
been able to time their attacks so
that they occurred together, the posi-
tion of von Kluck would have been
well-nigh desperate. Over the question
where the responsibility for this failure
to co-operate lay, much controversy
has arisen. On the one hand, French
is blamed for not having given to
Manoury on September 5 the support
which the latter had a right to expect;
on the other hand,- Gallieni and Man-
oury -are blamed for beginning their
offensive a day too soon. The time has
perhaps not yet arrived when it is
possible justly to assess the blame.
We do not know how essential it was
that Gallieni should launch his blow
on September 5, and we do not know
whether French could actually have
made his weight felt on that day. In
any case, the lack of co-operation, un-
fortunate as it was, was not of suffi-
cient importance to alter the issue of
the battle; for when the Allied armies
south of the Marne advanced on the
mofning of September 6, it was to
indubitable victory a victory which
was destined to be a turning point in
the history of the world.



During the first weeks of war, the Emperor moved, with his retinue, to headquarters in France. But the Royal
Family became less and less conspicuous as they failed to win distinction. The Crown Prince, both because of his
lack of ability as a commander and his notorious personal conduct, lost rapidly in public favor.


German machine guns were everywhere in hidden nests, or suddenly appearing from dug-outs, or carried far
forward for surprise attacks. The guns in the picture are of the heavy type fired from tripods and requiring two
men to move each of them. At the beginning of the war the Germans had many more machine guns than any other
of the contending powers. Pictures from Henry Ruschin


French Colonial Troops From Algiers -The Turcos


The Marne and the Race for the Sea



situation at the opening of the
battle of the Marne strongly re-
sembled that at the opening of the bat-
tle of Mons with this difference that
the tables were now turned and the role
of the respective armies reversed. Just
as von Kluck had threatened French
with envelopment at Mons, so Man-
oury now threatened von Kluck in his
turn with envelopment along the
Ourcq; and just as von Moltke had
been able, by means of his strategic
railways and his excellent organization,
to concentrate opposite the left flank of
the allies in Belgium a force of the size
of which neither Joffre nor French had
until the last minute any conception, so
Joffre was now able, by means of his
railways and his at my of manoeuvre, to
concentrate opposite the right flank of
the German line along the Ourcq a
force much larger than either von
Moltke or von Kluck appears to have



The creation of this force is a story
in itseK. From all points of the com-
pass from Alsace and Lorraine, from
North Africa, from the South of France,
from the region of Amiens Joffre
poured into Paris by the railways that
radiate from it regiments, brigades,
divisions, army corps; and out of these
miscellaneous and heterogeneous ele-

ments he fashioned Che Sixth Army into
a force of formidable strength. These
troops continued to arrive for the rein-
forcement of the Sixth Army all through
the battle of the Ourcq; and on two
critical occasions Gallieni, with splen-
did expedition, rushed them to the
battle-front in fleets of motor-cars and

The reasons why the Germans failed
to suspect this dangerous concentra-
tion of troops on their right flank until
it was almost too late, appear to have
been in the main two. In the first
place, they were ignorant of the extent
to which Joffre had drawn on the east-
ern front to reinforce his army of man-
oeuvre. The vigor with which de Cas-
telnau in Lorraine, with his now com-
paratively weak forces, pressed them
seems to have given them a totally
false impression ; and as late as Septem-
ber 4 the German official communique
announced, doubtles much to the re-
lief of French headquarters, that "the
armies of the Crown Prince of Bavaria
and of General von Heeringen have
still in front of them strong enemy
forces holding entrenched positions in
French Lorraine."


In the second place, the Germans
were thinking at the moment mainly
of attack, rather than of defense. Their


great attempt to envelop the left flank
of the allied line had, it is true, defin-
itely failed; but they had promptly
substituted for this plan another which
seemed to offer no less decisive results.
They now aimed, not at envelopment,
but at an overwhelming frontal attack
with the object of piercing the French
line in the centre. The French line was
like a taut rope holding back a crowd:
if it were cut in the centre, the two
halves of it would fly back toward
either end, and the crowd would surge
through. The left half would be pinned
in on Paris, the right half would be
herded toward Verdun, and the Ger-
mans would be able to dispose of the
two halves at their leisure. The idea of
a direct frontal attack was not, it is
true, in harmony with the teaching of
the modern school of German strate-
gists, who believed that in the face of
modern artillery, rifle, and machine-
gun fire such an attack must entail
losses out of all proportion to the suc-
cess it was likely to achieve; but it must
always be remembered that the Ger-
mans believed they were facing a
beaten and demoralized enemy, and in
such a case a frontal attack doubtless
seemed to them permissible.


Before launching this general attack,
however, the German staff planned a
preliminary attack on the eastern part
of the front. Here, where de Castel-
nau's weakened Second Army stood on
guard in front of Nancy, the Crown
Prince of Bavaria began to attack as
early as September 3. This movement
had originally been planned in connec-
tion with von Kluck's enveloping
movement in the west: it had been in-
tended as the left arm of the pincers.
But it fitted in very well with the new
plan of attack. If the Crown Prince of
Bavaria succeeded in breaking through
de Castelnau's front near Nancy, and
von Hausen and von Bulow succeeded
in piercing the French centre between
Verdun and Paris, the French armies
pivoting on Verdun would be taken in
front and in rear, and the whole French
battle-line would be hopelessly dis-
rupted. Even if the German armies


failed to pierce the French centre, and
the French won the battle of the Marne,
the success of the attack on Nancy
would seriously embarrass the French,
and would effectually nullify the re-
sults of any victory they might win.
The importance which the Germans
attached to this preliminary offensive
may be seen from the fact that the
Kaiser himself was present at the bat-
tle, and is reported, at one stage of the
fighting, to have been ready with his
white-uniformed bodyguard to make a
triumphal entry into Nancy.


The Germans first attacked at the
northern extremity of the Grand Cour-
onne de Nancy. They advanced
south on both sides of the Moselle,
took Pont-a-Mousson, entered the
Forest of the Advance Guard, and at-
tacked a battalion of French infantry
on the plateau of Ste. Genevieve.
Against all the rules of war, this heroic
battalion stood its ground; and at the
end of the day it had repulsed, with
appalling enemy losses, the massed at-
tacks which were repeatedly launched
against it. Then, on September 6,
came the main German attack oppo-
site the southern end of the Grand
Couronne, the Forest of Champenoux,
and the River Meurthe. Heavily out-
numbered, the French were pushed
back through the Forest of Champen-
oux; and the Germans actually got a
foothold on the Plateau d'Amance at
the southern extremity of the Grand

Thus far they got, and no farther.
Both here, and along the Meurthe far-
ther south, the attacking masses -were
checked and thrown back by the devas-
tating fire which met them, directed
from positions long prepared with a
view to just such an eventuality as
this. Even after the crisis was over,
the Germans launched in vain spas-
modic attacks against the French posi-
tions, probably with the object of
pinning down the large forces which
they falsely believed to be facing them.
But gradually these attacks died down ;
by the time the battle of the Marne was
over, the Crown Prince of Bavaria was


The advantage of using motor-lorries for the transport of supplies to armies in the field is obvious. With a rate of
speed and a carrying capacity unapproached by any horse-vehicles, the big automobile camions (actual kitchens on
wheels) took soup and other rations close up behind the front lines to furnish cheer and comfort for the poilu.
Cooks, dish-washers and attendants often displayed as great heroism as the fighters. On the modern field of
battle the soldier, weary, often faint, sometimes chilled and drenched, is not left, as a rule, to the cold and cheerless
refreshment of hardtack and other emergency food, but has his stew and tea hot from the kettles of the traveling
commissary division.


by a Gert

trucks exhiuumg great activity, stacKs ot arms, ana soldiers ostentatiously marching were displayed before the in-
habitants to depress their spirits. It was an imposing panorama of system, equipment, war machinery and dis-
cipline, calculated to produce awe and dismay. Men, horses, guns, wagons and everything else were brushed and
polished to parade perfection.



in retreat; and de Castelnau was once
more pushing on toward the border.


While de Castelnau was thus, with
gallant resolution, defending the east-
ern barrier of France, the great battle
in the west between Paris and Verdun
was developing. It was on September
5 that the first gun in the long-awaited
French counter-offensive was fired.
On that day Manoury's Sixth Army
hurled itself on the German Fourth

Online LibraryJames Bryce BryceThe book of history. A history of all nations from the earliest times to the present, with over 8,000 illustrations (Volume 16) → online text (page 17 of 51)