The German advance in Belgium, however, remained unchecked, and in Lorraine the battles of Dieuze and Saarbourg on Aug. 20 decided the issue in favor of the Bavarians. In Alsace the French were victorious over the Eighth Army and took Muelhausen, while further north, between Muenster and Shirmeck, the Seventh Army checked the French invasion.
Meanwhile the German avalanche in Belgium had reached the second line of defense, Brussels-Namur-Longwy, before the French Army of the North. The capture of Namur prompted the French staff to recall advance guards, which had reached the fortress just as it surrendered, and to accept battle in the line Mons-Charleroi-Givet-Longwy. The battle for the invasion of France and the retirement of the French armies in all the theatres of action which it caused opens the second period of the campaign against France.
The English contingent from Havre had joined the French Army just before the German onslaught began. The battle was lost by the Allies tactically and strategically through the defeat of their right wing at Longwy and Neufchateau, and through the encircling of their left wing at Mons. The direct result of the outcome was the German invasion of France; the indirect consequence (resulting from the necessity of drawing troops from the other fields of action to stem the German invasion) was the retirement of the French armies in Lorraine and Alsace to the line Verdun-Nancy-St. Die, and further south to the passes of the Vosges, which they have been holding ever since.
Sweeping on through Northern France, the German Army of the North was breaking up all resistance in its path, such as was attempted by the British at St. Quentin on Aug. 28, and was tearing with it all fortresses, such as Longwy, La Fere, Maubeuge, and others; but it was failing in its principal aim: to embrace the skillfully retreating enemy before he could reach the line Paris-Verdun, which he had selected and prepared for the next stand.
On Aug. 30 the German plan of strategy was changed, and it was resolved to break the centre of the enemy, throwing his left wing into Paris and on the Seine and his right wing into Verdun, Toul, and Epinal. The armies of the centre were pushed forward, while either wing held back. The Allies were established in the general line Paris-Verdun.
The battle ensuing on Sept. 5 and the retreat of the Germans to the Aisne are the events of the third period of this campaign, lasting from Sept. 5 to Sept. 28. On Sept. 8, while the German attacks had all but pierced the French centre, having already bent it back beyond the line Sezanne-Vitry, the German right wing found itself outflanked by a new allied army from Paris, which was rapidly moving northward and threatened to roll up the entire German battle front from the direction of Compiegne. The critical question, who would succeed first, the Allies in outflanking the German right or the Germans in piercing the French centre, was decided in favor of the Allies. Anglo-French strategy triumphed.
The tactical aspect of the situation, though, is best illustrated by the message sent to his commander-in-chief by General Foch, commanding the French Army of the Centre when he received the order to counter-attack: "My left has been forced back, my right is routed. I shall attack with the centre." When the counter-attack came it found but rear guards opposing it. The retreat of the Germans, their right flank constantly in danger of being rolled up, was a fine military achievement. On Sept. 12 it halted on the Aisne. In the regions northeast of Verdun the German left wing joined hands with the Sixth German Army, which had followed up the retirement of the French Army of Lorraine to the line Verdun-St. Die.
Thus resting on Metz with its left wing the German battle-front was strongly established on a line passing Verdun, to the east and northeast, extending from there in a general westerly direction to the valley of the Aisne as far as the region north of Compiegne, and from that point northward to the region west of Peronne and Cambrai.
The stability of this line, enabling a constant shifting of forces toward the right wing, and the arrival there of the army released from Maubeuge, made possible the extension of the battle-front to the region of Arras, and frustrated all flanking movements on the part of the Allies.
The situation was again safe, but the plan to put the French army hors de combat was far from having been realized. The German General Staff therefore decided on a new plan. Its purpose was to gain control of the northeast coast of France. A wedge should be driven between the two allied countries, and Pas-de-Calais made the base of further operations against both. The following out of this plan constitutes the fourth and last period of the first phase of the western campaign. It starts with the beginning of the siege of Antwerp on Sept. 28 and ends with the first battle of Ypres on Oct. 27.
The first step toward the accomplishment of the new aims was the capture of Antwerp. Antwerp in the hands of the Allies meant a constant menace to the German line of communication; in possession of the Germans it signified the key to Northern France. The fortress was taken on Oct. 9. The next point of strategic importance for the pursuance of the German plan was Lille, which was taken on Oct. 12.
But the change in the German plan of strategy had been recognized by the Allies, and a new English army from Havre was hurried to the line Bethune-Dunkirk to extend the allied left wing to the coast and block the road to Calais. It reached West Flanders on Oct. 13, and on Oct. 16 it came in contact with the German Army that approached from Antwerp. The latter joined the German right wing north of Lille and extended it to Westende. On the 18th, after having brought up all their reserves, the Germans began their onslaught to break through in the region of Dixmude and Ypres.
While, by Oct. 27, no appreciable impression had been made on the allied battleline, the situation in the eastern seat of war had begun to assume an alarming aspect, and necessitated the complete change in the German plan of strategy, which marks the beginning of the second phase of the war.
On the western front this second phase meant for the Germans the going into the defensive along the entire battleline, which the allied armies have been relentlessly attempting to break. In spite of their continuous heroic efforts only minor successes, such as that of the British at Neuve Chapelle and that of the French to the north of Arras, have been achieved. Counter attacks, forming the most essential element of the modern defensive, have been launched by the Germans incessantly, and have on several occasions resulted in successes similar to those of the Allies, as, for instance, at Soissons and at Ypres. On the whole, no changes of strategic importance have taken place, and the German wall in France stands firm to this day.
THE EASTERN CAMPAIGN
While, in the early days of August, the bulk of the German Army was moving westward, not more than ten army corps were available for the campaign against Russia. To them and to the Austrian armies fell the task of laying the basis for the offensive contemplated for a later date. The plan of campaign was to draw the Russians into the Polish bag and tie it up. It was based on the knowledge that Russia's principal strategic aim must, under all circumstances, be Cracow, the gateway to Vienna and Berlin.
The enemy was to be allowed to reach it through Poland, while the Germans should hold on to East Prussia and the Austrians to Galicia, to flank the Russian advance from the north and south in preparation for a campaign against the Russian lines of communication. This scheme of bagging the enemy has governed all strategic moves of the campaign against Russia to this day.
But the Muscovites were on their guard. They paid little attention to the few German divisions that were thrown into Poland in August, in order to attract a Russian offensive, and began hammering at the Teutonic flanking positions along the East Prussian frontier in the north and the line Lublin-Tarnopol in the south.
While the Russian offensive in East Prussia came to grief at Tannenberg, it was most successful against Galicia, and the eighth week of the war already found the Russian invasion west of the San, Przemysl besieged, and the Austrian right wing flanked by vast bodies of cavalry, which had penetrated the Carpathian passes and reached the region of Munkacs.
To relieve the pressure exerted on their Allies and give them a chance once more to establish themselves in north-eastern Galicia, four German army corps invaded Poland and advanced toward Radom and Ivangorod. This counter move was successful. Menaced in their right flank, the Russians quickly took back their army beyond the San. The Austrians followed, raised the siege of Przemysl, and drove the invaders from Hungary and straightened out their line from Sandomir to Czernowitz.
Meanwhile heavy Russian reinforcements had been brought up from Ivangorod and were gradually put in action against the Germans east of Radom. On Oct. 24, as soon as the Russian superiority became alarming, the four German army corps, having, temporarily at least, accomplished their purpose of re-establishing the Austrian campaign, beat a hasty retreat toward Silesia, during which the second purpose of their invasion, to draw into the Polish bag great masses of Russian troops, was successfully achieved, the Russians having been led to believe that they were pursuing a great German army.
Simultaneously, though, with their advance in the path of the German retreat in Poland, the Russians once more concentrated vast forces against the menacing projection of the Austrian battleline in Galicia, and the early days of November witnessed the second invasion of the Austrian province. At the same time a new drive was made on East Prussia, and the Germans were forced back into the region of the Masurian Lakes.
The retirement of the entire Teutonic battleline before the Russians, who toward the end of October had reached the maximum of their strength, marks the end of the first phase of the eastern campaign. It had not accomplished all that had been expected of it. The enemy had been drawn far into South Poland, but the base of operations for the general offensive against his communications in the north had not been established just where it should have been, and the Russian frontier fortifications had been found better prepared for resistance than those of Belgium, while in the south the Austrian base of operations was entirely in the hands of the enemy.
The second phase of the eastern campaign was therefore opened from a new base—Thorn, where the main army had been gathered ever since Oct. 27, when the Russian danger had become alarming, and the offensive in the west had been abandoned. It was suddenly launched with irresistible force on Nov. 12, and rolled back numerically inferior Russian armies, whose task it had been to protect the right flank of the Russian advance on Silesia.
Recognizing the danger to their operations in South Poland and Galicia, where they had meanwhile approached the line of the Warta, Cracow, and Neu Sandec, the Russians threw troops into North Poland from all sides and succeeded in temporarily detaining the German advance there, while they were continuing their supreme efforts to break the Austro-German line south of Cracow. But the line held. At the same time the German drive in North Poland was making steady headway.
On Dec. 6 the Germans took Lodz, and further north advanced on Lowitz, and the Russian offensive in the Cracow district was given up. While all troops that could be spared were sent northeast to support the prepared lines of the Bzura and Rawka Rivers, the Russians in the south fell back behind the Nida and Dunajec, joining with their right wing their northern army in the region of Tomaschew, and extending their left through the region of Gorlitz and Torka toward the Pruth. In this line the Teutonic advance was checked. A new German drive on the road from Soldau to Warsaw could likewise make no headway beyond Mlawa, while on the other hand in East Prussia the Russian offensive had been brought to a standstill.
A siege warfare, like that in France, seemed imminent, except in the Bukowina, where Russian forces during January were driving Austrian troops before them. The Russian invasion of that province, however, so distant from all strategically important points, was but a political manoeuvre.
The first movement of any consequence to occur was a desperate attempt of the Austrians early in February to push forward with their right wing in the direction of Stanislau, chiefly to bring relief to the garrison of Przemysl. Simultaneously they began sweeping the Russians out of Bukovina. The latter undertaking was successful, but the advance on Stanislau was thrown back toward Nadworna.
While the Austrian offensive was under way, General von Hindenburg unexpectedly launched a vigorous attack in East Prussia, which resulted in the destruction of the Russian East Prussian Army in the region of the Masurian Lakes. Once more a successful drive at the Russian "bread line" from the north seemed at hand. Already the armies pursuing the Russians were hammering at the Russian fortifications along the Niemen, Bobr, and Narew when the surrender of Przemysl, the siege of which had uninterruptedly gone on behind the Russian lines since November, on March 22 again presented to the Russians an opportunity to break the Austrian battleline.
To check the onslaught of the reinforced Russian armies against the Carpathian passes early in April, troops must be drawn from General von Hindenberg's armies, and the consequence was another deadlock in the north. Meanwhile the reinforced Teutonic troops were hurriedly concentrated for the counter-attack against the Russian offensive in the Carpathians, and a great drive began against the Russian positions on the Dunajec line, east of Cracow, early in May. Breaking all resistance, it swept on toward Jaroslau and Przemysl on a sixty-mile front.
Threatened in their right and left flanks, respectively, the Russian lines on the Nida and in the Carpathians fell back rapidly, while reinforcements were sent to stem the Teutonic advance along the San. But the Russian efforts were in vain. The momentum the Teutonic offensive had gained carried it across the river, while further south the Austrian right wing cleared the entire Carpathian front of the enemy, hotly pushing his retreat.
Przemysl was recaptured, the third Russian line of defense from Rawa-Ruska to Grodeck and the Dniester was broken, and the end of June saw Lemberg once more in the hands of the Teutons, and the Russian line on the defensive and sorely pressed along a front extending from the Bessarabian frontier along the Dniester to the mouth of the Zlota-Lipa, and from there along the Zlota-Lipa and the Bug, well into Russian territory, leaving the river southeast of Grubeschow, and continuing from there in a northwesterly direction to the region of Krasnik.
Here it joined hands with the left wing of the Russian Army of the Nida, which had retired before the Austro-German advance in a northeasterly direction, intrenching along a line from Krasnik across the Vistula and through Sjenno and Jastrshob (about fifteen miles southwest of Radom) to the region of Tomaschew on the Pilitza.
While this great Spring offensive from the Dunajec line was well under way, small German forces invaded the Russian province of Courland. Finding at first little resistance in the path of their unexpected advance, they took Libau and established themselves on the Dubissa-Windau line. During July the operations in Courland steadily assumed greater proportions.
Two bases for the campaign against the Russian lines of communication have thus been firmly established in the flanks of the Russian Armies west of the Vistula, both protruding far into their rear. Drives against the Dunaburg-Warsaw line from the north and the Minsk-Ivangorod line from the south will open the second year of the eastern campaign. The first year of the incessant struggle has brought the aims of the German strategy, the bagging of the Russian Armies, within sight of its realization.
CAMPAIGNS OF MINOR IMPORTANCE
While the struggle in the two principal seats of war has been going on, the passing year has witnessed fighting also of secondary importance, though not less heroic, in three other fields of action: Serbia, Turkey, and the Austro-Italian frontier. Whereas Turkey joined the Teutons but three months after the beginning of hostilities, and Italy was involved only at the end of May, Serbia was one of the first nations to take the field.
Austria's campaign against the little kingdom could under no circumstances influence the events of the war, and was therefore void of any strategic importance. For this reason, but three Austrian Army corps were engaged in it.
The purpose was merely to keep the Serbians busy, and prevent them from invading Austrian soil. For the sake of the moral effect on the other Balkan States the capture of Belgrade should be attempted. In view of the strength of the Danube fortifications the operations were launched from Bosnia and resulted in the forcing of the Drina line and the capture of Valjevo on Nov. 17. The Serbian positions on the Danube having thus been flanked, the abandonment of Belgrade on Dec. 2 was a natural consequence of the Battle of Valjevo.
Misled by their successes into the belief that the Serbian army had been placed hors de combat, the Austrians advanced beyond the lines destined to constitute the object of their offensive. In the difficult mountain districts southeast of Valjevo the Serbians turned on the invaders with superior forces and defeated them. The Austrian retreat to the Drina which followed, necessitated the evacuation of Belgrade on Dec. 15. Since then, the situation on the Serbian frontier has been a deadlock, only desultory and insignificant fighting occurring for the rest of the year.
In contrast to the operations in Serbia, Turkey's campaign has direct bearing on the European war. Its chief feature, the closing of the Dardanelles, has been a serious blow to Russia. The frantic efforts of the Allies to open them are the plainest evidence of its importance.
The attempt in March to force the straits by naval power having resulted in failure, an army was landed on the west coast of Gallipoli, and after heavy fighting established itself on a line running from Eski-Hissarlik on the south coast of the peninsula to the region of Sari-Bair, on the north coast, constituting a front of approximately twenty miles, within five miles of the west coast. No progress further than this have the Allies been able to make up to the present, and the watch at the Dardanelles stands firm as yet.
The attacks of the Anglo-French armies, however, exerted influence on Turkey's operations in other fields of action. They caused the complete abandonment of a contemplated invasion of Egypt and compelled the Turkish troops to go on the defensive in the Caucasian seat of war. This enabled Russia to call back to Poland troops sorely needed there, with which they had had to check the Turkish advance on Kars in January. Since February both battlelines along the Caucasian front have been weakened and no fighting of any consequence has occurred in this campaign of merely secondary importance.
The operations in the latest field of action, along the Austro-Italian frontier, have been going on for but eight weeks, and do not, therefore, allow any conclusions as to their importance to be made as yet. So far the Italians have been unable to make any effective impression on either Austria's Tyrolese frontier or on the front of the Isonzo. All attempts to break through the Austrian lines have thus far failed. The aim of Austria's strategy is to maintain a deadlock until the issue has been decided in Poland.
In determining the results of the first year of the world war the question as to which side is holding the advantage at the close of this important period depends entirely upon what were the political aims of the adversaries. The Teutonic allies' contention has ever been, rightly or wrongly, that they are not waging a war for territorial aggrandizement, but purely one in self-defense. From this point of view they can be well satisfied with the results they have so far attained.
An American View
By the Military Expert of The New York Times
Opening the Way to France Through Belgium
By Aug. 4, 1914, war had been declared by all the nations now engaged except Turkey and Italy. Subsequent events have proved that of them all the Teutonic allies were the only nations actually prepared and that as between Austria and Germany the preparation of the latter was much more complete. It was the Germans, therefore, who, with the entire campaign carefully mapped out in advance, took the initiative. Germany, too, at the very outset saw the one clear path to victory.
One or the other of her Continental enemies must not only be defeated, but crushed and eliminated from the conflict before the other could mobilize against her. One of them, Russia, would probably take the longer time to effect her mobilization. Russia had started, it is true, before war was declared. But interior railroads in Russia are few. Russia, too, is proverbially slow, if for no other reason than by virtue of her ponderous numbers. France, on the other hand, is checked and counter-checked by good strategic railroads, and, having no such vast territory over which her troops would have to be moved, would be able to mobilize in a much shorter time than her ally. England, for a few weeks at least, could be disregarded. Deceived as to the extent of Russian unpreparedness and believing that Russia's slowness would prevent an active offense for some weeks, Germany selected France as her first objective, and took immediate steps to hurl twenty-four army corps across the French border at various points, aiming at Paris.
These twenty-four corps were divided into three armies—the Army of the Meuse, based on Cologne; the Army of the Moselle, based on Metz and Coblenz, and the Army of the Rhine, based on Strassburg. All of these three armies were naturally to converge on Paris. The route of the Army of the Meuse would pass through Liege, Namur, and Maubeuge, and would therefore have to cross a part of Belgium; the Army of the Moselle would take a route through Sedan and Soissons, passing north of the Verdun fortress, but of necessity crossing the Duchy of Luxemburg; the Army of the Rhine, after crossing the screen of the Vosges Mountains, would pass through Nancy and Toul, between the fortresses of Epinal and Belfort.
It is obvious that the march to Paris would be most quickly achieved through the flat country of Belgium, where the French frontier is practically unguarded and only the weakly manned barrier fortresses of Belgium barred the way. The remainder of the French frontier from Luxemburg to Switzerland was well fortified, and Germany had no time to spend in reducing fortified places.
The main advance was therefore to take place through Belgium, the Army of the Moselle co-operating, while to the Army of the Rhine was assigned the offensive-defensive role of advancing to the barrier fortresses of Epinal and Belfort to check any French advance that might be directed against the communications of the Armies of the Moselle and the Meuse to the north. The railroad communications through the Belgian plain were splendidly adapted to this plan, backed as they were by the military railroads which Germany had constructed several years before, running through the industrial districts in the north of the German Empire up to the Belgian border.
Germany's first move was the invasion of Luxemburg, violating the neutrality of a State which, under the treaty making her independent and guaranteeing neutrality, (to which treaty Germany was a party,) was not permitted to maintain an army. Two days later Germany asked passage for her troops through Belgium, for the purpose of attacking France. Belgium promptly refused, and on Aug. 4 Germany began the forcing of this passage by an attack on Liege.
Thus, at the outset the German plan went awry. Although the contemplated line of advance was through Liege and Namur, it was not sufficient, with Belgium openly in arms to defend her country, to reduce only these two towns. The Belgian Army could, and later did, fall back to the north on Louvain, Brussels, and Antwerp, and so be directly on the German flank and in a position to strike at the line of communications. It was therefore necessary to subjugate all of Belgium either by destroying the Belgian Army or driving it before them in their advance.
Thus, the German advance was not only doomed to delay, but at least 100,000 troops were needed to garrison a hostile country and to protect the life lines running to the rear.
Three days after the attack on Liege opened the Germans penetrated between the outer forts, their infantry advancing in close formation and sustaining enormous losses. But Liege was worth the price paid. Some of the forts held out for days, but were finally reduced by the fire of the 42-centimeter guns—the first of the German surprises. The Belgian garrison, however, had done its work. The German advance was delayed for ten precious days, during which the first consignment of the British expeditionary force had reached the Continent and France and Russia had largely completed their mobilization.
As soon as it was realized that the unexpected Belgian resistance had retarded the German advance and in all probability had disarranged the German plan of campaign, the French, even before the guns of Liege had cooled, struck at Alsace, through the Belford Gap and over the Vosges Mountains. At first this French offensive was successful. Points on the Metz-Strassburg Railroad were taken and the town of Muelhausen captured. But almost before the news of success reached Paris the French had been defeated, not only in Alsace but also in Lorraine, whence French troops had been sent to engage the German Army of the Moselle. The result was the retirement of the French to the line of their first defense—a line that had been prepared for just such an emergency during the years since 1871.
While the German armies of the Moselle and of the Rhine were thus occupied in repelling the French advance the Army of the Meuse was forcing its way through Belgium. Throwing out a strong cavalry screen in its front, this army advanced through Tongres, St. Frond, Laugen, Haelen, and Terlemont, and finally confronted the Belgians on the line from Louvain to Namur. Fighting on this front filled almost a week, when the destruction of the fortifications of Namur forced the Belgians to fall back, pivoting on Louvain to the line from Louvain to Wavre, the last line in front of Brussels. On Aug. 20 the Belgians were defeated at Louvain and the Germans entered Brussels, the Belgian Government having previously retired to Antwerp. The first phase of the German advance was thus completed and the way to France was open.
From the Fall of Brussels to von Kluck's Retreat to the Aisne
Immediately following the fall of Namur, which forced the Belgians to take up the Louvain-Wavre line, the main German Army of the Meuse started for France, leaving possibly two army corps to drive the Belgians from Brussels and to protect their flank and their lines of communication. The German advance first came in contact with the French and British along a line from Mons to Charleroi, southwest of Brussels. The British were supposed to have been between two French armies, but for some reason the army which had been assigned to position on the British left did not appear. Being outflanked, a retreat followed, the French being defeated at the same time at Charleroi. The German Army of the Moselle then attacked along the Meuse, and, being also successful, was on the flank and rear of the British and French retreating from Mons and Charleroi.
Thus a great enveloping movement was disclosed which for some days gave every evidence of being successful. It was defeated, however, entirely by the British, who, though outflanked and outnumbered three to one, fought steadily night and day for six days, their small force holding in complete check all of von Kluck's army corps. Retreat was of course inevitable, but the retreat was made in good order and with the morale of the troops unshaken.
In the meantime the German General Staff, which had confidently expected to crush France before Russia could become a factor to be reckoned with, saw with alarm Russia pouring her troops into East Prussia in a drive against Koenigsberg, while in South Poland another Russian army was preparing a drive against Galicia, operating from the Ivangorod-Rowno railroad. Germany saw the Austrians being defeated everywhere; Lemberg, the capital of Galicia, captured; Przemysl masked, and the Russians fighting their way westward through Galicia between the Carpathians and the Vistula. But Austria's troubles at this stage were her own. Germany had all she could do to turn back the Russian invasion of East Prussia.
To face the peril on her eastern borders Germany detached several army corps—probably five—from the western front, with them reinforced her eastern army, and in a few days after their arrival inflicted a disastrous defeat on the Russians at Tannenburg, driving them back practically to their own borders. But the damage had been done. The armies of the west had been weakened at a critical point, and General Joffre was given the opportunity he had been seeking since the beginning of the war.
The French and British, whose retreat had carried them to the Marne, now outnumbered the Germans, and, what is more important, were able to concentrate their forces by calling in those troops who had been engaged in the counter-offensive in Alsace. Taking advantage of their superiority in numbers, the Allies took the offensive. Holding the Germans fast in the centre, the Paris garrison struck hurriedly northeast toward Soisson with the idea of getting around von Kluck's flank. For several days it seemed that von Kluck and his army must be captured. But, moving north with great rapidity, abandoning much of his artillery and supplies, he escaped the net Joffre had spread for him, and anchored himself securely behind the Aisne. The great German movement was thus brought to an abrupt halt, and they were now on the defensive. Paris was saved. For ten days the Allies fought desperately to cross the Aisne and force von Kluck to continue his retreat. But finally the effort was given up, and the two armies faced each other across the Aisne deadlocked.
The Russians meanwhile had not been idle. Although their operations against the reinforced German Army had a negative result, against the Austrians in Galicia their success continued. Przemysl had not been taken, but, hemming it in securely, the Russians passed on and took the fortified town of Jaroslau, near the lower San. The menace of the Russian invasion of Galicia then became apparent. Galicia, with her wealth of oil and minerals, the fertile plains of Hungary just the other side of the Carpathians, Cracow, opening the gate to Breslau and Berlin—these were the things the Teutons stood in danger of losing, and it is not surprising that they viewed the Russian advance with alarm.
There is but one more incident to record before closing what might well be considered the second phase of the war. That is the fall of Antwerp. It was Belgium's final sacrifice on the altar of her national honor. And no matter what our ancestry may be, nor how our sympathies may lie, we cannot but reverence a people whose sense of national duty and honor is so high that they are willing to sacrifice and do sacrifice their all to maintain it.
From the Fall of Antwerp to the Beginning of the Battle for Warsaw
When it became apparent to General French that the line of the Aisne, to which the Germans had retreated after the battle of the Marne, was too strong to be forced, he withdrew his troops, about 100,000 men, from the line, his place being filled by the French reserves. The object of the withdrawal was another flanking movement against the German right. The idea seems to have been that by withdrawing and entraining at night the movement would be entirely concealed from the Germans until the British were actually in Belgium, and that an advance along the left bank of the Scheldt would turn the flank of the whole German army in France, compelling a general retreat. The movement was discovered by German air scouts, however, and the troops that had been before Antwerp met and checked the British, who took up finally the line along the Yser Canal, through Ypres to La Bassee, opposed by three German army corps.
But one thing saved the British from another defeat and prevented a more disastrous retreat than that from Mons and Charleroi. When the Germans took Antwerp the Belgian garrison of about 50,000 men escaped and by a brilliant retreat retired to a line from Nieuport to Dixmude. They thus guarded the left flank of the British line and by a stubborn resistance prevented this flank from being turned and the British driven south toward Paris. Nothing else prevented Dunkirk, Calais, and Boulogne from falling into German hands at this time.
As it afterward turned out, the German plan, after the fall of Antwerp, was a sudden drive to Calais. The plan was conceived and the movement begun at the same time General French put into execution his attempt to outflank the German position. These forces met on the Ypres-La Bassee line, and both were halted. It was a fortuitous chance, then, that the Germans were held back from the coast, as well as deprived of an opportunity to strike at Paris from the north. For three weeks the Germans battled fiercely, with almost total disregard for the loss of life involved. Finally the attack died out, and with its death the whole line from the North Sea to the Swiss frontier settled down to trench warfare.
While the armies in the west were checking each other until the status of a "stalemate" had been reached, affairs in the eastern theatre had been moving rapidly. Persuaded by German money, a temptation the Turk has ever been powerless to resist, Turkey late in October joined hands with the Teutons and declared war on the Allies. The Japanese, who had at the outset joined hands with England, had, after a wonderful defense by the Germans, taken the German Chinese city of Kiao-Chau. But of more importance still was the activity of the opposing armies in Russia and in Galicia.
After the battle of Fannenburg, in which Russia was defeated and driven back to her own borders, the Germans invaded Suwalki Province in Northern Poland. The Russians again took the offensive, defeated the Germans in the battle of Augustovo, and, pressing westward, again entered East Prussia in the region of the Mazurian Lakes. In this territory a deadlock followed, both Russians and Germans remaining with horns locked and unable to move until early Spring.
In Galicia, however, events moved with greater rapidity, and the results were vastly more important. After the fall of Lemberg and Jaroslau the Russians pressed forward across the San to Tarnow, masking Przemysl on the way, and took up a line along the Dunajec to the Carpathians and east through Galicia along the Dniester and the Pruth to the Rumanian frontier, thus threatening not only the plains of Hungary, which lay just across the Carpathian summits, but also Bukowina, the Crownland of Austria.
Austria's plight was desperate, and German assistance was necessary. Von Hindenburg's first attack on Warsaw, the battle being called the battle of the Vistula, was the answer. The Germans advanced against the Russian centre, the Austrians against the left in Galicia. At first both were successful, but heavy Russian reinforcements succeeded in turning the German left, almost at the very gates of Warsaw. The Germans were forced to retreat, and fell back to their own borders. The Austrians were at the same time compelled to retreat, due to the uncovering of their flank, and again Russia was in supreme control of Galicia as far west as Cracow. As the Germans retreated the Russians followed, and another invasion of Germany was threatened, and it was von Hindenburg again who was to throw it back.
This he did, driving forward in three columns, two of which were intended to move against the Russian flanks. The Russian centre fell back to Lodz, but the right was still threatened. Again Russia assembled her reserves, and before von Hindenburg realized the situation a Russian army was not only on his flank but in his rear. A retreat was necessary. The Germans, assisted by corps drawn from the west, cut their way out and escaped from the Russian trap through the failure of one of the Russian armies to co-operate in the movement in time. But the German offense had failed and the effort had been terribly expensive.
Another offense was immediately planned—this time to move along the Vistula and strike at Warsaw from the southwest. This also was a failure, and the two armies finally became deadlocked along the line of the Bzura and the Rawka Rivers.
No further fighting of importance in this theatre until February, when the battle of the Mazurian Lakes was fought. It will be recalled that after the German defeat at Augustovo the Russians pursued the Germans into the lake district, where the two armies became practically deadlocked. This situation was broken by the Germans, who suddenly attacked both flanks of the Russian army and inflicted upon it a disastrous defeat, in which one army corps surrendered and the remainder escaped only after enormous losses.
But the victory, like other German victories, while decisive as far as the particular Russian army involved was concerned, did nothing toward hastening peace. The beginning of Spring found the armies in both theatres completely at a standstill, except in Galicia.
In the west since the failure of the German drive on Calais there has been no movement that has affected the general situation. The anniversary of the declaration of war finds the lines of the Germans and the French practically where they were six months ago. A number of battles have been fought for the possession of certain points of vantage—in the Champagne, the Argonne, at Neuve Chapelle, Ypres, Les Eparges, Hartmannsweilerkopf, Metzeral, Souchez—but they have resulted in only a local effect, although they have been accompanied in almost every case by losses that have been staggering.
The principal event of the Spring in the west has been the advent of Italy into the maelstrom. But this has not affected the situation up to the present time. Italy has a hard problem on her hands which must be solved before she can make herself felt. She has but one line of advance—the line of the Isonzo. But she dare not advance and leave the passes through the Tyrolean and the Carnic Alps open for Germany and Austria to pour troops in against her flank and rear. Her task therefore is first to stop every pass by which this can be done; and then, and then only, is she ready to move. This is being done, but the task is a difficult one, the country impossible from a military viewpoint, and progress necessarily slow.
In the east, however, the coming of Spring brought a series of the most tremendous movements of the war. The Allies began an operation against the Dardanelles, with the object of forcing the strait, taking Constantinople, and thus at once releasing the great store of grain in Southern Russia and providing a means of getting ammunition to Russia from the west. The operations at first were entirely naval. But after serious loss, with no corresponding advantage, it was realized that the naval forces alone were not sufficient, and troops were landed on the western end of the Gallipoli Peninsula. This force has been for three months hammering at the positions of the Turks along the Achibaba line, but, except for the possible influence on the Balkan States of the presence of these expeditionary forces on Gallipoli, little headway has been made. Certain it is that there is no indication that the near future will bring the Allies into Constantinople.
In Galicia the Spring began with the capitulation of Przemysl and the surrender to the Russians of about 125,000 Austrians. This was the greatest victory in the eastern theatre thus far, and immediately opened the way wide to the passes in the Carpathians that led to the Hungarian plains and to Cracow. Russia evidently felt that if she confined her operations to Austria she could, by pushing the attack into Hungary, crush Austria completely and eliminate her from the war. Accordingly, the opportunity of laying siege to Cracow was passed by and Russian efforts concentrated in forcing the Carpathian passes.
For weeks the battle of the Carpathians was in progress. The Austrians, reinforced by strong German contingents, fought desperately, and, although several of the passes were finally captured, Uzok Pass, the centre of the line and the key to the whole Carpathian situation, held out. While the battle for its possession was in progress the Germans were quietly concentrating along the Dunajec. Suddenly their attack was launched, the line of the Dunajec forced, and the Russian flank and their lines of communication were seriously involved. To prevent being cut off, the forces in the Carpathians were compelled to fall back to their lateral lines. Preponderance of artillery forced the retreat through Galicia, and in an incredibly short time Jaroslaw, Przemysl, and Lemberg were again in the hands of the Teutons and Galicia practically cleared of the Russian invaders.
Earlier in the Spring the Germans under von Buelow had landed in Northern Russia and the Gulf of Riga, and, gradually working south, had effected a junction with von Hindenburg's army in front of Warsaw. Coming north through Galicia, Mackensen had driven the Russians back to the line of the Ivangorod-Lublin railroad and had established connections with von Hindenburg's right. Von Linsengen and the Austrian Archduke Francis Joseph completed the line facing the Russians along the upper Viprez, the Bug, the Flota Lipa, and the Dniester. Simultaneously, with all flanks guarded, the Teutons began to close in on Warsaw in the most stupendous military movement of history. As this article is written it seems that nothing can save the Polish capital; before it goes to press, even Warsaw may be in German hands. One thing is evident—the Kaiser has returned to his plan of a year ago—Napoleon's plan—the only plan that can succeed—completely to crush one opponent first and then turn against the other; only now it is Russia and not France upon which the blows are falling.
NOTE: A military review of the European warfare during August will appear in the next number of CURRENT HISTORY, in connection with the Chronology.—[Editor, CURRENT HISTORY.]
Inferences from Eleven Months of the European Conflict
By Charles W. Eliot, President Emeritus of Harvard University
Asticou, Maine, July 16, 1915.
To the Editor of the New York Times:
The inferences of the first importance are military and naval. In the conduct of war on land it has been demonstrated during the past eleven months that success in battle depends primarily on the possession and skillful use of artillery and machine guns. The nation which can command the largest quantity of artillery in great variety of calibre and range, has developed the amplest and quickest means of transporting artillery and supplies of all sorts, and whose troops can use mortars, howitzers, and cannon at the highest speed and with the greatest accuracy will have important advantages over an enemy less well provided, or less skillful. Before every assault by infantry artillery must sweep and plow the position to be captured, and so soon as the enemy has lost a trench or a redoubt the enemy's artillery will try to destroy the successful troops with shell and shrapnel, before the enemy's infantry makes a counter-attack. Whenever troops have open ground to cross before they reach the intrenchments of the enemy, they encounter a withering fire from machine guns, which is so effective that assaults over open ground have, for the most part, to be undertaken at night or in fog, or by some sort of surprise.
In general the defense has great advantage over the attack, as regards expenditure of both men and munitions. So decided is the advantage of the defense, that Germany can dismiss all those apprehensions about invasion by the Russian hordes with which she set out on this war. Success in military movements on a large scale depends on the means of transportation at hand; and these means of transportation must include railroads, automobiles, and horse wagons, the function of the automobile being of high importance wherever the roads are tolerably good. There is little use for cavalry in the new fighting; for aeroplanes can do better scouting and more distant raiding than cavalry ever could, and large bodies of infantry with their indispensable supplies can be moved faster and further by automobiles than cavalry could ever be.
The aeroplane also defeats the former use of cavalry to screen from the enemy's view the movements of troops and their trains behind the actual fronts. Moreover, cavalry cannot stand at all against the new artillery and the machine gun. An old-fashioned cavalry charge in the open is useless, and indeed impossible. Aerial warfare is still undeveloped, but the war has proved that the aeroplane, even in its present imperfect condition, is a useful instrument. The Zeppelin, on the other hand, seems to be too fragile and too unmanageable for effective use in war. Rifle fire is of far less importance than artillery and machine gun fire; and, indeed, the abandonment of the rifle as the principal arm for infantry is clearly suggested.
Elaborate forts made of iron and concrete are of little use against a competent invader, and fortifications round about cities are of no use for protection against an enemy that possesses adequate artillery. For the defense of a frontier, or of the approaches to a railroad junction or a city, a system of trenches is immeasurably superior to forts, particularly if behind the trenches a network of railways or of smooth highways exists. Wounds are often inflicted by jagged pieces of metal which carry bits of dirty clothing and skin into the wounds, and the wounded often lie on the ground for hours or even days before aid can reach them. Hence the surgery of this war is largely the surgery of infected wounds, and not of smooth aseptic cuts and holes. A considerable percentage of deaths and permanent disabilities among the wounded is the inevitable result. Surgeons and dressers are more exposed to death and wounds than in former wars, because of the large use of artillery of long range, the field hospitals being often under fire.
From these changes in the methods of war on land it may be safely inferred that a nation which would be strong in war on land must be strong in all sorts of manufacturing, and particularly in the metallurgical industries. A nation chiefly devoted to agriculture and the ancient trades cannot succeed in modern war, unless it can beg, borrow, or buy from sympathizers or allies the necessary artillery and munitions. No amount of courage and devotion in troops can make up for an inadequate supply of artillery, machine guns, shells, and shrapnel, or for the lack of ample means of rapid transportation. Only in a rough country without good roads, like the United States in 1861-65, or Serbia or Russia now, can the rifle, light artillery, and horse or ox wagons win any considerable success; and in such a country the trench method can bring about a stalemate, if the combatants are well matched in strength, diligence, and courage.
The changes in naval warfare are almost equally remarkable. Mines and submarines can make the offensive operation of dreadnoughts and cruisers near ports practically impossible, and can inflict great damage on an enemy's commerce. Hence important modifications in the rules concerning effective blockade. In squadron actions victory will probably go to the side which has the gun of longest range well-manned. Defeated war vessels sink as a rule with almost all on board. Commercial vessels can seldom be taken into port as prizes, and must therefore be sunk to make their capture effective. There have been no actions between large fleets; but the indications are that a defeated fleet would be sunk for the most part, the only vessels to escape being some of the speedier sort. Crews would go down with their vessels. Shore batteries of long-range guns can keep at a distance a considerable fleet, and can sink vessels that come too near. Mines and shore batteries together can prevent the passage of war vessels through straits ten to fifteen miles wide, no matter how powerful the vessel's batteries may be. Every war vessel is now filled with machinery of various sorts, much of which is delicate or easily disabled. Hence a single shell exploding violently in a sensitive spot may render a large ship unmanageable, and therefore an easy victim. A crippled ship will probably be sunk, unless a port is near.
To build and keep in perfect condition a modern fleet requires dockyards and machine shops of large capacity, and great metallurgical industries always in operation within the country which maintains the fleet. No small nation can create a powerful fleet; and no nation which lives chiefly by agriculture can maintain one. A great naval power must be a mining, manufacturing, and commercial power, with a sound banking system available all over the world.
The war has proved that it is possible for a combination of strong naval powers to sweep off the ocean in a few months all the warships of any single great power, except submarines, and all its commerce. Germany has already suffered that fate, and incidentally the loss of all her colonies, except portions of German East Africa and Kamerun, both of which remnants are vigorously assailed and will soon be lost. Nevertheless, she still exports and imports through neutral countries, though to a small amount in comparison with the volume of her normal trade. Here is another illustration of the general truth that colonies are never so good to trade with as independent and prosperous nations.
Again the war has proved that it is not possible in a normal year to reduce by blockade or non-intercourse the food supply of a large nation to the point of starvation, or even of great distress, although the nation has been in the habit of importing a considerable fraction of its food supply. An intelligent population will make many economies in its food, abstain from superfluities, raise more food from its soil, use grains for food instead of drinks, and buy food from neutral countries so long as its hard money holds out. Any large country which has a long seaboard or neutral neighbors can probably prevent its noncombatant population from suffering severely from want of food or clothing while at war. This would not be true of the districts in which actual fighting takes place or over which armies pass; for in the regions of actual battle modern warfare is terribly destructive—as Belgium, Northern France, Poland, and Serbia know.
A manufacturing people whose commercial vessels are driven off the seas will, of course, suffer the loss of such raw materials of its industries as habitually came to it over seas in its own bottoms—a loss mitigated, however, by the receipt of some raw materials from or through neutral countries. This abridgment of its productive industries will, in the long run, greatly diminish its powers of resistance in war; but much time may be needed for the full development of this serious disability.
Because of the great costliness of the artillery, munitions of war, and means of transportation used in the present war, the borrowings of all the combatant nations are heavy beyond any precedent; so that already all the nations involved have been compelled to raise the rates of interest on the immense loans they have put upon the market. The burdens thus being prepared for the coming generations in the belligerent nations will involve very high rates of taxation in all the countries now at war. If these burdens continue to accumulate for two or three years more, no financier, however experienced and far-seeing, can imagine today how the resulting loans are to be paid or how the burden of taxation necessary to pay the interest on them can be borne or how the indemnities probably to be exacted can be paid within any reasonable period by the defeated nation or nations.
It follows from these established facts that a small nation—a nation of not more than fifteen millions, for example—can have no independent existence in Europe except as a member of a federation of States having similar habits, tendencies, and hopes, and united in an offensive and defensive alliance, or under guarantees given by a group of strong and trustworthy nations. The firm establishment of several such federations, or the giving of such guarantees by a group of powerful and faith-keeping nations ought to be one of the outcomes of the war of 1914-15. Unless some such arrangement is reached, no small State will be safe from conquest and absorption by any strong, aggressive military power which covets it—not even if its people live chiefly by mining and manufacturing as the Belgians did.
The small States, being very determined to exist and to obtain their natural or historical racial boundaries, the problem of permanent or any durable peace in Europe resolves itself into this: How can the small or smaller nations be protected from attack by some larger nation which believes that might makes right and is mighty in industries, commerce, finance, and the military and naval arts? The experience gained during the past year proves that there is but one effective protection against such a power, namely, a firm league of other powers—not necessarily numerous—which together are stronger in industries, commerce, finance, and the military and naval arts than the aggressive and ambitious nation which heartily believes in its own invincibility and cherishes the ambition to conquer and possess.
Such a league is the present combination of Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, and Japan against the aggressive Central Monarchies and Turkey; but this combination was not formed deliberately and with conscious purpose to protect small States, to satisfy natural national aspirations, and to make durable peace possible by removing both fear of invasion and fear of the cutting off of overseas food and raw materials. In spite of the lack of an explicit and comprehensive purpose to attain these wise and precious ends, the solidity of the alliance during a year of stupendous efforts to resist military aggression on the part of Germany and Austria-Hungary certainly affords good promise of success for a somewhat larger league in which all the European nations—some, like the Scandinavian and the Balkans, by representation in groups—and the United States should be included. Such a league would have to act through a distinct and permanent council or commission which would not serve arbitrary power, or any peculiar national interest, and would not in the least resemble the "Concert of Europe," or any of the disastrous special conferences of diplomatists and Ministers for Foreign Affairs, called after wars since that of 1870-71 to "settle" the questions the wars raised.
The experience of the past twelve months proves that such a league could prevent any nation which disobeyed its orders from making use of the oceans and from occupying the territory of any other nation. Reduction of armaments, diminution of taxation, and durable peace would ensue as soon as general confidence was established that the league would fairly administer international justice, and that its military and naval forces were ready and effective. Its function would be limited to the prevention and punishment of violation of international agreements, or, in other words, to the enforcement of treaty obligations, until new treaties were made.
The present alliance is of good promise in three important respects—its members refuse to make any separate peace, they co-operate cordially and efficiently in military measures, and the richer members help the poorer financially. These policies have been hastily devised and adopted in the midst of strenuous fighting on an immense scale. If deliberately planned and perfected in times of peace, they could be made in the highest degree effective toward durable peace.
The war has demonstrated that the international agreements for the mitigation of the horrors of war, made by treaties, conferences, and conventions in times of peace, may go for nothing in time of war; because they have no sanction, or, in other words, lack penalties capable of systematic enforcement. To provide the lacking sanction and the physical force capable of compelling the payment of penalties for violating international agreements would be one of the best functions of the international council which the present alliance foreshadows. Some years would probably be required to satisfy the nations concerned that the sanction was real and the force trustworthy and sufficient. The absolute necessity of inventing and applying a sanction for international law, if Europe is to have international peace and any national liberty, will be obvious to any one who has once perceived that the present war became inevitable when Austria-Hungary, in violation of an international agreement to which she was herself a party, seized and absorbed Bosnia and Herzegovina, and became general and fierce when Germany, under Prussian lead, in violation of an international agreement to which she was herself a party, entered and plundered neutralized Belgium.
A strong, trustworthy international alliance to preserve the freedom of the seas under all circumstances would secure for Great Britain and her federated commonwealths everything secured by the burdensome two-navies policy which now secures the freedom of the seas for British purposes. The same international alliance would secure for Germany the same complete freedom of the seas which in times of peace between Germany and Great Britain she has long enjoyed by favor of Great Britain, but has lost in time of war with the Triple Entente. This security, with the general acceptance of the policy of the "open door," would fully meet Germany's need of indefinite expansion for her manufacturing industries and her commerce, and of room "in the sun" for her surplus population.
It is a safe inference from the events of the past six months that the longer the war lasts the more significant will be the political and social changes which result from it. It is not to be expected, and perhaps not to be desired, that the ruling class in the countries autocratically governed should themselves draw this inference at present, but all lovers of freedom and justice will find consolation for the prolongation of the war in this hopeful reflection.
To devise the wise constitution of an international council or commission with properly limited powers, and to determine the most promising composition of an international army and an international navy are serious tasks, but not beyond the available international wisdom and goodwill, provided that the tasks be intrusted to international publicists, business men of large experience, and successful administrators, rather than to professional diplomatists and soldiers. To dismiss such a noble enterprise with the remark that it is "academic," or beyond the reach of "practical" politics, is unworthy of courageous and humane men; for it seems now to be the only way out of the horrible abyss into which civilization has fallen. At any rate, some such machinery must be put into successful operation before any limitation of national armaments can be effected. The war has shown to what a catastrophe competitive national arming has led, and would probably again lead the most civilized nations of Europe. Shall the white race despair of escaping from this hell? The only way of escape in sight is the establishment of a rational international community. Should the enterprise fail after fair trial, the world will be no worse off than it was in July, 1914, or is today.
Whoever studies the events of the past year with some knowledge of political philosophy and history, and with the love of his neighbor in his heart, will discover, amid the horrors of the time and its moral chaos, three hopeful leadings for humanitarian effort, each involving a great constructive invention. He will see that humanity needs supremely a sanction for international law, rescue from alcoholism, and a sound basis for just and unselfish human relations in the great industries, and particularly in the machinery industries. The war has brought out all three of these needs with terrible force and vividness. Somehow they must be met, if the white race is to succeed in "the pursuit of happiness," or even to hold the gains already made.
CHARLES W. ELIOT.
"Revenge for Elisabeth!"
The Vienna "Arbeiter Zeitung" of June 22, 1915, prints the appeal of Dr. Wolfgang Madjera, a well-known authority on municipal affairs, which he has issued to Austrian soldiers departing for the Italian front. He says:
"The day has arrived," says Herr Madjera, "when you will have to revenge your murdered Empress [the late Empress Elisabeth who was murdered in Geneva by an Italian named Luccheni]. It was a son of that land which has now committed a scandalous act of treason on Austria who made your old Emperor a lonely man on his throne of thorns. Take a thousandfold revenge on the brethren of that miserable wretch. Austria's warriors feel the strength within them to defeat and smash with iron hand the raised hand of the murderer. It is Luccheni's spirit which leads the army of our enemy. May Elisabeth's spirit lead our spirit!"
A Year of the War in Africa and Asia
By Charles Johnston
I. RE-MAPPING THE WORLD.
Speaking on July 14, A. Bonar Law, British Colonial Secretary, announced that the Entente Allies have already occupied 450,000 square miles of German colonial possessions. Add Turkish possessions in Asia in the hands of the Entente powers, and the total reaches 500,000 square miles.
Two outstanding facts are that this transfer, if permanent, will change the destiny of all Africa and Asia, and that, for the first time in history, the oversea dominions of Britain have initiated and carried on wars of conquest, Australia and New Zealand, in union, having already taken 100,000 square miles of German colonies in the Pacific; while the Union of South Africa has conquered German Southwest Africa.
In other parts of Africa, France and Belgium are co-operating with English imperial forces, while in East Africa and on the Persian Gulf the brunt of the fighting is being borne by British Indian troops and troops provided by the Princes of India. The movement now in progress will, if completed, give the Entente powers the whole of Africa; will give Britain all Southern Asia, from the Mount Sinai peninsula to Siam; and will, in all probability, make the Entente powers heirs of the whole Eastern Hemisphere.
These immense territories are the ultimate stakes of the battles in France, in Poland, on the Dardanelles. We lose sight of them, perhaps, in the details of local fighting. In reality, nothing less is being effected than the re-mapping of the whole eastern hemisphere.
II. TOGOLAND AND KAMERUN.
On Aug. 1, a year ago, German colonial possessions in Africa totaled over a million square miles, in four regions—Togo, Kamerun, Southwest Africa, and East Africa. Togo, running from the north shore of the Gulf of Guinea, is wedged between French and English colonies. In August, France and England joined in attacking it, and on Aug. 26 their occupation was complete, a rich area of 33,000 square miles thus passing from Germany to the Entente powers.
Kamerun, in the elbow of the Gulf of Guinea, is about ten times as large, one-third of this having been conceded by France to Germany in 1911, through the agency of M. Caillaux. Recent letters to The London Times describe the fighting there:
On the 7th (May) we had a trying experience. Our company commander went out with myself and another subaltern and about forty men. We crossed the Mungo River in canoes, and then did a long and very difficult march all through the night in absolute dense forest. However the guides managed it passes comprehension.
About 5 in the morning, when it was just getting light, our advance party were just on the point of stumbling on to the German outpost, when what should happen but an elephant suddenly walked in between and scattered our opposing parties in all directions. I was in the rear of our little column, and was left in bewilderment, all our carriers dropping their loads and every one disappearing into the bush. After a few minutes we got our men together and our scouts went forward again, and found the Germans had bolted from their outpost, but soon returned and opened fire on our scouts.
A British officer writes:
I hope you have heard ere this of our capture of Duala and Bonaberi, and our further advance along the Duala Railway to Tusa, and along the Wari River to Jabassi. The heat and climate are very trying. It's awfully hot, far hotter than the last coast place I was in; a drier heat and sun infinitely more powerful, and yet the rains are full on and we get terrific tornadoes. The nights, however, are cooler.
We are surrounded by mangrove swamps, and they breed mosquitos, and consequently malaria and black-water fever.
This is quite a pretty little place (Duala) with some jolly houses, typical German of the Schloss villa type; nice inside and out. The country is pretty, the soil good. A good deal of timber and rubber. I found some beautiful tusks the other day, worth a good bit. Elephants abound. The native villages around are totally different from other West African ones—here their houses are mostly one long mud or palm erection, with thatched roof, and are divided into compartments instead of the smaller separate huts one is accustomed to see in these parts.
The notices all over the place are strangely reminiscent of, say, the Black Forest—"Baekerei," "Conditorei," &c., and yet it is the heart of tropical Africa. None of the natives, strange to say, talk German; all pigeon English. The Hausa boys are splendid chaps, as different from the Duala boys or Sierra Leone boys as chalk from cheese. Smile and make an idiotic but beautiful remark, they rush with a roar of laughter for the biggest load.
We get some beautiful sunset effects here. At sundown night before last, on the sea near mouth of river, it was absolutely gorgeous with the purple mountains standing clear out against the orange and emerald sky and the dark gray shapes of our ships lying sombrely in the background, talking to each other in flashing Morse. The great mountain, Fernando Po, standing up out of the water to starboard and the Peak of Cameroon (13,760 feet) wreathed in mist to port; Victoria invisible, as also Buea—both hidden behind the clouds as we passed disdainfully by and entered the estuary of the Cameroon River.
As an added detail for West Africa, it should be recorded that, on March 19, a combined French and Belgian force occupied Molundu in the German Congo territory, and Ngaundere on June 29.
III. WITH BOTHA IN SOUTHWEST AFRICA.
On July 13 a resolution, moved by Premier Asquith, was passed by acclamation in the House of Commons thanking General Louis Botha, General Smuts and the forces of the Union of South Africa for their work in "the remarkable campaign which has just been brought to a remarkable and glorious conclusion." Premier Asquith concluded:
The German dominion of Southwest Africa has ceased to exist. I ask the House to testify to the admiration of the whole empire for its gratitude to the illustrious General who has rendered such an inestimable service to the empire, which he entered by adoption and of which he has become one of the most honored and cherished sons, and to his dauntless and much enduring troops, whether of Burgher or British birth, who fought like brethren, side by side, in the cause which is equally dear to them as to us—the broadening of the bounds of human liberty.
The event which the British Premier thus read into the minutes of history marks the end of a campaign begun by General Botha on Sept. 27, when troops of the Union of South Africa first entered German territory. On Christmas Day Walfisch (Whale) Bay was occupied, and on Jan. 14 Swakopmund, a military railroad joining them being finished a month later.
The progress of General Botha's campaign from the south and west is thus summarized by The Sphere (July 3):
The occupation of Windhoek was effected by General Botha's North Damaraland forces working along the railway from Swakopmund. At the former place General Vanderventer joined up with General Botha's forces. The force from Swakopmund met with considerable opposition, first at Tretskopje, a small township in the great Namib Desert fifty miles to the northeast of Swakopmund, and secondly at Otjimbingwe, on the Swakop River, sixty miles northwest of Windhoek.
Apart from these two determined stands, however, little other opposition was encountered, and Karibib was occupied on May 5 and Okahandja and Windhoek on May 12. With the fall of the latter place 3,000 Europeans and 12,000 natives became prisoners.
The wireless station—one of Germany's most valuable high-power stations, which was able to communicate with one relay only with Berlin—was captured almost intact, and much rolling stock also fell into the hands of the Union forces.
The advance from the south along the Luederitzbucht-Seeheim-Keetmanshoop Railway, approximately 500 miles in length, was made by two forces which joined hands at Keetmanshoop. The advance from Aus (captured on April 1) was made by General Smuts's forces. Colonel (afterward General) Vanderventer, moving up from the direction of Warmbad and Kalkfontein, around the flanks of Karas Mountain, pushed on after reaching Keetmanshoop in the direction of Gibeon. Bethany had previously been occupied during the advance to Seeheim. At Kabus, twenty miles to the north of Keetmanshoop, and at Gibeon pitched battles were fought between General Vanderventer's forces and the enemy. No other opposition of importance was encountered, and the operations were brought to a successful conclusion at Windhoek.
A part of the German forces had retreated to the northward, intending to carry on guerrilla warfare in the hills. General Botha went in pursuit. A Reuter's telegram, dated June 26, announced that Otjivarongo, approximately 120 miles north of Karibib, on the Otavi Railway, was occupied on that day by General Botha, the enemy having retired northward during the previous night. General Botha's movements have again been characterized by rapid and extraordinary marching through dense bush country, which is almost waterless. The retirement of the enemy was more suggestive of a flight than a strategic retreat.
A telegram from Lord Buxton, the Governor General of the Union of South Africa, to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, concludes the story:
This morning, July 9, General Botha accepted from Governor Seitz the surrender of all the German forces in Southwest Africa. Hostilities have ceased and the campaign has thus been brought to a successful conclusion.
The newly conquered territory, which is half as large again as the German Empire, is destined to become a part of the South African Union. As a great part of it is 5,000 feet above sea level, it is well adapted for white settlers. Its chief resources are diamond mines and grazing.
General Botha's force is likely to be divided between the European seat of war, to which the South African Union has up to the present sent no troops, and German East Africa, much of which still remains in the hands of the Germans.
IV. GERMAN EAST AFRICA.
The early stage of the struggle for German East Africa is lucidly summarized in The Sphere for May 8:
The fighting in British East Africa (immediately north of the German colony) may be said to have really begun toward the end of September, 1914, when the Germans made a determined attempt to capture Mombasa, the commercial capital of British East Africa and the terminus of the Uganda Railway.
Previous to this, somewhat half-hearted attempts had been made by them to wreck the railway line at various points, destroy the telegraph, and occupy Voi and Mombasa. The Germans, who were in strong force, were, however, for various reasons, unable to cut the railway or even to destroy the bridge across the Tsava River, and they were beaten back both at Voi and the post at Taveta.
The attack on Mombasa itself was repulsed at Gazi, some twenty-five miles to the southwest. The German plan of action was to move up the road from Vanga to Mombasa, arriving at the latter place somewhere about the time the Koenigsburg was expected to arrive and bombard it from the sea. The Koenigsburg was, of course, prevented from doing this by the proximity of British warships, and the land attack was also frustrated.
The Germans were held at Nargerimi by a mere handful of Arabs and King's African Rifles—about 300 men all told—until the arrival of the Indian troops strengthened our position and the enemy was beaten back to his original lines.
The next big actions were the British attack on Tanga and Jassin very early in November; this was the direct outcome of the German attack on Mombasa. Tanga is a post of considerable importance in German East Africa, and lies midway between Zanzibar and Mombasa. It is the seaport of an important railway line which connects it with Moshi, lying among the foothills of Kilimanjaro (18,700 feet) and which taps most of the intervening country.
The force dispatched for the attack on Tanga consisted of 4,000 Indian Imperial Service troops, 1,000 Indian regulars, together with 1,000 white regulars. The force took no kit of any kind except rations. It was disembarked from the troopship near Tanga, and then moved against the position.
The day the British attacked, however, 1,000 Germans had been rushed up from Moshi and then took up a position to the right of the town. With them were great numbers of quick-firing guns of various sorts. This unexpected reinforcement made the capture of Tanga almost impossible by the forces present. During the fight many casualties were incurred on both sides.
As regards the advance against Tanga and Jassin, the German forces which had previously advanced on Mombasa were, up to as recently as January, maintaining themselves in the valley of the Umba River. To drive them from their positions a column of 1,800 men, composed of Indians and King's African Rifles, with artillery, was dispatched.
After gaining Jassin and leaving a garrison of 300 men, the post was attacked and subsequently surrendered to a force of 2,000 Germans. The minor operations along the Anglo-German frontier include the attack on Shirati—a German post on the southeast shore of Lake Victoria Nyanza—on Jan. 9.
Fighting also took place near Karunga in March, and on this occasion the German force was driven back in disorder and with heavy loss into their own territory, while Kisu—which had been captured by the Germans—was reoccupied after the defeat of Karunga. On Jan. 10 the large Island of Mafia, off the coast of the German colony, was taken by the British and is being administered by them.
The history of the war in this region is brought up to date by a British Press Bureau statement issued on June 30:
Further details are now to hand of the operations which have been taking place west of Lake Victoria Nyanza. It will be remembered that the general scheme for the attack on Bukoba was to be a simultaneous advance on the part of two forces, one starting from the line of the Kagera River, south of Uganda, the other starting on steamers from Kisumu.
The junction of the two forces was successfully accomplished, and the attack took place on June 22. During the action the enemy received reinforcements which brought his force up to 400 rifles, and he made a most determined resistance, the Arabs especially fighting most bravely. They were, however, heavily outnumbered, and eventually the whole force broke and fled, utterly demoralized.... Our troops distinguished themselves greatly, both in the arduous march from the Kagera and in the subsequent fighting. A telegram was sent on June 28 from Lord Kitchener to Major Gen. Tighe, commanding the troops in British East Africa, congratulating him on the success of the operations.
V. THE PERSIAN GULF AND MESOPOTAMIA.
Turkey's entry into the war has had four results: 1, The annexation of Cyprus (previously a protectorate) by Britain on Nov. 5; 2, the British expedition against Turkish territory on the Persian Gulf two weeks later; 3, the loss of Turkey's suzerainty over Egypt, which became a British protectorate under a Sultan on Dec. 17, and, 4, the attack on the Gallipoli Peninsula, still in progress.
An excellent summary of the Persian Gulf expedition is given in The Sphere, May 15:
The Shatt-el-Arab, (the united Euphrates and Tigris,) for the greater part of its course, forms the boundary between Persia and Turkey. Some twenty miles below Basra (or Bussorah) it is joined by the Kasun, near whose course, about a hundred miles from its mouth, are the Anglo-Persian Company's oil fields.
The effective protection of these is necessarily an object of vital importance. It was also of considerable importance to create a diversion which should cause the Osmanli Generals to feel uneasiness as to a possible advance up the Euphrates. Whether more than the occupation of Basra and the protection of the oil fields was or is intended cannot, of course, be at present definitely stated.
The expeditionary force, under Lieut. Gen. Sir Arthur Barrett, consisted—apparently—of three Indo-British infantry brigades, a brigade of Indian cavalry, and artillery and auxiliary services in proportion—in all probability some 15,000 to 18,000 men. It included at least three British battalions—the Second Dorsets, the Second Norfolks, and the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry.
The advanced brigade reached the Shatt-el-Arab on Nov. 7, and after a brief fight occupied Fao, a few miles up the river. On the 9th a night attack was made upon it by a force from Basra, which was easily beaten off. Shortly afterwards the main body of the expeditionary force began to arrive, and by the 16th it had entirely disembarked at Saniyeh, a place above Fao.
The weather was wretched. Rain converted the alluvial flats into a wilderness of mud. The men were drenched and caked with the riverine clay, the very rifles were often choked.
Meanwhile the advance guard carried out a reconnoissance up the river and located the enemy in position at Sahilo, about nine miles distant. They numbered about 5,000 men, with twelve guns, under General Subr Bey, the Vali (Governor) of Basra. The reconnoissance carried an advanced position with a loss of sixty killed and wounded, and withdrew unmolested to report.
On the 17th General Barrett paraded for the attack the bulk of his force. After a trying march through a veritable quagmire, the troops sometimes up to their waists in slush, the division at about 9 A.M. came within range of the Turkish position, and the leading brigade, the Belgaum, (Major Gen. Fry,) deployed for attack.
The ground was absolutely open, and the Turks had a perfect field of fire. On our side the men had the greatest difficulty in getting forward through the clayey mud-beds and the worn-out horses could not bring up the field artillery. Nevertheless, the Belgaum brigade steadily advanced, and the attack being presently supported by other troops and assisted by the first of the two gunboats on the river, at last closed upon the Turkish intrenchments and carried them, capturing two guns and one hundred prisoners, besides inflicting a very heavy loss in killed and wounded.
The retreat of the enemy was assisted by a mirage which disconcerted our gunners. Subr Bey retreated on Basra, but he had no hope of being able to hold the big spreading place with his small force, and evacuated it. He retreated to Kurna, where the Tigris joins the Euphrates. There he intrenched himself. His main body was in Kurna, a large village encircled by palm groves, in the marshy angle formed by the two rivers, with a strong detachment in the straggling village of Mazera, on the left bank of the Tigris.
On Dec. 7 General Fry advanced upon the Kurna position. The defenders of Mazera made a hard fight of it, assisted by the strength of their position among a maze of pottery works backed up by the ubiquitous palms, but in the afternoon the village was carried.
Kurna was now isolated, but its capture presented great difficulties. All through the 8th General Fry bombarded it from Mazera, while his infantry were slowly ferried over higher up. This was prepared by some daring sappers, who swam the broad river and fixed a wire rope by which the boats were worked backward and forward, and an advance was made against Kurna from the rear.
Subr Bey had lost very heavily at Mazera, so he accepted the inevitable and surrendered. So a brilliant little episode came to a victorious conclusion. Subr Bey was returned his sword and complimented on his stubborn defense.
The capture of Kurna secured the possession of the Basra region. Since then operations have been directed to securing it against Turkish attempts at recovery.
A recent stage of this campaign is thus described in The Pioneer Mail (Allahabad) June 4, 1915:
It is announced from Simla that on the morning of May 31 a further advance up the Tigris River was made by the British expeditionary force in close co-operation with the navy. Notwithstanding the excessive heat the troops advanced with great dash and determination, and successively captured four positions held by the enemy. As far as reported we suffered only a few casualties. Valuable work was performed by our aeroplanes. The operations are proceeding.
The British force at the end of June had reached Shaiba.
VI. THE "UNREST" IN INDIA.
The splendid work done by Indian regulars and Indian imperial forces (the forces supplied by native Princes) in Europe, in Africa, in Egypt, in Mesopotamia is a sufficient answer to the suggestion that British influence in India has been weakened by the war. The enthusiastic formation of volunteer corps, both of Europeans and of natives, is a further proof that the peoples of India, now more than ever, realize the benefits of liberty and security which they enjoy. In India the torpedoing of the Lusitania made a profound impression, as the native press proves.
A notable trial, the Lahore conspiracy case, disclosed the curious fact that almost the only case of "unrest" in India was "made in America" by returned emigrants from Canada and California, who, on their way back, were interviewed by the German Consuls at Chinese ports and advised to stir up an insurrection. This they tried to do, using bombs made of brass inkpots, and bombarding the houses of well-to-do natives, seeking in this way to raise money to finance the rising.
The Pioneer Mail (Allahabad) gives an interesting account of the trial of these peculiar patriots, half of whom seem to have informed on the other half. It appears that they, or others like them, were instrumental in causing the recent riot at Singapore, in which some twenty European men and women were killed.
VII. GERMAN ISLANDS IN THE PACIFIC.
A curious result of the world war has been the expeditions initiated by the great oversea dominions of Britain and by India. The work of two of these, in Africa and Mesopotamia, has been already described. There remain the joint Australian and New Zealand expeditions against the island colonies of Germany and the great semi-continental area of New Guinea.
A lively account of the expedition against the Samoa Islands is printed in The Sydney Bulletin for Sept. 24:
The recent expedition to Samoa furnished many surprises, chief among which was the adaptability of the Maorilanders to military discipline. When the men came on board the transports (Moeraki and Monowai) discipline simply wasn't in their dictionaries. They acknowledged orders with a "Right O, Sport," or with an argument. Companies were referred to as mobs, the commanding officer as the boss or the admiral....