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With Maps and Plans by F. F. Peri-is and Photographs 
by the Author 





Copyright, 1915, 


Published July, 1915 



AUG 12 191b 

7u> • A 






( AUGUST 4-20 ) 


I. The Defense of Liege 3 

II. The Plans Revealed 12 

I. Of Certain Uncertainties — II. In the Vosges and 
Alsace — III. The Advance in Lorraine — IV. The 
Fall of Namur— V. England's Part 

III. The Terror, from Aerschot to Louvain .... 46 

IV. The "Sacred Union" Gl 

V. Paris in August 68 














(august 21 -september 5) 

Behind the Screen 85 

The Battle of Mons-Charleroi 96 

The Retreat to the Marne 109 

Paris prepares for the Worst 124 

The Flight from Paris 130 

On the Ramparts 142 

The Battle of the Marne 147 

I. The Strategic Idea— II. West Wing: Battle of the 
Ourcq — III. Center: The Retreat in Champagne 

The Turning-point 179 

" Sufficient unto the Day " 192 

On the Ourcq Battlefield 202 

In the Ruined Villages 210 














Back to the Aisne 221 

Rheims Bombarded 231 

The Eastern Barries 245 

The Battles of the Aisne 254 

The North-west Turn 265 

I. A Flank Blow that Failed — II. From Amiens to 

Lille— III. The Fall of Antwerp 

The Battles of Flanders 282 

I. The " Race for the Sea "—II. The Battle of the Lys— 

III. The Battle of Ypres— IV. The Battle of the 

Paris, the Austere 308 



XXIV. Behind the Western Wall 
XXV. From Furnes to Ypres 
XXVI. The Defense of Verdun 
XXVII. Under Fire in Rheims . 
XXVIII. The Lines of the Aisne 
XXIX. The Government returns 
XXX. War as It Is . 

I. The Costs in Life and Wealth— II. The Deadlock of 
the Trenches — III. The Farm of Quennevieres — 
IV. The Christmas Truce 


Index 393 



East Belgian Main Lines 4 

Liege, its Railways, Roads, and Forts 6 

"Gaps" on the East Frontieb 1G 

Lorraine and Alsace 18 

First Position of Armies on the East 24 

The Lorraine Frontier 27 

French Offensive in Lorraine 29 

Positions after the Fall of Liege 31 

Facsimile of Paris Communique 74 

Facsimile of " Bulletin des Armees " 77 

" Zone Actuelle des Armees " (August 10) 92 

The French Defeat at Charleroi 98 

Battle of Mons and Siege of Maubeuge 100 

Main Railways and Rivers of Northern France . . . .111 

The Retreat from Mons to the Marne 115 

" Recurrent Flank Attack " 150 

The Defenses of Paris 153 

Strategy of the Battle of the Marne 156 

Battle of the Ourcq 158 

Battle of the Marne 162 

The Center: Scene of Foch's Success 168 

The Argonne 176 

The Defense of Nancy 248 

Triangle of the Laon Mountains 255 

The British Right above the Aisne 258 

The Siege of Antwerp 276 

The Western Armies 284 

Battle of the Lys 287 

Battle of Ypres 295 

Battle of the Yser 302 

The Four Phases at Verdun 345 

The Front at the Beginning of 1915 361 


It needs but little research, to lead the fair-minded student 
to the conclusion that, behind the immediate causes of the 
great war, there were others of old standing and wider pur- 
port, combinations and divisions of interest which, for many 
years, had brought upon the European family penalties only 
less heavy than those of open conflict. Several times of 
late, the same States had narrowly escaped this calamity; 
and, in the teeth of a growing desire for settled peace, the 
preparations for war on land and sea were everywhere stead- 
ily increased. These increases of armament (as in the Anglo- 
German naval rivalry, and the German and French return 
to three-years army service) were always dangerous, not 
only as direct threats, but, indirectly, as alterations of the 
balance of means to ends other than national defense, the 
most important of which ends were the acquirement of (1) 
foreign possessions, (2) spheres of special or exclusive eco- 
nomic interest, (3) political predominance, either in Europe 
generally, or in particular areas. Every one of the Great, 
and several of the small, Powers had fished in these troubled 
waters; and there was not one of them that could show 
perfectly clean hands. Even Belgium, not so long since, 
was being held accountable for the heritage of misrule in the 
Congo. There were no angelic States ; all had dabbled in the 
imperial vices, from land-grabbing to diplomatic intrigue. 
Nevertheless, it may be said that there were many and not 
inconsiderable differences in the bias of their policy, due, 
for the most part, neither to original sin, nor to abnormal 
virtue, but to historical and geographical circumstances for 


which living people cannot be wholly blamed or praised, and 
the political constitutions resulting therefrom. 

The new German Empire entered the lists under very 
heavy disadvantages. Late in appearing, and almost land- 
locked, it must find foreign possessions and trade difficult to 
get and hold ; and the problem of defense on two flanks was 
aggravated by the fact that the provinces on either side con- 
tained large populations conquered and unreconciled. At 
best, great tact and capacity must be required to overcome 
these disadvantages. Tact, however, was not a Berlin virtue ; 
and the types of capacity there encouraged were not those 
called for by the international tasks of the twentieth cen- 
tury. Politically immature, though remarkable in their in- 
dustrial and civic achievements, the German people had been 
led into trusting all to State authority and armed force 
just when the rest of the western world was turning to the 
opposite ideal of democracy, and free, peaceful co-operation. 
Bismarck proclaimed the opposition frankly at the outset, 
and established the combined system of militarism and 
alliance by which the ambitions of the Central European 
Powers were to be vindicated. When France and Russia 
joined hands over this iron wall, its builders affected to 
be outraged that force should breed force. Then the present 
Emperor set out to add, to the strongest army in the world, 
a navy able at least to threaten the strongest navy. England 
being thus tempted into special association with France and 
Russia, a cry went up from the Fatherland that it was 
being " encircled." There was some justice in the complaint, 
as there was also justice in the retort that if, by phases of 
action and reaction, Europe had at length been split into 
two opposed camps, the heirs of Bismarck had chiefly them- 
selves to blame. That the German people were no more 
satisfied than other peoples with the results of the policy 
which the conquerors of 1870 had fathered upon them is sug- 
gested by the emigrations en masse in the early years of the 
period, by the feverish agitations of the later years, and by 


the growth of the one party of protest, the Social Democrats, 
to be the largest party in the Reichstag. Unfortunately, dis- 
satisfaction with the results did not here give rise, as it did 
in France, England, and other countries concerned, to a 
decided dissatisfaction with the means, the process of the 
Armed Peace, the new Balance of Power, itself. Individu- 
ally, the German people may have desired peace; collectively, 
they did not will the means to peace, even to the inadequate 
degree that these other peoples did. 

In a speech at Dublin, during the early days of the war, 
Mr. Asquith stated what he considered " the end we ought 
to keep in view." Taking as his text a phrase used by 
Mr. Gladstone at the time of the Franco-German War, " The 
greatest triumph of our time will be the enthronement of 
the idea of public right as the governing idea of European 
politics," he proceeded : 

" The idea of public right, what does it mean when trans- 
lated into concrete terms? It means, first and foremost, the 
clearing of the ground by the definite repudiation of mili- 
tarism as the governing factor in the relation of States and 
of the future molding of the European world. It means, 
next, that room must be found and kept for the independent 
existence and the free development of the smaller nationalities, 
each for the life of history a corporate consciousness of its 
own. Belgium, Holland, and Switzerland, the Scandinavian 
countries, Greece and the Balkan States — they must be rec- 
ognized as having exactly as good a title as their more power- 
ful neighbors, more powerful in strength and in wealth — 
exactly as good a title to a place in the sun. And it means 
finally, or it ought to mean, perhaps by a slow and gradual 
process, the substitution for force, for the clashing of com- 
peting ambitions, for groupings and alliances and a pre- 
carious equipoise, the substitution for all these things of a 
real European partnership, based on the recognition of equal 
right, and established and enforced by a common will. A 
year ago that would have sounded like a Utopian idea. It 
is probably one that may not or will not be realized either 


to-day or to-morrow. If and when this war is decided in 
favor of the Allies, it will at once come within the range, 
and before long within the grasp, of European statesman- 

Whether, or not, they truly described the aim of the Allied 
Governments in the war, these words did unquestionably em- 
body the ideal of powerful parties and movements in the 
Allied and other progressive countries, an ideal served by 
the increasing weight of democratic opinion in their internal 
constitution. This ideal — everywhere supported by the or- 
ganized working classes, elaborated by bodies like the Inter- 
Parliamentary Union and many kinds of pacifist association, 
and, finally, expressed in The Hague Conferences and the 
arbitral court and conventions deriving therefrom — offered 
the only alternative to the ancient method of settling dis- 
putes by trial of brute force. It was an alternative, no 
doubt, difficult for the rulers of the German Empire to 
accept — nearly as difficult as the concession of democratic 
rights at home. Nor did the German people show any will 
to impose such aims upon their rulers. The Socialists 
grumbled; a few academic heretics occasionally lauded the 
idea of international comity ; for the rest, the results of two 
generations of militarist theory and practice appeared in a 
slavish obedience under which the olden culture of the nation 
withered, and manly independence, conscience, chivalry, and 
all high public aims were at a discount. At The Hague, 
in all the councils of Europe, Germany came to stand nearly 
always for the reactionary refusal of better things. Despotic 
Russia had, at least, spasms of righteousness. The Tsar 
would have revolutionary petitioners shot down in the street, 
but would yield them a Duma; would establish a State liquor 
trade, and then abolish it ; would persecute Jews, but liberate 
Poles ; would wage a nefarious war in Manchuria, but estab- 
lish the world's law courts at The Hague. Behind these in- 
consistencies flames the soul and genius of the Russian folk, 
for whom no hopes are too high. There has never been a 


Russian Treitschke, or a German Tolstoy. France remains, 
at heart, the land of the Revolutionary formula — liberty, 
equality, fraternity. England, with all the faults which her 
children are usually the first to point out, is still the Eng- 
land of Gladstone. Germany has not got beyond the Bis- 
marckian doctrine that might is greater than right. For 
such a case, the ancient warning was uttered : " he who lives 
by the sword shall die by the sword." 


One result of the growth of German power was to revive 
and stimulate the Austro-Russian rivalry which was an olden 
curse of the Balkan races. When Austria, in 1908, taking 
advantage of the situation created by the Young Turk revo- 
lution, annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the teeth of Rus- 
sian protests, Germany insisted upon a refusal to submit 
this matter to the co-signatories of the treaty under which 
Austria had provisionally occupied this region. Five years 
later, as we now know, amid the Balkan conflict, Austria 
and Germany proposed to coerce Servia, but were restrained 
by Italy. The summer of 1914 presented what seemed in 
Berlin and Vienna a final opportunity of finishing Russia's 
patronage and Servia's independent growth ; and again every 
attempt to assert an interest superior to that of any or all 
of the parties to the quarrel — the interest of European com- 
ity and peace — broke, not upon Russia's, but Germany's 
obstinate refusal. The risk run was so incommensurate 
with the immediate stake that the question inevitably arose 
whether Berlin was not merely repeating the successful bluff 
of six years before. Against this hypothesis there lies the 
recklessly clear statement of the German Government that 
" we were perfectly aware that a possible warlike attitude 
of Austria-Hungary against Servia might bring Russia 
upon the field, and that it might therefore involve us in a 
war." The immediate pretext calls for only a word. 


The assassination at Serajevo, on June 28, 1914, of the 
Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife excited universal 
reprobation. If anyone had thought of this foul crime 
setting the world on fire, he would have been reassured 
when, eight days later, the German Emperor sailed quietly 
from Kiel for his usual summer cruise in northern waters. 
Did the Kaiser know what was afoot, or did the war party 
seize the opportunity of his absence? However this may be, 
when he returned to Berlin on July 27, Austria had pre- 
sented to Servia a thoroughly humiliating ultimatum (July 
23) ; Servia had replied (July 25) in a very chastened tone, 
which was yet accounted insufficient; Russia had begun to 
intervene (26th) on behalf of the "little Slav brother"; 
and Germany had appeared once more beside her ally " in 
shining armor." England, with the support of France and 
Italy, was energetically acting as mediator, committed to 
neither side, deeply alarmed at the speed with which the 
crisis was developing. Well she might be : for, within eight 
days of the Servian reply and Sir Edward Grey's first peace 
proposal, the German army was marching across Luxemburg 
to the Belgian frontier. 

The chief events of these eight black days revolve round 
four points: (1) the military preparations, (2) Germany's 
bids for British and French neutrality, (3) the invasion of 
Luxemburg and Belgium, and (4) the mediation pro- 

In all these categories, the main facts are now pretty clear. 
We know that the Austro-Hungarian army was partially 
mobilized on July 26; that Austria-Hungary declared war 
on Servia on July 28; that Russian mobilization in four 
southern districts (Odessa, Kiev, Moscow, and Kazan) was 
ordered on July 29; that on that night the Kaiser held a 
War Council, and sought to obtain British neutrality; that 
Belgrade was bombarded on July 30; that Austrian and 
Russian general mobilizations, and German ultimatums to 
Russia and France, followed on the 31st, German and 


French mobilization orders and the German declaration of 
war on Russia on the next day, and the German invasion 
on Sunday, August 2. In the diplomatic exchanges, Ger- 
many cited the Russian mobilizations as a casus belli; but, 
according to the French Premier (post, Chap. IV.), the 
German Government had itself been engaged in active 
preparations for war since July 25, before the Austrian 
Minister had left Belgrade. Berlin and Vienna were aware 
as soon as the Servian question became acute that Russia 
would not permit them to extinguish this small Kingdom; and 
they acted throughout as in face of a Pan-Slav conspiracy. 
If they had been content to play any part but that of the 
angry bully, there would have been no war. M. Sazonof 
preferred direct conversations with Austria, but " was ready 
to fall in with the British proposal, or any other proposal, 
of a kind likely to lead to a favorable settlement." England 
held back as she had never done before, during the exist- 
ence of the Entente, from espousing the cause of her friends. 
France, equalty disinterested save for the obligation of her 
alliance, was now doubly restrained by the threatened alter- 
native of losing the friend who could alone help her in the 
west, or betraying her eastern partner. 

Meanwhile, the Austrian army marched to the Save, and 
the Kaiser's lieutenants set themselves to arrange the most 
promising kind of offensive campaign. The possibility of a 
defensive in the west was rejected, or never considered. 
The need of first crippling France was assumed — though 
France had not uttered a provocative word. Accordingly, 
on July 29, after a war council at Potsdam, presided over 
by the Emperor, England was asked to promise to stand 
aside, on condition that France should be stripped only of 
her foreign trade and possessions. Sir Edward Grey refused 
this bargain, but, still hoping to succeed as mediator, refused 
also to range England with the threatened States. The 
German Chancellor had added, with what afterwards proved 
a remarkable economy of truth : " It depended on the action 


of France what operations Germany might be forced to enter 
upon in Belgium; but when the war was over, Belgian in- 
tegrity would be respected if she had not sided against Ger- 
many." To this Sir E. Grey replied: "The Chancellor also 
in effect asks us to bargain away whatever obligation or 
respect we have as regards the neutrality of Belgium. We 
could not entertain that bargain either" (July 30). On 
August 1 the German Ambassador in London put to Sir 
Edward Grey two further questions on the point, on his own 
responsibility, without authority from Berlin: Would Eng- 
land remain neutral if Belgian neutrality were not violated? 
" he even suggested that the integrity of France and her 
colonies might be guaranteed." The reply was that the Brit- 
ish Government would keep its hands free. This discussion 
can hardly be taken seriously. The German declaration of 
war had already been sent to St. Petersburg; troops had 
crossed the French frontier; and the value of German 
promises was already gravely compromised. Indeed, Prince 
Lichnowsky came back to Sir Edward Grey on August 3 
to ask him " not to make the neutrality of Belgium one 
of our conditions." Luxemburg had, in fact, already been 
occupied, and an ultimatum was being presented to Belgium 
demanding a free passage. 

So far, Great Britain had taken but one step beyond the 
path of strict neutrality — a step of great importance for 
France, but motived also by considerations arising from the 
naval situation in the Mediterranean, where the French fleet 
was concentrated, and British communications had little 
independent protection. This step consisted in an under- 
taking, on August 2, subject to Parliamentary approval, 
that, " if the German fleet comes into the Channel or through 
the North Sea to undertake hostile operations against the 
French coasts or shipping, the British fleet will give all the 
protection in its power." This did not involve war with 
Germany, at any rate until she had come triumphantly 
through to the French coast. But when the Belgian cam- 


paign was openly declared, no room was left for hesita- 
tion. On the afternoon of the day on which the assault 
upon Liege was begun, Sir E. Goschen waited successively 
upon the German Foreign Secretary and Chancellor to pre- 
sent the British ultimatum. There was now no pretense of 
French aggression, as there had been in the ultimatum deliv- 
ered in Paris. Herr von Jagow excused the invasion frankly 
on the ground that " they had to advance into France by 
the quickest and easiest way, so as to be able to get well 
ahead with their operations, and endeavor to strike some 
decisive blow as early as possible. It was a matter of life 
and death for them, as, if they had gone by the more 
southern route, they could not have hoped, in view of the 
paucity of roads and the strength of the fortresses, to have 
got through without formidable opposition entailing great 
loss of time. This would have meant time gained by the 
Russians for bringing up their troops to the German fron- 
tier." On his part, the Chancellor " began a harangue which 
lasted for about twenty minutes." The central phrase will 
be for long memorable: "He said that the step taken by 
His Majesty's Government was terrible to a degree; just for 
a word — 'neutrality,' a word which in war time had so 
often been disregarded — just for a scrap of paper, Great 
Britain was going to make war on a kindred nation who 
desired nothing better than to be friends with her." On 
the same day, speaking to the Reichstag, Herr von Bethmann- 
Hollweg used other words no less memorable : " We are now 
in a state of necessity, and necessity knows no law. Our 
troops have occupied Luxemburg, and perhaps are already 
on Belgian soil. Gentlemen, that is contrary to the dictates 
of international law. . . . We were compelled to override 
the just protest of the Luxemburg and Belgian Governments. 
The wrong — I speak openly — that we are committing we will 
endeavor to make good as soon as our military goal has 
been reached. Anybody who is threatened, as we are threat- 
ened, and is fighting for his highest possessions, can only 


have one thought — how he is to hack his way through " ( TJw 
Times, August 11, 1914). 


If any douht remains of the balance of responsibilities for 
the catastrophe thus precipitated, there is a simple test that 
can be applied with very clear results. The violation of the 
neutrality of Luxemburg and Belgium did not constitute 
the only, or the chief, breach of treaty promises by the Ger- 
manic Powers. Reluctantly, no doubt, they had both signed 
the Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International 
Disputes, and had made themselves, in 1899 and 1907, parties 
to the establishment of regular methods of arbitration, 
mediation, good offices, and investigation by commissions of 
inquiry, methods centering, but not exclusively operating, in 
the Permanent Court at The Hague. From beginning to 
end, Austria-Hungary, and, still more decidedly, Germany, 
opposed every attempt to procure a settlement of a friendly, 
mediatory, or arbitral character, and until the end when, too 
late, Austria began to resume direct conversations with Rus- 
sia, insisted upon coercion pure and simple. It was, they 
held, " a matter for settlement between Servia and Austria 
alone," between the lad and the giant. As though there 
should be no doubt on this point, Germany rejected the 
conference proposal on the specific (and, of course, quite un- 
tenable) ground that it would amount to a " Court of 
Arbitration." Only forty-eight hours were given to Servia 
to surrender to the extraordinary demands of the i\.ustrian 
Note. The reply — which, Sir Edward Grey said, " involved 
the greatest humiliation that he had ever seen a country un- 
dergo " — accepted all of these demands save two, and on 
these proposed a reference to The Hague Tribunal. The 
Austrian answer was an immediate declaration of war 
(July 28), quickly followed by a bombardment of the insub- 
ordinate capital. Sir Edward Grey tried one mediatory 


suggestion after another, always strongly supported by the 
third member of the Triple Alliance, Italy. Several pro- 
posals aimed at gaining time and delaying military prepara- 
tions ; others at joint mediation at St. Petersburg and Vienna 
by Germany and Italy, England and France; at a Conference 
of these four Powers to find a solution, or a simple resump- 
tion of direct negotiations. " The whole idea of mediation 
or mediating influence," the Foreign Secretary told Prince 
Lichnowsky (July 29), " was ready to be put into operation 
by any method that Germany could suggest, if mine was 
not acceptable." We have seen that England risked her 
own international partnership in order that this mediatory 
r61e should not be compromised. 

One result of first-class importance was gained : Italian 
neutrality. On July 30, before the final die was cast, the 
Italian Premier was reported by Sir R. Rodd as having 
decided to break the partnership which had lasted for thirty- 
two years. " The war undertaken by Austria," he said, 
" and the consequences which might result had, in the 
words of the German Ambassador himself, an aggressive 
object. Both were, therefore, in conflict with the purely 
defensive character of the Triple Alliance. In such circum- 
stances, Italy would remain neutral." By whatever pru- 
dential considerations this decision may have been con- 
firmed, it constituted a verdict by the most friendly of 
judges; and the impression it made was deepened some 
months later by the revelation that, in 1913, Germany and 
Austria had proposed to coerce Servia, and Italy had then 
declined to act with her Allies in what Signor Giolitti called 
a " most perilous adventure." 

The German people knew nothing of these major facts till 
it was too late ; and, such was the strange mingling of bois- 
terous self-assertion and sense of martyrdom into which they 
had been trained, it would have made very little difference 
had they known. No body of men in modern Germany has 
ever dared to question the wisdom of its war-lords as did the 


so-called " Pro-Boers " in England in 1899. The stern dis- 
cipline which was the national ideal — free nations would 
call it servile obedience — showed no breach, no inconvenient 
outburst of thought or conscience, during the black week 
when a trivial quarrel that a stipendiary magistrate could 
have judged was blown out into a cause for world-wide 
slaughter. History will show few such tragic spectacles as 
this collective infatuation, upheld, let us say, with a courage, 
en durance, energy, and organizing power which only needed 
some moral element to make them sublime. 

There has been altogether too much disposition in the west 
to learn this Teutonic lesson of obedient " efficiency " di- 
vorced from high social ends. The efficiency of the German 
military machine, whatever virtues may have been sacrificed 
in its service, was essentially damnable. It challenged every 
liberal and progressive element in European life. The in- 
crease of militarism had, indeed, become general; but no- 
where else did it take a form so daringly logical, so merci- 
lessly inhumane. The crime of crimes, the original aggres- 
sion, having been decided upon, no sort of scruple was 
permitted to prejudice the chances of success. Every Power 
has dabbled in the dirty business of espionage; but no other 
State had imagined anything like the swarm of spies that 
was suddenly let loose upon Belgium and France. To the 
last moment, cajolery was kept up in Brussels. Afterwards, 
men recalled the visit of King Albert to Liege in 1914, when 
General von Emmich was a guest, and overwhelmed the Bel- 
gian Ministers with assurances of friendship. They recalled 
that, on the afternoon preceding the delivery of the Ger- 
man ultimatum to Belgium, the Prussian Minister in Brus- 
sels, Herr von Below, interviewed by a leading newspaper 
of the city, had freely professed the friendliest feelings, 
using the words : " Your neighbor's roof may burn ; but your 
house will be safe." They recalled that, on the evening of 
August 1, the German Military Attache in Brussels had 
called upon the chief secretary of the Minister of War, and 


congratulated him upon the remarkably rapid execution of 
the Belgian mobilization. Not content with this call, he 
had himself telephoned to a leading Brussels newspaper 
asking it to publish this compliment. I was in Brussels 
that day, attending an emergency meeting of the Interna- 
tional Peace Bureau, and well remember the state of mind 
prevailing. Everywhere, the little Belgian soldiers were 
pouring toward the railway stations to join their regiments. 
The hope of European peace being maintained was ebbing. 
Some limited breach of the eastern Belgian frontier was 
anticipated. But any man who had then said that a 
devastating descent into the plains of Flanders was an in- 
tegral part of the German plan of campaign, long prepared 
and to be ruthlessly executed, would have been dismissed 
as a raving maniac. Such assurances as those quoted above, 
the ties of the Belgian, Prussian, and Bavarian royal fam- 
ilies, a thousand commercial and financial bonds, and the 
commonest feelings of decency and honor, were all against 
the supposition. The manifest preparation for this aggres- 
sive campaign, on the one side, the manifest unprepared- 
ness of the Allies, even for defense, on the other, may be 
treated by the pure militarist as merely the results of effi- 
ciency and inefficiency. By the mass of ordinary folk, who 
will suffer the burdens of defense, but regard an aggressive 
war as the worst of crimes, because it includes all crimes, 
this contrast will confirm the conclusion to be drawn from 
the diplomatic documents. The German plan of campaign 
assumed, and the early weeks of the war proved, the invul- 
nerability, in either direction, of the short Franco-German 
frontier: it proved, that is to say, that Germany had no 
defensive need to attack France and Belgium. 

In an aggressive war on two fronts, however, Herr von 
Jagow did but echo a commonplace of the Prussian Staff 
when he said that " to strike some decisive blow as early 
as possible was a matter of life and death for them." Eng- 
land's entry made it impossible to strike, or help to strike, 


such a blow by way of the high seas. On the other hand, 
Germany's land-locked position, which had been so loud 
a grievance, proved in these circumstances a positive advan- 
tage for her defense. On land, the aggressors, for a short 
time, would have an advantage, both in numbers and con- 
centration of forces ; but the advantage would soon pass, and 
in a struggle of exhaustion the numbers that could ulti- 
mately be brought up by Russia and the British Empire must 
turn the scale. At the outset, Germany could throw a 
peace strength of 860,000 men immediately into the field. 
France, two or three days behind in effective mobilization, 
would only have 790,000 when her Algerian Army Corps 
had been got over. Meanwhile, a sufficient guard could be 
left in East Prussia; and Belgium's little army, only about 
60,000 men on a peace footing, could be crushed before the 
British Expeditionary Corps had time to land. Austria- 
Hungary would have immediately marched 500,000 men 
against Russia and Servia. Reserves would now be 
available. " War footing " is a very elastic phrase; but the 
Germanic Powers, together, could count on putting man 
against man of France, and having a surplus of between 
four and five millions to meet the slow-coming hosts of 
Russia and England. Strange if, before then, a decisive 
blow could not be struck. 

Such was the calculation; and it came painfully near 
being justified by the event. 

There is a continuity of mise-en-scene in history that may 
too easily lead to pessimism. Much of the European past is, 
indeed, comprised in the ancient rivalry of powerful neigh- 
bors for the lands of the great central highways from the 
North Sea and Baltic, through the Rhineland, to Italy and 
the Levant — the endless strife of Merving and Karling, Neus- 
tria and Austria, royal France and confederate Germany, 
Burgundy and Spain, France and Austria, which has filled 
with battlefields the line of Alsace and Lorraine, Liege, Bra- 
bant, and Flanders. Of this secular antagonism, that of 


Austria and Russia for dominance in the Danubian lands, 
and of their financial and political friends for profit in 
Constantinople and Mesopotamia, may be regarded as a 
modern extension. When Sir John French faced north from 
Mons, a few miles from the field of Waterloo where, a cen- 
tury before, Wellington faced south against the greatest of 
adventurers, he showed England once more stepping aside 
from her own paths to help the small peoples of this middle 
tract of the Old World, and casting her weight against the 
challenge of an upstart imperialism. Can this insane cycle 
revolve eternally? In truth, perennial as folly and selfish- 
ness seem to be, they also change. The stage remains; the 
play and the actors are never really the same. Dynastic and 
religious motives no longer bring nations to arms. Empire 
can no longer be fed on loot, tribute, and slaves. The Old 
Hemisphere, with its feuds and poverty, stands in too absurd 
contrast with the New, united and prosperous. The process 
that has transformed war itself has begun to subordinate it 
to the arts and laws of peace. No nation will gain by this 
war, and every one will lose. We live in a world that reads 
and writes, that can only subsist by labor and trade, in 
which open violence is the exception proving the rule of 
public order, and the peoples begin to determine their own 
destinies. The chief institutions of a comity of nations are 
actually in being. Let them be strengthened by an operative 
will, and an agreement for mutual defense, and " the substi- 
tution for force, for groupings and alliances and a precarious 
equipoise, of a real European partnership " will soon be 
achieved. If it bring us to that, the blood-offering of the 
great war will not have been all in vain. 

London, April 1915. 


(August 4-20) 


On the morning of Monday, August 3, immediately after 
receipt of the Belgian refusal of a free passage, covering 
troops consisting of the 7th German Army Corps, under 
command of General von Emmick, advanced from Aix-la- 
Chapelle, and crossed the Belgian frontier by the narrow 
tract between the protruding Dutch district of Maestricht, 
on the north, and the Vesdre Valley, on the south. 

This is the only easy road into Belgium from the east, 
the mountains of the Ardennes and the Eiffel obstructing 
the roads further south. Hence the importance of Liege, 
in times both of peace and war. Five main lines of railway 
cross Belgium from east to west, following, generally, ancient 
natural highroads. Two of these lines connect the Middle 
Rhine directly with Antwerp — these were ruled out by the 
German decision not to violate the neutrality of Holland, 
for both of them pass through the Maestricht enclave. An- 
other runs north-westward through the Luxemburgs to Brus- 
sels, and could thus be used only as a bypath for an attack 
on France. The remaining two are branches of the great 
international trunk-lines from Cologne to Ostend and Paris, 
dividing at Liege, the one for Brussels, the other for the 
French frontier, a hundred miles away. We shall see that 
this latter road, through the Meuse-Sambre valleys, was only 
too obviously the path of a conqueror for whom a little 
State was merely a little hindrance, a treaty merely a " scrap 
of paper." Here, therefore, were placed three of Belgium's 
four fortresses, while the outlet into France was covered by 
Maubeuge and various lesser works. 



Liege, therefore — a great industrial center and junction 
of railways, roads, and rivers, guarded by a ring of twelve 
forts extending across a diameter of eight miles — must first 



East Belgian Main Lines. 

be reduced : it would then be possible to break westward, or 
to go on up the valley railroad to Namur, or both. It may 
have been hoped that the Prussian frontier troops could 
rush this obstacle; at least, the attempt would prevent the 
strengthening of the works and the arrival of re-enforcements. 
Two railway lines and three roads served them for crossing 
the border. The railways, one entering by Gemmenich, and 
the other by Herbestal, then united to form the Aix-Liege 
route (forty miles) ; this was, of course, broken by the re- 
treating Belgians. The most northern highroad passes 
through Gemmenich, crosses the Meuse at Vis6, six miles 


north of Liege, and then strikes into central Belgium; the 
other two run, through Herve and Verviers respectively, into 
Liege. By these three routes the preliminary invasion was 

It met with an unexpectedly stout resistance. The posi- 
tion at Vise was defended obstinately all through the 4th 
and 5th by the Belgian 12th line regiment, with the broad 
stream of the Meuse, bridged only at one place, in front, the 
Dutch frontier on their left flank, and the Liege forts cover- 
ing their right. Pontoon bridges were repeatedly destroyed, 
but at last a crossing was secured. A number of civilians 
were afterward seized and shot by the invaders, on the 
ground that shots had been fired from houses in the little 
town. The country-people fled inland; many wounded sol- 
diers were taken over the border into Maestricht. The vic- 
torious troops marched south upon Liege on the 6th, steadily 
opposed by General Bertrand's brigade. Meanwhile, other 
columns representing the main advance body of the inva- 
sion, and including the 9th and 10th Army Corps and a bri- 
gade of the 4th Corps, had come in by the roads from Eupen, 
through Herve and Verviers, and from Malmedy-Stavelot, 
through the Spa, Ambleve, and Ourthe valleys on the south. 
Verviers and Pepinster having been occupied, the army 
found itself before the first earthworks of the Liege ring. 
Some of these troops were ill-provisioned and weary from 
hard marching, a result of incomplete mobilization. 

The six major and six minor forts surrounding the city at 
the great crossways were designed in 1886 by the able mili- 
tary engineer, General Brialmont ; and they had been par- 
tially reconstructed, in view of the immense increase in the 
power of siege artillery, under King Albert. Two of them, 
Forts Pontisse and Barchon, covered the plain towards Vis6 ; 
three others — Fleron, Evegnee, and Chaudfontaine — faced 
the hilly approach by the Vesdre Valley ; Forts Embourg and 
Boncelles commanded the Ourthe Valley, southward; the 
remaining five, from Flemalle to Liers, overlooked the west- 


era plain. The largest forts were surrounded by a ditch, 
within the glacis, or exterior earthen slope ; the banquette, 
or outer wall, of this ditch and the summit of the escarp 
served as infantry parapets. Above these, within a concrete 
shell, rose the steel cupolas, moving up and down before 
and after tire. The structure was pierced with galleries from 
which machine-guns could be worked under the protection of 
solid masonry, tunnels for the movements of the garrison, 
and cellars for ammunition and stores. The ring included 
four hundred guns ; but many of these were at first far from 
the main field of attack. Both the strength and the weakness 
of these works were to receive a quick and tragic demonstra- 
tion. Thanks to the gallantry of General Leman, the Com- 
mandant of Liege, and his men, they secured an invaluable 
delay for the half-mobilized Allies: but, as fortifications, 
they revealed two vital weaknesses: the cupola fort gives a 
prominent mark for the attackers, and the mechanism of the 
disappearing or oscillating cupola is very liable to disable- 
ment. Although the enemy guns could be concealed, if those 
of the defenders could outrange and overpower them there 
might be some hope; but no such claim could be made for 
the Belgian guns. The forts had garrisons averaging little 
more than a hundred men; and the strain of a week's con- 
stant bombardment on a hundred men is indescribable. An 
army 50,000 strong was needed to hold the intervening field- 
works ; but the whole Liege garrison fell greatly below that 

The question whether, even in the domain of armed force, 
numbers and organization can eclipse the factor of moral 
inspiration was now to be tried before a breathlessly watch- 
ing world. The defenders of Liege — the 3rd Belgian Divi- 
sion, re-enforced by militia, reservists, and Civil Guards — a 
total of, perhaps, 40,000 men — had to face three Prussian 
Corps, about 120,000 men. They had no ground for expect- 
ing re-enforcement: England and France were not nearly 
ready to help them, and the main Belgian army, which was 


not yet concentrated, must, even then, wait for its greater 
friends. General Leman did what was possible — the forts 
were provisioned, and thousands of civilians helped to dig 
trenches and put up wire entanglements across the intervals 
between them. On the night of August 4-5, the German 
attack began on the south-eastern side, the apparent object 
being to seize the river crossing, and, after masking Liege, 
to hasten on to Namur. A full moon shone, and search- 
lights flashed to and fro over the scene. While the German 
field-guns, using high explosive shells of a power unknown to 
the defenders, from well-concealed positions in the wooded 
hills, made excellent practice against Forts Fleron, Embourg, 
and Boncelles, masses of infantry in close formation were 
thrown against the gaps, held by the Belgian 9th and 14th 
line regiments. Before the trenches, and along the glacis 
of the forts, they were mown down by fire from above and 
below; but they still came on. Although the Belgian reports 
may have been exaggerated, the losses up to this point, a 
result of the first crude application of the " smashing blow " 
tactic, were certainly very heavy. The battle continued 
fiercely through the following day. The defenders, at most 
one against three, and at last overborne in artillery, had to 
be moved from gap to gap to meet successive assaults ; some 
infantry sections thus marched for twenty-five or thirty miles 
in course of the night. At length, they were driven in be- 
tween Forts Evegnee and Fleron ; and the latter was silenced 
on the morning of the 6th, much of the gun machinery being 
smashed, and great blocks of masonry, supporting the tur- 
rets, shattered. It is understood that the largest German 
siege mortars were not used at Liege, but were sent on direct 
to Namur, either because the one task was under-, or the 
other was over-estimated. 

In face of this breach in his line of defense, and as the 
river crossing had been forced lower down, General Leman 
withdrew the field troops to the west side of the Meuse, and 
blew up the two southern bridges, leaving the remaining 


eastern forts to do their best to obstruct the passage. That 
morning, a daring attempt was made to kidnap, or, perhaps, 
to kill the General, half a dozen Uhlans succeeding in pene- 
trating to his headquarters in the town. Probably, the 3rd 
Division was already commencing its retreat toward Brus- 
sels. During the day, the complete surrender of the fortress 
was demanded, and refused. The last train, crowded with 
refugees, left in the afternoon ; and at 6 p.m. a short and not 
yery serious bombardment of the town began. In the evening, 
the German commander proposed a twenty-four-hours' armis- 
tice to bury the dead and remove the wounded. This was also 
refused. On the next day, August 7, the attack was resumed. 
The city, now evacuated, was occupied by Von Emmich. 
Most of the river bridges had been left intact. General 
Leman, who had withdrawn into Fort Loncin, continued to 
direct the resistance of the broken ring. Not till Sunday, 
the 9th, was the investment complete and the siege artillery 
ready. Some of the forts held out for eight days longer, 
the men dying with Spartan fortitude at their posts. One 
fort was the scene of a conspicuous act of heroism. Situated 
near the Chaudfontaine tunnel, it had the special duty of 
covering the Verviers railway line. When nothing more 
could be done, Major Mameche, the Commandant, blocked the 
tunnel by colliding several engines at its mouth, and then 
fired his powder magazine, blowing up the fort. For a week 
the cannonade never ceased ; and in further infantry assaults, 
the Germans suffered very heavy casualties. 

The last stage in Fort Loncin was thus described in a diary 
attributed, apparently with truth, to General Leman himself, 
and published in Berlin during his subsequent imprisonment 
at Magdeburg: 

" On the 11th, the Germans started bombarding us with 
7- and 10-centimeter (3-inch and 4-inch) cannon: and, on the 
12th and 13th, they brought their 21-centimeter (8-inch) guns 
into action. But it was not until the 14th that they opened 
fire and began their destruction of the outer works. On that 


day, at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, a German officer ap- 
proached to within 200 yards of the fort with a signaling 
hag in his hand; and shortly afterwards, the siege gunners, 
having adjusted their range, began a fearful firing, that 
lasted a couple of hours. The battery on the left slope was 
destroyed, the enemy keeping on pounding away exclusively 
with their 21-centimeter cannons. 

" The third phase of the bombardment began at 5 o'clock 
in the morning of the 15th, firing being kept up without a 
break until two in the afternoon. A grenade wrecked the 
arcade under which the general staff were sheltering. All 
light was extinguished by the force of the explosion, and 
the officers ran the risk of asphyxiation by the horrible gases 
emitted from the shell. When firing ceased, I ventured out on 
a tour of inspection on the external slopes, which I found had 
been reduced to a rubble heap. A few minutes later, the 
bombardment was resumed. It seemed as though all the 
German batteries were together firing salvoes. Nobody will 
ever be able to form any adequate idea of what the reality 
was like. I have only learned since that when the big siege 
mortars entered into action they hurled against us shells 
weighing 1,000 kilos (nearly a ton), the explosive force 
of which surpasses anything known hitherto. Their ap- 
proach was to be heard in an acute buzzing ; and they burst 
with a thunderous roar, raising clouds of missiles, stones, 
and dust. 

" After some time passed amid these horrors, I wished to 
return to my observation tower; but I had hardly advanced 
a few feet into the gallery when a great blast passed by, and 
I was thrown violently to the ground. I managed to rise, and 
continued my way, only to be stopped by a choking cloud 
of poisonous gas. It was a mixture of the gas from an ex- 
plosion and the smoke of a fire in the troop quarters. We 
were driven back, half-suffocated. Looking out of a peep- 
hole, I saw to my horror that the fort had fallen, slopes and 
counter-slopes being a chaos of rubbish, while huge tongues 


of flame were shooting forth from the throat of the fortress. 
My first and last thought was to try and save the remnant 
of the garrison. I rushed out to give orders, and saw some 
soldiers, whom I mistook for Belgian gendarmes. I called 
them, then fell again. Poisonous gases seemed to grip my 
throat as in a vise." 

A shell had fallen in the powder magazine, and most of 
the garrison were overwhelmed by the explosion. 

" On recovering consciousness, I found my aid-de-camp, 
Captain Colland, standing over me, also a German officer, 
who offered me a glass of water. They told me I had 
swooned, and that the soldiery I had taken for Belgian 
gendarmes were, in fact, the first band of German troops 
who had set foot inside the forts. In recognition of our 
courage, the Germans allowed me to retain my sword." 

In declining to receive it, the German commander is said 
to have remarked : " To have crossed swords with you has 
been an honor." In a letter to the King of the Belgians, 
General Leman narrated the circumstances, adding : " Deign 
to grant pardon, Sire. In Germany, whither I am proceed- 
ing, my thoughts will be, as they have ever been, of Belgium 
and the King. I would willingly have given my life the 
better to serve them, but death was not granted to me." 


I. Of Certain Uncertainties 

If history were reduced to a narrative of events as they 
are afterward found to have occurred, it would give any- 
thing but a true picture of the passage of life with which 
it is concerned. Not only are motives, opinions, and even 
prejudices and superstitions, an integral part of this life; 
one of the essential facts which the historian must present 
is that his actors did not know the facts as he does, could 
never see what it is his chief business to see, their develop- 
ment in its length and breadth, could very rarely grasp 
their significance before it was too late, and so could rarely 
set a course by their logic. In the history of warfare, where 
the concealment of facts is general, and systematic deception 
is frequent, this consideration is of peculiar importance. 
The governments and commanders know very much more 
than the newspapers and their readers, as a rule ; but it will 
be safe to suppose that, at any given moment, there were 
many things, and some considerable things, they did not 
know which were commonplaces six months later. An ag- 
gressor of superhuman foresight, assured of a good start, 
and backed by a colossal organization, will meet with dis- 
turbing surprises. The defense is more seriously handi- 
capped; for its plans cannot be fixed until the nature of 
the attack is known ; and this may not be accurately known 
until it has already been, wholly or partially, transformed. 

Many years may elapse, many of the great actors may be 
dead, and the blood-lust exhausted and half-forgotten, ere 



we know exactly and completely what was tbe original 
German plan of campaign, with its supporting calcu- 
lations. To suppose that what occurred was just what had 
been planned would be to attribute to the Grand Staff in 
Berlin something like omniscience — an hypothesis plainly 
contradicted by their failure to comprehend, in particular, 
the spirit of the Belgian and the British peoples. It is 
evident that an advance upon France through Belgium was 
a prominent feature of this plan, because the advance actu- 
ally made at the outset of the campaign was so strong that 
it must have been long prepared. The Allied commanders 
had only to glance at a map to see that the whole of Prus- 
sia and the great bulk of the German Empire lie north of the 
meridian of Paris-Stuttgart, where, in fact, two-thirds of the 
German army had its stations in time of peace. For a full 
half of it, indeed, Belgium was the nearest as well as the 
easiest way to Paris. But, in civilized States, political and 
moral considerations weigh more heavily than those of a 
purely military order; there could be no certainty of a Bel- 
gian invasion till it was an accomplished fact; and even 
then its direction and its dimensions had to be discovered. 
The Germans, on their part, knew that they had to count 
with Belgian and British, as well as French, opposition ; and, 
the aggression once decided upon, the importance of striking 
a crushing blow on this side before turning to the more 
numerous but slow-moving Russians was evident. Yet they 
could not know positively where France would make her 
chief effort, what Belgian resistance would amount to, how 
many British troops would be landed on the Continent 
before a crisis was reached, or how soon Russia would 
seriously threaten their eastern flank. 

It is no part of the game of government to confess to 
ignorance, hesitation, uncertainty; for the historical student, 
however, these major uncertainties, and others — among them, 
as to the attitude of neutrals, and the sentiment of the bel- 
ligerent peoples — are a most important part of the play of 


forces with which he has to reckon. The inordinate size 
of the modern war-machine implies a plan of campaign elab- 
orated long in advance, and then very difficult of modifica- 
tion. Nevertheless, in a struggle so complex as this, the 
second or third week of hostilities, when much more is known 
than could have been anticipated, must needs be a time of 
anxious reconsideration among some, if not all, of the direct- 
ing Staffs. It will be well, therefore, before we reach the 
period of direct and rapid development beginning with the 
battle of Mons-Charleroi, to review rapidly the course of 
events in the whole western land area during and imme- 
diately after the investment of Liege, with a view to finding 
some clew to the relation between what was planned and 
what actually occurred. 

No doubt remains of the purely defensive attitude of 
France on the eve of the war. This was, indeed, dictated 
as clearly by prudential motives — the need of British sup- 
port, of Italian neutrality, and of domestic unity — as by the 
spirit of the Government and the nation at large. Until the 
actual outbreak of hostilities, the French troops were kept 
withdrawn eight kilometers (five miles) behind the frontier, 
so that there should be no " incidents " to cite as a casus 
belli. One major cause of anxiety immediately disappeared : 
in all four countries, political and other divisions ceased. 
The Socialist and Pacifist organizations said their last words 
at meetings of their respective International Councils in 
Brussels during the last week in July. The silent accept- 
ance by four million German Social Democrats of an issue 
having, to say the least, no favorable relation to their pro 
fessed principles was conclusive. It might be explained by 
reference to the national trait of obedience to constituted 
authority ; it could not be harmonized with the traditions of 
the Red Flag, or any kind of internationalism. To men in 
other lands who had given years of labor for peace and 
democratic progress, this was the cruelest blow of all. It 
dispelled some illusions ; destroyed, or indefinitely postponed, 


many high hopes. It brought the elemental sentiment of 
patriotism surging back, like a tidal wave. Leading Social- 
ists — MM. Sembat and Gnesde in France, M. Vandervelde in 
Belgium — assumed Ministerial responsibilities, as Jean 
Jaures would have done had he lived. Exiled revolutionists 
returned to Russia to join the colors. Until the German 
challenge became explicit and unmistakable, there was de- 
cided hesitation among British Radicals and Labor men, 
long devoted to the idea of a reconciliation of the rival 
Alliances; and, before the last step, Lord Morley and Mr. 
John Burns had resigned their seats in the Cabinet. There- 
after, no division appeared. Suffragettes had already ceased 
from troubling. Ou August 3, Mr. John Redmond declared 
that the Government might remove all their troops from 
Ireland, which Catholic Nationalists and Protestant Ulster- 
men would join hands to defend. The Home Rule Bill was 
then passed, but its operation postponed till the end of the 
war. At home, as in South Africa, the spirit of self-govern- 
ment was again justified. All were nationalists now. For 
good or ill, whatever its original causes, whoever its responsi- 
ble authors, this was to be in the fullest sense a war of 
nations. This was, perhaps, the most considerable fact that 
had emerged clearly before the river crossings and railways 
of Liege had been lost and won. 

II. In the Vosges and Alsace 

We may now turn to the military plans of the western 
Allies and their chief enemy, taking France first, as the 
Power longest acquainted with the threat of a new inva- 
sion. The German Empire is bordered on the west, to the 
extent of nearly two-thirds of its extent, by Holland and 
Belgium, and to the extent of little more than one-third by 
France. During the armed rivalry that followed the war of 
1870, this short Franco-German frontier — only 170 miles in 
length, counting all its indentations, from Longwy to Belfort 


— had been so effectively blocked by systems of fortification, 
centering in Diedenhofen (Thionville), Metz, Strassburg, and 
Neu-Breisach on the one side, Verdun, Toul, Epinal, and 

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" Gaps " of the East Frontier. 

Belfort on the other, that any rapid invasion in either direc- 
tion was generally considered impossible. It was, indeed, 
the prospect of over-pressure of millions of men in the gaps 
between these great fortresses that German military writers 
cited as justifying their assumption of a violation of Belgian, 
and perhaps also of Dutch and Swiss, neutrality. If these 


neutral States were barred, the defensive position of the Ger- 
man Empire on the west was very strong — the Italian Alli- 
ance apart — the possibility of any serious attack being 
limited to the gaps between the fortresses on the north of 
the Vosges (B, C) and the gap of Belfort leading into the 
plain of southern Alsace (D — p. 16). We have seen that 
the German Imperial Government was in no merely defensive 
mood, but had immediately struck out through neutral Lux- 
emburg and the Liege gap. What was France doing, mean- 

She was playing the game on orthodox lines, all warnings 
notwithstanding. The mobilization progressing smoothly, 
the chief armies were hurried to the eastern frontier. A 
minor force was sent north to guard the gates of the Sambre 
and Meuse and, generally, the line from Maubeuge to 
Longwy. The western half of the northern frontier was left 
practically uncovered. An offensive was at once taken from 
Belfort into southern Alsace, supported by an advance along 
the crests of the Vosges, under the direction of General 
Dubail. Evidently, the plain round Mulhouse was only 
lightly held. Perhaps this French advance was deliberately 
permitted; certainly it absorbed in Paris and the country 
at large a great deal of attention which should have been 
directed elsewhere. On Friday, August 7, a French brigade, 
with cavalry and artillery, occupied the town of Altkirch, 
and on the following morning advanced along the railway 
across the low country, and, after another stiff fight with 
the retiring German troops, entered Mulhouse at 5 p.m. 
This was, politically speaking, a great event. At last, after 
forty-four years, French soldiers again trod the bank 
of the " German " Rhine. Much was made of the 
victorious march of twenty-five miles into Alsace; and Gen- 
eral Joffre issued a proclamation in which he said that the 
magic names of Right and Liberty were inscribed upon the 
flags of his soldiers, " the first laborers in the great work of 
la revanche." 



Correspondingly acute was the disappointment of the fol- 
lowing retreat. On August 9, the Austrian Government was 

Belgium ; wxeMBwlw . 

1 «IANGR£<S 

I Switzerland 

Lorraine and Alsace. 

reported to be sending troops through southern Germany to 
Alsace; and it was only then that the French Government 


broke off relations with the Dual Monarchy. On the same 
day, Mulhonse was retaken by the German 14th Army Corps 
and a portion of the 15th, the direct attack being supported 
by a flank movement against Cernay (Sennheim). The se- 
quel is thus described in a French official statement: "Our 
troops were enthusiastically received in Mulhouse by the 
Alsatians. Some hours were spent in joyous excitement, 
and for a moment, perhaps too readily, the men forgot that 
they were in the enemy's country. Beside the Alsatians 
feting our arrival, there were a number of German immi- 
grants who immediately informed the retreating Germans of 
our exact position and strength. Mulhouse, difficult to 
defend against an attack from the north and east, was com- 
paratively easy to recover if vigorously attacked. That is 
what the Germans did during the night, advancing on the 
one side from the Forest of Hard and on the other from the 
direction of Neu-Breisach and Colmar, and marching toward 
Cernay in order to cut our retreat. If we had remained 
at Mulhouse with insufficient forces, we would have been in 
danger of losing our line of retreat toward the Upper Vosges 
and Belfort. Orders were, therefore, given to retire. An- 
other plan might, indeed, have been conceived and carried 
out. The troops we had left at Altkirch had not been at- 
tacked. It would thus have been possible to counter-attack 
the enemy marching on Cernay by utilizing our reserves. 
This plan was not carried out. Our left was attacked near 
Cernay by greatly superior forces ; our center was attacked 
at Mulhouse; and our right was inactive. The battle was 
badly begun, and the wisest solution was, therefore, to re- 
treat. In order to carry out our initial plan, it was neces- 
sary to recommence the operations on a new basis, and under 
a new commander. The command was given to General 

When the new start was made in the plain, the chief crests 
and passes of the Vosges had been captured after hard 
fighting, and were firmly held. The retirement five miles 


from the frontier on the eve of the war here involved a 
peculiarly hard penalty upon the mountain troops. The 
pass known as the Ballon d' Alsace (Welsche Belchen — 4,085 
feet), a famous view-point overlooking Thann, was the first 
to be secured. It is very steep on the Alsatian side, but less 
so on the French, where, moreover, the summit was com- 
manded by the fort of Servance. From here, the Col du 
Busang was easily taken. Next, the Schlucht, the pictur- 
esque pass between Gerardmer and Munster, and the Hoh- 
neck (4,465 feet) were gained, under like advantageous con- 
ditions. More to the north, the central Vosges offered much 
greater difficulties, the French sides being the steeper, so 
that it was difficult to bring up artillery ; while the Germans 
had been able to strengthen their positions on the narrow, 
thickly wooded summits by cutting down trees, putting up 
wire entanglements, and digging trenches. The Col du Bon- 
homme (3,120 feet) and the lower Col Ste. Marie, captured 
after a five-days' struggle before the middle of August, gave 
protection to the French right in its progress toward Saales, 
at the head of the valley leading to Schlestadt; but the 
direct way to Colmar was blocked by German field-works and 
by heavy artillery on the lower slopes. A further northward 
advance was, therefore, made along the mountain crests, and 
artillery was brought down from the head of the Bruche Val- 
ley upon the German flank. This operation, in which ma- 
terial losses were sustained, opened the way for the occupa- 
tion of Mount Donon (3,300 feet), the most northerly of the 
Vosges summits, on August 14. This quasi- Alpine campaign 
had been skillfully directed, and met with a deserved success. 
The numbers of men engaged were not large, varying at first 
from a battalion of Chasseurs to a regiment of infantry, and 
being gradually increased. The most considerable French 
loss officially named was 600 killed and wounded in the 
Bonhomme and Ste. Marie passes. Apart from cannon and 
material, the German losses were believed to be much larger. 
The little manufacturing town of Thann had now been 


reoccupied ; and at St. Blaise, a village near Ste. Marie-aux- 
Mines, in a sharp combat, General von Deimling, command- 
ing the 15th German Army Corps, was wounded, and the 
French took their first standard, to the great joy of Paris 
sightseers a few days later. On August 18, General Joffre 
issued from eastern headquarters the first dispatch bearing 
his own signature. It reported steady advance along the 
Alsatian valleys, and declared that " the enemy retreated 
in disorder, everywhere abandoning his wounded and ma- 
terial." General Pan had received strong re-enforcements 
with a view to a " decisive " action. Advancing simultane- 
ously from Belfort and the Yosges, but on a narrower front 
than previously, with their right supported on the Rhone- 
Rhine Canal, they had stormed Thann and Dannemarie, and, 
bringing the left round toward Colmar, while the center 
attacked Mulhouse, threatened the German forces with a 
serious breach of their communications. After severe street 
fighting, in which twenty-four guns were taken, Mulhouse 
was again in French possession on August 20. 

The whole of the ground thus gained was abandoned a few 
days later. This was a grave blow to French pride, and 
brought a severe punishment upon the Francophile Alsatians. 
Naturally, the whole southern campaign aroused severe criti- 
cism. Several high officers were retired for mistakes in the 
first advance, which was afterwards officially described as " a 
mere reconnoissance." If any less eminent soldiers than 
General Joffre and General Pau had been responsible, there 
might have been more trouble. But Joffre " the taciturn," 
the cool-headed engineer whose powers had been tested in 
many a colonial field, and confirmed in long labors of forti- 
fication and organization, and the veteran Pau, who had 
been second in consideration for the post of Generalissimo, 
could not be regarded as reckless adventurers, aiming at a 
political advantage which they could not hold. The civilian 
observer presently came to see that, with the evident political 
advantages of an advance into Alsace-Lorraine — the center 


of French hopes and of Prussian oppression — certain impor- 
tant military considerations were joined. The first raid to 
Mulhouse was, in fact, a somewhat clumsily handled voyage 
of discovery, which revealed not only that Upper Alsace 
was lightly garrisoned, but (this too late) that the only way 
of profiting by such a situation lies in a rapid, strong offen- 
sive, since, with a good railway system behind him, the enemy 
can bring up large re-enforcements in a few days. General 
Pau's more substantial expedition was sound, and, in itself, 
completely successful. It had to be withdrawn because it 
was not supported by success further north. It did serve, 
however, for a moment, to detach some German forces from a 
part of the field where they were more dangerous; carried 
further, it might have released the troops kept in the Vosges, 
and have provided a base for an invasion of South Germany. 
As it was, German Alsace had to be sacrificed to save French 
Lorraine, and more even than that. We had before us the 
first great demonstration that, in modern warfare, there are 
no more independent, free-moving armies, and that every 
part of a battle-line hundreds of miles long is vitally depend- 
ent upon every other part. 

III. The Advance in Lorraine 

We have seen (a) that the superior numbers available for 
the German aggression had been further strengthened by a 
gain of several days in the work of mobilization ; and, as this 
advantage of time and numbers was not displayed in the 
southern field, it would evidently be doubly felt elsewhere. 
(6) The short eastern frontier between the natural obstacles 
of the Ardennes and the Vosges is covered by extensive sys- 
tems of fortification, in which the few narrow breaks seem 
to have been deliberately left to tempt the enemy. From the 
corner at Longwy, where the territories of France, Belgium, 
Luxemburg, and Germany meet, to the Col de Saales is a 
distance of only about 120 miles. In 1870, when the east 


frontier was thirty miles longer, the strategical deployment 
of only sixteen German army corps was found to be a matter 
of difficulty. Railways and the petrol road-car and wagon 
have made a great difference in the power of mass movement ; 
but it is at least highly probable that, had the war been 
limited to this front, the superior German numbers and 
their great new siege guns (a carefully guarded secret until 
the campaign was well advanced) would have availed little, 
and a deadlock would soon have been reached, (c) Refer- 
ence to the diagram on page 1G will show four gaps indicated 
by arrows, between the obstructing mountain systems and 
the groups of fortifications, through which attempts at inva- 
sion might be expected. The northernmost and southern- 
most of these represent the directions of the chief German 
and French offensives, through Liege and Belfort, respect- 
ively, with which we have dealt. We must now follow the 
course of the movements marked by the arrows B and C, 
through the north and central parts of the French eastern 
border. i 

The first alignment of the opposed armies — apart from the 
three first German armies and General von Emmich's Army 
of the Meuse, operating through Belgium, and the 5th French 
Army, covering the north-eastern frontier from Maubeuge 
to Mezieres — is shown in the accompanying plan (p. 24). 
There are here five German and only four French groups, 
two of the former being directed, across the Belgian Ar- 
dennes and Luxemburg respectively, against the gap behind 
Longwy, while the Verdun army watches that of Metz, and 
the Nancy army watches that of Strassburg. The rate of 
development of events in this part of the field contrasts 
strongly with the speed of the blow at Liege, for which a 
special force had been made ready, and of the raid upon 
Mulhouse. Many Uhlan patrols were quickly upon French 
soil, with melancholy consequences for the villagers; and the 
French cavalry occupied Vic, just over the frontier north- 
east of Nancy, on August 7. It was not till the 12th that the 






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Belfort^. ; 



® i * 


First Position of Armies on the East 

French ■DBD1DB 
1st (General Dubail). 
2nd (General de Castelnau). 
3rd (General Ruffey). 
4th (General de Langle de 


8th (General von Deimling). 
7th ( General von Heeringen ) . 
6th (Crown Prince of Bavaria), 
5th (Crown Prince of Prussia). 
4th (Duke of Wiirtemberg ) . 


German offensive became marked along the road from Lux- 
emburg to Verdun, at Longuyon and Spincourt, and the 
French on the roads from Nancy to Saarburg. Longwy, 
although without serious modern fortification, and having 
but a small garrison, refused to surrender on August 3, and, 
after being invested and losing half its effectives by repeated 
bombardments, capitulated only on the 27th. The gallant 
Governor, Lieutenant-Colonel Darche, was named officer of 
the Legion of Honor for this heroic defense. The feat indi- 
cates, however, that the German effort in this direction was 
of a secondary character; and, in fact, it was checked at 
Mangiennes and Pillon on August 10-12, with a loss of several 
guns and a thousand prisoners. On this side, Verdun was 
not to be more nearly approached. A day's bombardment of 
the little frontier town of Pont&Mousson, during which 
over a hundred projectiles containing large charges of picrite 
were thrown in by the Metz artillery, resulted only in four 
civilians being killed and twelve wounded. Two Verdun 
aviators, Lieutenant Cesari and Corporal Prudhommeau, ac- 
complished more in an air raid upon Metz, where they suc- 
ceeded in dropping bombs on the military airship sheds, and 
reached home after an adventurous voyage. 

After repelling attacks, and routing a Bavarian corps 
established on the hills above Blamont and Cirey, east of 
Nancy and Luneville, General de Castelnau's army of five 
corps and reserve divisions now made a bold entry into the 
Lorraine lowlands. All the signs seemed favorable. The 
Minister of War boasted (on August 15) that the expected 
German attack on Nancy had " scarcely been attempted," 
that the invasion of Belgium had been " foiled," that the 
movements of the Allied armies had been " perfectly co- 
ordinated," and that their supremacy at sea had secured the 
free passage of the Algerian troops and future foreign 
supplies. The British Expeditionary Force was known to 
have crossed the Channel. Mulhouse was lost, but the 
Vosges passes were won. The Generalissimo was sure as to 


the next move; the soldiers had already gained confidence 
in themselves, their bayonets, and their field-guns, especially 
their " 75's." It was with a somewhat tart note that M. 
Doumergue thanked President Wilson for a " new evidence 
of his interest in the destinies of France" in the shape of 
a proposal of mediation made on August 6. On Sunday, the 
16th, the French troops had a firm hold on Avricourt, the 
frontier station on the main line from Paris to Strassburg ; 
and at the same time an advance of Dubail's army, by the 
Bruche Valley, reached Schirnieck and Muhlbach on the 
Saales-Strassburg railway, and resulted in a capture of 
twenty guns and fifteen hundred men. During that week- 
end, Lorquin, a small industrial center just south of Saar- 
burg, in undulating country where lumbering and saw- 
mills provide the chief normal occupations, was taken, as 
were Chateau-Salins (Salzburg), the pondy region west of 
Fenetrange, and several villages on the Marne-Rhine Canal, 
on the low borderland of Alsace and Lorraine. Fenetrange, 
a quaint little place with a ruined chateau and the remains 
of an ancient church, buried among fruit and walnut trees, 
was important as threatening the railway communications 
of Saarburg. Near by, in the Saar Valley, are the ruins 
of the medieval castle of Geroldseck, a gloomy reminder of 
the Thirty Years' War and the eternal madness of armed 
feuds. Saarburg was menaced from the north, south, and 
west. A sleepy town, but an important railway junction, 
the authorities of the Reichsland kept here a considerable 
garrison, and the neighboring hills were defaced with huge 
barracks. To the south of the town, a strong artillery posi- 
tion had been established. This was taken by assault; and, 
on August 18, the French entered Saarburg, thus effectually 
breaking the main railway communications between Metz 
and Strassburg. Zabern, where Lieutenant von Forstner 
had so recently executed Prussian military vengeance upon a 
lame cobbler, which Herr von Jagow had described as 
" almost an enemy's country," where the Prussian Minister 








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of War had feared " to see life for a German become less 
safe than life in the Congo " — Zabern, the very name of 
which cried aloud of the uniformed bull} 7 , was only a day's 
march further east, and Strassburg itself only as much more. 

Hope flashed over France like a sudden conflagration. 
Count Albert de Mun published in Paris the narrative of a 
refugee priest who declared that Metz was hungry and 
terror-stricken. It was the anniversary of the battle of St. 
Privat; and the old aristocrat and soldier, clerical deputy 
and philanthropist, presented himself without shame as 
standing in the courtyard of the War Office beneath a cap- 
tured German banner, and thanking God that the day of the 
long-awaited revenge had come. Gravelotte, St. Privat, 
Sedan — interspersed with the war news of the day, these 
anniversaries were a by no means insignificant factor in the 
consciousness of the opposed armies and nations. General 
Bonnal, in the Gaulois, quoted a prisoner as saying : " It is 
an officers', not a people's war," and from this concluded that 
there had been " a complete reversal of roles " since 1870. 
The Abbe Wetterle, a notable Alsatian member of the 
Reichstag, reached Paris on August 19, by way of Basel and 
Pontarlier, having narrowly escaped arrest and trial for high 
treason. M. Blumenthal, another deputy, and ex-mayor of 
Colmar, had also had an exciting journey from that town to 
the Swiss frontier. Their adventures accentuated the gen- 
eral anticipation that the lost provinces were about to be 

The French positions were quickly extended to the north- 
west of Saarburg, through Dieuze and Morhange — just such 
little infernos as had been described some years before in 
a widely read book, Lieutenant Bilse's " Aus Einer Kleinen 
Garnison " — to Chateau-Salins and Delme, decayed country 
towns on a strategic railway running to Metz, only twenty 
miles away. Whether they had deliberately tempted Castel- 
nau into this dangerous salient, or had retired only to give 
time for the bringing up of heavy re-enforcements, the Crown 



Prince of Bavaria and General von Heeringen were now able, 
with the aid of the Metz garrison, to fall upon the French 
from three sides at once. The blow was sudden and decisive. 
The French 15th Corps, taken by surprise, gave way — some, 
at least, of these Southern troops tied, but they afterwards 
bravely retrieved their character — and the whole line had to 
be withdrawn. The Germans claimed to have captured 
10,000 prisoners and 50 guns. The French questioned these 
figures, but could not deny a severe reverse. This was on 
August 20, while the German cavalry was entering Brussels, 
the French were recovering Mulhouse, and the authorities 
in Paris were congratulating themselves that, except a 
corner of land at Audun-le-Roman, the frontier station be- 
tween Longuyon and Thionville, every part of the national 
territory was free of the invader. The retreat from Lorraine 
was arrested for a moment on the line of the Seille and the 
Marne-Rhine Canal. On August 22, it had reached the 
Moselle and the advanced works of Nancy on the left, 

/ ^METZ 







French Offensive Crappy) in Lorraine. 


Badonviller and the Donon on the right. On the 23rd, Lune- 
ville was lost; the French retired to, and at some points 
beyond, the Meurthe, the center of the defense being the ring 
of hills known as the Grand Crown of Nancy; and the 
Donon and the Col de Saales were abandoned. On the 25th, 
Mulhouse was evacuated, and all but the southern passes 
of the Vosges were abandoned. There was now something 
more important than Alsace for General Pau to look after. 
The danger in the north was unmistakable. The change of 
objective was announced in the following not very happy 
terms in the Paris communique of August 26 : " The Com- 
mander-in-Chief, having to summon all the troops to the 
Meuse front, ordered the evacuation of the occupied terri- 
tory. The great battle is engaged between Maubeuge and 
the Donon ; on it depends the fate of France, and with it of 
Alsace. It is in the north that the Commander-in-Chief calls 
all the forces of the nation to the decisive attack. Military 
action in the Rhine Valley would distract from it troops 
on which victory might depend. It is necessary, therefore, 
to leave Alsace for the present. It is a cruel necessity which 
the army of Alsace and its chief have submitted to with pain, 
and only at the last extremity." 

IV. The Fall of Namur 

So much for the first German and French offensive move- 
ments of the campaign. We must now return to the front 
in Belgium, and watch the development of the German attack 
in relation to the three quantities by which it was opposed : 
(a) the Belgian army and people, (&) the French army, 
through the Ardennes westward to the Meuse, and (c) the 
British Expeditionary Force. 

The obstinate resistance of the Liege forts, and the escape 
of the field troops westward on August 6, made it clear that 
Belgium had to be reckoned with seriously. Von Emmich's 
Army of the Meuse was not able to prevent this escape, as 



a slower, more powerful, and well-provided invasion might 
have done. On the other hand, if any more time had been 
given, Liege might have been better prepared for the siege. 
It is impossible, therefore, to say positively that the sudden 
assault by an inadequate (though superior) force of frontier 
troops was a mistake. But it was a very expensive way of 
ascertaining that there are still Davids, as there are Goliaths, 
among the nations. In the ensuing pause, a screen of cav- 
alry scouts was thrown out far and wide over the country ; 
and, behind this screen, the concentration for the real inva- 
sion was hurried forward. Did the Allied Staffs realize the 
extent of this concentration? On August 12, the newly 
established British Press Bureau issued a statement to the 
effect that, " of the twenty-six German Army Corps, the 
bulk have now been definitely located, and it is evident that 



A-B -"Belgian Army 


After the Fall, of Liege. 


the mass of the German troops lie between Liege and Luxem- 
burg. The number known to be on the western side proves 
that, in the eastern (Russian) theater of war, the frontier, 
as far as Germany is concerned, is comparatively lightly 
guarded, unless by reserve troops." Beyond this, nothing 
was vouchsafed to the public ; it was generally believed that 
the invaders were discouraged, if not broken, and petty 
skirmishes between Uhlans and Belgian detachments were 
magnified into triumphant battles. In an uncanny secrecy, 
the German commanders ripened their plans. 

The Belgian field army was in being, with its headquarters 
in Louvain, its left wing extended before Aerschot towards 
Diest, and its right through Tirlemont and Waremme towards 
Gembloux, where a junction with French cavalry detach- 
ments was presently effected. Throughout this line, small 
test actions were being fought on and after August 10 — a 
guerrilla campaign, of intimidation on the one hand, of delay 
on the other. At the village of Haelen, near Diest, on the 
10th, the Belgians inflicted upon a division of cavalry and 
an infantry regiment a complete defeat. King Albert might 
then, honorably, have withdrawn his army into the fortified 
zone of Antwerp. It is possible that this course would have 
saved central Belgium from some slaughter and devastation. 
By removing an obstruction strong enough to check anything 
but a considerable German advance, it would have worsened 
the military situation of the Allies. If, as is possible, but 
not probable, the German commanders had intended to 
strike their main blow down the Meuse Valley, the Belgian 
resistance may have diverted them westward. It is very 
much more likely that the western campaign which was 
to prove so costly to the Allies was already decided upon, 
and, in that case, the gallant opposition of the Belgian army 
was in every way justified. To its chiefs, all, at the mo- 
ment, seemed to rest in a very simple, very unselfish, calcu- 
lation: how to delay the invader until French and British 
help arrived. To withdraw seemed to be to abandon not 


only their country, but their friends and legal guardians. 
The question was discussed. The young soldier-King would 
not take the path of evasion; his Ministers could not say 
him nay. It was hoped that the French in numbers, per- 
haps some British also, would arrive before the main Ger- 
man force was ready. 

For four days, the Belgians — at Eghezee, Landen, Wa- 
remme, and Diest — beat off all attacks. Then a severe pres- 
sure upon their left wing became apparent, the advance 
proceeding from Hassel t to Haelen and on toward Louvain ; 
while another threatening movement was made from the 
Hesbaye district, south of Tirlemont, directly toward the 
capital. These armies evidently could not be for long fron- 
tally resisted ; and, while the more northerly put the Belgian 
line of retreat to Antwerp in danger, the other struck at the 
line of connection with the French before it could be effect- 
ively strengthened from the south. Only one decision was 
possible, for, if the Belgian army could be kept in being in 
the north-west, it might yet hope to play an influential part 
in events. So the French columns turned back southward, 
and the country between Wavre and Brussels was evacuated, 
the Civil Guards being disarmed, and the villagers left to 
flee, or to bear as best they might the flood of gray-coated 
Teutons. First came groups of Uhlan patrols, with armored 
automobiles and cars full of infantry scouts; then the main 
columns of all arms — a host such as had never been counted 
upon, developing an hourly increasing speed and power. 

Brussels, whether in the original plan of campaign or 
not, was now the immediate objective. The property of the 
Belgian National Bank, and the State papers, had already 
been sent to Antwerp; on Monday, the 17th, it was known 
that the Queen and the Ministers were following. On the 
18th, the lines of Waremme, Tirlemont, Louvain, and Aer- 
schot were evacuated, a rear-guard action at the latter place 
— in which one heroic detachment of 288 men bad only seven 
survivors — being the prelude to a peculiarly atrocious mas- 


sacre of civilians by the German troops. The road to the 
capital was thus thrown open; it was, however, still for a 
moment thought that nothing more than a cavalry raid on 
Brussels was intended, which the Civil Guard of the city, 
intrenched across the eastern approaches, would be able to 
parry. The woods at Soignes and the Tervueren district 
were, therefore, prepared for a defensive effort; but on the 
evening of the 19th — from scruples as to submitting an im- 
perfectly armed police force to such a test, as well as from 
better knowledge of the strength of the invading army — the 
Guards were withdrawn and sent to Ghent and Ostend, 
whither a large part of the civil population was already in 
flight. While King Albert and the other national leaders 
accompanied the army under the guns of their one remain- 
ing fortress, Burgomaster Max set himself, with rare sagac- 
ity, prudence, and courage, to bargain with General Sixtus 
von Arnim, commander of the German 6th Army Corps, 
by whom the city was occupied on August 20. They were 
to have passage through it ; but requisitions were to be paid 
for in cash, public and private property was to be respected, 
and the Municipal Council was to carry on its work. If any 
injury were done to the troops, " the severest measures " 
would be taken; otherwise General von Arnim guaranteed 
" the preservation of the city and the safety of its inhabit- 
ants." The streets where, less than three weeks before, I 
had watched the Belgian soldiers gathering for mobilization, 
were now deserted and silent, a parade march of 40,000 men 
through the city failing to produce the expected impression. 
As at Liege, the conquerors established themselves without 
the gross excesses that had marked their passage through 
the villages and smaller towns. Instead, they imposed 
enormous fines — £8,000,000 in the case of Brussels, £2,000,- 
000 in that of Liege — which can only be regarded as ransom 
in lieu of pillage or arbitrary punishment. Great Britain 
and France at once advanced to the Belgian Government the 
sum of £10,000,000 sterling as a loan without interest. 


While a part of the German First Army, that of General 
von Kluck, was thus projecting the right or western wing of 
the invasion, the Second, under Von Biilow, was crossing the 
Meuse bridges at Huy, and making for Namur; and the Third 
and Fourth, under Von Hausen and the Duke of Wiirtem- 
berg, were penetrating through the difficult Ardennes coun- 
try, the former toward Dinant and Givet, the latter through 
Bastogne toward Mezieres. The most northerly of the 
French armies at the beginning of the war, that of General 
de Langle de Gary, posted across the Ardennes-Luxemburg 
border, and that of General Lanrezac, from Maubeuge to the 
Meuse above Givet, had not waited for the enemy, but at- 
tempted an offensive which was even less happy than that of 
their fellows in Lorraine. It was too much dispersed, and, 
on the most important line, that of the Meuse to Namur, 
showed neither speed nor strength enough. De Langle's 
advance from between Mezieres and Montmedy through the 
southern Ardennes, which might have threatened the Ger- 
man communications had it got further, was stopped between 
Neufchaleau and Paliseul, the French retiring to the south 
and west. 

Lanrezac was at first more fortunate; but his success at 
Dinant on August 15 left no lasting result. After the check 
at Liege, the German Staff had decided to bring new forces 
to the north ; and a fresh army consisting of two Saxon 
corps originally part of the Duke of Wiirtemberg's army, 
with the 11th Reserve Corps, and part of the Guard's cavalry, 
under General von Hausen, was directed to strike across the 
central Ardennes, and so get behind Namur and catch any 
French or Belgian body on the Sambre in flank. 

The great cross-roads of Namur were then still blocked 
to the Germans, who were thus forced into various side- 
ways. One of these was the railway from Liege and Huy 
to Ciney, whence Dinant could be reached either by road, 
or by railway through Rochefort. Dinant was important 
as holding one of the direct ways by which the French might 


relieve Namur, and as having a line of its own, striking west 
to Charleroi. Hither, then, came at daybreak on August 15 
a German force consisting of a division of the Guard, an- 
other cavalry division, several battalions of infantry, and 
some companies of small artillery. A few French infantry- 
men alone occupied the ancient citadel overlooking the east 
side of the river; and it was captured during the morning. 
A struggle for the crossing from the east to the west bank 
ensued. In the afternoon, two batteries of French artillery 
and several regiments of infantry arrived. The " 75's " 
quickly dominated the citadel and bridge-head from the 
neighboring cliffs ; and the assailants were driven back, and 
dispersed by a cavalry charge. A French captain of in- 
fantry, who was wounded in the engagement, afterwards 
said : " We were barely two companies strong when we got 
the order to advance and clear a position for our artillery. 
Below us, the Germans, who had succeeded in bridging the 
Meuse, marched confident in their superiority of numbers. A 
volley caught them, then another, and a third. Within a few 
seconds, we were close upon them; their machine-guns 
plowed through our ranks, but we went on, and, when a sec- 
ond company came to our aid, there was a new hecatomb on 
the German side. Around me my men held firm, and our com- 
rades, though new to the firing-liDe, did not hesitate. Their 
captain, struck by a ball in the chest, could just give his 
papers to his lieutenant as he fell, uttering the words : ' Take 
these to my wife and say farewell for me.' Then I remember 
no more, for a fragment of shell struck me. I learned after- 
wards that our artillery destroyed the German bridges, and 
drove many of the enemy into the river." 

This success was at once annulled by the failure of Lanre- 
zac's colleagues to the south-east. General Ruffey's left 
wing had crossed the frontier northward as far as the river 
Semoy, there to be arrested by the Imperial Crown Prince, 
advancing from Luxemburg; while the Wiirtembergers had 
done as much for De Langle de Cary further west. The two 


French armies, surprised on several occasions, and outnum- 
bered, retired, and so uncovered Lanrezac's flank. The posi- 
tion in the Dinant Valley became, or was thought to be, 
untenable — an unfortunate development, for Lanrezac's with- 
drawal left the troops on the Sambre dangerously exposed, 
and put an end to any hope of relieving Namur. 

During these events, the main body of the French Fifth 
Army was slowly moving northward between the Sambre 
and Meuse valleys, and the Belgian Government was 
strengthening the small garrison of Namur till it at last 
numbered about 26,000 men. Namur, a much smaller town 
than Liege, was supposed to be at least as strong a fortress, 
with its five large and four smaller forts distributed around 
the confluence of the Meuse and Sambre, and the road and 
railway bridges which constitute the military importance of 
this point. The week preceding the battle of Mons-Charleroi 
is the obscurest part of the whole story of the war; and, 
in particular, we have little trustworthy information of the 
events preceding the fall of Namur on August 23. An Eng- 
lish journalist, who was in the town on the 13th, describes 
how the chief streets of the town had been barricaded, and 
other preparations made for a siege, while German aviators 
were already soaring above the forts. Areas before these 
were mined, barbed-wire obstructions set up, and the field 
of fire was cleared. Stores of ammunition and food had 
been accumulated ; but the anticipation entertained afar off 
that the fortress could hold off a German army for several 
weeks was not shared within; and all eyes looked for the 
expected army of relief. By the 15th, the railway service had 
practically ceased, and only one road to the north was open. 
Next day, the Belgian garrison repulsed a preliminary attack 
at Wierde, beyond the most easterly fort. Some French 
troops had been got into the town, including a regiment of 
" Turcos," whose bayonet charges were already the theme of 
fearsome story. But when, on the 17th, a German column 
cut the line of communications with Brussels, and engage- 


ments between Uhlans and French Dragoons or Belgian 
patrols began to multiply around Gembloux and Sombreffe, 
the tired troops were in a condition of hardly suppressed 
panic. The forts were strongly constructed of concrete with 
armor-plate turrets ; but their 6-in. guns and 4.7 howitzers 
were no match for the German 8.4 in. (21 cm.) and 11-in. 
(28 cm.) siege-pieces — which were able to pour in a continu- 
ous torrent of shell from a distance of three to five miles — 
even if none of the huge Krupp 16.8-in. (42 cm.) siege-pieces 
were used. The bombardment, supported by about four 
army corps, began on the 20th; and, though several forts 
were not yet reduced, the passage of the Meuse and Sambre 
was secured by the 23rd. If the surviving defenders had 
not then fought their way out, there would have been a 
further heavy loss, without any compensating gain. What- 
ever explanations of the collapse of the defense may some 
day be offered, they will probably be found to amount to 
this : General Michel and his staff could know little of what 
had happened at Liege, and, in any case, they were even less 
able than General Leman had been to offer the mobile de- 
fense, on an extended line, which, as the world now dis- 
covered, could alone save these or any other fortresses 
against such an attack. On the other hand, the invaders 
could hardly fail to learn the lesson of Liege. They essayed 
no feeble preliminaries, but, while the Belgians were waiting 
for them to come up, prepared behind their cavalry screen 
an overwhelming blow. They are said to have been favored 
by a heavy mist while getting their siege guns into position, 
just out of range of the much inferior cannon of the forts, 
and of the intrenched infantry. 

The following narrative was given a fortnight later by one 
of the survivors to Reuter's correspondent at Ostend : " The 
Germans at first centered their rain of steel upon our in- 
trenchments. For ten hours our men stood this without 
being able to fire a shot in return. Whole regiments were 
decimated. The losses among the officers were terrible ; and, 


gradually, the soldiers, unled, became demoralized. With 
one bound, they at last rose and fled — a general sauve qui 
pent. Meanwhile, many German guns had been turned on 
the forts, especially on Maizeret and Marchovelette (which 
covered the eastern approaches on either side of the Meuse). 
These could offer but a feeble resistance ; and, in fact, Maize- 
ret only fired about ten shots, while it received more than 
1,200 shells, fired at the rate of twenty a minute. At Marcho- 
velette, seventy-five men were killed in the batteries, and both 
forts soon surrendered. The other works were still holding 
out when the army left the town. Fort Saurlee resisted from 
the morning of the 23rd to 5 p.m. on the 25th. The eventu- 
ality of a retirement had not been provided for, and great 
confusion ensued. Soldiers declare that officers cried out: 
' Get out as best you can. The thing is to get to Antwerp.' 
No provision had been made for the destruction of the im- 
mense stores; and all these, with the fortress artillery, and 
most of the field artillery, the horses being killed, fell into 
the enemy's hands. At the Cadets' School alone, there was 
a store of 3,000,000 daily rations. The ambulance corps lost 
150 of its 600 men. Our line of retreat was on St. Gerard 
(south-west, between the Meuse and Charleroi), where we 
hoped to meet the French brigade which was in retreat from 
Dinant. They had fallen back by way of Morville, and 
could only send us two regiments, which bravely fought their 
way through, and joined us not far from Namur much re- 
duced in numbers. Our generals had believed that the 
blowing up of the bridge at Jambes (southern suburb of 
Namur) would cover our retreat; but the Germans cut it at 
Bois-les-Villers, and we got through only with heavy losses. 
Our retreat continued by way of Hirson, Laon, and Amiens, 
to Rouen ; and we were taken from Havre back to our own 
shores. Of 26,000 men constituting the garrison of Namur 
and troops sent to occupy the intervals between the forts, 
those who have returned to Belgian soil number only 


V. England's Part 

The preliminary stage of the land campaign was thus be- 
ing completed before any British soldiers had come into 
action — a fact which could not but weigh heavily upon 
thousands of uninstructed minds, especially among the suf- 
fering Belgians. The Governments concerned, and studious 
observers everywhere, knew, however, that England's three- 
fold contribution to the war, while it could not be imme- 
diately decisive, would presently become as important as 
those of the more immediate parties, France and Russia, and 
all the more important because of its quite different and sup- 
plementary character. For England, and England only 
among the Allies, was in a position to disarm the powerful 
German fleet, and to deprive its owners of the innumerable 
military and economic advantages that arise from free sea 
communications. In a series of relatively small, though 
positively impressive, engagements in near and distant 
waters, this supremacy was established before the end of 
the year, so that only small occasional raids were then to be 
feared. Meanwhile — the Atlantic and North Sea dominated 
by British, the Mediterranean by French, ships — the trans- 
port of troops, of wounded and prisoners, of supplies and 
munitions, proceeded uninterruptedly ; the colonies and pos- 
sessions of France and Great Britain were preserved in 
peace and security, while those of the enemy were seized or 
threatened; above all, the power of economic resistance of 
the Allies was maintained at the maximum by the continu- 
ance of their foreign trade. 

To this r61e, England brought, beside her naval power, her 
strength and weakness as the chief creditor nation of the 
world, and the first industrial nation in the old hemisphere. 
Russia, with her vast bulk and population and her primitive 
rural economy, could hope to stave off any vital injury. Not 
so the western States. Belgium had the choice of ceasing 
to exist except as a Prussian province, or becoming depend- 


ent upon her treaty guardians, for food and shelter imme- 
diately, for re-establishment later. France did what she 
could amid the ruin of several of her own departments ; the 
people and Government of Holland took hundreds of thou- 
sands of refugees into their homes, and cared for them with 
a generosity that can never be too warmly recognized; the 
United States sent help both in money and kind. England, 
while bearing a principal share in this effort, had to con- 
stitute herself, to a large extent, the banker and manufac- 
turer of the Alliance. Not only had warships to be made 
and repaired, cannon and shell, small-arms and ammunition, 
clothing and food, land and sea transport to be provided in 
hitherto undreamed-of quantities, without unnecessary dis- 
turbance of the normal trade and industry by which the 
nation lives: the credit necessary to trade had to be main- 
tained; the resources of the State had to be enormously 

The first shock due to general insecurity and the arrest of 
foreign remittances to British creditors was met by the clos- 
ing of the London Stock Exchange, on July 31, the extension 
of the August Bank Holiday by three days, and a simple 
moratorium postponing pre-war obligations for one month. 
The State, through the Bank of England, then undertook 
to provide assistance for the fulfillment of these obligations ; 
and, early in September, it offered like aid in the meeting 
of post-war obligations. The moratorium, several times ex- 
tended, did not apply to wages and salaries, rates and taxes, 
sea freights, or small debts, and it expired in November; 
but much of its effect was continued by the Courts (Emer- 
gency Powers) Act, which gave the law courts power to 
stay actions for the recovery of debt when the debtor's em- 
barrassment was due directly or indirectly to the war. By 
the end of September, Treasury notes of one pound and ten 
shillings had been issued, largely through the joint stock 
banks, to the extent of over £28,000,000, a material supple- 
ment to the Bank of England's note issues; and, after falling 


to the lowest point for twenty-five years, the Bank reserve 
rose steadily through August and September. On August 6, 
a Government credit for £100,000,000 was voted ; and, three 
weeks later, the War Loan Bill enabled the Treasury to bor- 
row whatever money became necessary for the supply serv- 
ices of the following year. The money was easily raised, 
for the most part by issues of six-months Treasury bills. 
Repeated visits of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to Paris 
and of French Ministers to London marked the development 
of financial, as well as of military and naval, co-operation 
among the Allies. 

In the economic and naval spheres, then, England was 
able at once to do more than her share. Her only possible 
military effort at the outset — the dispatch of an expedi- 
tionary force of 150,000 men, comprising three-eighths of the 
existing regular army and reserves — was a mere preliminary 
to the raising of new armies which were to number, count- 
ing the votes of August 6, September 10, and November 16, 
2,000,000 of men more. The importance of this beginning 
proved, however, to be far beyond the numerical promise. 
It represented the best of the voluntary long-service system ; 
and its proof in one of the hardest ordeals recorded in mili- 
tary history constituted, together with the success of the 
subsequent recruiting, an unanswerable justification of that 
system. There was a story of a German army order issued 
by the Emperor on August 19 directing that a special effort 
should be made to " exterminate the treacherous English 
and walk over General French's contemptible little army.'' 
The story was generally credited at the time, for there then 
seemed to be no bounds to German anger over England's 
intervention. It was somewhat tardily denied, and it may 
have had no foundation; it is certain that this little army 
excited feelings quite other than contempt among its foes, 
even when they were driving it before them in the long 
retreat. It was a title of pride, not shame, to the British 
peoples that this little army, all that could be spared, until 


the Indian contingent arrived, from the police duties of a 
far-stretched realm, could be so spared because, among the 
hundreds of millions of subjects of that realm, there was 
not one alien race which wished to weaken the central 
power in its day of trial. Presently, there came Indians 
with princely chiefs, Canadians from the prairie, and Aus- 
tralians from the bush. Canada sent a division of all arms 
and a gift of 100,000,000 pounds of flour. Australia offered 
her little navy, 20,000 infantry, 6,000 light horse, and a 
quantity of foodstuffs. Botha, the ablest of the erstwhile 
Boer generals, now head of a United South Africa, under- 
took the suppression of a trivial revolt and the invasion of 
German South-West Africa, with local levies. India, whose 
disloyalty German agents had confidently promised, sent at 
once two infantry divisions and a cavalry brigade, and later, 
three more cavalry brigades, with various contingents of- 
fered from the great native States. The Maharajas of 
Mysore, Gwalior, Bhopal, and other chiefs presented large 
sums of money toward the cost of the Expeditionary Force; 
and a dozen or more of them accompanied the Indian con- 
tingent to Europe at the head of their men. Though all 
the majesty of a family of nations can never be exhibited 
on the battlefield, the world saw in this symbol something 
of the strength of the invisible bonds woven in years of 
broadening liberty, and the will that liberty breeds to give 
up all, if need be, to arrest a great wrong. 

The Expeditionary Force, planned during the previous 
decade, was to consist of five divisions, each of three infantry 
brigades, one regiment of cavalry, and seventy-six guns, with 
engineers and other services. There were also five brigades 
of cavalry, with two horse-artillery brigades attached. Lord 
Kitchener had, on August 5, accepted the Secretaryship for 
War for the period of the campaign, recognizing that the 
organization of future resources at home was more impor- 
tant than present leadership in the field. Field-Marshal Sir 
John French thus became the obvious Commander-in-Chief. 


The 1st Army Corps (1st and 2nd Divisions) was placed 
under Lientenant-General Sir Douglas Haig; the 2nd (3rd 
and 5th Divisions) under General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien ; 
and the 4th Division under Major-General Snow ; while four 
cavalry brigades formed a Division under Major-General 
Allenby. Hundreds of trains and scores of steamships hav- 
ing been commandeered, the embarkation began, on Au- 
gust 8. 

Ten days after the issue of the mobilization order, by an 
admirable co-operation between the railways and the navy, 
the force was landed at Boulogne and other French ports; 
and on August 15, Sir John French paid a courtesy visit to 
Paris. It is characteristic of the unintelligence of the press 
censorship that, while that visit was freely reported in Paris, 
our telegrams to Fleet Street about it were all stopped. 
After a short stay in rest-camps on the coast, the 1st and 
2nd Army Corps were moved across the Belgian frontier to 
the region west and east of Mons. The whole vast movement 
had been conducted, so far as the general public in England 
and France was concerned, in complete secrecy. It was 
carried through without a single hitch. A rare pen would 
be needed to sum up the emotions excited by this first land- 
ing within living memory of a British army in western Eu- 
rope, this armed hand-clasp of races so different, now united 
in one vital aim. The good folk of Normandy and the Pas 
de Calais laughed and cried. " Tommy Atkins," generally, 
in this first expedition, young and unmarried, always trim, 
straight, clean, and purposeful, was a strangely impressive 
visitor. It soon emerged that he carried in his pack a final 
letter from the grim soldier whom he called " K. of K." 
" You are ordered abroad " — so ran Lord Kitchener's bene- 
diction — " as a soldier of the King to help our French com- 
rades against the invasion of a common enemy. You have to 
perform a task which will need your courage, your energy, 
your patience. Remember that the honor of the British 
army depends on your individual conduct. ... Be in- 


variably courteous, considerate, and kind. Never do any- 
thing likely to injure or destroy property, and always look 
upon looting as a disgraceful act. . . . Keep on your 
guard against any excesses. In this new experience, you 
may find temptations — in wine and women. You must en- 
tirely resist both temptations, and, while treating all women 
with perfect courtesy, you should avoid any intimacy." 
Could the witty Frenchman refrain from a smile over this 
insular bluntness? But it was a very respectful smile. 

" The concentration was practically complete," said Sir 
John French in his first published dispatch, " on the evening 
of Friday, the 21st, and I was able to make dispositions to 
move the Force during Saturday, the 22nd, to positions I 
considered most favorable from which to commence opera- 
tions that the French Commander-in-Chief, General Joffre, 
requested me to undertake in pursuance of his plans in 
prosecution of the campaign." 


Guilty in its origin and object, and unscrupulous in its 
design, the German campaign was, ere many days had passed, 
more deeply damned in the eyes of humane observers all the 
world over by the appearance of two features which none of 
the prophets had been cynical or pessimistic enough to an- 
ticipate, and which added immeasurably to the pains of this 
vast catastrophe. In Belgium and France, the path of the 
invading armies had been prepared by the organization of 
swarms of spies ; and perhaps the greatest mischief wrought 
by their operations, in which courage and treachery were 
often strangely mingled, lay not in the acts of betrayal, 
but in the suspicion aroused, often against quite innocent 
persons. This evil naturally tended to diminish as the war 
proceeded; but no information has been made public suf- 
ficiently comprehensive and exact to justify us in attempt- 
ing any further account of the matter in these pages. With 
regard, secondly, to the systematic terrorism by which the 
German commanders sought to ease or consolidate their 
advance through invaded districts, our difficulty lies in the 
mass, not the lack, of evidence. Several volumes would be 
required for even a summary account of the acts of devasta- 
tion and cruelty by which it was sought to break the spirit 
of the Belgian people; all that can be attempted here is to 
cite very briefly a few typical instances out of the many 
which were investigated by a judicial committee appointed 
by the Belgian Government, and were the subject of suc- 
cessive reports. 

When the first incursion was made at Vis6, General von 



Emmich issued a proclamation in which he said : " I give 
formal guarantees to the Belgian population that it will 
not have to suffer the horrors of war; that we shall pay in 
money for the food we must take from the country; that 
our soldiers will show themselves to be the best friends of 
a people for whom »ve entertain the highest esteem, the 
greatest sympathy." On the 9th, General von Biilow was 
already tiring of this benevolent tone, and warning the Wal- 
loons that any attempt to oppose his troops would be severely 
dealt with. On the following day, a body of German cav- 
alry occupying the village of Linsmeau was attacked by some 
Belgian infantry, who were accompanied by two gendarmes. 
A German officer was killed in the fight, in which, according 
to the Belgian authorities, no civilians took part. Later, 
the village was invaded by a strong German force of cavalry 
and artillery. Two farms and six outlying houses were 
destroyed by gunfire or burnt; and the male villagers were 
then examined. No recently discharged firearms were found. 
Eleven inhabitants were, nevertheless, placed in a ditch and 
killed, their heads being broken in by blows from rifle-butts. 
Many retail cruelties were perpetrated in neighboring vil- 
lages during this and the following nights. 

The Belgian Government claimed to have issued, imme- 
diately after the first invasion, public statements which were 
placarded in every town, village, and hamlet, warning all 
civilians to abstain scrupulously from hostile acts against 
the enemy's troops; and such warnings were also spread 
broadcast by the newspapers. Since the Belgians are evi- 
dently not lacking in love for the homes and the country 
that had been subjected to a burglarious entry, it is only 
too likely that the prudential order was sometimes dis- 
obeyed. In such cases, punishment was invited, and it 
would not have outraged the world's sense of justice and 
humanity. The German officers never pretended to hold 
themselves within such limits. When, in the middle of 
August, their cavalry screen began to move out westward, 


the " effective occupation " which is the first condition, in 
international law, of the right to emphasize the difference 
between civilians and regular soldiers was altogether want- 
ing. What was imposed was not " law " of any kind, but 
simply wholesale, deliberate terrorism. The Belgian retreat 
from Aerschot, on August 18, in course of which the German 
advance guard suffered heavy losses, has been mentioned. 
On the following day, the town was occupied without resist- 
ance. The remaining inhabitants were ordered to leave their 
houses, and, as they did so, a number were shot down. On 
the following day, M. Thielemans, the burgomaster, his son, 
a lad of fifteen, and eleven prominent citizens were taken 
outside the town, and shot. The town was then destroyed by 
fire. In all, 26 prisoners were shot by the Germans after 
the fighting at Aerschot. " Whole villages," says the fifth 
report, of the Belgian Commission of Inquiry, " have been 
wiped out. Their inhabitants who have taken refuge in 
the woods are without shelter, without food. In the ditches 
along the roads, the dead bodies of peasants, women, and 
children murdered by the Germans, are left unburied. 
Many corpses have been thrown into the wells, contaminat- 
ing the water. Wounded, without distinction of age or sex, 
have been abandoned, without any attempt to relieve their 
sufferings. A great part of the male population was com- 
mandeered throughout this region. Most of them were com- 
pelled to dig trenches and to build defensive works against 
our troops, in defiance of the laws of warfare. Others fre- 
quently were forced to walk in front of the German troops 
during the fighting." 

Tamines, a rich and populous village on the Sambre be- 
tween Charleroi and Namur, was occupied by detachments 
of French troops on August 17-19. On the 20th, a German 
patrol appeared before the suburb of Vilaines; and several 
Uhlans were killed by the fire of the French soldiers and a 
party of Civic Guards from Charleroi. This is the supposed 
origin of the massacre at Tamines on the following day. 


The village was occupied by the Germans in force, the French 
retiring, on the 21st; and the houses were at once sacked and 
set on fire. Most of the inhabitants were arrested; but a 
good many were burnt to death or suffocated in the houses, 
204 in number, which were fired. " On the evening of Satur- 
day, August 22, a group of between 400 and 450 men was 
collected in front of the church, not far from the bank of 
the Sanibre. A German detachment opened fire on them; 
but, as the shooting was a slow business, the officers ordered 
up a machine-gun which soon swept off all the unhappy 
peasants still left standing. Many of them were only 
wounded, and, hoping to save their lives, got with difficulty 
on their feet again. They were immediately shot down. 
Many wounded still lay among the corpses. Groans of 
pain and cries for help were heard in the bleeding heap. 
On several occasions, soldiers walked up to such unhappy 
individuals and stopped their groans with a bayonet thrust. 
At night, some who still survived succeeded in crawling 
away. Others put an end to their own pain by rolling 
themselves into the neighboring river. About 100 bodies 
were found in the river." Next day, Sunday, another party 
of villagers was compelled to dig trenches for the burial of 
the bodies, soldiers with fixed bayonets standing over them. 
Fathers thus buried their sons, and sons their fathers. 
The women of the village were compelled to watch. The 
German officers were drinking champagne. One man was 
buried while still alive, on the order of a military doctor. 
" When a soldier, seized with an impulse of pity, came near 
us," said a survivor, " an officer immediately scolded him 
away. I saw German soldiers who could not refrain from 
bursting into tears on seeing the despair of the women." 
The total number of victims at Tamines was over 650. The 
survivors positively asserted that none of the inhabitants 
fired on the Germans. 

The quaint Flemish town of Dinant, on the Meuse, so 
well known to British and American holiday-makers, suf- 


fered a like fate on the following days. After the French 
victory on the 15th, there was complete quiet, till the even- 
ing of the 21st, when the Germans re-entered in force, shot 
several civilians, and fired a number of houses. Next day 
was calm: probably most of the troops had gone west or 
south. " On Sunday, August 23, at 6.30 a.m., soldiers of 
the 108th Regiment of Infantry invaded the Church of the 
Premonstratensian Fathers, drove out the congregation, 
separated the women from the men, and shot fifty of the 
latter. Between seven and nine the same morning, the 
soldiers gave themselves up to pillage and arson, going from 
house to house and driving the inhabitants into the street. 
Those who tried to escape were shot. About nine in the 
morning, the soldiery, driving before them, by blows from the 
butt ends of rifles, men, women and children, pushed them 
all into the Parade Square, where they were kept prisoners 
till 6 o'clock in the evening. The guard took pleasure in 
repeating to them that they would soon be shot. About 6 
o'clock a captain separated the men from the women and 
children. The women were placed in front of a rank of 
infantry soldiers, the men were ranged along a wall. The 
front rank of them were then told to kneel, the others re- 
maining standing behind them. A platoon of soldiers drew 
up in face of these unhappy men. It was in vain that the 
women cried out for mercy for the husbands, sons, and 
brothers. The officer ordered his men to fire. There had 
been no inquiry nor any pretense of a trial. About twenty 
of the inhabitants were only wounded, but fell among the 
dead. The soldiers, to make sure, fired a new volley into 
the heap of them. Several citizens escaped this double dis- 
charge. They shammed dead for more than two hours, re- 
maining motionless among the corpses, and when night fell 
succeeded in saving themselves in the hills. Eighty-four 
corpses were left on the square, and buried in a neighboring 

" The day of August 23 was made bloody by several more 


massacres. Soldiers discovered some inhabitants of the 
Faubourg St. Pierre in the cellars of a brewery there and 
shot them. Since the previous evening, a crowd of workmen 
belonging to the factory of M. Himmer had hidden them- 
selves, along with their wives and children, in the cellars 
of the building. They had been joined there by many neigh- 
bors and several members of the family of their employer. 
About 6 o'clock in the evening, these unhappy people made 
up their minds to come out of their refuge, and defiled all 
trembling from the cellars with the white flag in front. They 
were immediately seized and violently attacked by the 
soldiers. Every man was shot on the spot. Almost all the 
men of the Faubourg de Leffe were executed en masse. In 
another part of the town twelve civilians were killed in a 
cellar. In the Rue en He a paralytic was shot in his arm- 
chair. In the Rue Enfer the soldiers killed a young boy 
of fourteen. In the Faubourg de Neffe, the viaduct of the 
railway was the scene of a bloody massacre. An old woman 
and all her children were killed in their cellar. A man of 
sixty-five years, his wife, his son, and his daughter were shot 
against a wall. Other inhabitants of Neffe were taken in a 
barge as far as the rock of Bayard and shot there, among 
them a woman of eighty-three and her husband. A certain 
number of men and women had been locked up in the 
court of the prison. At six in the evening, a German 
machine-gun, placed on the hill above, opened fire on them, 
and an old woman and three other persons were brought 
down. While a certain number of soldiers were perpetrat- 
ing this massacre, others pillaged and sacked the houses of 
the town, and broke open all safes, sometimes blasting them 
with dynamite. Their work of destruction and theft accom- 
plished, the soldiers set fire to the houses, and the town 
was soon no more than an immense fturnace. 

" The women and children had all been shut up in a con- 
vent, where they were kept prisoners for four days. These 
unhappy women remained in ignorance of the lot of their 


male relations. They were expecting themselves to be shot 
also. All around, the town continued to blaze. The first 
day the monks of the convent had given them a certain sup- 
ply of food. For the remaining days they had nothing to 
eat but raw carrots and green fruit. To sum up, the town 
of Dinant is destroyed. It counted 1,400 houses; only 200 
remain. The manufactories where the artisan population 
worked have been systematically destroyed. Rather more 
than 700 of the inhabitants have been killed; others have 
been taken off to Germany, and are still retained there as 
prisoners. The majority are refugees scattered all through 
Belgium. A few who remained in the town are dying in 
hunger. It has been proved by our inquiry that Ger- 
man soldiers, while exposed to the fire of the French 
intrenched on the opposite bank of the Meuse, in certain 
cases sheltered themselves behind a line of civilians, women 
and children." 

For a lesser massacre, in the village of Andenne, General 
von Billow assumed personal responsibility in a proclama- 
tion (August 22) containing these sentences: " The inhabit- 
ants of Andenne, after having protested their peaceful inten- 
tions, have taken our troops by a treacherous surprise. It 
is with my consent that the commanding officer has had 
the whole place burned, and that about a hundred persons 
have been shot." The survivors denied that there was any 
such provocation; and the Belgian authorities stated the 
number of victims at over 200. On entering Namur, Von 
Biilow issued a proclamation announcing that citizens who 
did not at once give up any hidden French or Belgian sol- 
diers would be " condemned to hard labor for life in Ger- 
many," while any soldier found would be " immediately 
shot." In the small town of Wavre, a German soldier was 
wounded in the street. Lieutenant-General von Nieber at 
once issued a notice that a fine of 3,000,000 francs must be 
paid promptly, or " the town will be burned and destroyed, 
without regard for persons, the innocent suffering with the 


guilty." The town was, in fact, destroyed, and twenty of 
the chief citizens were taken away as hostages. 

The southern districts of Belgian Luxemburg were the 
scene of many and extreme excesses. Hostages were usually 
taken, sometimes maltreated, and often removed to Ger- 
manjr. " In almost every locality," says an official report, 
" pluuder was systematically complete. In Arlon, 47 houses 
had been sacked before the ransom-money, £4,000, could be 
raised." The number of houses deliberately burnt in the 
province was calculated to be over 3,000. Over 1,000 civil- 
ians were executed, including about 300 in Ethe, 157 in 
Tintigny, 106 in Rossignul, and 111 persons of the communes 
of Ethe and Rossignol publicly shot at Arlon. " In most 
of these villages, the troops did not even allege that they 
had been attacked by the civilian population. It seems cer- 
tain that the inhabitants did not commit any hostile act. In 
many places German soldiers had been shot by French 
patrols and sentinels, but often destruction of the villages 
cannot be explained even on this pretense. The inhabitants 
say that the crimes of which they were victims can only be 
explained by the soldiers being drunk, by their pleasure in 
inflicting suffering, or by their anger at the unexpected 
resistance of the Belgian army, or, finally, by their having re- 
ceived orders for systematic destruction from their superiors." 

In this domain of evil, it is impossible to measure one 
kind of crime against another, and range each in its degree. 
But a peculiar infamy will attach to the memory of the 
sack and fire of Louvain, one of the oldest of European 
seats of learning, and not the least of Belgium's treasuries 
of art and history. " The German army," says the Com- 
mission of Inquiry, 1 u entered Louvain on Wednesday, 

1 It was thus composed: President, M. Cooreman, Belgian Minister of 
State; members: Count Goblet d'Alviella, Minister of State, Vice-Pres- 
ident of the Senate; M. Ryckmans, Senator; M. Strauss, Sheriff of the 
city of Antwerp; Van Cutsem, Hon. President of the Court of First 
Instance, Antwerp; Secretaries: Chevalier Ernst de Brunswyck, secretary 
to the Minister of Justice, M. Orts, Councilor of Legation. 


August 19, after having burnt down the villages through 
which it had passed. As soon as they had entered the town 
and requisitioned food and lodging, they went to all the 
banks, and took possession of the cash in hand. Soldiers 
burst open the doors of houses which had been abandoned, 
pillaged them, and committed other excesses. The German 
authorities took as hostages the Mayor, Senator van der 
Kelen, the Vice-Rector of the Catholic University, the senior 
priest, and certain magistrates and aldermen." A number 
of outrages were perpetrated in the neighborhood, but the 
city seems to have remained quiet for a week. On August 
24 and 25, the Belgian troops made a sortie from the in- 
trenched camp of Antwerp, attacked the German army which 
was masking it before Malines, and drove it back toward 
Louvain and Vilvorde. This rout is the only discoverable 
cause of what followed. At nightfall on the 26th, the re- 
treating German soldiers entered Louvain ; and the German 
garrison appears to have mistaken some of them for Bel- 
gians, in the prevailing panic, and to have fired upon them. 
In order to explain away the mistake, it was then pretended 
that civilians had fired on the troops — " a suggestion which 
is contradicted by all the witnesses, and could scarcely have 
been possible, because the inhabitants had had to give up 
their arms to the municipal authorities several days before." 
The bombardment and fire followed, a large part of the city, 
including the ancient Cathedral of St. Pierre, the University 
buildings, together with the University Library, its priceless 
manuscripts and book collections, and the Municipal Theater, 
being destroyed. 

" On the orders of their officers, the German soldiers 
broke into the houses, and set fire to them with the help of 
fuses. They shot at the inhabitants who tried to escape 
from their houses. Many people who sought refuge in their 
cellars were burnt alive. Others were shot as they tried to 
escape from the burning houses. A great number of inhabit- 
ants who had succeeded in getting out of their houses through 


their back gardens were led to the Place de la Station, 
where they saw about ten dead civilians tying about. They 
were then brutally separated from their wives and children, 
and stripped of all they had succeeded in carrying away. 
The women and children remained without food on the Place 
de la Station during the whole day (August 26). They wit- 
nessed the execution of about twenty of their fellow-citizens, 
among whom were several priests, who, bound together in 
groups of four, were shot at one end of the square, on the 
footpath in front of the house of Mr. Hamaide. On Thurs- 
day, the 27th, at 8 o'clock, order was given to all the inhabit- 
ants to leave Louvain ; the town was to be bombarded. Old 
men, women, children, sick people, lunatics from the asy- 
lums, priests, nuns, were driven like cattle about the roads. 
They were driven in different directions by brutal soldiers, 
forced to kneel and to lift their arms each time they met 
German soldiers and officers; they were left without food 
during the day, without shelter during the night. Many 
died on the way. Others, among whom were women, chil- 
dren, and priests, who were unable to follow, were shot dead. 
More than 10,000 of them were driven as far as Tirlemont, 
fifteen miles from Louvain. Their sufferings are beyond 
description. The next day, many others were driven fur- 
ther on from Tirlemont to Saint Trond and Hasselt. 

" The looting began on August 27, and lasted eight days. 
By groups of six or eight, the soldiers broke into the houses, 
through the doors or the windows, entered the cellars, drank 
the wine, ransacked the furniture, breaking the safes, steal- 
ing all money, pictures, works of art, silver, linen, clothes, 
wines and provisions. A great part of the booty, packed 
on military carts, w r as then sent to Germany by train. The 
burning and the looting did not stop until Wednesday, 
September 2. On this day four more fires were lighted by the 
German soldiers, one in the Rue Leopold and three in the 
Rue Marie Therese. Without countiug the Halles Universi- 
l aires and the Palais de Justice, 894 houses were burnt 


within the limits of the town of Louvain, and about 500 
houses within those of the suburb of Kessel-Loo. The sub- 
urb of Herent and the village of Corbeck-Loo were practically 
entirely destroyed. On August 25, while they were setting 
fire to houses, the Germans wrecked the fire-engines and fire- 
escapes ; they shot the people who from the roofs were try- 
ing to stop the flames. Looting is nearly always followed by 
fires, which seem often to be prompted solely by the desire 
to hide the traces of the looting. The houses are frequently 
set on fire by fuses; at other times they are sprayed over 
with petrol or naphtha. Sometimes, in order to hasten the 
action of the fire, the German soldiers use a kind of inflam- 
mable tablet, containing nitro-cellulose gelatine." 

An eye-witness who left Louvain on August 30, when the 
fire was still burning, said: "The town has the appearance 
of an ancient ruined city, in the midst of which only a few 
drunken soldiers move about, carrying bottles of wine and 
liqueurs, while the officers, seated in armchairs round the 
tables, drink like their men. In the streets, swollen bodies 
of dead horses rot in the sun, and the smell of fire and putre- 
faction pervades the whole place. Leaving Weert St. 
Georges, I only saw burnt-down villages and half-crazy peas- 
ants who, on meeting anyone, held up their hands as a 
sign of submission." M. Paul Delannoy, librarian of the 
University, was able, in the disguise of a chauffeur conduct- 
ing a Dutch traveler who had a passport, to visit Louvain 
while the fire was still burning, and human bodies still lay 
about the streets and the steps of ruined houses. He said : 
" Fire was put to the Library and the Cathedral of St. Pierre 
on the first day. Of the latter, only the walls remain. The 
Library is still burning, and the wind blows hither and 
thither scraps of burnt or burning paper. The Hotel de 
Ville is intact, as are several colleges which had been turned 
into ambulances before the occupation. The poor quarters 
are also intact, but deserted. The rich quarters were sys- 
tematically burnt, on different days; for, before setting them 


on fire, officers and soldiers entered the houses, took the valu- 
able articles, labeled them, and sent them to the station, 
where trains were read}' to take away the spoil. All the 
horrors related of the bad treatment of the inhabitants are 
within the reality. The loss of the Library is irreparable; 
many rare and precious works, more than 300 incunabula, 
manuscripts, and maps, have been destroyed. No pecuniary 
compensation can mend the loss. If, after victory, the works 
on the history of the Netherlands in every German University 
were brought to Louvain, it would not be made good."' 

On August 27, while the flames of this sacrifice were rising 
to heaven, the German " wireless " news-supply was ticking 
out to a horrified world the following sentence: "The only 
means of preventing surprise attacks from the civil popu* 
lation has been to interfere with unrelenting severity, and 
to create examples which, by their ' frightfulness,' would be 
a warning to the whole country." Students already knew, 
indeed, not only that the German Imperial Government was 
opposed to the extension of arbitral and like methods of 
settling international disputes, and to experimental steps 
toward a general arrest of armaments, not only that it took 
a thoroughly unsympathetic view of the rights of small 
nations, and of irregular forces particularly, to resist con- 
quest — these things were unmistakably shown at The Hague 
Conferences in 1899 and 1907; they knew, also, that this 
same Government's faith in force ran even to the point of 
favoring systematic terrorism and breach of the usages of 
warfare whenever any kind of military " necessity " could 
be cited. 1 

1 See "The German War Book" (London: Murray, 1915), a full and 
literal translation, by Professor J. H. Morgan, of the Kriegsbrauch im 
Landkriege, issued by the German General Staff for the instruction of 
officers. In a critical Introduction, Professor Morgan shows the rela- 
tionship between this cult of the " mailed fist " and the cynical develop- 
ments of German diplomacy, politics, and academic teaching, in the last 
forty-five years. 


Clausewitz, the highest source of German military inspira- 
tion, declared that " to introduce into the philosophy of war 
a principle of moderation would be an absurdity," because 
" war is an act of violence which in its application knows no 
bonds." Professor J. H. Morgan observes of the book on the 
Usages of Land Warfare issued by the Great General Staff 
that " when it inculcates ' Rightfulness ' it is never obscure, 
and when it advises forbearance it is always ambiguous " ; 
and the text abundantly justifies his conclusion that " to 
' terrorize ' the civil population of the enemy is a first prin- 
ciple with German writers on the Art of War," the aim 
being " to smash the total spiritual resources of a people, to 
humiliate them, to stupefy them — in a word, to break their 
spirits." Preachers and teachers, statesmen and diploma- 
tists, having established the idea of war as a moral necessity, 
before which ordinary scruples are folly, and prior under- 
takings may be cast away as so many " scraps of paper," the 
professional soldier, when his opportunity comes, naturally 
gives full swing to his most violent impulses. If he be a 
naturally humane and just man — and there must have been 
many such in the German armies — he is overborne by the 
general tradition, now sharply backed by coercive authority. 
He may weep in secret, like some of the assassins of Tamines ; 
not having the blood of martyrs in his veins, he carefully 
conceals his tears from his superiors. There are always su- 
periors, and they have been chosen as tearless men. Was 
it not the highest of them, the Emperor himself, who 
claimed " the God of armies and of battles " as his " great 
Ally," and said : " The soldier must not have his own way, 
but you must have only one will, and it is mine ; one law, 
and it is mine"; and again: " It may happen, though God 
forbid, that you may have to fire on your own parents or 
brothers. Prove your fidelity, then, by your sacrifice " ? x 
From Clausewitz to Bernhardi and Von der Goltz, exposi- 

1 Other considerations on this point will be found in the author's 
" Germany and the German Emperor." 


tions of this monstrous doctrine were familiar to the outer 
world. Why, then, should the story of Aerschot and Ta- 
nnines, Dinant and Louvain, produce a thrill of horror 
throughout the west? The answer can only be that, to 
citizens of progressive and liberal States, while it was out- 
rageous that such ideas should be proclaimed, it was, also, 
incredible that they should ever be acted upon by a people 
that had often boasted itself the spiritual children of Kant, 
Lessing, Goethe, and Schiller. These ideas seemed to be a 
part of a modern pose, a very ugly pose — ugly with the sensa- 
tional-sentimental ugliness of Berlin architecture and the 
German comic press — a pose strangely compounded of up- 
start arrogance and ancient servility, a pose very annoying 
and even dangerous, but by no means to be taken as more 
than a pose. This is the mistake made by generous minds all 
over the world. The discovery of the fearful truth, during 
the third week of the war and afterwards, gave the struggle 
a new element of abnormality. Possibilities of moderation 
and mediation, which would early have arisen in any less 
extreme issues, were decisively excluded. The unity of the 
Allies and of every class in every Allied country was sealed 
anew. England was now pledged as deeply to the utmost ef- 
forts as she had been during the Napoleonic wars. The defi- 
nite breaking of the German war spirit became an aim sec- 
ondary only to the liberation of the soil of Belgium and 
France. The Governments of France and England had been 
far from immaculate in the development of European rival- 
ries during the preceding decade. But in neither of these 
countries was the State regarded, even in times of stress, as 
above criticism and above law ; in neither were the whole re- 
sources of the community, nor could they be, concentrated 
toward the purpose of an offensive war. Tn both, the preser- 
vation and strengthening of international peace was an aim 
frequently avowed by leading statesmen, energetically pur- 
sued by considerable organizations, and commanding sincere 
and general support among the people. In England the com- 


plete lack of military forces for such an emergency , in France 
the strong opposition to three years' service and the neglect 
of fortresses, are proofs positive, to which many others 
might be added, that, grudging even the sacrifices demanded 
for defense, these nations could not be persuaded to sup- 
port a clear aggression. Not only was a war destructive of 
their best hopes, personal and public, forced upon them, but 
a war of unspeakable savagery, in which it must soon become 
difficult for the Englishman to preserve his proverbial 
phlegm, the Frenchman his native gallantry. In the market- 
place of Tamines and the bloody streets of Louvain, men 
who had loved the singers and thinkers of the Fatherland 
saw, with sickness in their souls, the fruit of the Kaiser's 
partnership with Abdul Hamid, continued through Enver 
Bey, his palace guards, and his Kurdish levies. Now that 
the very foundations of civilized society were seen to be in 
danger, who could hesitate? Three weeks of German terror- 
ism in Belgium braced the will of the Allies — after a pause 
of sheer incredulity — as nothing else could have done. 


I came through from Brussels to Paris, on the afternoon of 
Saturday, August 1, by one of the last normal trains on 
the direct route. Communications over the German fron- 
tiers both of Belgium and France were already broken ; but 
we little thought, and there was nothing to suggest — for 
the fact that only a few frontier pickets were visible did 
not then seem significant — that this route would soon be- 
come one of the chief lines of supply for conquering Ger- 
man armies. The train was crowded with foreigners leav- 
ing Belgium, many of them Americans. We exchanged ex- 
periences of petty inconvenience not worthy to be recalled 
(the difficulty of cashing notes and credit orders was a 
prominent theme), and speculated anxiously about a future 
in which there was now no more than a glimmer of hope 
for the maintenance of peace. 

War had been declared by Germany that day, though we 
did not yet know it, upon Russia, and Luxemburg had been 
invaded. On the morrow, Sunday, the Kaiser presented his 
ultimatum to Belgium. The peace that had lasted in 
western Europe for forty-three years was at an end. On 
Monday, France received the expected declaration of war 
from her old enemy. And now one question beat insistently 
upon the British ear: What would England do? It was sug- 
gested, I think, less by anxiety as to the fate of France than 
by the inherent chivalry of the Gallic character, to which it 
is incomprehensible that anyone should hesitate to step in 
when a foul crime is threatened. England has never taken 
any particular trouble to enable her foreign friends to 



appreciate the gravity of the burden of her imperial responsi- 
bilities; and I have surprised many Frenchmen by compell- 
ing them to reflect what it must mean to add participation in 
a European war to the guardianship of 400,000,000 of natives 
scattered all over the face of the earth. At the outset, the 
insular and continental peoples naturally looked at the 
European conflict from different angles. The facts which 
were major for the one were minor for the other. It was 
only on second thoughts that the French realized at all 
fully how important for them was the British power to keep 
open sea communications. The Frenchman stood with his 
face to the east, his back to the ocean. Very soon, however, 
we heard discussions as to the price of coal and the pros- 
pect of importing Argentine meat. The most obvious cause 
of artificially high prices was removed by the lowering or 
canceling of the food duties. The German sea raiders com- 
pelled reflection; and the slowly tightening blockade of the 
German Empire completed the educative process. Long be- 
fore this, on Tuesday, August 4, England had become a 
party to the war, and from that day onward there was not 
in France a responsible voice that expressed anything but 
warm appreciation of the British contribution to the com- 
mon cause. 

A second matter of anxiety was the attitude of Italy ; and 
her prompt declaration of neutrality not only relieved 
France of a grave peril, but afforded the simplest and most 
conclusive exhibition of the aggressive character of Ger- 
many's action, and of the inner falsity of the Triple Alliance. 
Austria-Hungary, the original cause of the universal calam- 
ity, was not officially at war with the western Powers until 
August 10. This was the end of statistical feats in which 
Austrian and Italian Dreadnoughts were counted together as 
Germany's instruments in the Mediterranean. Within three 
days of the outbreak of war there were no active warships 
there except those of England and France, though several 
German raiders appeared later on. 


For a moment, there bad been a yet graver question: 
Would France herself be united? There has never been a 
Quaker or Tolstoyan movement in France ; but the Socialist 
party was profoundly international and pacific in sentiment, 
and had participated recently in many efforts, very ill-sup- 
ported on the other side, toward Franco-German reconcilia- 
tion. Its leader, Jean Jaures, struck down in a cafe near the 
office of their journal, UHumanite, on July 30 by a half- 
witted royalist, had only just returned from the meetings 
of the International Socialist Bureau in Brussels, and died 
struggling to the last moment to avert the European catas- 
trophe. How would his followers regard this sudden breach 
of all that was promised for the Armed Peace? Perhaps the 
most emphatic reply was given by a Socialist who had 
often mocked at Jaures as a moderate, and who might claim 
to be the author of the idea of an international labor strike 
against war — Gustave Herve. A more regular, collective 
answer was afforded at tbe special session of the Chamber 
on August 4, when the Socialist deputies applauded the 
Presidential and Ministerial declarations, and M. Deschanel 
pronounced a warm eulogy of Jaures, his " magnificent elo- 
quence," his " remarkable cultivation and power of work," 
his " generous heart, wholly devoted to social justice and 
human fraternity." " From the grave of the man who has 
perished, a martyr of his ideas, arises a thought of union; 
from his icy lips comes a cry of hope. To maintain this 
union, to realize this hope, for the fatherland, for justice, 
for the human conscience, is it not the worthiest homage we 
can render him? " The working-men of France had already 
made up their minds on the merits of the case; but words 
like these certainly helped them to accept what for them, 
private sacrifice apart, was an evil only less intolerable than 
another Prussian conquest. 

The issue was placed before the nation and the world, on 
this occasion, by the President of the Republic and the Prime 
Minister in phrases worthy, by their clarity and eloquence, 


of a high place in the records of French oratory. " France 
is being made the object," said M. Poincare, " of a brutal 
and premeditated aggression, which is an insolent defiance of 
the law of nations. Before a declaration of war had been 
addressed to us, even before the German Ambassador had 
demanded his passports, our territory was violated. The 
Emperor of Germany gave tardily, only last evening, the true 
name to a situation which he had already created." No act, 
no gesture, no word could be attributed to France that had 
not been pacific and conciliatory. She had made up to the 
last " supreme efforts to conjure a war of which the German 
Empire will have to bear before History the crushing respon- 
sibility. . . . She will know now, as ever, how to reconcile 
the most generous pride and the most enthusiastic ardor 
with that self-mastery which is the sign of durable energies 
and the best guarantee of victory. In this war, France will 
have with her Right, of which peoples can no more than 
individuals with impunity misconceive the eternal moral 
power. She will be heroically defended by all her sons, 
whose sacred union before the enemy nothing will break. . . . 
Already, from all parts of the civilized world, sympathy and 
good wishes reach her. For she represents to-day, once 
again, before the world, Liberty, Justice, and Reason." 

M. Viviani rapidly traced the course of events since " the 
abominable crime " of Serajevo, dwelling particularly upon 
the final stage. When, on July 31, Germany proclaimed the 
Erie gszufahr stand, she had already, he said, several days 
before, prepared the passage of her army from a peace to a 
war footing. " As far back as the morning of July 25, that 
is, before the expiry of the period given by Austria to 
Servia, she had warned the garrisons of Alsace-Lorraine. 
The same day, she had armed the defense works near the 
frontier. On the 26th, she had given the railways prelimi- 
nary instructions for the concentration. On the 27th, she had 
effected the requisitions and put in place her covering troops. 
On the 28th, the individual summonses to reservists had 


begun, and the units distant from the frontier were brought 
nearer. Such was the situation when, on the evening of 
July 31, the German Government, which for a week had not 
participated by any positive act in the conciliatory efforts of 
the Triple Entente, addressed its ultimatum to Russia. On 
the same day, this unfriendly step was doubled by clearly 
hostile acts toward France: rupture of road, railway, tele- 
graph, and telephone communications, seizure of French 
locomotives on their arrival at the frontier, placing of mi- 
trailleuses on the railway, which had been cut, and concen- 
tration of troops on this frontier. 

" From this moment, we could no longer believe in the 
sincerity of the pacific declarations which the representative 
of Germany showered upon us. We knew that, under shel- 
ter of the ' state of warning of war,' Germany was mobiliz- 
ing. We learned that six classes of reservists had been 
called up, and that the concentration transport even of army 
corps far removed from the frontier was being pursued. 
The general mobilization of our land and sea armies 
was, therefore, ordered. On that evening (August 1), al- 
though the Cabinet of St. Petersburg had accepted the Eng- 
lish proposition, Germany declared war on Russia. On the 
morrow, in contradiction to her Ambassador's declarations, 
the German troops crossed our frontier at three points; 
while the neutrality of Luxemburg was violated, and that 
of Belgium was menaced. Since then, the aggressions have 
been renewed, multiplied, and accentuated. On more than 
fifteen points, our frontier has been violated. Shots have 
been fired at our soldiers and customs officers. There have 
been killed and wounded. Yesterday, a German aviator 
threw three bombs upon Lune>ille. Last night, the German 
Ambassador asked for his passports, and notified the state 
of war, alleging, quite untruly, acts of hostility by French 
aviators in German territory. . . . European opinion has 
already done justice to these miserable inventions." 

M. Viviani then read the Franco-British exchange of let- 


ters of November 1!>1l\ by which it was agreed thai there 
should be military and naval consultations, withoul preju- 
dice to the liberty of each country on any occasion to decide 
for itself whether it would co-operate with the oilier. Be 
also cited a new declaration of Sir Edward Grey promising 
that, if the German fleet emerged to attack France. England 
would intervene, and would then be at war with Germany. 
This undertaking, which was received by prolonged applause 
from the Chamber, had been given in London two days 
before, subject to Parliamentary approval. The appeal of 
Belgium to England, her response promising support, and 
the appearance of the first Belgian troops before Liege, 
were only occurring during this historic session of the 
French Chamber. "France, unjustly provoked, did nol 
wish for war," declared the Premier, in conclusion. " She 
has done everything to avoid it. We are without reproach. 
We shall be without fear. To sustain the weight of a heavy 
responsibility, we have the comfort of an untroubled con- 
science, and the certitude of duty accomplished.*' Before 
the sitting closed, Ministerial Bills were produced to estab- 
lish payments to the necessitous families of soldiers, to ex- 
tend the power of the Bank of France to issue notes, to 
authorize a moratorium, to suspend import duties on food 
and necessaries, to set up a state of siege, to admit Alsatians 
and Lorrainers into the French army, and " to repress indis- 
cretions of the press in time of war." 

Long before the dreadful character of the German cam- 
paign in Belgium became known, the cause of the Allies had 
excited the sympathies of neutral nations of a progressive 
type. There was, indeed, one grave subject of hesitation. 
This was to be a war against the spirit of militarism, eon- 
quest, and arbitrary rule, a war in aid of a great Republic 
and two little peoples threatened in their independence. 
What could or would a State so constituted as that of Rus- 
sia contribute to such ends? Optimists replied that, unlike 
the less arbitrary, but harder and more heartless. Slate of 


Prussia, Russia holds surprising and incalculable powers of 
sudden progress and moral grandeur which war has liberated 
before (as in the freeing of the serfs after the Crimean War, 
and the establishment of the Duma after the war in Man- 
churia), and may liberate again. No mere promise could 
suffice to establish this view; but the Tsar's appeal to the 
Poles of Austria and Germany, and his pledge to set up a 
new Poland, enjoying complete autonomy and freedom of 
language and religion, which was the greatest news of mid- 
August, went far to justify the optimists. The student of 
history will recognize the irony of this proclamation by the 
descendant of Catherine the Great at the cost of the descend- 
ant of her partner in the iniquity of 1772, Frederick the 
Great. Like the invitation from the same monarch to the 
first Peace Conference at The Hague, this bold stroke came 
as a complete surprise to Europe. Even among the most 
patriotic Poles, the hope of recovering their national unity 
and autonomy was the faintest and most visionary. Prob- 
ably it is as true to-day as formerly that an absolutely 
independent Poland could not exist between the three great 
neighbors who brought about its extinction formerly. But, 
set up under Russian suzerainty, its position and the num- 
bers of its population might well favor a liberal develop- 
ment which would react upon the condition of all the Slavic 
lands. All the Poles were not in the same case. In East 
Prussia, they had been subjected for twenty years to a sys- 
tematic, costly, and yet futile course of repression. In 
Galicia, they had been more fortunate, and, therefore, more 
loyal. To all, this lightning flash out of the east brought a 
quickened pulse, a new aim and strength. It was one of 
the master-strokes of history ; and the day has not come when 
any man can say where or when the reverberations will cease. 


These were days, for the young manhood of the Republic, 
of swift, excited movement, of brave farewells, of journeys 
too full of dire expectation to be tiresome, of work at un- 
precedented pressure. For the families left behind, and all 
mere watchers, they were days of deepening stupefaction. 
On the busy boulevards, or in little seaside and country 
resorts far from the throbbing center of political life, we 
were surprised to find the echoes of a distant disturbance 
swelling, without apparent cause, into the imminent threat 
of war in these very streets and fields upon which the sun 
shone so radiantly. Hour by hour, then minute by minute, 
the thunder of gathering legions sounded nearer and nearer ; 
curiosity passing into anxiety, astonishment, anger, and at 
last, when the storm burst, into a dull, bitter impotence of 
feeling. Taken together, the work of mobilization and the 
censorship completed the social transformation. When hun- 
dreds of thousands of men of all classes are suddenly en- 
rolled and removed, business life is automatically reduced to 
a necessary minimum. Within a few hours half the shops and 
offices of Paris were closed, three-quarters of the machinery 
of transport was removed, and an unknown but very large 
part of the industry of the country came to a standstill. 
The banks and bourses were idle; therefore there were no 
financial newspapers. The actors had put on uniform, and 
there were no theaters. The daily papers were reduced to 
small single sheets — no more advertisements, no more fic- 
tion, no more criticism of art and literature. The Goddess 
of Fashion had fled. When the night was yet young, a full 


moon looked down upon a city apparently asleep, except 
along a few streets leading to the eastern and northern 
railway stations. These, day or night, and the Government 
offices, were always simmering like the blowholes on the 
flanks of a volcano. 

Thus, Paris rapidly assumed the appearance of a belea- 
guered city. The mobilization not only robbed factories, 
workshops, offices, and shops of most of their adult male 
workers; it not only required the transfer to the military 
authorities of the whole of the railways and much of the 
road and water transport of the country, the telegraphs and 
telephones, and the main power of the postal service. Into 
nearly every home in the land it brought warning of wages 
and salaries stopped, employment of every kind disorgan- 
ized, and prices of commodities rising. On top of this came 
the stern announcement of the state of siege, by which mili- 
tary law was made supreme over the destinies of the civil 
population, or what remained of it. The money famine of 
these first days, though it had its amusing side, was tragic 
for hundreds of thousands of the lower middle-class folk for 
whom small change is not merely a convenience, but a neces- 
sity. The inconvenience continued for several weeks, despite 
an issue of 20-franc and 5-franc bank-notes. I heard of a 
rich traveler who was going about with 20,000 Austrian 
crowns, and for some hours could not raise the price of a 
meal. In many cases it was possible to change foreign 
money only at cent, per cent, discount. Our civilization now 
rests so much upon credit and ready exchange that the mind 
was altogether unprepared for the flood of individual mis- 
fortunes which the arrest of retail credit caused. It was 
like a return to the pre-banking era. At the restaurant, the 
waiter politely asked at the outset if you could pay in coin; 
at the magazin, the shopman deeply regretted to have to put 
the same question, but Monsieur must pardon him, for he 
had veritably no alternative. So, howling crowds gathered 
at the bank doors, aud the proverbial messenger from Mars 


might have supposed that the thriftiest people in Europe had 
with mysterious suddenness lost all their savings. It was, 
no doubt, this very thrift, made feverish by fear of the un- 
known future, that created the difficulty. 

Even metal money is not the most essential of our needs, 
and cannot procure everything when the army is in posses- 
sion. The question of the feeding of Paris loomed threaten- 
ingly before us. " Despite the absorption of railway services 
by the army," said the Prefect of the Seine, " a certain 
number of trains are reserved for the transport of essential 
commodities, notably meat, milk, and potatoes, as well as the 
flour necessary for making bread. The public will continue 
to obtain these provisions at such retail shops as remain 
open. As to milk, special measures are being taken to 
secure a preferential supply for children and invalids. Per- 
sons who wish to avail themselves of this measure must enter 
their names at the mairies, producing such evidence as birth 
certificates of children, doctor's certificates, etc." The same 
officer confessed that the sanitary as well as other public 
services must suffer from the mobilization by urging house- 
holders to rely as little as possible upon scavengers, and to 
burn their old paper, bones, foodstuff, and other refuse. 
Working bakers, it should be said, were exempted from the 
call to the colors. Several incipient riots against shop- 
keepers who tried to put up food prices exorbitantly took 
place. The police promised special measures to secure " loy- 
alty of transactions " in the provision markets, including 
prosecution of those unamiable persons who used to be called 
" forestallers and regrators." 

At the outbreak of the war, all foreigners in Paris were 
required to report to the police, who either gave them a 
permit to remain in the city or an order to leave the coun- 
try, unless they were sent to a concentration camp. Out- 
side the police commissary's offices one saw, day after day for 
a whole fortnight, thousands of people of different national- 
ity, class, and age, lined up awaiting admission to the com- 


niissary's presence. The weather was still hot, and many 
of the women and girls who stood waiting on the pavement 
for hours swooned. In such circumstances the Parisians 
showed their native kindliness. One evening, a frail Ger- 
man seamstress fainted outside a dairyman's shop. The 
dairyman's wife and sister, who w r ere caring for her, ex- 
plained that she had been in line from early in the morning 
until the police officials closed their doors, and had then 
been turned away. " Poor things ! " said the dairyman's 
wife. " Of course, we are at war with Germany, but we 
cannot help pitying them." The little seamstress was not 
allowed to make any payment, and was escorted home by 
two residents of the Rue de la Victoire. There were still, 
also, thousands of English and American holiday-makers and 
travelers who had not been able to get away, or had not tried 
to do so, hoping against hope for peace. For many of them 
the language difficulty did not exist; but to others the rule 
forbidding the acceptance of any private telegraphic mes- 
sages in foreign languages inflicted hardship. At the same 
time, it was announced that no private telegrams would be 
accepted at railway stations. In many small places this 
meant that none could be sent at all. Telephone communi- 
cations between town and town were altogether suspended ; 
and the Paris-London telephone service, upon which Fleet 
Street had come to depend more and more, was closed. No 
telegrams at all were allowed to Germany and Austria ; with 
neutral or friendly countries they could only be sent or 
received under police sanction. 

The museums were permanently closed, and the last traces 
of Paris the Holiday City disappeared — or, rather, the only 
remaining traces consisted of cues of distracted English, 
American, and other visitors at the Consulates and police 
headquarters seeking the special passports which were now 
necessary to get out of the country. Many of these people, 
especially the women, were in pitiful case. It is impossible 
to convey to comfortable stay-at-home readers any adequate 


impression of the disturbance and anxiety involved in the 
mere fact of not being able to obtain any definite informa- 
tion. You wished to get to London. But all regular train 
services were suspended, and the station-master himself — 
if you could penetrate into the station, which was completely 
blocked by troops and by officials wielding military law — 
could not tell you when it would be possible for a passenger 
train to leave for the north or west coast. Meanwhile, you 
must have money. If you were poor, Heaven help you. 
Otherwise, there was a double difficulty: it was still ex- 
tremely difficult to get change for French 50-franc and 100- 
franc notes, and restaurants and shops insisted on having 
small money. On the other hand, the British sovereign was 
no longer negotiable in the ordinary way, and the banks kept 
their stock for special customers. 

Much of this was to be expected, but few had anticipated 
a week without news. When the censorship established it- 
self under the shadow of martial law, I thought it impossible 
that public patience could be long maintained. Yet the 
memory of the cost of certain newspaper indiscretions in 
1870 sufficed to condone it. Up to August 4, the only in- 
formation from the front allowed to appear in the Parisian 
press— after news of the first German incursions on the east- 
ern border — consisted of three or four trivial items about 
bomb-throwing from a German aeroplane at Nancy, and 
patrol raids near Renoncourt and Belfort. What censors 
commonly fail to appreciate is that news cannot be sup- 
pressed — that, if true news is forbidden, false rumors will 
have a more lively and persistent circulation. Rumor at 
this time considerably exaggerated the natural anxiety as 
to the lot of French residents in Germany, especially in 
Lorraine, of whom their families had learned nothing 
since the eve of the war. On the night of August 4, the 
establishment in Paris of a censor's office and a bureau of 
official information was announced in the following terms by 
the Minister of War : 


" It is forbidden to publish any news relative to events 
of war, mobilization, movements, embarkations, transport 
of troops, composition of armies, effectives, etc., which have 
not been communicated by the Press Bureau organized by 
the Ministry of War. 

" The communiques will be made three times daily — be- 
tween 10 and 10.30 a.m., between 2.30 and 3 p.m., and 
between 11.30 and 11.59 p.m. 

" The directors of the different daily and periodical pub- 
lications are invited to inform the Press service at the Pre- 
fecture of Police in writing, to-day, August 4, of their 
regular day and hour of publication. All special editions 
are forbidden, as are also announcements cried or placarded 
in the public streets. 

" Further, they must transmit to the Ministry of War 
(Press Bureau) final proofs of each number as soon as the 
last page is made up. 

" The newspaper or publication concerned will, otherwise, 
be free, after sending this proof, to print and sell without 
other formality. But it will expose itself to immediate con- 
fiscation if the examination of the proof reveals the insertion 
of any military news whatever which has not been com- 
municated by the Press Bureau or Ministry of War. 

" Messimy." 

With the exception of the first, which could not be literally 
applied, these rules were rigorously imposed. No responsi- 
ble journalist, so far as I know, either in France or England, 
has ever questioned the necessity of a censorship of wai* 
news; but it would be hard to find a responsible journalist 
in either country to justify the censorship as it has actually 
existed and operated. If a general distinction can be made 
between the experience of the two countries, it is, probably, 
that opinion was most severely dealt with in France, 
and statements of fact in England. For a time, the 
French press was nearly extinguished, and many of the 
censors' decisions were merely stupid and annoying. After- 
wards, there was a reorganization and some improvement 


The official bulletins also became franker, fuller, and more 
dependable. If there is ever to be another war, however, 
this question of press censorship should be well considered 
in consultation with responsible and representative journal- 
ists. Meanwhile, in France, as in England, strange and er- 
ratic decrees have been accepted with a remarkable loyalty 
and patience. 

During those first days, we lived, as it were, behind an 
impenetrable curtain. Lacking fresh material, the news- 
papers repeated the old endlessly, and then dwindled to tiny 
single sheets in which the official communique's — the first of 
which was issued on August 5 — were eked out with editorial 
reflections (interspersed with white patches marking the 
censor's activity) and notes on the aspect of the city. It 
was an extraordinary thing to reflect that, with a million 
men at the front, Paris had not the least idea what they were 
doing. The German declaration of war, received by M. 

Oomrauniqu.e""a la Presse-du~ler--&eFte7flWe, 1S^ 
(.£3 heures); 

1°.- A notre alle gauche, par suite de la coittlhtotlon-Hlu^iKnr^e- 
ment ernreloppant des Alleroands, et dan6 le but de ne pa-accepter 
une action dgclBlve qui auralt pu §tre engagSe dans ae mauvaltfes 
conditions, noa troupes Be sont repliees partie vers le Gud, par- 
tie vers le sud-ouest. 

L'actlonengage'e dans la region de Bethel a psrral3 e nos for- 
ces d'arreter iaoraentan6ment l'ennewl. 

^o - au centre et a notre droits (ffoevre, Lorraine et Voegee), 
situation sans changement 


li a 6te organise* une escadrlile d'a^roplanes, bllnd£s et 
munis de rautral Ileuses, pour ralre la chasse aux aeroplanes alle- 
roands qui survolent Paris 

Facsimile of Communique. 


Viviani on Sunday afternoon, August 2, was only published 
on Tuesday morning, when a thirty-line summary had to 
satisfy the anxiety of the French public as to what Sir 
Edward Grey had said in the House of Commons on the pre- 
vious afternoon. Private and press telegrams, if they went 
through at all, were subject to long delays; as for letters, 
we came to regard the Paris Post Office as a vast cemetery, 
full of the remains of useless journalistic effort. Most of the 
automobiles were requisitioned for the army. Moreover, 
from August 4 the gates of Paris were closed from 6 p.m. 
to 6 a.m. (the evening hour was afterwards extended to 
8.30) ; and motor-cars were only allowed to leave the Depart- 
ment of the Seine under special and exceptional permits. All 
newspaper correspondents were turned back from the fron- 
tier region, and it was practically impossible to enter what 
was defined as " the actual zone of the armies." At the 
same time, foreign war correspondents were encouraged to 
wait about in the belief that they would soon be authorized 
and sent to the front. A code of rules was actually issued, 
on August 10, for their guidance, the chief and severest 
novelty being that telegraphic dispatches were to be every- 
where, always, and absolutely forbidden, and that messages, 
to be intrusted to the field post, must be written in French. 
Gradually, the British correspondents drifted back home, 
tired of waiting. 

The measures which isolated the civil population also 
isolated the army, whose consequent anxieties had to be 
taken more seriously. On August 11, the military author- 
ities promised to publish a newspaper especially for the 
troops at the front. This novel enterprise was heralded by 
an exchange of letters between M. Messimy, the War Min- 
ister, and M. Viviani, the Premier — a correspondence inter- 
esting to a British reader as marking the difference in the 
position of a country that sends an Expeditionary Force and 
one the whole of whose strongest manhood is gathered on 
distant frontiers for the defease of the Fatherland. " Over 


an immense front of 300 miles/' said M. Messimy, " officers 
and soldiers are subject to momentary impressions, without 
news of their homes or even of the war. By the Bulletin 
des Armees de la Republique they will be able to measure 
their individual share in the national effort. This will cre- 
ate a generous emulation of sacrifice for the independence 
and greatness of France and in the triumph of right and 
liberty." M. Viviani, in the course of his reply accepting 
the project, said that the children of France, then on the 
frontier, and on the morrow beyond it, would thus know that 
their mothers, wives, sweethearts, and sisters watched them 
with burning eyes. " Ah, young men, and you, my two sons, 
among them, look backward, and you will read how France, 
in her mission of emancipation, has been pursued by bar- 
barian hatred ! Look forward, and you will see Europe freed 
from abject tyranny, peace assured, labor enjoying a happy 
resurrection. Forward, children of the Fatherland ! When 
you return we will go, by paths which your heroism opened, 
in pious pilgrimage to bless the tombs where the spirits of 
the heroes of 1870 have awaited so long the terrible awaken- 
ing of justice." 

The Bulletin des Armees de la Repiiblique duly appeared, 
a small four-page sheet, containing articles by leading 
French writers, war bulletins, and other official matter; but 
it was soon found that effective circulation is not easily 
procured even when the journal has the State behind it and 
no revenue is expected. The postal arrangements between 
the front and the soldiers' families were for some months 
a cause of bitter complaint. An office was established at one 
of the Paris barracks where lists of killed and wounded were 
kept, and families applied for news, no general lists being 
published. The applicant was told whether a particular sol- 
dier's name was on either list, but not the place where he 
was, or the date, these and other details, however, being 
sometimes obtainable from regimental officers. Letters for 
soldiers had to be addressed in the first place to the original 



station of the regiment; as this might be far away in the 
south or west, delay was necessarily caused. Widespread 
pain was given, especially in the early months of the war, 
by the simple impossibility of communicating quickly with 
absent fathers, husbands, and sons. 

Early in August, the Prefect of Police, under powers given 
by the state of siege, ordered the closing at 9 p.m. of all 
places where drink was sold. The order was peacefully 
obeyed, a few minutes' latitude being given to those of us 
who were snatching a hasty meal. More than once, hurry- 
ing Paris-wards by motor-car from the eastern battlefields 
after nightfall, I wished it would serve to cry, " Curfew shall 
not toll to-night ! " No doubt, the attenuated and wearied 
staffs of the restaurants rejoiced; but thousands of people 
who depend upon the cafes for their food were sorely tried, 

w 20. 

Jeudi 3 Scptembre 1911. 






Of puis plasicur'ssemalncijdestomDais ocharne; mcllenl am prises no; troupes 
n6roiqucs el I ormcc cnncmlo. La vaillance de nos soldats leur a valu. sur plusieurs 
points, des avanlagcs marques. Mais, au Nord, la pousiCe des [orccs aUeonandes 
nous a contracts a nous rcplier 

Cello situation impose au President de la Republiqne el au Gouvemrment uoe 
decision douloureux. Pour vciller au salut national, les pouvoirs publKS oat le 
devoir dc s'eloigaer, pour I instant, de b ville de Paris. 

Sous le commandement dun cLct eminent, uoe artnee fiaoeaise. plelne de 
courage cl d entrain, defcjidra conlre lenvahisseur la eapitale el sa palriotique 
population. Mais la guerre doil so poursuivre. en mCme tcropa, sur le rcetcdu 

Sans pai\ ni Irtve, sans Jrrtl nl dcfaillance. con)Lnucra la lutle sacrto pour 
rbonncur dc la oatioa el pour la reparation du droit viols. 

Aucunc dt nos armees nest eolomee. Si quclques-unes d enlre elles ont suM des 
perles Imp seosibles. les vides onl etO Imroediaicmont corables par les, depots el 
1 appcl des rcerucs nous assure pour dcnui n dc nou\ cllcs ressourccs en liommes el 
eu OnejB'e*. 

Diirc» cl rombaltrc.. tel doil (ire le mold'ordre des armies allires engtaise, 
IBM, beige cl Iraoratse I 

Durrr ct combo Ure, peritiaol que rur mer les Anglais nous aldrnl a couper les 
communications de nos contra!; a% ec le moode I 


(2 scptembre.) 

t — a nolr? altc gauche, dina In Journeo 
da I" septembre, ua corps de ciTiitna 
aUemande. dias si roarcue vers U fortl do 
Compiegae, a eu ua engagement avec le* 
Antfus qui lul ont pris 10 caaons. 

Uri Jjlrt corps de cavalerle aUemando a 
pouss$ Juiqu'i U ligne Soissons-Auuy-le. 


I'iOJ la region de neihcl el de la Meuso, 
leonecm nimioilfsit aucunc aclivjie. 

Jl — En Lorraine, oous avons conlioue 4> 
pri'presser *ur b rive drolia du SiCQO; *ta 
Sud la situation est inrnangee 

tn H*ute- Alsace, les AHemands scmblcat 
n'avoir iHsse" 4tx*a\ Biliorl qu un rtdeau 
de troupes. 

Ill — Dan* la raglon du Herd, on na si- 
gnal? pa< d erjieaus & Ulle, Arras, Uoual. 



iv — Oo annoote de 8elgtque que des 
fracUnpj af'part^r.uit ft plusieurs corpi 
d'armee aJlermnd* soot raises en mosuo- 
raenl vm f tti cl reaurrnicn Alltruagna 

Facsimile of the Soldiers' Newspaper. 


as were other thousands by the closing at 9 p.m. of the Metro- 
politan Railway. 

Our greatest satisfaction in this early phase was to know 
that nothing had been done on the French side, either with 
intent or by accident, to thwart the pacific efforts of Great 
Britain, or, afterwards, to prejudice a cause which was 
already strongly appealing to the conscience of the outer 
world. Never, perhaps, has there been such complete una- 
nimity in a great nation accustomed to the noisy processes 
of democratic government. When M. Viviani, the Prime 
Minister, appeared on August 4, with Mme. Jaures on his 
arm, at the head of the procession behind the remains of 
Jean Jaures, the great Socialist leader, it was at once a par- 
able and a command. Months passed, but the truce continued 
unbroken. Where were the mobs of the older France, now 
intoxicated with hope, then stricken to a frenzy of desperate 
anger; now crying " Treason! " " Traitor! " and anon hailing 
some poseur as its savior? The self-control of the Govern- 
ment was very marked; and petty incidents could not ob- 
scure the admirable spectacle of the restraint, courage, and 
intelligence shown by the population at large. There was 
no " mafficking " in Paris or the provincial cities. It would 
be unfair to exaggerate the importance of a few attacks upon 
German shops following upon the news of the German viola- 
tion of the eastern frontier. The police took precautions 
against the repetition of such scenes, and the Prefect of 
Police issued an appeal to the good sense of the people. 
Riots against tradesmen and market people attempting to 
obtain an excessive price for provisions were more frequent. 

One saw many pale, distraught faces, and women with 
their eyes red with weeping. The mobilization proceeded 
with a clock-work smoothness. Soldiers were continually 
marching through the streets amid a chorus of huzzas and 
waving of handkerchiefs by enthusiastic crowds. Apart from 
the marching of troops, the streets were almost denuded of 
traffic. An ambulance wagon carrying Red Cross nurses 


was always the sign for a wave of applause. Old men re- 
flected how different from this comparative calm was the 
beginning of the tragedy of 1870. Every stage in the events 
of this first week was unprecedented, incredible. It seemed 
as though mankind had been stricken with mental paralysis. 
Hundreds of millions had already been expended before a 
single battle had been fought, and years of battles across the 
whole of Europe might be before us. The humblest French- 
man, proudest of patriots as he was, and outraged by an 
unpardonable aggression, was restrained by this thought. 
There was no disorder, no intoxication, only a cold white 
anger, and the sense of a devilish but irresistible destiny. 

The most horrible thing in human life, perhaps, is the 
deadening of sensibility that conies about when we see crime 
or suffering no longer in retail, but in wholesale, and no 
longer an evil to prevent, but a fate to endure. The calm 
of the Parisian people was, no doubt, in part the proud 
courage of which the Press spoke eloquently — in part, it 
was a numbness, an incapacity to feel more to which I can 
myself testify. We were stunned. Into every minute of 
that first week had been crowded the pain of a normal year. 
Over a whole continent the tender ties of family and social 
life, the myriad nerve-threads of industry and business, study 
and recreation, were roughly torn asunder. A squad of 
reservists, not yet in uniform, trudged bravely through the 
streets to the train which would carry it beyond our sight 
into the zone of death. Husband and wife, lover and lass, 
mother and son, white-faced but tearless, snatched a fare- 
well kiss. They felt — because they were for each other 
familiar living individuals, heart to despairing heart. We 
felt less and less, because they had become for us a proces- 
sion, a spectacle, a formula — something infinitely sad and 
brave and sacred, it is true, our saviors by vicarious sacri- 
fice, but not, like ourselves, beings of flesh and blood who 
must be rescued, there and then, from injury. Day by day 
this insensibility would spread and deepen. With it would 


be mixed elements of frenzy of which we, Englishmen, 
Frenchmen, Germans, had thought ourselves incapable. 
There would be hours of panic, hours of orgy over news of 
triumph. This — not the material destruction, or even the 
hideous loss of life— was the cost of war we had most to 
fear. It was against this deadening of heart and conscience 
that our preachers and teachers should be directing any 
moral influence they could yet exert — not either an easy, or 
always a pleasant, task. 

No calamity, perhaps, can quite extinguish the smokeless 
flame of Parisian wit. From the workman to the aristocrat, 
everyone had for a time his little joke, most of them repre- 
sented by the return railway ticket for Berlin, marked 
" August-September," which was being sold on the boule- 
vards. " I was going to Baden-Baden in September," said 
an officer, " and I shall still go, but without any Customs 
House nonsense." A little infantryman, after the last kiss, 
said to his wife: " Now, don't cry; I'll bring you some Ger- 
man helmets to make flower-pots of." And, in fact, helmets 
were, within six weeks, the favorite " relics " which wounded 
soldiers brought home. Old men recalled that in August 
1870, after the defeats of Wissembourg and Froeschwiller, 
" La Muette de Portici " was being played at the Op6ra, 
" Lala Roukh " at the Opera Comique, and other pieces at 
the Gaiete and Varices. Times had changed. On the first 
day of this mobilization, there were forty spectators at the 
TheHtre Frangais, and on the third day the doors were 
closed. A number of picture theaters remained open for 
the benefit of the Red Cross. The silence deepened daily; 
and when the great retreat began, there was no more public 

M. Urbain Gohier, one of the extreme anti-militarists of ten 
years before, pointed out that if, and when, the whole four 
and a half millions of mobilizable men in France were called 
out, there would be still plenty of work, as necessary to the 
State as the military effort, for other hands to accomplish : 


" War is not only fighting; it is, above all, a proof of endur- 
ance, a succession of unaccustomed effort, fatigue, privation 
which the young and the strong can bear, but the feeble and 
the old would collapse under. Everyone can fire a rifle, but 
everyone cannot walk twenty miles, knapsack on back, in 
sun and rains, sleeping upon the moist earth, starting off 
again at dawn, and always maintaining his physical strength. 
To make ourselves really useful, according to our strength 
and capacity, without seeking theatrical effect — that is 
our duty. There are plenty of opportunities to fulfill it. 
The crops must be harvested, the tramway and railway 
services maintained, letters transmitted, the police re- 
enforced, and the daily labor continued in all the workshops 
and factories in the land. This is, in the truest sense, na- 
tional service." The Press presently set up a hue-and-cry 
against those who appeared — often the appearance was quite 
fallacious — to be evading military service. On the whole, 
the call was responded to promptly and willingly, not only 
by the mass of young men of unformed opinions, but by 
middle-aged fathers of families, by thousands who could have 
pleaded physical weakness, by poets and artists, deputies 
and editors, pacifists, socialists, syndicalists. 

Very soon, a large part of the well-to-do classes in Paris 
and other French cities was engaged in the organization of 
relief. The following figures are typical : In the twelfth 
arrondissement of the capital, 6,500 families were at once 
thrown on the charity lists, and the distributions of food, 
clothing, and money were regularly made. In the thirteenth 
arrondissement 10,000 families were succored, and in the 
fourteenth more than 7,000. In the seventeenth, another 
working-class district, milk was distributed largely to those 
who required it, and those justified in asking for money help 
were found to number about 10,000. The Boy Scouts made 
themselves generally useful. Hundreds of thousands of fam- 
ilies, many of them accustomed to a comfortable scale of 
living, settled down to a bare subsistence upon the legal al- 


lowances of a shilling a day to the wife, and fivepence per 
child under sixteen years of age. Many of the great hotels 
and business houses were turned into provisional ambu- 
lances, or work-rooms where girls were kept at a low wage 
making hospital supplies or winter garments for the troops. 
On August 22, the twenty-first day of the mobilization, 
there were 1,300,000 Frenchmen under arms, about a 
half of them on or near the frontiers. Brussels was already 
lost, Namur was invested, and Nancy threatened. The hour 
of trial had come. 



(August 21 — September 5) 


Standing at the critical point where the mobilization of 
the chief forces is practically complete, and the preliminary 
phase of the campaign closes, and using our privilege of 
looking backward and forward, we should now be able to 
see more clearly, if not quite clearly, what were the original 
plans of campaign, and how they have been modified as a 
result of the first shock of arms. There is no mistaking this 
critical point, which lies between the German victory in Lor- 
raine and the occupation of Brussels, on August 20, and 
the German occupation of Luneville and the passage of the 
Meuse-Sambre at Namur, on August 23. The position thus 
reached is, indeed, an extraordinary one; and the main prob- 
lem it places abruptly before us is so important that it will 
be best to deal with it before resuming our narrative of 
events. This problem may be thus stated : If, against the 
trivial Belgian army almost unaided, the invaders could only 
get from the northern frontiers past the obstacle of Namur 
in nineteen days (August 4-23), how was it that they were 
able, against the French and British armies, to reach the 
outer forts of Paris in another thirteen days (August 23- 
September 5), fighting several big battles, holding Belgium 
and long lines of communication, and overrunning a large 
prnrt of eastern France, the while? 

We may commence with an axiom and two assumptions. 
The axiom is that we are seeking to discover and explain, not 
to judge. It cannot be too often recalled that, while the 
reader is spared the overwhelming labors and anxieties of 
the combatants, he lias before him knowledge which, if the 



commanders themselves had possessed, this story would not 
be to tell, but another very different. The assumptions are 
these: (a) That the defeat and retreat of the Allies were not 
due to inferiority of soldierly qualities in their men, and that 
the problem is, therefore, one of numbers, strategy, prepared- 
ness, and organization. (6) That, in so far as it is a prob- 
lem of numbers, it is one chiefly not of total numbers — the 
German advantage in reserves being soon counterbalanced 
to some extent by Austrian failures and Russian attacks — 
but of forces somewhat superior in mass, strategically dis- 
posed so as to be markedly superior at certain points at a 
required moment. 

There are, next, two sets of facts to review: (1) The dis- 
position of forces on the eve of the campaign, and (2) their 
lines of movement from August 4 to August 23 when 
Namur fell, the Belgian army was dispersed, and the 
main onslaught by the north began at Mons and Char- 

1. It has been seen that the first dispositions indicated (a) 
that Belgium would resist, her small field army supporting 
the small garrisons of the Meuse fortresses. Much evidently 
depended upon how long this resistance could last, if there 
was to be an effective junction of the Franco-British with 
the Belgian forces. It seems highly probable that the Ger- 
man commanders expected a shorter resistance. Whatever 
General Joffre may have intended, and whatever the Belgian 
Government may have secretly known, the army and people 
expected the Allies to march north to their aid. (5) The 
British force, landed at French, not Belgian, ports, was only 
a late participant in the French plan of campaign, which, 
however, must have been made, or promptly modified, in view 
of its arrival on the west wing. This could hardly have been 
expected at an earlier date, or in larger numbers, (c) The 
French plan had to take account of inferior numbers, a rela- 
tive backwardness, equal perhaps to two or three days, or 
even more, in real mobilization and frontier concentration, 


and the difficulties of common action by widely separated 
Allies. We have seen that the great effort in fixed defenses 
had been made on the eastern frontier in the double system 
Verdun-Toul and Epinal-Belfort. On the north, the only 
considerable fortress was Maubeuge, though there were a 
number of isolated forts, aud Longwy, as we have seen, made 
an admirable resistance. Lille, La Fere, Laon, and Rheims 
had not been modernized, and were all abandoned without 
a serious attempt at defense. Various schemes for a north- 
ern system of fortifications had been discussed from time to 
time; but they had been set aside on account of the enormous 
expenditure required, and the growth of opinion in favor 
of mobile defense and increase of artillery. A phrase in the 
French official bulletin of August 24, 11 p.m., suggests that 
the original plan of campaign did not contemplate an ad- 
vance into Belgium, even if it were already invaded by Ger- 
many : " By order of General Joffre, our troops and the Brit- 
ish troops have taken positions on the covering line (i.e. the 
frontier), which they would not have quitted had not the ad- 
mirable effort of the Belgians permitted us to enter Belgium." 
This, in turn, would suggest that a lengthy Belgian resist- 
ance was not expected. However that may be, the French 
frontier west of the Sambre was left undefended, until the 
arrival of the British, all the armies being ranged around the 
north-east and east, from Maubeuge to Belfort, with a view 
to getting contact, and an offensive concentrated in Lor- 
raine and southern Alsace, {d) Of the seven original Ger- 
man army groups (an eighth appeared later, that of Von 
Hausen), the aim of five was plain and not easily alterable. 
The two northernmost armies, those of Von Kluck and Von 
Biilow (seven army corps in all), were North German 
troops manifestly prepared to take the nearest way to Paris, 
the way through Liege — Von Emmich's provisional army of 
the Meuse was their advance guard for the purpose of reduc- 
ing this fortress. The two southernmost, consisting of six 
corps based upon Metz and Strassburg, had to guard almost 


the whole stretch of the Franco-German frontier, and could 
not be strong enough for offense there until they had received 
re-enforcements. The role of the two middle armies was 
probably less definitely determined at the outset. The more 
northerly of these, the Third Army, under the Duke of Wur- 
temberg, based upon the railway system of the Lower Mo- 
selle, might be sent in any one of four directions, at need : 
through Malmedy to Liege ; through Bastogne and the Lesse 
valley to the Meuse near Dinant ; through the southern Ar- 
dennes to the region of Sedan ; or due south to re-enforce the 
Crown Prince of Prussia. Again, the Fourth Army, under 
the Crown Prince, consisting of only three corps, Rhine- 
landers, Lorrainers, and Hessians, and, gathered between 
Treves and Thionville, might be thrown north-westward into 
the Ardennes, or westward through the Longwy gap, or it 
might be sent south to re-enforce the Metz Army under the 
Crown Prince of Bavaria. In brief, the general prospect was 
a strong northern offensive, a tentative central movement 
which might be shifted north or south, and a southern de- 
fensive which might be stimulated if and when opportunity 
occurred. On both sides of the Franco-German frontier, 
railway communications were abundant, and were success- 
fully used for rapid re-enforcement. 

2. The actual course of events on these different fronts dur- 
ing the first nineteen days may be summed up thus : 

(a) Alsace and the Vosges. — An inadequate French ad- 
vance reached Mulhouse (August 8), but was met next day 
by German re-enforcements, and had to be withdrawn. A 
stronger movement under General Pau secured the Vosges 
passes by the middle of the month, and Mulhouse on August 
20. Immediately afterwards, the turning of the French south- 
ern line was threatened by the German victory on the Lor- 
raine frontier ; and all that had been gained, except the south 
Vosges heights, was abandoned. General Joffre's original 
aim being stated to be " to flank the attack of our troops 
operating in Lorraine," as the actual outflanking occurred in 


the opposite direction there can be no disguising the fact 
that there was here a very bad failure. 

(6) Lorraine. — On the 12th, a French advance was begun, 
under Castelnau, through the Nancy gap; and on the 16th 
this was supported by a northward advance from Mount 
Donon. Both were directed against Saarburg, which was 
taken on the 18th, the direct railway communication between 
Metz and Strassburg being thus broken. This advance, 
again, was insufficiently strong; but whether its defeat (Au- 
gust 20) was by surprise, or by the arrival of heavy re- 
enforcements, does not plainly appear. In any case, the 
German victory was successfully followed up; and, by the 
23rd, the French Army had retreated to or beyond the river 
Meurthe. The movements thus terminated were afterwards 
explained as designed to hold as many German troops as 
possible on the eastern frontier, and so weaken the northern 
attack (Bulletin des Armees, December 5, 1914). 

(c) Longivy corner. — A German offensive of a not very 
serious character from Luxemburg and Thionville toward 
Verdun was checked by August 12, and was withdrawn. The 
check of General Ruffey by the Imperial Crown Prince aided 
the Wtirtembergers' advance; but the Longwy gap only be- 
came a considerable entry when the retreat of the north- 
western Allied armies made a general withdrawal of the 
French lines necessary. Even then, the successful resistance 
of Verdun greatly reduced its value. 

(d) Belgian Ardennes. — The operations in this difficult 
field proved to be of a more important character than was 
anticipated, or, perhaps, could be anticipated until the na- 
ture of the northern attack was revealed. While the Crown 
Prince held General Ruffey on the Semoy, and the Duke of 
Wiirtemberg attacked and defeated De Langle de Cary at 
Paliseul and Neufchateau in the south, a new army under 
Von Hausen, a development from the possibilities for the 
German center indicated in paragraph 1 (d) above, struck 
through Marche to Dinant, so supporting Von Billow's in- 


vestment of Namur, and threatening the French flank. The 
failure of the French attempt to move eastward from the 
Meuse through the Ardennes entailed De Langle de Cary's 
retreat, which, in turn, uncovered the right wing of General 
Lanrezac's army in the angle between the Sambre and Meuse, 
and, through it, affected the British position west of Charle- 

(e) Northern Belgium. — Without any substantial inter- 
ference except that of the Belgian army and its two fort- 
resses, General von Moltke, then and for some weeks longer 
head of the Great General Staff in Berlin, under the formal 
command of the Emperor as War-Lord, had procured the 
concentration in northern, eastern, and central Belgium, be- 
fore the French mobilization was complete, not of a sub- 
sidiary force intended to make a useful diversion from the 
north, but of rather more than a half of the German armies 
in the west — those of Von Kluck, Von Biilow, Von Hausen, 
and Duke Albrecht, comprising in all twelve or thirteen 
army corps, with seven or eight divisions of cavalry, about 
700,000 men in all. In a strategical analysis, this achieve- 
ment far overtops all the dramatic episodes by which it was 
obscured at the time. Without casting any shade upon the 
heroic resistance of Liege, it may be doubted whether such a 
concentration could in any case have been completed in a 
shorter time than it actually occupied. The atrocious treat- 
ment of the Belgian villages goes to show how much the in- 
vaders feared any delay; but all we can say with any con- 
fidence is that to the delay at Liege may perhaps be attrib- 
uted the safe junction of the French and British armies on 
the ground chosen. The Belgian field force retired west- 
ward from Liege on August 6 or 7. Yet the crossing at Huy 
was only seized by Von Biilow on the 12th, Brussels was 
only occupied on the 20th, and the Namur crossing was only 
obtained on the 23rd. Undoubtedly these steps could have 
been taken earlier, for they did not need a third of the force 
available. We must suppose, therefore, that the delay was 


deliberate. One reason for it, perhaps, was to give time for 
Yon Hausen's flank attack against the Sambre line through 
Dinant ; but probably the chief reason lay in the importance 
of preventing the Allies from measuring the next move till 
it was actually taken. Everything was done to conceal what 
was afoot, by terrorizing the population, by the ubiquitous 
activity of the cavalry screen, and, above all, by the delay 
of the southward and westward advances until everything 
was ready for a " smashing blow." 

How far, then, were the Allies able to see what was coming, 
to anticipate the numbers and speed of the attack from the 
north? No full answer can be given to this question until 
the military archives are opened and the memoirs of the 
leading actors penned. The difficulties for the French and 
British staffs were very great. The war had been sprung 
upon them by an enemy fully prepared. The factor that 
speeded the aggressor delayed them — -they had to wait for 
Russia, and for the still slower muster of the British Em- 
pire. France must, in any case, look first to Lorraine, for 
there the enemy was always at the gate. As to the north, 
the Allies were necessarily dependent for information upon 
the Belgians, who were in no position to conduct the cool 
work of reconnoissance and secret service. Whether because 
they expected first to strike a decisive blow in Lorraine and 
Alsace which would draw the enemy thither ; or because they 
thought the attack from the north would be smaller and 
slower, and could be dealt with by the Belgians, two French 
armies, and the British Expeditionary Force; or because the 
east must be guarded first, and there were not yet enough 
men under arms for an equal effort in the north, — or for all 
these reasons — no adequate preparation was made where the 
need proved greatest. 

The daily bulletins of the Press Bureau of the War Min- 
istry in Paris, which became, after the battle of the Marne, 
the chief source of public information, gave us at this time 
no real guidance; but they are not without historical inter- 



est. The eastern frontier absorbed attention; Liege was 
always " still holding out." On or about August 10, we re- 
ceived a set of rules for war correspondents, and with them 





S'QUENTIN.r^ B fc 

*»»-— 3? RETHEL^T-1-J- * 


Par i So) 

* - 

♦ - 





10 30 SO 




^r 'SEL FDKt\ -j»»« 


Zone Actuelle des Armees " (August 10). 

a large skeleton map on which a thick black line marked off 
the "present zone of the armies" (shaded portion of the 
above map). The western limit of this zone, on the Belgian 
frontier, was at Orchies, sixteen miles south-east of Lille, 
and fifty-six miles of Dunkirk. When the Germans were 
flooding through Orchies and occupying Lille, we recalled 
this map, with its uneasy advice : " La Limite de Cette Zone 
Peut Varier au Cours des Ope'rations." The armies, then, 
covered two-thirds of the border from the sea to Longwy, 
and left open the western third, including the great city of 
Lille, seat of the 1st Army Corps, once a formidable fortress, 
and only recently dismantled and de-classed. On August 12, 


the British Press Bureau announced it as " evident " that 
" the mass of the German troops lie between Liege and Lux- 
emburg." The movement to the left of De Langle de Gary's 
and Ruffey's armies had now begun, to support the advance 
of Lanrezac between the Meuse and the Sambre, and the posi- 
tion arranged for Sir John French, from fifteen to thirty 
miles due east of Orchies. When these movements were com- 
plete, there was no force in Flanders or north-western 
France, except two divisions of Territorials at Arras, 
under General d'Amade. On August 15 — when Sir John 
French was in Paris — the French bulletin announced that 
the invasion of Belgium was foiled, and that the 
movements of the Allied armies were " perfectly co- 
ordinated." A more noteworthy fact is the presence of 
General Joffre at the " headquarters of the eastern 
armies " as late as August 18. A swift change, accentu- 
ated by the defeat in Lorraine, is then discernible. On 
August 19, the night bulletin announced that "very im- 
portant German forces " had crossed the Meuse between 
Liege and Namur. On the 20th, the invasion of the Ar- 
dennes was reported as reaching the line Dinant-Neuf- 
chaleau, and it was added that Brussels was occupied, 
" important columns pursuing their movement on this 
side." On the 21st, while the British troops were being 
brought into position, the Paris Press Bureau was con- 
gratulating itself, for the last time for many a long day, 
that " there is no longer any point of French territory 
occupied by the enemy," except a little corner near Briey, 
a fact " the moral value of which it is good to signal." 
Next day, the Germans were through Namur; and on the 
evening of the 23rd, faced by " most unexpected " numbers, 
the great retreat of the Franco- British forces began. On 
the 25th, when they were at Cambrai-Le Cateau-Landrecies, 
forty miles south-west of Maubeuge, the Paris communique' 
stated, in one breath, that " the great battle is engaged be- 
tween Maubeuge and the Donon on which depends the fate 


of France," and that German cavalry were at Douai, sixty- 
five miles west of Maubeuge. 

These citations suggest that not only the numbers and 
speed, but the direction also, of the northern invasion were 
most imperfectly appreciated. The north-western advance 
of Von Kluck's army from Liege was, no doubt, motived 
by the need of driving back the Belgian army and masking 
it after it had retired to Antwerp, and by the moral value 
for the Germans at home of a demonstrative occupation of 
the capital. But there was another important object which 
these proceedings helped to conceal. This was to carry 
a large marching wing far to the west without exciting 
suspicion, preparatory to a dash toward the unprotected 
extremity of the French frontier. Liege and Namur have 
always exercised an hypnotic influence upon discussions of 
a possible German violation of Belgian neutrality. Their 
importance was, of course, great — that of Liege as the 
necessary doorway to both west and south, Namur as the 
second doorway to the straight roads up the Sambre and 
Meuse, of which the former had a third door at Maubeuge. 
This seemed to be the obvious way because it pointed a 
straight line to Paris, with a first-rate railway: hence the 
three fortresses. If the invasion of Belgium had been only 
a supporting operation to a main advance elsewhere, this 
might have been the only road taken (except those through 
the Ardennes). The tearing-up of the "scrap of paper" 
might then have been comparatively easily forgiven, for, 
though the country would have been injured, it would not 
have been ruined. The destruction of Belgium was due 
mainly to the overrunning of the Flanders plain, which was 
due mainly to the desire to practice the favorite German 
maneuver in the shape of an enveloping movement against 
the weak western wing of the Allies. No human scruple 
was allowed to obstruct this design; and, though complete 
success was not achieved, it was a leading factor in deter- 
mining the precipitate retreat on Paris. 


The question with which we started — Why should the 
Germans take nineteen days to pass Namur, and only thir- 
teen more to reach the outskirts of Paris? — may, therefore, 
be provisionally answered thus: A longer period is natu- 
rally occupied in preparing than in delivering what is 
intended as a " smashing blow." The dominating feature 
of the preliminary phase of the campaign was not any of 
the events which at the time loomed large and red in the 
public eye, but was the secret preparation of a force cal- 
culated by the numbers, speed, organization, and directions 
of its attack to overwhelm all possible opposition. A sec- 
ondary, but important, feature was the successful westward 
movement through the Ardennes toward the Sambre. On 
all these heads, the Allies were ill-informed. But they were 
also ill-prepared in the north for reasons arising from the 
political character of the war and Germany's advantage as 
the aggressor; from weakness of immediately available 
numbers, due partly to the prior need of a strong defense 
on the east, partly to the choice of Alsace for an offensive ; 
and from necessary economies in the past as illustrated in 
the disarmament of the intrenched camp of Lille. The 
immediate penalty fell with disproportionate force upon 
the small British army which formed the extreme left or 
western wing; and to its more than Spartan endurance 
and vigor was largely due the later turn of fortune. 


The plain of central Belgium lies between the middle 
courses of the two great rivers which sweep round it to 
Antwerp and Rotterdam respectively, the Scheldt and the 
Sambre-Meuse. Rising near each other in northern France, 
they are firmly divided by the hilly region which forms the 
southern boundary of the plain, between Conde-on-Scheldt 
and Charleroi on the Sanibre. This region, after being for 
many centuries one of the cockpits of Europe, had become 
during the last generation one of its busiest industrial 
districts, the seat of Belgium's greatest coalfields and iron- 
works. The two alien characteristics are marked all over 
the countryside, the one in many famous battlefields, 
ruined castles and abbeys, and names that have the ring 
of a bugle-call; the other in crowded and towering mine- 
heads, furnaces, foundries, glass-works, and the close net- 
work of railways and canals needed for their service. The 
little river Haine (hence "Hainault") trickles westward 
to the old fortress town of Conde', crooning to itself some 
song of bygone chivalry; but the straight line of the Mons- 
Conde" Canal rather seemed to typify the material purposes 
of the twentieth century, until the cannon woke again the 
echoes of the past. Hither came once more armed hosts to 
seize the gates of the fair fields of France; and, to save 
them, Sir John French stood upon the hill, Mons, where 
Caesar pitched one of his castra against the Gauls, while 
General Lanrezac held the bridge-head that Vauban had 
fortified for Louis Quatorze. Jemappes, Waterloo, Fleurus, 
and Ramillies lay before them, for remembrance. 



Rising from these bills, and ultimately to join the 
Scheldt, four lesser streams run northward across the plain, 
with roads and railways beside them — the Dendre (to 
Alost), the Senne (to Hal and Brussels), the Dyle (to 
Wavre and Louvain), aud the Gette (to Tirlemont). Four 
railroads from these towns, beside the main line of the 
Meuse-Sambre Valley, were soon, if not immediately, avail- 
able, in addition to the great highways, for the three Ger- 
man armies which, rested and ready to the last button, 
were now flooding south, with cavalry and motor-car parties 
flung out far to the west by Oudenarde and Ghent toward 
Lille, as well as forward of the central advance. The 
parade through Brussels of 40,000 picked troops had been 
a very successful blind. A day later — August 21 — these 
were moving on, the mass of troops, who had never entered 
the city, well in front of them. It is noteworthy that the 
German staff resisted every temptation to touch the Chan- 
nel coast during the effort to cut British communications 
on that side. Maubeuge (through Charleroi), Valenciennes 
(through Mons), and Lille (through Tournai) are the main 
Belgian routes to Paris; and these were the routes of the 
western invasion. How bold and skillful it was, in design, 
preparation, concealment, and execution, was recognized 
only when too late. The French War Office had just been 
advertising the enemy as an insane " horde of unbridled 
savages." It now learned that these savages were capable 
of an unprecedented effort of military organization. The 
nations concerned began to realize the full gravity of their 
task, and the sacrifices it involved. 

From Meuse to Scheldt, half a million men — on foot and 
horse and in motor-buses, with guns, light and heavy, and 
ammunition wagons, armored automobiles, columns of food 
and other supplies, engineer corps, aeroplanes, field tele- 
graphs, pontoons, ambulances, and officers' cars — moved 
south with machine-like regularity and speed. We have 
seen that the French had failed to hold their positions in 



the Ardennes, and, before the fall of Namur, had fallen 
back up the Meuse toward Givet, so that Namur was left 
isolated, and the left wing of the Fifth Army, on the Sam- 
bre, uncovered. All the week beginning August 16, the 
French on the Sambre had been in touch with flying 
columns of the German screen, as far north as Gembloux. 
On Thursday evening, August 20, the pressure to the north- 
west of Charleroi was perceptibly increasing. The north- 
west was still relatively free ; and Mons was not threatened, 
although numerous bodies of Uhlans had been found about 
Mvelles and Hal, and the railway from Mons to Brussels 



NAMl/R a fiuu£2z. 

The French Defeat at Charleroi. 

(thirty-five miles) was cut midway. Early on Friday 
morning, the 21st, a column of Uhlans broke into Charleroi, 
whose garrison was strengthened by a battalion of the line, 
some Chasseurs d'Afrique and Turcos, with artillery. 
Whether because they were mistaken in the thick mist, or 
because they claimed to be such, the Uhlans were hailed 
as British troops. 

That afternoon, the first shells fell on the railway station, 
All the northern approaches to Mons and Charleroi were 
swarming with bodies of the invaders on Saturday, and 
the serious fighting had begun. Artillery posted to the 


south of Charleroi checked the first advance on the town 
and the Sambre bridges above and below. Infantry regi- 
ments were brought up, but not in sufficient numbers to 
make a pursuit possible. By Sunday evening, the position 
was very precarious. Charge after charge had been made 
by one side and the other under a continual bombardment, 
the town being repeatedly taken and retaken. In one of 
these encounters, the Turcos inflicted heavy losses on the 
Prussian Guard Corps. But the French were steadily 
losing ground. Some buildings had been destroyed by the 
German artillery, others deliberately fired by the attackers; 
and, before it had been decided to retire, the place had be- 
come uninhabitable. No full account of the battle of 
Charleroi has yet been permitted to appear; but, six months 
afterwards, General Joffre was reported as saying to a 
French friend : " We ought to have won it. Our army was 
numerous. We lost through our own faults — faults of 
command." Probably the gravest was an over-sensitiveness 
to the threat on the eastern flank. However this may be, 
it was known at French headquarters on Sunday afternoon, 
August 23, that the resistance of Namur was broken, that 
two of Von Hausen's three corps were advancing on the 
east flank, that Von Biilow held the passages of the Sambre 
between Namur and Charleroi, and that the attack in the 
west was very much more powerful than had been antici- 
pated. The British Commander-in-Chief was informed, 
after some unexplained delay; and the withdrawal of the 
French troops towards Beaumont and Philippeville began. 
Meanwhile, the British army — of whose movements we 
have precise and authentic information in Sir John 
French's dispatch of September 7 — had been holding its 
own more successfully. It was, as yet, only two army corps 
strong, and the concentration of these was only effected on 
Friday, August 21. During Saturday, positions were taken 
up and intrenched, the 2nd Corps, under Sir H. Smith- 
Dorrien, holding the line of the canal from Conde" (5th 



Division, General Ferguson) to Mons (3rd Division, Gen- 
eral Hamilton), and the 1st Corps, under Sir D. Haig (1st 
and 2nd Divisions) extending eastward to Binche, where 
the 5th Cavalry Brigade (Sir P. Chetwode) covered the 
right. The four brigades of the Cavalry Division, under 
General Allenby, formed a reserve pending the arrival of 
the 3rd Army Corps, and also aided Sir P. Chetwode in 
scouting work on Saturday and Sunday, when skirmishes 
took place as far north as Soignies, on the Brussels road. 
Saturday passed quietly in and behind Mons in prepara- 
tory work. Mr. Atkins stripped to the waist for his morn- 
ing tub; and one imperturbable British soldier, who had 
tied a fishing-line to the end of his rifle, was seen playing 
Izaak Walton in the unlikely waters of the Scheldt-Sambre 
('anal. Parties were sent out to blow up the canal bridges — 
Captain Theodore Wright, of the Engineers, afterwards re- 
ceived the Victoria Cross for gallantry in this work, Lieu- 
tenant Dease and Private Godley, of the 4th Fusiliers, and 
Lance-Corporal Jarvis, of the Engineers, for defending the 
passage. Meanwhile the infantry and artillery occupied 
points of vantage overlooking the valley. In several villages, 
in order to establish good zones of fire, a number of houses 
had to be destroyed, the inhabitants taking refuge with 
their neighbors. Hundreds of them helped the soldiers to 
dig trenches and build barricades. 

The German attack began on Sunday morning, the 23rd. 
At that time, Sir John French's information from General 
Joffre seemed to be confirmed by his own patrols and aero- 
planes — " that little more than one, or at most two, of the 
enemy's army corps, with perhaps one cavalry division, was 
in front of my position, and I was aware of no attempted 
outflanking movement." The first serious attack came that 
afternoon on the right wing. Before this, the 1st Corps 
drew back to high ground south of Bray, Chetwode's cavalry 
evacuated Binche, wiiich the Germans at once occupied; 
and before dark Mons, now " a somewhat dangerous sali- 


ent," was abandoned, General Hamilton's division, the 
center of the line, being drawn back behind the town. The 
Royal Irish and Middlesex regiments, part of this division, 
forming the right wing of the 2nd Army Corps, suffered 
heavily from a surprise attack of artillery and infantry on 
the east of Mons, but, with the aid of the Gordon High- 
landers, beat it off, and held their position till 9 p.m., when 
orders were received to retire. 

One of the aforesaid villagers, who watched the battle 
from the center of the British line at Paturages, afterward 
a refugee in Paris, gave me an exceptionally intelligent ac- 
count of the events of these three days; and a part of his 
story may be here transcribed : " The British were still busy 
strengthening their positions when, on Sunday morning, 
we were surprised by a sudden attack. The Germans were 
coming out of the woods to the north-west of Mons in num- 
bers greatly superior to the British. At the same time, 
another considerable force of the enemy assailed the French 
positions beyond. The first German rush on the British 
advance posts near the canal was quickly repelled ; and we 
could see them falling back into the woods. The distance 
between the two armies would then be about three miles. 
From our higher positions we could follow the whole move- 
ment of the invaders as they emerged into the plain from 
the shelter of the trees. It appeared to me to be the British 
tactics to cease fire abruptly all along the line until the 
Germans, supposing that there was a weakening of the de- 
fense, swarmed out of the woods and made rapidly toward 
the canal. Then, when the distance seemed right, the 
British artillery would open upon them a devastating fire, 
which was echoed by that of the rifles in the trenches. 
Thousands of Germans fell. 

" By nightfall on Sunday, they had not made any prog- 
ress, and their dead and wounded were scattered over the 
hills between the canal and the forest. The German shells, 
on the other hand, were not very effective, and the British 


losses were comparatively small. The fighting slackened 
during the night, but was resumed at daybreak more vio- 
lently than ever. The Germans had evidently received large 
re-enforcements. Advance parties of Dragoons and Uhlans 
tried to reach the canal. Most of them were killed by the 
guns, but some were made prisoners. Then an advance was 
made en masse, and, although whole ranks were mowed 
down by a well-directed tire, the main body managed to 
reach the north bank of the canal, and began to build 
bridges, without which they could not get at the British 
positions. Ten several times the Germans succeeded in 
throwing pontoons over the water, and ten times the 
British artillery destroyed them. Closer and more desper- 
ate fighting took place in the village of Jemappes on the 
west. The British occupied a part of the place, and for 
a time held it against an attack, in the course of which 
whole columns of German infantry fell, so that, as a friend 
who witnessed the engagement told me, the bodies of the 
dead were piled one upon another at several points, com- 
pletely blocking the streets." 

The courageous conduct of two Belgian doctors on this 
occasion became, properly, the matter of after-notice by 
the Belgian Government. An ambulance had been estab- 
lished at the villages of Hornu and Wasmes, between 
Paturages and the canal; and hither came Dr. Lecocq and 
Dr. d'Huart to tend some wounded among the British in- 
fantry and artillery in the neighborhood. Some colliery 
buildings were first used; but the German gunners got the 
range, and poured in a rain of shrapnel and shells. One 
of the ambulances being hit, another building was chosen; 
but this also was soon under fire. Nevertheless, the doctors 
and their assistants continued steadily at their work. One 
of them afterwards said : " From a top attic, I could keep 
count of the shells that fell among the buildings to the 
right, to the left, in front, and behind. Tiles and window- 
panes of the ambulance station flew in fragments; pieces 


of the sides of the house fell away; and the dust of the 
ground and of the plaster mingled with the yellow smoke 
of the great shells. The colliery chimney had covered all 
the space around it with broken bricks." 

At 5 p.m. on the 23rd, General French learned that the 
attack was being made by forces more than twice as large 
as those reported in the morning, and that Charleroi was 
being evacuated. General Joffre's " most unexpected " 
telegram stated that " at least three German corps, viz., a 
Reserve corps, the 4th Corps, and the 9th Corps, were mov- 
ing on my position in front, and that the 2nd Corps were 
engaged in a turning movement from the direction of 
Tournai." A retirement of the whole line about fifteen 
miles due south, to positions which had already been recon- 
noitered, just beyond the frontier, between Maubeuge and 
Jenlain, was at once decided upon. This movement began 
at daybreak on Monday the 24th. To cover it, the 1st Divi- 
sion, from about Harmignies, advanced as though to re- 
take Binche, the 2nd Division supporting it about Peissant. 
The 2nd Corps was thus enabled to withdraw to the line 
Quarouble-Dour-Frameries ; but its right, the 3rd Division, 
suffered heavily during the operation by a German pursuit 
from Mons. Sir Douglas Haig then gradually withdrew 
the 1st Corps, which reached its place between Maubeuge 
and Bavai without much further loss by 7 p.m. The chief 
German strength during this afternoon seemed to be di- 
rected against the British left. Early in the morning, 
indeed, General Allenby had been summoned urgently to 
bring cavalry toward the wing retiring from Conde" to 
Quarouble, the 5th Division being very hard pressed. This 
was effected; but the 9th Lancers and 18th Hussars, part 
of General de Lisle's 2nd Cavalry Brigade, were pulled up 
by wire obstacles during a charge upon the German flank, 
and lost heavily. Though themselves in a serious plight, 
a squadron of the Lancers succeeded in bringing away a 
battery of guns that had been put out of action. Captain 


Francis Grenfell afterwards received the Victoria Cross for 
this feat. Sraith-Dorrien had, according to General French, 
two German army corps on his front, and one on his flank. 
It is not surprising, therefore, that the retirement was 
costly. On the evening of the 24th, the 2nd Corps halted 
between Jenlain and Bavai, and the 1st between Bavai and 
Maubeuge. The arrival of re-enforcements, the 19th In- 
fantry Brigade, had somewhat strengthened the position on 
the left. But if there had ever been an idea of resting here, 
it was quickly dispelled by two decisive considerations — 
the continued retirement, on the east, of the armies of 
Lanrezac and De Langle, up the Sambre and Meuse valleys, 
pressed by Von Btilow and Von Hausen, and the ever more 
imminent threat of envelopment on the west. 

Uhlan patrols were, in fact, boldly raiding over a wide 
area. One such body crossed the frontier near Conde on 
this night, the 24th, traversed the neighboring towns and 
villages, doing some small damage, and was at last caught 
by a French artillery column, at Bouchain. A similar 
patrol of Dragoons was stopped near Roubaix, north of 
Lille, on the morning of the 23rd. Yet another was cap- 
tured at the gates of Courtrai by a detachment of mounted 
Chasseurs. Its chief officer was found to be a Lieutenant 
Count von Schwerin, a connection of the Kaiser ; the young 
man's blood-stained sword was found, by an inscription 
upon it, to be a present from the Emperor himself. One 
of the purposes of these raids, no doubt, was to spread 
alarm throughout the countryside; and in this they were 
so successful that, during the next few days, the French 
Government had to cope with a vast civilian exodus from 
the north, in addition to a foreign invasion. The retreat 
of the French and British armies was no little embarrassed 
by the plight of the frightened villagers. The refugee, a 
part of whose story I have quoted, was one of a party of 
some hundreds, men, women, and children, who were being 
taken through Paris on the night of August 27 to one of 


the concentration camps in the west of France. Most of 
them were peasants and workpeople ; and they carried little 
bundles of clothes and food, all they had been able to save. 
As they passed down the boulevard, a torrential downpour 
of rain fell. It was as though the heavens would wash 
away the mist of blood that enveloped us; but I thought 
of Lady Macbeth's futile cry, for, guilty agents or guiltless 
victims, not in the lifetime of any of us can the " damned 
spot " of this imperial crime be wiped away. The police- 
man who guided the wretched exiles hurriedly drew them 
into the covered entry of the underground railway near the 
Madeleine; and it was there we found them. 

" The British troops " — so my informant concluded — 
" told us, at about 2 p.m. on Monday, to make our escape 
while we could. They spoke in English; but their gestures 
and meaning were plain enough, and fifteen hundred of us 
gathered hurriedly a few things, and while we were doing 
so an English officer, who spoke French, directed us over 
the frontier, and at Berlaimont (fifteen miles south of 
Paturages) we got train for Paris. Many of the peasants, 
especially the women and children, could not fly with us, 
but hid in their cellars. We knew that, after the capture 
of a village, the Germans ransack the cottages, and fire vol- 
leys at the terrorized people hidden inside. Some they take 
out and drive before them as a protection. The English 
might have better opposed the advance of some German 
columns, but that they would not sacrifice our folk by firing 
through them." With this, the rainstorm having passed, 
my Belgian friend hoisted on to his shoulder one big bundle, 
while his wife, who seemed very tired, took up another 
hardly less heavy. But, as the party came out into the 
street, one of the police stepped up to her, and took the 
burden, saying: "Give it to me; it is too heavy for you. 
I'll carry it." 

It was in such tales as these that the people of France 
received the first serious premonitions of the approaching 


storm. The influx from the northern frontier began on 
August 26. It being evidently impossible to leave such an 
emergency to be dealt with by private societies, the Prefect 
of Police intervened; and the Cirque de Paris, situated be- 
tween the Invalides and the Eiffel Tower, was turned into 
a refugee camp. The stalls and boxes, galleries and corri- 
dors of this large building overflowed with human jetsam. 
Instead of children's happy laughter over clownish jokes, 
the rotunda was filled with a ground-swell of lamentation, 
broken by the sharp cries of babes. Their eyes red with 
weeping, their faces drawn with fatigue, the elder exiles 
sat dumb ; only here and there was one calm enough to tell 
a clear tale. " My husband is with the Belgian army," said 
a woman from Frameries, one of the villages in the British 
lines by Mons ; " and I was left with my three babies in our 
cottage. When the Germans came on Monday, they sacked 
and destroyed every house, and nothing remains of our poor 
village but ruins. I saw one of these bandits strike one 
of my neighbors in the breast with his sword, and then 
flourish the bloody blade, as though proud of the feat." 
A housekeeper from Chatelet, near Charleroi, said that she, 
with her mother and five children, had had to walk for 
seventy miles forward and about, before she reached the 
train that brought her to Paris. Another woman, from 
Peronne, near Binche, had started out with a neighbor who 
carried a young child at her breast. On the way, the mother 
suddenly found that the little one was dead. She could not 
bear this new shock, and became mad. When she was 
helped out of the train on reaching Paris, she still held, and 
was crooning over, the body of her child. 

Through the broken sentences of these martyrs of war 
appeared a dim image of a land ruthlessly invaded and 
ravaged. We could see the headlong escape from burning 
villages in the night; the terror of the unknown worse even 
than that visible in horizons riven by flashes of murderous 
fire; the barefooted children crying because they could not 



run fast enough ; the old folk left by the way. All ordinary 
distinctions had been lost in the despair of the random 
flight. There were now no more " gentlemen " and " work- 
men," " Protestants " or " Catholics," " Flemings " or " Wal- 
loons." All were simple paupers, filled to-day with a dumb 
fear, that would too often crystallize to-morrow into a last- 
ing hatred. Was this to be the fate of France, also? 


The position on the night of August 24-25 is thus de- 
scribed by the British Commander-in-Chief : " The French 
were still retiring; I had no support except such as was 
afforded by the fortress of Maubeuge; and the determined 
attempts of the enemy to get round my left flank assured 
me that it was his intention to hem me against that place 
and surround me. I felt that not a moment must be lost 
in retiring to another position. I had every reason to be- 
lieve that the enemy's forces were somewhat exhausted, and 
1 knew that they had suffered heavy losses. I hoped, there- 
fore, that his pursuit would not be too vigorous to prevent 
me effecting my object. The operation, however, was full 
of danger and difficulty, not only owing to the very superior 
force in my front, but also to the exhaustion of the troops." 

Sir John French does not say, but it is apparent, that 
General Joffre had already determined upon a retreat of 
the northern armies to the line of the Marne, or even to 
that of the Seine, a movement pivoting upon Verdun, the 
north end of the eastern line of defense, and bringing the 
west wing swiftly round to lean upon Paris. It needed a 
bold mind to conceive a scheme involving so large an aban- 
donment of national territory, and good men to execute it. 
A lesser intelligence would haA*e relapsed into day-to-day 
expedients, fighting rear-guard actions from one defensive 
position to another, till the armies were divided and broken 
up, and the German host could strike at Verdun and Nancy 
from the rear, and, by opening that road for re-enforcements, 
complete their task at will. If the interior line of fortresses 



- — La Fere-Laon-Rheims — had been in fact, as was generally 
supposed, capable of resisting modern siege artillery, they 
might have afforded at least a temporary line of arrest. 
Soldiers may find abundant room for speculation in the 
possibilities of such a situation. Whatever may be said of 
the first advances into Alsace and Lorraine, the plan of 
escape from the northern peril proves that the genial 
taciturnity of Joseph Jacques Joffre covered a cool, clear 
brain, capable of large and delicate combinations, a rare 
knowledge of the terrain of central France, and a firm 
belief in the willingness of his men to respond to the extraor- 
dinary demand now to be made upon their endurance. 
France had not begun well ; and the full force of the inva- 
sion was upon her, like a tornado. Few commanders have 
ever held such a responsibility; but, in the supreme crisis, 
this captain did not fail. 

Before tracing the course of the retreat, it will be well 
to note some of the strategical considerations of which the 
opposed commanders had to take account. Subject to the 
immediate aim of pursuing the retiring armies, the German 
plan of campaign opened an evident alternative : a leftward 
turn against the rear of the Verdun -Toul-Epinal line, by 
way of opening a direct line of communications with central 
and southern Germany, preparatory to a more formidable 
advance; or a more immediate concentration against Paris. 
Doubtless under fear of Russia, the latter way was chosen. 
The accompanying skeleton map (p. Ill) shows two sets of 
natural features of northern and eastern France — the chief 
rivers, and the densely wooded hills called the Forest of 
the Argonne; and two artificial features — the eastern 
fortress barrier, and the chief railway lines, which may be 
taken as sufficiently indicating the direction of the great 
highroads also. It will be seen that the whole system of 
communications radiates fan-wise from Paris, northward 
to Lille, eastward to Nancy. Within these two lines, the 
serious operations of the campaign were to be limited. Be- 



tween them, three trunk roads, each with many feeders, lead 
to the French capital. The most northerly and most im- 
portant comes down the Oise Valley, uniting, at the impor- 
tant junction marked by the old fortress of La Fere, tribu- 
taries from the Ardennes through Hirson, and from Mons 
by Valenciennes, with the main line from Cologne through 
Liege, Namur, and Maubeuge. The second line makes a 
long detour from Luxemburg to Me'zi&res, and there divides, 
one branch going through Laon to Paris, the other through 
Rethel to Rheims. The third is the direct route from Metz 
to Paris, through Verdun, the Argonne, Chalons, and the 
Marne Valley, with a feeder touching Rheims and Soissons. 
Except for a few days, this last remained in French hands, 
and became the real " line of the Marne " on which the 
Allies were based. After Paris, Rheims and Amiens are the 
most important centers of communications, the former 
dominating the middle plain, and the latter the coast. 
There is a general south-westerly trend of roads toward the 
capital; but three main ways run nearly due south: (1) 
from Cambrai through St. Quentin and Soissons to Chateau- 
Thierry and Montmirail; (2) from Vervins to Rheims and 
Epernay; (3) from Me'zieres to Chalons. The area between 
the west wing of the fan, from Mons to Paris, and the base, 
from Paris to Bar-le-Duc, may be roughly described as an 
equilateral triangle, with sides 145 miles long, and an 
eastern entry, about Me'zieres, 50 miles below the upper 
angle. The excellence of the French highroads is an im- 
portant factor. The weather was very hot, with some heavy 

We shall see that the onslaught was remarkably syn- 
chronized to fall around the whole French front at once, 
but that the resistance of the Verdun and Nancy armies, 
the essential condition of General Joffre's maneuver, was 
successful. Verdun could do little more than hold its 
pivotal point and its southern communications, however; 
and the Crown Prince was able to cross the Meuse and ad- 


vance down the east side of the Argonne toward Bar-le-Duc 
without serious resistance. The Duke of Wtirtemberg's 
army, on the west of the Argonne, had greater difficulty in 
its progress into the plain of Chalons. The French turned 
on their pursuers at Charleville, near Mdzieres, on August 
25; and there was more hard fighting before Rethel was 
reached, at Signy l'Abbaye and Novion-Porcien, on the 28th 
and 29th. General von Hausen came due southward from 
Hirson to Rheims; but before the crisis was reached his 
command seems to have been absorbed in the 2nd and 4th 
German Armies, those of Von Btilow on its west and Duke 
Albrecht on its east flanks. All the importance of the in- 
vasion lay with the two western armies, those of Von 
Biilow and Von Kluck ; and these we must follow more par- 
ticularly. A glance at the map will show the risks of a 
front so widely extended as theirs was. Considering that 
the western wing had to cover about twice as much distance 
as the eastern, contact was kept remarkably well. Yet the 
weakness could not but declare itself in time. While the 
Allies were concentrating upon a line with two strong 
terminals, admirable railway services, easy access to sup- 
plies and re-enforcements, and tactical positions known to 
every student of Napoleon's campaigns, the invaders were 
prolonging their supply lines and their fighting front in a 
gamble on the chance of enveloping the retreating armies 
on the west, or smashing their center at one blow. 

The greatest mass and capacity were engaged in the 
former effort; and it was the honor of Sir John French's 
little army, hardly maintained by re-enforcements at its first 
strength of about 80,000 men, to bear the main stress of this 
attack by greatly superior numbers through the three de- 
cisive days. The retirement from the positions between 
Maubeuge and Jenlain began early on the morning of 
August 25, the direction being south-west, toward a line 
that was partially intrenched in preparation, from Lan- 
drecies, through Le Cateau, toward Cambrai, a march aver- 


aging over twenty miles. The 4th Division, under General 
Snow, had just detrained from the coast at Le Cateau, a 
welcome element of new strength to compensate for heavy 
losses. It was at once sent to the west flank, and did good 
service there. Sir John French says that he had grave 
doubts about stopping at this point, owing to the continued 
withdrawal of the French on his right, and " the tendency 
of the enemy's western Corps (2nd) to envelop me." But 
the men could go no further. The 1st Corps, under Haig, 
pursuing the road by the eastern border of the Forest of 
Mormal, reached Landrecies at 10 p.m., the 1st Division 
having been extricated with difficulty in the darkness from 
a rear attack near Maroilles, with the help of some neigh- 
boring French troops. About the same time, part of the 
German 9th Army Corps, coming up, probably, by the road 
on the other side of the woods, entered the narrow streets 
of Landrecies, where a desperate struggle took place dur- 
ing the night, the 4th (Guards Brigade) at length driving 
the assailants back with very heavy loss. There had been 
time to put up some barbed- wire defenses; four machine- 
guns covered the entry to the little town; and rows of in- 
fantry lay and kneeled across the road. Charge after 
charge was delivered, and once a gun was lost for a short 
time. The attack was made in close order ; and the German 
casualties were estimated at from 800 to 900. After two or 
three hours' sleep, the British troops were roused to resume 
their march toward Guise. 

Meanwhile, on the evening of the 25th, the 2nd Army 
Corps had reached Le Cateau by the more westerly route, 
and had taken their posts just south of the Cambrai road. 
Some battalions had marched thirty miles in the day, and 
dropped to sleep without waiting for food. For the officers, 
this was an anxious night. Sir John French had earnestly 
requested the aid of General Sordet's Cavalry Corps, which 
was near Avesnes; but the horses were too exhausted to 
move. The British force was not now absolutely unsup- 



ported on its west flank. The French were gathering to- 
gether toward the coast the elements of the new army which 
General Maunoury was to use so ably in the battle of the 





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Marne. This was concentrating in the Amiens district, and 
being joined by fragments of various Territorial units 
which had put up an ineffectual resistance to the German 
onrush at Lille, Be'thune, Arras, Cambrai, and Bapaume. 
General d'Amade, of Moroccan fame, lay between Arras 


and Cambrai; and during the next few days his 61st and 
62nd Reserve Divisions were able, as were Sordet's cavalry, 
to relieve the pressure upon the sorely-tried British 

Wednesday, the 26th, proved to be " the most critical 
day of all." " At daybreak," says Field-Marshal French, " it 
became apparent that the enemy was throwing the bulk of 
his strength against the left of the position occupied by the 
2nd Corps and the 4th Division." Allenby had concen- 
trated two brigades of cavalry south of Cambrai, whence 
the line ran through Serainvillers to Caudry (4th Division), 
and on to Le Cateau. " At this time, the guns of four 
German army corps were in position against them ; and Sir 
Horace Smith-Dorrien reported to me that he judged it 
impossible to continue his retirement at daybreak (as or- 
dered) in face of such an attack. I sent him orders to use 
his utmost endeavors to break off the action and retire at 
the earliest possible moment, as it was impossible for me 
to send him any support, the 1st Corps being at the moment 
incapable of movement. There had been no time to in- 
trench the position properly, but the troops showed a 
magnificent front to the terrible fire which assailed them. 
The artillery, although outmatched by at least four to one, 
made a splendid fight, and inflicted heavy losses on their 
opponents." One of many thrilling incidents in this stand 
of one corps, one division, and two cavalry brigades, against 
five corps, including some of the best German troops, was 
a charge of the Prussian Guards Cavalry Division upon the 
British 12th Infantry Brigade, " when the German cavalry 
were thrown back with heavy loss and in absolute disorder." 
By the afternoon, the weight of repeated infantry attacks 
— concentrated upon parts of the line which could not be 
strengthened, as there were no reserves — had become intol- 
erable. It was " apparent that, if complete annihilation 
was to be avoided, a retirement must be attempted ; and the 
order was given to commence it about 3.30 p.m. The move- 


nient was covered with the most devoted intrepidity and 
determination by the artillery, which had itself suffered 
heavily, and the fine work done by the cavalry in the further 
retreat from the position assisted materially in the final 
completion of this most difficult and dangerous operation. 
Fortunately, the enemy had himself suffered too heavily to 
engage in an energetic pursuit." Another incident may 
serve as a type of many. All the officers and men of one 
battery had been killed except a subaltern and two gunners. 
These continued to fire one of the guns, and emerged from 
the battle unscathed. Five Victoria Crosses were granted 
for this day's work — to Major Yate and Lance-Corporal 
Holmes, of the 2nd Yorks Light Infantry, the few survivors 
of which made a desperate charge; and to Captain Douglas 
Reynolds, and Drivers Luke and Drain, of the 37th 
R.F. A battery, for bravery in covering the retreat. 

Sir John French, in his dispatch, regarded " this glorious 
stand " as the last phase of " a four-days' battle," in which, 
heavy as were the British casualties — between 5,000 and 
6,000 men — those of the enemy were very much heavier. It 
was one of the defeats which have all the glory and some of 
the effects of victory. It had saved the west flank of the 
Allied armies, and so stiffened the whole retreat. It had 
checked an onrush on which the success of the invasion 
depended. It had saved the great body of the British force, 
and that of General Maunoury. Von Kluck did not imme- 
diately draw in toward his colleagues on the east; but, when 
he saw Sniith-Dorrien escape him on the evening of the 
2Gth, he must have known that a direct attack upon Paris 
was now impossible. Officers and men of all grades had 
well earned Sir John French's praise and congratulations. 
" I say without hesitation that the saving of the left wing 
of the army on the morning of August 26 could never have 
been accomplished unless a commander (Smith-Dorrien) of 
rare coolness, intrepidity, and determination had been pres- 
ent to personally conduct the operation." The Flying 


Corps had furnished " most complete and accurate informa- 
tion, which has been of incalculable value," and, incident- 
ally, " by actually fighting in the air, succeeded in destroy- 
ing five of the enemy's machines." But the most remarkable 
service of all was the dogged endurance of the rank-and- 
file, now half-dead for lack of rest. 

While Von Kluck was thus sweeping round westward, 
Von Billow's army advanced from Charleroi, by Mau- 
beuge, toward Guise and Laon, with the heavy siege guns 
from Namur in its train. The resistance of Maubeuge is 
worthy of comparison with that of Liege; and the delay 
of twelve days which it procured at this important point on 
the main line of railway was probably one of the chief 
reasons for the German decision to postpone the attack, 
upon Paris. The first German troops arrived before the 
place on the 25th. For three days and four nights, they 
had only heavy mobile artillery (28 cm.) to bring to bear 
upon the ring of forts; but these pieces were moved about 
so skillfully that their positions could not be detected by 
the defenders. On August 29, the large siege howitzers (42 
cm.) were got into position five or six miles to the north- 
east. Only two of the six forts had been strengthened with 
concrete and steel cupolas; but the garrison had been in- 
creased to 30,000 men, by detachments from Lanrezac's 
force. It was not till September 7 (while the issue was 
being decided on the Marne) that Maubeuge surrendered, 
and full possession of the trunk railway was obtained. A 
story widely current at the time, that the gun emplace- 
ments had been prepared in advance by secret German 
agents, was afterwards shown to be unfounded. On Sep- 
tember 7 the Minister of War sent, on behalf of the French 
Government, a message of admiration to the Governor of 

The retreat of the British army from Cambrai and Le 
Cateau was continued through the 27th and 28th by the 
St. Quentin and Guise roads. The former day witnessed 


a disaster to the 1st Army Corps, the 2nd Minister Fusiliers 
being cut off and killed or captured. On the 28th, the re- 
treat lay along the Oise Valley from La Fere, westward 
through Chauny, to Noyon. It was hoped that the weight 
of the pursuit had been thrown off; but, on the evening of 
the 28th, the cavalry brigades covering the retreat were 
overtaken by large mounted forces of the enemy, General 
Gough's 3rd Brigade south of the Somme, near Ham, and 
the 5th Brigade under General Chetwode, near Cerizy, half- 
way between St. Quentin and La Fere. Both attacks were 
repelled, Gough driving back the Uhlans of the Guard with 
heavy loss, and the eastern column " suffering very severe 
casualties and being almost broken up," as General French 
afterwards reported, by a headlong charge of the 12th 
Lancers and the Scots Greys. The gravity of the position 
could, however, scarcely be exaggerated. The men had 
marched about ninety miles in four days, fighting several 
serious engagements, skirmishing continually, leaving vil- 
lages just as the enemy entered them, and getting very 
little sleep. Many men, naturally, fell out of the ranks, 
lost themselves, and were either hidden for a time by the 
remaining inhabitants till they could find their way south, 
or were captured. The marvelous thing is that the line of 
supplies and communications with the coast was never lost. 
The base had to be twice changed — first to Havre, then to 
St. Nazaire, with an advance base at Le Mans. The short 
German occupation of Amiens did not otherwise incon- 
venience the British force. 

Happily, General Joffre was now able to make disposi- 
tions which finally relieved it of the peculiarly onerous and 
perilous part it had had to play. These he explained dur- 
ing a visit to General French at 1 p.m. on August 29. " I 
strongly represented my position," the latter wrote to Lord 
Kitchener, " to the French Commander-in-Chief, who was 
most kind, cordial, and sympathetic, as he has always 
been." The plan was three-fold: (1) the western wing had 


to be more effectually guarded; (2) new forces had to be 
gathered for the intended recoil; (3) in the meantime, the 
retreat was to be continued to the Marne, the eastern 
armies conforming to the western movement. The first re- 
quirement was met by bringing General Maunoury's new 
6th French Army (composed of the 7th Corps, four reserve 
Divisions, and Sordet's Cavalry Corps) into touch with 
what had been the British left from near Amiens to Roye; 
while the 5th Army (General Lanrezac), which was behind 
the Oise, between La Fere and Guise, was moved west across 
the British rear against the German advance from about 
Peronne. While these steps were being taken, the British 
force retired without interference to positions to the north 
of the Aisne between Compiegne and Soissons. Though 
Von Kluck seemed to have completely recovered from the 
check at Le Cateau, and attacked on three lines with un- 
diminished vigor and a largely superior strength, the 
French counter-offensive was partially successful, and 
wholly served its purpose. Against the four corps of the 
5th French Army, on the Oise, there were five or six Ger- 
man corps marching from the Somme. " At least two 
corps," Sir John French says, " were crossing the Somme 
east and west of Ham." Three or more corps were directed 
against Maunoury further west. The French right met the 
first shock between St. Quentin and Guise, on the 29th, 
and inflicted a severe defeat upon the Guard 10th and 
Guard Reserve Corps, which were driven back in disorder, 
with heavy loss, by the 1st and 3rd Corps, the north wing 
of the 5th French Army. The left about Roye and Ham 
was less successful ; and, threatened with being cut off, Gen- 
eral Maunoury retired from Amiens and the Somme to 
Beauvais, blowing up railway bridges on the line to Paris, 
and road bridges, as he did so. 

General Joffre, we may suppose, had two particular pre- 
occupations at this juncture. The first was to watch over 
the integrity of the line of the Allies, — for the maintenance 


of the line was essential to an effective recoil — a task of 
great difficulty under the pressure of speed and superior 
numbers which an extraordinary organization enabled the 
German commanders to maintain. A strong stand, as at 
Guise on the 28th and at Rethel on the 29th, checked a 
dangerous sagging of the long front (or rear) at these 
points; and the actions west of Le Cateau and Guise had 
served the further purpose of pressing the heavy enveloping 
movement outward toward the west, so that it would pres- 
ently itself be broken against the fortifications of Paris, or 
would have to be drawn in eastward under very disadvan- 
tageous conditions. There is no reason to think that a 
stand upon the old fortress line La Fere-Laon-Rheims was 
ever thought of. The armies were not yet in a condition to 
turn and stand. Their re-enforcements were not at hand. 
Above all, General Joffre had a better plan. The million- 
headed civilian began at this moment to be obsessed by the 
fear of a new siege of Paris, or an assault which might mul- 
tiply a hundred-fold the horrors of Liege. Joffre knew that 
he was getting Von Kluck upon the horns of a dilemma of 
which it would be difficult to say which would be the more 
fatal, the assault upon Paris, with all the Allied armies 
intact, or its refusal. It was for the other end of the line, 
rather than for this upon which the eyes of the world were 
concentrated, that the Generalissimo must have felt most 
anxiety. Would the eastern wall, from Verdun, down the 
lesser forts of the Meuse, through Nancy and Toul to 
Epinal, hold firm? The French had abandoned the line of 
the Meuse between Verdun and Me'zieres on August 26. 
The Imperial Crown Prince would hardly be given the least 
important role in the invasion. Suppose that, coming 
down the east of the Argonne, and joining hands with the 
Duke of Wiirtemberg in southern Champagne, he should 
be able, if not to cut through the armies of General Ruffey 
(now passing under the command of General Sarrail) and 
De Langle de Gary, at least to press them so far south as to 


make it impossible to keep up the communications of Ver- 
dun, to compel the withdrawal of De Castelnau from Lor- 
raine, and so to open the road from Metz to the Marne? 

In face of such risks, amid such preoccupations, General 
Joffre prepared for the day when the retreat would end and 
the reaction begin. While General Gallieni was making 
ready the army and defenses of Paris, and General Mau- 
noury was concentrating to the north-west of the fortified 
ring of the capital, a new army, consisting of three corps 
from the south, was brought into the space between the 
right of the 5th Army (which now passed from the com- 
mand of General Lanrezac to that of General Franchet 
d'Esperey) and the left of the 4th, that of General de 
Langle de Cary. It will be remembered that the correspond- 
ing part of the German front was weakened about this time 
by the disappearance of Von Hausen's separate command. 
This new 7th 1 French Army, under one of the ablest officers 
of the Republic, General Foch, constituted, therefore, a con- 
siderable relative strengthening of the Allied center. 

At Compiegne, forty-five miles from Paris, the south- 
westward direction of the British retreat was changed to 
due south, to bring the force below the Marne, with its left 
resting upon the eastern defenses of the city. Rearguard 
actions were repeatedly fought, for the pursuit had not 
flagged, though most of its weight fell elsewhere. On Sep- 
tember 1, the 10th Cavalry Brigade and the 4th Guards 
Brigade were overtaken by German cavalry in the 
thickly wooded tracts south of the Aisne known respectively 
as the Forest of Compiegne and the Forest of Villers-Cot- 
terets. The former column momentarily lost a Horse Artil- 
lery battery, 165 of its men being killed or captured; but 
some detachments from the 3rd Army Corps — which had 
now arrived at the front, under General Pulteney — were 

1 1 adopt the usual French numbering. Sir John French in his 
dispatches speaks of this army as the 9th, and some English writers 
have followed him. 


brought up, and not only were the guns recovered, but 
twelve German guns were also taken. Captain Bradbury, 
Sergeant-Major Dorrell, and Sergeant Nelson won Victoria 
Crosses in this action. The 4th Guards Brigade, a part of 
the 1st Corps which had come through Soissons, was less 
fortunate, and lost about 300 men killed and wounded. 
It was regarded as worthy of note on this occasion that 
" the Germans were seen giving assistance to our wounded." 
The following day was one of comparative quiet; and, on 
September 3, Sir John French's columns lay south of 
Meaux (between Lagny and Signy-Signets), having de- 
stroyed the Marne bridges behind them at the request of 
the French Commander-in-Chief. This proved to be insuffi- 
cient for General J off re's purpose. The trap must be made 
a little deeper. So, while Von Kluck's and Von Billow's 
horsemen dashed across the river by hurriedly constructed 
bridges at La Ferte' and Chateau-Thierry, the British fell 
back to the river Seine, and there waited. They had hardly 
been on French soil for three weeks, had fought in that 
time two great battles and many smaller engagements, and 
had lost nearly a fifth of their original strength, about 
15,000 officers and men. Well might there be tears in many 
an island home. But these men embraced their task with- 
out fear, and, cheered by new drafts to fill the gaps in their 
ranks, cheered more by the rumor that the retreat was 
ended, turned grim faces toward the north. 

The more easterly part of the French line was coinci- 
dently drawn back till it had crossed the series of west- 
ward-flowing rivers of central France — the Oise, Aisne, 
Vesle, Ourcq, Marne, Petit Morin, and Grand Morin. Here 
it was arrested on the line Meaux-Coulommiers-Esternay- 
Vitrv-le-Frangois-Revigny-Verdun. The anniversary of Se- 
dan, September 1, had come and gone, a great disappoint- 
ment for Potsdam. 


On August 27, the reconstruction of the French Ministry, 
as an enlarged Government of National Defense, was an- 
nounced. M. Viviani retained the premiership; M. Mil- 
lerand succeeded M. Messimy as Minister of War; M. 
Briand went to the Ministry of Justice, M. Delcasse to the 
Quai d'Orsay, and M. Ribot to the Ministry of Finance. M. 
Sembat and M. Guesde were also included in this strong 
combination. M. Cle'menceau remained prominently out- 
side, as did M. Caillaux, who later on accepted an admin- 
istrative mission to South America. The changes were fav- 
orably received, though the censorship put all demonstra- 
tions out of the question. 

The appointment, on the same day, of General Gallieni 
as Military Governor of Paris excited keener interest, for 
it bore more directly upon the question that was now be- 
ginning to fill most minds. On the day of the first air-raid, 
when the Germans were as near as Birmingham is to Lon- 
don, Paris presented an appearance of complete calm. It 
seemed to me that there were more shops open than there 
had been; rows of chairs had reappeared before the chief 
cafes ; and the return of a radiant sunshine, after some days 
of gloom and rain, typified the smiling stoicism which is 
the strength of the French genius. There was no scare; 
the question was inevitable, and was intelligently discussed. 
Probably a half of the families in the city had some rela- 
tive in the retreating armies. We were constantly meeting 
wounded soldiers, or refugees from the north, or families 
returning tardily from their holidays on the coast (15,000 



such passengers were said to have come into Paris on one 
day, the 27th). Cool heads remarked that an attack upon 
Paris while the Allied armies were intact would be mad- 
ness. That, however, could hardly be conclusive — to the 
good patriot, the enemy is usually mad ; and this particular 
enemy had lately shown no scruple about bombarding large 
towns. Evidently, General Gallieni did not think the ques- 
tion needless, for his " Army of Paris," with thousands of 
civilians helping, was busy night and day strengthening 
the fortifications; and the Bois de Boulogne and neighbor- 
ing lands had been turned into a vast cattle and sheep farm, 
and large supplies of wheat stored, against the possibility 
of a siege. 

The ring of outer forts has a circumference of nearly a 
hundred miles, extending thirty miles from east to west 
between Chelles and Marly, and twenty-three miles north 
to south, from the Domont to the Palaiseau fort. The 
shortest distance between these works and the boundaries 
of the city is about eight miles. Admitting that the great 
body of the population would be out of reach of bombard- 
ment from the first German positions, how could the de- 
fenders hold a line of a hundred miles, and, against the con- 
centrated attack that had reduced Liege, Namur, and Mau- 
beuge, prevent a breach from being made? No doubt, the 
forts were now connected by a system of trenches and 
barbed-wire entanglements, and the suburban railway sys- 
tem would serve to convey flying bodies of troops from point 
to point. If, nevertheless, the circle of forts were broken 
through, would the city surrender, and a war-tax be agreed 
to, or not? Governing persons themselves were not com- 
pletely unanimous in their answers to such questions; prob- 
ably no authoritative answer could be given till the last 
moment, when all the circumstances could be weighed. My 
own impression was that the " smashing blow " was impos- 
sible as things stood, but that, if it should come, the people 
would fight from street to street, and from house to house, 


at however frightful a cost, rather than tolerate a sur- 
render. Paris, we said to ourselves, may not be a Tchatalja 
or a Port Arthur; but neither is it an open town to be hon- 
orably abandoned, like Brussels, or a half-barbarian Mos- 
cow, which the inhabitants can burn before they take refuge 
in the neighboring forests to wait for " General Hiver." 

At the city gates, on the line of the old ramparts, gangs 
of men were digging trenches, setting up screens of small 
trees, and preparing other works of arrest. I was watching 
one of these groups when an ugly machine, like a huge yel- 
low pot on an automobile chassis, came past. Four dirty 
soldiers were crowded inside, and there was an ominous 
little tube sticking out in front. It was an armored ma- 
chine-gun. Troops, mounted and on foot, constantly passed 
through the town to the northern suburbs. In the other 
direction, a growing stream of wheeled traffic from the 
nearer invaded districts was pouring in. Lost or wounded 
soldiers, French and British, continually arrived by rail- 
way and road. One night, when the post-office had become 
useless, and we had not yet established a daily courrier 
service to London, I went to the Nord Station to find a 
passenger willing to take a letter. A convoy of 140 British 
soldiers wounded in the fighting in the Oise Valley was 
brought into the crowded great hall, and was the object of 
a touching demonstration of sympathy. A number of Bel- 
gian infantrymen crossing their path, the two parties ex- 
changed hearty salutations. Sometimes we met two or 
three " Tommies " near the city gates waiting to get in or 
out, each surrounded by a crowd of women in transports 
of hero-worship. " Having a good time? " I shouted to a 
tired but happy-looking lad in khaki, who was conducting 
a commissariat wagon and a van marked with the name 
of a Canterbury laundry company guaranteed for " high- 
class work." " Rather too good ! " he replied, with a grin. 
But these fellows could only tell of isolated incidents, and 
a general sense that all was going well. Some of them 


had lost touch with the fighting line, and, after various 
adventures, found their way to Paris partly on foot, partly 
by rail. There was one particularly poignant case of this 
kind. A French officer found a British infantryman ex- 
hausted and hungry by the roadside to the north of Paris, 
and took him to an inn. Returning a little later, he 
found the man weeping like a child. He had lost his regi- 
ment, and could not get it out of his overwrought brain 
that he would be suspected of having run away, and be 

A lady who lived in one of the villages to the north-east 
of Paris until the approach of the Germans told me an 
episode out of which, by adding here and subtracting 
there, an artist would construct a thrilling romance, but 
whose sting will touch the intelligent mind more sharply 
if I tell only the naked truth. The village lies not far 
from Chantilly racecourse, with the smoke of Paris visible 
on one hand, and a countryside of parks and mansions on 
the other. Four lost Tommies turned up, and asked for 
shelter. They had been chased by Uhlans; and the Cure 
probably realized the risks he ran in taking them into his 
little house. Early next morning, sure enough, a German 
patrol rode into the place, summoned the inhabitants 
together, and demanded the surrender of the Englishmen, 
threatening dire penalties. Everyone knew where they 
were, and turned to their spiritual guide. Instinct saves us 
from reason in such crises. The good Cure lied boldly, in a 
loud voice, so that his flock should understand. He had 
not seen the Englishmen. No doubt they had gone on 
toward Paris. The German soldiers rode on. What most 
struck my informant was the exceeding deliberation with 
which the Atkins four performed their toilet, and brushed 
their hair and clothes, before making their escape. The 
Cure then left for a safer place. When they returned and 
found all the birds flown, the Uhlans took their revenge by 
burning his house down. 


The first of a series of air-raids upon Paris took place 
in the forenoon of Sunday, August 30, when five bombs 
were thrown by an aviator who, in a message which he 
dropped, said : " The German army is at the gates of 
Paris — you can do nothing but surrender," and signed him- 
self " Lieutenant von Heidssen." Two women were 
wounded, and a number of windows were broken. The 
exploit alarmed no one but the families which suffered 
directly. The rumor of what had occurred ran quickly 
through the city ; but the spirit of exaggeration which would 
have decorated such an outrage in normal times was lacking 
now. Madame and the children continued their Sunday 
walk, promising themselves that Jean and his fellows would 
dispose of these birds of prey. " Attila's visiting card " 
was not a bad mot for Heidssen's letter-case. " Go back 
to your Pomeranian Grenadiers," wrote M. Henri Berenger, 
addressing the German aviator. " Mimi Pinson is not for 
you. We don't want your Kaiser, nor your Kultur, nor 
your Kolossal. You are not even original, wretched Prus- 
sian cuckoo. Where did you get your wings, your motor? 
Who invented aviation, Germany or France? Who first 
crossed the Channel or the Alps, a German or a French- 
man? What did you bring under your wings that we 
should surrender to you — intelligence, or liberty, or justice, 
truth, or love? Nothing of the kind. You brought death — 
a bomb — that is all. That is why you will never have Paris. 
Paris is civilization in its beauty. You are barbarism in its 
ugliness. Possibly you may bombard us — burn our city — 
but we shall never surrender. Paris will be wherever the 
French flag floats, and in the end Chantecler will crow over 
the bloody nest of your crushed tyrants." 

On the following day, another German aeroplane ap- 
peared over the city, and, after letting off three bombs, which 
did no material damage, made its escape. On September 1, 
there was a still bolder raid. This time the aviator reached 
the center of the city, and threw, among others, two bombs 


which exploded hehind the great stores known as the Maga- 
zin du Printemps, and in the Avenue de 1'Opera. No great 
damage was done, strange to say. A gun had been mounted 
on the roof of the Credit Lyonnais, and fire was opened 
there. Two British privates also fired from the boulevard, 
but without effect, the aeroplane being out of range. That 
night it was announced that a squadron of armored aero- 
planes provided with machine-guns had been organized to 
pursue such intruders. Accordingly, on Wednesday, Sep- 
tember 2, the sportive Parisian was on the qui vive for the 
next German visitor, expecting that the long-promised " bat- 
tle in the air " would be brought off for his delectation. 

The raider duly came, at about six o'clock that evening; 
and, for at least twenty minutes, he carried out a series of 
cool evolutions, first over the Invalides, on the south side of 
the river, where he threw one bomb, if not two, then over the 
Elysee, and finally over the grand boulevards. I had the 
privilege of witnessing the performance from a royal box, 
as it were. I happened to be leaving the British Embassy, 
and was crossing the courtyard, when the familiar British 
accents of the porter's voice called out a warning and an 
invitation to take refuge in his lodge. From this shelter, 
we watched the daring turns of the aviator over the Elysee 
and its neighborhood. Rifle-shots and fire from some kind 
of small machine-gun were then already being directed at 
the aeroplane, evidently by men posted in advance on the 
roofs of various buildings. Tbe outline of the machine was 
clearly visible; but, although hundreds of shots were fired, 
none seemed to hit. I walked back past the Madeleine to 
the top of the Boulevard des Capucines, and watched the 
war-hawk make off steadily and disappear to the north- 
east. Thousands of Parisians witnessed with ironical smiles 
what seemed rather like a pigeon-shooting match, except 
that all the chances favored the pigeon. 


On the night of Monday, August 31, I received privately 
the alarming news that the Government of France was 
abandoning its capital, the first city of Continental Europe. 
At four o'clock on that afternoon, 1,200 of the 1,500 em- 
ployees of the Ministry of War, of all grades, had received 
notice, first to send their families into the country immedi- 
ately, then to go themselves to Tours, taking with them 
what they could of the material for which they were re- 
sponsible. The loading of automobiles with office docu- 
ments, typewriters, and other effects was then proceeding 
at full pressure. Many of the men had already left. At 
other Ministries, there was the same scene of hurried pack- 
ing in corridors full of boxes, and a rapid succession of 
motor-cars carried away the official property as soon as it 
was ready. Some was taken to the Quai d'Orsay and Auster- 
litz stations ; other motor-cars had gone southward by road. 
The decision to abandon Paris and to shift the seat of Gov- 
ernment to Bordeaux was come to on the Monday after- 
noon at a Cabinet Council, of which a usually trustworthy 
official gave me a grievous account. This climax had been 
reached so rapidly, and it is so easy for the stolid English- 
man to misunderstand the French temperament — in which 
wild gesticulations are perfectly consistent with an heroic 
courage — that I will not repeat my informant's words, lest 
it should be supposed that there was a flagrant hour of 
sheer panic. Suffice it that the Ministers were not agreed 
whether to go or stay, but that it was ultimately decided 
to go. 



It is difficult now to recall the sense of impending calam- 
ity that then seemed so real, and lay hourly more heavily 
upon us. At the Central Telegraph Office that Monday 
evening, I was told that, since the early morning, there had 
been no communication with London. Letters were three 
days late. We were, or appeared to be, nearly isolated. 
There might have been a great defeat. We did not know. 
When I went to the War Office at eleven o'clock that night 
to receive the usual late communique", I already knew the 
facts cited above, and had, beside, a bundle of rumors hot 
enough then to set the Seine on fire; but not now. The 
officer in charge of the Press service did not usually come 
in person, but sent an orderly with a parcel of type-written 
sheets which were distributed without comment. There had 
been an unusually long communique" at 5 p.m. — a re- 
chauffe of the former news which did not indicate any new 
defeat or cause for anxiety. At 11 p.m. Commandant 
Thomasson came to us himself, and, after announcing that 
no official bulletin would be issued, made a short statement, 
in course of which he admitted that a second aeroplane had 
appeared over Paris that day and left the usual missiles. 
Not a word as to what many of the responsible French 
journalists present must, like myself, have been thinking 
about. And therefore no guidance in the next morning's 
papers for the hundreds of thousands of anxious hearts in 
a city that had been at full stretch of its nervous powers for 
a month. 

Or, rather, there were two notes, faintly struck, in either 
of which some comfort might be found, but that neither had 
any apparent authority, and they were quite irreconcilable. 
Paris is all right, said the one voice; she can stand a long 
siege, and by that time the Russians will be in Berlin. 
Paris may be invested, said the other voice, and it is evi- 
dently inadvisable for the Ministry to be locked up or cap- 
tured by the enemy. Naturally, it will retire, as the Bel- 
gians retired from Brussels to Antwerp. Putting aside for 


a moment the question of the power of the city to resist 
assault and to bear a siege, it will be seen that the analogies 
were unsound. It was supposed that, if the Russians 
reached Berlin, everything would be over but the shouting, 
while, when the Germans reached Brussels and Paris, the 
Governments would move away and the resistance be main- 
tained as if nothing had happened. An impartial observer 
would say that, if the Russians continued their successful 
march, the Prussian Government would leave Berlin — and 
the German people would not lose much by that. The Bel- 
gian Government was in being; but there was this great 
difference between Brussels and Paris — Brussels was an 
open town, and could not be defended. Paris had a double 
ring of fortifications, and we had been told, with every kind 
and degree of positiveness, that it would resist capture to 
the last. Evidently, the Government, or the main body of 
it, should be moved whenever there w r as any danger of its 
being captured; but a premature movement of the kind 
could not but be a severe shock to the Parisian public, and 
it was a matter of no little local importance that shocks 
should be avoided if possible, apart from any general effect 
upon the feeling of the nation. 

No news more alarming than statements that the defenses 
were being put in readiness, and that it was advisable for 
people having relations in the country to send their women 
and children thither, had been allowed to appear in the 
Paris Press for a week past. Yet an exodus, now much 
accentuated, had begun on Saturday, August 29; through- 
out that and the following days, lines of cabs, many of them 
filled with household goods, were racing through the boule- 
vards to the southern and western railway stations; and a 
very large part of the population of the city was engaged 
in discussing whether, and if so how, it should remove itself. 
A lady who had arranged some time before to leave Paris 
on the Saturday night for Biarritz had to be content at the 
last moment with a seat on a rough bench in a cattle truck, 


into which thirty passengers or more were crowded, without 
a glimmer of light. The train carried nothing but third- 
class and trucks, and, stopping at most stations, it took 
about thirty hours to reach its destination. I went down 
to the St. Lazare Station on the Sunday morning to see 
how it was with the British and American passengers leav- 
ing at 9.30 by the Havre route. A quite orderly, but tired, 
anxious, and uncomfortable crowd of about a thousand per- 
sons surrounded the entry to the platform, and more were 
constantly arriving. At noon there were 10,000 persons in 
and around the Mont Parnasse Station, trying to get train 
for Rennes, St. Malo, and Brest; and at the Invalides Sta- 
tion, which had been more carefully reserved for military 
use, the officials said that enough passengers had been 
booked in advance for Brittany to fill all the trains for a 

The odd thing was that there was an inflow as well as an 
outflow, though not on so large a scale. First, there was 
an uninterrupted stream of refugees from the immediate 
scene of fighting — the region of Mons, and then the region 
around Laon. More than 30,000 of these poor people were 
landed at the Nord Station on the 29th. Many of them 
were carrying oddments of property with them, and some 
of the children had been allowed to bring a favorite dog 
or canary. All of this vast social disturbance was not 
directed upon Paris. A lady who had a summer cottage 
near Pontoise described vividly the abandonment of many 
of the villages on this north-western road by their inhabit- 
ants, who had not yet seen the Germans, and were re- 
solved not to see them. Add to the influx of refugees that 
of wounded soldiers — all the hospitals of the city were 
not full, but even when expecting a siege, Paris is a great 
distributing center — and a smaller number of German pris- 
oners; then offset against these the flight of Parisian 
families and foreigners, and there is given a problem of 
social migration that would be very grave even if there 


were no urgency about getting troops mobilized and to the 
front. So far, the railways had worked marvelously ; and 
it was not till Sunday, the 30th, that some little efferves- 
cence was perceptible among the people of Paris. The cool 
courage with which the agonies of the past month had been 
borne deserved every word that the best living French 
prose writers (there was here no tendency to cheap ver- 
sification) said in its praise. But this patient loyalty 
could not safely be abused; and the migration problem 
could not safely be allowed to be aggravated by an open 

There were various and potent warnings of the gravity 
of the situation other than the statements of refugees and 
wounded soldiers. On the evening of August 30, the presi- 
dent of the City Council, M. Mithouard, made a statement 
advising residents having friends in the country to send 
their women and children thither, as a siege would mean 
privation, whatever efforts were made to assure the food 
supply. On the same day, the papers were forbidden to 
issue more than one daily edition ; and news became scantier 
than ever. Englishmen, getting through with difficulty by 
Dieppe and Beauvais, and arriving many hours late, re- 
ported that the enemy was at Compiegne, and rumor added 
falsely that this town, only 45 miles away, was in flames. 
The War Office admitted that the French army was continu- 
ally retreating, but gave no details. It was safe to con- 
clude that the enemy was within two days' march. All 
round the northern suburbs and outlying districts of Paris, 
the inhabitants were ordered to get away immediately ; and 
many of these were pouring into the city by the Maillot, St. 
Ouen, and Clignancourt gates, while others more sensibly 
took suburban roads to the south. The telegraphs were 
working subject to many hours' delay, and to England only 
two wires, via Havre, were open on September 3. Orders 
had been given for all the wounded to be removed outside 
the " intrenched camp of Paris." Those in hospital at Ver- 


sailles, sufficiently recovered to be moved, were taken by 
train to such distant points as Rennes and Nantes. 

Secrets, like bombs, are a worrying cargo; and it was 
with a sigh of relief that I read over my coffee and crust 
(no fancy rolls in these days !), on the morning of September 
3, the proclamation announcing the shifting of the Govern- 
ment to Bordeaux. It was couched in the following terms, 
and signed by M. Poincare and all the Ministers: 

" Frenchmen ! For several weeks, our heroic troops have 
been engaged in desperate combats with the enemy. The 
valiance of our soldiers has given them at some points a 
marked advantage. But, in the north, the onset of the 
German forces has constrained us to fall back. 

" This situation imposes upon the President of the Re- 
public and upon the Government a grievous decision. In 
order to guard the national safety, it is their duty to move, 
for the moment, from the city of Paris. Under the command 
of an eminent chief, a French army, full of courage and 
spirit, will defend against the invader the capital and its 
patriotic population. But the war must be pursued at the 
same time on the rest of our territory. 

" Without peace or truce, without stay or default, the holy 
struggle for the honor of the nation and the reparation of 
violated right will continue. None of our armies is crippled. 
If some of them have suffered heavy losses, the gaps have 
been immediately filled from the depots, and the calling up 
of recruits assures us for to-morrow new resources in men 
and energy. 

" To hold out and to fight must be the word of command 
for the Allied armies, British, Russian, Belgian, and French! 
To hold out and to fight, while on the sea the British help 
us to cut our enemies' communications with the outer world ! 
To hold out and to fight, while the Russians continue to 
advance to strike a decisive blow at the heart of the German 
Empire! It is for the Government of the Republic to direct 
this obstinate resistance. Everywhere, Frenchmen will rise 
to defend their independence. But to give this formidable 


struggle all its vigor and efficiency, it is indispensable that 
the Government should retain its freedom of action. 

" On the demand of the military authority, therefore, the 
Government is temporarily removing its residence to a place 
where it can remain in constant relations with the whole of 
the country. It invites members of Parliament not to 
remain far away, so that they and it may form the guard 
of the national unity. 

" The Government is quitting Paris only after having 
assured the defense of the city and the intrenched camp 
by all means in its power. It knows that it need not recom- 
mend calm, resolution, and sang-froid to the admirable 
Parisian population. They are showing, every day, that they 
are equal to the highest duties. 

" Frenchmen ! Be worthy of these tragic circumstances ! 
We will obtain victory in the end. We will obtain it by 
a tireless will, by endurance, and by tenacity. A nation 
which is determined not to perish, and, in order to live, 
recoils before no suffering or sacrifice, is sure of victory." 

Not a hint of this grave step had appeared in the Paris 
Press till now, although thousands of officials knew of it, and 
a number of journalists had scented sensation afar off. I 
had learned that an announcement would be issued before 
midnight on Thursday, September 3; and this was my ex- 
cuse for troubling the British Embassy with a call. The 
great door in the Rue du Faubourg St. Honors, surmounted 
with the royal arms, was closed, and the porter had received 
orders, on this sad and busy day, not to admit any visitors. 
The reason was soon apparent; indeed, two furniture vans 
and many half-packed cases in a corner of the courtyard, 
the unusual bustle on the stairs and in the upper rooms, and 
large labels showing that many boxes of papers and other 
property would be left in charge of the American Ambassa- 
dor, told the whole story so eloquently that there was no 
need for me to do more than wish the courteous Secretary 
bon voyage. All the same, there was something very griev- 
ous about this retreat— something, for a civilian, like what 


the soldier feels when he witnesses a forced retirement on 
the battlefield. 

On Wednesday evening, September 2, their various Ex< 
cellencies left the Quai d'Orsay Station; and none who saw 
it is ever likely to forget the scene. Groping my way in 
the deep, narrow streets about the War Office, on the south 
side of the river, during the past few nights, I had con- 
ceived a perfectly practical affection for the much-slandered 
moon. You see, they were saving coal and electricity; 
moreover, it is advisable to give no guidance to hostile air- 
ships. So, off the boulevards, the streets were hardly lit at 
all. We may see again a mild alarm such as had carried 
scores of thousands of Parisians southward in these critical 
days; but we are never likely again to see the abandonment 
of the first city of Europe at dead of night by a cosmopolitan 
crowd of diplomatists. There was Sir Francis Bertie, in 
black suit and bowler hat, and Mr. Graham, very tall and 
fair, talking to the Marquis Visconti-Venosta — the Italian 
Ambassador himself, Signor Tittoni, being another dis- 
tinguishable figure, in gray and a soft felt hat. Mr. Myron 
T. Herrick, the United States Ambassador, had come down 
with his wife to say good-by to his confreres, and M. Is- 
volsky, the Tsar's envoy, was chatting with the Spanish 
Minister, who, like Mr. Herrick, was remaining in Paris to 
perform the duties of courtesy that fall upon neutrals at 
such a time. The windows of each carriage of the special 
train were labeled with the names of the countries whose 
representatives it was carrying off — there was even an in- 
scription for the more or less imaginary Republic of San 
Marino; but no one appeared to answer to this honorific 
name. There was the Persian Minister, and M. Romanos, 
the black-bearded Greek, and a Russian military attache" in 
uniform, and some Belgians, and all sorts of servants, in- 
cluding a Chinese nurse feeding a yellow baby, with coal- 
black eyes. And, at last, a soft horn was blown, and the 
train rolled away. Whatever might be said about the ad- 


venturous Herr Taube, and the possibly approaching legions 
of his still more reckless Kaiser, it was no pleasant thing 
to see the world's delegates pack up their traps, and leave 
the splendid city of Paris to its fate. 

President Poincare, accompanied by all the members of 
the Ministry, left for Bordeaux at 5 a.m. on Thursday, and 
they were followed in two special trains by the Presidents 
and members of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies, with 
other official persons. The main body of the staff and the 
reserves of the Banque de France had already been removed. 
Of the major Embassies, only those of Spain and the United 
States remained, and the neutrality of the American Re- 
public was oddly marked by the fact that Mr. Herrick had 
taken charge of the records of the British, the German, and 
the Austrian Ambassadors. A like transfer of the higher 
legal machinery of France had been made by sending to 
Bordeaux fifteen magistrates selected from among the three 
sections of the Cour de Cassation. During the day, the 
Presidents of the City Council and the Council of the Seine 
Department formed a committee, under the authority of the 
Military Governor, the Prefect of Paris, and the Prefect of 
Police, for the government of the capital. A new Prefect 
of Police, M. Laurent, was appointed in place of M. Hen- 
nion, a change warmly welcomed, and connected by rumor 
with official discussions as to whether, if a breach were 
made in the line of forts, the city should be surrendered. 
Thousands of people continued to crowd into the southern 
railway stations, but there was still no panic. The quietude 
of the population was a worthy reflection of the courage of 
the children of the Republic under arms. As one writer 
said, " It was a moment for those who act, not those who 
talk " ; and General Gallieni enjoyed unbounded confidence, 
both as organizer and as soldier. 

Thus was Paris derobed of her accustomed majesty. 
Long afterwards, we learned that many of the treasures of 
the Louvre and other museums and public galleries had been 


secretly removed. Other monuments, and those the most 
characteristic, if not the most precious, remained only be- 
cause they could not be shifted. The perspective of the 
Champs-Elysees was no less glorious because the Presiden- 
tial palace was closed. We could walk among the flower- 
beds, the plashing fountains, and the statuary, of the Tuile- 
ries gardens, and reflect upon the hollowness of worldly 
hopes, or discover with a more genuine surprise that noth- 
ing avails to extinguish love's young dream. A column of 
Chasseurs click-clacked along the Rue de Rivoli : what were 
they thinking of it all ? Perhaps only that the thin moon- 
shine was worth a hundred searchlights to General Gallieni, 
now master of our immediate destinies. To me, the vague 
mist of light made all that had seemed so terribly real a 
few hours before most unreal ; and I saw only the ghosts 
of the soldiers of olden times, called from forgotten graves 
by the sound of cannon and the cry of the blood-lust, the 
ghosts of the conquering fighters who built these palaces and 
arches — and, far behind, under one blue star, the pale ghost 
of a man who was crucified. . . . 

The Chasseurs passed, and then a regiment of infantry; 
a little donkey-cart piled with the poor property of a 
workman's home passed ; and a procession of such refugees 
urged onward to the south through the dead city. With the 
early daylight, some of the shutters fell, the doors opened, 
and through these miles of streets, men and women awoke 
to ask what news there was from Compiegne, whether they 
too must go into exile, how they could gather together a few 
shillings for bread upon the journey, and what would hap- 
pen when that was eaten. 

Did I say Paris had lost something of her majesty? But 
she had gained a majesty higher than the glitter of any 
official uniforms can give. Let me confess it. I had feared, 
half expected, trouble in Ihis still crowded population. 
Rien <ln iont! Where had the volatile, explosive, rather 
vicious Parisian of fortv-four years ago ujone? There was 


no sign of him to-day. I have no belief in easy generaliza- 
tions — you do not know much of the mind of two millions 
of people by observing the faces of two thousand, or by a 
closer knowledge of two hundred. But, without over-esti- 
mating the worth of such evidence as one man can gather, 
it must yet be said that the quietude of the city, the appear- 
ance of a grave confidence and resolution, the perfect order 
in public places, were things to impress the most skeptical. 
So far, I do not believe that any human society in time of 
peril could display in a higher degree than Paris was doing 
the virtues of calmness, courage, loyalty, and endurance. 
Used to enjoy her powers and amenities in perfect security, 
she had suddenly become a frontier town, imminently 
threatened with a blow hardly less grave in its effect on the 
national spirit than in its material injuries. Pride and 
calculation, it is true, combined to throw a ray of light upon 
this prospect. Many of these Parisians, elders who had 
given their last and dearest for the national defense, re- 
called 1870, and could see that it was not now as it was then 
with France, that the daily work of industrialism and of 
political democracy, the progress of education and humane 
influences, have created a new Republic, more sober, stable, 
and strong. As for the Government, they were not indiffer- 
ent to its departure, and they did not hurl after it the open 
scorn reserved for more wealthy and less responsible fugi- 
tives. They watched stoically, sure of the future. Many 
old Parisian traditions are dead; new and better have 
grown, and the city has no peer in the Latin world. To 
imagine Westminster and Whitehall taken out of London 
does not give an adequate analogy of this situation; for 
Paris has always played a larger part proportionately in the 
crises of French history than London in ours; and the tie 
between the national Government and the city, under the 
French system of centralized bureaucracy, is much closer. 
The departure of the President of the Republic, the Minis- 
tries, and the diplomatic corps, broke many political nerve- 


threads. It was not a heavy price to pay for the revela- 
tion of a city more lovely and lovable than we had yet 
known, the beautiful home of a family sorely wounded, 
threatened with worse calamity, but whole in heart and 
will, and, as I felt, invincible in its faith. 


Paris, September 9. 

A brief diary of a Parisian day may illustrate the strange 
mixture of the normal and abnormal in our life. The first 
thing is always to make sure, for another twenty-four hours 
at least, that one's concierge and servants are not going to 
make a sudden departure, whether under orders, or from — 
ahem! let us call it conversatism. Large numbers of male 
artisans, shop assistants, and servants of all kinds are al- 
ways awaiting the call to the colors; and, now that nine 
shops out of ten, and a large proportion of the houses, flats, 
and workshops of the city, are closed, it becomes evident 
that the exodus of the past week has very greatly reduced 
the female population also. 

The next business, after laying in some necessary stores, 
is to secure one's line of retreat, or, in the present case, one's 
line of communications. The telegraphic service with Eng- 
land being practically at an end, the postal service much 
delayed and very uncertain, and the train services, so to 
speak, on their last wheels, one naturally thinks of that 
engine which has perhaps more than any other proved its 
utility during the present crisis — the motor-car. The latest 
triumph of the most famous makers would be worthless, 
however, without the various kinds of passport which are 
necessary to get out of Paris, to stay in Paris or any other 
town, to pass from one town to another, or to leave the 
country. We make our way, therefore, to the Prefecture of 
Police, just opposite Notre Dame. After hours — or so it 
seems — of wandering through the interminable corridors, up 



and down the endless staircases, of this huge barracks (you 
could put New Scotland Yard down in the central quad- 
rangle with room to spare), I have conceived the liveliest 
opinions about the Parisian police system; but that is an- 
other story, to be told in cooler moments. M. Hennion has 
just been replaced by M. Laurent; and it is like a change of 
Ministry — familiar faces are gone, and the new masters are 
only just settling down. At long length, the right man is 
found, the papers of the chauffeur are shown, and the 
necessary pass is made out for two persons to go by road 
to Bordeaux at some time within the next month. Later in 
the day, all this effort proves to have been wasted, for sev- 
eral reasons, only one of which need be named here. The 
permit is made out for specified persons, a specified destina- 
tion, and a specified automobile. But it turns out that the 
large firm from whom our car is hired will not allow it to 
go further than Orleans; and that would cost a special fee — 
£20. But. Orleans is no better than Paris for our purpose. 
Very well, we can buy the car — £450. That may be necessary 
presently, but not at the present moment. 

Motoring being impossible within the military zone, we 
decide to run round the inner fortifications, that line of 
grassy hills which girdles Paris with a belt of playground 
thirty miles long. To reach the Porte de Versailles as a 
starting-place, after resting a little in the many-colored 
shades and the blessed coolth of Notre Dame, we have to 
cross the Latin Quarter. Poor, desolate Bohemia, where 
now are thy students of so many races scattered? A few 
bookshops are still bravely open, as, by the riverside near 
the Louvre, a few old-book merchants still keep their zinc 
boxes on the parapet, though they can sell nothing but 
ninps, and histories of the war of 1870. Science, art, let- 
ters, what are they when the nations rush into the gulf of 
war? Tell me not of compensations! And yet it is near 
here that Mile, de Roze, whose brother is one of the most 
daring of French aviators, has her home for poor work- 


men's children — for the Quartier is also a workmen's dis- 
trict, and this part of its desolation is the more painfully, 
if less aesthetically, interesting. Here there is no excitement 
of passing uniforms, no sunny vision of dainty midinettes, 
no boulevard glamor to relieve the tension of endless anx- 
iety. The Sorbonne glowers upon streets of shuttered 
shops. The workmen are on the battlefield ; the schools are 
closed; and Mile, de Roze — a modern saint in the manner 
of Jane Addams of Chicago — is trying to save a few of the 
little victims from the extremities of suffering. More than 
five hundred girls, she has already sent away to homes in 
the country ; others — among them, children of fugitives from 
the north — are kept here for the present. " I do not know 
how it happens," she says, with her serene smile, " but the 
550f. which I had at the beginning of the war are still in 
the bank. I begin to think le don Dieu wishes them to stop 
there. I'm only sorry a little that He does not increase 
them, for then I could do more." 

The Ecole Polytechnique is now a Red Cross hospital, 
under Mme. Messimy's particular care. As I walked 
through the roomy corridors and the quiet little garden I 
could not but regret that only officers enjoy the hospitality 
of this great establishment. One peculiarly sad case was 
pointed out to us — a man sitting under the trees with a 
companion. Some shock has affected his brain, and he has 
to be constantly watched lest he should commit suicide. 
There are, perhaps, more cases of mental injury in war-time 
now than of old. Some weeks ago, I heard of an officer 
who, before he had seen any fighting, suddenly went mad 
in the barrack-square, asked his men why they did not rush 
at the enemy, and then began firing his revolver at them. 
The story was told by one of the men, who received a shot 
in the leg. 

It is a strange scene along the long line of the old ram- 
parts, and at the numerous gates, of iron or stone, by which 
vehicles and foot passengers pass between the city and the 


suburbs. At each gate there is a real control of traffic, and 
a mild show of armament. That is to say, the roadway, 
except a central passage, has been blocked with small and 
leafy trees, and behind this screen shallow trenches have 
been dug. I imagine that the only intention is to stop the 
entrance of odd cavalry raiders who might conceivably get 
through the line of modern forts. There are no real forti- 
fications now along the lines of 1870, but only a continuous 
grassy mound, open to the roadway on the town side, and, 
on the other, supported by a wall perhaps 30 ft. deep. The 
lads and old men gather on the edge of the wall by the 
town gates, and watch the trench-digging, or gaze over to 
the aerodrome at Issy-les-Molineaux, or northward to see if 
another 5-o'clock raider is coming down the sky. The 
women sit in little groups about the grassy slope, bare- 
headed, with the delightful neatness, the indescribable air 
of competence, that characterize the Parisian women — never 
more than now, when they have to fend for themselves. 
And, while they sew and knit with a calm intentness, the 
children who are spared their cruel knowledge play inno- 
cently in the blazing sunshine. 

There are many barracks and some recruiting offices 
around the ramparts. Normally, it is a lost and happy by- 
way, aloof from the roar of the great city thoroughfares. 
Here and there are high buildings of flats where, for £50 a 
year, one may make a comfortable nest, with glimpses of 
country upon the horizon. Elsewhere, as at Auteuil, it is 
villadom and relative opulence. To-day all this green belt 
shows the strangest mixture of the ways of war and peace. 
There was something in the sight of those hundreds of 
women gravely knitting upon the grass grown redoubts of 
the last war that will never pass from my memory. At 
the Henri Martin Gate— where a stronger barrier was being 
built of thick planks pierced for riflemen's use — we turned 
inward to the Etoile and the wonderful vista of the Champs- 
Elys6es. There is no bustle of fashionable traffic now. 


The great hotels and most of the private mansions are 
closed. Some of the automobile houses have been con- 
verted into Red Cross work-rooms. No more the old flaneurs 
ogle the governesses in the shady walks by President Poin- 
care^'s abandoned palace. The Place de la Concorde is 
an echoing desert by day, and by night a pool of darkness 
broken only by the shifting arm of the searchlight on top 
of the Automobile Club. 

Up by the Madeleine, I saw a white-faced workwoman. 
So queenly she looked; and of a sudden the empty street 
was filled with the ghosts of her children. Why should I 
feel shame to mix my tears with the tears of France? 
" Madame," I would have said — but she had no eyes for 
me — " Madame, we have gone mad, we men. We have 
dreamed a mad dream, and we are punished. Save us from 
ourselves. Tame us. Help us to build better. Open our 
sight to the divine pity. Teach us that, in war or peace, 
gain is nothing, and only what we lose can give us a little 



(September 6-13) 

I. The Strategic Idea 

From Paris to Verdun, by the main-line through Chalons, 
is 174 miles; and, without including the connected opera- 
tions east of the Meuse, this figure gives us approximately 
the length of the line of that series of actions which, be- 
cause they were so closely articulated, and because it was 
there, or near there, that the chief decision was won, we 
may continue to call the Battle of the Maine. Four Ger- 
man armies, and part of a fifth (Von Hausen's), one British, 
and five French armies, were involved in this terrific en- 
counter — not much short of two millions of men, in all. 
It will be marked in history not only by these unprecedented 
dimensions, the magnitude of the stakes, and the propor- 
tionate horror of lives lost or maimed, but by the fact 
that, for a single week, the ponderous modern war-machine 
was subjected to a definite strategic idea. A running nar- 
rative, with incidental details, of the simultaneous struggles 
all across central France would effectually drown this gen- 
eral idea. We shall put it (or our conception of it) first, 
therefore; then sketch briefly its fulfillment in the western 
and the central portions of the field; and add afterwards 
several chapters of personal experience which may in some 
measure restore suffering humanity to its rightful place in 
the picture. 

The strategy is essentially, we may almost say exclu- 



sively, that of the French Commander-in-Chief, General 
Joffre. The governing ideas of the German camp — the 
" smashing blow " and the enveloping movement — were ex- 
hausted during the retreat from the Sambre; and so little 
was their place supplied by a new dominant idea that it is 
impossible, till the Great General Staff explains, to state pos- 
itively what was the objective Von Kluck and Von Biilow 
were pursuing when they reached their furthest south on the 
plateaux of Brie and Sezanne. The most probable supposi- 
tion is that — ignorant of the French reserves, and miscon- 
ceiving the morale of the Allied armies — they were aiming at 
a concentration midway between Verdun and Paris prelimi- 
nary to a serious attack upon the capital, and hoped mean- 
while to deliver the " smashing blow " at the French center, 
while the Metz army and the Crown Prince, together, were 
breaking through the fortified barrier of the Meuse. They 
had had the advantage, in their first onslaught, of preparation 
carried to a point that no other State had imagined. They 
were now beginning to pass the point to which this advan- 
tage carried, and to feel what it meant to have four dispa- 
rate Powers directly across their path. France had been un- 
prepared, many of her forts worthless. But Maubeuge re- 
sisted till September 7, thus keeping back the siege-pieces 
without which (at least) Paris could not be attempted. On 
September 1, the Austrian army suffered a crushing defeat ; 
two days later, Lemberg fell. Five or six army corps, in- 
cluding some of Von Hausen's, were at once hurried off to 
the eastern frontier — an act of nervousness which was pos- 
sibly confirmed by the aforesaid under-estimate of the resist- 
ing power of the retreating French and British armies. 
Before he reached Compiegne, Von Kluck knew better; but 
it was then just too late. Perhaps, the generals in the field 
were overruled by their political masters. 

Belgium continued to contribute to the confusion of the 
German plans during these critical days, despite terroristic 
penalties like the burning down of Termonde. The army 


made constant demonstrations toward Brussels ; and a more 
serious action took place, before Ghent on September 6. 
This city was surrendered two days later, largely out of re- 
gard for its ancient monuments. The troops of the victori- 
ous General von Boehn were then sent off to France; but 
they had to be called back again to deal with a sortie from 
Antwerp by which Alost, Aerschot, and Malines were re- 
taken, and Louvain and Brussels were threatened. After 
heavy losses on both sides, the Belgian army was driven into 
its refuge on the Scheldt, having again gravely retarded the 
southern flow of German re-enforcements. 

These were outside factors favorable to General Joffre's 
calculations. His plan, however, was quite independent of 
them, and of any adventitious aid (one adventitious element, 
in the shape of a violent rainstorm, did, as we shall see, 
materially aid it). It was the designed sequel to the plan 
of the great retreat, which was essentially a maneuver for 
advantage of position and numbers. Such advantages, of 
which we will speak directly, and the fighting qualities of 
French and British soldiers which he knew he could count 
upon, were to be used in a particular manner, that is to 
say, by a combination of the methods of the strategic re- 
serve and the flank assault. The former, a favorite French 
method, is only a larger, more emphatic form of the usual re- 
tention of a reserve behind the fighting line, and General 
Joffre's strategical reserve consisted of three different ele- 
ments : (1) The new 7th Army under General Foch, of which 
the German commanders could know nothing till they struck 
it, at the French center. (2) The presence of the 6th Army 
(Maunoury) between Paris and the Ourcq was known to 
Von Kluck before he passed across it to the Marue and 
beyond. But it was then strongly re-enforced from Paris. 
(3) The British army was known to Von Kluck, but sadly 
misconceived. It, also, was now re-enforced; and it may 
be said to have been used as a strategic reserve when, hav- 
ing been withdrawn to the Seine, and then brought back 



within the covering woods of Creey-en-Brie, it was suddenly 
unleashed upon Von Kluck's head columns. 

The flank assault is an obvious expedient, probably more 
dangerous in modern than in ancient circumstances be- 
cause, with its large numbers and delicate marching 
mechanism, the army of to-day cannot very easily turn its 
flank into a front. What was designed in the present case 
may be called a cumulative, or recurrent, flank assault. 
This may be illustrated by supposing, as in the accompany- 
ing diagram, four armies, E, F, G, H, to be meeting the 
attack of four other equal armies, A, B, C, D. If, in the 
first phase of the struggle, army A can by any means be 
disabled or removed, it should be possible for E, F, G, H to 
dispose of the three remaining opponents by a recurrent 

combination of flank and 
frontal attack. Thus, in the 
second phase (A having dis- 
appeared), E turns against 
the flank of B, which is front- 
ally held by F. B has, there- 
fore, to retreat; and, while E 
carries on the pursuit, F is 
able to turn against the flank 
of C, which is frontally held 
by G. C has now to fall back, 
with F in pursuit. Finally, G 
and H can deal in like manner 
with D, and, perhaps, turn the 
whole retirement into a rout. 
It is a powerful, but delicate, 
maneuver which can rarely be 
possible in modern conditions. 
With opponents of equal qual- 
ity, it requires a preponder- 
ance of total as well as of local 
"Recurrent Flank Attack." numbers (for army A is not 

t t t 

G H 



6 H 




G H 




_6 H 


to be abstracted by magic) ; and it asks for, if it does not 
positively require, advantages of total, as well as of local, 

All these advantages General Joffre had played for, and 
had won, by the retreat from Belgium to a line falling a 
little south of the great main road from Paris to Nancy. 

Tbe whole alignment of forces from Paris to Belfort was, 
on September 5, as follows : 

German Allies 

Army of Paris (Gallieni). 
1st Army (Von Kluck). 6th French Army (Maunoury). 

2nd Army (Von Btilow). British Force (Field-Marshal 

Saxon troops. 5th French Army (D'Esperey). 

4th Army (Duke of Wurtemberg) . 7th French Army (Foch). 
5th Army (Crown Prince of 4th French Army (De Langle de 
Prussia). Cary). 

Garrison of Metz. 3rd French Army (Sarrail). 

6th Army (Crown Prince of 

Bavaria). 2nd French Army (De Castelnau). 

7th Army (Von Heeringen). 
8th Army (Von Deimling). 1st French Army (Dubail). 

We are not immediately concerned with the position of 
the armies east of the Meuse; but it should be said that 
General von Deimling's force was only a detachment, and 
that the 1st French Army had also been reduced to very 
small proportions. Tbe Metz garrison is named because it 
undertook certain independent field operations. In the 
western and central field, the army of Paris took only a 
passive, though influential, part in the battle of the Marne. 
The army of Verdun, on the other hand, could give but a 
portion of its strength to tbe attack on the west. On the 
German side, we may now regard the remainder of Von 
Hausen's Saxon army as a detachment divided between the 
commands of General von Btilow and Duke Albrecht. Al- 
though no exact numerical comparison can be made, tbe 
Allies would seem to have bad a superiority about equal 


to that of their armies — 5-J to 4-|- (excluding Paris, counting 
the British Force as a full army, including only a half of the 
army of Verdun, and reckoning the Saxons as £). The 
greatest mass of forces, and of the Allied superiority, was 
gathered in the west. 

The long retreat was dictated primarily by the neces- 
sity of obtaining re-enforcements before the issue was de- 
cisively joined, and of gaining time for the general adapta- 
tion of the original plan of campaign to the exigencies of 
the unexpected attack from the north. But it gave im- 
portant advantages of position, also, both general and local. 
It did not actually shorten the front of the Allies: from 
Conde-on-Scheldt, through Charleroi and the southern 
Ardennes, to Verdun is about the same distance as from 
Paris to Verdun. But it brought that line very much 
nearer to the main bases of supply and re-enforcement; it 
may be said to have effected a concentration of national 
resources (beside which the lengthening of British com- 
munications was a small matter). On the other hand, it 
greatly prolonged the German lines, abstracting from the 
fighting ranks large numbers of men, and immensely aggra- 
vating the labor and anxiety of the road and base services. 
It brought the German armies on to ground which, with all 
their studies — and it was chiefly their studies of the terrain 
that saved them from a complete rout — the German com- 
manders could not know as well as the French. Coolly 
dangling the precious prize of Paris before the Teuton eye, 
it, in fact, presented a deadly choice : to assault a powerful 
position, with five armies free and unconquered beside it, 
and, in case of success, the task of managing two millions 
of enraged people; or to abandon Paris (and Western 
France with it) and pursue the said five armies on to the 
defensive ground they had themselves chosen. 

The most important advantage of position, therefore, was 
that it compelled the invaders either to stop the pursuit, or 
to enter a wide trouee in which they would have the army 



of Paris on one flank and the army of Verdun on the other. 
When, in parallel columns, they passed east of Paris and 
west of Verdun, a further portion of their strength would 
have to be abstracted to guard their wings and lines of 
communication. But for the excessive strain upon Verdun, 

The Defenses of Paeis. 

the pivot of the whole maneuver, the retreat might have 
been continued to or beyond the line of the Seine and Aube, 
with a more completely satisfactory result. As it was, 
General SarraiFs army, hanging round its fortified i*ing 
down into the Woevre on the east of the Meuse, and nearly 
to Bar-le-Duc on the west, was hard put to it to keep touch 
with the Government and the rest of the armies. This 
might have proved impossible, but for two things: the in- 
different talents of the Crown Prince of Prussia, and the 


obstruction offered to military operations between the plain 
of Champagne and the Meuse by the obstacle of the Argonne 
Forest. Coming through the Longwy gap, the Crown 
Prince had hardly a third the distance to travel that Von 
Kluck covered; and the Imperial father must have keenly 
felt his failure in a task of peculiar importance. His next 
colleague to the west, the Duke of Wiirtemberg, once free 
of the Ardennes, had a long southward march over flat 
plains, with few towns, roads, or railways to help his sup- 
plies. When General Foch's new army fell upon him, the 
difference between fresh, well-fed, and tired, ill-fed troops 
must have been very marked. In the western part of the 
field, the most important physical feature is the series of 
v:2stward-flowing rivers obstructing the route of the armies 
— the Oise, Ailette, Aisne, Ourcq, Marne, Petit Morin, 
Grand Morin, and Aubetin. 

Skeletonizing what occurred along the front of nearly 
180 miles during the second week in September, we may 
now, with the aid of the following diagram, state briefly 
the plan upon which General Joffre solved his problem, by a 
combination of the methods of the strategical reserve and 
the flank assault, with the various advantages described 
above. We have here four horizontal blocks, representing 
the successive phases of the whole battle; and there is one 
perpendicular division, marking off the battle of the Ourcq, 
the western region where the chief decision was obtained 
(to the left), from the remainder of the field. In the first 
phase, the 4J German armies are seen marching south be- 
tween the intrenched camps of Paris and Verdun. They 
have three French armies (5th, 7th, and 4th) immediately 
before them; while Maunoury's (6th) army covers Paris 
against Von Kluck, and Sarrail's (3rd) army strikes out 
from Verdun against the Crown Prince. General Joffre 
has prepared for the shock by placing an army of new 
troops (7th) at his center. He has kept a small reserve 
(E) behind the 6th Army, which is facing toward the river 


Ourcq, while Yon Kluck passes it south-westward, and 
crosses successively the Ourcq, Marne, Petit Morin, and 
Grand Morin. The British force has also been drawn 
momentarily into the background. Thus, Von Kluck (I) 
becomes engaged with Franchet d'Esperey (5) ; and the 
second phase opens. 

The French Gth Army is swung round against Von 
Kluck's right flank, on the Ourcq; while the British force, 
emerging from the CreYv woods, dashes at the more ad- 
vanced part of the long German line, and its fore-guard is 
disposed of by the left of the neighboring French army 
(D'EspCrey) . Von Kluck is badly outmatched ; but he fights 
desperately to avoid a rout. He first brings re enforcements 
from his rear, and with them endeavors to envelop by the 
north and to break the French flank attack on the Ourcq. 
He nearly succeeds; but Joffre fetches up, at the critical 
moment, the last part of his tactical reserve, the 4th Corps. 
In a final counter-effort to delay his fate, the German com- 
mander withdraws a corps from the British front, and 
flings it against the north end of the attack. But the 
French stand firm till the British come up. Von Kluck 
holds out long enough for his forward columns to turn 
north-eastward, and come abreast of his flank guard on the 
Ourcq : then it is a headlong flight of the whole army for 
the Aisne. 

The rest of the story is that of a wave-like repetition of 
the same maneuver — combined flank and frontal assault. 
The pursuit of the first German army being left in the 
main to the Gth French and the British armies, D'Espe'rey 
is free to turn north-eastward against the uncovered flank 
of Von Biilow (II), who is frontally faced by the left wing 
of the 7th Army (Foch). Taken on two sides, Von Biilow 
retires north, with D'Esperey at his heels (third phase) ; 
and Foch is now free, in his turn, to wheel north-east against 
the uncovered flank of the Saxons and Wiirtembergers, al- 
ready held by De Langle. This double attack compels their 

® B 

® . 









JL "Von duuow. 

S . SaxomTroops 

3Z". Duke of\Nurteiabe.rA . 

IT Crown Prince. 

(p) Paris. (Calueni) 
/f7\ Verouai (Sarrail) 


l^. Reserve to 6™ AvRMY 

6. Mmjnoury 

B. British. SirX French 

5. D'Esperey 

1 . Foe H . 

4. DeLkncle deCmv*. 
3. SkRRMl (Veroun^ 

Strategical Plan of the Battle of the Maene. 



retreat; and, in the last phase, the Crown Prince has to 
flee in like manner, before the 4th and 3rd armies, from the 
scene of some of his most miserable exploits. Paris is 
saved. Verdun and the line of the Meuse are saved. Still 
larger expectations are destined to disappointment. But 
the fame of Joffre as strategist and tactician is put beyond 

II. West Wing: Battle of the Ourcq 

The position on the left wing of the Allies on the morn- 
ing of September 5 was as follows: 

The defense of the districts to the west and north of 
Paris had been left to General Gallieni and the forts. 
Maunoury's (6th) army had been brought round to the 
north-east of the capital, between the suburbs and the 
woods of Chant'illy and Ermenonville ; and it had spent there 
a quiet day of preparation. Its left, the 7th Army Corps, 
under General Vaulthier, was at the village of Louvres, on 
the road and railway half-way to Senlis or Chantilly, and 
under cover of the guns of Fort Ecouen behind it. A 
Reserve corps, under General de Lamaze, lay immediately 
to the south-east, at Mesnil-Amelot; and, southward to the 
Marne about Lagny, territorial detachments kept up a loose 
contact with the British army. This had continued its re- 
tirement to the Seine on the 4th, evidently with the idea of 
tempting Von Kluck's advance guards to extend themselves 
to the south-east as far as possible without taking alarm. 
It was only on the morning of the 6th that Sir John 
French's force was brought back north to fill the gap be- 
tween the French 6th and 5th Armies. The latter, that of 
General Franchet d'Esperey, extended over the Brie plateau, 
with its center north of Provins, and its right at Esternay. 
Allenby's and Conneau's Cavalry Corps covered the gap be- 
tween French's right and D'Espe'rey's left, and made a show 
of resisting the German advance about Coulommiers. 

The German armies concerned in this part of the field 
were that of Von Kluck (1st) and a part of Von Billow's 



(2nd). The latter had come due south through Laon, Sois- 
sons, and Chateau-Thierry. Von Kluck's force, consisting 
of the 2nd, 4th Keserve, 4th, 3rd, and 7th Army Corps with 
the 2nd and 9th Divisions of cavalry, in its crescent-like 
detour, had gone, near Amiens, well to the west of Paris, 
and was now drawing in toward a point fifty miles east 
thereof — a very considerable deflection. The 2nd Corps pur- 


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Battle of the Ourcq. 

French Qth Army (black) : 7th Corps, positions on September 6th and 9th ; 

Lamaze's Reserve Corps, position September 6th to 9th ; 4th Corps, 

September 9th. 
German 1st Army (shaded) : 2nd Corps, September 6th : 4th Reserve Corps, 

September 7th to 9th ; 9th Cavalry Div., September 7th ; Landwehr, 

September 9th. 
British advance toward the Ourcq and Chateau Thierry. 


sued the main road from Creil to Meaux, through Senlis 
and Nanteuil-le-Haudouin; the 4th Reserve that from Com- 
piegne through Crepy-en-Valois. The whole, or the greater 
part, of these were left on the Ourcq; while the 4th, 3rd, and 
7th Corps, coming south mainly through Villers-Cotterets 
and Chateau-Thierry, went on across the Marne in pursuit 
of General d'Esperey, with the two cavalry divisions on 
their right. The furthest point reached by Von Kluck's 
advance guard, on September 6, was the little village of 
Courchamp, just north of Provins — thirty miles south-east 
of Meaux, and sixty miles south-south-east of Compiegne. 
To the east of Von Kluck, the four corps (9th, 10th, 10th 
Reserve, and Guards) of Von Biilow were aiming at 
D'Esperey's right and the newly constituted French 7th 
Army under General Foch. 

The statement of these positions indicates the nature of 
the counter-stroke the Allies were now able to deliver. 
When Sir John French went to General Joffre's headquar- 
ters at Clave, on the road from Paris to Meaux, on Satur- 
day, September 5, the general strategic idea was so evident 
and simple a deduction from the positions and balance of 
forces that everyone must have been feverishly anxious 
lest the wonderful opportunity should be snatched away 
at the last moment. Von Kluck's main body was to be 
caught in the angle of the Ourcq and Marne by means of 
the strategical reserve, and struck at once in flank and 
face, while the fore-part of his line was being crumpled 
up thirty miles away on the Brie plateau. If he should 
retreat eastward, he would upset Von Billow's ranks; if due 
north, he would draw Von Biilow with him. In either case, 
the intended concentration of attack upon the French center 
would be checked, and the benefit would extend to the 
other armies. The French troops went into this momentous 
action with the words of the following pointed ordre dtt jour 
by the Generalissimo ringing in their ears : " At the 
moment of the opening of a battle upon which the safety 


of the country depends, it must be recalled to every man 
that this is no time to look backward. All efforts must be 
made to attack and repel the enemy. A troop which can no 
longer advance must, at whatever cost, hold the ground 
won, and let itself be killed on the spot rather than retreat. 
In the present circumstances, no failing can be tolerated." 

On Sunday, the 6th, General Maunoury began his attempt 
to turn the German right rear; while the British and the 
French 5th, 7th, and 4th armies faced round against the 
front of their various pursuers, and the 3rd Army attacked 
westward from Verdun. First, on the extreme left, Gen- 
eral Lamaze advanced his Reserve Corps from Mesnil- 
Amelot to the line of the narrow-gauge railway on the hills 
above Meaux. Here he came upon the German 4th Reserve 
Corps, posted on the heights above the villages of Montge, 
Cuisy, Monthyon, and Iverny. One by one, these points were 
taken; and, at night, the French had reached the villages 
of Chambry, Barcy, and Mareilly, directly north of Meaux. 
The 7th Corps, under General Vauthier, had advanced to 
Lamaze's left, and, by evening, continued the front north- 
eastward from Puisieux, through Acy-en-Multien, to Eta- 
vigny, pushing back the outposts of the German 2nd Corps 
on the west side of the Ourcq. 

During the morning, the British force, now strength- 
ened to five divisions, with five cavalry brigades, advanced 
from the Seine to positions between Villeneuve-le-Comte 
and Jouy-le-Chatel (on the road from Lagny to Provins), 
where it was more or less concealed by the forest of Crecy. 
In the afternoon, it moved rapidly forward to the north- 
east, sweeping through the cavalry which covered Von 
Kluck's flank; and during the night, after several hours' 
fighting in the streets, its center was established in the 
market-town of Coulommiers. The German commander 
now knew that his army was in danger of being cut in 
two, divided from its line of communications, and extin- 
guished piecemeal. He could not save everything; that he 


saved so much is proof of great skill and energy, and a re- 
markable courage and endurance in his exhausted troops. 
His reply to the threat was to draw back in a north-easterly 
direction, toward Chateau-Thierry, the three forward corps 
which were at grips with the British and 5th French 
Armies, and to strengthen the stand of the 2nd and 4th 
Reserve Corps against the attack amid the watercourses 
of the Ourcq-Marne angle. Unfortunately for them, the 
Germans on the Ourcq could not make a double front — west- 
ward against Maunoury, and southward against the advanc- 
ing British. 

On the morning of September 7, Maunoury at first made 
further progress toward the Ourcq. Then the German 4th 
Reserve Corps advanced, and intrenched itself between 
Trocy and Vareddes. Its right was supported by the 2nd 
Corps, the two facing west over the rolling fields, with the 
wooded ravine of the Ourcq behind them, and the hill run- 
ning down to Meaux on their left. Later in the day, the 
German 9th Cavalry Division, withdrawn from the British 
front, was brought back over the Marne, and, through 
Lizy-sur-Ourcq, round toward Betz. The French north 
wing was thus seriously menaced. The 7th Corps was dis- 
lodged from Acy by an attack of the German 2nd Corps; 
and, at nightfall, its exposed left was threatened at Eta- 
vigny. The fighting continued through the night; and, on 
the 8th, while Lamaze's Reserve Corps maintained its posi- 
tions, the 7th Corps was compelled to fall back to Bouil- 
lancy and Villers-St. Genest. The German artillery was 
in great strength; destroyed villages and fields torn with 
shell-fire marked the fierceness of the struggle. 

While the success of the first phase of General Joffre's 
maneuver was thus in doubt, the second phase opened 
in the next area to the east. On September 7, the British 
force strode on from Coulommiers, its left toward the 
Marne, its right toward the Petit Morin, General de Lisle's 
Cavalry Brigade, with the 9th Lancers and 18th Hussars, 



showing especial vigor. In covering the German retreat, 
the 2nd, 9th, and Guard Cavalry Divisions were severely- 
punished. The German retirement on this side opened to 
attack the right flank of the advanced neighboring force. 
This was the opportunity of the French 5th Army. Swing- 
ing his left forward over the Brie plateau, D'Espe'rey 
reached the Grand Morin, at La Ferte Gaucher and Ester- 
nay, on the 7th; and on the 8th, supported by the British 
offensive, he drove forward to the Petit Morin. 

D'Esperey's attack was now quickly turned against the 
open flank of Von Biilow; and the 2nd German Army, 
driven frontally by the 7th French, was quickly retreating 
beside the 1st. Thus, as we shall see, General Foch, at the 
French center, was enabled to carry on the general move- 

On the west, the progress of the British force was main- 


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The Battle of the Makne. 

German Armies: I, Von Kluck ; II, Von Biilow; S, Saxons; IV, Duke of Wiir- 

Allies: 6th French Army (Maunoury) ; B, British (Sir J. French) ; 5th French 

Army (D'Esp6rey) ; 7th (Foch) ; 4th (De Langle de Cary). 


tained throughout the Sth, against stout opposition by 
the enemy rear-guards on the Petit Morin. " The First 
Army Corps," wrote Sir John French, " encountered stub- 
born resistance at La Tretoire, north of Rebais. The enemy 
occupied a strong position, with infantry and guns, on the 
northern bank of the river; they were dislodged with con- 
siderable loss. Several machine-guns and many prisoners 
were captured, and upward of two hundred German dead 
were left on the ground. The forcing of the Petit Morin 
at this point was much assisted by the cavalry and the 1st 
Division, which crossed higher up the stream. Later in 
the day, a counter-attack by the enemy was repulsed by 
the 1st Army Corps, a great many prisoners and some 
guns again falling into our hands. On this day, the 2nd 
Army Corps encountered considerable opposition, but drove 
back the enemy at all points with great loss, making con- 
siderable captures. The 3rd Corps also drove back large 
bodies of infantry and made some captures." 

The French on the Ourcq were now, however, very hard 
pressed, their attempt to break the German flank being 
completely arrested. The crisis of the battle on the Allied 
left was reached on the fourth day, September 9, when 
masterly handling of the situation on Von Kluck's flank 
and front (or rear, as it was becoming) decided the issue. 
The morning of that day found the French 6th Army in 
great difficulties. The moment had come for General Joffre 
to play his trump, which was also near being his last, card. 
An army corps (the 4th) of troops from the west had been 
gathered under General Boelle, and rushed up from Paris 
by railw-ay, and by a great fleet of taxicabs and miscel- 
laneous automobiles hurriedly requisitioned by General 
Gallieni, to Nanteuil — save one division, sent to the aid of 
the British. Von Kluck had also strongly re-enforced his 
flank guard on the Ourcq; and the new arrivals, including 
a corps of Landwehr, coming up by way of Compiegne, were 
thrown round the north end of the French lines. While 


the 4th French Corps held out at this side, just south of 
Nanteuil facing north, the 7th Corps and Lamaze's Corps, 
facing east, stood firm through Bregy and Barcy until, in 
the evening, the British advance from the south brought 
decisive relief. 

Sir John French had placed his 3rd Corps at the difficult 
point on his left center — difficult because the narrow street- 
crossing of the Marne at La Ferte'-sous-Jouarre was reso- 
lutely held by a strong rear-guard of artillery and infantry. 
This passage of the river was not won till night. By that 
time, part of the 3rd Corps had got across further west 
at the village of Changis, and had begun to bombard the 
nearer German positions on the Ourcq. The 1st and 2nd 
Corps gained the north bank to the east at Charly and 
Chateau-Thierry and, continuing their progress, threatened 
to cut in between Von Kluck's and Von Billow's lines. 
" During the day's pursuit," says the British commander, 
" the enemy suffered heavy losses in killed and wounded, 
some hundreds of prisoners fell into our hands, and a 
battery of eight machine-guns was captured by the 2nd 
Division." At Chateau-Thierry, the British were in close 
contact with General d'Espe"rey's left, which had cleared 
the road from Montmirail, " after most serious fighting," 
of bodies from both the 1st and 2nd German Armies. 

During the night of September 9, the German retreat 
from the Ourcq to the Aisne began. There was no longer 
any reason to hold this line, since the main armies were 
in full retreat; and there was every reason to hurry back 
beyond the Aisne to what is one of the strongest natural 
defensive positions in France. There was no possibility 
of an immediate resumption of the offensive. The troops 
were thoroughly exhausted by three weeks of uninterrupted 
marching and fighting. Lines of communication, supply, 
and re-enforcement must be re-formed. The " smashing 
blow " had not been delivered ; the famous enveloping move- 
ment had failed; a new plan of campaign must be thought 


out. Russia was demanding more and more attention; 
Austria-Hungary must be helped, or disaster might ensue. 
Verdun and Nancy had proved invulnerable. For the mo- 
ment, at least, there was nothing for it but a simple de- 
fensive; and, for that, what better center could there be 
than the Laon Mountains? On the morning of September 
10, the retreat from the Ourcq was undisguised. The red 
tide of battle ebbed from the stubble-fields and coppices 
on the hills above Meaux; but burning farmsteads and 
haystacks, broken bridges, shattered churches and houses, 
many unburied dead, and piles of abandoned ammunition 
and supplies still spoke of the frightful frenzy that had 
passed over a scene but lately marked by quiet charm and 
happy labor. In the orchards and folds of the open land, 
the bodies of invader and defender lay over against each 
other, sometimes still grappling. Every here and there, 
horses rotted on the roads and fields, presently to be 
burned on pyres of wood, under fear of a pestilence arising. 
The human victims had been generally buried in the trenches 
where they had fought; little wooden crosses sometimes 
marked these great common graves. 

On September 10, General Joffre addressed to his Gth 
Army a message of congratulation and thanks in which he 
said: "The struggle has been hard; the losses under fire, 
and from fatigue due to lack of sleep, and sometimes of 
food, have surpassed what could be anticipated; you have 
borne it all with a valor, firmness, and endurance that words 
are powerless to glorify as they deserve. Comrades! the 
Commander-in-Chief asked you, in the name of our country, 
to do more than your duty: you have responded even be- 
yond what seemed possible. Thanks to you, victory crowns 
our flags. Now that you know the glorious satisfaction of 
it, you will not let it slip away. As for me, if I have done 
some good, I have been repaid by the greatest honor that 
has been granted me in a long career: that of commanding 
such men as you." 


Some of Von Kluck's columns went due northward 
through Villers-Cotterets and Pierrefonds to Vic-sur-Aisne 
and Attichy. For several days, there was much scattered 
fighting on their west flank, in the wooded district between 
Dammartin and Senlis. It was hardly realized by the 
Allies that the enemy was not so badly beaten as to forget 
the importance of holding, about Noyon, his main line of 
railway communications. The main body of the two first 
German armies raced north-eastward, through La Ferte"- 
Milon or Oulchy-le-Chateau, to Soissons, spreading out 
thence to right and left over the hillsides; or through 
Braisne and Fismes (on the Vesle) to Vailly and the Cra- 
onne plateau. The chase was hard, fast, and bloody. In 
one day, the British 1st and 2nd Corps and cavalry took 
thirteen guns, seven machine-guns, about 2,000 prisoners, 
and quantities of transport. The Royal Flying Corps did 
invaluable service, as General Joffre testified in a special 
message to Sir John French. In the woods north of 
Chateau-Thierry and around Villers-Cotterets, small parties 
of desperate Germans fled and hid themselves, in hope of 
reaching their fellows under cover of night. Many, no 
doubt, succeeded in doing so; others were hunted down, or 
came out and surrendered in a half-starving condition. 

The spoil brought into Paris during the next few days 
from different parts of the vast battlefield included 60 
cannon, 30 mitrailleuses, about 40 gun-carriages, train- 
loads of arms, ammunition, and other material, three aero- 
planes, and a number of motor-wagons. But the spectacle 
of booty, always fallacious, was in this case peculiarly so. 
The main body of the German host was intact. It was 
checked, but not routed; driven back, but not dispersed. 
The skill and speed of the retreat were very remarkable; 
and still more so was the preservation of the long German 
line, to the other parts of which we must now turn. 


III. Center: The Retreat in Champagne. 

It will be convenient to consider this section of the field 
in three parts: (a) The western, bounded on the west by a 
line running due north from Esternay on the Grand Morin, 
through Dormans on the Maine, aud Fismes on the Vesle, 
to Berry-au-Bac on the Aisne; and on the east by a line 
drawn northward just beyond Fere-Ckampenoise, Epernay, 
and Rheiras. The southern portion of this area is the 
plateau of Sezanne, which falls abruptly on the east into 
the plain of Champagne; its chief physical feature, for our 
present purpose, has been mentioned : the half-reclaimed 
marsbland from which the Petit Morin rises, known as the 
Marais de Saint Gond. The northern portion contains the 
great city of Rheims, and, on either side of it, the eastern 
end of the Laon Mountains, at Craonne, and the wooded 
massif called the Mountain of Rheims, both, like the Sezanne 
plateau, falling abruptly on the east into the bare flatland 
called La Champagne Pouilleuse. Here the 7th French Army, 
under General Foch, faced the left of Von Billow's army, 
including the Prussian Guard, and some fragments of the 
Saxon army lately under Von Hausen. (6) The plain of 
Champagne extending northwards from Vitry-la-Frangois 
through Chalons, to the river Suippe. Here General de 
Langle de Gary faced the army of the Duke of Wiirtem- 
berg. (c) The eastern area, consisting of the sub-alpine 
Argonne Forest and the hill region about the west bank of 
the Meuse, including its great fortress Verdun only so far 
as operations on the west are concerned. Here, with some 
help from General Sarrail, the left of the 4th French Army, 
had to meet the attack of the Duke of Wiirtemberg's army, 
to which most of the remaining Saxon troops were appended, 
while its right coped with that of the Prussian Crown 

(a) Foch had instructions to maintain the defensive until 
the result of the first phase of the battle of the Marne was 



declared ; and, based upon the Esternay-Vitry highroad and 
railway, between Sezanne and Mailly (just south of Som- 
mesous), he fought for three days an obstinate defensive 
action against Von Billow's left wing and some of the 
Saxon troops. It is difficult to see how a piercing of the 

The Centek: Scene of Foch's Success. 

French line at this point would have redeemed the German 
position, though it would, of course, have encouraged new 
efforts. At any rate, Von Biilow spared no sacrifice; and 
on September 8 the right of the new French army was 
pressed back as far as the village of Gourgangon. Early 
on the following morning it fell back a mile or two further, 
the attacking forces coming on from both sides of Fere- 
Champenoise. They consisted, in the main, of picked 
troops. The Prussian Guard Corps, 30,000 strong, with 75 
cannon and 200 machine-guns, had hurried south, chiefly by 
the two highroads which run from Eheims to Se'zanne and 
Fere-Champenoise, but necessarily, also, by lesser interme- 


diate country roads. Of the latter, several cross the St. 
Gond marshes between St. Frix and Morains. Being 
checked, between St. Prix and Sezanne, and finding here 
a firm clay surface under the long grass, the Guards dug 
trenches and placed their guns. The position on the morn- 
ing of September 9 was this : on the west, General Franchet 
d'Esperey had reached Montmirail (13 miles north-west of 
Sezanne) on the previous day. The right flank of the 
Guards was thus completely exposed, while the German 
left was extended to the south-east of Fere-Champenoise. 
Foch immediately saw and took advantage of the weakness 
of the position. First his Moorish Division was sent charg- 
ing up the Sezanne-St. Prix road ; and in the evening his 
left army corps followed. This bold assault at once re- 
lieved the pressure on the right, which joined in the offen- 
sive. And now there happened one of those historic 
" accidents " as we call them, or " miracles " as the ancients 
would have said confidently, because of the abnormality 
of result. We had had several showery days at the end of 
August and the beginning of September. That Wednesday 
evening, it blew a half-gale, and poured cats-and-dogs, along 
the Marne Valley and the Sezanne plateau. The clay pocket 
of St. Gond immediately became a quagmire; and, when 
Foch came down on their flank, by the solid main roads, 
the gunners were up to their knees, and their gun-carriages 
up to the axles, in muddy water. A fearful slaughter by 
the French " 75's " and larger guns followed, in which 
thousands of the picked German troops were overwhelmed. 
A week after the battle, peasants crossing the marshy roads 
found wounded men still alive amid their dead fellows. 
The horror of the scene is not to be described. 

Joffre and Foch knew, of course — did they remember, 
when they planned their victory? — that this was an ancient 
death-trap? Nearly all the place-names of the battle of the 
Marne of 1914 are to be found in the histories of Napoleon's 
campaign of 1814 " from the Rhine to Fontainebleau," as 


Segur called it. Bliicher retreated from the Ourcq to Sois- 
sons, and there escaped, to the enragement of a greater 
than Joffre; and both the French and the Allies of a cen- 
tury ago learned to their cost the treachery of the Petit 
Morin marshes. It was shown in the beginning of that 
extraordinary week in which Napoleon, against overwhelm- 
ing numbers, won the victories of Champaubert, Montmi- 
rail, Chateau-Thierry, and Vauchamp. The name still 
survives, though little else, between the villages of Fromen- 
tieres and Champaubert, of the Bois du Desert, into which 
Bliicher beat his retreat, not knowing its boggy character. 
Three thousand Russian grenadiers were here slain or cap- 
tured by Marmont's cuirassiers ; two hundred were drowned 
in the marshes; and fifteen hundred more gave themselves 
up to the peasants. A few days afterward Bliicher, Kleist, 
Kapsewicz, and Prince Augustus of Prussia themselves nar- 
rowly escaped capture in the neighboring woods of Etoges. 
A month later, " Marshal Vorwaerts " was back from Laon, 
attacking on the old ground as though memory brought no 
fears to him. Marmont and Mortier were in full retreat 
along the highroad to Fere-Champenoise, their men 
harassed on every side, and blinded by a storm of rain. 
Pachod turned north to the marshes of St. Gond, as to a 
refuge. The Russians and Prussians soon surrounded them 
— 40,000 cavalry and 80 guns, against 2,000 soldiers of the 
line and 4,000 National Guards. The Emperor Alexander 
directed his own troops. A few hundreds only of the French 
escaped by the St. Prix road. " Splendid misfortune ! " ex- 
claims Segur. " Guards truly National ! Noble victims ! 
In what monument will the Fatherland offer to your de- 
scendants the memory of a devotion more sublime? " 

The great stone column in the fields at Champaubert — 
which the Prussians of our day passed, but did not touch 
— commemorates, in fact, Napoleon's victories, not any 
" splendid misfortune " of his victim subjects. So it will 
ever be while men pursue this maniacal vision of armed 


conquest. To-day, with a little difference, history repeats 
itself; and the bones of some thousands of German and 
French peasants and workmen rot, as the bones of other 
thousands of their forbears rotted a hundred years ago, in 
the bogs of the Sezanne plateau, while we discuss the 
butchery as though it were a move in a game of chess. 

(6) Meanwhile, on Foclrs right, the Duke of Wurtem- 
berg's army was in a hardly less grave predicament. It 
had reached further south than its neighbors, beyond Vitry; 
but the Saxon troops on its west wing were a very weak 
element. Foch's right had been engaged with them for two 
days when the Prussian Guard, perhaps to relieve them, 
entered the St. Gond marshes. The little town of Fere- 
Champenoise and the village of Sommesous (source of the 
Somme), between which the hardest fighting took place, 
have a certain military interest as road and railway junc- 
tions on the great Paris-Nancy highway, with lines from 
Troyes and the south running through the former to Eper- 
nay, through the latter to Chalons. Vitry-le-Francois, an 
ancient and once fortified town of 9,000 inhabitants, on the 
Marne and the Rhine-Marne Canal, is a more important 
place. Here the Duke of Wurtemberg had his headquarters, 
and good road communication with those of the Crown 
Prince at Ste. Menehould, the gate of the Argonne. The 
4th French Army (De Langle de Cary) lost Vitry on Sep- 
tember 6, but resisted continually, and kept touch w T ith the 
south-western end, now most dangerously extended, of the 
army of Verdun. Repeated assaults were made upon the 
Wurtemberg positions, as well as upon those of the Crown 
Prince, whose men (if we may judge by results) were 
largely occupied in sacking the villages around Revigny. 
There are indications that the French artillery was particu- 
larly powerful, and that these German armies were expe- 
riencing, as would seem natural, difficulty in bringing up 
supplies. That they realized the critical character of the 
next actions is testified by an army order issued in Vitry 


on the night of September 7, and signed by Lieutenant-Gen- 
eral Tiilff von Tschepe und Weidenbach : " The object of our 
long, hard marches has been attained. The chief French 
troops have been forced to accept battle after their con- 
tinual retreat. The great decision is at hand. ... I ex- 
pect every officer and man, notwithstanding the hard and 
heroic fighting of the last few days, to do his duty unswerv- 
ingly and to the last breath. Everything depends on the 
result of to-morrow." 

The words echo those of General Joffre: the difference — 
and it is vital — lies in the dates. It is the difference of the 
two days in which the first two German armies had been 
turned back. The center had discovered the crisis two days 
late. It was dangerously late when, on the morning of 
September 10, General Foch was driving the remnants of 
Von Billow's best troops like chaff before him along the 
roads from Sezanne and Fere-Champenoise which converge 
at Rheims. This victory was so swift and complete that it 
left strength for another bold operation ; and Foch immedi- 
ately threw a large body eastward over the edge of the 
Sezanne plateau against the flank of the Wtirtemberg army, 
now weakened by the withdrawal of the exhausted Saxon 
regiments. On the same day, De Langle de Cary was re-en- 
forced by an army corps, and took the offensive. Perhaps 
Duke Albrecht had by now received orders to fall back to 
the line of the Aisne, parallel with Yon Bulow and Von 
Kluck; he should certainly know that Von Billow's army 
was already retreating far to the north-west. There was, 
in fact, no time to win a victory, even if he had power to 
do so, for in a few hours the northern roads would be cut 
off. To check the immediate threat, a bloody struggle was 
maintained throughout the day, between Fere-Champe- 
noise and the Marne; during the night, the men were with- 
drawn from their trenches, and started upon a forced march 
over the plains to the Suippes Valley, fifty miles north of 


At 7 a.m. on September 12, a patrol of French Chasseurs 
re-entered Chalons, and during the morning General Foch 
followed. The town had been held since the afternoon of 
September 4, under General von Seydewitz, who took sev- 
eral leading citizens as hostages, and extorted, in addition 
to daily rations for his troops, a war contribution of 506,000 
francs (about £20,000). During the week, there was a good 
deal of pillaging of shops and houses ; but no part of the city 
was destroyed, and the acting-mayor afterward testified that 
there had been no acts of violence against women. Von 
Billow's troops had all reached Epernay on September 9, 
10, and 11, and had retired on the latter day to the north 
of Rheims, which was then reoccupied by the French. The 
later German fugitives at Chalons, therefore, must all have 
gone north-eastward to Suippes, and to the railway line run- 
ning across the plain of Champagne from Bazancourt to 
the northern end of the Argonne at Grand Pre and 
Varennes. In this region they soon dug themselves in as 
securely as did Von Kluck and Von Btilow in the more 
favorable ground to the west. 

(c) The Crown Prince's army entered the small town of 
Revigny, on the river Ornain, twenty miles south of Ste. 
Menehould, twenty-five miles west of the Meuse at St. 
Mihiel, and thirty miles south-west of Verdun, on Septem- 
ber 6. It was a dangerous position, between the army of 
Verdun and the garrison of Toul on the east, and De Langle 
de Cary's army on the west, with a frail line of communica- 
tions behind interrupted by the forest block of the Ar- 
gonne. But how tempting for a bold and able soldier! 

Sitting behind the veil of the censorship in Paris, the 
eastern danger seemed to me so plain that it must dominate 
the German plan of campaign. " As, at the beginning of 
the war" (I wrote on September 7), " we had our eyes too 
closely fixed on the eastern frontiers, so, more lately, we 
have thought almost exclusively of the north-west of France 
and the long line of communications round Brussels to Aix- 


la-Chapelle. Next, the possibility of a siege of Paris hyp- 
notized us ; and the German advance seemed to shape itself 
as a wedge, a triangle with its base reaching from Lille to 
Sedan, and its sides compressed inward till they met at an 
apex just northward of Paris — the objective of the whole 
movement. Little was known of what was going on out- 
side this imaginary triangle, except that there were few 
Germans to the west (the Dieppe-Paris trains have never 
stopped) and that, far to the east, what we may call the 
armies of Nancy and Metz were engaged in a vast deadlock. 
Such was the conception. It flattered us. It was a wrong 
conception. . . . An incidental aim (of Von Kluck's turn 
south-eastward) may be to reach the southern and somewhat 
less fortified side of Paris. But I think the whole idea is 
something much larger and bolder. Let us ask what are 
the chief necessities of an army situated as this now is? 
They are (1) to get out of reach of the Belgians now wait- 
ing in Antwerp, (2) to keep as far away as possible from 
the ever-increasing British contingents, (3) to immobilize 
the army of Paris, (4) to reduce the long line of communi- 
cations and recover direct touch with the Rhineland, (5) 
while accomplishing these ends, if possible to smash the 
other French armies, and then (6) when the German armies 
are united, to march toward either Berlin or Paris, as cir- 
cumstances direct. The avoidance of Paris and the double 
concentration toward the south-east appear to meet the 
requirements of this analysis. The army which has come 
south from Mons and Charleroi will presently join the 
other army or armies coming from the Ardennes and Lux- 
emburg. But this junction will mean that there is no 
longer a German army isolated in the west, with an intol- 
erable train behind it, but only a still stronger army in the 
east having a direct line to its bases in Luxemburg and the 
Middle Rhine. This immense strategical overturn may in- 
volve the abandonment of Belgium and northern France by 
the Germans. In revenge, it immediately threatens the 


French armies before the Vosges with a rear attack. If 
they resist, they must fight on two fronts. If they fall back 
to the south-west, as would seem probable, the German hosts 
will join hands, and a new war will begin." 

We shall see presently that, at this critical moment, the 
French line of the Meuse was very near being pierced, by 
the fall of Fort Troyon; and it is highly probable that, if 
the Crown Prince had been an abler and more daring com- 
mander, it might have been broken through, Verdun com- 
pletely invested, the French army of Lorraine compelled to 
retire south, and the whole complexion of the campaign 
changed. Instead, his men were burning down and pillag- 
ing the small towns and villages between Vitry and Bar-le- 
Duc, in the intervals of assault by De Langle de Cary and 
Sarrail. Not that the power of these attacks can be depre- 
ciated. There was a four-days' battle near Triaucourt on 
September 4-8; and, just south of Revigny, hard fighting 
took place, from Sermaize on the west through Vassincourt 
to Mogneville, on the 10th. The retirement northward then 
began, the last German troops leaving Revigny on Septem- 
ber 12. The strategical importance of the Argonne now 
declared itself, as it had not done when the Crown Prince 
had only retreating armies before him, and when he held 
the southern as well as the northern roads round this 
region, and the rare roads through it. 

Counting from the Gap of Grand Pre on the north to the 
Villers-Triaucourt road on the south, the Argonne stretches 
twenty-three miles nearly north-to-south (the portion be- 
yond Grand Pre, and the woods of Belval and Belnoue near 
Triaucourt, we need not now consider). This range of 
thickly forested clay hills constitutes an important ob- 
stacle, secondary to the Heights of the Meuse, to an invasion 
of France from the east; and, though it does not equally 
obstruct invasion from the north — its average width being 
only six miles — it compels the invader either to neglect the 
plain eastward toward the Meuse, or to divide his forces. 



2 3 4 5 

When the German retreat began, the French at once re- 
sumed possession of the Triaucourt road to the Meuse; but 
the great highway from Paris to Verdun was still beyond 
them. The Germans not only held the Gap of Grand Pr6, 
where the Aire, coming up the east side of the Argonne, 

joins the Aisne, 
coming up its 
west side, and 
where two lines 
of railway 
unite after 
crossing Cham- 
pagne from 
the Rheiras- 
R e t h e 1 main- 
line. They held 
also the direct 
Paris - Verdun 
highroad and 
railway, which 
penetrate the 
Argonne by 
the defile of 
L e s Islettes, 
and the only 
two other prac- 
ticable roads 
across the For- 
e s t ( between 
V i 1 1 e - s u r - 
Tourbe and Va- 
rennes), the im- 
portance of 
which was to 
appear later in 
the campaign. 

The Argonne. 


The western entry to the defile of Les Islettes is at the small, 
ancient town of Ste. Menehould ; the eastern is at Clermont- 
en-Argonne. Whether the Crown Prince's chief instructions 
were to advance south, or to attack Verdun, we do not know. 
But his headquarters at Ste. Menehould were just equidistant 
from Verdun, which he never attained, and the villages near 
Revigny, which he left in ruins. 

When the retreat of the western German armies to the 
Aisne was determined, we must suppose the consequential 
movement in Champagne and the Argonne to have been 
carefully considered. Could a line sloping slightly south- 
ward beyond Rheims, along the Suippes Valley, to the Les 
Islettes ravine, be held — the main road from Rheims to Ste. 
Menehould? Only so could the western attack upon Ver- 
dun be maintained. But Rheims, in French hands, would 
have made a dangerous salient, and Ste. Menehould would 
have been open to attack from west, south, and east at 
once. The decision was to draw the armies of the Duke of 
Wurtemberg and the Crown Prince back to a line running 
from Berry-au-Bac to the Aisne, through Souain, Ville-sur- 
Tourbe, and Varenne, to the district north of Verdun. Here 
they would have behind them the two railways which unite 
to run through the Gap of Grand Pre. But the hope of 
reducing Verdun, or of breaking through the chain of the 
Meuse forts, was abandoned — perhaps, the most momentous 
of all the results of the battle of the Marne. The Crown 
Prince pitched his tent on the feudal eyrie of MontfauQon. 
General Sarrail picked up his direct communications with 
Paris, drew in his western wing, and faced round to Metz. 
On this side of France, at least, the worst days were over. 

Thus, all along the line of 170 miles, the battle of the 
Marne was a success for the Allies. The offensive of Mau- 
noury and Sir John French, on September G, almost imme- 
diately determined Von Kluck's retreat, though he defended 
his flank on the Ourcq till the night of the 9th. By that 
time, D'Esperey was at Montmirail, and Foch's offensive 


was beginning. On the night of the 10th, the retirement of 
the Wiirtembergers began; and two days later the Imperial 
Crown Prince followed. As a French official statement 
says : " Each army, opening the road to its neighbor, and 
at the same time supported by it, took in flank the adver- 
sary which the day before it had attacked in front." Thus, 
the whole victory was due chiefly to the strategical idea 
upon which the recoil was planned. This conclusion de- 
stroys the belief, with which I approached the subject, that, 
in modern warfare, any bold, large strategy had become im- 
possible ; but the facts do not seem open to any other inter- 
pretation than that given above. Only in one other episode 
did the western campaign of 1914 show any considerable 
accomplishment of strategy — the defeat of Lanrezac's army 
on the Sambre by the combined northern and eastern attack. 
Joffre's feat, however, is incomparably the greater of the 
two, and entitles him to lasting fame in the sphere of mili- 
tary art. 



Gagny. east of Paris, Monday Night, September 7. 

I have spent a day of crowded and thrilling interest with 
the rear columns of the most westerly of the armies that 
are at this moment engaged in meeting the German at- 
tempt to break through by the south-east into the heart of 

In this little town, the broken remains of several French 
regiments were resting and re-forming after the retreat from 
Belgium. We went eastward through Gagny, and returned, 
after a long detour, to-night. A vast change had happened 
during the day. In the morning, the town was pretty full 
of men of the 103rd and 104th Infantry. Many of them 
were in possession of the cafes of the town, inside and out- 
side of them ; others lay in siesta on the grass in the gardens 
of the villas. The elementary school playground formed a 
little camp, with pyramids of rifles stacked up one side, 
knapsacks lying about in piles, and a barber busy by the 
doorway. Several soldiers sitting at the little tables before 
the restaurants had children on their knees, and beside them 
a wife or sweetheart who had brought a basket of provi- 

A young trooper offered a girl, who came up to wish him 
good luck, a piece of light gray cloth off a German military 
cloak. " We have one here," he said. 

"One what?" 

" An Uhlan, of course ! " 

" Do you mean a dead one? " the girl asked. 



" Why, no ; he's very much alive." 

" Where have you shut him up? " 

" He isn't shut up, either," the man explained. " We took 
him prisoner near Rheims, and since then he has become 
servant to our junior officers." 

" But he will escape," cried the girl. 

" Not at all ! He's a very good fellow. He's married and 
has two children, and isn't at all anxious to see any more 

As we went north and eastward, my comrade and I, 
afraid that every sentry and outpost with bayonet ready 
would put an end to our unauthorized expedition, I will 
not deny that we felt the panoply of war to be rather 
less terrible than we had expected. The actual fighting 
was six or eight miles away in front, and not by any means 
to be come at. The great city and its myriads, now in flight 
or anxiously awaiting the decision, lay twelve miles behind. 
Here, the sun shone hot upon crowded town and deserted 
countryside. It was a strange alternative of bustle and still- 
ness, both abnormal ; but there was, so far, not even a Red 
Cross wagon to remind us of the hidden cause. 

So we went on through the dust of the empty fields and 
shuttered villages, passing here and there a marching 
column, an automobile carrying a group of officers, a motor- 
wagon of the field telegraphs going at breakneck speed, a 
cyclist dispatch-rider, a battery of guns in trucks in a rail- 
way siding, and, oddest of all, a flock of sheep, with a shep- 
herd in infantry blue and red and a rifle under his arm, 
and another uniformed shepherd at the tail of the dusty 

At one wayside inn, mine host regaled us with an unex- 
pected, if not a horrifying, yarn. Several regiments had 
passed, he said, yesterday and to-day, and were now fight- 
ing " \h bas." Yesterday they arrested three spies here. 
One was dressed as an English soldier, another as a French 
infantryman, a third as a woman. " There was a regular 


outbreak of spy-mania. One old reservist who had been 
sent down to do detective duty was so excited that he 
stopped everybody in the village — they were mostly women 
and children — and demanded their ' papers.' When our vil- 
lage constable tried to calm him, the angry reservist threat- 
ened to use his rifle; and he was only with difficulty pla- 
cated by M. le Maire." 

It was when the moon was getting up in the east, and 
we were beginning to think of the night's lodging, that we 
suddenly struck the graver side of the business. We were 
watching a small encampment in a wooded by-road. The 
men had built a fire between the wagons, and were having 
a pleasant rest out of the sun, when a rider dashed up at 
a speed that must have made it very uncomfortable for him 
to smoke his short briar pipe. At once a bugle blew, and 
in a moment the glade was like a swarming bee-hive. We 
watched them leave, while the birds sang their evening 
chorus. Then we went on our way. 

Presently, as I have said, we were back in Gagny, only 
just in time to witness the departure of our friends of the 
morning for the firing-line, now brought to a full army 
corps by large re-enforcements that had arrived during the 
day. The town was boiling from end to end. In the main 
street a regiment was already marching out to the hills 
above Meaux, to strengthen the attack on the German flank 
which had been proceeding for the last two days. Neither 
here nor elsewhere did we see anything of a regimental 
band (except some drums) ; possibly the matter has now 
become too serious for musical accompaniment. 

Looking at these fine figures and bronzed faces, one real- 
ized anew the wickedness of the waste of warfare. But 
they were, beyond doubt, happy and confident. A thin 
line of country folk watched them, the women — many of 
them come from a distance to see the last of their men — 
waving handkerchiefs, the girls running beside the ranks 
to give some handsome lad a flower. Up the side roads, 


other battalions stood at ease, or sat on the edge of the 
pavement waiting their turn. A few tired fellows had 
curled themselves up, and were asleep, against the houses; 
and there was one who lay at full length on the ground — 
over-exhausted by the sharp march of twelve miles which 
they had already made. As the ambulance took charge of 
him, a piou-piou said to us, " You see, the chaps of forty have 
to keep up with the lads of twenty." 

We talked to them for an hour or more. A young officer, 
of marked intelligence, told us that his men were all who 
remained of two infantry regiments in a disastrous engage- 
ment at Eth, near Valenciennes, after the battle of Mons- 
Charleroi — one of the many affairs of which we have heard 
little or nothing. 

" It was," he said, " a regular butchery. We were a full 
army corps, moving eastward from Eth, when the Hussar 
regiment which served as our advance guard charged a regi- 
ment of Prussian cavalry. Our Hussars were splendid ; but 
they had no sooner routed the first body of the enemy's 
cavalry than they found themselves faced by another. We 
were, in fact, flanked by overwhelming numbers, while the 
German artillery cannonaded us from a distance of several 
miles. What could we do, one against three? True, we 
punished them, and, after a moment of panic — for the attack 
had been sprung upon us — we retired in good order. But 
of 1,000 men of the 103rd only 180 escaped, and the other 
regiment suffered hardly less. 

" The success of the Germans," he continued, " is due to 
their undoubted superiority in heavy artillery, and to their 
skillful and daring reconnaissance work. We French have 
the best artillery in the world, so far as the ordinary guns 
and the ' 75 ' pieces go ; but we cannot fire beyond 9,000 or 
10,000 yards, while the German heavy guns will do 11,000. 
This has been a factor since the beginning of the war. Then 
they send out cavalry scouts eight or twelve miles, and 
sometimes more, in advance. When these patrols find and 


report our first lines, they send aeroplanes to examine our 
positions, especially those of our cavalry and artillery. 
And in less than an hour their shells are beginning to fall 
upon us from several miles' distance. So it is under a 
rain of fire that we have to advance to enable our artillery 
to get into action. Happily for us, the German shells burst 
too soon, and the fire is often very badly measured. Once 
our ' 75 ' cannon gets the range, things take a very dif- 
ferent turn. Generally the Germans cannot stand it, and 
move away." 

While we were searching for something to eat and drink, 
we came upon yet another surprise, in the shape of a long 
line of taxicabs stretching through by-roads out of sight. 
Fifteen hundred of them there were, they told us, in the 
neighborhood — requisitioned in haste to carry forward 
needed re-enforcements to the French left before the Ourcq. 1 
In my innocence, I had supposed that infantrymen must 
march, and cavalry ride, while wagons bring up supplies. 
But the internal-combustion engine is changing many 
things. For a quick retreat, or a quick advance, or the 
transfer of cartridge cases from one wing to another, there 
is nothing, it appears, like the common or city taxi. So 
now I know why we have to put up with old-fashioned 
fiacres on the boulevards. 

The troops I met to-day were full of news of a victory 
between Creil and Meaux, which latter place is about 
twenty-seven miles from the gates of the capital. There 
has been considerable fighting around Dammartin to the 
north of Meaux. To the south of the Marne, on its tribu- 
tary the Grand Morin, the right wing of the German ad- 
vance has been met by a French army prepared for this 
diversion, and by Sir John French's army, which had appar- 
ently escaped notice in the woods behind Creey-en-Brie. 
The Germans seem to have reached Coulommiers and La 

1 Without doubt, the critical movement of reserves referred to on 
pp. 163-4. 


Ferte-Gaucher. This is a land of deep valleys and thickly 
wooded hills, a very favorable terrain for an army at home 
and on the defensive. It forms, in fact, a part of what is 
called the Falaise de Champagne, extending from the Forest 
of Fontainebleau to Rheims. 

Paris, Wednesday Morning, September 9. 

Where are the jolly boys whose march out to the firing- 
line I watched on Monday evening? Dead, some; wounded, 
others; lost, a few, perhaps; and the remainder happy in 
their victory. How great a victory, or what exactly is its 
bearing upon the position in the whole wide field, it is still 
too soon to say. The official record of the series of actions 
on the French left and German right wings to the east of 
Paris are brief and not too clear; but their main purport 
is unquestionably cheering. The facts which are clear are 
that the German right in its southward advance has been 
stopped both on the west and south, has been compelled to 
retire, and is being ceaselessly harried — a fact even more 
important for its consequences further east than in its local 
effects. It would be altogether premature to suppose that 
the main German movement is yet decisively checked. That 
may take some time. 

M. Dausset, an active member of the Paris Municipal 
Council, happened to be near Coulommiers yesterday, and 
has an interesting story to tell of what he saw and heard. 

" By sheer accident, we found ourselves in the midst of 
the district occupied by the British troops. In one village, 
the Cure' alone had remained with a few of the more help- 
less people when the others abandoned their homes. The 
Germans had been there a few hours before (that is, yester- 
day morning). Pushing forward, we reached a village 
where the British troops were resting. At the railway 
crossing, near by, we came across the body of a black horse 
lying across the road. We got down, and questioned the 
crossing-keeper, a good old fellow who was there with his 


wife. He told us that that very morning the Uhlans had 
eome down to the railway, cut the telegraph-lines, and gone 
away again. Soon afterwards a body of British cavalry, 
commanded by an officer and guided by the village chemist, 
had crossed the line. Some of the Germans, it then ap- 
peared, had stayed, hiding on a wooded slope, from which 
they fired on the British column. It was then that the black 
horse was killed. The officer, seriously wounded, was car- 
ried by the old crossing-keeper to his cottage. He was in 
horrible suffering, but all he asked for was a cigarette. 
Soon the British ambulance came up, and took him away. 
We learned afterwards that the chemist w r as also seriously 

"We soon came to another village; and I shall never 
forget the spectacle we saw. The place was absolutely de- 
serted; only three women and a boy remained. They told 
us that the Germans came in large numbers on Sunday. 
They occupied the whole village and the neighboring farms. 
They looked harassed, as if they had been marching for 
days without a stop. Nearly all the houses being shut up, 
they broke open the doors; but they respected the few cot- 
tages that were still inhabited. I went to the Mairie to see 
for myself, and found it in indescribable disorder. In every 
room there were mattresses, sheets, and bundles of straw, 
on which men had been sleeping; remnants of food, half- 
empty bottles, drawers piled on the floors, chests open; in 
the yard eiderdowns, mattresses, and pillows, and the like 
on the village square. In the church, more straw, w T here 
men had been sleeping; the remnants of rabbits, fowls, and 
pieces of meat. 

" In the large but not very luxurious country-house, 
which they call the Chateau, all the rooms had been occu- 
pied by the higher officers. In the large dining-room, the 
table was covered with fine white cloths, vases full of fresh- 
cut roses, and dishes showing that several courses had been 
served. There even remained two serviettes folded in miter- 


shape before two chairs that had not been occupied. An 
oil-lamp was still burning, and a number of candles guttered 
over the empty bottles into which they had been stuck. The 
invaders had drunk champagne from the cellars of the 
house — a good deal of it. The women who accompanied 
me said that nearly all the officers spoke French. They 
did not hurt anyone, but took away all the provisions they 
could lay hands on. The first thing the officers asked for 
was a bath. They had certainly intended to remain; and, 
in the bedrooms which I visited, they had carefully drawn 
the blinds, as though for a long sleep. At 2 a.m. they 
received a sudden signal to leave, and the district was 
evacuated immediately. There must then have been stiff 
fighting, for on our return we passed the bodies of thirty 
horses and some fresh-made graves." 

At Massy-Palaiseau and other south-eastern suburbs of 
Paris there is a constant succession of trains to-day taking 
British and French troops toward the front, and bring- 
ing wounded and prisoners back. 

Behind the British Lines, on the Grand Morin. 

Thursday, September 10. 
It would be near Guignes, thirty miles south-east of Paris, 
that I first struck a British detachment, and learned that 
the line of battle had moved rapidly northward. They were 
lads of the Army Service Corps, resting in the shade of 
one of the long poplar avenues, awaiting orders, in charge 
of a line of commissariat wagons, and commandeered carts 
bearing the familiar names of great English trading firms. 
Some of the men were more red of face than brown, others 
swarthy with work in the continuous sunshine of the last 
month. Glad, perhaps, to hear a new English voice, and 
certainly glad to get a taste of English tobacco, they 
quickly thawed, and launched out into stories such as would 
have seemed incredible six weeks ago, and are now the 
common talk of every day over half the Continent. 


A little later, at a cross-roads in the dead black heart 
of one of the forests of the Brie plateau, full of mysterious 
sounds in the gloom of nightfall, I came across a British 
motor-cyclist of the engineer branch of the Corps, keeping 
his lonely watch. He was too full of the morning's advance 
to think about his eerie surroundings. But one of his words 
stayed in my mind. He had been telling me of a narrow 
escape he and some of his fellows had just had. They 
suddenly found themselves, with a file of wagons, between 
two German columns, within sight of both. What do en- 
gineers do in such a case? They take out something he 
called, I think, the fusible plugs — safety plugs in some part 
of the wagon engine — and then they bolt. 

" So the Germans got the wagons?" I asked. 

" Yes," he replied ; " but they couldn't move them, and 
we expect soon to find them again." 

And then he added, very modestly, the word to which I 
have referred — to the effect that this rear work of supplies 
and communications is as important as the fighting line 
itself, although little is heard of it. There was not the 
faintest suspicion of a complaint in the good fellow's voice 
— he was simply stating a fact that every soldier knows. 
But it came home to me almost as a rebuke. How often 
and easily we forget the high aim and the whole design 
of a defensive war in the wild glamor of its central strug- 

Yet even in the narrow view of the military art itself, 
the feeding and transport of the troops assume a larger and 
larger part in modern warfare. Napoleon closed a chapter 
of history; there can never again be a single man equal 
to the direction of the multitudes now thrown into the 
field. He began the transformation; it has since gone so 
far that nearly all the impressions we get from narratives 
of the old campaigns are false to the facts of to-day. This 
has been called an " anonymous war " because, on the 
French side especially, great secrecy is maintained as to 


the whereabouts of the commanding officers, and their in- 
dividual part in the campaign is never mentioned. In a 
larger sense, all warfare has become " anonymous," partly 
because of the fear of giving any useful information to the 
enemy, and partly because the individual mind counts for 
less, the prearranged scheme, the system, the total or- 
ganization, the obscure engineering operations, count for 

When we entered the village of Rozay-en-Brie, we found 
the street deserted save for an old lady who from her gar- 
den gate watched curiously the approach of another for- 
eigner. But the word " English " counts for much now in 
these parts. 

" Ah, monsieur, les Anglais ! " And for the moment she 
could add nothing but a beaming smile to this exclamation. 
The dear old thing had stuck to her little home all through 
the double inundation. " There were 12,000 of yours here 
on Sunday," she continued. " My daughter, who has lived 
in London and learned to speak English, acted as inter- 
preter for your ' Tommies.' Go on two miles to Lumigny, 
Pezarches, and Touquin, and there you will find the battle- 

Perhaps that is too large a name for what at this par- 
ticular point was only a rather serious skirmish, covering 
a few miles of stubble-fields and broken forest, and several 
small villages. In one of these fields, as we drove up, six 
or eight peasants were digging a pit in which to bury the 
carcases of two horses that lay near by. They had already 
buried fourteen others. They pointed out the woods in the 
distance to the east where the Germans had taken cover; 
the British were posted along the roads by which we had 
come. These grave-diggers seemed happy at their gruesome 
work — just such sententious fellows as Shakespeare took 
for his models in an immortal scene three hundred years 
ago. So little does raw humanity change! I should have 
to translate their words into some one of our own provincial 


lingoes to give its flavor; and that would overpass the limits 
of true reporting. 

But presently there came through the stubble a neat cart 
conveying a somewhat superior person of rubicund visage, 
who introduced himself as the Mayor of Pezarches, M. 
Couple", at your service; and he was able to give a more full 
and consistent explanation of what had happened. 

" We knew," he said, " that the Germans were at Coulom- 
miers on Saturday, and so we were expecting them. About 
8 o'clock that evening, I was trying to eat my dinner, when 
suddenly I heard the sound of horses' hoofs, and said to my 
wife : ' It is they.' Outside the door I found a score of 
German Dragoons. Their lieutenant called out : ' Where 
is the Mayor?' ' I am the Mayor,' I said. 'What do you 
want? ' On this he came up to me, put the revolver which 
he had in his hand to my head, and said: ' Bread for my 
men, and oats for the horses. And,' he added, ' in five 
minutes at latest!' I replied that I would get what oats 
there were, but there had been no bread at the baker's since 
morning. He retorted, more imperiously than ever : ' Get 
it how you can, but bread I must have.' 

" I managed to get together 75 kilos of oats and 15 kilos 
of bread. The officer seemed satisfied, gave me a signed 
receipt, and said it would be paid. That night the Ger- 
mans passed behind the villages, putting their guns in posi- 
tion there. The British, who were in force, had established 
themselves behind the little wood you see at the end of this 
field. On Sunday morning they opened fire. One shell 
went through a villager's cottage; but happily he and his 
wore hidden in the cellar and no harm was done. Later on, 
the Germans retreated, and the British have followed them 
closely ever since." 

I asked whether the losses were serious. 

" The Germans seemed to suffer greatly here," replied 
our friend the Mayor; " they had many wounded. But the 
English were well covered; they lost only two killed and 


thirty wounded. They buried the two bodies over there on 
the border of the wood ; if you will come, I will show you 
the place." 

I shall never forget that humble grave amid the fields of 
the Brie plateau. No stone marks the place where two sons 
of England, some one's beloved, rest after their labor and 
sacrifice. There is nothing but a pile of brown earth in the 
bottom of a small chalk pit, surmounted by a couple of 
brown sticks tied together with string, to make a rough 
cross. A thicket looks over the hollow, and all around are 
rolling hills from which the corn has just been garnered. 
It is one of thousands of anonymous graves in this " anony- 
mous war." If these lines should meet the eyes of any to 
whom those two lads were dear, let them be brave to hear the 
worst, and happy to hear the best, that I can say. The good 
Mayor told us he had taken trouble to strengthen the mound. 
But Nature is inexorable; life, and ever more life, is her 
supreme law. Such graves may be lost before they can be 
found. Yet I cannot think of any more fortunate resting- 
place than on the edge of this wood among the wheat-fields, 
with its fringe of flowers, and the pure sky above, where the 
birds will always sing matins and evensong, and the chil- 
dren of the village will come and speak of how the two lads 
from distant England helped to save their home and Fath- 

We must bow to the law of life. Already they are plow- 
ing the upper ridge of the stubble-field where the battle 
was fought. Already, while the grave-diggers are still at 
their task, at the farm on the other side of the road a 
threshing-machine is working; and, as we leave, a procession 
of great harvesting carts, full of women and children sitting 
on top of their household goods, is bringing back a first 
party of fugitives to the homes they abandoned a fortnight 
ago. The harvest of death gives way already to the harvest 
of life. 

Down in the village, they showed me holes in some of 


the houses made by the artillery fire. They aie just recov- 
ering, as it were, from a frightful dream ; and the women 
are reaching the loquacious stage following upon such an 
experience. In the village inn, Madame, an upstanding 
woman of about thirty, told us her part of the story, with 
many lively gestures. 

" Imaginez-vous, monsieur ! When the Prussians came, 
we took them for Belgians. As we had been warned that 
there would be a battle, everybody took refuge in their 
cellars. On Sunday morning, my mother had gone to 
church, and I remained at home with my father and my 
little boy. My father had left us to get some tobacco. Going 
out for a moment with my child, I saw a group of horsemen 
in the street, and said to myself, ' We are saved. It is the 
Belgians ! ' When I returned, to my surprise, they were 
in the house, sitting in my room and in the cafe'. An officer 
asked me to cook him a couple of eggs. I noticed that one 
of the men was wounded, and asked if it was painful. He 
nodded, and I went to the kitchen. There I saw, on the 
window-sill, a spiked helmet. I nearly fainted! So they 
were Germans ! 

" I managed to take in the eggs. Then the officer very 
politely asked me to show him my left hand, and, pointing 
to the wedding-ring, said, " You are married? ' ' Yes/ I re- 
plied, trembling. 'Your husband is a soldier?' 'Yes.' 
' You have a child? ' ' No, I have no children,' I said. ' But 
I saw him. You are hiding him because you have heard that 
the Germans cut off the hands of French children. That is 
false. We never hurt women or children. Bring your little 
boy ' 

" But as I persisted that it was not my child, he said no 
more. He and the others paid for what they had in Ger- 
man money, and left. A quarter of an hour later the firing 


Chateau-Thierry, Saturday:, September 12. 

We first realized yesterday, in the little town of Brie, 
which lies east of Paris between the Seine and the Marne, 
how difficult it is to get food in the rear of two successive 
invasions. As in every other town in the region, all the 
shops were shut, and nearly all the houses. It was only 
after a long search that we found an inn that could give us 
lunch. There, in a large room with a low, beamed roof 
and tiled floor, our stout landlady in blue cotton produced an 
excellent meal of melon, mutton, macaroni, and good ripe 
pears. The dogs and cats sprawled around us, and a big 
bowl of roses spoke of the serenities that are now in gen- 
eral eclipse. 

At a neighboring table, a group of peasants, too old for 
active service, were discussing, not the battle that has just 
passed their doors, but their business grievances. A farmer 
had refused to sell something to one of them, who thought 
he should be forced to do so. Another angrily protested 
against this view; while a third declared that it was mon- 
strous to offer straw at 45f. " You may be old," retorted 
the other, " but there are people older than you," meaning 
cleverer. But at the end of the table there was a big, fat 
man who showed the greater wisdom; he went on with his 
meal, and said nothing. 

At the railway crossing just out of town, we were blocked 
by a train of about a dozen big horse-trucks and two pas- 
senger carriages, carrying wounded and prisoners to Paris 
from the fighting lines. It had been a gloomy morning, 



and the rain now fell in torrents. Nevertheless, the towns- 
folk crowded up, and for half an hour managed to conduct 
a satisfactory combination of profit and pity by the supply 
of big, flat loaves, bottles of wine, fruit, cigarettes, and jugs 
of water, to those in the train who had money, and some 
who had none. One very old lady in white, with a little 
red cross on her forehead, turned up to take advantage of 
the only opportunity ever likely to fall in her way. A great 
Turco, in fez, blouse, and short, baggy breeches, was very 
active in this commissariat work. Some of the Frenchmen 
on board were not wounded sufficiently seriously to prevent 
their getting down on to the roadway ; and you may be sure 
that they were not ashamed of their plaster-patches and 
bandaged arms. 

There were about 300 German prisoners in the train. 
We got glimpses of them lying in the straw upon the floor 
in the dark interior of the big trucks. I got on to the 
footboard, and looked into the open door of one wagon. Fif- 
teen men were stretched upon the straw, and two soldiers 
stood guard over them, rifle in hand. They all seemed to be 
in the extremity of exhaustion. Some were asleep; others 
were eating large chunks of bread. In the middle of the 
wagon, a young soldier, who spoke French fairly well, said 
that the German losses during the last three days had been 
enormous; and then, stopping suddenly, ''Would it be pos- 
sible, sir, to get a little water for my fellows and myself? " 
A man belonging to the station, who was passing with a 
jug, said at once that he would run and get some. The 
prisoner thanked him, and added with a sigh, " They're very 
good fellows here." 

Beside one of the roads running through the numerous 
forests of the region, we came upon a Tate's sugar-van left 
stranded in the ditch, with the engine smashed. It was the 
first of many abandoned motor-vans, lorries, and cars that 
we were to find during this day's journey. Some of them 
had, no doubt, merely broken down; and it was thought 


advisable to make them useless in case they were captured 
by the enemy. In other cases, the danger of seizure was 
more immediate; and they were put out of action and left. 
These incidents, often repeated, impressed upon us at once 
the importance of motor transport in modern warfare, and 
the great wastage to which it is liable — a wastage, how- 
ever, probably much less than would have occurred in the 
old horse-transport days. 

We thought that we were going to be shipwrecked as un- 
happily ourselves, for, in the middle of the Forest of 
Chaumes, we completely lost ourselves in pouring rain, and 
at last came to a full stop in a slough of mud. Happily, 
our labor and anxiety were of short duration; and in the 
evening we reached the quaint and very ancient town of 
Provins, normally of 9,000 inhabitants, on the edge of a 
rich green valley beneath the Brie plateau. It is odd to-day 
to think that Provins, which was once proud and great, was 
nearly ruined by English invaders in the fifteenth century, 
whose descendants have now saved it from a German in- 
vasion. An Englishman is, therefore, as such, a welcome 
visitor; but everywhere in the wake of the war civilian visi- 
tors are suspect. So we stuck to the one hotel that was 
open, and did not attempt to visit the remarkable twelfth- 
century keep which is called " Caesar's Tower," or the medi- 
eval ramparts. This big hostelry was being run by four 
women who, despite a natural courtesy, were evidently quite 
unprepared to receive ordinary guests. They let us hang 
our wet clothes among the brass pans in the kitchen, how- 
ever; and then we sat and smoked around the charcoal fire 
in the linen-room, with piles of napkins and sheets around 
us. At the dinner-table, beside ourselves, there were only a 
captain of gendarmerie, several army officers, and half a 
dozen of the more substantial refugees from the neighbor- 
ing district. We went to bed along ghostly echoing corri- 
dors, with a feeling that the house must have antedated 
Caesar's Tower itself. 


This morning we had decided to make an early start 
northwards ; but, when we had paid our bill and were ready 
to go, a venerable, but not otherwise very impressive, French 
officer came up, and informed us that he proposed to requi- 
sition our car for an hour. He seemed so gentle, and 
he might so well have turned crusty had we refused, 
that we promptly gave way, returned to the breakfast- 
table, and waited until the car had come back from the 

Then we struck upward through fields and orchards on 
to the plateau; and within half an hour we had reached 
the first of the ruined villages which mark the southward 
limit of the German advance. 

In Courchamp, a number of houses had been burnt down, 
and the neighboring fields showed that there had been fight- 
ing there. But it was Courtacon, half-way between Provins 
and La Ferte'-Gaucher, which presented the most grievous 
spectacle. Eighteen of the two dozen houses — small, mod- 
ern brick buildings, not old cottages of wood and thatch — 
had been completely destroyed by fire. The walls were 
partly standing, but the floors and the contents of the rooms 
were completely buried under the debris of the roofs that 
had fallen in. In the little post-office, the telegraphic and 
telephonic instruments had been smashed. Just opposite 
is a small building, including the Mairie and the village 
school. The outside of the building and the outhouses were 
littered with straw, upon which the Uhlans had slept. In 
the Mairie itself, drawers and cupboards had been broken 
open, and their contents scattered, with the remnants of 
meals, upon the floor. 

It is the scene in the little village school that will longest 
remain in my memory as a flagrant exhibition of brutality 
and malice. The low forms, the master's desk, and the 
blackboard stand to-day as they did on July 25, which was, 
no doubt, the last day before the summer vacation, as it 
was also the last week before the outbreak of the war. On 


the walls, the charts remained which had reminded the chil- 
dren daily that — 


and had summoned them to — 


The windows were smashed. Broken cartridge cases lay 
about, with the wings of birds and other refuse. Just near 
the door, I saw chalked up, in an evidently German hand- 
writing, the words, " Parti Paris " — " Left for Paris." The 
really speaking message that had been left lay, however, in 
the piles of burnt straw with which it had been deliberately 
sought to burn the place to ashes. There was one pile under 
the school book-case, the doors of which had been smashed, 
and some of the books thrown about. They could not even — 
these ruffians — respect the little museum, consisting of a 
few bottles of metal and chemical specimens. And when I 
turned to leave, I suddenly perceived, written across the 
blackboard, in bold, fine writing, as the lesson of the day, 
these words: 


" Every day brings pain enough," or in the familiar words 
of our English version, " Sufficient unto the day is the evil 
thereof." No fictionist's imagination could have compassed 
the biting irony of these words; but the deepest bitterness 
of this irony lies in the fact that such an outrage could be 
perpetrated by men belonging to a nation one of whose 
boasts was that they have been the pioneers in Europe of 
elementary schooling. 

One of the villagers gave me the following narrative of 
their experiences during the past week : " It was last Sat- 
urday (September 5) that about 1,500 Uhlans arrived. in the 
village, with the intention of marching on Provins on the 


morrow. They probably learned during the night that the 
British and French lay in force across their road ; and per- 
haps they may then have received orders to fall back in any 
case. At any rate, early on Sunday morning, they started 
to retire, when they met at the entrance to the village a 
regiment of Chasseurs. This was the beginning of fighting 
which lasted all day. Under pretext that we had learned 
of the presence of French troops, and had helped them to 
prepare a trap, the Germans sacked the whole of the village. 
Naturally, there was a panic. All the inhabitants — mostly 
women and children, because, since the mobilization, there 
have only been nine men in Courtacon — rushed from their 
cottages; and many of them, lightly clad, fled across the 
fields, and hid themselves in the neighboring woods. In 
several cottages, the Germans, revolver in hand, compelled 
the poor peasants to bring matches and themselves to set 
fire to their homes. In less than an hour, the village was 
like a furnace, the walls toppling down one by one. And 
all this time the fighting continued. It was a horrible spec- 
tacle. Several of us were dragged to the edge of the road 
to be shot; and there we remained for some hours, believing 
that our last day had come. A young village lad of twenty- 
one years, who was just going to leave to join the colors, was 
shot. Then the retreat was sounded; the Germans fled 
precipitately; and we were saved." 

I asked whether the cottages had not been fired by our 

"Not a cannon-shot fell here," he replied; "all that," 
pointing to the ruined street, " was done by incendiaries." 
And he added : " Last Tuesday, two French officers came in 
an automobile, and brought with them a superior German 
officer, whom they had made prisoner. They compelled him 
to become a witness of the mischief of which his fellow- 
countrymen had been guilty." 

As we spoke, a peasant woman passed, pushing a wheel- 
barrow containing some lialf-burned household goods, and 


followed by her two small children. " Look," she said, as we 
turned to her, " at the brutality of these Germans. My 
husband has gone to the war, and I was alone with my 
two little ones. With great difficulty we had managed to 
gather our crop; and they set fire to our little farm, and 
burnt everything." 

Half an hour later, we were at La Ferte'-Gaucher, a small 
town on the Grand Morin, now first made famous by the 
fact that it was here the German fight began, after severe 
fighting, last Monday. The invaders had only arrived on 
the Saturday, and had the disagreeable surprise of finding 
that the river bridges had been broken down by the then 
retreating French. The German commandant informed the 
municipal officials that, if the sum of 60,000 francs (£2,400) 
were not produced, he would burn down the town. He then 
compelled the people to set about rebuilding the bridge; 
and they worked day and night at this job, under the eyes 
of the soldiers with revolvers and rifles ready to shoot down 
any shirker. The relief to these people of the return of the 
Allies may be imagined. Here, as elsewhere, some houses 
had been burned down; otherwise, the damage did not 
appear to be very serious. 

The chief bridge being destroyed, the invaders crossed 
southward by boats, and over some small private bridges 
that had been overlooked. The villagers say that they ad- 
vanced with loud cries of " Nach Paris ! " There seems no 
doubt that even the officers shared the illusion that the 
capital was besieged, and that already their comrades might 
be camped in the Place de l'Ope'ra. When they learned 
something of the truth, they were stupefied. This fact and 
the rainfall help to explain the suddenness and complete- 
ness of their breakdown. 

We now went onward to the north-west, through Rebais 
to La Ferte-sous-Jouarre, at the junction of the Petit Morin 
and the Marne. This is a larger place, normally of 5,000 
inhabitants, situated forty-one miles east of Paris, mainly 


in a turn of the fertile, well-cultivated, and beautiful valley 
of the Marne. As we rode in, it was occupied by a large 
French detachment. We were immediately pulled up at 
the broken bridge, the fragments of which partially dammed 
the stream of the larger river. On the top of the ruins of 
the bridge itself, in the river-bed, lay several motor-cars, 
which had, no doubt, been used as barricades before and 
during the bombardment. The roofs and walls of many 
of the houses, especially on the north bank of the Marne, 
were shattered, and some completely destroyed, during the 
attack on the retiring German columns last Wednesday. 
They had defended this passage hardily. From the ferry- 
boat that carried us over, we could still see, on the parapets 
of a pretty terrace overlooking the stream, the sandbags, 
mattresses, pillows, and cushions from behind which the 
German riflemen had commanded the bridge-head on the 
opposite side. A few hundred feet only had separated them 
from their British pursuers. 

The Germans were here for a week ; and during that time 
they ransacked every shop in the place. The staff put up at 
the best inn, the Hotel FEpee, a title the proprietor is now 
probably out of love with. His good lady told me that, by 
way of celebrating their arrival, the officers — there were six- 
teen of them — demanded a good brand of champagne, as 
they had only had inferior sorts of late. 

" I told them our cellars were empty. They then sent 
men to search the town; and these presently returned with 
a case of Moet and Chandon. At the end of the dinner-party, 
they were all drunk, and set about kicking and whipping 
some of their servants and men. One day, an officer, whom 
I understood to be the commandant, ordered me to prepare 
a special dinner. ' But,' said I, ' I have no butter, and there 
is none to be got in the district.' ' Get a knife, and come to 
my room,' he replied. This was not very reassuring, as 
you may imagine, for these men went about giving orders 
with revolvers constantly in their hands. When we got 


upstairs, he showed me a large lump of butter, and told me 
to take a little. I took it; but I may confess, now, it was 
grease I used for his meal, and the butter for our own. 

" One evening, a party of soldiers burst in and asked me, 
with their usual threats, for some good wine. I said I had 
nothing but ordinaire. They wouldn't believe me, and told 
me to bring a light and show them to the cellar. At the 
bottom of the steps they shouldered me away; but when 
they found the bottles which " — this with a shrewd smile — 
" I had been careful not to hide, they declared they had only 
wanted champagne, and left in a very angry mood. Un- 
doubtedly, there is not now a bottle of champagne in La 
Ferte", for the Germans stole and drank thousands of bottles 
during the few days they were here." 

We had now to make a long detour by the village of Mery 
in order to get over the Marne; and, pursuing our way 
through lovely vineyards — the first of the vineyards of 
Champagne: — and desolate villages, we reached Chateau- 

A long French Red Cross convoy followed us into the 
town, and, thereafter, endless strings of British supply- 
wagons. A few washerwomen by the riverside seemed to 
be almost the only remains of the civil population; but the 
normal roll of 5,000 people must have been fully made up 
by soldiery of the two allied races. They were laagered in 
every available space, beneath the ruins of the ancient castle, 
and the birthplace of La Fontaine of the " Fables," around 
the square before the town hall and theater, everywhere and 

I had some interesting chat with several British soldiers, 
including a member of the Flying Corps, who confirmed my 
impression of the difficulty of distinguishing friendly from 
hostile aeroplanes at any height, and said it was no good 
shooting at interlopers — our own 'planes must always be 
up and ready to tackle them. 

A brief encounter with a French gendarme officer was less 


pleasant, but not as anxious as the question of petrol. 
Thanks to a kindly doctor, we at last renewed our stock, 
and went north into the villages behind the battle front, 
where the fainter and fainter sound of the cannon pro- 
claimed the continued success of the great recoil. How the 
old ghosts from all past sieges of Soissons — they go back 
to Caesar's day — will walk to-night; and with what blazing 
lights and horrid shadows the elder Dumas, whose birth- 
place has rung to-day to the sound of combat, would have 
glorified the story! Sir John French himself, happy and 
fit-looking, was in these villages only yesterday, saying a 
bracing word to his men. 

But, for me, with the fresh mounds of earth, and the 
long train of British wounded going south, blinding my 
eyes, the only words that I can add — and they are as true 
in the hours of victory as of defeat — are the words of the 
schoolmaster who wrote, on breaking-up day, upon the 
blackboard in the ruined village of Courtagon — unconscious 
instrument of the omnipotent and eternal Irony — " Sufficient 
unto the day is the evil thereof." 


Paris, September 14. 

I have only now been able to run out to Meaux, and 
obtain a clear impression of the battlefield of the Ourcq. 
These motor-trips behind the lines, involving long detours, 
because passes are given only for some place beyond the 
zone of operations, are something of an adventure — not that 
an arrest can involve any great discomfort, but because, for 
a journalist, the heaviest penalty is simply to be shut out 
of the field of action. I hear that three British and two 
American pressmen have just been stopped on the Marne, 
and politely conducted south to Tours. Naturally, the 
pickets posted behind their barricades of logs, stone, and 
wire, along the main road running due east out of Paris, 
are particularly exacting. British officers have, apparently, 
received still stiffer orders — in fact, if all orders were liter- 
ally interpreted, there could be no public record of the war 
beyond the meager official bulletins ; and, within the British 
lines, the scrap of pink paper issued, after interminable 
formalities, by the Prefect of Police and the Military Gov- 
ernor of Paris has no value. When these difficulties have 
been overcome, there always remains the possibility of being 
held up by some excited subordinate as a spy. 

We were pelting homeward along a narrow lane between 
Villers-Cotterets and La Ferte-Milon. It was near night- 
fall, and we had to get to the gates of Paris by 7.30 p.m., 
on pain of being shut out. Suddenly a couple of men in 
khaki, with fixed bayonets, loomed before us, with a sharp 
summons to halt. Lengthy explanations were received with 



stolid incredulity, perhaps because my companion and 
chauffeur were manifestly not Britons. We were taken a 
few yards back to a large motor- wagon, in which we were 
surprised to see half-a-dozen wounded men lying. One of 
them was the sergeant ; and to him — though he was evidently 
out of action — the matter was loyally referred, the Tom- 
mies standing around while I repeated my explanations. 
He replied that we could not go on, as they were hunting 
German fugitives out of the woods just beyond, and it would 
not be safe for us to pass. No, we could not go backward, 
either. The man-hunt was, then, a pretext for delay. But 
they were very good fellows ; and I was presently busy writ- 
ing postcards for the wounded men, to assure Mrs. Atkins 
at home that all was well with them. Then they let us go, 
by an eastward side-road. 

Between Meaux and Changis, the Marne makes a north- 
ward loop, and at the head of this loop it is joined by the 
Ourcq, which has flowed from the western spurs of the 
Mountain of Rheims, through La Ferte-Milon. This little 
country town, the birthplace of Racine, has two fine ancient 
churches, and is overshadowed (we can no longer say " domi- 
nated " in these days of big guns) by the immense rectangu- 
lar walls and flanking towers of the donjon of Duke Henry 
of Orleans. Two months ago, these things would have taken 
all our interest. Now we are absorbed in examining the 
wreckage of a small general shop — the only one open in the 
place — and in hearing the story of its miserable owner. No ! 
he had no food to sell us. He had a single bottle of country 
wine hidden ; but he dare not give us that, lest the soldiers, 
who had taken everything, should charge him with con- 
cealing provisions. Some infantrymen were watching us 
as we spoke; so, to save the man from suspicion, we moved 

From Ferte-Milon, the Ourcq flows southward to the Marne 
through a narrow, wooded ravine. On both sides stretch 
rolling wheat-fields, broken by small woods and orchards, 


and farmsteads and villages that have bought with their 
modest substance a fame like that of Hougomont and Mont 
St. Jean. The French army covering Paris stretched from 
the Marne toward Senlis ; and the outposts of Von Kluck's 
army were also on the west side of the Ourcq when the 
battle began, his main columns being on the east bank, along 
the roads between Villers-Cotterets and Chateau-Thierry. 
The plateau slopes down southward to the Marne Valley, 
the descent into Meaux being rather sharp. Meaux is a 
quiet little town of 14,000 inhabitants, twenty-seven miles 
east of Paris, on the main road and the railway to Chalons. 
It is a market-town for Brie cheese and other country pro- 
duce; it is also the meeting-place of main roads from Senlis, 
Compiegne, and Soissons. Immediately to the east, there is 
a tangle of water-ways ; and it is difficult to understand how 
the invaders could allow themselves to get involved in such 
a region. Thus, the Paris-Chalons road crosses the Ourcq 
Canal before entering the town of Meaux. On leaving it, 
it crosses the canal twice, and the Marne once, before reach- 
ing Trilport. It then runs south of the river to La Feite"- 
sous-Jouarre, where it crosses the Petit Morin; while a 
north-east road there crosses the Marne to reach Chateau- 
Thierry. You get from the north to Coulommiers either by 
a road through Meaux, crossing the Ourcq Canal and the 
Marne, or by roads from Trilport and La Ferte\ We found 
all Meaux shuttered up, and practically depopulated. But 
no harm was done in the town; some Germans entered it, 
but it was not occupied. 

The chief stress of the battle fell among the villages in 
the angle between the Marne and the west bank of the 
Ourcq, beyond the shoulder of the rise from Meaux. Five 
days have passed, but the scene is still painful beyond 
description. We went up the road which strikes north be- 
tween Meaux and Trilport, leaving Varecldes and Lizy on 
our right, Penchard, Chambry, Barcy, Etrepilly, and Acy on 
our left. The road is bordered by a fine avenue of Lombardy 


poplars. Many of the tree-trunks have been completely 
severed; others have great branches lopped off, which lie 
about the road ; yet others show gaping wounds where shells 
have struck them. We wandered about the orchards and 
coppices, the patches of potatoes and maize, beside the high- 
way, and beyond these into the fields of stubble aud grass. 
Everywhere are to be seen the ruts of gun-carriage wheels, 
and wide holes torn out by shrapnel or shell fire, metallic 
patches in the red earth showing how the soil has been 
fused by the explosion. Everywhere scraps of clothing, old 
letters and unwritten postcards, presumably thrown out 
when the dead were being buried ; masses of used cartridges 
in abandoned trenches, scraps of French " 75 " shells, a long 
lint bandage, a broken spectacle-case — the most trifling 
things eloquent of overwhelming horror. Where the Ger- 
man guns have made a rear-guard stand, there is a pile of 
live projectiles, and the elaborate wicker baskets in which 
they are carried, left in the hurry of retreat. Nearly all the 
human remains in this district have now been buried, the 
trenches being used for common graves; but dead bodies 
of horses lie along the road and over the fields, poisoning 
the air for miles around. As we came home, the gloom 
was broken by dozens of fires b}' which these carcasses are 
being incinerated. 

Shattered and still burning farm buildings, gutted houses 
in the villages from Chauconin northward, torn and charred 
hayricks, broken motor-carts, and all sorts of litter mark 
the track of the storm. The hardest fighting seems to have 
occurred between Penchard, Barcy, and Vareddes, during 
the earlier part of the battle, and between Acy and Betz 
when the Germans tried to turn the French flank by the 
north. At Penchard and Vareddes, there were terrible bayo- 
net charges, under the unceasing blaze of artillery. At the 
entrance to Acy village, Frenchmen and Germans fell in 
hundreds together. At Chauconin, Congis, Penchard, and 
Barcy, the German soldiers deliberately set tire to a number 


of houses, without any known excuse. French engineers 
are now busy patching up the broken bridges. Convoys of 
prisoners and wounded pass south; re-enforcements and sup- 
plies go north. Otherwise, the countryside between Meaux 
and Soissons is almost uninhabited, and almost uninhabit- 

No food or lodging is to be obtained, so far as we could 
find, except at Villers-Cotterets ; and this pretty little town 
has the disadvantage of being full of troops. After nearly 
tumbling into the midst of the Quartier-General, naturally 
established in the best hotel, we turned about quickly, and 
found refuge in a third-class inn. This place, also, was 
overflowing with soldiers, including a number of sub-officers 
who were discussing, in a very calm and intelligent way, 
the massacre at Senlis. There is no longer any doubt of the 
barbarities of the invasion. The Germans have pillaged 
Crepy-en-Valois ; they have burned down a large part of 
Choisy-en-Bac ; they have committed wholesale robbery in 
Creil and Compiegne, and many personal outrages. But the 
case of Senlis calls for a special judgment. When General 
von Kluck's men entered the town, on September 2, they 
were fired upon, as the natives say, by retiring Zouaves; as 
the Germans aver, by some of the inhabitants. That night, 
the town was set on fire by means of hand-grenades and 
other incendiary apparatus, over a hundred houses being 
burned down. Other houses were sacked. A number of 
hostages were then taken, among them the Mayor, M. Odent, 
who seems to have shown great dignity under cruel treat- 
ment. After a mock trial, M. Odent and six other citizens 
were shot. A dozen other inhabitants, or more, were mur- 
dered in the streets. How much the French officers to 
whom I was listening knew of these facts did not appear. 
The question had been raised whether civilians were in any 
case justified in resisting invaders entering a town ; and no 
lawyer could have been clearer than those French patriots 
that they are not. Needless to say, they would not have 


justified so barbarous a revenge, even if it were proved that 
some of the inhabitants of Senlis were francs-tircurs. 

An officer of a Highland regiment, a veteran of the Boer 
War, now lying wounded in Paris, told a French relative 
that if the British army, comparatively few in numbers, 
had been able to give very important aid in the crises of 
this war, it was because they had learned a lesson from 
the Boers. " Formerly," he said, " we did not know 
how to use either artificial protection or the lie of the land 
to get shelter from the enemy's fire, and we charged in close 
formation against the best marksmen in the world. The 
Boers were our teachers; and now there are no soldiers in 
Europe who know as we do how to find cover. This time, 
we have to meet only mediocre, not to say bad marksmen, 
and they employ mass tactics. So, if the numbers are equal, 
we beat them ; and if they have the larger force we can 
hold our own with small loss. Also, before charging, our 
men watch the effects of the artillery fire. These, briefly, 
are the secrets of our success." 

The following notes by a French writer, M. Andr6 Pai- 
sant, written on Saturday at Nanteuil-le-Haudouin, thirty- 
five miles north-east of Paris, may be read as a pendant 
to my last messages : " They were fighting here on Thurs- 
day night. On the railway, we found the body of a little 
Frenchman. The telegraph-lines are all down, and the 
houses show gaping holes. On the avenue between the sta- 
tion and the town, a sickening odor of dead horses and 
food left by the flying Germans strikes us. The lampless 
streets were full of troops till early this morning. Dogs 
wander disconsolate about the empty houses. Inside, chests 
of drawers have been upset, cupboards broken open, cur- 
tains and cloths cut to pieces, and all sorts of refuse left 
about. At Boissy Levignon, only four walls of the rail- 
way station were left. I found here a circle of litters on 
which lay the bodies of five dead Uhlans, stiff, bare-chested, 
and their wounds clotted with blood. They had been 


brought here alive, and were then abandoned during the 
fight. One of them, with fine hands and a face still speak- 
ing of energy, was strikingly handsome. Some soldiers stood 
at a tap between the corpses, drawing water. In a shed 
nest door, with shattered roof, there were more bodies. 
One of the dead men was sitting upright, with open eyes 
and outstretched hand, like a figure at Mine. Tussaud's; 
but a figure of flesh, not wax. The railway-crossing keeper 
told me how the Germans suddenly stopped their advance, 
then turned and fled, abandoning everything. At Peroy- 
les-Gonibries, little mounds with crosses show where most 
of the dead were buried. At the entrance to the village, 
three Germans were sitting in a ditch, with French maps 
in their hands. A shell interrupted their studies. I re- 
turned with some prisoners. They were very much afraid; 
but the captain said, ' The French are kind ; you are safe,' 
and I saw their lips quiver. Some soldiers brought them 
water to drink. War is a horrible thing, yet the heart ex- 
pands to see such acts as this." 

It is remarkable that the Germans have not attempted to 
defend the line of the Marne south-east of Rheims, or to 
hold that city. We shall now be able to learn what has 
been happening there during the past fortnight. To the 
west, Amiens has been abandoned ; and we may hope for a 
resumption of the Boulogne and Calais boat services to 
England. At many places, including Montmirail, the re- 
treat was so sudden that the papers of the general staff, as 
well as all sorts of munitions, were captured. At the vil- 
lage of Fromentieres in particular, ten miles north of 
Sezanne, whole batteries of guns were taken. Both prison- 
ers and horses seemed utterly worn out. The campaign of 
" smashing blows " has, in fact, smashed its authors, and 
this kind of offensive, which was much in favor recently 
among soldiers who had learned in the Prussian school, 
must be regarded as correspondingly discounted. The 
center is always a very difficult situation, and here, around 


Vitiy-le-Frangois, some of the most desperate of the fighting 
has taken place. All along the line the heavy rain of Fri- 
days helps to account for much of the German artillery 

Best of all, perhaps, is the news of the German aban- 
donment of the Nancy region and the French reoccupation 
of Lune'ville, to which it is added this afternoon that beyond 
Luneville and St. Die" a number of points have been re- 
covered on the Alsatian frontier, including Pont-a-Mousson, 
Nomeny, Baccarat, and Raon-1'Etape. It is over a fortnight 
since Lune'ville was occupied, and considerable anxiety has 
been felt for the Nancy forces. When the Kaiser went to 
the battlefield before Nancy the other day, it may be pre- 
sumed that he still entertained certain expectations now 
destined to remain unfulfilled. This is not the moment to 
think of that strange life, so often covered with flattery, 
so hard to understand, the victim of an evil heritage, now 
faced with a prospect of disgrace and ruin. Let me rather 
say a word in praise of the admirable calm with which, 
after the long news of misfortune, the people of Paris have 
heard the news of victory. The sober-sided Journal des 
Debuts says : " This calm is not in our French tempera- 
ment ; it is the fruit of experience." No doubt this is true, 
and let us not forget that this experience includes a mass 
of sorrow beside which the whole of the battles of 1870 
were a small matter. The song of triumph is stilled by the 
thought of those nameless graves all over the plains and 
hillsides of the north. 


Paris, December 10. 

Since I followed in the wake of the battle of the Marne, 
and saw the havoc wrought among the thriving little com- 
munities on the Brie plateau and from there to Soissons, I 
have seen much of what General Sherman called " the hell 
of war," but nothing quite like the ravaged region in south- 
ern Champagne. 

It is difficult to maintain anything like a judicial temper 
when face to face with wrong of this character and extent. 
Our law-courts are conducted upon the supposition, prob- 
ably justified, that very few men make good witnesses. If 
it be so in normal times, how much more so amid this great 
unloosing of passions, this agony of sufferings immeasur- 
able. The observer coming from a distant isle, which has 
not known for centuries what invasion means, may easily 
discern that there are here all kinds and degrees of wicked- 
ness; and — still believing, as we did a few months ago, 
that there is no such thing as a nation of criminals — he 
may seek for those instances of generosity and pity which, 
however exceptional, would allow him to maintain his faith 
in human nature, with all its tangle of good and ill. There 
must be German soldiers and officers who are ashamed of 
what has been done in Belgium and France, as Frenchmen 
and British and Belgians would be ashamed if any such 
devil's work were to be wrought in Germany. But it is 
useless to search for evidence of such scruples amid the 
ruins of beloved homes ; and it is asking too much of human 



nature, when it has lost all that made life tolerable, if not 
happy, to rise to the height of impartiality which is the 
ideal of the Courts of Justice. 

The peasants, many of whom we have examined and 
cross-examined, speak with manifest sincerity. But what 
they have heard has become a part of what they have seen; 
and how (for instance) is a simple civilian to distinguish 
what report calls " incendiary pastilles " from the little 
squares of modern gunpowder a packet of which lies be- 
fore me, picked up in the trenches on the Ourcq? No com- 
plete and trustworthy account of these things can be made 
at present; I doubt if it will ever be possible to make one. 
But some general facts are beyond doubt; and they are 
sufficient to justify us in saying that the normal cruelty of 
war has, in considerable portions of the present campaign, 
been so far exceeded as to doubly damn the original Ger- 
man aggression, and eclipse all the previous evil of Prus- 
sian militarism. There is nothing, so far, in French experi- 
ence to equal the fire and sack of Louvain, the massacres of 
Aerschot, Tamines, and Dinant, and the retail butchery in 
many Belgian villages. But there have been foul deeds 
the memory of which will live, to the shame of the German 
army, for generations to come. 

From Chalons to Verdun, it is chiefly the Crown Prince 
and his men who must bear this burden. But rumor at- 
tributed to this unfortunate youth an impossible ubiquity, 
sometimes evidently confusing him with his brothers. 
There is no doubt about the pillage of the Chateau of Baye, 
on the eve of the Prussian disaster in the neighboring 
marshes of St. Gond. The Baron de Baye is an explorer 
and collector of historical and artistic objects; the chateau 
is known to the guide-books for his rich collections, as well 
as for remains of a twelfth-century Cistercian monastery, 
hard by. " Breaking all the numerous glass-cases in a 
gallery forty-five yards long," says the Baroness de Baye, 


' he ' — the Crown Prince — " has stolen the arms, medals, 
precious vases, carved gold cups, all the splendid presents 
given by the Tsar to M. de Baye as souvenirs of his journeys 
to Russia. In the Museum of 1812, he has stolen jewels, 
icons, tapestries, miniatures . . . furniture, priceless 
pictures. But he had to abandon the last boxes in the pre- 
cipitation of the retreat. Our faithful old servants wept." 
(Matin, September 29.) When this letter was published, 
a vague denial was issued by the German Embassy in Rome. 
The Baroness de Baye then added some details : the thieves 
had compelled the village locksmith to help them in packing 
their loot, and in driving the wagons to Rethel. Some high 
officers must be held accountable for this deed; but there 
is no trustworthy evidence identifying the Crown Prince. 1 
In the same district, the Chateau of Montmort, a remark- 
able square building flanked by pepper-box towers, dating 
from 1580, and the Chateau of Beaumont, near Montmirail, 
belonging to the Comte de la Rochefoucauld-Doudeauville, 
were both pillaged. In the latter case, a door was chalk- 
marked for a Count Waldersee. 

Responsibilities in Champagne are divided. In the Ar- 
gonne, the Crown Prince's troops had their own way, which 
is graphically illustrated by the blackened skeletons of 
brickwork that tower above the site of the thriving holiday 

1 The French Commission of Inquiry says: "Baron de Baye's room 
must have been occupied by a person of very high rank, for on the 
door there still remains a chalk inscription, 'J. K., Hoheit.' No one 
could give us exact information as to the identity of this ' Highness ' ; 
however, a General who lodged in the house of M. Houllier, town coun- 
cilor, told his host that the Duke of Brunswick and the Staff of the 
10th Corps had occupied the chateau." This Commission of Inquiry 
consisted of MM. Georges Payelle, First-President of the Cour des 
Comptes; A. Mollard, Minister Plenipotentiary; G. Maringer, Coun- 
cilor of State, and E. Paillot, Councilor in the Court of Appeal. Its 
report, presented to the French Government on December 17, 1914, 
contains many specific allegations of outrages upon women. This is 
a class of crime as to which I should require particularly convincing 
evidence. For this and other reasons, it is hardly mentioned in the 
present volume. 


center, Clermont. 1 This picturesque little town, of 1,200 
inhabitants, set upon a hill overlooking the Aire Valley, at 
the junction of the Paris-Verdun and Bar-le-Duc roads, was 
occupied by the Germans early on the morning of Septem- 
ber 5, after hard fighting on the Verdun side. The Sister 
Superior of the hospital had evacuated the wounded soldiers 
by train the day before, but had herself refused to leave be- 
cause some forty old and infirm civil patients remained. 
At 5 a.m. three officers forced an entry into the hospital, 
but this brave woman withstood them till they had prom- 
ised to do no harm. On the morrow, some houses were fired, 
and, the hospital being threatened, she asked that some 
firemen should be sent to protect it. This was done. A 
large part of the town was burned down, including the 
church ; and the remainder was sacked. 

Chalons, as I have already shown, came off very lightly. 
The Germans were there just a week, from September 4. 
The city was not bombarded. A ransom of £20,000 was de- 
manded and paid; and the officers and men freely looted 
wines, liquors, jewelry, and clothing, especially from closed 
houses. A few miles eastward, we came to L'Epine, the 
two striking towers of its church rising prominently on the 
road. Here, one side of the main street was burned out, 
only a few broken walls still standing. On September 5, a 
Prussian brigade took possession of the village. Most of the 
inhabitants had fled; their houses were ransacked, and then 
set on fire with petrol, torches, and grenades — except those 
in which the officers were billeted. The church, which is a 
place of pilgrimage, owes its immunity to the fact that 300 
wounded German soldiers were sheltered there. On one 
of the shattered walls at the entry to the village, there still 
hangs the French Touring Club's warning to motorists — 

' The French Commission of Inquiry states that Clermont-en-Argonne 
was occupied by the 13th Wiirtemberg Corps, under the command of 
General von Durach, and by a troop of Uhlans commanded by Prince 
von Wittcnstein. 


another note of irony — " Think of the children. Thanks." 
The worst lies in the triangle between this village, Vitry- 
le-Frangois, and Bar-le-Duc, and especially between the last 
two. Proceeding from Bar to Vitry, we had already passed 
through several villages of which only piles of bricks and 
plaster remained, through fields marked by huge holes where 
shells had exploded, and by wayside graves bearing thin 
wooden crosses, with the soldier's cap or a few faded flowers 
hanging on them. Perhaps these communities were victims 
of " legitimate " warfare ; at any rate, our guides passed 
them by. 

Villers-aux-Vents, lately a jolly hamlet, sheltered behind 
trees on the southern edge of one of the rolling plateaux 
of the region, is a spectacle no man could lightly pass by. 
Its name is now tragically appropriate. It is, indeed, 
open to all the winds. It is destroyed from end to end. 
Out of about a hundred houses — recently built, by the ap- 
pearance of the bricks — only one remains partially habit- 
able. Within a few crazy, charred fragments of wall, or 
areas that had been walled, I climbed about the piles of 
broken stone and brick, examined protruding pieces of 
twisted iron, bedsteads, tools, kitchen things, and shattered 
fragments of pottery. The woodwork had disappeared, save 
a few black bones of rafters, tables, and chairs. The inhab- 
itants were told to leave their houses before they were set 
on fire. The only reason I can find alleged is that several 
French soldiers had disguised themselves in civilian clothes, 
or that (alternatively) there was a "wireless" installation 
in the village. The beautiful church has better borne the 
torture by fire. The spire is broken, the timbers of the roof 
have gone, the two big bells lie upon a heap of de'bris, and 
a hole in one of the walls shows where a shell broke through 
during the battle outside the village. A dozen human beings 
are still living in this wilderness, most of them in yawning 
holes which were once the cellars of their homes. Just out- 
side the hamlet, they show the deep, covered trench from 


which the Crown Prince is supposed to have watched the 

After Villers, we visited Brabant-le-Roi, a rather larger 
place. It has suffered less; but we heard grievous tales of 
old folk taken hostage (including a woman of sixty-five, 
now supposed to be kept prisoner at Sedan), and of the 
heartless theft of the peasants' few pieces of silver plate 
and jewelry. A woman and her three children are said to 
have been killed at the near-by hamlet of Soniineilles, burned 
down by the 51st Infantry Regiment, as it is supposed be- 
cause they did not give pleasing answers to some of the sol- 
diers' questions. 

The market town of Revigny, on the other hand, seems 
to have been scientifically destroyed. One wonders how so 
many solid stone houses could be broken up; but it is 
clearly evident here, as at Villers and other places, that it 
is the result not of bombardment, but of systematic incen- 
diarism. The central street presents an extraordinary 
scene of devastation. Nothing remains except parts of the 
lower walls, and, within, deep masses of stone, brick, and 
mortar, broken small, with scraps of iron and charred wood. 
The town hall, a graceful building in French classic style, 
has about a half of its outer fabric standing. The church, 
which is of historical interest, is roofless and much injured 
within. The Germans entered the town on September 6, 
and remained for six days. The few inhabitants who re- 
main of the original 2,000 say that they used two kinds of 
incendiary stuff, one being explosive. The town was first 
pillaged, then fired. At once the streets became a flaming 
furnace. Some German officers angrily declared that the 
people themselves had set it on fire. The Mayor, M. Gaxotte, 
on the other hand, says that motor-cars brought up tins of 
petrol and packets of inflammable substance, that the Ger- 
man soldiers placed this stuff along the houses, and, at a 
signal, threw in hand-grenades. " The cellars," he says, 
" had already been emptied, and pianos and valuable fur- 


niture had been piled on motor-wagons to be taken to Ger- 
many." A boy of fifteen was shot on suspicion of having 
communicated information to the French. Three elder 
citizens were taken away as hostages, and nothing is known 
of their fate. It would be interesting to know what Gen- 
eral von Ethel (commanding the 3rd Brigade of Cavalry) 
has to say about these proceedings. The Crown Prince 
entered the town, but was not content with the rooms pre- 
pared, and went to a neighboring country house. Possibly 
the exploit of a French aviator, who dropped a bomb on 
Eevigny on the second day of the German occupation, kill- 
ing eleven soldiers and thirty-five horses, may have had 
something to do with this barbarity. 

Usually, one finds traces of a general policy, and two 
particular pretexts, in the ravaged villages. The policy is 
that of terrorism which heads of the Prussian State have 
more than once openly stated ; the pretexts are that inhab- 
itants have fired upon the German troops, or have given 
information to the French. But I suspect another partial 
explanation of the peculiar ferocity of the Crown Prince's 
army. It had advanced from the north-eastern frontier, by 
the line Ste. Menehould-Revigny, and, on September 6, 
reached the villages just west of Bar-le-Duc. So far, the 
French had steadily fallen back. The Crown Prince began 
to see himself as an irresistible conqueror entering Paris at 
the head of an invincible army. The awakening from this 
dream was so sharp and sudden that it may well have pro- 
duced a fit of murderous temper. On that Sunday of the 
beginning of the great recoil, the French guns worked a 
slaughter, the exact extent of which will, perhaps, never be 
known. The precipitate retreat has also been attributed 
to a breakdown of transport, involving a shortage of ammu- 
nition. It went fast and far. It was the downfall of Ger- 
man hopes and the ambitions of the Kaiser's heir. The 
battle between Vassincourt and Mogneville, on the 10th, 
was one of its episodes. The demolition of these villages, 


of Laimont and Neuville-sur-Ornain, of Andernay and 
Sermaize, of Huiron and Hassimont, of Sommesous and 
Sompuis, was their revenge — at least, this seems the most 
reasonable explanation of the facts, if there can be said to 
be any reason in them. And this would explain how Vitry- 
le-Francois and Chalons escaped the fate of Revigny and 
Rheims. The routed troops destroyed on the line of their 
flight; but sometimes they had no time to give themselves 
this pleasure, or to do the work thoroughly. 

At Vassincourt, I wandered about in the debris of 
farmers' houses whose big blocks of limestone seemed strong 
enough to have borne a siege. The quaint old chimney 
corners gaped over remains of irons and kitchen ware pol- 
ished by many generations of faithful housewives. An 
ancient cupboard-bed, finely carved, was broken and cov- 
ered with filth and empty bottles. The half-dozen villagers 
remaining gathered round us, and told the story of a woman 
who had dared to hide two silver dishes when the officers 
she had had to entertain were preparing to depart. One 
of them missed the dishes; at first the old woman denied 
that she was the owner of any such wealth. But, when she 
and her husband were tied by the hands and put against a 
wall, she confessed, and, on producing the treasured heir- 
looms, was spared. There is a story of another kind of 
officer who, catching three drunken soldiers threatening an 
innkeeper, made them kneel down in the bar in an attitude 
of supplication, and kept them thus for an hour. It sounds 
like Prussian army discipline; but even Prussian officers — 
if they entertained such unusual ideas of honor — would 
rarely dare to impose them in face of a general policy of 
terrorism dictated from above. 

One scene stands out in my memory. Sermaize-les-Bains 
was a pleasant town of 4,000 inhabitants, on the Saulx, 
with a mineral spring, a large sugar refinery, and a hand- 
some old church. It had been demolished from end to end 
by fire. Of 500 houses, only two or three are now standing. 


Except a few chimneys and pieces of wall, the rest is a 
rubbish heap. In the middle of the town, there is rather a 
fine fountain; from this crossways you look down four 
streets — a perspective extraordinarily like Pompeii before it 
was cleared up by the antiquaries. There was an iron- 
monger's shop; you can trace it by the masses of molten 
metal and what I can best call clotted nails. There was a 
glass-and-china shop; you can trace it by the lumps of 
milky coagulate that stick out among the brick litter. Most 
of the townsfolk had fled; a number were taken prisoner, 
and carried away; a few still inhabit their cellars; you 
see them — women, children, and old men — carrying home 
large, rough loaves of bread, or wheeling barrows of fire- 
wood. Two enterprising tradesmen have built shanties 
where they sell a few necessaries of life. The church is roof- 
less, gutted, and littered with fragments of stone. 

A little way from it is the Presbytery, or Curb's house, 
also burned out. Behind this lies a garden, unusually 
pretty for France, with a tiny fishpond and fountain in the 
center, and statues of the saints, turned a rusty brown by 
the smoke of the great conflagration, along the paths. And 
in the middle of the grass plot stands a white statue of the 
Virgin, turning clasped hands towards the ruins of this 
house of peace and charity. 



Chateau-Thierry, Sunday, September 13. 

The ever fainter boom of the big guns over the fields and 
woods to the north tells me in most emphatic language that 
the grand debacle has begun. Most of the Kaiser's armies 
in France are in full retreat. Many prisoners, guns, and 
quantities of impedimenta are being captured daily. The 
French re-entered Soissons at 6 p.m. yesterdaj-. 

Since the retreat has now continued for four days, the 
rejoicing which fills the French and British armies can 
hardly be called premature. On the other hand, it would 
be dangerous, as well as foolish, to encourage extravagant 
hopes. A lightning withdrawal may, in certain situations, 
be the best strategy. True, this retreat has been marked 
by heavy losses; but, again, the German Great Staff has 
never shown itself tender toward its own men. If there is 
a plain object in view, it hurls its forces forward, indiffer- 
ent to the death-roll. The retreat means the abandonment 
of the hope of attacking Paris, at any rate in the near 
future. But it does not mean that the flight is altogether 
hopeless and useless. From Courchamp, which was set on 
fire by a party of angry Uhlans on Sunday last, to Soissons, 
is fifty-three miles as the aeroplane might fly. In such a 
retreat, it is natural that there should be many stragglers. 
They give themselves up in a starving condition in parties 
of fifty or a hundred ; and, all over the route of this central 
advance, in the woods that cover the Brie tableland and the 
rolling country north of the Marne, groups are still known 
to be hiding. Sometimes they snipe at passers-by — we were 



repeatedly told that it was unsafe to pass through such or 
such a wood— or attempt a feeble resistance; but most 
often they give themselves up, half-dead from lack of rest 
and food, to the rear-guards who are inexorably waiting 
for their surrender. Generally speaking, along this fifty 
miles of almost continuous battlefield, all you can find of 
the dead, except the horses, on the day after the fighting, is 
a line of mounds of fresh brown earth. There are reports 
that, near Montmirail, the Germans simply piled their dead 
in great heaps and turned them to ashes. Usually each 
army buries its fallen at once; but I am told there are 
many Germans dead of hunger, wounds, and fatigue in the 
woods to the south, and that some days must pass before 
the country is completely cleared. 

It is useless to exaggerate the loss of oddments when 
it is evident that the main armies have saved themselves. 
Nevertheless, there is evidence of exhaustion, and of some- 
thing more than physical weariness. Many of the British 
and French troops were exhausted at the end of the fort- 
night's retreat from Belgium. Two Englishmen I have just 
seen may be taken as typical specimens. One was a young 
Lancer, whom we met at La Ferte', while we were hunting 
vainly for a meal. He had lost his horse and his sole griev- 
ance was that he must go back to a depot for another, and 
would then have some difficulty in finding his regiment. He 
looked thin and frail, after a touch of fever; but there 
might never have been anything but victory so far as his 
spirits were concerned. The other fellow, a Cockney infan- 
tryman, was lying along a bench in the shade of the Mairie 
of the little town of Montreuil-aux-Lions, a modest build- 
ing, which has been transformed into a British field hos- 
pital. Two other boys in khaki sat beside him, and, think- 
ing him ill or wounded, I came up to inquire. The odor 
of an English cigarette brought him promptly to a sitting 
posture. He was played out, but perfectly happy, with never 
a shadow of doubt about the justice or success of his job, 


nnd he possessed more confidence than ever, now that he has 
seen them through days of trial, in the competence of his 

To come to the crucial spot at the crucial moment, and 
to carry all before you, is what raises good men to their 
best. Contrast this condition with that of the wretched 
gangs of prisoners whom one meets in the rear camps, or 
sees lying in the straw in the darkness of the railway vans. 
Prussian pride is obstinate enough ; but the pride of infatu- 
ated militarism is no match for the quiet confidence of men 
who are defending a people from outrage. An imprisoned 
aviator, guarded by two Tommies, cheekily offered one of 
them two marks for a coat-button, as a souvenir. The 
Briton did not smack him across the face — so far as I can 
find, the prisoners are treated well, and often very kindly — 
but simply declined the transaction. " You are as proud 
as a Frenchman," said the prisoner, evidently a man of 
certain education. " Right you are," was the smiling reply ; 
" we are all Frenchmen while we're here." 

As you move along these grievous roads, where the ditches 
have been deepened for trenches, and a litter of straw and 
empty tins marks last night's encampment, or a malodorous 
mound speaks of yesterday's battlefield, one thing that 
strikes you is the monstrous silly malice of some of the 
damage done by the retreating enemy, and especially his 
cavalry wings. In general, the northern campaign of intimi- 
dation by outrage has not been repeated in the center of 
France. But when they found themselves suddenly blocked 
by the British on the Brie plateau, the anger of the enemy 
knew no bounds; and villagers suspected of giving informa- 
tion were first compelled to set fire to their own houses, 
aud were then shot. War must always be outrageous. The 
Marne and other bridges were necessarily destroyed by the 
Allies in their retreat, and one's own towns must be bom- 
barded if the enemy occupies them. But there are much 
smaller injuries than these that horrify by their positive 


indecency. When one sees the traces of such crimes, when 
one recalls the spectacle of the famishing prisoners, seem- 
ingly astonished to find themselves in British instead of 
French hands, and hears them tell of the frightful losses 
on their southern march, one realizes what a gulf separates 
demoralization from exhaustion and the defeat that yet 
leaves hope in the heart and light in the mind. 

They are by nature more docile and enduring than the 
British and French; but now the iron has entered their 
souls. I never heard a profounder truth than that which 
one of the Tommies put to me this morning, in these simple 
words : " I'm sorry for the poor devils. They had to 
march. It wasn't their fault." Such a campaign could 
not last. For the common soldiers, the light of despair 
broke upon them when they found themselves within a 
single march of Paris, and then suddenly, without explana- 
tion, diverted to another objective. But, to anyone of 
greater intelligence and education, it was precisely this 
other objective which must have completed their disillusion- 
ment. For I cannot believe that Von Kluck and Von 
Biilow had any hope of getting round for an effective attack 
on Paris by the east and south. If they had, their intelli- 
gence department must have been badly lacking. Every 
instructed German officer and private must have felt the 
cold hand of Fate upon him last Sunday when this prospect 
was first revealed. We know the result. There is no more 
" Battle of the Marne." The river lies peaceful under the 
sunshine, and the washerwomen are busy on its banks. The 
tide of war has ebbed over the northern hills, and the boom 
of cannon can now hardly be heard. 

A long hospital train has just passed after it, and Mr. 
Atkins, in the market-place at the head of an incalculable 
line of motor-wagons, is examining his plugs and petrol- 
tins. In fact, the countryside is emptied of petrol, and 
almost of food. For the moment, the plight of the good 
folk of these little towns which have had two armies quar- 


tered upon them for a week is not a happy one. But they 
take it with true French gallantry; and you have only to be 
an Englishman to know that a bond has been sealed between 
the two nations stronger than any parchment treaties. Only 
those who have seen the British divisions in the field — not 
only the gunners, cavalry, and infantry, but the supply serv- 
ices and columns of communication with the base camps, 
the flying corps, the pontoon outfit, the field telegraph, and 
the rest — can appreciate how much their complete prepara- 
tion and clockwork order contributed to the general result. 

Before Soissons, Tuesday, September 15. 

For three hours, I have been watching, from the hills to 
the south of the town, that part of the unending and ter- 
rific struggle which may be isolated in histoiw as the Battle 
of Soissons. It has lasted for four days ; and only now can 
it be said that victory is turning to the side of the Allies. 
The town itself cannot be entered, for it is still being raked 
both by artillery and rifle fire; and great columns of smoke 
mark several points at which the houses are burning. 

The center of the fighting lies where the British and 
FreDch pontoon corps are trying to keep the bridges they 
have succeeded in throwing across the river — for, of course, 
the old bridges in the town and up and down stream were 
destroyed by the French on their retreat southward a fort- 
night ago. This Golgotha, for it deserves the name, is out 
of sight below the end of the plateau on which I am stand- 
ing; but men who have come from the front line tell me 
that the combat there has been a positive slaughter, putting 
anything in the South African War, or anything else in 
modern warfare that they have heard of, altogether into the 
shade. The river-crossings are the great objective — on the 
one side to make and keep, on the other to destroy, and 
again to destroy. Several British regiments, some detach- 
ments of which were the first to get to the north banks of 
the Aisne, have suffered severely. 


The first crossings were effected on Sunday ; but the Ger- 
man big guns got the range, and yesterday it became neces- 
sary to withdraw. Last night, however, the Allies were 
able to bring up some heavier cannon; and these were set 
to work at an early hour this morning, when the prospect 
began to change. Several German batteries were soon 
moved backward ; but one or two others, hidden in the woods 
that cap nearly all these hills, could not be exactly located 
until an incident of this morning's duel revealed them. The 
British had managed again to get a battery across the 
river, and into position. Apparently, the German artillery 
could not reach it from their hiding-place; and they there- 
fore moved to a better pitch. Under heavy fire, the British 
had to retire, leaving six guns behind. But their assailants 
were now discovered. Covered by a heavy bombardment, 
two British batteries were got over, and were planted at the 
bridge-head. Very soon the six guns had been recovered, 
and two German batteries captured. 

On the western side, the French succeeded in getting 
three batteries and a regiment of infantry over the water. 
About 1,500 prisoners have already been taken to-day. I 
can clearly trace the abandonment during the last three 
hours of a number of German positions, for the smoke from 
their guns — great white bubbles which fade away in less 
than a minute — is moving further and further away over 
the northern hills, and the dull boom and sharp bang grow 
slowly fainter. But even the aviators flying like great 
hawks overhead — a British biplane and a French mono- 
plane — cannot see more than a part, and that uncertainly, 
of a modern battlefield. From Vic-sur-Aisne on the west 
to Rkeims on the east is nearly fifty miles; and that is 
only a part of the line that is now being contested. 

The lie of the land, which makes Soissons so important 
a place, also circumscribes any individual view. The town 
lies across the Paris-Laon road, mainly on the south side 
of the river Aisne, in a cup formed by the breaks of several 


ranges of southern hills; while the line of hills bounding 
it on the north appears to be more continuous. The French 
occupy the left, and the British the right, wings of the pur- 
suit. I came up a more westerly road from Paris, and then 
moved, up hill and down dale, to the high plateau above 
the village of Belleu. All these villages are classic ground; 
they have wonderful old churches and chateaux, and the 
region is full of forgotten battlefields. The curious twelfth- 
century cathedral of Soissons, with its odd tower, and the 
still more ancient church of St. Jean-de-Vignes have not 
yet been damaged by the bombardment of the town. 

A little geography may be a dangerous thing, but it is 
sometimes an incomparable help toward the solution of a 
military puzzle. Perhaps we do not yet know all the rea- 
sons for the sudden German debacle, and even this local 
situation was very obscure yesterday. During the after- 
noon, the French War Office announced that the Germans 
had not been able to hold the defensive lines they had pre- 
pared to the north of the Aisne, between Compiegne and 
Soissons, and also above Eheims. At night, on the other 
hand, the official communique admitted that they were still 
holding out in these positions. The general fact that the 
Germans were resisting firmly this morning, and are now 
giving way, is beyond doubt. Now that I have seen the 
landscape, the whole affair is much more comprehensible. 

The hillside closing on the north the Soissons gap, into 
which several southern valleys lead, was evidently a post 
to seize and hold, if possible. It is said, with great prob- 
ability, that, in their march south, the Germans started 
intrenching a foothold here, and that the big siege guns 
destined for Paris got thus far and no further. There were 
two places of considerable natural strength on the course 
of their fifty-mile retreat. The first was above Meaux, the 
other above Soissons. At both points, it is now evident that 
they have fought very hard, despite a crushing discourage 
ment. At the risk of being blamed for reiteration, I may 


express the belief that they never entertained the hope of 
getting back to Paris, but that their aim was to effect an 
easterly concentration and reconstitution of their armies, 
and, to this end, to delay the main advance of the Allies. 
The first object of the arrest at Soissons, therefore, was 
to cover the line of the retreat; and, as it has been to a 
large extent, so far, an affair of artillery, no doubt it has 
given some at least of the harried German cavalry and in- 
fantry a short breathing-time. 

Let me repeat just one other word for the last time. 
There is an attempt to attribute the German collapse on 
the Marne to a withdrawal and transfer of troops in order 
to check the Russian advance. This was, no doubt, a factor. 
But the very character of the victorious Teutonic rush 
southward contributed to its sudden end and failure. It 
exhausted itself. It burst. It was a case of heart-break — 
as though a runner who has to cover ten miles should put 
all his strength into the first three. It is important to 
realize that the Allies are winning because a rational, 
steady, and persistent spirit possesses them; that the in- 
vaders are failing because they were governed by the mad- 
bull infatuation of Prussian militarism, aided up to a point 
by technical skill and the endurance of the German rank 
and file. 

Many British wounded are being sent to-day to Paris. 
Several whom I have seen have their hands and faces stained 
a horrid yellow. At first I thought it a peculiar form of 
jaundice; actually, it is the effect of the fumes of the lyd- 
dite shells which the Germans are using. 

The Army Service Corps has done wonders in the rapid 
and fearfully trying northern pursuit. When they started 
out from home, there was more than a little doubt whether 
the petrol engine would be equal to this its first crucial 
test. There is no doubt now. Within the zone of fire, 
horse transport is still used, however, I suppose because 
the motor-wagons are too precious to be endangered unnec- 


essarily, as well as because they are too heavy, for instance, 
for rough pontoon bridges. As to the British Flying Corps, 
nothing need be added to General Joffre's handsome recog- 
nition of the " precision, exactitude, and regularity " of 
their information. 

My map marks the road to Soissons through the Forest 
of Villers Cotterets as " impassable for autos." So, indeed, 
it proved for the German army on its breakneck flight to 
the Aisne. At least, there are dozens of broken cars and 
wagons abandoned in the broad quagmires that bound the 
narrow cobbled causeway. There are still many fugitives 
in the woods; parties of them are brought in daily. At 
Berzy-le-Sec we witnessed one of these man-hunts. It was 
exactly like an October battue in the shires. Deep on the 
hillside below our road stretched fields broken by clumps 
of covert. On the other side of these thickets, a line of 
eight or ten men in civilian dress, looking exactly like game- 
keepers, slowly advanced into and through the trees; while, 
on our road above, a score of soldiers watched the other 
side, with rifles ready. They did not interfere with us ; but 
I could not bear to wait for the final " Hands up ! " 

Paris, September 16. 

I have returned from a run of seventy miles through 
the country north of the Maine, by foul roads and over 
rickety plank bridges, to find that Paris has no exact news 
of the battle of the Aisne. The official communique" of this 
afternoon does, however, give an important indication of 
the direction, and so it gives the character, of the German 
retirement as a whole. 

The chief links of the chain from west to east are as fol- 
lows: Noyon, Vic-sur-Aisne, Soissons, Rheims, Ville-sur- 
Tourbe, Varennes, and Forges, on the Meuse north of Ver- 
dun. The Germans are at, or to the north of, these points, 
and, despite the strain of a pursuit unprecedented in its 
speed and extent, the Allies are everywhere in close con- 


tact with them. It will be seen that the German positions 
form two groups, which, abandoning old definitions, we 
may call the German right and left. The former makes a 
double curve from Noyon, where the force recently in 
Amiens has arrived, round south to the heights above the 
Aisne, then up to the hills around Laon, and then south 
again to the hills around Rheims. This right wing gathers 
many, if not all, of the fragments recently scattered about 
the north-west of France into connection with the armies 
retreating from Paris and the Marne. The second, or Ger- 
man left wing, stretches in an almost straight line from 
Rheims eastward toward Metz, passing through the north 
of the Argonne and to the north of Verdun. A glance at 
the symmetry of these lines appears to me to dispose of the 
idea that the German armies are so much broken as to 
have no word in the choice of where they shall fight. They 
seem to have been as rapid in retreat as in advance; and 
it would be a mistake prematurely to call this, taking the 
vast field as a whole, a breakneck flight. They have got out 
of the barren plains of Champagne; their forces are no 
longer divided by the mazes of the Argonne Forest; and 
they now seem to be advantageously ranged along a series 
of railway lines interrupted only at a few points. 

The armies of General von Kluck and General von Bulow 
have two, if not three, lines from Noyon round to Laon 
and Liege, as well as the line from Rheims to the Luxem- 
burg frontier and north Lorraine. The eastern force, in- 
cluding the armies of the Duke of Wiirtemberg, and the 
Crown Prince, are less well served, the Verdun line being 
cut off; but they also can get north to Rethel by rail and 
river as well as road. How far these lines are now service- 
able we do not know, but, until we know, General Cherfils 
is, perhaps, a little too positive in his view of the serious 
incumbrance the German heavy guns may be. 


Epernay, September 18. 

The news that the Cathedral of Rheinis has been struck 
and damaged during a bombardment of the city will be 
received, not only throughout Fiance, but throughout the 
educated world, with a thrill of disgust and indignation. 
This vast edifice is one of the first glories of European 
architecture. The wonderful west fagade, dating from the 
thirteenth century, with its three deeply recessed portals, 
containing more than five hundred statues of Scriptural 
personages and the kings of France, and its great rose 
window, has been described as perhaps the most beautiful 
structure produced in the Middle Ages. The church, which 
has almost completely escaped the hands of the enterpris- 
ing restorer, contains or contained much splendid wood- 
work, valuable tapestries, reliquaries, and church plate, and 
several pictures, besides its superb old windows. It is the 
cathedral of the Capetian and later kings, an unequaled 
shrine of the faith, culture, and history of the French people. 
With but a little pardonable exaggeration, it has been called 
" the Acropolis of France." The greatness of Rheims be- 
gan fourteen centuries ago, after the Vandals and Huns 
had gone. A general instinct recalls to-day the fear- 
some name of those olden practitioners of " frightful- 

Although Rheims is firmly held by the French, it was 
still being cannonaded by the Germans this morning, and 
civilians cannot enter. I have got thus far, but cannot 



get further. Nor do the good folk of Epernay know much 
of what is occurring fifteen miles to the north. Rheiins has 
suffered three separate bombardments — the first on the 
southward march of the Germans at the beginning of the 
month, the second when the French returned, and the third 
when the Germans had fixed upon the positions of the old 
French forts on the north, and intrenched themselves above 
the Vesle Valley. The French retirement from the town 
began on September 2, and was completed on the following 
day. The army returned at noon on the 11th; and, since 
then, they have been engaged in holding their ground, and 
in attempting to recover the fortified hills which had been 
lost. In the first bombardment, the destruction within 
Rheims was not large; and this is not surprising, for the 
forts, which lie in a semicircle from north-west to south- 
east at a distance of about four miles, were the chief objec- 
tive of the German attack. The civil population was fore- 
warned ; and most of the houses and practically all business 
places were closed. Since the return of the French army, 
and the more desperate development of the struggle, how- 
ever, there has been a great deal of damage, chiefly by shell- 

A leading citizen of Epernay, to whose private diary I 
am indebted for many details, believes that, on the first 
German attack, the forts did not offer any substantial re- 
sistance ; and he says that some of the big guns were brought 
away and taken to Paris, while others, too large to be trans- 
ported, were destroyed. He adds that the Vitry-le-Rheims 
fort, on the north end of Mount Berru, and another were 
mined, and may, perhaps, have been blown up. The whole 
question of the fortresses — and Rheims, perhaps, chiefly — 
is so grave that sooner or later an inquiry is inevitable. 
This " intrenched camp," with its girdle of permanent 
works, was supposed to be one of the strong links in France's 
second line of defense. It was designed to block an invader 
coming either from the Ardennes or the Argonne, and to 


command the system of roads and railways that here find 
their center. If it was not immediately captured, it was 
immediately turned; for the Germans entered Epernay on 
September 4, and continued their advance the next day. 
Had Rheiins been able to offer an effective and prolonged 
resistance, the southern march, both here and nearer Paris, 
if not impossible, would have been so dangerous that it 
might never have been attempted. That the Germans should 
now be defending positions the French abandoned is a fact 
that calls for explanation. Also, if forts do not serve their 
designed purpose, they are worse than useless, for they 
bring a terrible penalty upon the civil population. 

The fate of Epernay offers a singular contrast. This 
pretty and almost completely modern industrial center of 
Champagne, with its great mansions and many signs of 
wealth, has suffered all the anxieties of the double invasion 
— it is only to-day that the good citizens begin to breathe 
freely — but very little material damage. On September 2, 
the first French troops came into the town on the retreat 
from Rheims. On the morning of September 4, the redoubt- 
able enemy appeared, and, overtaking the French rear-guard 
in the hilly and thickly wooded district to the south of 
Epernay, between Pierry and Brugny, opened fire upon 
them. A running fight followed, without great effect, ex- 
cept that several farms and country houses were destroyed. 
During the same afternoon, a large body of Germans who 
had crossed the Marne at Mareuil (eight miles east of 
Epernay) marched on the town by the Paris road. On 
this occasion, again, the first German cavalry patrols are 
said to have pretended to be British soldiers. 

Some leading citizens went out to treat for the safety 
of the town, no doubt having in mind what a general sack 
of the world-famous wine cellars would mean. The com- 
mandant was brought to the Mayor, and at once demanded 
supplies of tobacco and champagne for the troops, and 
40,000 rations. This was an impossible requirement; and 


a curious bargain was struck. The amount of requisitions 
not yielded was estimated by Count von Moltke at 165,- 
550 fr. (£7,102). This amount was demanded in gold, and 
was actually paid over by the Mayor, and five municipal 
councilors (one of them, the editor of the Reveil de la 
Marn-e, told me the story), who were being held as hostages. 
But the great wine-grower, M. Chandon (Moet and Chandon 
have over twenty miles of cellars here), happened to have 
a German general billeted upon him, and complained of 
the unfairness of this exaction. The general agreed. An- 
other influence was even more valuable. 

One considerate doctor remained in the town. The Ger- 
mans had many wounded, and were anxious that they should 
be cared for. Dr. Veron undertook that this should be done, 
on condition that no damage should be done to the town. 
Between the general and the doctor it came about that, 
on their return, finding their wounded in good hands, the 
German commander returned the money that had been 
taken. 1 

This episode would be more pleasant to contemplate were 
it not that the supplies actually provided were not paid for, 
and tobacco stores and closed shops and houses were freely 
pillaged. The commandant warned the hostages he had 
taken that any inhabitants who attacked his soldiers in any 
way would be at once shot. With the German flag flying 
over the town hall and the railway station, the soldiers 
ransacked the food shops, giving receipts for what they 
took. In the evening, a fire broke out in a granary, where 
several of them were stationed. Probably it had been caused 
by their own carelessness ; but an officer informed the Mayor 
that, if there were another fire, no matter who caused it, 
he and the other hostages would be shot. 

At 6 a.m. on September 5, these troops left for Mont- 

1 Some later newspaper reports stated that one of the wounded soldiers 
was a nephew of the Duke of Mecklenburg. But see the later reference 
to this matter, Chapter XXVII. 


niirail; and three hours later many new regiments, headed 
by bands, began to pass through the town. Some officers 
wished to have a German flag made, and sought out the 
daughter of the concierge of the town hall for the purpose. 
The girl was so much alarmed that she became insane, and 
is now in an asylum. With the second column were brought 
a score of French prisoners. After having been exhibited 
for some hours in the chief square of the town, they were 
lodged in a house under strong guard. They remained there 
till the first day of the evacuation of Epernay, and followed 
the Germans in their retreat. 

A notable incident was the visit of the German Staff, 
including a son of the Kaiser (my informant believed him 
to be a younger son, not the Crown Prince) who stayed 
with other officers in the splendid mansion of M. Claude 
Chandon. On the day of their arrival, the Prince enter- 
tained seventy persons, including the Staff, to a grand ban- 
quet. He took several walks in the town, and was enthusi- 
astically acclaimed by the soldiers. 

One of my informants showed me a copy of the follow- 
ing proclamation, signed by Count von Moltke, and printed 
in French, which appears to have been intended for general 
use during the invasion: 

" All the authorities and the municipality are informed 
that every peaceful inhabitant can follow his regular occu- 
pation in full security. Private property will be absolutely 
respected, and provisions paid for. 

" If, on the contrary, the population dare, under any form 
whatever, open or bidden, to take part in the hostilities 
against our troops, the severest punishment will be inflicted 
on the refractory. 

" The people must give up their arms. Every armed 
individual will be put to death. 

" Whoever cuts telegraph wires, destroys railway bridges 
or roads, or commits any ad ion whatever to the detriment 
of the German troops, will be shot on the spot. 

" Towns and villages whose inhabitants have taken part 


in the combat, or fire upon us from ambush, will be burned 
down, and the guilty shot at once. The civil authorities will 
be held responsible. 

" The Chief of Staff of the German Army, 

" Von Moltke." 

It is certain that the promise to respect private property 
was not taken seriously. 

At dawn on Sunday, the 7th, the population was wakened 
by a violent cannonade from the south, and this continued 
till nightfall. During that day, the Germans were very 
busy organizing ambulances for the wounded, who were 
brought in by hundreds. The artillery duel seemed to be 
redoubled on the morning of the 8th, twelve batteries firing 
together and almost without interruption. Soon the ambu- 
lances were all full, and were sent off to the north. A 
French Alsatian nun has since reported a saying of a 
wounded German officer whom she was nursing in one of 
the hospitals of the town. Speaking of the battle in which 
he was wounded, he said, in accents of deep sadness : " It 
is the end of the world for us." 

On the afternoon of September 9, the retreat of the Ger- 
mans from Epernay began. The inhabitants were ordered 
to stay at home, doubtless that they should not witness the 
extent of the movement. At first, great convoys of ammu- 
nition came in by all the southern roads, and went on to- 
ward Rheims. All through that night the mixed procession 
of troops, wounded, and supplies continued. On the 10th, 
further regiments passed, singing dolefully. The retreat 
became more and more like a rout. All the vehicles that 
could be got in the town were taken ; and still some wounded 
had to be placed on gun-carriages — the gunners tramping 
beside them. They all seemed exhausted, and some could be 
seen hungrily devouring chunks of bread. On Friday morn- 
ing, September 11, the last detachment crossed the Marne, 
and blew up the road and railway bridges. A piece of stone 
thrown up by the explosion killed a child of fourteen. In 


their precipitancy, they had forgotten a convoy of 300 
wounded, which remained in the hands of the French. 

Three hours after the Germans had passed the river, a 
body of French Chasseurs entered Epernay, and they were 
speedily followed by cavalry and infantry regiments. The 
inhabitants cheered them loudly, and brought bunches of 
flowers to show their delight. In a very short time, a bridge 
was thrown over the river, and the fighting on the road to 
Rheims began. But the Germans had already fixed their 
batteries on the hills, which rise sharply to the north of the 
town, and a long and costly effort has been required to 
drive them back. 

During the ride of about ninety miles from Paris to 
Epernay, I saw something of the battlefields from Mont- 
mirail northward. In some places, the Germans had made 
strong positions, the trenches being deep and solidly cov- 
ered, with resting-places and lateral approaches. A good 
many houses on the route showed holes and rents due to 
shell-fire, and a few had holes pierced in the walls for the 
use of riflemen. Several very large farmhouses had been 
burned down, evidently as punishment or revenge. A 
French sergeant tells me that 3,000,000 cartridges and sev- 
eral thousand shells were abandoned in the retreat to the 
south of Epernay. 

Some bodies of the Allied troops were able to enter Sois- 
sons on Wednesday; but only at noon yesterday was the 
town completely held, the Germans falling back to the crest 
of the hills. Together with the reoccupation of Rheims, 
this success will be a great encouragement. Soissons is a 
point of concentration of the railways and roads of the 
Picardy and Champagne borderland. Rheims is of even 
greater importance for the immediate future; and these two 
towns make natural bases for the conduct of the struggle 
between the Forest of Laigle and the Craonne plateau. The 
question of the German lines of communication will assume 
increasing interest. Obsessed, as it always has been, by 


the value of turning movements, the German Grand Staff 
must be nearly as nervous just now about its west, north, 
and east flanks as about the host that is relentlessly press- 
ing upon it from the south. But this does not mean, unhap- 
pily, that any early conclusion of the war is to be looked 
for. New slaughter will be sown about the old battlefields ; 
and if the German generals continue to show the agility 
in escape that they have so far exhibited, they may yet get 
the larger number of their men back to the line of their 
own fortresses. Perhaps, after all, it will be General Hiver 
and the gathering storm of economic ruin at home that will 
determine the issue. 

A French cavalry officer says that the German cavalry 
has never dared to test on the battlefield the reputation it 
had gained in maneuvers at home. " When it has shown 
itself," he says, " it was merely to unmask our guns or to 
follow up a pursuit. The chivalry of the charge does not 
accord with the character of troops who even in their public 
proclamations put ' honor ' after ' well-being.' In material 
preparation the Germans are very good. The officers are 
brave, but reckless in spending their men. The subaltern 
grades are competent. The rank and file are sheep, knowing 
neither why nor against whom they are fighting. The only 
strength they have had — and it is formidable — is that of 
numbers. Each in proportion to his rank, these officers 
follow the Kaiser's example and think themselves ' super- 
men.' Now that they have become more prudent — especially 
the African troops — our men are splendid. The lesson is 
learned, and now, with smaller losses, they do more work. 
As our 75-pieces (3-in. guns) can rake the trenches, and 
upset the enemy's field-guns, it is useless to throw the in- 
fantry forward till the way has been properly prepared." 

I am informed, in fact, that the rules for opening action 
which were in effect at the beginning of the war have just 
been amended by General Joffre in an important particular. 
Instead of the infantry going in first, and being supported 


by the artillery, it will now be usual for the guns to make 
an opening, and the infantry attack to follow. This is evi- 
dently a result of experience of the effective quality of the 
famous French field-pieces. 

Among the stories of the double bombardment of Sois- 
sons, not the least inspiriting is that of Mme. Marcherez. 
When the Germans, on their southern advance, came into 
the town, it was found that the Mayor had fled, along with 
nearly the whole of his fellow-citizens. But this plucky 
woman remained, and it was with her that the invaders 
talked as representative of the municipality. If they did 
not, for her sake, abandon their habit of breaking into and 
looting all closed houses, they seem not to have molested 
the remaining inhabitants. 

Yet another type of heroine: The good folk of a little 
town on the Grand Morin were preparing for flight on the 
approach of the enemy. What to do with a swarm of cats 
and dogs and other small domestic animals? An old lady 
sent round the drummer, who, in French villages, takes the 
place of the English bellman, to say that she would look 
after the cats and dogs till their owners returned. And 
the others left her to keep this menagerie while the Ger- 
mans came and went. It is often said that French people 
are less sensitive than we to the sufferings of animals. At 
a time which is as evil for the brute world as for its proud 
masters, let us remember this example to the contrary. 

Paris, September 21. 

The bombardment of Rheims continues. The Cathedral 
and public buildings have suffered further damage; and 
several hundred civilians have been killed. The town is 
now closed to any but military and official persons; but 
the following further details of what has occurred have been 
obtained from soldiers and refugees. 

German troops first arrived before Rheims on Wednes- 
day, September 2. The neighboring forts being incapable 


of resisting the weight of the newest explosives, they were 
disabled and abandoned. Thus there was only a short resist- 
ance. Four thousand Saxon troops entered the city, on 
the afternoon of the 4th, at parade step, singing the Wacht 
am Rliein, and lined up before the town hall. Some of the 
officers were actually there when the first bombardment be- 
gan on September 5, and a hundred shells had been thrown 
in before the firing could be stopped. Regiments then took 
possession of the town; but the main body passed round it 
and went on to Epernay and Montmirail. In Rheims the 
German troops do not seem at first to have acted badly. 
The inhabitants say that they then gave either receipts or 
money to the shopkeepers for the goods they took, and 
they gave a receipt for a million francs (£40,000), which 
they seized as a guarantee for the delivery of army requi- 
sitions of bread and other supplies. Dr. Langlet, the Mayor, 
a fine and courageous old gentleman of seventy-six years, 
and other leading citizens were held as hostages. Those of 
the inhabitants who remained were warned that any of them 
resisting the troops would be shot and the city wholly or 
partially burned. 

It was on Friday, the 11th, that the Germans came pour- 
ing back, with the French cavalry hard upon their heels. 
The town was reoccupied on the following day. The fol- 
lowing narrative of its recapture was given to me by a 
young infantryman of Picardy who was wounded on Sep- 
tember 15 : " The German rear-guard were still in Rheims 
on that Saturday evening when we decided to make a gen- 
eral assault on the town. We were in all about twelve regi- 
ments of infantry and a strong force of cavalry. We sur- 
rounded the town, and went in by all the roads that led 
into it. The Germans, who were in force, at first made 
some resistance ; and for an hour or two sharp fighting took 
place in the streets. But soon the enemy abandoned their 
hurriedly built barricades, and took refuge in the houses 
and cellars. A number of their men were drunk, and were 


not in a condition to fight. We then started hunting for 
them. There was not a house or a wine-cellar in which we 
did not discover German soldiers or officers hidden. The 
chase was a most extraordinary sight, especially at night- 
time. In a huge cellar I went to, I found a German hidden 
in a corner hehind two big boxes. I thought my last minute 
had come, for he had a revolver in his hand and aimed at 
me. I was holding my rifle by the barrel, the bayonet be- 
hind me. I shouted to him, l Surrender, or I will shoot 
you.' He fired, but I had fortunately jumped aside and he 
missed me. Then I struck him with the butt-end of my 
rifle right on the mouth and nose. He dropped his revolver, 
and put his hand to his face. I had broken most of his 
front teeth. I did not want to kill him, so I took him up 
from the cellar and handed him to an officer. All the other 
soldiers who had been hunting in the houses came out sim- 
ilarly with one or two prisoners apiece. Some of them 
tried to escape and ran out into the streets, where they 
were pursued or shot by our men. The hunt lasted all 
night. Counting dead and wounded, we captured 5,000 Ger- 
mans in all." 

Perhaps it was the punishment the Germans had received 
that turned their obstinate pride into a wild savagery. 
Rheims is an open town, and cannot itself be defended; 
but the hills to the north and east, some of them the site 
of the dismantled French forts and batteries of Brimont, 
Fresnes, St. Thierry, and Nogent l'Abbesse, make a strong 
position, though not as strong as the hills above Soissons. 
It was absolutely essential that these hills should be held if 
the whole line of the Aisne was not to be turned. Here the 
beaten German army pulled itself together, and rapidly in- 
trenched; and here, except for a few points which have 
been captured, it is still holding out. Rheims was evacu- 
ated at 4 p.m. on Saturday, September 12. The fact that 
at least 150 German wounded were left lying in heaps of 
straw in the nave of the Cathedral would suggest that up 


to this time another bombardment was not contemplated. 
When the French entered the town, the long artillery duel, 
which is still proceeding, began. For the first few days it 
was rather of a preparatory nature — at least, its present 
intensity was not reached till the end of the week, when 
repeated attacks and counter-attacks had been delivered in 
the hills around. From time to time shells fell into the 
town, and brought down a house like a pack of cards. All 
the time, the Red Cross flag flew from the Cathedral. 

The serious and deliberate bombardment of the town be- 
gan on Friday and continued on Saturday, being chiefly 
directed from the German batteries placed on the site of 
the old French fort on the hill of Nogent l'Abbesse. This 
position stands barely six miles from the center of the city 
to the east ; and the chief buildings would be clearly visible 
through field-glasses, so that there can be no question of 
accident. Either on Friday afternoon or early on Satur- 
day morning, it had been the scene of severe fighting, the 
French making persistent attacks, and at last capturing 
the site of their old Pompelle battery, a couple of miles 
short of the main position at Nogent. Was it in revenge for 
this audacity that shells were deliberately aimed at the 
wondrous fabric in which the artists of the Middle Ages 
enshrined their noblest conceptions of beauty and faith? 
Hundreds of shells were thrown into the city — one person 
says 1,500 in the two days. A whole block of buildings to 
the north of the Cathedral was gutted. The northern 
(Laon) and eastern (Ceres) quarters show great piles of 
smoking ruins. During Saturday morning the city was on 
fire in several places, columns of smoke and tongues of 
flame leaping to the gloomy sky. A few firemen vainly 
tried to stay the conflagration. Most of the inhabitants 
had taken refuge in their cellars. 

Several shells struck the Cathedral, and some scaffolding 
around the left (north) tower, where repairs were being 
made, took fire, falling upon the roof, which was soon ablaze. 


This would be at about 4 o'clock on Saturday afternoon. 
The flames quickly spread to the rafters of the nave and 
transepts; and burning timber, falling upon the straw lit- 
tered about the floors, the chairs, and choir-stalls, turned 
the shadowy interior into a furnace. An eye-witness tells 
me that most of the magnificent and irreplaceable windows 
were shattered and lay about in many-colored fragments. 
The ancient Archiepiscopal Palace is burned down, with 
its prehistoric and ethnographic collections, its library, its 
tapestries, and its splendid " Hall of Kings," only the 
charred walls standing. The exact damage cannot be ascer- 
tained, for Rheims is now cut off from the remainder of 
the country, the roads of approach being forbidden except 
to the army. 

The bombardment was resumed early on Sunday morn- 
ing, apparently with the aim of completing the destruction 
of the city and its historical monuments. Of these the 
Abbey Church of Saint-Remi is a century older than the 
Cathedral itself, and contained splendid stained-glass win- 
dows, marble statues, and other treasures. 

The Town Hall, a fine building in Louis XIII style, 
dating from 1630, in which were also situated the Town 
Library and Museum, is damaged, and the Protestant 
Church, the Hotel Dieu, or hospital, the sub-prefecture, and 
some of the ancient houses of the town are destroyed. Many 
sick and wounded have been removed to the wine-cellars, 
the ambulances having been fired upon, and five nurses 

I will only add one comment to this grievous story. It 
is that of M. Maurice Barres, the eminent reactionary. " At 
least," he says, " these shells have not fallen on our bat- 
talions, our brothers and sons, our defenders. Perish the 
marvels of the French genius rather than that genius itself. 
Let the most beautiful of stone be destroyed rather than 
the blood of my race. At this moment I prefer the humblest, 
weakest infantryman of France to our worthiest works of 


art. These we will recreate. The essential thing is that our 
nation remains. Vive la France! This is the only reply 
of believers, artists, and patriots to this deed." 

I may mention that, at the height of the conflagration, 
the French army doctors, remembering that some German 
wounded remained in the Cathedral, went in and brought 
them away to safety. It appears to me that in that act 
lies the finest revenge for this pitiless barbarism. Long 
after our little angers are spent and forgotten, it will be 
recalled in history that these wounded Germans were res- 
cued from flames which their own brethren had kindled. 


It has been repeatedly pointed out that the whole plan 
of campaign of the Allies depended upon the maintenance 
of a successful defense on the east, from Verdun to Bel- 
fort. The efforts of the armies of Generals Sarrail, De 
Castelnau, and Dubail were not absolutely limited to the 
defensive, for they had to endeavor to win back ground, 
especially in the Woevre and Lorraine, that had been lost, 
and they had to hold as many German corps as possible 
on this front, in order to relieve the pressure elsewhere. 
But the first and supreme order was to stand firm. There 
must be no more blundering, and no further retreat. It is 
not the role that the French soldier of tradition favors; 
it may, however, be doubted whether men of any race could 
have fulfilled this hard service with greater courage, stouter 
endurance, or more persistent energy. Their success has 
not loomed so large in the world's eye, but it was as solid 
and important as that of the western armies. The defense 
of Verdun and the neighboring region will be the subject 
of a later chapter; here we shall notice the outstanding 
events southward along the Heights of the Meuse, and in the 
gap between the fortresses of Toul and Epinal. 

The chief attempt to break through the eastern barrier 
was made south of the Moselle, and centered upon the 
Grande Couronne of Nancy. At the height of this major 
attack, when General SarraiTs forces were engaged against 
the Crown Prince to the south of the Argonne, the army 
of Metz delivered a lesser assault upon the line of the 
Meuse, eighteen miles south of Verdun, where the Spada 



road is covered only by the small fort of Troyon, on the 
hills which bound the river on the east. On September 7, 
the gallant commander of Troyon, Captain Xavier Heym, 
had been out shooting partridges. Before another day was 
over, 400 large shells had been thrown upon the fort, seven 
guns being put out of action, and large parts of the building 
demolished. Nevertheless, resistance was maintained till 
September 13; and, in these five days, of 454 men, only 4 
were killed and 45 wounded. Two infantry assaults were 
made on the nights of the 8th and 9th. They were discov- 
ered by the flashlights of the fort, and repelled by the fire 
of rifles and the remaining guns. The besiegers were hidden 
in the wooded hills, and their positions could not be found : 
it was Liege over again on a smaller scale, but with hardly 
less at stake, for if Troyon had fallen, the German armies 
retreating from the battle of the Marne could have been 
re-enforced, Verdun invested, and a permanent road opened 
to Metz. Two German officers and a trumpeter rode up to 
the fort, and demanded its surrender. " Never ! " replied 
the commander ; " I shall blow it up sooner." And finally : 
"Get out, I've seen enough of you. A bientot, a Metz!" 
At length, on the 13th, the 2nd Cavalry Division brought 
relief from Toul. The men were exhausted from lack of 
sleep; the fort showed ruins on every hand (largely the 
work of shells 3 feet long, of 305-mm. caliber) . But Troyon 
had fulfilled its task. 

A few days later, the effort to break the Meuse line was 
repeated a little further south, at a point where the Fort 
du Camp des Romains overlooks from the forest-clad hills 
the ancient town of St. Mihiel, on the left bank in a loop 
of the river. St. Mihiel is the converging point of roads 
from Pont-a-Mousson, Vigneulles, Heudicourt, and Woin- 
ville. It had a considerable garrison, whose barracks were 
situated on the other side of the river, in the suburb of 
Chauvoncourt. Along this west bank of the Meuse runs the 
railway from Verdun to Toul — of less importance since the 


Ste. Menehonld line was recovered, but not lightly to be 
lost. Four German army corps, with heavy siege guns, 
under General von Strantz, were engaged in these opera- 
tions; and, after a most hardy resistance, the fort of the 
Camp des Romains fell on September 22. The survivors of 
the garrison, 300 in number, were, said an American cor- 
respondent with the German army, accorded the most hon- 
orable conditions. On the following day, St. Mihiel was 
occupied, and a long foot-to-foot struggle, first on the west, 
then on the east of the Meuse. During October, the Verdun 
army was able to reach further to the south-east, and the 
Toul troops to the north-east, but with no more success 
than to stop the German advance, and to restrict and 
threaten constantly the German force pushed forward, like 
a spear-head, from Pont-k-Mousson and Thiaucourt to St.- 
Mihiel. From its fastness on the Camp des Romains, neigh- 
boring villages were bombarded, including Sampigny, and 
President Poincare's villa therein. On November 17, the 
French troops silenced some German mortars which had 
been placed on the hills at Parodies, and seized the western 
part of Chauvoncourt. They then found that parts of the 
town had been mined. On the morning of the 18th, the 
mines were exploded; the French lost about 2,000 men, 
killed, wounded, and prisoners, on this occasion. The Metz 
army retained a bare foothold upon the Meuse at St. Mihiel, 
the only substantial piece of ground won since the battle 
of the Ma me. 

After its defeat at Morhange and Sarreburg, on August 
20, General de Castelnau brought his army back to its pre- 
pared positions along the circle of low hills to the north- 
east of the picturesque town of Nancy, with the fortress 
of Toul behind. The retreat was so hard-pressed that it 
would appear extravagant to attribute its direction to a 
cool, strategic design. Nevertheless, important strategic 
consequences followed. The gap of Charmes-Mirecourt, be- 
tween the fortresses of Toul and Epinal, was left open, save 



for minor forces which Castelnau and Dubail could spare 
for the work of obstruction and harassment in that direc- 
tion. It was a temptation; and the German commanders 
never seem to have been quite certain what to do about it. 
The main French army was drawn up in a semicircle from 
near Pont-a-Mousson, through the plateau of Amance, rising 
to 1,000 feet over the forest of Champenoux, to Dombasle 
and the forest of Vitremont. It was outnumbered, prob- 
ably by two 
ToVerounWE*v t h<»y°n / i ^ ^-n^ lor three to 

one; but it 
held strong 
natural p o s i - 
tions, improved 
by in trench- 
men t. The 
Crown Prince 
of Bavaria, in 
command of the 
Bavarian army 
and certain 
troops from 
Metz, could 
probably have 
penetrated from 
Luneville and 
Baccarat to 
and thence to 
Chalons, had 
he concentrated 
upon this ob- 
jective. But he 
would then 
have had not 
The Defense of Nancy. only two fort- 


resses upon his flanks, but a great army behind. Lune>ille, 
as we have seen, was occupied on August 22. Thence, the 
German left crossed the rivers Meurthe and Mortagne, and 
advanced to the Moselle. They were received by a heavy 
artillery fire from the hills above Bayon on August 24 ; 
but their progress was more effectually arrested by the news 
that Castelnau was taking the offensive eastward of Nancy. 
Part of the force was brought back just in time to recapture 
the wood of Cre'vic. 

The 59th and 68th French Reserve Divisions on the left, 
and the 36th Brigade on the right, now marched eastward 
along the roads from Nancy to Delme and Ch&teau-Salins, 
toward Amance and Champenoux. For several days, only 
skirmishes took place. The object was not to cross the 
frontier, but to create a diversion, and to take up and 
intrench favorable positions which would make even a dis- 
tant bombardment of Nancy impossible. By September 3 
(they do not seem to have hurried — perhaps they were syn- 
chronizing their movements with Von Kluck and Von 
Biilow), German re-enforcements particularly strong in ar- 
tillery began to arrive. The great crisis was being reached 
in the west, and General Joffre did not want the added risk 
of adventures in Lorraine. De Castelnau was ordered, there- 
fore, to hold himself on the defensive. 

By this time, the German commanders had come to ac- 
cept the necessity of a frontal attack upon the line of the 
army of Nancy. It began in force on September 4; and it 
is said to have been supported by no less than four hundred 
heavy guns, many of them borrowed from the forts of Metz 
and Strassburg. For a week, with hardly any cessation, 
the French positions on the Amance plateau were bom- 
barded from behind and within the forest of Champenoux, 
and the positions further north, at Mont Ste. Genevieve, 
from the forest of Facq. On the latter wing, Pont-;\-Mous- 
son was occupied by the enemy, 12,000 strong, on Septem- 
ber 5, the French soldiers blowing up the Moselle bridge 


behind them. The town was retaken on the 10th ; and there- 
after the French held the left, the Germans the right bank 
of the river. At the neighboring village of Loisy, a single 
company of infantry posted itself in the cemetery, and, 
waiting till the Saxon attackers were quite near, opened 
a deadly fire upon them. A night assault to the left, at 
Ste. Genevieve, held by a battalion of the 314th Infantry, 
with two batteries, was no more successful. The French 
claim to have found 933 dead at these points. But the 
brunt of the struggle occurred on the slopes of the Grand 
Mont d'Amance, a position of peculiar advantage for the 
defense. Their way prepared by a rain of shells, the Ba- 
varian troops marched in massed columns upon Erbe'ville, 
defended by the French 344th Regiment, and on the village 
of Champenoux, held by the 212th. The battle continued 
through September 5 and 6. On the 7th, the French coun- 
ter-attacked, but Champenoux was lost, the 206th Infantry 
suffering very heavily. On the 8th, a new attack was at- 
tempted—a single division against three army corps. Ap- 
parently, the Germans were as much exhausted as the 
French, for the 9th passed quietly, an armistice being 
granted for the burial of the dead. A mixed regiment was 
brought up from Toul to re-enforce the line; but, says a 
French writer, " our soldiers, hungry, harassed, haggard, 
could hardly stand upright, and marched like specters. 
Visibly, we were at the last breath, crushed by infinitely 
superior numbers. We could hold out only a few hours 
more. And then, O prodigy, calm fell, on the 12th, upon 
the whole of the stricken field. The enemy gave up, re- 
treated for good, abandoned everything, Champenoux, so 
frantically contested, and the entire front he had occupied. 
He fell back in dense columns, without even a pretense 
of further resistance." 

One by one, Saint-Die, Luneville, Baccarat, and Raon- 
l'Etape were evacuated, and reoccupied by the French. 
Three divisions had defended against three times as many, 


for a fortnight, the whole crescent from Pont-a-Mousson to 
Dombasle. At the south end of this line, about the villages 
of Reniere'ville, Courbessaux, and Drouville, and the Wood 
of Cre>ic, the ground is lower; and here the fighting was 
of a dreadful stubborn fierceness, every farm and hamlet 
being contested to the last. Re'mereville was captured, the 
French detachment of only a battalion and a half which 
held it being wiped out. A few shells were thrown into 
Nancy from this point — the only time it was reached by 
the enemy. The Crevic plateau was repeatedly lost and won, 
at a cost of thousands of lives. The general result may be 
attributed to (1) De Castelnau's success in holding out in 
the hill trenches of Amance and Chainpenoux, which made 
any advance into the gap of Mire"court highly dangerous; 
(2) exhaustion and heavy losses — the French claim to have 
found 40,000 German dead; (3) the fact that the retreat 
of the German western armies from the Marne deprived the 
Crown Prince of Bavaria of his objective. That great hopes 
were placed in this part of the campaign seems to be indi- 
cated by the presence with the Bavarian army, for two or 
three days, of the Emperor William, to whom report attrib- 
uted the expectation of entering as conqueror the capital 
of French Lorraine. 

It has been said on an earlier page that the cruel treat- 
ment of the civil population which nearly everywhere 
marked the progress of the German armies did not in 
France reach the extent or depth of iniquity shown at 
Tamines, Aerschot, Louvain, and other towns and villages 
in Belgium. It is only with hesitation that this statement 
can be maintained in face of the report of the French Com- 
mission of Inquiry upon the devastation and barbarities 
wrought in the Department of Meurthe and Moselle. As 
though the destruction of hundreds of farmsteads and parts 
of scores of villages in course of the fighting were not suf- 
ficient penalty for this unfortunate countryside, the Ba- 
varian infantry, in particular, are proved to have been 


guilty at many places of almost incredible acts of ferocity. 
In the village of Nomeny, between Nancy and the frontier, 
the 2nd and 3rd Bavarian regiments seem to have sunk to 
the level of Abdul Hamid's Bashi-Bazouks. The place was 
first sacked, then burned; and, as the villagers fled from 
their cellars, they were shot down — old men, women, and 
children — fifty being killed and many more wounded. Gen- 
erally speaking, the larger the place the less extreme was 
the lawlessness. But at Luneville, during the three weeks' 
occupation, the Hotel de Ville, the Synagogue, and about 
seventy houses were burned down, with torches, petrol, and 
other incendiary apparatus; and seventeen men and women 
were shot in cold blood in the streets. A notice to the popu- 
lation, signed " Commander-in-Chief, Von Fosbender," was 
posted on September 3, announcing that a " contribution " 
of 650,000 francs (i26,000) must be paid in three days, or 
" all the goods which are available will be seized," and 
" anyone who shall have deliberately hidden money, or shall 
have attempted to hide his goods, or who seeks to leave the 
town, will be shot." The money was actually found and 
paid. In the neighboring village of Chanteheux, the Ba- 
varians fired twenty houses, and shot eight civilians, on 
August 25. A day earlier, practically the whole of the little 
town of Gerbeviller was destroyed by fire (more than 400 
houses), and at least thirty-six civilians, men and women, 
were slaughtered. The Bavarian troops were here under 
the command of General Clauss. At Cre"vic, seventy-six 
houses were burned down; at Maixe, thirty-six, and nine 
men and one woman were murdered. At Baccarat, no 
civilians were killed ; but 112 houses were burned down after 
the whole place had been pillaged, under the supervision of 
the officers, one of these being General Fabricius, command- 
ing the artillery of the 14th Baden Corps. 

These are a few of the graver cases; many other well- 
attested instances of wholesale and retail vengeance could 
be cited. No attempt to chronicle the outstanding facts 


of the great war can ignore this part of it. But I would 
add that I have touched upon it, even so briefly, with ex- 
treme reluctance. War itself is the uttermost barbarism, 
the all-inclusive atrocity beside which the most damnable 
of retail crimes sink into insignificance. Despite the long 
and earnest efforts of lawyers and humanitarians, we now 
know that its most dire penalties cannot be limited to the 
armies in the field. That the German Government and its 
captains entered upon their aggression, and maintained it, 
in the resolve that no gentle scruple should stand in their 
way, they have abundantly proved on the sea and in the 
air, as well as on the land. But that this diabolical spirit 
was shared by the common German soldier, or even the 
average German officer, would have been an implication as 
revolting to every fair-minded Frenchman, Englishman, or 
Belgian, as to find their own defenders playing the Apache 
or the Kurd in the beautiful cities and villages of the Rhine- 
land. Let us suggest no ideal tests in a field where the 
ideal is so discounted. Murder, arson, and rape are (if 
such things can be assessed) a small part of the evil that 
war unlooses. But the German armies boast of an iron 
organization and discipline; and with all their unquestioned 
courage and varied powers, it must be said that these sav- 
ageries deeply and unforgettably dishonor them. 


One of the surprises of the campaign of 1914 was the 
power of mass retreat and recovery after severe reverses 
given by modern organization (based, it is well to remem- 
ber, upon civil education, as well as upon specific military 
training). Von Kluck and Von Biilow had no such task 
after the battle of the Marne as faced Sir John French 
after Mons. The re-establishment of a solid German line 
extending from the Oise across the Laon plateau, dipping 
toward Rheims, and then reaching over Champagne, through 
the Argonne, and around Verdun, to Metz was, neverthe- 
less, one of the great achievements of the war, a success 
which the Allies had soon to admit their inability to do 
more than limit until time should give them a heavy suprem- 
acy of numbers and artillery power. 

The bulwark of this unprecedented line was its western 
third, the crests of the hills above the lower Aisne; and 
the reckless waste of life in German charges which marked 
the height of the combat may have been supported by the 
feeling that they would never again have such good posi- 
tions to defend. The Allies also sustained very heavy losses, 
the small British army alone having 13,541 killed, wounded, 
and missing on the Aisne in less than four weeks, bringing 
their total casualties to the second week of October up to 
33,000. It may be asked whether the end actually attained 
would not have been as well or better served by holding the 
hills of the south bank of the river defensively, and throw- 
ing more force into the parts of the field which offered less 
natural difficulties. It is sufficient here to reply that, when 




the 5th and 6th French and the British armies crossed the 
Aisne, it was not known whether they had to deal with a 
mere halt, or a definite arrest. A fortnight's hard fight- 
ing showed that the plateau was held resolutely, and with 
large re-enforcements; and a new plan of campaign was 
then adopted. 

Leaving till we come to that plan other features of the 
region, especially that of the northern railway communica- 
tions, we may briefly note the physical conformation which 


Triangle of the Laon Mountains. 

makes the Laon plateau a natural fortress. It may be 
broadly described as a triangle of hilly and wooded coun- 
try, sloping up gently from the north (a great advantage 
for the German supplies), reaching a height of between 600 
and 700 feet, and breaking down to its base on the Aisne 
in a series of spurs and ravines, every roadway of which 
may be easily covered by cross-fires from above. The pla- 
teau is about thirty-five miles long from a line between 
Attichy and Noyon, on the west, where it falls gently to the 
Oise Valley, and Craonne on the east, where it drops ab- 
ruptly into the plain. The triangle is bounded by roads 
and railways of which the angles are at Compiegne, La 
Fere, and Cormicy (north of Rheims). It is cut from south 
to north by the roads and railways from Soissons, in the 
middle of the base, to Chauny and Laon ; and it is cut from 
north-west to south-east by a valley by which a canal is 


brought from the Oise to the Aisne. The small towns and 
villages within the triangle are full of historical and archae- 
ological interest, containing many twelfth and thirteenth 
century churches, ruined abbeys, donjons, and chateaux. 
Beside the main road through the Aisne Valley, there is 
a highway along the edge of the plateau, from the Soissons- 
Laon road to Craonne, which was to be for long months 
the line dividing the Allied from the German trenches. 
Originally built for the benefit of certain Bourbon prin- 
cesses, and ending at Vauclere and the farm of Heurtebise 
on the scene of a famous victory of Napoleon over the Allies 
of 1814, the Chemin des Dames now takes a larger place in 
history in connection with a series of struggles yet more 
bloody and momentous. Finally, there is a feature of the 
river-bed which considerably affected the course of the 
fighting. It lies here only about 140 feet above the sea; 
and the Aisne pursues a slow and winding course through 
meadows having a width of from half a mile to two miles 
between the two hillsides, rising quickly by 400 feet. At 
some points, the river nearly approaches the northern spurs ; 
here the crossings were of particular difficulty, the river 
not being fordable, because the bridge-heads and camps were 
under fire from the heights immediately above. Where there 
is flat land on the north, the passage and the first stages 
of advance were made with comparative ease. 

The Allied armies were thus divided : the 6th French Army 
(Maunoury), after driving Von Kluck's flank-guard back 
from the west of the Ourcq, pursued it northward to the 
Aisne between Compiegne and Soissons. The British army 
swept up the east of the Ourcq, touching Soissons on its 
left, and clearing the ground between the Vesle and the 
Aisne. To its right, the 5th French Army (D'Esperey) held 
the line eastward of Bourg, through Rheims, to its junc- 
tion with the 7th Army (Foch) in Champagne. Of the Ger- 
man armies, Von Kluck was in the west, Von Biilow from 
about Craonne across the north of Rheims; and between 


these lay a force brought round from Lorraine under Gen- 
eral von Heeringen, based upon Laon. The last named con- 
sisted of three, later on of four, army corps — 12th (Saxon), 
10th, and 7th and 10th Reserve. 

Maunoury quickly cleared the Compiegne district, and 
crossed the Aisne by pontoons at Vic on Sunday, Septem- 
ber 13, and at Fontenoy on the following day; while at Sois- 
sons, with the help of the British 4th Division, he drove the 
enemy across the river and occupied the southern part of 
the town. At the west end of this advance, progress was 
made through the Forest of Laigle toward Noyon, on the 
Oise; and, at the same time, with the French recovery of 
Amiens, the reorganization of resistance on the north-west 
began. In their advance northward from Vic toward Namp- 
cel, Morsain, and Nouvron, Maunoury 's columns felt se- 
verely the German superiority in heavy field-guns and in 
positions on the western spurs of the Laon hills. A daring 
attempt was made along this narrow valley to cut off some 
outlying forces; but numbers of men and guns prevailed, 
and a retirement to the river was effected with difficulty. 
At Soissons, the bridge was destroyed by the retiring Ger- 
mans, who, from the quarries of Pasly and neighboring 
heights, not only made a pontoon passage impracticable, but 
subjected the town to a continuous bombardment. At this 
point, the battle of the Aisne immediately reached the posi- 
tion of deadlock. 

The British were more fortunate, partly because of the 
physical characteristic already indicated, partly because 
the section of the line at which they struck was less vital 
to the Germans than the Soissons-Laon road. From west 
to east, the three army corps under Sir John French (of 
which the 3rd consisted only of the 4th Division plus the 
19th Brigade) made the crossing at the following points: 
the 3rd, immediately east of Soissons, at Billy, Bucy, and 
Venizel ; the 2nd, at Missy and Conde'; the 1st, at Chavonne, 
Pont-Arcy, and Bourg. The usual way was to raft over a 



covering detachment, and then construct a pontoon bridge; 
but the Germans probably found the Chauny-Rheinis Canal 
too useful to allow of the aqueduct which leads it over the 
Aisne at Bourg being destroyed. The 5th Infantry Bri- 
gade crept over a remaining girder of the Pont-Arcy bridge 
in Indian file, under heavy gunfire. The repairing and 
building of bridges was immediately begun; and, within 
three or four days, the engineers had thirteen passages 
made between Soissons and Villers. Of the three positions, 


The British Right Above the Aisne. 

the two extremes, at Venizel and Pont-Arcy, are favored by 
flat land on the north of the river; while the center, from 
Conde" to Vailly, immediately faces a crescent of hills whose 
defenders, already intrenched and hidden by thick woods, 
could make an approach almost impossible. Not only is 
the river-crossing easier at Pont-Arcy, but there opens here 
what we may call the valley of the canal, leading almost up 
to the Chemin des Dames at the villages of Braye, Chivy, 
and Troyon. This was evidently the most favorable line of 
advance, particularly as it was not served on the German 


side by any line of railway (as were the heights near 

Crossing here, then, the 1st Corps under Sir Douglas Haig 
and the Cavalry Division under General Allenby at once 
struck north. By nightfall on the 13th, the 1st Division had 
established itself in the villages of Moulins, Paissy, and 
Geny, with outposts in Vendresse. With more difficulty, the 
3rd Corps, under Lieutenant-General Pulteney, reached the 
lower spurs of the Crouy and Vregnay hills on the same 
day. The 2nd Corps was hard put to it to maintain its 
river crossing; the British force, indeed, never succeeded 
in driving the German troops from the promontory above 
Conde", which is the site of a former French fort. Else- 
where, there was, on the night of the 13th, a withdrawal 
of the German main positions to the line of the Chemin 
des Dames, skillfully hidden batteries and intrenched rifle 
detachments being left at lower points of vantage. The 
deluge of fire that now broke, day and night, over the north- 
ern slopes of the Aisne Valley was such as utterly to 
eclipse the worst experience of the oldest soldiers in the 
field. Apparently, the German commanders had recovered 
their lines of supply; they had all the advantages of posi- 
tion ; and they had been able carefully to measure the chief 
gun-ranges. Including the 8-in. siege howitzers brought 
up from Maubeuge, which came into use on the 15th, they 
had a considerably greater weight of artillery; heavy rains 
aggravated the difficulty of getting the Allies' guns through 
the valley and into the hills. The work of the engineer, 
supply, and other subsidiary services in these trying circum- 
stances is not less deserving of praise than the heroism of 
the actual combatants. 

" On the evening of the 14th," says Sir John French, " it 
was still impossible to decide whether the enemy was only 
making a temporary halt, covered by rear-guards, or whether 
he intended to stand and defend the position. With a view 
to clearing up the situation, I ordered a general advance. 


The action of the 1st Corps on this day under the direction 
and command of Sir Douglas Haig was of so skillful, bold, 
and decisive a character that he gained positions which 
alone have enabled me to maintain my stand for more than 
three weeks of very severe fighting on the north bank of 
the river." This action consisted of an advance up the 
valley of the canal, and over the neighboring hills about 
Moussy and Moulins. On the right, held by the 1st Division 
( Major-General Lomax), the 2nd Infantry Brigade and 
the 25th Artillery Brigade, under General Bulfin, moved at 
daybreak through Vendresse, and attacked a considerable 
German force intrenched in and around a sugar factory 
north of Troyon, on the Chemin des Dames. This, it may 
be noted, was for the moment the most northerly point of 
the Allied front (twenty-six miles north-west of Rheims), 
there being as yet no western wing beyond the Oise. The 
King's Royal Rifles and the Royal Sussex regiment led the 
attack, supported by the North Lancashires; and, these 
being insufficient, the Coldstream Guards were brought up 
to the right, and the remainder of the 1st Brigade (1st 
Royal Highlanders, 1st Scots Guards, and the Munsters) to 
the left. By noon, the North Lanoashires had seized the 
factory, and the two brigades, with the 3rd Brigade in 
support, were holding a line to the south of the Chemin des 
Dames, that is, along the southern crest of the plateau. 

This was a threat the German commanders could not 
ignore. Moreover, D'Espe'rey's army was simultaneously 
assaulting Von Biilow's at Craonne, a few miles further 
east; while, on Haig's left, the 4th Guards Brigade had 
reached the south of the Ostel ridge, and the 6th Infantry 
Brigade was moving up the valley toward Braye, both with 
strong artillery supports. There was, however, a weakness 
in the line, a break in the attack due to the strength of the 
German hill intrenchments between Conde and Vailly, the 
British center. " At this period of the action," said Sir 
John French, " the enemy obtained a footing between the 


1st and 2nd Corps and threatened to cut the communica- 
tions of the latter. Sir Douglas Haig was very hard 
pressed, and had no reserve in hand. I placed the Cavalry 
Division at his disposal, part of which he skillfully used to 
prolong and secure the left flank of the Guards Brigade. 
Some heavy fighting ensued, which resulted in the enemy 
being driven back with heavy loss. About 4 o'clock the 
weakening of the counter-attacks and other indications 
tended to show that his resistance was decreasing; and a 
general advance was ordered. Although meeting with con- 
siderable opposition, and coming under very heavy artillery 
and rifle fire, the position of the (1st) Corps at the end of 
the day's operations extended from the Chemin des Dames 
on the right, through Chivy, to Le Cour de Soupir, with 
the 1st Cavalry Brigade extending to the Chavonne-Soissons 
road. On the right, the corps was in close touch with the 
French Moroccan troops of the 18th Corps, which were in- 
trenched in e'chelon to its right rear. Throughout the battle 
of the Aisne, this advanced and commanding position was 
maintained. Day after day, and night after night, the 
enemy's infantry has been hurled against the 1st Corps in 
violent counter attack, which has never on any one occasion 
succeeded, while the trenches have been under continuous 
heavy artillery fire." 

Every part of the line was tested in course of these desper- 
ate assaults. Of one of the most serious, the British Com- 
mander-in-Chief reported : " On the afternoon of the 17th, 
the right flank of the 1st Division was seriously threatened. 
A counter-attack was made by the Northamptonshire Regi- 
ment in combination with the Queen's, and one battalion 
of the Divisional Reserve was moved up in support. The 
Northamptonshire Regiment, under cover of mist, crept up 
to within a hundred yards of the enemy's trenches, and 
charged with the bayonet, driving them out of the trenches 
and up the hill. A very strong force of hostile infantry 
was then disclosed on the crest line. This new line was 


enfiladed by part of the Queen's and the King's Royal Rifles, 
which wheeled to their left on the extreme right of our 
infantry line, and were supported by a squadron of cavalry 
on their outer flank. The enemy's attack was ultimately 
driven back with heavy loss." In course of the day, the 
Northamptons lost about 150 men by the treachery of a Ger- 
man company, which offered to surrender, and then at- 
tacked its captors. 

Between September 26 and 28, the Germans made what 
Sir John French calls " one last great effort to establish 
ascendency." This may be regarded as the end of the 
battles of the Aisne, for on the Laon plateau, as across 
Champagne and in the Argonne, the long deadlock of trench 
warfare, without a definite ascendency on either side, had 
begun, while a new phase of the struggle had been opened 
in the north-west. The French 5th Army could not reach 
level with the British 1st Corps, and the Chemin des Dames, 
therefore, could not be crossed. Maunoury made better prog- 
ress in the Forest of Laigle, but could not drive the Ger- 
man gunners and riflemen from their stronghold above 
Soissons. For a few days it looked as though a dangerous 
breach might be made in the hostile lines at Berry-au-Bac, 
just beyond Craonne; this hope, also, soon disappeared. 
General von Biilow had been allowed to seize and strengthen 
the positions of the old French forts around Rheims, espe- 
cially those of Nogent l'Abbesse and Mount Berru; and, 
although Brimont changed hands, and Pompelle was recov- 
ered, all attempts to pierce the crescent round the north- 
east of the city failed. So in the plain to the east, between 
Souain and the ridge on the north of the river Suippes, only 
slight variations occurred in the opposed lines, and the 
campaign developed into a kind of double siege. In the 
Argonne, the closeness of the woodland and the scarcity 
of roads gave the fighting a special character; but, after 
an attempt by the Crown Prince to penetrate southward 
had been repulsed in the district of La Gruerie, on the 


road from Vienne-la-Ville to Varennes, at the beginning 
of October, a static condition was reached. By the middle 
of the month, the French southern army had recovered the 
crests and passes of the Vosges as far north as the Col du 
Bonhomme, and the Alsatian slopes as far as Thann. But 
the Metz field force still held the valley called the Rupt du 
Mad, with its railway to Thiaucourt, and, beyond, a narrow 
footing on the Meuse at St. Mihiel. Why they should main- 
tain this spearhead so resolutely without further attempt 
to press it in was not clear — perhaps, as a future oppor- 
tunity of offense. 

There were many indications of a fatal dispersal of Ger- 
man strength over too many objectives. In all that could 
be done by long scientific preparation, the Imperial Staff 
had more than justified its reputation. Despite increasing 
pressure on the Russian frontier, it was keeping its numeri- 
cal superiority in the west by an unexpected power of 
absorbing into the combatant ranks vast numbers of half- 
trained levies, who, if they were poor marksmen, repeatedly 
showed that they could meet the test of massed attack in 
close formation against first-class infantry. The German 
armies displayed courage, energy, and endurance of a high 
order; their organization, supply, and transport were be- 
yond reproach; and in some respects their equipment was 
still better than that of the Allies. In the higher region of 
command, they were now as signally lacking as their politi- 
cal chiefs had been in moral sense and foresight. The 
battles of the Aisne confirmed the result of the battle of 
the Marne, though they did little more. The idea of an 
early conclusion of the war now disappeared. The main 
body of the new British armies could not be read}' for six 
months; and till then the Allies could not hope to assume 
a general offensive. The invasion, however, was definitely 
contained; and in this fact the defenders of France found 
encouragement to bear the terrible trials of the coming 


All the time, they were learning. The Boers had taught 
Mr. Atkins something of the art of taking cover under rifle- 
fire. The French quickly picked up this lesson; but at the 
outset, both French and British showed a reluctance or in- 
capacity for effective intrenchment against heavy artillery 
which, though it may be usual in novices, was particularly 
deplorable in this instance. The German infantry use the 
bayonet little, and their mass assaults are rarely successful 
before the modern magazine rifle. But against big guns, 
there is nothing for it but deep digging, until a counter- 
bombardment brings relief. The art of intrenchment was 
recreated on the Aisne; and, with the elaboration of earth- 
works for the firing-line, the heavy rains of mid-September 
dictated an unanticipated provision of covered shelters and 
rest-places. The German armies had learned, however, not 
only to intrench, but to subordinate this skill to offensive 
action. After the battle of the Marne, Sir John French asked 
that four 6-in. howitzer batteries should be sent out, as " our 
experiences in this campaign seem to point to the employ- 
ment of more heavy guns of a larger caliber in great battles 
which last for several days." As the deadlock extended 
and hardened, this need became more and more evident, 
especially in the French armies, where faith had been placed 
almost exclusively in the remarkable " 75 " light field-pieces. 
During the autumn, the balance in heavy artillery was 
gradually rectified. Meanwhile, all sorts of expedients, old 
and new, were tried to break the stalemate of the buried 
lines — sapping and mining, the throwing of hand-grenades, 
sniping from trees and other vantage points, the control 
and direction of massed gunfire by telephone from the ex- 
treme front, or by aeroplane signals. 


I. A Flank Blow that Failed 

Sir John French says that, on September 15, his own 
and the French reports made it clear that the German 
armies were taking up " a determined stand " above the 
Aisne ; and, on September 18, " information reached me 
from General Joffre that he had found it necessary to make 
a new plan, and to attack and envelop the German right 

Four considerations united to draw the attention both 
of the Allies and the German Staff to the north-west, as 
soon as the heat of the pursuit from the Marne was over: 
(1) There lay the most prolonged and the only vulnerable 
line of German communications; (2) there lay large, rich 
districts of France not yet effectively occupied by either 
party; (3) there, in the extreme north, at Antwerp, lay the 
still unconquered Belgian army; and (4) there lay the roads 
to the Channel ports, the only way by which England could 
be directly threatened, and the only remaining possibility 
of envelopment. The first two considerations gave birth to, 
and the third affected, General Joffre's " new plan," and the 
events dealt with in the present chapter; the fourth gov- 
erned the development of the plan, and the events narrated 
in the next chapter. Two more general conditions are to be 
borne in mind: (a) At the outset, the whole aim of the in- 
vasion had been to obtain a rapid result in the west, in 
order to turn with full force against Russia. Its authors 
clung obstinately to this hope, and the mass of German 



troops was kept in the west. But the strength of the Allies 
was steadily, though very slowly, increasing. Thus dead- 
lock along most of a long, thin line, with violent attacks at 
promising points, became the only alternative to the aban- 
donment of a large part of the occupied territory. The 
very success of the invasion now began to bring its punish- 
ment. All the monetary exactions from Belgian and French 
towns could not meet the cost of maintaining a front meas- 
uring, from Ostend to Basle, about 360 miles ; and the mili- 
tary expense of holding this front effectually prevented an 
overwhelming attack upon Russia. We can now see that, 
in a defensive campaign — with a western front of only 170 
miles — the German armies would have been invincible. It 
may be locally true that the best defense is by offense; in 
the larger picture, Germany appears from this time as 
doomed by the weight of her original aggression. (6) The 
Allies had reason ultimately to fear the deadlock of the 
trenches, if the territory thus held were to be recovered by 
local force. Otherwise, time was wholly on their side ; and, 
from this point, the prospect of an exhaustion of the internal 
resources of the Germanic lands came more and more promi- 
nently into consideration. 

We have seen that, of the two main lines of supply and 
communication of the German western armies, the chief 
ran up the western side of the Laon triangle — that is, up 
the Oise Valley — and then north-westward through St. Quen- 
tin and Maubeuge to Brussels and Liege; while the other 
ran from above Rheims, through Rethel, to Mezieres, and 
then turned eastward to Luxemburg and the Rhineland. 
The failure of the French attempt to break through at 
Craonne and Berry-au-Bac left the latter line secure. The 
former, and more important, was at once threatened by 
the advance of General Maunoury's army from Compiegne 
through the Forest of Laigle, on the east of the Oise, and 
along the Ribe'court and Lassigny roads on the west of the 
river. While this advance was beginning to suffer a definite 


check around Noyon, a new army was being constituted on 
its left under General Castelnau. Between September 21 
and 2G, this new force established itself along a northward 
line from Lassigny, through Roye, to Peronne, with some 
Territorial divisions, under General Brugere, extending 
across the Somme north-westward to Albert. A glance at 
the map (p. 284) will show that this rapid movement threat- 
ened the whole flank of the 1st and 2nd German armies, and 
in particular the vital railway junction of Tergnier, where, 
before the war, the Nord Company kept 1,200 men employed 
in their workshops. Roye and Lassigny are about twenty- 
five miles west of Tergnier; Pe"ronne and Chaulnes are a 
little nearer to St. Quentin. By so narrow a margin were 
Brussels and Cologne connected with the Aisne. On the 
other hand, this new French front covered the great city 
of Amiens, and promised the re-establishment, through Ab- 
beville and Boulogne, of the most convenient line of com- 
munications with England. The call for some effort to re- 
store order in this region was emphasized by the revela- 
tion that it had been possible for a band of German engi- 
neers to keep an armored automobile running for some days 
across Picardy and Normandy. The purpose was to destroy 
railway bridges ; and the raiders, who worked by night and 
slept in the woods by day, had chosen their field of opera- 
tion to include a part of the French railway system essen- 
tial to the Allied movements. They were at last recognized 
and caught on the Paris-Rouen road, after an encounter in 
which three gendarmes and two of the audacious Germans 
were mortally wounded. 

The promptitude of their reply suggests that the German 
commanders had anticipated this French movement, and 
had designed a westward enveloping movement of their own. 
Whether this be so, or fear for their homeward roads was 
the first motive, a large displacement of troops at once took 
place. French Lorraine was almost wholly abandoned. 
The forces in Alsace were reduced. A southward advance 


from Belgium was started ; and the line of the Aisne was 
thinned by the gradual shifting westward of Von Biilow's, 
the Duke of Wurtemberg's, and the Crown Prince of Ba- 
varia's commands. From September 21 to the end of the 
month, efforts to break through between Castelnau's right 
and Maunoury's left, just west of Noyon, led to fighting of 
a sustained and desperate violence, a glimpse of which will 
be found in the story of the action at Tracy-le-Mont quoted 
in our final chapter. On September 29, the Germans had 
seized Lassigny and Chaulnes, but the French held firm at 
Roye — midway between these towns — and at Ribe"court on 
the Oise. The blow at Tergnier had failed. And now be- 
gan what was afterwards called " the race for the sea " — the 
reciprocal extension of the lines toward the north until, on 
the Belgian coast, no possibility of envelopment remained. 
By September 30, General Joffre had constituted a new 
army under General Maud'huy, one of the most brilliant 
of his assistants. This occupied the region of Arras and 
Lens, maintaining a frail connection with the garrison of 
Dunkirk and a body of Territorials still holding Lille. On 
October 2, fighting was reported as far north as Arras; on 
the 7th, the French bulletin noted that " the opposed front 
extends as far as the neighborhood of Lens — La Bass6e, pro- 
longed by masses of cavalry which are engaged as far as 
the district of Armentieres " ; and on the 8th that " the 
cavalry operations are now developing almost as far as the 
North Sea coast." 

II. From Amiens to Lille 

Before we trace further this great displacement of the 
axis and center of gravity of the campaign, a more particu- 
lar reference should be made to the experience of the larger 
town of north-west France between the retreat to the 
Marne and the battles of Flanders. It will be remembered 
that, during the retreat, the French and British western 


wing stood fast for a moment at Cambrai, then again on the 
line Bapaunie-Cornbles-Peronne. Next, the invaders were 
arrested for two days on the Somme between Amiens and 
Peronne, the Allies holding a strong position behind the 
marshes through which the river here flows. The two vil- 
lages of Proyart and Framerville were the centers of the 
subsequent engagement, and were reduced to ruins. Pe- 
ronne was reached by the Germans, victorious at Bapaume 
and the neighboring village of Moislains, on the afternoon 
of August 25. For an hour or so, they were stopped by a 
body of Dragoons and Alpine Chasseurs. Their batteries 
in the woods of Racogne, overlooking Peronne on the east, 
on the left bank of the Somme, bombarded the French 
positions on the opposite bank and in the suburb of Bretagne, 
where many houses and several neighboring farms were de- 
stroyed. As the German troops entered the town, they 
fired into the house-windows, apparently to intimidate the 
inhabitants. The civil authorities had fled ; the Germans 
therefore burned down the town hall and other public build- 
ings, using petrol sprays and grenades for the purpose. 
The whole of the Grand Place would have been destroyed 
but for the intervention of a courageous priest, Canon 
Caron, who, with other leading citizens, formed an adminis- 
trative committee. Four hostages were also taken, but were 
released a few days later. All uninhabited houses and 
closed shops were broken open and sacked. On September 
5 the major directing the German ambulance ordered the 
removal to Amiens of a large number of French wounded 
remaining in Pe"ronne. The Red Cross accordingly sent 
twenty motor-cars from Amiens, and the doctors and nurses 
were preparing to return with their convoy, when Colonel 
von Kosser, the military commandant, ordered their arrest 
and the confiscation of the cars. For two days they were 
detained in the Peronne barracks; they were then released, 
after another four hostages had been taken in their place, 
but they had to walk to Amiens. From the 7th to the 14th, 


the hostages remained under arrest. On the latter day, 
the German retirement began. A German ambulance was 
left behind ; and as some of the nurses were armed with re- 
volvers they were arrested on the arrival of tbe French 
troops. On and after the 15th, the Germans tried to re- 
take the town, but without success. 

The first train for nearly a month reached Amiens from 
Paris on September 26. During this period the inhabit- 
ants had been practically isolated, hearing no news, having 
no postal or telegraphic communications, and practically no 
newspapers. Those who had fled now returned, and the 
city began to resume its normal aspect. It was on the night 
of August 30 that the approach of the enemy was signaled — 
after the battles of Bapaume and Proyart. On the 31st, 
they appeared; but the German Staff and most of the 
troops were left on the hills beyond the Somme, at the end 
of the Beauville boulevard. A lieutenant with fifty men 
came to the town hall, and found there the venerable 
Mayor, Senator Fiquet, who was seventy-three years old. 
The German flag having been hoisted, M. Fiquet and his col- 
leagues were taken to the commandant of the corps of occu- 
pation, Von Stockhausen, who announced that the ransom 
of the city was fixed at 1,000,000 francs (£40,000) to be paid 
in money or kind. If this were found and no harm were 
done to German soldiers, the city would not suffer any other 
penalty; otherwise it would be bombarded. The requisi- 
tions in kind amounted to a value of about £34,000; the 
rest was to be paid in money. M. Fiquet found the money ; 
but his colleague, M. Francfort, an Amiens merchant, had 
great difficulty in getting together the various goods de- 
manded — cigars, horses, petrol, bread, wine, etc. He asked 
for a short delay. Von Stockhausen then demanded twelve 
hostages — the Mayor and eleven town councilors and the 
Procureur-General, M. Regnault, volunteering, was added 
as a thirteenth. By way of stimulus, 40,000 troops were 
brought into the city, only 3,000 of whom, however, re- 


mained. One of the requisitions that could not be met was 
for 20,000 electric pocket-lamps. The commandant conde- 
scended to receive 20,000 francs instead. The hostages were 
then released ; and it is to be noted that the only building 
in the city that was damaged was the post-office, where the 
telegraphic and telephonic instruments and cables were 
completely destroyed. But one morning all the men of the 
town liable to mobilization were summoned to the military 
headquarters, where 1,200 of them were arrested and sent 
to Cambrai. Some escaped on the way; but most of them 
remained prisoners of the German army. A regular pro- 
cedure of the invasion was to carry off able-bodied civilians, 
and set them to digging trenches, mending roads, and other 
hard labor. On the morning of September 11, the troops 
left the city, and others, in full flight from the battle of the 
Marne, followed them. Then the French arrived, and the 
citizens who remained hailed them with cries of joy. 

A month passed, the Germans gradually concentrating 
toward the east. Then the northward movement of the 
left wing of the French began from Lassigny and Noyon, 
soon extending for ninety miles due north from Roye to 
Armentieres. There followed a series of destructive 
struggles in which the little towns of Albert and Pe'ronne 
and many villages were repeatedly taken and lost. Well 
named Santerre — not holy land, but land of blood — this flat 
region about the middle course of the Somme has been hor- 
ribly ravaged. It was a country of large farms, much occu- 
pied with the growing of beetroot, and the manufacture of 
spirits and sugar. Not only were many distilleries and 
sugar factories destroyed by shell-fire ; but at Roye, Lihons, 
and other places the churches and public buildings, as well 
as many houses, were bombarded, with grievous results. 
Albert is important as a junction of the highroads and 
railways between Amiens, Arras, and Cambrai, and be- 
tween Doullens, Peronne, and St. Quentin, as well as be- 
cause it covers the passages of the Somme. On his march 


toward Paris at the end of August, Von Kluck had sent a 
column as far as Poix, twenty miles to the south-west of 
Amiens on the Rouen road. On September 13, Amiens was 
abandoned; and the German front was then defined by the 
line Roye-Lassigny-Albert. These three places were soon 
little more than names, masses of smoking ruins showing 
where busy communities lately flourished. 

In turn, Arras became the point of special pressure. It 
had been occupied by the Germans up to the middle of Sep- 
tember and then evacuated, not very much damage having 
been done to the quaint old city. During the latter part 
of the month Douai, which cuts the Lille-Cambrai railroad, 
was occupied by a French Territorial detachment, and 
patrols were sent out as far as Somain and Aniche, eight 
miles to the eastward, to attack bodies of the enemy. This 
led to reprisals; and, on September 30 and October 1, feel- 
ing their lines of communication threatened, the Germans, 
sending forward a dirigible and two aeroplanes to scout, 
attacked Douai with infantry and artillery. On the former 
day, the French held their own at Lewarde and Auber- 
chicourt. During the night the enemy was re-enforced ; but 
still the French stood their ground. On the afternoon of 
Thursday, October 1, however, Douai had to be abandoned. 
Meanwhile, feeling themselves threatened toward Cambrai, 
the heart of their western line, the Germans had brought 
up new bodies of troops, both from the north-east and the 
south-west, against Arras. The town was already occupied 
by French troops of all arms, and, as an important center of 
roads and railways, it became the base of Maud'huy's at- 
tempt to hold out a helping hand toward Lille. On October 
1 the German artillery came up from Douai, Vitry-en-Artois, 
and Cambrai, and heavy fire was exchanged along the sur- 
rounding hills. Evidently the enemy was in much stronger 
numbers ; and on the 2nd and 3rd, although re-enforcements 
had arrived, it was thought well to retire behind the town, 
men liable to mobilization being first warned to leave lest 


they should be made prisoners. This was the signal for a 
pitiful exodus to the coast. On the 6th and 7th, the town 
was bombarded from the hills, the splendid Hotel de 
Ville, dating from 1501, the Cathedral, and many houses 
being much damaged. Arras remained to the French ; but 
in a later cannonade the town hall, with its superb clock- 
tower, was destroyed, and a large part of the town reduced 
to ruins. On October 31, a large German force, including 
a detachment of the Prussian Guard, was allowed to enter 
the suburbs of the town, where a trap had been prepared. 
A Guard battalion surrendered, and a military train con- 
taining one of the famous 42-cm. siege mortars was captured. 
Already this second phase of the desperate struggle of the 
Germans to release themselves from the western grip had 
become merged— under pressure of the resolve of the French 
to move onward — in a third phase, the scene of which lay 
still further north, in the Black Country of the Franco- 
Belgian frontier. This is a very different region, a flat, 
gloomy land, with few trees, broken by coal-mines, canals, 
and a thick network of railways. Midway between Lille, 
its capital, and Arras lies Courrieres, the scene of one of 
the most terrible of colliery explosions, the suffering of 
which, it is odd to recall, was relieved by expert aid from 
Germany. A little later, in 190G, Lens, which stands just 
to the west, was the scene of another tragedy, when some 
strikers were shot down by the troops. Strikers and 
troops, in this day of the French-British-Belgian alliance, 
were the best of friends. La Bassee, to the north of Lens, 
is a pretty town on the Aire Canal. A few miles further 
north, again, are Armentieres and Lille. On Saturday, Oc- 
tober 3, German patrols were reported on the outskirts of 
Lille, which had so far suffered but little from the invasion. 
The Mayor, M. Delesalle, at once distributed a notice warn- 
ing the inhabitants to keep cool, not to gather in numbers, 
and to give no provocation. At midday on the 4th, rifle 
firing was heard near the station in the suburb of Fives; and 


during the afternoon some shells were thrown into the 
town, one striking the Hotel de Ville. They came, in fact, 
from a new German force advancing southward from Bel- 
gium. It turned out that, during tbe morning, an armored 
train bringing 300 Uhlans had entered the town. But an 
enterprising railway employee had switched the train into a 
siding, and here the French attacked it. The German soldiers, 
thus surprised, took refuge in neighboring houses and work- 
shops. Most of them were captured on the following morn- 
ing. Another attempt to seize the town, made by about 
3,000 infantry, entering on the other side from Tourcoing, 
was repelled by the French. On the same day, a body of 
German troops attempting to cross from the Belgian to the 
French side of the River Lys, between Armentieres and 
Warneton, was repelled, and retired toward Tournai. The 
fighting continued on the 5th, when large numbers of Ger- 
man troops passed around the city to the south. 

On the 6th, the cannonade continued all day on the west 
of Lille, in the direction of La Bassee. A regiment of 
French " Terriers " captured two cannon, after killing all 
the soldiers serving them. On the evening of Saturday, 
October 10, a company of Uhlans entered Lille. They were 
received with rifle shots, and several were dismounted. The 
others went to the town hall and, in a furious temper, 
arrested the Mayor, M. Delesalle, and several other citizens, 
whom ,they promised to hold as hostages. In the nick of 
time some French Chasseurs came up, set the prisoners free, 
and pursued the Uhlans along the Rue Nationale. Directly 
afterward, evidently in revenge for this insult, the town 
was bombarded by German batteries posted near. The first 
shell struck the roof of the town hall. A rain of shrapnel 
followed. Early on the morning of Sunday, the 11th, the 
bombardment was resumed; it continued until noon, then 
ceased, began again in the evening, and continued all that 
night. At several parts of the town buildings took fire. 
There was a further bombardment on the 12th, and an in- 


fantry attack began which the Territorials resisted for a 
time. Then they withdrew. On Tuesday, the 13th, to save 
further destruction, the city was surrendered ; and the Ger- 
man troops, some of whom had marched over 100 miles in 
five days, entered with bands playing. By this time, a 
large part of the best quarter of the capital of French 
Flanders was in ruins, many large commercial buildings and 
private houses having huge rents torn in their fagades, and 
being then gutted by the flames. The Rue Faidherbe, Rue 
de Paris, Rue de Be'thune, and Rue de l'Hopital Militaire 
were particularly damaged. The fire was quickly arrested, 
and the normal processes of German rule were established. 
The loss of life had been very small; yet this last week's 
resistance of Lille had vitally aided the Allies. It helped 
to conceal the western movements, and by diverting a con- 
siderable German force enabled the French and British 
troops to take up, just in time, the line of the Yser. 

III. The Fall op Antwerp 

The comparative neglect of the great port, city, and forti- 
fied position of Antwerp both by the German high command 
and by the major Allies up to the end of September, and 
the plans for the attack upon and defense of the city, have 
been so little explained, and are so much open on both sides 
to criticisms which may be quite undeserved, that we shall 
be content with a brief narrative of these events. It seems 
probable that the French and British commanders hoped to 
occupy and hold north-western Belgium; that the assault 
upon Antwerp came before they expected it; and that, in 
face of large new German re-enforcements, they abandoned 
the design; while the German Staff deliberately left the 
towns between Antwerp and the coast open, to tempt the 
Allies into a dangerous extension of their already very 
frail lines. General von Beseler does not seem to have had 
more than 100,000 troops available against Antwerp. The 
slackness with which he completed his victory is in very 



marked contrast with the speed and power shown in the 
first stages of the war, and still shown by Von Kluck and 
Von Bulow further south. To this slackness, as well as 
their own energy and courage, the six Belgian divisions 
under General de Guise and the little British force under 
General Paris owed their survival. On the other hand, it 

, 12 3 4 5 


roads railways 

The Siege of Antwerp. 

must be placed to the credit of Von Beseler — as well as the 
vigilant activity of the representatives of the United States 
— that the beautiful city on the Scheldt did not share the 
fate of Louvain. 

The first German approach was by the south-west; but, 
after repulses at Audeghem and Lebbekke, villages on the 
south-west and south-east of Termonde, on September 26 
and 27, the western roads to Antwerp were left strangely 
free for movements of the Allies. On the following day, 


Malines having been once more bombarded, the direct ad- 
vance upon the Scheldt from the south and south-east be- 
gan. The outer defense works here extended at a distance 
of about nine miles from the city along a crescent formed 
by the rivers Scheldt, Ruppel, and Methe, and included 
eight large forts, from that of Bornem on the west, through 
Waelhem and Wavre Ste. Catherine (covering the Malines 
road), to that of Lierre, before the small town of the same 
name. The riversides were intrenched, and the roads 
blocked. There was an inner ring of forts, two or three 
miles outside the boundaries of Antwerp; but their guns 
had not the range for offense, and their position made them 
useless for sustained defense, since the city could be re- 
duced to ashes before they were reached. 

The Belgians used their field-guns well, and held their po- 
sitions in the villages and river trenches despite a terrific 
cannonade. The fort of Wavre Ste. Catherine was put out 
of action, after twenty-four hours of continuous shell-fire, 
however, many of the garrison being killed by the explosion 
of the magazine; and on the night of October 1 that of 
Waelhem was little more than a heap of debris. No less 
serious than the loss of a fort (if a long resistance had 
been contemplated) was the destruction by shell-fire of a 
great reservoir giving the chief water supply of the city. 
On October 2, the defending troops were withdrawn behind 
the Nethe; and the flight of the wealthier inhabitants of 
Antwerp, including the British and French colonies, began. 
On the following evening, the first part of the British force, 
consisting of a Marine Brigade of 2,200 men, reached Ant- 
werp. It was followed on the afternoon of October 5 by 
two Naval brigades, with six heavy naval guns, two of 
which served on an armored train and were afterward 
brought south. The Belgian Government had asked for Brit- 
ish aid; and rumor so multiplied these 8,000 men that the 
Anversois could hardly contain themselves for joy and con- 
fidence. General de Guise knew it was too late. Mr. Win- 


ston Churchill, when he stood with Jack Tar in the trenches, 
knew it, as he probably had done when they were sent; but 
he knew, also, that the detention of a German army on the 
Scheldt might save the position in southern Flanders, while 
British aid would greatly fortify the morale of the Belgian 
troops. He afterward stated that " the Naval Division was 
sent to Antwerp not as an isolated incident, but as part of 
a large operation for the relief of the city which more pow- 
erful considerations prevented from being carried through." 
The First Lord explained that the Naval brigades— largely 
consisting of new recruits, imperfectly equipped — were 
chosen because the need was urgent and bitter; because 
mobile troops could not be spared for fortress duties; be- 
cause they were nearest, and could be embarked the quick- 
est ; and because their training, although incomplete, was as 
far advanced as that of a large portion not only of the 
forces defending Antwerp, but of the enemy forces attack- 

Repeated attempts to make the river-crossing at Wael- 
hem and Lierre, on the nights of October 3, 4, and 5, were 
defeated with heavy loss; but, at dawn on the 6th, the Bel- 
gian line was forced by a concentration of artillery and in- 
fantry attack. The British marines about Lierre and the 
whole of the Belgian troops were then drawn back to the 
inner forts for a final stand, in order to cover the retreat, 
and the flight of the civil population. That night, the with- 
drawal of the army commenced. Admirably covered by 
cavalry, armored motor-cars, and cyclist corps, it moved out 
by the narrow strip of territory between the Scheldt and 
Dutch Zealand, toward Ghent and Ostend, the Belgian and 
British trenches on the south of the city keeping up a full 
show of resistance. In the morning, the Government and 
diplomatic corps left; the great oil-tanks on the Scheldt 
were blown up ; and the machinery of many ships in harbor 
was disabled. The northern and western roads were 
now black with scores of thousands of people from Ant- 


werp and the country around, flying to the sea and the 
Dutch frontier. Von Beseler's left wing was now crossing 
the Scheldt between Wetteren and Termonde; it would 
have gone very ill with the mingled masses of retreating 
soldiers and civil refugees had he boldly and immediately 
thrown his left wing forward to St. Nicholas and Lokeren. 
A light bombardment of Antwerp began late at night on 
October 7. It is thought that 500,000 people left on the 
following day, the greater part to cast themselves upon the 
splendidly generous hospitality of the Dutch, many thou- 
sands to reach England, where homes were found for them. 
Amid this confusion, General de Guise's troops and most 
of the British contingent abandoned the forts and trenches, 
cut the Scheldt pontoon bridge behind them, and passed 
westward, successfully beating off flank and rear attacks. 
Unfortunately, three battalions of the 1st British Naval 
Brigade did not receive the orders to retire; and, ultimately, 
finding the Germans in possession of Lokeren and reaching 
near to St. Nicholas, they either crossed the Dutch frontier 
and were interned, or were captured. Beside this loss of 
about 2,500 men, a considerably larger number of Belgian 
soldiers gave themselves up to the Dutch frontier guards. 

Antwerp formally surrendered at noon on October 9. 
Perhaps the German troops were exhausted; at any rate, 
not until the 12th were they ready to occupy Ghent, the 
13th Bruges, and the 15th Ostend. At length, they saw the 
narrow sea that protects perfidious Albion. The Allies had 
decided to defend the coast along the course of the Yser. 
Part of the 4th British Corps — the 7th Infantry Division 
and the 3rd Cavalry Division — under Sir Henry Rawlin- 
son, had been landed at Ostend and Zeebrugge without inter- 
ference, and had advanced eastward to cover the Belgian- 
British retreat to the south. At Ghent, it found a garrison 
of eight squadrons of cavalry, a mixed brigade, a brigade 
of volunteers, and two line regiments, all of much reduced 
effectives, under General Clothen. Here also, on the even- 


ing of October 8, it met Admiral Ronarc'h's brigade of 
French Marine Fusiliers, 6,000 strong, which had been 
rushed north on the same errand. This force, which was to 
play so remarkable a part in the next stage of the struggle, 
had been hurriedly organized in Paris, Creil, and Amiens, 
and only started north on the morning of October 7. Con- 
sisting for the most part of Breton naval reservists and re- 
cruits who had not the least experience of land warfare, its 
employment in such critical circumstances was a bold ex- 
periment. But, under a chief who was to prove himself 
one of the notable figures of the war — a big, broad-shoul- 
dered man, cool till the volcanic moment comes, obstinate, 
yet with reflection sitting in the eyes of Celtic blue — these 
sons of the sea, boys and gray-beards, proved themselves 
equal to the best soldiers in Europe. " The girls with the 
red pompon," the Germans called them. But that was be- 
fore the battle of Dixmude. 

The retreat from Antwerp, though we cannot dwell upon 
the story, is not unworthy of comparison, except that it 
was on a much smaller scale, with the retreat from Mons 
and Charleroi. The first stand was made, on October 9, 
10, and 11, in the villages around the east and south of 
Ghent, when 45,000 German troops were held at bay, the 
French Marine brigade acting under Major-General Capper, 
commanding the British 7th Division. It was then decided 
to retire westward to Aeltre, on the way to Bruges; and 
the twenty-six miles' march was done during the night, 
under a wintry moon, the British force covering the rear. 
After a short rest, a south-east turn was made, and Thielt 
was reached on the following evening. It is stated that 
the Mayor of one of the neighboring towns misdirected the 
pursuers; the bold lie cost him his life, but gave the tired 
troops the first good night's sleep they had had for some 
days. On the 13th, they reached Thourout. Here Sir Henry 
Rawlinson's division passed southward for Roulers and 
Ypres; while Admiral Ronarc'h's men and the Ghent force 


joined the main body of Belgian troops, which had come 
southward through Bruges to the Yser. King Albert at 
once rejoined his army, helped in its reorganization between 
Calais and Nieuport, and thereafter stayed with it, Queen 
Elizabeth giving such aid as a woman may. 


I. The " Race for the Sea " 

During this time, by a triumph, of transport organiza- 
tion, the main British army was taken round from the Aisne 
to the north-west. The convenience of such a movement has 
already been indicated. " Early in October," says Sir John 
French, " a study of the general situation strongly impressed 
me with the necessity of bringing the greatest possible force 
to bear in support of the northern flank of the Allies " ; 
and, as there was no more danger on the Aisne, General 
Joffre readily agreed to the transfer. Instead of British 
reliefs, French infantrymen from the neighboring armies 
crept into the trenches below the Chemin des Dames; and, 
one by one, the three British corps, the cavalry, and their 
various supports left the hillsides where a thousand or more 
of their bravest fellows lay buried. On October 3, General 
Gough's cavalry division marched for Compiegne, leading 
the way; and by the 19th, by train and motor-bus and taxi- 
cab, the whole force had reached the Black Country near 
the Belgian border. These were, indeed, exciting days on 
the great north road that passes through Amiens, Doullens, 
St. Pol, and Hazebrouck, to Calais, Dunkirk, and Ypres, 
for re-enforcements were being brought up simultaneously 
for the armies of De Castelnau and Maud'huy; and still 
another French army was gathering, under General d'Urbal, 
which, with the British and Belgians, was to hold the pass 
from Ypres to the sea. In order to co-ordinate the move- 
ments of this large tri-national combination, General Joffre 



sent the victor of the center in the battle of the Marne, 
General Foch, who as Generalissimo of the French northern 
armies established his headquarters, on October 3, at Doul- 
lens. Here he was visited on the 8th by Sir John French; 
and the two commanders " arranged joint plans of opera- 

Before tracing the development of these operations, it 
will be well to obtain a clear impression of the alignment of 
forces, as it was completed during October, in this new 
field between the Aisne and the North Sea. They fall into 
four zones : 

(1) Compiegne-Peronne. — Here we have seen General 
Maunoury's left extended into the angle between the Aisne 
and Oise, connecting with General de Castelnau's army. 
This was holding the first northern positions from Las- 
signy to Pe"ronne, being prolonged by General Brugere's 
Territorial units as far as Albert. Early in October, the 
French offensive directed against the critical point of the 
German line of communications at Tergnier Junction and 
St. Quentin had failed. It was followed by a German 
attempt to break through the corner of the French line 
which, in turn, failed no less signally. Here an intrenched 
deadlock similar to that of the Aisne and the eastern fron- 
tier was now being reached. 

(2) Arras-Armentieres. — The main body of General 
Maud'huy's army reached from Arras toward Lens and La 
Bassde, with the hope of relieving Lille. This offensive had 
also failed of its immediate object. By the end of the first 
week in October, the Germans were in force from Cambrai 
northward, through Douai, to the east of Lens, and were 
moving up the right bank of the Lys from Tourcoing to 
Armentieres. We have seen that Lille fell to them on Oc- 
tober 13. The joint plan of General Foch and Field-Marshal 
French was made, on the 8th, in the hope of better for- 
tune. The British 2nd Army Corps, with the British and 
French cavalry on its northern flank, was to connect with 





Maud'huy's left, and there was then to be a general east- 
ward advance, the British right being directed on Lille. 
When the 3rd and 1st Corps arrived on the northern front, 
they were to co-operate in this movement. Sir Henry Raw- 
linson's Division was for the present to support the Bel- 
gian army, and a thin line, chiefly of cavalry, was to act 

between the Yser 

and the Lys. We 
shall see how, in 
this region, the 
course of events 
converted the in- 
tended battle of 
Lille into the bat- 
tle of the Lys. 

(3) Ypres. — The 
fall of Antwerp on 
October 9, followed 
by the German oc- 
cupation of Ghent 
on the 12th, Bruges 
on the 13th, and 
Ostend on the 15th, 
was the prelude to 
a swooping attack 
of immense power 
upon the unpre- 
pared lines of the 
Allies between 
Ypres and the sea. 
" The German Staff 
neglected nothing 
to turn us. On the 
part of the front 
extending from the 
Lys to the sea, it 


■*?*>«" GHEN' 
F I B ^ LeRS .43, 
casseu . YP * ES ) E % *™mm 

8ethun& Bas 4 ' 

The Western Aemies. 

O, Belgian Army. F, General d'Urbal (French 
"Army of Belgium"). E, Field-Marshal Sir 
John French, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Corps (with 
French Divisions under General Bidon). D, 
General Maud'huy. C, General Brugere. B, 
General de Castelnau. A, General Maunoury. 


threw, from the beginning of October to the beginning of 
November, four corps of cavalry and four armies comprising 
altogether fifteen army corps. Their heads, the Crown 
Prince of Bavaria, General von Fabeck, General von Deim- 
ling, and the Duke of Wiirtemberg, issued to their troops 
appeals and exhortations which agree in announcing ' a 
decisive action against the French left.' It must be pierced 
at Dunkirk, or at Ypres. . . . Further, the Emperor was 
there to encourage his soldiers by his presence. He an- 
nounced that he wished to be in Ypres on November 1, and 
everything was prepared for the proclamation on that date 
of the annexation of Belgium." (Bulletin des Armees, No- 
vember 25, 1914.) The main weight of the latter attack fell 
upon the left wing of the British force; and we shall see, in 
the battle of Ypres, one of the most remarkable cases re- 
corded in history of successful resistance against overwhelm- 
ing numbers. 

(4) At the same time, the remainder of the line of the 
Yser Canal was defended by the Belgian army and the newly 
organized French " Army of Belgium " under General 
d'Urbal, which included Admiral Ronarc'h's Marine Fu- 
siliers. The attacks upon this line between the middle of 
October and the end of the year were like in character and 
aim, and they may be collectively regarded as the Battle 
of the Yser. 

With the last three series of actions, we have now to deal. 
They began with the Allied armies hastening forward in 
scattered fragments to new positions that had for long lain 
behind the main German lines. The spirit of the offensive 
in which this new front was taken up is very marked in 
the dispatches of Sir John French. It was soon checked ; 
but as much ground had been won back by this short for- 
ward rush as by the battle of the Marne, and, speaking 
broadly, what was won was held. At Nieuport and Dix- 
mude, at La Bassee, and at the outstanding bastion of Ypres 
between, the German aim was the same: to cut through to 


the English Channel, enveloping or piercing and routing 
the Allies on the way. The effort made was gigantic. From 
the barracks where half-instructed recruits and gray-headed 
reservists were drafted into the active line, through every 
stage of an organization that still maintained much of its 
original speed and exactitude, to the battlefields where, 
week after week, through failure after failure, these raw 
levies sacrificed themselves in massed assault, the powers 
peculiar to the Prussian military system received a final 
demonstration. There is much to question, but not the 
bravery of these thousands of victims. Since they failed, 
however, despite the advantage of superior — at some points, 
vastly superior — numbers, and of interior lines of move- 
ment, we must conclude that the Allies possessed, beside a 
higher general inspiration, either greater intelligence in 
command or a stouter manhood in the resistant mass, or 
both. After failure on such a scale, what hope of success 
could remain when the superiority of numbers had passed 

II. The Battle op the Lys 

We have seen that, in the hope of relieving Lille, a gen- 
eral advance eastward had been decided upon, the British 
2nd Corps, under Smith-Dorrien, with the British and 
French Cavalry Corps of Generals Allenby and Conneau, 
moving along the Lys Valley, and the French forces south- 
ward of the Be'thune-Lille road. Sir John French speaks 
of " the great battle " as opening with a cavalry engage- 
ment amid the woods to the north of the Aire-Bethune 
Canal, on October 11. But a party of forty Bavarians had 
made a raid upon the station at Hazebrouck (presently 
to become a British base) on the 8th, killing two sentinels, 
a train-driver, two women, and a little girl ; and on the 10th, 
Conneau's Dragoons, having crossed the Lys from the north, 
between Merville and Estaires, had dispersed a body of 
Uhlans. On the 11th, Smith-Dorrien's infantry crossed the 



Aire-Belhune Canal, eastward, with the intention of pierc- 
ing the line of the Bavarian army, which extended from the 
sharp hill called the Mont des Cats, near the Belgian fron- 
tier, through Bailleul, across the Lys at Estaires, and struck, 
between Be"thune and La Bassee, southward to the west of 
Lens and the east of Arras. The 5th and 3rd Divisions be- 
came engaged east of Be'thune, where they touched General 
de Maud'huy's left; and despite the obstruction of the 
ground with mineheads, factories, and streets of workmen's 
cottages, and its flat and swampy character, some progress 
was made. On the 13th, General Smith-Dorrien commenced 
an attempt to get astride the La Basse'e-Lille road, and 
thence to strike around the German flank. The Dorset regi- 
ment suffered heavily at the village of Pont Fixe; and on 
the following day the 3rd Division lost its commander, Sir 
Hubert Hamilton, who was struck by a shrapnel bullet 
while riding along the lines. On the 15th, the Division, 
says Sir John French, " fought splendidly, crossing the dykes 
with which this country is intersected, with planks, and 
driving the enemy from one intrenched position to another 
in loop-holed villages, till at night they pushed the Ger- 
mans off the Estaires-La Basse'e road." On the 17th, the 
villages of Aubers and Herlies were captured, the latter at 
nightfall by a bayonet charge of the Lincolns and the Royal 
Fusiliers. This was the furthest point reached. The Ger- 
man 14th Corps and parts of two others, with four Cavalry 
Divisions, had been brought north to protect this flank; 
and for ten days the British 2nd Corps (re-enforced on the 
24th by the Lahore Division of Indian troops, and by the 
8th Infantry Brigade) was subjected to a series of des- 
perate counter-attacks. Once the Royal Irish were cut off 
and surrounded in a village they had occupied, losing heav- 
ily. Once the Gordon Highlanders were driven out of their 
trenches; these were recovered by the Middlesex regiment. 
On the 21st, the left wing was withdrawn to prepared posi- 
tions; and, thereafter, a line from Givenchy (west of La 


Bass6e) to near Laventie was resolutely held. " This posi- 
tion of La Bassee " (as Field-Marshal French wrote six 
months later) " has throughout the hattle defied all attempts 
at capture by the French or the British." 

Further north, the 3rd Army Corps, under General Pul- 
teney — Conneau's cavalry linking it with the 2nd Corps — 
had advanced down the roads from Cassel and Hazebrouck 
eastward, with the aim of reaching Wytschaete (four miles 
south of Ypres) and Armentieres (where it would threaten 
Lille). The German 4th Cavalry Corps was driven back 
from Meteren; and on the morning of the 14th, Bailleul 
was occupied. Next morning " in the face of considerable 
opposition and very foggy weather," the left bank of the 
Lys from Sailly to Armentieres was occupied; and on the 
17th, when the 2nd Corps was at Aubers and Herlies, the 
3rd Corps continued the line northward from three miles 
north to three miles south of Armentieres. Unfortunately, 
the 2nd Corps could get no further. The 3rd Corps reached, 
on the 18th, through Armentieres into the western suburbs 
of Lille — Capinghem and Premesques; then it, also, had to 
retire. Heavy German re-enforcements, delivering a series 
of determined attacks in which lines of trenches were re- 
peatedly lost and recovered, immediately explain this fail- 
ure. The two corps were being tried beyond human 
strength. The 2nd Corps was exhausted by very heavy 
losses. General Allenby had taken Warneton, but found 
the lower line of the Lys held in force, and had been unable 
to establish a permanent footing on the east bank. Yet the 
ranks of the 3rd Corps lay across the river, its over-long 
front of a dozen miles presenting many weak spots. " It 
was impossible," says Sir John French, " to provide ade- 
quate reserves, and the constant work in the trenches tried 
the endurance of officers and men to the utmost. That the 
corps was invariably successful in repulsing the constant 
attacks, sometimes in great strength, made against them 
by day and by night, is due entirely to the skillful manner 


in which the corps was disposed. . . . The courage, tenac- 
ity, endurance, and cheerfulness of the men in such unpar- 
alleled circumstances are beyond all praise." 

The conditions had greatly changed since the advance 
upon Lille was planned. Antwerp had surrendered. The 
Belgian army, with the British and French naval brigades, 
had drawn back to the Yser. The whole of the German 
forces in Belgium were now free to carry out the programme 
of their Imperial master. Whether the main blow should 
fall at Dixmude or at Ypres, its success would require the 
immediate abandonment of any positions gained by the Al- 
lies across the Lys. When the Field-Marshal directed General 
Rawlinson, on October 17, to march the 7th Division east 
from Ypres to Menin, the French cavalry to go north toward 
Roulers — with the idea of cutting the German communica- 
tions between Courtrai and Lille — the commander of the 
4th Army Corps replied that the whole position at Ypres 
was threatened by the advance of large hostile forces from 
the east and north-east. Sir John French was evidently re- 
luctant to abandon the Menin passage and the line of the 
Lys. But when the 1st Army Corps reached Hazebrouck 
from the Aisne on October 19, the only question was whether 
Ypres or the east of the Lys — unless, indeed, playing for 
safety, both — should be given up. The decision was an heroic 
one. " I knew," says the Commander-in-Chief, " that the 
enemy were by this time in greatly superior strength on the 
Lys, and that the 2nd, 3rd, Cavalry, and 4th Corps were hold- 
ing a much wider front than their numbers and strength war- 
ranted. ... To throw the 1st Corps in to strengthen the 
line would have left the country north and east of Ypres 
and the Ypres Canal open to a wide turning movement. 
. . . After the hard fighting it had undergone, the Belgian 
army was in no condition to withstand, unsupported, such 
an attack; and, unless some substantial resistance could be 
offered to this threatened turning movement, the Allied 
flank must be turned, and the Channel ports laid bare 


to the enemy. I judged that a successful movement of this 
kind would be fraught with such disastrous consequences 
that the risk of operating on so extended a front must be 
undertaken ; and I directed Sir Douglas Haig to move with 
the 1st Corps to the north of Ypres." 

The withdrawal of the 2nd and 3rd Corps to defensive 
positions followed upon this decision; and the battle of the 
Lys resolved itself, on the part of the Allies, into a struggle 
to hold a front connecting Ypres, through Armentieres, with 
General de Maud'huy's positions before La Bassee and in 
Arras, with the knowledge that no considerable re-enforce- 
ments were possible, and that failure would be disastrous. 
At the end of October, severe attacks were made all along 
the line of the 3rd British Corps. During the night of the 
25th, the Leicestershire regiment was driven from its 
trenches by shells blowing in the pit in which they were 
dug. Four days later, the Middlesex regiment lost its 
trenches at Croix Marechale, near Fleurbaix, in a midnight 
attack ; but they were recovered, 200 Germans being bay- 
oneted and forty made prisoners. On the 30th, the line of 
the 11th Brigade near St. Yves (between Neuve Eglise and 
Warneton) was broken. It was restored by a counter-attack 
by the Somerset Light Infantry. The Cavalry Corps, oper- 
ating further north, around Messines and Hollebeke, was 
incessantly attacked. Support was sent to Wulverghem 
from the 7th Indian Infantry Brigade ; and part of the 2nd 
Army Corps and the London Scottish Territorial battalion 
were moved to Neuve Eglise. For forty-eight hours, the 
Cavalry Corps had to withstand the shock of two nearly 
fresh German army corps; it was then relieved by the 
French 10th Army Corps and General Conneau's cavalry. 
The London Scottish had particularly distinguished them- 
selves at Messines by repeated bayonet charges against 
greatly superior Bavarian forces. About dawn on Sunday, 
November 1, they were caught in a cross-fire of rifles and 
machine-guns, and retired with the loss of nearly a third 


of one battalion killed and wounded, having, as the Com- 
mander-in-Chief afterward said, given " a glorious lead and 
example " to other Territorial units. The Indian troops 
also proved their steadiness in the strange and terrible 
conditions of western warfare. The Lahore Infantry Divi- 
sion was heavily engaged at Neuve Chapelle (three miles 
north of La Bassee) ; Sir John French mentions particu- 
larly the gallantry of the 47th Sikhs and the 3rd Sappers 
and Miners. After the arrival of the Meerut Division, the 
Indian Corps took over the line previously held by the 
British 2nd Corps, and repelled many assaults. 

Throughout, the neighboring French forces showed the 
most admirable spirit of co-operation. Both the French and 
the British cavalry learned to adapt their traditional meth- 
ods to the new circumstances, and many a mile of trenches 
was held for periods by dismounted horsemen. When the 
battle of the Lys was beginning, one of the French official 
bulletins reported " very confused " cavalry fighting. The 
term referred mainly, but perhaps not wholly, to the nature 
of the country, which is cut up in parts by pitheads and 
mining villages, and, further west, by canals and streams. 
Here the cavalry regiment would go out attended by a cart- 
load of spades and picks to make trenches. Leaving their 
horses half a mile behind, half of the men formed a firing- 
line, while the other half went on in extended order to pre- 
pare a more advanced position. They might be for twelve 
hours in the trenches before they were relieved, and with 
only such cold food as they took out from camp. And, at 
any moment, the evil thing might come that happened to 
Lieutenant Wallon, a brilliant cavalry officer who was 
known outside of France, before the war, as a champion 
rider. It was at the village of Sailly, on the Lys, near Mer- 
ville. The day had broken with a thick mist lying over the 
flat, dull country, and a cold wind blowing. The French 
Dragoons advanced over the fields to seize the river bridge, 
an important crossing. Two squadrons took their places 


in the trenches before a small farmhouse — to the left a road, 
to the right a long potato-field, in front the invisible enemy, 
and beyond them the village. The lieutenant, behind the 
wall of the farmyard, rose from time to time to scan tha 
front through his field-glasses. Several times small bodies 
of German scouts came in view; thirty of them were shot 
down. A more substantial attack was made and repulsed. 
A short calm followed. Then, eleven men in peasants' 
dress, with picks and spades over their shoulders, were seen 
to be advancing toward the French lines. What could they 
be doing there? No one fired. At 40 yards' distance, as 
with one movement, they raised each a hand, and a volley 
of revolver shots rang out. This was a sign for general 
firing from the enemy's trenches. A sergeant who stood 
with Lieutenant Wallon called out with a laugh, as a bullet 
whistled by, that another " Boche " had missed him. But 
the lieutenant had fallen, with the ball in his chest. The 
sergeant lifted him in order to get him away to a safe 
place. " See, Rossa," said the wounded officer, " leave me. 
You know a wounded man is worthless. Get back to the 
trench; they want you there." The trusty non-com. would 
not budge, and dragged his leader to the rear. Again the 
lieutenant begged to be left, saying he no longer needed any- 
one. Three Dragoons found a little cart, and, putting the 
dying man upon a pile of straw, they took him away. The 
eleven disguised Germans were all shot. They were soldiers. 
The bridge was taken, and the village occupied. In the 
evening, around the camp fire, the men spoke of the good 
officer who had fallen before a neo-German ambush. 

III. The Battle op Ypres 

When the so-called 4th Corps, consisting of the 3rd Cav- 
alry Division under Major-General the Hon. Julian Byng, 
and the 7th Infantry Division, under Major-General Capper, 
reached the neighborhood of Ypres from Ghent, on October 


16, Sir John French was still bent on pressing forward to 
the north-east. On that day, Capper's force was posted five 
miles east of Ypres, from Zandvoorde through Gheluvelt to 
Zonnebeke; while the cavalry lay as much to the north of 
the beautiful little city, about Langemarck and Poelcapelle. 
Two French Territorial Divisions under General Bidon were 
in Ypres and Poperinghe; and, on the following day, four 
French cavalry divisions under General de Mitry joined 
Byng's troops along the road to Dixmude, and drove back 
some German scouts beyond the Houthulst woods. When, 
on the evening of the 19th, the Field-Marshal decided to send 
the 1st Corps to Ypres, he thought that " Sir Douglas Haig 
would probably not be opposed by much more than the 3rd 
Reserve Corps, which I knew to have suffered consider- 
ably in its previous operations, and perhaps one or two 
Landwehr divisions." The 1st Corps, therefore, was to ad- 
vance to Thourout and, if possible, to capture Bruges and 
threaten Ghent. 

This ambitious programme came to nothing. On the 21st, 
Sir John French was in Ypres consulting with Haig and 
Rawlinson ; and he then concluded that " the utmost we 
could do, owing to the unexpected re-enforcements of the 
enemy," was to hold the positions round Ypres for two or 
three days, by which time General Joffre had promised a 
relief of French troops. In fact, the Allies had again been 
taken unawares by one of the German lightning concentra- 
tions, so that they found themselves outnumbered by three 
or four to one at the critical point. The attempted advance 
came to a sudden stop early on the afternoon of the 21st, 
when the French Cavalry Corps was forced back to the 
west of the Yser Canal. No summary can do justice to the 
frightful series of struggles that ensued. Day after day, 
with an apparently inexhaustible energy, the gray-coated 
German columns of Generals von Deimling and von Fabeck 
were hurled against the thin lines of the defense; night 
after night, the exhausted survivors crept out to repair the 



The Battle of Ypres. 

broken parapets of their trenches, or the barbed-wire net- 
work in front. Late in the evening of the 22nd, the part 
of the line held by the Cameron Highlanders was nil ; it 
required hard fighting all the next day by the Queen's 


Northamptons, and King's Rifles, to recover the lost ground. 
At Langemarck, on the same day, after an attack upon the 
3rd Infantry Brigade, the bodies of 1,500 dead Germans 
were counted on the field. A French line division and some 
Territorials were brought up ; and on the 25th, an advance 
was made to the north-east. During a lull before the next 
grand attack, what was left of Sir Henry Rawlinson's com- 
mand was absorbed in the 1st Corps. 

The tide of battle ebbed and flowed, but the line was still 
held with little change. On October 29, a mass assault by 
the German 24th and 15th Corps was delivered on the 
Menin road east of Gheluvelt ; by dusk it had been repelled. 
This attempt to drive through to the south of Ypres was 
repeated on the following day, with more serious results. 
A slight ridge at Zandvoorde was seized, and the 3rd Cav- 
alry and 7th Divisions had to withdraw to Klein Zillebeke, 
only three miles outside Ypres. Some French and British 
detachments were ordered round to the weak spot, with 
instructions to hold out at all costs. " An order taken 
from a prisoner captured on this day," says Sir John 
French, " purported to emanate from General von Deim- 
ling, and said that the 15th German Corps, together with 
the 2nd Bavarian and 13th Corps, were intrusted with the 
task of breaking through the line to Ypres, and that the 
Emperor himself considered the success of this attack to 
be one of vital importance to the issue of the war." 

When the crisis was reached, on the 31st, therefore, the 
two British and one French divisions posted across Klein 
Zillebeke, between the Menin road and the Yser Canal, 
were not quite unprepared in mind and will, though griev- 
ously inadequate in numbers of men and guns. Before 
noon, the line of the British 1st Division, assailed by a force 
six or eight times stronger, was broken. Its retirement 
"exposed the left flank of the 7th Division; and, owing to 
this, the Royal Scots Fusiliers, who remained in their 
trenches, were cut off and surrounded." Another disaster 


of a very exceptional character followed. Early in the after- 
noon, the house in which the 1st and 2nd Divisions Staffs 
had made their headquarters was discovered and shelled, 
General Loniax, Commander of the 1st Division, being 
wounded and three of his Staff officers, and three of the 2nd 
Division, being killed. Fortunately, the Commander-in- 
Chief and his Staff were near, and joined General Haig 
within an hour. Such a loss in such an emergency would 
have damped any but the most tried spirits. Moreover, 
the 22nd Brigade, on the right of the 7th Division, had 
been compelled to retire, and then the 2nd Brigade, next 
on its right. When all seemed to be lost, the 1st and 7th 
Divisions rallied. The former, helped by some of the 2nd 
Division, swung round against the German right flank, on 
the Menin road, and, the 2nd Warwickshires leading, recap- 
tured the village of Gheluvelt at the point of the bayonet. 
This success enabled the 7th Division to bring its left back 
in touch with the 1st; and it liberated the 6th Cavalry Bri- 
gade, which, by a dashing attack, further helped to restore 
the front. Aid was also forthcoming, late in the afternoon, 
from the French cavalry. " Throughout the day," Field- 
Marshal French says, " the extreme right and left of the 
1st Corps held fast, the left being only slightly engaged, 
while the right was heavily shelled and subjected to slight 
infantry attacks. In the evening, the enemy were steadily 
driven back ; and by 10 p.m. the line as held in the morning 
had practically been reoccupied. As a result of the day's 
fighting, 870 wounded were evacuated." 

So passed " the most critical moment in the whole of this 
great battle," the day that was to have made Belgium a 
German province. One more special effort was made to re- 
trieve the Imperial fortunes before Ypres. " About Novem- 
ber 10, after units of several German corps had been com- 
pletely shattered in futile attacks, a division of the Prus- 
sian Guard, which had been operating in the neighborhood 
of Arras, was moved up to this area with great speed and 


secrecy. Documents found on dead officers prove that the 
Guard had received the Emperor's special commands to 
break through and succeed where their comrades of the line 
had failed. They took a leading part in the vigorous at- 
tacks made against the center on the 11th and 12th, but, 
like their comrades, were repulsed with enormous loss." The 
Prussian Guards numbered some 15,000 men, but they were 
no longer of the quality of those who had fallen in the 
marshes of St. Gond. They broke through the lines, but 
were enfiladed, and fled. The British losses included three 
commanding officers — Brigadier-General FitzClarence, of the 
1st Guards; Colonel Gordon Wilson, of the Horse Guards, 
and Major the Hon. Hugh Dawney, 2nd Life Guards. The 
last two were killed on November 7, when the 7th Cavalry 
Brigade was called to support the French troops near Klein 

The battle of Ypres was followed on November 23 and 
subsequent days by a long-distance bombardment of the 
town and the destruction of the famous Cloth Hall, a spite- 
ful kind of confession of failure. The siege warfare of the 
trenches continued; the phase of acute and open struggle 
involving the fate of a large area, to which alone the word 
" battle " can now be applied, was finished, at least for the 
present. Its later stage had been the occasion not only for 
prodigies of valor on the part of the regular troops, and 
" quite extraordinary " services by the artillery, the engi- 
neers, the flying corps, signal corps and other special arms, 
but for the baptism of fire of the first units of the Territorial 
force— the London Scottish and Hereford battalions, and 
the Somerset and Leicester Yeomanry regiments. " They 
took," says Sir John French, " a conspicuous part in re- 
pulsing the heavy attacks delivered against this part of the 
line. I was obliged to dispatch them immediately after 
their trying experiences further south, and when they had 
had a very insufficient period of rest; and, although they 
gallantly maintained these northern positions until relieved 


by the French, they were reduced to a condition of extreme 
exhaustion." Regulars, volunteers, and the subsidiary serv- 
ices had all earned a share of their leader's tribute: " That 
success has been attained, and all the enemy's desperate at- 
tempts to break through our line have been frustrated, is 
due entirely to the marvelous fighting power and the in- 
domitable courage and tenacity of officers, non-commissioned 
officers, and men. No more arduous task has ever been as- 
signed to British soldiers ; and in all their splendid history 
there is no instance of their having answered so magnifi- 
cently to the desperate calls which of necessity were made 
upon them. . . . Words fail me to express the admiration 
I feel for the conduct, or my sense of the incalculable ser- 
vices they rendered." 

Sir John French says that the German losses in the 
battle of Ypres were " at least three times as many " as the 
British. The French War Office estimated them as " at 
least 120,000 men." Four Victoria Crosses were afterwards 
granted for gallant actions during this battle; and it is 
notable that two of them were for life-saving, one of these 
taking the form of a clasp to a cross already gained, an 
unprecedented distinction. The official entries for these 
V.C.'s were as follows: 

" 6535 Drnir. William Kenny, 2nd Bn. Gordon Highland- 
ers. For conspicuous bravery on 23rd October near Ypres, in 
rescuing wounded men on five occasions under very heavy fire 
in the most fearless manner, and for twice previously saving 
machine-guns by carrying them out of action. On numer- 
ous occasions Drummer Kenny conveyed urgent messages 
under very dangerous circumstances over fire-swept ground. 

" Lieut. James Anson Otho Brooke, 2nd Bn. Gordon High- 
landers. For conspicuous bravery and great ability near 
Gheluvelt on the 29th October, in lending two attacks on 
the German trenches under heavy rifle and machine-gun 
fire, regaining a lost trench :it a very critical moment. He 
was killed on that day. By his marked coolness and 


promptitude on this occasion Lieutenant Brooke prevented 
the enemy from breaking through our line, at a time when 
a general counter-attack could not have been organized. 

"Capt. John Franks Vallentin, 1st Bn. South Stafford- 
shire Regt. For conspicuous bravery on 7th November at 
Zillebeke. When leading the attack against the Germans 
under a very heavy fire he was struck down, and on rising 
to continue the attack was immediately killed. The capture 
of the enemy's trenches which followed was in a great meas- 
ure due to the confidence which the men had in their Cap- 
tain, arising from his many previous acts of great bravery 
and ability. 

" Lieut. Arthur Martin Leake, R.A.M.C, who was awarded 
the Victoria Cross on 13th May, 1902, is granted a 
Clasp for conspicuous bravery in the present campaign. 
For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty through- 
out the campaign, especially during the period 29th October 
to 8th November, 1914, near Zonnebeke, in rescuing, whilst 
exposed to constant fire, a large number of the wounded 
who were lying close to the enemy's trenches." 

A thousand acts of zeal, skill, and heroic devotion by 
those whose duty it is not to take, but to save, life on the 
battlefield cry for mention. There was a French doctor 
attending to the wounded in the Civil Hospital during the 
bombardment of Ypres. For four days, with the help of 
volunteer assistants, he had been caring for fifty-four Ger- 
man wounded, and the hospital had been struck by shells, 
one of them an incendiary shell. The supply of bread was 
failing, but the doctor and nurses shared their portion with 
their patients. It was suggested to him that they should 
desert so dangerous a post. His reply deserves textual 
quotation : " Our superiority consists precisely in showing 
to this race of vandals that we possess those humanitarian 
feelings of which they seem to be devoid, and that we should 
do this because example is the only law which nations obey. 
If we imitate the Germans, there is no reason why the pres- 


ent state of things should not continue for ever, for we are 
merely descending to their level, whereas the mission of 
France is to elevate the Germans to our own. So long as I 
remain here, by your leave, I will continue to look after 
the wounded Germans, showing them that a French doctor 
laughs at their shells, and only knows his duty." This hero 
did so continue until, on November 13 or 14, he was killed 
by a shell. The surviving wounded, in sole charge of two 
nuns, were then removed to a safer place. 

Two personal events of political interest here call for 
notice. The first is the death of Field-Marshal Earl Rob- 
erts, on November 14, from illness due to exposure during 
a visit of inspection and farewell to the Indian army in 
France. " Only one Englishman," said an official writer, 
" has attained to anything near the place which Lord Roberts 
filled in the heart of the Indian soldier, and that was John 
Nicholson," the hero of Delhi. During the week Novem- 
ber 30-December 5, King George, with the Prince of Wales, 
visited in succession the four British army corps in the 
field, the Indian troops, and the various headquarters of the 
connected services. On December 1, he met President Poin- 
care", M. Viviani, and General Joffre, who received the 
G.C.B. decoration. Field-Marshal French was afterwards in- 
vested with the Order of Merit; and on December 4 the 
King met King Albert at Furnes, and inspected some of the 
Belgian troops. 

IV. The Battle of the Yser 

By this name we mean not chiefly the stream so called, 
but the canal which runs from Ypres, first beside the little 
Yperlee, then beside the Yser, which at length it joins to 
reach the sea amid the dunes by Nienport. Half-way along 
this course of twenty-three miles, the Yser Canal touches 
Dixmude, a large village of 4,000 souls (before they fled, 
and it was destroyed), happy in their cottages of rosy brick 
and tile, prosperous in their surrounding beet-fields and 



grazing grounds, their flocks and herds, and proud of their 
ancient church of St. Nicholas. In this dead flat land, 
seamed with canals and dykes, man was ever doomed to a 
double struggle — against the reluctance of the earth, and 
the insidious aggression of the water. Between the hills 
of the French border and the dunes of the North Sea 
coast, it lay saturated, misty, saved from total submersion 
only by an intricate sj'Stem of drainage maintained by farm- 
ers' associations under direction of the Belgian Govern- 
ment. For a population scattered in villages and small 


The Battle of the Yseb. 


towns, a few highroads served — narrow causeways of cobble- 
stone, with broad bands of black mud on either side. A dis- 
mal land, under its frequent rains and white mists, though 
quaint enough in sunshine, with its turning mills, bulbous 
spires, white farmsteads, and everlasting lines of pollards 
and poplars: so the tourist might say. But it is the soul 
that counts, in nations as in men. The wounded spirit of 
this marshy land had cried its wrong to the world ; and 
Britons and Bretons, Indians and Canadians, ranchmen 
from the Antipodes and tribesmen from the Atlas had an- 
swered the call to help a little nation defending the last 
miles of its hard-won soil. 

Down in their ditches by Dixmude, 5,000 Belgians under 
General Meyser and 0,000 French Marines under Admiral 
Ronarc'h, held out against three corps of the Duke of Wur- 
temberg's army from October 16 to November 10, in torrents 
of rain hardly less painful than the fire of the German guns. 
" You have to sacrifice yourselves to save our left wing," 
the Admiral told them ; " try to hold out at least for four 
days." The four days dragged on to a fortnight, and still 
these lion-hearted fellows held their place, with no heavy 
guns, and with no scouting service but that of a few Bel- 
gian cyclists. The line of defense ran at first from Dix- 
mude almost due northward, by the villages of Beerst, 
Keyem, Leke, to Slype, on the Nieuport-Ostend road, and 
almost due southward to Ypres — that is, it ran for most of 
the way two or three miles east of the Yser Canal. The 
French Marines held the center, in and north and south of 
Dixmude, with the help, in the end, of a few hundred Sene- 
galese. Four Belgian divisions, with badly depleted ranks, 
occupied the Ostend road, with rear trenches on the west of 
the Yser. South of Dixmude, a French cavalry corps and 
some Territorials kept touch with the British and French 
troops around Ypres. The first German attack was deliv- 
ered at the village of Essen, to the east of Dixmude, through- 
out the night of October 1G and the morning of the 17th. 


Although the way was prepared by a lengthy bombardment 
(the heavy guns had not yet arrived, however), the close 
columns of infantry were at length driven back. Five Bel- 
gian batteries reached Dixmude on the 17th, giving the 
defense a total strength of seventy-two guns. There was 
other cheering news. Field-Marshal French had ordered 
his 4th Army Corps to try to advance from Ypres upon 
Bruges; and the cavalry of General d'Urbal's 9th Corps, 
co-operating, had ridden east from the Dixrnude-Ypres road 
and occupied the village of Clerken, whence it was conduct- 
ing a series of bold raids across the north of the Forest of 
Houthulst. Admiral Ronarc'h immediately endeavored to 
aid this movement. Re-enforced by two regiments of Moroc- 
can horsemen, a party was sent out eastward toward Thou- 
rout. It found the churches of Eessen and Vladsloo in the 
condition of stables, but no other traces of the invaders. 
They seemed to have beaten a retreat. In fact, unfortu- 
nately, they had only gone along the Ostend road where, 
on the morning of October 19, they attacked simultaneously 
three points of the thin Belgian line, at Leke, Keyem, and 
Beerst. When he discovered this perilous diversion, the 
French commander sent three battalions, with artillery, to 
the rescue, one of which was to make a flank assault. Beerst 
was recovered after a bloody struggle lasting the whole day ; 
but new German forces had come up, and had captured 
Vladsloo. The Ostend road had to be abandoned; and, at 
midnight, the Allies, much exhausted, were back in Nieu- 
port and Dixmude, and the trenches between on the west 
bank of the canal. All that could be kept — and that with 
great difficulty — of the northward advance nearer Ypres 
was the road from Bixshcoote, through Langemarck, to Zon- 

And now the crucial moment had come; both sides must 
have known it, from the high commanders to the tired and 
tattered privates. If the line of the Yser were lost, not 
only would Dunkirk and Calais be imminently threatened; 


not only would the lnsl thin strip of Belgian soil be lost; 
the Allied army at Ypres would have to retire rapidly or 
be surrounded, and all the bloodshed on the Lys would have 
gone for nothing. No " little band of brothers " ever had 
a sterner task, and none ever carried their duty to a more 
heroic triumph. The small Belgian force was being slowly 
strengthened, and provided with the munitions it had had 
to leave behind in the retreat. But, with the whole of the 
long line across France pressed to the utmost, neither the 
French nor the British Government was able to throw into 
this end of the field forces numerically equal, or nearly 
equal, to the new formations which the German Staff had 
rushed across Belgium for a conclusive effort to break 
through the extreme left of the Allies. In this crisis, King 
Albert found two very powerful friends upon whose appear- 
ance the invaders had evidently not calculated. The first 
was the British fleet, now in fact, and not only in theory, 
supreme upon the seas, since its adversary had dared to 
essay nothing but a few trivial raids. On October 18, when 
the danger at Nieuport had become apparent, the Belgian 
Government again asked London for naval aid. A flotilla, 
under Admiral Hood, consisting largely of shallow-draught 
monitors, carrying powerful long-range guns, was immedi- 
ately sent across the North Sea, and appeared before Nieu- 
port on the morning of October 19. It was afterwards 
joined by several French destroyers. Before the German 
regiments had had time to settle down in the small seaside 
towns along the coast road south of Ostend — Lombartzyde, 
Westende, and Middelkerke— or the villages just beyond the 
dunes, they were overwhelmed with a raking fire much 
heavier than General Grosetti's artillery could bring to 
bear upon them. The gunners were directed by observations 
from naval balloons and aeroplanes, and by signals from 
shore; and, while their marksmanship proved remarkably 
accurate, the ships were enabled, by the superior range of 
their guns and constant movement, to evade all attempts to 


reach them effectively by ordinary field batteries. Nor could 
the German troops easily protect themselves by intrench- 
ment; for, if the trenches and gun-pits were directed toward 
the sea, they might be enfiladed from the canal, and vice 
versa.. Hour after daylight hour, during the next week, 
the cannon blazed over the sandhills — one vessel fired a 
thousand lyddite and shrapnel shells in a day — reaching 
three miles inland between Middelkerke and Nieuport, de- 
stroying batteries, blowing up ammunition wagons, and dis- 
persing infantry columns. On the 24th, heavier batteries 
that had been established on the sea-front at Ostend were 
bombarded, much to the discomfort of German officers who 
had their quarters in the large hotels there. Many fruit- 
less attempts were made by submarines to torpedo the fleet. 
By the end of the month, the British Admiralty was able to 
report that " the opposition from the shore has practically 
ceased, and the preponderance of the naval gunnery seems 
to be established." 

During this experiment in amphibious warfare, the Bel- 
gians and French were defending the river bridge and the 
three canal bridges at Nieuport, the passage at Dixmude, 
and their trenches between, against constantly repeated 
mass assaults. On the 24th, the Germans succeeded in get- 
ting across the Yser between Nieuport and Dixmude. The last 
defensive expedient of the Lowlander was then called into 
play: the lock-gates were opened, and the country around 
the high causeways was submitted to a slowly extending 
inundation. The Wurtembergers had scarcely succeeded in 
destroying the little town of Nieuport by long-range artillery 
fire, they had scarcely set foot, at the cost of terrible losses 
in their close-formed ranks, in the village of Ramscapelle, 
commanding the road through Furnes to Dunkirk, when 
they found the expected triumph snatched from them. The 
Belgians and French could well protect the few raised high- 
roads; they had no numbers for long lines of trenches ex- 
tending inland to Ypres. What they could not do was ef- 


fected by the floods, extending at first between the Yser and 
the Nieuport-Dixmude railway, and afterwards over part of 
the line between the latter place and Bixschoote. On 
October 30, Ramscapelle was recovered by a night charge 
of French Chasseurs and Algerian rifles; and on November 
3, the lost passages were completely recovered. Lombart- 
zyde, a mile north of Nieuport, was captured, and lost after 
several struggles; but generally the stress of the fighting 
now passed southward. On November 10, the Germans suc- 
ceeded in occupying the piles of broken walls and torn 
street that had once been Dixmude; but they could not 
cross the canal. Three days later, they secured two pas- 
sages, only to be driven back on the 15th, when one German 
regiment was almost annihilated. An even more terrible 
carnage marked attempts to pierce the wall at Bixschoote 
and Pervyse. This extremity of violence, damped by re- 
peated snow and rain storms, soon exhausted itself. One 
of the last futile struggles raged, about December 5, around 
the ferryman's house at Poesele, a point of some importance 
that had been contested for a month. Then the fury of at- 
tack died down ; the three armies turned to the strengthen- 
ing of their trenches, not only against each other, but 
against the common enemies — rain and frost; while the 
British fleet went north, and bombarded Zeebrugge, now in 
process of conversion into a German naval station. 


Paris, October 10. 

Paris is coming to life again. Under the wonderful 
autumn sunshine, so pure and radiant, there is a fluttering 
activity that has long been absent from the boulevards and 
squares. Every day the railway services which, for civil- 
ians, had been almost completely suspended after the great 
flight, are pushed out a few miles further to the north and 
east. At some hours there are quite considerable numbers 
of people in the streets. Nearly a half of the shops in the 
center of the city must now be open — one sees the trades- 
men pluckily dressing their windows, or cajoling a shy cus- 
tomer. The terrasses in front of the cafes still present a 
forlorn array of empty chairs; but the chairs are at least a 
beginning. More restaurants are reopening, and the few 
that have never shut are fuller. In some mansions, the great 
gates stand wide, and the shutters are thrown back; one 
imagines that they have stripped the chandeliers and the 
pianos of their holiday covers, and that here, as in humbler 
homes, the family gathers in the evening to hear the " com- 
munique' " read, and the little flags moved northward on the 
map of the battlefield. 

At the beginning of August, each new alarm — were it 
only a tiny column of volunteers, with a flag and a trumpet 
— brought a crowd on to the pavement. The theaters were 
already shut, and the crying of newspapers was forbidden. 
But there was always a crowd, always a noise. Years seem 
to have passed since then. At the beginning of September 



came the flight of the half million, immediately followed by 
the first German defeats. But the invaders might yet re- 
turn. Every approach to the city was barricaded; it was 
difficult to come in or go out, and impossible to remain with- 
out various kinds of permit. Impossible to get a meal after 
8.30; by 10, nearly everybody was abed. Paris — all, or 
nearly all, that is essential in the real Paris, save the 
men at the front — settled down to a stoical acceptance of 
the hard rules of General Gallieni and the Censorship, a 
splendid courage of silent waiting. It w r as then I fell in 
love with the Parisian women. Outside their houses, they 
always seemed to be stitching or knitting, with a grim in- 
tentness. Inside, who knows? Marie, who brings me my 
morning coffee, and whose husband and brother are at the 
front, asked every morning, as she still asks, for the news; 
and presently she let fall an occasional complaint that it 
was impossible to find out whether her soldiermen were alive 
— not a single letter had come for a month. For the rest, 
not a tear, not a complaint — though she has sometimes said, 
like thousands upon thousands of others, no doubt, " God 
grant this may be the last war ! " 

When the crowd had gone, with its miserable fears and 
patent hypocrisies, a strange and blessed calm fell upon us. 
The blows of those terrible days of the long retreat had 
fallen too fast upon our hearts to be separately felt. We 
were stunned. We did the work we had to do, automati- 
cal^. The swarming, surging masses added an element of 
squalor to our pain. When they departed, and a perfect 
quietude lay, day and night, upon the city, something new 
was born in us as we became accustomed to the emptj 7 vistas, 
the unbroken silence, the pure air, the majesty of the sky, 
and — perpetual accompaniment — the familiar thought of 

At three o'clock, and again at eleven, we went to get the 
official bulletins. At first, they were given out, to those 
duly accredited, in a room full of ancient furniture and 


arms in the Ministry of War; then in a stable-like hall, lit 
by a bad oil lamp, next door, in the Rue St. Dominique; 
and latterly in a boys' school taken over for such purposes, 
opposite the Invalides. For a score of us, 31, Rue St. Do- 
minique, on the evenings after the street lamps had been 
extinguished or turned low, will be a sacred memory. Jour- 
nalists do not carry their hearts on their sleeves; but per- 
haps they feel more than most, as they see more than most 
in following the threads of tragedy and comedy that color 
the common stuff of life. With what fears and hopes we 
awaited the appearance of the sheets bearing a few type- 
written lines, and then groped our way down the blackness 
of the narrow street to the wide, star-lit spaces near the 
river ! 

In the daytime we could sometimes get down to the river- 
side, or one of the public gardens, and watch the children 
at their play. For a week or two, it was even possible to 
make furtive expeditions through the beautiful countryside 
twice crossed by the two armies. Between the loveliness 
of such a summer and the rage of hatred and slaughter, can 
there be any reconciliation? One knows less as one grows 
older ; mystery, the foe of youth, becomes our friend, and we 
are content to know less. I only knew that, in these still 
weeks, some secret spirit of the air brought us a new 
humility, and with it a new fortitude, a sure sense that the 
unspeakable evil of to-day must end, because it is only by 
beauty and love that mankind can live. The witness of the 
soul is hard to utter. Let the raucous voices pass — the 
future is not theirs. But there is many a child of good 
English homes now in the trenches, keeping his vigil under 
the bright, chill moonlight of early October, who has felt 
the spirit-finger touch him, and has whispered a prayer for 
his country not often to be found in the liturgies of the 
vulgar. It is not these who will blaspheme against the 
most certain of truths, the truth of the world's need of 


And now President Poincare' and the two chief Ministers 
have spent a night in Paris. No doubt they will soon be 
back for good ; and with them will come a swarm of trades- 
men and deputies, officials, and arrivistes, trippers, and 
cocottes. The Chambers and the Bourse, the hotels and the 
theaters will reopen. Paris will become " Tout Paris " 
again. The fugitives will tell each other that it was hard 
to bear the provincialism of Bordeaux. Everybody will re- 
joice over the recovery of the only possible capital of France. 
And a few of us will listen with a silly jealousy, knowing 
they are robbing us of something of an infinite tenderness 
and charm that we shall never see again. 

It is gone for ever — the austere city, the Paris that was to 
be besieged. But sometimes, as I walk home in the early 
morning under the shining purple vault, and breathe deep 
the frosty air, I may hear again, as I did once, from behind 
a shuttered window, a voice singing an old song of love and 
pain and the faith that is stronger than death. 



On the Belgian Frontier, November 21, 19 H. 

As the powerful ear drew out of the courtyard of the 
Foreign Office on to the Quai d'Orsay, crossed the city, and 
passed swiftly through the northern suburbs, I wondered 
how much our French hosts would allow us to see on this 
visit to the hidden and tragic land which we call the front. 
It was the plan to reach the Belgian border in a single long 
day's journey, a matter of 160 miles or more — as far as from 
London to Sheffield. On this first day, then, we evidently 
could see hardly anything of the actual fighting lines along 
the great wall by which the invasion has been stemmed in 
western France. But the country immediately behind is 
nearly as inaccessible as the trenches themselves; and we 
know, by hearsay and our earlier expeditions, that it teems 
with a multitudinous secret and peculiar life. In peace 
time a motor journey from Paris to Dunkirk would be of 
interest; how much more so when every change of land- 
scape is related to the changing fortunes of a fearful con- 

The old ramparts and the further forts and field-works of 
Paris were soon left behind. The thin, wintry sunshine of 
early morning sparkled on the hoar frost in the bracken of 
the Chantilly woods, and outlined the feathery larch-trunks 
and leafless undergrowth, but could not yet dispel the mist 
that hung in the valleys. This is one of the loveliest regions 
of northern France, showing from each hill-top far prospects 
of wooded heights and peopled valleys, fading away into 



purple horizons. Chantilly, with its great villas, parks, and 
racing-stables, did not suffer very seriously during the Ger- 
man occupation; but at Senlis, eight or nine miles to the 
east, foul deeds were done. In these towns there is a re- 
commencement of normal life; in the neighboring villages 
most of the white plaster houses are empty and shuttered. 
Here and there, in the fields and woods, squads of Terri- 
torials are busy digging new trenches against the possi- 
bility of the lines being broken through, or cutting saplings 
and young trees to build shelters against the more likely 
evil of frost and storm. At every town or large village, 
pickets stop us and carefully examine our papers. The un- 
hedged fields are bare and empty. A cart drawn by bul- 
locks, the yoke fixed behind their horns, with low-bent heads 
and slow gait, passes us. Only the beauty of the scene 
saves it from appearing desolate. 

At Creil we stayed to examine the ruins of a dozen build- 
ings destroyed by artillery fire during the German advance 
upon Paris. It soon becomes possible to distinguish the 
havoc of " legitimate " warfare from that of deliberate in- 
cendiarism. Creil is in the former category; the German 
retreat took a more easterly road. The bridge over the Oise 
was destroyed ; and traffic now depends upon a rough plank 
structure. As we came up, a soldier's funeral was crossing, 
a priest at its head with two tiny acolytes, then the coffin 
covered with a flag, on which lay a small cross of thin wood, 
and, last, a file of the dead man's comrades-in-arms. The 
sad procession was too familiar a thing to attract much at- 
tention from the townsfolk. 

Here we left the woods, and entered a region of vast, 
warm, rolling downs, cut periodically by the valley of a 
westward-moving river — the Oise, the Somme, the smaller 
Authie and Canche, and, lastly, the Lys, which, however, 
runs north-eastward, between Hazebrouck and Lille, to join 
the Scheldt at Ghent. All these streams have played their 
part in the war — the Somme and Oise, in particular, by 


giving the British and French armies opportunities for de- 
laying actions during the great retreat, and the Lys as the 
border-line of the effort to relieve Lille. After the battle 
of the Marne, or, rather, after the battle of the Aisne had 
ended in the deadlock which still continues, the geographi- 
cal character of the campaign altered. The Allies turned 
the western corner between Montdidier and Compiegne, and 
hurried northward in an effort to outflank the German 
right, and to break across its lines of communication. This 
effort failed — both sides extended their lines till, from above 
Paris, straight up to the North Sea coast in Belgium, there 
stood a double wall which could be pressed a little this way 
or that, but which neither side has yet been able to break 
down. A human wall, every brick of which is a sacred life, 
a wall needing daily repair at a cost that can never be meas- 
ured, resting upon scores of thousands of new-made graves, 
and the ruins of ancient country towns— Lassigny, Roye, 
Chaulnes, Albert, Bapaume, Arras, La Basse'e, Armentieres 
— and villages whose sufferings will not win even the honor 
of a record in history. 

Behind this fire-riven, smoke-crowned wall facing east 
and west through a hundred miles of northern France, the 
downs climb up from the river valleys, and roll away to the 
coast. The deadness of winter lies over the open lands ; and 
in a belt twenty or thirty miles wide the small communities 
are living almost wholly on and for the army. In the few 
hotels and large inns, officers and the more substantial sort 
of refugee or displaced inhabitant crowd together in some- 
thing almost approaching to comfort. Amiens, the only 
considerable city along the line, drags on a thin, dull kind 
of existence. The trams are running; the shop windows cry 
out for the return of the wealthier inhabitants, who fled 
when the Germans came, but did not like military and police 
rule well enough to come back when they left. Placards of 
September 4 may still be seen on the public buildings warn- 
ing the citizens not to make hostile demonstrations, for- 


bidding motor-cars to leave the town, and stopping the sale 
of all newspapers. Though the trenches are only twenty 
miles away, there is no fear of a new visitation of the 
enemy, with new lists of requisitions, fines, and hostages. 
But everything is abnormal; all usual interests and duties 
have lost tljeir weight; one single reality — typified in the 
ambulances and hospitals, and the trains of supply wagons 
— dominates the thoughts of every man and woman, and 
even of the urchins who crowd about us as though visitors 
from Paris were as rare as a thumping good dinner. 

From Amiens, we went north-eastward, getting off our 
route and too near the zone of fire below Arras. Between the 
scattered, solitary farms, on the fine highroad or the muddy 
bypaths, we met occasional wayfarers, carrying packs 
on their backs, or pushing a barrowful of household goods, 
and, more frequently, a Red Cross car, a column of cavalry- 
men taking up remounts, or a line of big, hooded supply 
wagons. Some of the villages are simply dead, only a few 
miserable old folk remaining. Others have been taken pos- 
session of for rest-camps or depots; and here you see the 
streets of cottages bustling with the come-and-go of privates, 
petty officers, and transport drivers, the yards full of horses 
corraled under rough straw shelters. Then again, you are 
out upon the bare countryside, the expanse of fields broken 
only by clumps of trees, haycocks, or heaps of manure and 
ensilage — a ragged, afflicted scene. 

The road runs down into Doullens, past the high brick 
wall of the old citadel, now a Red Cross station, and up over 
another plateau toward St. Pol. These two old-fashioned 
market towns are the chief points on two railways connect- 
ing the coast with Arras. Unfortunately the Germans have, 
on their side of the great wall, many small towns that must 
be very useful to them for supplies, and a close network of 
railways. Beyond St. Pol the air has a more northerly bite ; 
on the bleak hills large farmhouses, with deep tiled roofs, 
are more frequent, and the fields, cut up by hedges and 


lines of trees, have a familiar look. To our right, towards 
Lens and La Basse'e, pithead dump-heaps stand up for all 
the world like the pyramids on the margin of the Egyptian 
desert. A few smoking chimneys show that some of the 
collieries are still at work in the rear of the French trenches. 
At Aire, we cross the little river Lys, which has seen so many 
hard fights. Then we reach the quietude and beauty of 
Cassel, on its sharp, lonely height, from which the sea is 
visible on the one hand, and the battle lines in Belgium on 
the other. 

It is pretty certain that Calais never loomed in the mind 
of the German Staff as prominently as it did in certain parts 
of the British Press. Except as a scare center, Calais would 
be useless to the Germans while the British fleet is free and 
France is unconquered. Dunkirk would have been as good 
and much easier to take and keep. At any rate, the north- 
ern battles have another significance. When the contend- 
ing hosts turned the corner where the Aisne falls into the 
Oise, and stretched northward in the effort each to outflank 
the other, the attacks became more and more desperate as 
one part of the wall after another was solidified, and as the 
point was being reached, on the Belgian coast, where out- 
flanking became impossible. On the German side, particu- 
larly, they became most violent about Ypres and Dixmude 
for reasons quite unconnected with any insane idea of at- 
tempting the invasion of England. In the first place, rail- 
way communications with Germany are here more direct 
and abundant than further south, so that it was easier to 
concentrate masses of men for a smashing blow. Secondly, 
success here would automatically relieve the Allies' pressure 
upon Lille; and a considerable success would rob them of a 
strip of coast containing four important seaports in a space 
of only fifty miles — Dunkirk, Gravelines, Calais, and Bou- 
logne. To seize that strip of coast would not really threaten 
England; but it would be a most useful agency of panic 
on the one hand and triumphant advertisement on the other; 


and it would materially hamper Anglo-French communica- 

The northward progress, then, showed a continual aggra- 
vation of attack until a new stage of deadlock was reached. 
Deadlock, however, is only a relative term. In this case, it 
involves unceasing struggle for trivial advantages, under 
conditions the most trying warfare has ever presented — ex- 
cept that there is no actual starvation, and that a large pro- 
portion of the sick and wounded quickly recover, thanks 
chiefly to the excellent road and railway services on both 
sides. It is for the present, on the part of the Allies, a con- 
test of endurance and organization, preparatory to a more 
decided offensive. There is already a real resumption of the 
offensive, but it is more apparent in the spirit of the men 
than in the outward course of events. They know that there 
is a long, hard path before them; but there is no sign of 
wavering. One peculiarly damaging effect of the spirit of 
conquest is that it blinds its victims to the extraordinary 
power of will which it arouses in defense of a threatened 
fatherland. And a Prussian war of conquest excites this 
resistance in the highest degree, because the Prussian spirit 
of dominance combines so many odious qualities and is re- 
pugnant alike to all the nations, and every part of each, 
that is threatened by it. Differing in nearly everything 
else, they agree upon this, that a Prussian victory or Prus- 
sian rule are things utterly and finally intolerable. 

It is a very simple frame of mind ; but the faces we see, 
the talk we hear, the concentration of energy which seems 
to increase as we approach our destination at the end of the 
great north road of France, all impress afresh upon us the 
elementary truth that the Allies will win because the peoples 
know that European life would be unbearable without this 
victory. The khaki-clad Englishmen look younger, trimmer, 
more expert. The French in their long blue coats, so often 
ill-fitting and shabby, look more like fathers and citizens. 
There are differences more real than those of appearance, 


deep differences of experience and character. But, as the 
night comes up around us, with its great winds and its bitter 
cold; as the mighty wagons, with blazing headlights, loom 
up out of the mystery before us and pass into the darkness 
behind ; as we catch a sound of song in passing through the 
shadows of a village camp, or meet the challenge of pickets 
on the edge of a town where larger movements are afoot, I 
reflect that there is being forged in this dreadful furnace of 
war a brotherhood of two races such as diplomatists could 
never conceive, a unity of heart and purpose that may last 
out our time, if we are wise, and far beyond. 


At the Front in Flanders, November 28. 
There is, in a certain village just behind the canal which 
runs southward, twelve miles, from Dixmude to Ypres, a 
certain trench from which, if ever, the Invisible War should 
become visible. It represents the advanced firing-line at a 
point where the battle of the Yser took, and may again take, 
a character of sustained violence. It is of a construction 
that has become familiar from newspaper photographs — not 
one of the extensive subterranean galleries with kitchens 
and rest-rooms that are to be the winter quarters (perhaps) 
of the Allied lines further south, but a narrow alley cut 
deep in the brown, clayey soil, with transverse sections, and, 
in the front, an open gallery at which the riflemen stand. 
The opening is only about 18 in. deep, from the turfed and 
sanded roof, supported by pieces of tree-trunk, to the 
ledge on which the rifles lie in action. The nearest build- 
ing of the village is within a stone's throw. The men 
have no need here for more extensive arrangements; they 
come down, and are relieved at intervals, and the line of 
communications is so good that the intervals need not be 
long. The German trenches are on the other side of the 
Yser Canal, no more than 300 yards away to the east. 
Imagine the excited interest with which we looked out upon 
this expanse of dead-flat land, fields of grass and stubble 
broken by hedges, dykes, and lines of polders, where one of 
the crucial stages of the mightiest conflict of modern times 
has just been settled. 



There is no doubt about the bloody work that has been 
done. Most of this village is in ruins — a few blackened 
walls, yawning over heaps of brick aud plaster, mark what 
were lately its humbly prosperous homes; the church is a 
broken skeleton, the vane and tip of the steeple hanging 
over on a thread which I guess to be the lightning conductor. 
It is still a mark for the German artillerymen — the boo-o-m 
of their big guns breaks out intermittently ; and a battery of 
French field-pieces close to our right replies with its lighter 
rat-tat-tat. But all we can actually see from our trench 
can be put in a couple of sentences. A shell bursts rather 
uncomfortably near, with a sudden flash of fire and cloud of 
dust. Further away, to the north, a small village is blaz- 
ing, yellow tongues of flame rising clear against the gray 
sky. Not a single human being is visible at any point of the 

The particular phase of the battle of Flanders which has 
been and probably will continue to be called the Battle of 
the Yser — that is, the desperate effort of the Germans to get 
across the canal — is over. Fighting continues; but it has 
not yet revealed any new objective, and one has the 
impression that it is only a mischievous sort of marking 
time, a warning from each side that it is not to be caught 
unawares, that the last word is not yet said. The fighting, 
however, does unmistakably continue, for we have watched 
the ammunition wagons going in at one end of the process, 
and the ambulances taking the wounded men out at the 
other end. But it bears hardly any resemblance to the 
product of heated imaginations which I have called the 
romantic illusion. 

While we were hurrying through from Furnes to Ypres, 
along the highway which runs parallel with the Franco- 
Belgian lines, a breakdown in front brought us to a sudden 
stop. The best of these Flanders roads consists of a cobbled 
center not wide enough for two vehicles to pass, with broad 
bands of mud on either side. For twenty minutes we stood 


watching a dozen Zouaves, with several horses, trying to 
get a cart out of a hole in the road. The guns were banging 
away to north and south of us, and once a rain of shrapnel 
burst over a line of willows just across a field on our left. 
To me there was much more reality in the bogged cart than 
in the shrapnel. They say it is bullets, not shells, that the 
men fear. I can understand this now without being able 
clearly to explain. The one is a silent, multitudinous mes- 
senger of death; the other makes a noise and a show alto- 
gether disproportionate to the damage done — at least, in the 
open field. Among buildings it is another story. 

We examined Pervyse and Ypres particularly. Pervyse 
lies six miles east of Furnes and half-way between Nieuport 
and Dixmude. This large village was one of the points of 
stress in the second phase of the battle of Flanders. The 
first phase may be counted as extending from the cavalry 
advance which protected the landing of the British Expedi- 
tionary Force to the rallying of the Belgian army after the 
fall of Antwerp ; and it consisted essentially in delaying the 
German advance. The second phase centered in the German 
attempt to get round the Allies by the coast way, between 
Nieuport and Dixmude, the former place being defended by 
the Belgians (to the point of absolute exhaustion), under 
General Grosseti, and the latter, with heroic obstinacy, by 
Admiral Ronarc'h and his Marines. These attacks being 
defeated, there followed what has been called the Battle of 
the Dykes, the defense by inundation which proved locally 
decisive; and the center of pressure was then moved south- 
ward, the Germans trying to break through between Bix- 
schoote and St. Eloi — that is to say, around Ypres. 

If either Pervyse or Ypres had been lost, the effort to keep 
a hold upon at least a corner of Belgian territory would 
have failed, and the Allied line southward would have been 
imperiled. Both places are important road centers, and 
both are served by railways — matters of critical moment in 
this country of dykes and ditches. Both, therefore, were 


defended with desperate determination, and with such suc- 
cess that, after losing 120,000 men in three weeks, the Ger- 
man army had no more strength to attack, and has now 
lain idle in its trenches for a week, apparently incapable of 
a new initiative. 

We came to Pervyse along the cobbled causeway, under 
a faint winter sun that silvered the canals and the flooded 
meadows. The windmills, the white cottages, the bulbous 
church towers, which are the common features of the Flem- 
ish landscape, now look down upon no humdrum labors 
of home and field, but upon columns of blue-coated infantry- 
men marching to or from the front, batteries ingeniously 
hidden in the willow thickets, Red Cross vans laagered in 
the farmyards, upon pickets of Dragoons and Cuirassiers 
and parks of artillery, pitched and bivouacked in orchards 
and gardens, and upon all manner of convoys — intermi- 
nable lines of ammunition wagons, supply wagons, and cars 
carrying or to carry the wounded to the nearest ambulance. 
Through hurly-burly such as this we came to Pervyse. I 
have seen ruins, south of the Marne and the Aisne, that 
hurt me more, because there was time to learn what such 
an agony of modest homesteads may mean. Pervyse cannot 
have been anything but a very modest townlet; and, as it 
is still under fire, and the courteous officers under whose 
guidance the French Government has placed us are 
unconscionably anxious for our safety, there was no op- 
portunity to realize fully how this little community was 

Many of the houses show marks of rifle-fire, as well as the 
shattering effect of shells. There remains a part of the 
outer walls of a large building that seems to have been a 
convent, for, high above the central doorway, the figures of 
Virgin and Child still stand in their niche, overlooking the 
scene of desolation and blind fury. Threading our way over 
a litter of broken masonry, timber, and ironwork in the 
churchyard, we reach the entrance to the church, now 


blocked by a mass of rubble, on top of which lies a great 
bell, fallen from the tower. The transept and aisles are 
quite open to the sky ; and the floor is buried deep in broken 
brick and glass and charred fragments of the roof. The 
tower stands, but it has a perceptible tilt, which is said to 
be due to the force of the shell-fire. 

They tell a story of a certain general sitting calmly in a 
chair at a street corner near Pervyse church for two hours, 
while shot and shell were showered upon the place. The 
French officers repeat these fables with the tolerant, take- 
it-or-leave-it air of the scientific man who knows that the 
mighty public must be entertained, but knows also that all 
popular fables are essentially true. I think there was an ad- 
dition to the story — of a British officer passing by who did 
not altogether approve of this sort of heroism. That, also, 
sounds true. The French greatly value what they call a 
" beau geste." We have not the word because we have not 
the thing. For a " geste " is more than a " gesture." The 
one is a trifling sign ; the other is a dramatic symbol, given 
and received with equal sincerity. Many a thing is neces- 
sary to an army of two or three millions that has never 
been, and never needed to be, contemplated for professional 
troops. But the differences lie deeper down in the minds 
of the two peoples; and probably these differences, so far 
from being causes of misunderstanding, actually contribute 
to the affectionate interest that draws them together to-day 
more closely than any political bonds can do. The martial 
Frenchman must have his beau geste. Atkins demands cap- 
able management. They are each getting what they want 
in full measure. 

Ypres is not on all fours with Pervyse. The latter is a 
small place; and, if a small place is obstinately defended, 
the fact that its chief building is a church will not avail to 
protect it from bombardment. Ypres is, or rather was, a 
town of 18,000 inhabitants. Its unique historical and 
architectural interest was universally known. If ever a 


thought be given in war-time to the precious memorials of 
the past, to the beauty that genius has made and time has 
enriched, here and now was the occasion for such a restrain- 
ing thought. The officers of the Allies say that there is no 
military excuse for this fifteen days' bombardment, and that, 
in any case, shrapnel would have been as effective as big 
shells, except for the purpose of sheer destruction. 

What I saw for myself is, perhaps, more conclusive. It 
is that, while large parts of the town have suffered no in- 
jury, the famous Linen Hall and the equally ancient, though 
less rare and beautiful, Cathedral of St. Martin are practi- 
cally destroyed, with a number of the quaint old houses 
around them, including the " Nieuwerck," a little two-story 
building in Spanish Renaissance style, dating from 1620, 
attached to the east end of the Linen Hall, containing the 
municipal offices, and commonly called the Town Hall. This 
result could not be accidental. It stands as clearly against 
the German commanders as the less serious damage to 
Rheims Cathedral, and the destruction of Louvain. Here, 
as at Louvain, the injury to civilization is irreparable. The 
high roof of the Halles has gone completely; its charred 
fragments strew the pavement of the pillared naves, which 
formed the ground-floor of the vast building. The windows 
are all shattered, the tiny diamond panes lying amid the 
heaps of brick and mortar within, and on the pavement 
outside. Of the " Nieuwerck," which was only slightly dam- 
aged by the earlier bombardment, nothing now remains 
standing. The delicate pinnacles at the corners of the 
Halles still point up naked to the sky — strangely naked 
without their familiar background. The fine rafters and the 
long gallery of the Cloth Hall have disappeared; and the 
remarkable wall paintings are hopelessly defaced. Nothing 
stands inside but the pillars — poor skeletons that cry aloud 
for pity, like the pillars at Pompeii, or the Propylea on the 
Acropolis of Athens. The great central tower shows a 
huge rent in the upper part where the clock was; and on 


both sides of the tower the facade of the Cloth Hall has been 
smashed in. 

Opposite this side of the Halles, a number of houses have 
been gutted, fragments only of the outer walls standing 
amid piles of rubble. On the other side lies the Cathedral. 
We could not get within, for the entrance is blocked by a 
mound of still smoking mortar and stone, the top of which 
was lit by a faint flame throwing out curious little sparks. 
This was the remains of the belfry. Of the interior we 
could only see that there was no longer a roof, and that the 
floor was a horrible chaos. Everybody notices the odd 
things that escape the common fate amid these calamities. 
The stone effigy of some local worthy stands in the path 
leading to the central door of the Cathedral, quite unhurt — 
as though to emphasize the greater glories that are gone for 
ever. In the street just outside, a shell has dug a hole large 
enough to swallow up a horse and cart: it happened to 
strike the top of one of the town sewers. The station was 
naturally the first mark for the German guns; and, in the 
neighboring square, houses, a large factory, and a large 
school have been knocked to bits. But all this is nothing 
beside the loss of that which has been a joy and pride to 
good men for 600 years and, having been demolished in a 
fortnight of frenzy, can now never be replaced. 

Out to the north and south of Ypres, as we left the now 
depopulated town, the infantry of the Allies were pushing 
their lines a little forward. They might have been a thou- 
sand miles away for all we could see of them. The boom 
and rattle of the guns, close, yet muffled like stage thunder, 
followed us as we passed through the dead streets, and 
reached the mud-bound causeway which is one of the main 
arteries of the war. 

You want to go further out there to the east, to the 
trenches and bridge-heads of the Yser, into the villages by 
Bixschoote (which was described to me as a furnace full 
of unburied bodies), and the mysterious woods toward Mes- 


sines where the Germans Lave held so hard? So do we, my 
dear sir. But we have a scrupulous guardian. The nature 
of things, not any human law, however, is the real obstacle. 
No one, save those who have lived in the trenches, will ever 
know what life there is really like. My impression is that 
nearly all the heroic stories falsify the facts. They crowd 
together into a small space and time incidents which were 
scattered widely and happened with undramatic slowness 
and inconsequence. The most real thing about the battle- 
field proper must be the long intervals of sheer boredom, 
sordid labor which will not bear to be told, and silent, 
dogged endurance. The occasional incidents — such is the 
universal passion for a stirring story — are incredibly mag- 
nified. Some eloquent sentences have been written about 
fighting amid snow during the last few days. There has 
certainly been some snow, but from Paris to Ypres I could 
not discover a teaspoonful of it remaining. I was told a 
thrilling story, reminiscent of the Beresina a century ago, 
about several German regiments advancing across the ice- 
bound Yser and being swallowed up — the ice on the ponds 
to-day would not carry a dog. As though the hostelry of 
the Noble Rose, in Fumes, had not seen enough of high 
romance in the three centuries of its history, they say that 
on All Saints' Day, while the Belgian officers were at dinner 
in the little back room overlooking the yard, a German shell 
went clean through the upper part of the building and fell 
into the narrow street. I found perfect peace in Furnes: 
thus the tide ebbs and flows. 

Some stories attain, as I have said, a sort of collective or 
symbolical truth. It is, I suppose, for that kind of value 
that soldiers themselves like the war pictures of Detaille. 
But, in general, the romantic illusion is mischievous, be- 
cause it hides the real life of war, which is not a picnic re- 
lieved by episodes of a peculiar sort of play-acting, but a 
perpetual round of labor incredibly hard, with spells of ut- 
ter lassitude intermingled; of acute sufferings from hunger 


and thirst, cold which pierces the weak places of the body 
and pulls down the courage of the strong, and, in a minority 
of cases, the pain of actual wounds. These things are not, 
in fact, shown up by any scene-shifter's limelight; but, for 
him who has the eyes to see, they are irradiated from within 
by a spirit as high and strong as any reflected in our old 
story-books. I do not hesitate to press this view insistently, 
because you must empty the bottle of falsehood before you 
can fill it with truth. The parents and wives and brothers 
and children of those at the front want to know what sort 
of a life their men are living, and they have every right to 
know. Would that it were easier to tell them ! 

I remember tumbling into the midst of a French infantry 
regiment on the first day of the battle of the Marne. It was 
my first glimpse of the edge of war; and I felt like W. T. 
Stead when, in his last years, he went to the theater for 
the first time. Where was the regimental band? There 
wasn't one; and from then till now I have never seen one. 
There are no more bands and standards ; they are beginning 
even to cover the blue and red uniforms of France with 
khaki, as they have already covered the too-brilliant helmets 
and cuirasses. War has become invisible, not by choice, 
but by necessity. Why could we not see the infantry push- 
ing forward their lines just outside Ypres yesterday? Be- 
cause they were underground, and their progress probably 
consisted only in the capture of a score of yards by mining. 
This is not the whole story of the front, but it is by far 
the greater, and an increasing, part of it. At the present 
moment almost the whole line from the North Sea into 
Alsace is stationary, and is underground. Battles in the 
olden sense are rare, and will become rarer. That sort of 
thing is disappearing, and with it the fierce pride of the old 
warriors, their professional habits, and their superstitions 
of glory. Whether we like it or no, so it is. 

But courage does not disappear; it is impossible that men 
can ever have endured monstrous evils more cheerfully, 


and individual capacity and morale are infinitely higher 
than they can have been in any previous war. I have met 
in the last three months a number of bloodthirsty journal- 
ists, but not one bloodthirsty soldier (except a poor Tommy, 
half-mad from fatigue, who wanted to shoot me for a spy). 
The Frenchmen strike one as quick enough, when needed, 
for an adventure, and at the same time as serious citizens, 
fathers of families, factory and office workers, or owners 
of little shops and farms, whose inspiration, whatever the 
original responsibilities for the war may have been, is noth- 
ing less than duty. The Britons are younger on the average; 
and a finer set of men you could not hope to see. Often 
shy, generally silent, hating heroics, if you want anything 
doing, here's your man. Though we crossed them repeatedly 
we were not officially taken to any part of the British lines. 
But, among various chances, the luck of a motor mishap 
gave me half an hour's talk with men of the Army Service 
Corps, and particularly with one of those sergeants in whom 
you have the average British stuff at its best— clean, straight 
fellows, now tanned and lined about the cheeks and jaw, 
but with the keenness of intelligent youth in their laughing 
eyes ; all alive, and ready for anything, men to be proud of, 
men infinitely too good for this filthy business of war. 

It was a dark, icy night, with the moon flitting between 
1 tanks of cloud over a village not a hundred miles from 
Hazebrouck. A hundred and thirty big motor-wagons, in 
charge of this company of the A.S.C., were ranged up the 
two sides of the village street — awkward, delicate, very 
precious beasts, that must be nursed and coaxed and 
watched if they are to do their work well ; and the break- 
down of a single wagon may mean that some hundreds of 
men needing all you can give them, and much more, must 
go short. So the wagons must have, like the men, not only 
food (and one wonders how all the wells in the world can 
produce enough petrol for them), but hospitals for when 
they are wounded. The company has three complete work- 


shops on wheels, with each its dynamo and full tool equip- 
ment; and it seemed to me there was hardly anything they 
could not do, in their narrow space under the tarpaulin 
covers. The sergeant told me, while his men set our head- 
lights going, that since the beginning of September, includ- 
ing the retreat from Antwerp, his company had not lost a 
man or a machine. He said it with the touch of proud 
affection with which an old rider speaks of his favorite 
horse. " Necessity is the mother of invention," he quoted ; 
and, 'pon my soul, the hackneyed proverb sounded all new 
and vital. It was bitterly cold among the wagons under 
the pale moonshine as we parted. I hope those fellows 
will get back home safely. 

It is work, business, organization, and nothing like stage 
play, with the officers also. In a certain curious little town 
which must not be named, we suddenly learned, by the fact 
that he invited us to meet him, that we were in the midst 
of the Etat-Major of the Commander-in-Chief of the four 
northern armies, General Foch. The general of to-day does 
not go about the battlefields on a prancing charger. He sits 
still in an obscure house, working out the plans of the war 
as though it were a particularly long, hard, and momentous 
game of chess. There was no sign whatever to mark this 
house out from its terrace neighbors; and, within, there 
was no sign of pomp or comfort. A short, quick-moving, 
clear-glanced man stepped out of an inner room — the en- 
gineer's office of the northern campaign — and stood for 
three or four minutes in our midst. After greetings, he 
uttered a sharp speech of about a hundred words, noting 
the critical character of the twenty days' battle, the endur- 
ance and gallantry of the men, and the greatness of the 
issue. We had not time to thank him ere he had said 
good-by and returned to his work. I had been re-reading 
Se'gur, and could not but contrast the new method with the 
theatrical comings and goings of the greatest of soldiers. 
General Foch is responsible for a host larger than any Na- 


poleon led, with the possible exception of the disastrous 
Russian expedition. But no Napoleonic legend will gather 
around his person or memory; and to say this is not to 
shadow a distinguished name, but simply to record our 
passage into a new phase in the development of the world. 

We should think of the war in terms of the new facts. 
It is a narrow red line, some ten miles wide and 350 miles 
long, with, on either side, a hinterland whose colossal activ- 
ities are directed into a number of channels — main roads, 
railways, and canals — connecting with the central line. 
There is never a dull moment at the chief points on this 
system of communications; and, even between the towns, 
from Creil into Belgium, the solitude of the wide plateaux 
of central France is broken day and night by a never-ceas- 
ing stream of traffic, all concentrated upon the one appalling 
task. The great green-hooded country wagon of our ances- 
tors still plays a modest part, but the typical vehicle now 
is the petrol car and lorry. Where have they all come from 
— the town buses and traders' vans, the powerful touring 
cars in which officers rush hither and thither; the hospital 
vans, the motor-cycles of the dispatch-riders, and, above 
all, the high, lumbering camions carrying incredible quan- 
tities of bread, meat, and other supplies? 

The most trivial incidents of the road reveal something 
of the romance of this vast agitation behind " the front." 
There was an English boy standing sentinel at a railway 
crossing near the frontier, some mother's darling fresh from a 
public school, straight, and slight, and very clean against the 
universal mud and murk. His angel face showed his diffi- 
culty in understanding the language of the townsfolk, and his 
anxiety that it should not show. For him, too, I uttered 
my hurried prayer that he might come safely home out of 
this devilry. 

A column of Belgian infantrymen were marching along 
a cobbled causeway, returning from the trenches to camp. 
As he passed me, one of them dropped into the mud a big 


book, six inches long and two thick, bound in solid brown 
leather. It was a Bible. Yet some men think all the Cove- 
nanters are dead. 

An English lady was standing., as we passed, at the gate 
of a tiny cottage over which floated the Red Cross, watch- 
ing the mushroom smoke of bursting shells, and awaiting 
her wounded. Down the road a company of Alpines, with 
their slouch caps, marched, singiDg a tune that lilted rarely. 
There was a handsome young devil of a Zouave officer sit- 
ting his horse like an image of chivalry. Some woman is 
waiting for him in a far-distant village with a heartful of 
tears. Three Hindus crouched shiveringly on top of a big 
cartful of baggage. 

We came through pollard-lined, flooded fields to a way- 
side inn called " Au Due de Marlborough." The Duke ! — 
and the name conjures up a hundred pictures of campaigns 
in which England spoke for interests less respectable than 

The big hall of the goods station at Poperinghe has been 
made into an ambulance for cases awaiting the daily hos- 
pital trains. Three doctors move about in the dusk dress- 
ing and re-dressing wounds, and saying kindly words. One 
man lying by me on a stretcher has both feet bound up. 
Some of the patients can move about, and are drinking 
something from cups, with a long-drawn enjoyment that, 
shows it is not medicine. The air is full of a faint, sicken- 
ing odor of disinfectant. 

After these wanderings, a Parisian dinner was comfort- 
ing. As I went to the pay-desk afterward, I observed that 
the young woman was softly crying her heart out. 

" Forgive me, madarne," I said, " is it a relative at the 

" My husband," she replied. " I have not heard of him 
for three months." 


Verdun. December 1. 

Thousands of French and German soldiers must have 
noted, as I did. by the metal signposts, that the road to 
Verdun was, for the one, the road from Paris to Metz, and 
for The other, the road from Metz to Paris. It runs, broad 
and smooth like all the great French highways, along the 
hill vineyards of the Marne Valley, and over the edge of 
the Brie plateau at Montmirail, to Chalons, across the roll- 
ing plain of Champagne, and through the somewhat myste- 
rious region now known to the reader of the French war 
bulletins as •■ the Forest of the Argonne." 

It has sometimes been thought that the power of move- 
ment in modern times was such that physical conditions 
would never influence the course of warfare as they mani- 
festly did of old. The more I see of the country, however, 
the more am I struck with the influence of physical condi- 
tions in the present war. Taking only the three clearly dis- 
tinguishable sections of the route just named, it will be 
seen that the hills above and below the Marne, and the sub- 
Alpine region of which the Argonne and the Heights of the 
Meuse are twin portions lightly separated, formed most 
important barriers against the southward swarm of the 
German host: while, on the other hand, the relative 
of the interval between the first two enabled the Wiir- 
temberg army to get sooner to the south. It is. again, no 
inconsiderable fortune to France that, in the west, her 
rivers, and the- hills defining them, mostly run westward, 



while on the eastern frontier they mostly run northward. 
To the extent, then, that these features constitute an 
obstacle (and broken bridges and defensible heights are a 
real obstacle), both waves of invasion, the northern and the 
eastern, were hindered. So far as the Germans are now on 
the defensive, they in turn share these advantages ; and that 
is one reason, which modern trenches do but accentuate, 
why the greater part of the front to-day is in a condition of 

You have only to see the hills above Soissons, the Craonne 
plateau, the forest-clad slopes about Ste. Menehould, and 
the wonderful girdle of mountains around Verdun, to realize 
that any force, well-armed and supplied, must be exceed- 
ingly difficult to dislodge from such positions. Nearly all 
this country is of a great beauty that emphasizes the horror 
of the scenes of which it is the theater. Not the richly 
crowded, vivid beauty of the best parts of our English coun- 
tryside; but something more softly swelling and spacious, 
the difference — is it fanciful to say? — between Mrs. Siddons 
and the typical figure of the Republic on a coin or in public 
statuary. One learns to love (I watch many a stranded 
Tommy, with a friendly astonishment in his eyes, learning 
to understand) the differences between peoples and the lands 
that have made them what they are. This, also, is a factor 
in the future of what I would still prefer to call the Entente 
Cordiale. But, if I attempt now to convey a sense of the 
landscape of eastern France, it is for its more material, its 
military significance. 

After passing through what they call " la Champagne 
Pouilleuse" (poverty-stricken), from the relative infertility 
of its chalky soil, it was a grateful change to strike, at Ste. 
Menehould, the sudden rise of the Argonne, grateful as 
that first entry into the feet of the Swiss mountains which 
made a certain morning golden in our youth. A little town 
of low-roofed houses, perched on a rock on the upper Aisne, 
and surrounded by thick woods, it seems to have been acci- 


dentally dropped here by the giant who planted the villages 
between Basle and Berne. Its name, taken from a lady 
who died in the odor of sanctity in the year 600, marks its 
age. Its more recent history is scant but characteristic. 
Here Louis XVI was recognized by a postman in course 
of his fatal flight; Varennes, where he was stopped, lies on 
the other side of the Argonne ridge, to the north-east — that 
is, toward the nearest part of the German frontier. Ten 
miles west of Ste. Menehould (and just north of the road 
we followed) lies the battlefield of Valmy, where, in the 
following year, 1792, the soldiers of the Revolution won 
their first considerable success, driving back the invading 
Brunswickers by their stiff cannonade. The Brunswickers 
of to-day are more redoubtable; but the townlet of Ste. 
Menehould remains one of the gateways of France, impor- 
tant to take and to hold. 

From this point, in pouring rain, we rose by roads that 
twined along the valley sides, always flanked by forests 
of smallish trees, close set with much undergrowth, and — 
this is the point — clearly impenetrable by bodies of troops. 
The Argonne is about forty-six miles long from north to 
south, and only ten miles across. The hills rarely rise to 
1,000 feet ; it is the woods that make them formidable. In the 
middle of its width, the large village of Les Islettes marks 
one of the two central cross-roads ; and at Clermont we pass 
out of the mountain belt into lower land stretching to Ver- 
dun. We did not visit any part of the Argonne front, al- 
though it was only four or five miles away, and, among the 
burned and battered houses of Clermont, firing was clearly 
audible. After seeing the ground, however, it is much easier 
to realize the nature of the struggle that has been going 
on for the last two months. 

The German lines have been pressed northward very 
slowly but surely; and now the trench and mine warfare 
wages around the second, more northerly, cross-roads, in 
the Bois de la Grurie. There are, in fact, only three main 


roads east and west across the Forest; and there is only 
one main road through its center connecting these, which 
conies down from the Bois de la Grurie, through La Chalade, 
to Les Islettes, and so on to Triaucourt. The first east- 
and-west way is the Gap of Grand Pre', through which the 
Germans have useful railway, road, and river communica- 
tions. The second has been, during the past month, and 
still is the scene of continuous fighting. Running from 
Varennes, on the east, to Vienne-le-Chateau on the west, 
the German lines extend almost straightly thence through 
the Suippe Valley to just above Rheims. Throughout this 
stretch of country it is hard sapping and mining work be- 
tween the closely ranged trenches, with small engagements 
between artillery and scouting parties in the difficult forest 
heights. The French are attacking this critical line of com- 
munications both from the Souain road on the west, and the 
Les Islettes road on the south. The third cross-way is as 
solidly French as the first is, for the present, German ; it is 
the one by which through Ste. Menehould and Clermont 
we came to Verdun. 

Sentries stood in their thatched boxes in the dusk ; muni- 
tion wagons passed, taking out or coming for new supplies 
— six horses to each caisson, three drivers, and four or five 
sleepy fellows riding on the wagon. Gradually the woods 
broke up, the hills softened down ; and, after narrowly escap- 
ing being cut up in the dusk on a level crossing, we groped 
our way into the great fortress town, through the frowning 
gates and walls of the ancient citadel. 

Here we are, then, within a day's march (in happier times, 
not now) of the Lorraine frontier, and only forty miles 
from the great German stronghold of Metz. Verdun ! What 
memories cling around the name, from that fateful day, 
over a thousand years ago, when the heritage of Charle- 
magne was divided, and the eternal Franco-German scission 
of western Europe began. It is not surprising that, with 
such a background of history, the old words should obsess 


our minds, and become rather a hindrance than a help. But 
time is really a revolutionary youngster, not a gray dotard. 
It never ceases to spring surprises upon us, and he who 
seeks facts must beware of the pitfall of words. Certainly 
Verdun is a " fortress," yet of a kind how unexpected and 
strange! It has been sealed fast for the last four months 
(during which time much of France has been overrun) 
against the Teutonic intruder, and no less against the pry- 
ing journalist. I am one of the first of that suspected order 
to be privileged to penetrate into this fastness, and to see 
it as it is. 

But what do I say? "Penetrate" ? There was no more 
apparent difficulty in getting into Verdun than in going 
down to Brighton for the week-end. When the threat of 
capture fell upon Paris early in September, it suddenly 
became impossible to enter or leave the city without a special 
permit, extremely difficult to obtain. Each gate on the line 
of the old ramparts had its rifle-pits and chevaux-dc-frise. 
Along the eastward and northward roads, there were bar- 
ricades at which you were stopped, perhaps ten times in 
the course of a mile, to show your scrap of pink or yellow 
paper. In the daytime, a sergeant attended by a picket 
with fixed bayonets came up to your car, examined your 
pass as a bank clerk examines a dubious check, and gen- 
erally made you feel that, if you were not a German spy, 
you looked precious like one. At night, the sentries waved 
their red lanterns across the road, and woe betide you if 
you advanced a foot too far. The bivouac fire gleamed 
against the black depth of the neighboring woods; and, far 
behind, the flashlights searched the sky for night raiders 
who never came. Such weird scenes, through which we 
passed to and from the battlefields of the Marne and Aisne, 
until we were warned off the road altogether, gave us a 
ridiculous sense of sharing in martial events and of 
belonging to a capital city which was also a modern 


Verdun presents none of these theatrical effects to her 
rare visitors. It looks at first sight about as warlike as 
York or Chester. Its scarps and counterscarps, moat and 
crenellated towers, are a curiosity, not a terror. We came 
in after nightfall by the Porte St. Paul, and no blue-coated 
guards arrested us. We crept by dark and narrow ways 
through the upper town, past the Place du Gouvernement 
and the ancient Cathedral, to General Sarrail's headquar- 
ters ; then, after reporting ourselves, crossed the Meuse to our 
hotel beside the town hall. Verdun is normally a small 
place of only 22,000 inhabitants; and there are now prob- 
ably not much more than half this number of civilians in it. 
At our orthodox dinner hour, everybody seemed to have 
gone to bed — no Early Closing or Daylight Saving Act ever 
operated as effectively as this war has done. I will not 
conceal that if we had depended upon the resources of the 
Hotel of the Three Moors we should have felt them to be 
meager and uncomfortable. 

At the Military Club, we had all we wanted for the inner 
man, and a charmingly cordial welcome. Also we saw the 
habiliments of, and heard much talk about, war. We quickly 
corrected our crude notions of military geography and de- 
fense organizations. We learned that the real Verdun is 
not a certain quaint little town, with gates and walls in 
the manner of Vauban, and old houses overhanging the 
Meuse. Nor is it this plus the old forts which held out for 
three weeks in 1870, and are now smoothed down into a pic- 
turesque promenade. It is not even this together with the 
circle of modern forts, marked upon the military maps, 
which have never been in action, and whose guns have been 
used to better purpose elsewhere. It is, in fact, a piece 
of country around this center, protruding to the north-east 
from the general line of battle, like a vast bastion, with 
crescent face of seventy miles' length, and a solidly French 
hinterland for its support. Here, at the heart of this area, 
we do not hear even the distant boom of the guns, and a 


bomb from an aeroplane, which killed a woman, is the only 
German shell that has disturbed the security of the town. 
We had asked ourselves "What came ye out for to see?" 
Now we know that we have come to see the real bulwark of 
eastern France, the Heights of the Meuse. 

Verdun, December 2. 

The great central doorway of the Lorraine frontier is 
not only banged, barred, and bolted against the invader; it 
covers an area, if not of perfect peace, at least of perfect 
security. Verdun has been advertised by the German com- 
manders as subject to a close investment. They have even 
claimed to have captured some of the forts. No doubt the 
German people imagine that it is besieged. I wish some of 
their representatives, if they have any free men who could 
tell them the simple truth, could have accompanied us in 
at least a part of our tour of inspection. Verdun has never 
been besieged. Its communications are unbroken. It is the 
center of a district in which there is no menace. On the 
north, west, and east there is a space of twenty miles before 
the zone of German gunfire is reached. 

The road to the city through the Argonne is as safe and 
quiet as the road from York to London. On the south, the 
Germans touch the Meuse at only a single point — St. Mihiel. 
To reach it from Metz, there is but one single difficult road, 
and all along that line the position of the invaders is ex- 
ceedingly precarious. Around the semicircle north of Ver- 
dun, the French armies make slow but steady progress. 
They are prepared for the winter as well as any armies can 
be. I spoke to many of the men at different points; and 
there is not the least doubt about their high spirits and 
perfect confidence. I spoke also to a number of officers. 
They struck me as men of marked intelligence and vigor, 
possessed by a modern and liberal spirit, seeing the moral 
and political issues of tlie war very much as we see them 
ourselves, and watching closely over the safety and comfort 


of their men. They felt, and seemed to me justified in feel- 
ing, themselves invincible men enjoying an impregnable 

The secret of this important success at the pivoting point 
of the western campaign is not the strength of the fixed de- 
fenses of Verdun, for many of the forts have not fired a shot. 
It is that the army has never lost its freedom of action. 
All danger is now past on the eastern frontier. 

In the course of our journey we have been privileged to 
meet and spend some hours with General Sarrail; and it 
seemed to me that the fullness and frankness with which he 
explained to us the course and character of the operations 
exemplified the new type of mind that modern conditions are 
producing even in places where the conservative spirit 
most obstinately lingers. A tall, slight man, with short, 
white beard and mustache, soft gray eyes, and a gentle man- 
ner, he looks a scholar and a thinker, rather than the man 
of action we know him to be. In answer to a question about 
the present morale of the German troops, he said, " Que 
voulez-vous? It is a ship in a tempest, and the sailors run 
hither and thither." There was no sound of hate or triumph 
in his tone; but I thought that, if a symbolical picture of 
the defense of France were needed, one could hardly find a 
better than the portrait of General Sarrail. 

Winter has fallen upon France this year with merciful 
softness. There has been only a brief touch of frost so far, 
and, better still for the men in the trenches, much less rain 
than usual. They should now be fully prepared ; and those 
we saw appeared to be. A bright but fitful sunshine favored 
me as I went up, under the best possible military guidance, 
to view the line of the front from three chosen positions on 
the hills amid which Verdun lies. The town left behind, a 
magnificent panorama, for whose beauty I was quite unpre- 
pared, revealed itself. In sweeping lines of clean fields, the 
heights rose, through endless grades of green and brown, to 


the blue forest masses on the edge of the scene. White roads 
and the shining band of the Meuse — a narrower and shal- 
lower trench than I had expected — cut them; and here and 
there were scattered small villages, their short church spires 
rising above the red roofs and plaster walls. In the morn- 
ing, heavy clouds increased this effect of richly varied color- 
ing; later in the day, a burst of sunshine, falling now upon 
one and now another range of hills, seemed to enhance the 
spaciousness of the amphitheater, an illusion due, doubt- 
less, to some indefinable harmony of its outlines. 

We took, first, the more southerly of the two roads which 
run eastward to Metz, as far as a hill nine miles out, imme- 
diately overlooking the village of Haudimont. At this 
point, we had passed two of the famous forts, those of Bel- 
rupt and Rozellier; but not a sign of the traditional kind 
of fortification was visible till, on our return, we passed 
over a small piece of concrete pavement with an iron chim- 
ney sticking up, down which one of the party shouted a 
jocular message. No sooner on the hills than we found 
thatched sentry-boxes and the huts and cabins which the 
troops are making, with much ingenuity, for winter quarters. 
In the woods, bedded with red leaves, soldiers were cutting 
logs for firing, or saplings of ash and birch to make trellis 
for new streets of huts. They all like this work under the 
open sky, the Commandant told me; it is an immense relief 
from waiting in barracks. In clearings among the trees, 
small bodies of troops were camped. They turned to gaze 
as we passed, wondering who these strange civilians could 
be. Standing upon a height overlooking the far-spreading 
plain of the Woevre, the General explained to us the course 
and rationale of the Verdun position, and the action of its 
army of defense since the beginning of the war. It was a 
most illuminating statement; and, as this section of the cam- 
paign has been shrouded from western readers, and a 
knowledge of it is necessary to an understanding of the 
j) resent position, I will here sketch very briefly what has 


happened, basing myself upon his words, but not attempting 
textually to repeat them. 

It will be remembered that France was really prepared 
only for an eastern and north-eastern campaign. Against 
such an attack, she had three great obstacles to offer — 
Verdun, the most northerly, Toul-Nancy in the center (and 
I include Nancy with Toul, although it is not a " fortress," 
because its field-works have successfully served the same 
purpose), and Belfort, which has never been within range 
of German fire. If any of these three positions had given 
way, all the after-course of the war would have been differ- 
ent, and probably the Germans would now be firmly estab- 
lished in Paris. The Verdun position was one of particular 
stress, because it was threatened from the north as well as 
the east. As it turned out, it was also to be vitally affected 
by events taking place far to the west. It had already con- 
ducted some successful skirmishes against German forces 
from the north and east (its proper business), when, at 
the end of August, the evacuation of Belgium and the rapid 
retreat of the Allies on Paris gave it a new and very difficult 
task — that of preventing a breach of its connections with 
the western armies. This involved a south-westward inclina- 
tion which — when the Crown Prince had got down as far as 
Revigny and Vitry-le-Frangois — had to be extended to Bar- 
le-Duc. Finally, when the Germans were beaten back into 
the northern Argonne, the Verdun army returned to the 
intermediate position, with its communications safely estab- 

Such, very briefly stated, are the four phases of the Ver- 
dun defense; and, evidently, the complex task called for 
exceptional talent in the command, and great courage and 
tenacity in the body of the troops. British readers have 
naturally had their eyes chiefly upon the western campaign. 
The recoil after the battle of the Marne, the great turning 
movement toward and over the Belgian frontier, and then the 
desperate effort of the Germans to break through the Allied 



lines in Flanders, absorbed their attention, because these 
events were nearest, and their own men were engaged in 
them. Yet all the efforts of those men would have been in 
vain had not the eastern wall held firm. Of course, the diffi- 





© > 


^ SE. 

( Varenne 




The Foub Phases at Vebdun. 

culties were not on the one side only. The German retreat 
from the Marne involved the Crown Prince's retirement to 
a line on which he could keep contact with Rheims and the 
Suippe Valley on the west, and the Metz army on the east. 
This brought him between the Argonne and Verdun; and 
the German positions here have since been pressed north- 
ward slowly to the Varennes road. On the eastern side, 
strenuous attempts have been made from Metz and Thiau- 
court to break through the Meuse defenses between Verdun 
and Toul. The heroic defense of Fort Troyon is one episode 
of a succession of intermittent struggles in this thickly 
wooded mountain region. Only at one point, where the 


hills fall and the woods thin off, have the Germans been 
able to obtain and keep a foothold upon the Meuse — at St. 
Mihiel. With forces much weaker than their assailants, 
the French have disposed of what the General called an 
" enormous bluff," held the integrity of the French lines, and 
freed Verdun from danger (an important thing for its 
moral effect, as well as in a military sense). 

The point of the German lines now nearest to the town 
is the twin hills known as the Jumelles d'Orne, and that is 
ten miles from the town and four from the nearest fort (the 
infantry, however, are actually in touch). Generally speak- 
ing, the German batteries are about twenty miles from Ver- 
dun, and ten miles, or more, from where we stand, between 
the line of the forts and the French trenches. And now 
the struggle has undergone a double change. The Germans 
have fallen upon the defensive; the French have resumed 
the initiative of attack. But positions of such strength 
have been built up on either side that the progress is small 
and slow. " You are all safe here? " I heard an officer ask 
some men ; and the answer was characteristic of the tactical 
position, as well as of the French spirit : " Yes, too safe ! " 
It is a new sort of siege warfare, in which soft earth is 
found to give better protection than stone and iron, and a 
hail of bullets to be more deadly than all the melinite shells. 
The infantry fire proceeds at close quarters, and is imper- 
ceptible at a distance. The large guns are directed by scien- 
tific measurements, not eyesight, at a range of several miles, 
often over an intervening line of hills — a purely mechanical 
and most undramatic business. Occasionally, there is a 
rushing attack, nearly always at terrible cost to the at- 
tackers. Once two battalions came on singing war-songs, 
with fifes playing; there is no doubt about their courage. 
But they did not know that there was another blockhouse 
just behind, and the force was practically destroyed by the 
French artillery. The clearest fact established in this war 
is the deadly power of the defensive, equipped with modern 


rifles aiid field-guns, when once it has been enabled to in- 
trench itself. 

The trenches lie a couple of miles in front. Just beyond 
them, half-way between Verdun and the frontier, is Etain, 
the nearest German town. The railway running back from 
Etain to Conflans is under French fire; and the Germans 
have had to improve their communications to the north-east 
by building a short line from a point near Spincourt to 
near the front. On the way from the east to the north- 
west of the French lines, we visited several batteries, one 
of which, receiving a message from either an aeroplane that 
soared ahead or a big yellow captive balloon that floated 
above a camp of white tents, began to bombard a German 
position. The sharp smack of the gun fell startling upon 
our ears ; but there was nothing else impressive in the affair. 
They were firing over a line of wooded hills at some invisible 
objective two miles away; and I wondered when, if ever, 
they would hear of the result. 

Montfau^on is an isolated hill, apparently only about 800 
feet high, which would have presented no particular diffi- 
culties to the assailant a century ago. It was to this place 
that the Crown Prince withdrew his headquarters from Ste. 
Menehould after the battle of the Marne; and for the last 
three months it has watched over the German trenches con- 
necting the Imperial armies of Lorraine, the Argonne, and 
northern Champagne. 

At any rate, Verdun is safe behind its seventy miles of 
field-works. As we returned to the city at nightfall, a man 
was quietly plowing one of the hillsides, as though the war 
were not only invisible, but non-existent. 



Rheims, December 4- 
We were chatting over the luncheon table at our hotel in 
the Place Drouet d'Erlon, waiting for the coffee, when the 
first shell burst over the city. Others whistled over our 
heads during this afternoon; and, while a full inquiry was 
impossible, we learned that one of them had killed six men 
— street-cleaners — in a road beside the canal. We watched 
the columns of smoke rising from two separate parts of 
the south-eastern suburbs, set on fire by shells from the 
position still called after the old Fort Berru. The French 
artillery claim to have silenced the offending German guns. 
The gendarmerie is essentially a romantic service, and 
the colonel in blue and silver expressed the opinion that, 
after all their efforts, there must remain somewhere in the 
city an underground telephone wire by means of which 
news of the arrival of particular visitors is signaled to 
the German batteries. I prefer the evidence of the Regu- 
lars. In any case, journalistic modesty and the horror of 
responsibility for the lives lost to-day would combine to 
make us wish to discredit this idea. Rheims lies, in fact, 
in a saucer between the " Mountain of Rheims," the Cra- 
onne plateau, and several outlying hills. I should suppose 
that every party entering the city is plainly within sight 
of the German gunners, and that every such party should 
expect to be potted at. Firing upon the city itself, which 
is unfortified and full of civilians, is quite another matter. 
However that be, there had been no bombardment of 



Rheims for five days before we came, the last happening 
in precisely the same manner during the visit of a party of 
journalists representing neutral countries. No doubt, it is 
more sensible to bombard journalists than innocent towns- 
folk, who are not even armed with a pen, and are most of 
them women and children. But, generally speaking, one 
can discover no logical course at all in the conduct of the 
German campaign. 

Many harmless and helpless communities have been piti- 
lessly destroyed. Others have been inexplicably spared. I 
had the odd privilege of sleeping last night in one of the 
rooms occupied, while the Germans stayed in Epernay, by 
General von Biilow and his staff, in the house of M. Paul 
Chandon. The chalk marks of one " Hauptmann Brinck- 
man " on my bedroom door are preserved as a curiosity, 
matching souvenirs of the visits of President Poincare' and 
the wife of Prince August Wilhelm to this palatial resi- 
dence. Afterward, we walked through some of the seven- 
teen miles of cellars of Messrs. Moet and Chandon, where 
about a million bottles of champagne per mile are stored. 
One of the most eloquent facts we had found in the devas- 
tated villages to the south-east was the litter of empty 
wine-bottles. Epernay, one of the richest and finest of 
French towns, was practically untouched. The wine-cellars, 
in which the whole German army could have been hidden, 
were not entered. During an earlier visit, immediately after 
the German retreat, I told how — whether by sheer whim 
or real sense of right it is impossible to say — the indemnity, 
extorted under pressure, was repaid in full. Turn now to 
Revigny on the south, or to Rheims on the north, and try 
to harmonize the sheer barbarity practiced there with the 
complete immunity of this wealthy town of Epernay, in 
which not a single house has been destroyed, and only trivial 
looting in the shops took place. 

The official representatives of Germany, at the two Hague 
Conferences, and on other occasions, have pretty steadily 


resisted attempts to tighten the rules of warfare. But if 
they thus exiled themselves in advance from the comity of 
progressive nations, they claimed none the less to have rules 
of their own. What are they? Can some of the professors 

Let us try to state things precisely : Rheims is not " de- 
stroyed," like the villages and small towns burned from 
end to end by the army of the Crown Prince, Rheims Cathe- 
dral is not " in ruins " like the Linen Hall at Ypres. A 
considerable part of the city presents, if not its normal 
appearance, at least an air of quiet, solid security, under 
the radiant sunshine of this rare December. Here and there 
on the southern and western sides of the town, a building 
has been more or less badly damaged. Nearly all the larger 
houses are closed and shuttered, and the streets are deserted. 
Between the entrance by the Epernay road and the Fontaine 
Suby, a motor ride of ten minutes, I counted only five houses 
seriously damaged. Nearer to the center of the city, the 
shopping streets seem to have suffered more seriously, two 
or three houses in each block having the upper and middle 
story broken in by projectiles. Immediately to the north 
of the Cathedral, a score or more of buildings, some of them 
very ancient, and a solid stone block facing the statue of 
Louis XV in the Place Royale, have been completely demol- 
ished. In the neighborhood of St. Remi and what is called 
" The Seamsters' Quarters," where the Pommery and other 
wine-cellars lie, the worst mischief of all has been wrought, 
and many lives have been lost. It was impossible, in the 
circumstances, to examine this district. 

At first I was surprised — such is the influence of promis- 
cuous phrases — to find the vast pile of the Cathedral stand- 
ing majestic and seemingly whole. We approached it from 
behind; and, from below, the loss of the steep outer struc- 
ture of the roof, essential though it be to the architectural 
scheme, is not immediately noticeable. Perhaps, also, the 
boom of guns is not favorable to close observation, and we 


had hardly an hour to view what it will require months to 
examine closely. But, when we came round to the front of 
the church, the injury to the most glorious of Gothic facades 
was grievously visible. One supposes that it must have been 
hit either sideways by shots from the German batteries at 
Nogent FAbbesse, their most southerly position, or, more 
probably, by fragments of shells exploding immediately be- 
fore the entrances. 

Dozens of the beautiful statues and carved groups which 
fill the sides of the three deep doorways have been broken, 
the chipped stone showing white against the age-worn color 
of the mass. The corner pillars of the front of the church 
are still more completely defaced, probably by the burning 
of the scaffolding which covered this part of the front before 
the first and most serious bombardment. Above the left 
porch, one of the long narrow windows of the west tower 
has lost a pillar. The range of about twenty gigantic 
statues of the Kings of France which runs across the facade, 
above the Rose Window, seems to be intact, as are the heads 
of the towers. But half of the fine balustrade between them 
has disappeared. 

What the burning scaffolding did for the facade, blazing- 
rafters did for the interior. In all, about forty shells are 
believed to have struck the Cathedral. The direct damage 
thus done is relatively small — a hole in the wall of the north 
tower, several broken buttresses and pieces of parapet, and 
such like. The fire caused by the explosions has, on the 
other hand, done irreparable damage. All of the wood- 
work of the nave, transepts, choir, and apse has gone. Fall- 
ing in upon piles of straw on which wounded German sol- 
diers had been lying, it turned the vast interior for a short 
time into a furnace, shattering the stained glass windows, 
some of them dating from the thirteenth century ; consum- 
ing doors, stalls, pulpit, chairs, and other woodwork, twist- 
ing iron and melting lead, sending the great bells crashing 
down from the belfry to the ground and partly melting 


them, corroding, and, in some cases, breaking the interior 
statues, pillars, and walls. The great Rose Window has 
lost a half of its wonderful glass. A few fragments only 
hang to the bars in the windows over the high altar and 
the three doors, in most of those in the aisles. The lesser 
rose window over the central portal is riddled. 

It is a melancholy sight, though I will confess to hav- 
ing been more deeply shocked by the ruin of humble cot- 
tage homes, where the crime of murder was added to those 
of sacrilege and barbarous destruction. Most of the litter 
of masonry outside and within the Cathedral has been swept 
into neat heaps ; but there still lies all over the floor of the 
nave a sprinkling of fragments of colored glass, and the 
riddled windows no longer temper the daylight to the soft 
gloom befitting hours of prayer. These are the remains of 
one of the glories of a heritage belonging, not only to the 
people of Rheims or to the Roman Church, but to all men 
who have a heart for the beautiful creations of the art and 
piety of the past. The priest who conducted us protested 
that the evil was not beyond repair. Rheims Cathedral is 
not, indeed, destroyed. But the work of restoration, where 
possible, will be difficult; the ancient glass can never be re- 
placed; and in many lines and details of decoration the 
old loveliness can never be won back. 

We came out of the Cathedral into the small Notre Dame 
square; glanced at the blackened walls and delbris of the 
old Archiepiscopal Palace; verified the odd fact that the 
statue of Joan of Arc on horseback in front of the Cathe- 
dral has sustained no damage; and then looked around for 
evidence of some provocation for the bombardment, which 
was still proceeding. A very tame affair it seemed, not at 
all resembling the frightful splash of fire of the imaginative 
pictures. This was, no doubt, because no projectile hap- 
pened to fall among or near our little party, and you can- 
not see through streets of brick and stone. In open country 
you may watch the puff of white or brown smoke from the 


guns, and tne actual explosion; and, of course, the relatively 
small number of soldiers at the extreme front see it alto- 
gether too closely and too often for comfort. Here we could 
only hear a heavy bang, a prolonged, soft screech, and once 
or twice a loud smash. For nearly everybody, the war ob- 
stinately continues to be invisible. But its bloody work 
goes on steadily. This particular cannonade lasted for about 
two hours, and I do not think that more than a score of 
German shells were fired in that time. I may be mistaken 
about this, for there were other things to think about. 1 It 
is the general testimony that for some time the Germans 
have been economizing ammunition, as they conspicuously 
did not at the outset. 

We searched, but could find no sort of justification. 
Rheims completely answers to the military description of 
an open town. It is neither fortified nor occupied. The 
French army is either in the trenches two or three miles 
out, in a crescent from the north-west to the south-east, or 
it is in the camps to the south. There is not, and never has 
been, any military reason for the bombardment. A glance 
around the region from the southward heights shows that 
there can be nothing accidental about it. As from here, so 
from the German batteries, the city lies spread out in the 
plain between, every part of it clearly visible. The Cathe- 
dral rises prominently from its center, and, like St. Paul's 
in London, is a landmark for many miles around. The repe- 
tition of the bombardments proves their deliberate character. 

Two justifications have been offered. On September 2, 
General von Biilow, commanding the Second German Army 
in its southward advance, sent forward two officers of the 
Imperial Guard (Von Arnira and Von Kummer) to treat 
for the surrender of the city. At the village of Neuvillette, 
they were met, and told that the Governor-General was leav- 
ing Rheims, and it was useless for them to go further. From 

'The French official bulletin for the day stated: "Rheims has been 
bombarded with a particular intensity." 


this moment, they inexplicably disappeared. Prince August 
Wilhelm (fourth son of the Kaiser) came into the city to 
make inquiries, and gave permits to the Mayor of Neuvil- 
lette and another Frenchman to go in search of the missing 
parlementaires. On the morrow, as they had not returned, 
the Guards' artillery, not knowing that General Zimmer 
and other Saxon officers were already in the town arrang- 
ing for requisitions, bombarded it; and there are said to 
have been 200 killed and wounded on this occasion. Gen- 
eral von Btilow then took hostages, and imposed a large 
fine on the city. The two French envoys, also, have not re- 
turned ; they are believed to be prisoners in Germany. There 
is no need to enlarge further upon this incident, which evi- 
dently affords no justification for the bombardments fol- 
lowing the northward return of the French. 

The second excuse is that the Cathedral has been used 
as a military signal station or observation post. The Abbe" 
Thinot, chapel master of the Cathedral, in a published state- 
ment, says that, for a single night before the opposed hosts 
had come into contact, an electric light was installed in the 
north tower, but that it was taken down, and never re-estab- 
lished. The military and ecclesiastical authorities agree in 
declaring positively that, since September 12, when the 
French returned and the Germans retired, leaving a num- 
ber of their wounded behind, no military use of any kind 
has been made of the Cathedral, and no military post has 
been established near it. I can only myself speak of the 
present time; and to-day there is certainly nothing in 
Rheims that can reasonably invite the attention of the Ger- 
man guns. We were ourselves absolutely refused permis- 
sion to go to the roof of the Cathedral to examine the dam- 
age there, lest we should be taken for soldiers making ob- 
servations. 1 

1 On October 19, the German Consulate-General issued a statement 
to the effect that French batteries were placed in front of the Cathedral 
"in the direct line of the German fire." This tardy explanation has, 
I believe, no'better basis than those examined above. 


Such are the main facts of an episode of the great war 
which will he a lasting stain upon the character of the 
German army. It seems to me an episode calling urgently 
for a formal, open, and unmistakable protest from the public 
men of neutral countries. There is no mere question of pass- 
ing judgment upon acts that are dead and done with. The 
interests of a great living community cry out for such a 
moral intervention. Of the normal population of 110,000 
persons, there remain 60,000 in Rheims to-day. Why do they 
not clear out? I presume because they cannot. The rich 
have gone, and practically all the able-bodied men are away 
with the army. Some of the poor have probably been able 
to find a refuge with relatives beyond the region of the in- 
vasion. Most of them — women, children, old men and weak- 
lings — stay here because they have no other home, and it 
is here that they receive their allowances of a shilling a 
day for soldiers' wives and 5d. a day for each child. On 
these pittances they drag out a feverish, pitiful existence, 
going down into their cellars during each bombardment, 
if they are in the quarters most open to it; or walking out 
on to the roads outside the town to watch the explosion of 
shells from behind walls and haystacks. 

How many lives have already been sacrificed to provide 
an entertainment for the German artillery officers, it is yet 
impossible to say. One substantial citizen whom I ques- 
tioned thought a thousand civilians had been killed in the 
last three months, chiefly by the earlier cannonades. This 
is, perhaps, an over-estimate, but the death-roll is certainly 
a long one. The material destruction in this open town is 
a very serious matter, to be counted in millions of pounds 
sterling. There is no apparent reason why the city should 
not lie under fire for another three months. The Germans 
will certainly hold on here as long as they can, and when 
they have to let go they will not do so in a spirit of Chris- 
tian submissiveness. Are another thousand innocent and 
helpless non-combatants to be slaughtered? A shipful of 


Christmas toys is a very jolly present; and I have seen 
Americans, men and women, working here in the ambu- 
lances, on the edge of the thin red line, with an energy and 
practical sense beyond all praise. There are, however, emer- 
gencies when a plain word from men who speak with author- 
ity, like the President of the United States, might effect 
more than all such individual devotion. 


Paris, December 11. 

The British reader early became acquainted with the 
more westerly portion of the Aisne Valley, from Soissons 
to Compiegne, not because this region was of exclusive in- 
terest, but because it was comparatively easy of access from 
Paris, during the exciting days of the first German retreat. 
The more easterly portion has been practically closed to 
civilians, except the remaining inhabitants, for the last 
four months. It is, however, an area of great interest, not 
only or chiefly because, before they were moved to the north, 
Sir John French's troops had here some of their hardest 
work, but because it is here that the military deadlock is 
seen in its fullest development. I rejoiced greatly, there- 
fore, when I found that I should be able to visit, not, indeed, 
the trenches of the extreme front, but three points of vantage 
giving bird's-eye views of the whole field, and a number of 
points behind the Aisne lines, in addition to the city of 

Briefly, we came up from Epernay north-westward to 
Fismes, through what is called the Forest of the Mountain 
of Rheims, and the Ardre Valley. From Fismes, we went 
northward, to a point where the Aisne Valley, from Conde" 
to Craonne, lay before us, a superb panorama. Returning 
to Fismes, we then took the eastward road to Rheims, and, 
just before reaching the city, obtained another remarkable 
view-point. Finally, from the terrace of Mine. Pommery's 
chateau to the south-east of Rheims, we viewed the positions 



on that side. During the journey, three generals and sev- 
eral Staff-officers gave us explanations with a clearness and 
courtesy essentially French, and with a freedom that should 
have made certain censorial ears tingle. 

It may be the obsession of current events, but I always 
seem to feel a contest, a rivalry, of beauty and martial qual- 
ities in these landscapes of central France. In the perfect 
clarity of the winter air, the waters sparkle; the scudding 
clouds, like prisms, filter the thin light in a thousand degrees 
of color upon the hillsides ; and in the bare fields and leafless 
woods there is only an enhancement, not an interruption, of 
the sweeping outlines of the scene. But, as we climbed 
through the vineyards and orchards above Epernay, into 
the heights of the Forest of Rheims, this sense of an incom- 
parable loveliness in the Marne Valley was spoiled (ah! 
the wickedness of the mind of man!) by the thought: Why 
did not Von Billow defend this ridge, instead of falling 
back beyond Rheims? Perhaps he did; there have been 
hundreds of engagements in this war that we have never 
heard of, and that may never be distinguished when its his- 
tory comes to be written. Again and again the thought re- 
curred, as we coasted the wooded slopes of this high, crum- 
pled plateau. In a width of about seventeen miles, there 
are only three northward-running main roads. Few, if 
any, of the Germans, in their haste, took the Ardre Valley 
way — the main body were making due north, for Rheims. 
So the small stone villages — Sarcy and Faverolles, Savigny 
and Serzy — lie uninjured, fat and smiling, doing their hum- 
drum labor, with here and there a camp of wagons and 
huts, or a slow convoy column, to remind them of the younger 
men who are striving and dying for France just over the 
hills. But at Fismes we met the road from Paris through 
Chateau-Thierry, and the railway that runs to the front 
from Paris through Meaux — one of two lines, the other hug- 
ging the south bank of the Aisne, which, as an officer said, 
" seem to have been put here by Providence to help us." 


Now we heard the distant flap of gunfire; the bustle of all 
the supporting processes of a large army increased; and 
in a few minutes we reached a large farm, from which we 
could see right over to the Laon Mountains. 

At our feet lay the villages, Revillon, Maizy, Villers, Arcy, 
where many British soldiers fell in the first fighting to secure 
the crossing of the Aisne, in mid-September. On the other 
side of the river stretched the Chemin des Dames and the 
hills from Vailly, on the west, through Soupir and Ven- 
dresse, to Craonne, which marks the eastern edge of the 
plateau — all names made famous in the official war bulle- 
tins of the last three months. Just under Craonne village, 
the farm of Heurtebise, and just behind it the farm of Vau- 
cle'rc, were plainly visible — both doubly famous, for at these 
spots Napoleon directed some of the critical operations of 
the Laon campaign of 1814. Unknown to the modern tour- 
ist, it is all classic ground, full of the marks of Homeric 
strife. There lie the ruins of the great Abbey of Vauclerc, 
built by Saint Bernard, and destroyed by the Revolution. 
Across the crest, an old farm called the Tower, now razed 
to the ground, dates back to the time of Charlemagne. Joan 
of Arc came with Charles VII by the Chemin des Dames to 
Vailly, now in ruins, to receive the keys of Laon, now the 
center of the German position in France. Conde" recalls 
the name of the great family whose two fortresses of Coucy 
and La Ferte'-Milon were connected by a system of dun- 
geons and underground tunnels. In the quarries of Bourg, 
where one of Caesar's lieutenants defended Gaul against the 
Northmen, a few wretched peasants hide from the newest 
phase of the same eternal conflict. At Heurtebise, Napoleon 
looked out upon his last great victory. Upon such ground 
the Hohenzollern has dared to tempt destiny. He may well 
be ill as he reads the omens. 

The General told us that the French and German trenches, 
only 70 or 80 feet apart, were also visible through field- 
glasses. Perhaps they were; all I could make out, for my 


part, was some lines of white which might be walls or any 
kind of marks across the face of the fields on the slope five 
or six miles away. But one gained a new impression of 
the latest kind of warfare in seeing spread out before one 
like a map the theater where it had been practiced with 
hardly any considerable movement for two months. 

At the second point, just west of Rheims, we could follow 
more closely, because it was much nearer, the division be- 
tween the two armies, broadly marked by the Rheims-Laon 
highroad, running north-west across the plain, past the edge 
of the Craonne plateau. Here, also, it was possible better 
to appreciate the part played by the dismantled French forts 
on the north of the city, those of Chenay, St. Thierry, Loivre, 
Fresnes, and, especially, of Brimont. From the Chateau 
Pommery, we could note how the strong positions above 
Berru and Nogent l'Abbesse dominate the east of the city 
and the neighboring plain. The only part of the former 
semicircle of fortifications the French have been able to 
recover is the Pompelle battery, below Nogent. On this 
side, the front is pretty closely defined by the Aisne-Marne 
Canal, which runs between the Chalons road and railroad. 

It is indescribably strange, looking out upon this fair 
margin of Champagne, to reflect that, within range of our 
eyes, there are hidden several hundreds of thousands of men 
engaged in an unremitting and deadly struggle. Save for 
some burning building, and occasional puffs of smoke fol- 
lowed by the peal of artillery, but for the hospital we have 
just left, and the encampments we have visited, it would 
be incredible. It is now, in the main, a test of endurance 
in this part of the field. The power of either side is such 
that open operations are impossible except at frightful cost, 
and offer hardly any chance of success. During the last 
three weeks Soissons and Rheims have been several times 
bombarded; the chateau of Soupir has been burned down; 
the French artillery has located and destroyed one or two 
German batteries; an advance of 500 yards has been won 


The Fbont at the Beginning of 1915. 



near Berry-au-Bac ; on November 30, the artillery " scat- 
tered German infantry columns north of Fort Conde" " ; 
west of Presles and near Rouge-Maison, a German gun was 
destroyed and others silenced, and it is claimed that here 
" the growing activity of our artillery reduced our daily 
average of infantry casualties from 100 to 20 " ; a German 
attempt to blow up the bridge at Berry-au-Bac, by means 
of a barge laden with explosives and a time-machine, was 
repulsed. That is all that merits mention in the official 
reports. Both sides, in fact, have been largely occupied 
in preparing winter quarters. The Germans not only hold 
positions of great strength; they have, especially through 
Me'zieres, very good lines of communications. And they hold 
on obstinately because this is a most critical point of their 

Pending some diversion, the deadlock is complete. But 
there is not a sign of discouragement or restlessness among 
the French officers and men. Some frankly enjoy the rough, 
open-air life. " If it were not for the deaths," one of them 
said to me, " it would be splendid." The rest go to and 
fro with a quiet, sober resolution of which the civilian spirit 
seems to me as effective a part as any remnant of martial 
tradition. Their intelligence, their invincible wit, their 
camaraderie and robust democratic sense, the high manli- 
ness of these French citizens-inarms, all cry shame upon 
the foul business into which they have been forced. I do 
not believe that any military adventurer could carry them 
into a war of conquest. They give their lives for the defense 
of their homes, for the land they always figure not as an 
armed man, but as a noble woman. No ocean bed can hold 
the tears of this sacrifice. But France is worth saving, at 
whatever cost must be saved. And from this agony the great 
Republic will rise nearer to the ideal than even her dream- 
ing founders dreamed. 


After the fall of Antwerp, the Belgian Government estab- 
lished itself at Havre, with all the honors the French Re- 
public could offer it, with its own telegraphic and postal 
services, and every facility for carrying on such business 
as remains to Ministers temporarily separated from their 
land and people. The local officials in Belgium in general 
were requested to remain at their posts so that, as far as 
possible, the country might be saved from anarchy; magis- 
trates were asked to continue to act on condition that they 
were permitted to do so " in the name of the King of the 
Belgians," promising to do nothing that could be consid- 
ered as an act of hostility to the invader while exercising 
his provisional authority. 

In the last week of October, I learned with astonishment 
that the German Government had intimated to certain influ- 
ential Frenchmen, through commercial-financial channels, 
that it was ready to negotiate a separate peace. Briefly, 
the message was that the Imperial Government recognized 
the quality of the stand made by the French armies, had 
never regarded France as its principal enemy in this strug- 
gle, and was ready to grant terms not merely honorable, 
but generous. They would include the transfer to France 
of Metz and the neighboring portion of Lorraine, and per- 
haps, also, of at least a pari of Alsace. Quite apart from 
the " scrap of paper " on which the Allies had undertaken, 
at the outset of the war, not to conclude peace separately, 
such an invitation could have no chance of acceptance. For 
dependence upon Berlin, even Metz would be no price. And 



what of Servia, of Russia, of England, above all, what of 
the martyr-land, Belgium? Before these questions the 
would-be negotiators fell vague, shrugging a dubious shoul- 
der, but opined that Germany would require an enclave on 
the Scheldt — in other words, Antwerp and northern Bel- 
gium. Perhaps the offer was designed to aid the efforts of 
Count Bernstorff, Herr Dernburg, and Professor Munster- 
berg to influence American opinion. Intelligence, interest, 
and even lack of interest combined in the United States at 
this time to produce a vague feeling that the war should 
be brought to an end somehow, anyhow. It was a sentiment 
creditable to a great humane and neutral Power. But it 
was not then a very helpful sentiment, because, for Europe, 
the issue was one of life and death, and the " how " was 
everything, no less than in the Civil War of the States 
themselves fifty years before. Fortunately, the process of 
education furthered by men like President Nicholas Murray 
Butler, of Columbia University; President Starr Jordan, 
of Leland Stanford, and President Eliot, of Harvard, had 
gone far. Many misunderstandings had been removed. 
The original aggression, the devastation of Belgium, the 
destruction of historic edifices, the aeroplane outrages, 
had made a deep impression across the Atlantic. Mr. Her- 
rick, at the American Embassy in Paris, had been a coura- 
geous, able, resolute, and disinterested observer; and so, 
no doubt, would his successor prove. From one quarter 
and another, President Wilson had been truly and fully 
advised. He could not but be aware that even so powerful 
an influence as that of the United States must be carefully 
conserved; and he had himself said that peacemaking in 
such a case is no child's-play. 

As though to remind the world of one of the character- 
istics of German warfare, there was about this time a new 
outburst of aerial raiding upon the civilian population of 
Paris. After a lapse of more than three weeks, there had 
been an aeroplane visit on September 27, when an aviator 


signing himself Von Decken had thrown four bombs on the 
city. The American Ambassador had just passed the spot 
where one of these fell, at the corner of the Avenue du 
Trocadero and the Rue de Freycinet. Two persons were 
seriously injured— a solicitor, who died on the way to hos- 
pital, and a little girl, whose leg was badly cut. They 
were on their way to church. A fortnight passed. Then 
another aviator arrived from the German lines, and threw 
two bombs, which wounded a policeman, his wife, and a 
child of seven years, in the working-class quarter of St. 
Denis. On the following day, October 11, there were two 
raiders, and about twenty projectiles were thrown, three 
persons being killed and fourteen injured. Of these, four- 
teen were women, mostly of the working class, six of them 
being girls. One of the bombs struck the roof of Notre- 
Dame, without doing much damage, and two more fell close 
by. On October 12, a further attack was made, without 
serious results. A more effective air police was then organ- 
ized around the city; and no more was heard of this par- 
ticular pest. 

With the passing of summer, the French people suddenly 
realized the need not only of an improvement of the serv- 
ices of care for the sick and wounded, but of ample supplies 
of warm clothing for their soldiers. M. Cle'menceau — who, 
when the Government moved to Bordeaux, had gone to 
Toulon, and then to Toulouse, as it was said, to keep an eye 
upon them — had conducted a characteristic campaign in his 
journal on the subject ; and when, at the end of September, 
L'Homme Libre was suspended for eight days, because he 
refused to suppress certain passages in an article on the 
army medical services, the old statesman-journalist had re- 
started it under the title of L'Homme Enchaini. Undoubt- 
edly, the official provisions, and the energies of all the offi- 
cial staffs — doctors, nurses, stretcher-bearers, supplies, 
transport, and hospital accommodation — had been strained 
to the utmost. The Government pleaded that there had 


been occasions when not only the wounded have had to be 
picked up under fire on the field, but those under treat- 
ment in the field hospitals had to be removed, because they 
were fired upon by the German artillery. There were French 
hospital trains capable of carrying 100,000 wounded. But 
evidently very few of these could be concentrated upon any 
given battlefield, however great the need. The immense 
numbers of men gathered within such an area as that to the 
north of the Aisne, and the continuity of the fighting, must 
inevitably result in a strain upon hospital services alto- 
gether beyond anything that had been experienced in pre- 
ceding wars. Hence the grievous scenes of which we saw 
so many, when the wounded soldier must be content with 
a pile of straw in a horse-truck of a slow-going train, and 
the charity of the villagers at the wayside stations which 
it passed. 

Impatient people asked why civilian and even amateur 
assistance was not enlisted more freely, not understanding 
how difficult it is to combine military and civilian services, 
and to organize the help which, in the nature of the case, 
could not be submitted to the full rigor of official rules. 
Indeed, it was exactly the faculty of powerful organiza- 
tion, one of the rare human faculties, that was most strained. 
Thousands and tens of thousands of women and men were 
devoting themselves gallantly to softening the blows of war. 
Perhaps a very small illustration will bring this fact home 
better than overwhelming statistics or grandiose eulogies. 
Trainloads of wounded were constantly arriving on the out- 
skirts of Paris, whence they were shunted on to the lines 
for the south and west. Seeing that the State services could 
not at the time guarantee these convoys constant supplies 
of warm food and other comforts throughout what was often 
a long journey, the good folk of Argenteuil organized a com- 
mittee; and, after the battle of the Marne, particularly, 
forty ladies, in day and night relays, were in constant at- 
tendance at this and the next station on the Grand Ceinture 


(Outer Circle) Railway. They supplied freely to the 
wounded and their guardians bread loaves, sandwiches, cof- 
fee, tea, and boiling milk, packets of chocolate and ciga- 
rettes, and, sometimes, fresh fruit and pots of jam. A local 
baker put his bakery at the disposal of the committee; and 
they cooked large quantities of apples and pears presented 
by the inhabitants — portions of the stewed fruit being given 
to the suffering men between slices of bread. If you hap- 
pened to be in the station watching curiously the happy 
scene, a girl would jog your elbow, present a little clinking 
bag, and tell you with a smile that, in this theater, every 
man must pay for his place. So, in a hundred other spots. 
Every effort was made to co-ordinate the work of the two 
Government departments — the health service and the " As- 
sistance Publique " — the three societies constituting the 
French Red Cross, and other philanthropic groups. But to 
secure that at every point — from immediately behind the 
fighting line to the sanatorium on the Spanish frontier — 
good surgical aid, medical supplies, food, and competent 
nursing were always available was a gigantic if not an 
impossible task. The provision of warm clothing against 
the cold and wet months was easier, for the millions of 
women and girls left at home were only too glad to knit 
vests, socks, mufflers, and gloves, and to make good shirts, 
too, when they were provided with the flannel. Evidently, 
however, the Government itself must be chiefly responsible 
for clothing the men in the field. As a first measure, it 
was announced at the end of September that they might 
provide themselves with the following articles, and that they 
would be reimbursed on showing that they had them: two 
flannel shirts, two pairs of pants, one jersey, one flannel 
belt, two pairs of woolen socks, one blanket, one pair of 
woolen gloves. This provision was supplemented by an im- 
mense volume of voluntary effort; and, the stationary war- 
fare of the trenches somewhat simplifying the problem of 
communications, it could be said during the autumn and 


winter not only that no armies had ever been better cared 
for, but that the sacrifice of many thousands of men was 
recognized by attention they would hardly have received in 
the trials of civil life. 

The Chambers, which had been silent since the beginning 
of the war, reopened on December 22 for a short special 
session. This was formally necessary in order to postpone 
the elections that would have normally taken place before 
the end of the year, to vote supplies, and to ratify acts of 
the Government done by decree during the war. The ses- 
sion had the more general, the unwritten, aim of marking 
the return of the Government to Paris — an event heralded 
by various Presidential and Ministerial visitations, and now 
quietly completed — and of demonstrating the unity and reso- 
lution of the nation. The chief interest on such an occasion 
naturally centers in the popular assembly; and thither I 
betook myself soon after noon. 

The lobby of the Palais Bourbon, called the " Salle des 
Pas Perdus," has, no doubt, presented in some past crises 
a spectacle fuller of the elements of dramatic surprise, but 
never, I should think, a more moving scene or one more finely 
reflecting the sufferings and anxieties, the capacities and 
courage, of a great people. Many of these men had come 
direct from the camps and trenches of the battle line, where 
votes do not count and another law than that of Parlia- 
ment reigns supreme. They told each other weird expe- 
riences, laughed over hardships the thought of which would 
have been intolerable six months before, recalled their col- 
leagues who had fallen on the stricken field — the deputies 
Goujon, Nortier, and Proust, and Senator Reymond, the 
gallant aviator — and three others, MM. Ghesquiere, Delory, 
and Basly, who were still hostages in the hands of the 
enemy. The Abbe' Lemire, the only priest in this Chamber, 
told of the stirring events he had witnessed at Hazebrouck. 

The two deputies for Valenciennes, MM. Durre and Melin, 
succeeded in escaping from that city when it was occupied, 


aud had many curious and tragic incidents to relate. The 
eastern members were full of the advance in Alsace and the 
gallant actions by which Nancy and Verdun had been held 
immaculate. To an assembly 190 of whose members were 
in the army — the}' had received leave of absence from the 
front for the session, as the law provides, and, by the same 
obligation, appeared in civilian garb, not uniform — these 
experiences had a peculiar interest. So when, at 2 o'clock, 
they trooped into the Chamber to take each his accustomed 
desk in face of the tribune, from which fierce and fiery 
harangues had so often been hurled against this side or 
that, it was in a strange new spirit of gentleness and fra- 
ternity. Some daj r the old divisions must reappear, the old 
feuds revive. To-day there was only one party in France, 
the universal party of national defense. 

In the House of Commons, the dominant feature is the 
division of Government and Opposition benches, with Mr. 
Speaker paternally guarding the decencies. In Paris, parties 
grade off imperceptibly from Right to Left; the concen- 
tration of seats within the well-lighted amphitheater, and 
of the vision both of deputies and visitors in the high gal- 
leries behind upon the tribune, or speaker's platform, gives 
a dramatic and modern quality to the scene quite absent at 
Westminster. There was, however, no theatrical note in 
these proceedings. After a quarter of an hour's hubbub of 
greetings and gossip, M. Deschanel read an admirably con- 
ceived presidential oration. He spoke, amid sharp volleys 
of hand-clapping, of the courage and powers of organiza- 
tion that had carried the French colors back into Alsace, 
and had triumphed on the Marne and in the north; of the 
complete cessation of civil discords before the national peril ; 
and of the spirit in which France was defending the respect 
for treaties, the independence of Europe, and human lib- 
erties. In an incidental phrase, he spoke of Germany as 
treading underfoot the principle of nationalities which she 
had invoked for herself in earlier days, a principle truly 


illustrated by England, surrounded by a loyal family of 
daughter nations. A sentence of homage to Belgium, " the 
sovereign example in our days of moral grandeur," was re- 
ceived with a wave of applause, the whole assembly stand- 
ing. " Right is greater than force," M. Deschanel pro- 
tested; and no words uttered during the session reached 
higher than this simple denial of the Bismarckian maxim. 
The President then proceeded to the traditional eulogy of 
members of the Chamber dead since the last session. The 
seats of the three deputies who had fallen in action were 
marked with tricolor scarfs. 

M. Viviani followed. He looked tired, and his voice was 
not at its best; but there was something impressive in the 
quietude and strong reserve of this civilian figure. His 
speech was not, he said, a declaration of policy, for there 
was that day only one policy — the unceasing combat for 
the definite liberation of Europe, guaranteed by a fully 
victorious peace. The complete unity of France had dis- 
turbed the drunken dream of a German triumph. The 
Prime Minister referred to the' documents by which the Ger- 
man Government's attempts to rehabilitate itself had been 
destroyed. The Allies had been forced into this war, and 
would wage it to the end. France had shown that an organ- 
ized democracy could, when necessary, support with vigol' 
its ideal of liberty and equality. A nation that could show 
such heroism was imperishable. None doubted the suprem- 
acy of Parliament, but all must make sacrifices. Let them 
go forward with one cry — victory; one vision — the father- 
land; one ideal — the right. It was an inspiring allocution, 
and the Chamber cheered its chief passages to the echo. 
Then the sitting raced to a conclusion. M. Ribot appeared 
for about one minute in the tribune to lodge his Budget. 
M. Viviani presented a number of Bills, including a meas- 
ure enabling the Government to withdraw by simple decree 
the privilege of naturalization from any person found guilty 
of trafficking with the enemy. M. Millerand, the War Min- 


ister, and M. Malvy, the Home Secretary, ran up the steps 
and down again, and, before anyone had had time to reflect 
that, in an assembly of* nearly six hundred members, there 
might well be one dissentient voice, all the day's business 
had been finished, and the House had adjourned. 

There was behind this short Parliamentary Session a pow- 
erful but hidden wave of anxious thought, which marked its 
importance. The Tress said little about it, and leading 
politicians would not allow themselves to be interviewed 
on the subject. Yet it filled all intelligent minds; and to 
define it will help us to understand where lies the funda- 
mental unity of Englishmen with the people of France, and 
how great was in this day of trial the difference of their im- 
mediate circumstances and sacrifices. They were, in this 
struggle, the two great champions of democracy and civil 
liberties. But whereas Britain lay safe within her girdle 
of sea, her ancient institutions unchallenged, and her habit- 
ual life little modified, the whole fate of France was cast 
into the scales of war. For the French Republic, it was 
no mere question of an expeditionary corps swelling slowly 
to the dimensions of a Continental army. Like a lightning 
stroke, all her best manhood had to be thrown out to answer 
the hellish challenge of a Power openly contemptuous of 
democracy and Parliamentarism. At this moment, eight 
departments of France, including some of her richest in- 
dustrial districts, the textile cities and half of the collieries 
of the north, lay under the heel of the invader. There was 
hardly a family in the land that was not already wounded 
in the prodigious effort by which his advance had been 
stayed. The army was now the nation, and so it must be 
till the day of victory. 

The best English book on France — true, it was now ten 
years old — spoke of the French people's " incapacity for 
parliamentary government." Such was the failure of the 
conservative mind to see into the depths of national con- 
sciousness. In Germany, the same kind of deception was 


naturally encouraged, and went to ridiculous lengths. 
France was decadent, French parliamentary disputes were 
a preparation for conquest, Gustave Herv6 and the Labor 
Confederation were worth so many army corps, the French 
Army was an army of lawyers, deputies, talkers. If our 
eyes had not been dazzled with the flashing succession of 
events, every man of us who had ever criticized French 
Parliamentarism would have stood still for a moment of 
sheer shame on August 4 to recognize the wonder of the 
miracle that German aggression had worked. There is a 
perpetual mingling of faith and skepticism in the French 
nature, which may easily be misunderstood by foreign ob- 
servers. Skepticism, for instance, of the motives of carpet- 
bag politicians is almost universal. It leads to very large 
abstentions from voting at every General Election. It may 
easily be mistaken for disbelief in Parliament itself. So, 
again, many things one heard in private conversation in 
Paris when the Government moved to Bordeaux might be 
mistaken for skepticism as to the Republic itself. Now no 
such mistakes could be made. The Republic was more 
firmly founded than ever in the minds and hearts of the 
French people. There is not any alternative — we can say 
that now more positively than before the war. And even 
when the Chambers are only in brief and occasional ses- 
sion, when martial law and military dispositions are su- 
preme, Parliamentarism has justified itself. It has passed 
through the supreme test, not a French voice challenges it, 
and it emerges purified of certain quarrelsome and unclean 
elements into a new strength, the voice of France, in danger 
one and indivisible. 



I. The Costs in Life and Wealth 

The deadlock of winter warfare across the trenches of 
Belgium and France gives a material reality to the chrono- 
logical limit of this narrative. In costs and losses, in the 
anxiety and labor of putting new forces into the field and 
maintaining those already there, there was, however, no 
breach of continuity; and, while it would be evidently fool- 
ish, in reviewing a portion of a war, to enter into a detailed 
discussion either of these major factors or its military les- 
sons, it would be a yet graver error to omit the few faint 
indications that can be given of the dire injuries that the 
world in general, and Europe in particular, have suffered. 

There is one fact of a wholly satisfactory kind, the result 
of modern surgical and medical skill and the advances in 
sanitary organization. At the end of the year, Mr. Asquith 
stated in the House of Commons that, of 104,000 British 
casualties, about GO per cent, of the wounded had recovered, 
and were again fit for service. On February 15, 1915, Mr. 
Tennant gave remarkable figures as to disease in the army 
during the first six months of the war. In that period, there 
had not been a single case of typhus or cholera, in either 
the Expeditionary Force, or the troops in the United King- 
dom. For other diseases, the figures were: 

Expeditionary Force 

Troops in U. K. 





Typhoid Fever 

Scarlet Fever 










Among the troops in the United Kingdom, there had been 
only one case of smallpox, and that not fatal. Six men had 
died of diphtheria, out of 783 cases. The highest mortality 
was from pneumonia — 357 deaths out of 1,508 cases. Within 
this period, England had been called upon to multiply by 
four her land forces, apart from the Indian and Colonial 
contingents: thus — 

Regulars and Territorials at the out- 
break of the war 711,005 

Increase on August 6, 1914 500,000 

Do. on September 10, 1914 500,000 

Do. on November 16, 1914 1,000,000 

Total 2,711,005 

These were numbers voted, not yet raised; the above 
figures of sickness apply only to the troops in being. But 
they may be taken broadly to represent the modern level 
of army health; and both in amount of sickness and rate 
of recovery they show a very marked improvement upon 
past war experience. Lt is highly probable that France and 
Germany could both exhibit equal proof of skill, devotion, 
and organization, but that Russia and Austria-Hungary 
have suffered much more heavily, and Servia and Turkey 
most heavily of all, in proportion to numbers engaged. 

The military position of these States involved for Ger- 
many the heaviest proportionate losses if she failed to ef- 
fect an early success. She was able indeed, in the last 
resort, to throw eight or nine million men into the field, a 
number that would secure her, with the Austro-Hungarian 
army, an equality with any forces Russia and the Western 
Allies could enroll and arm for at least six months. But 
the Austro-Hungarian armies proved to be quite unequal to 
their share in the programme; and, simultaneously, the 
offensive which Germany had planned in the west failed. 
Every day thereafter must make their case more hopeless, 


for the difficulty of the Allies had been not the lack of men 
and other resources, but only the difficulty of quickly mo- 
bilizing them. In nearly every direction, their resources 
were much superior; among them was the power of impos- 
ing a naval blockade, and so limiting the German Empire 
almost wholly to its domestic production in agriculture and 
industry. Hence the reckless desperation of those massed 
assaults by which it was sought to force an issue at one 
part after another of the front across France and Belgian 
Flanders. Only the Prussian casualty lists have been pub- 
lished. Approximately, however, it may be said that the 
wastage of the German armies up to the end of 1914, from 
death, permanent disablement, and constant sickness (al- 
lowing for those able to return to the ranks) and capture, 
amounted to about a million and a quarter men. The 
French Government says 1,300,000 (gross, 1,800,000, less 
500,000 returned to the ranks) ; and it declares that this was 
double the French losses. 

Something has been said of the great effort of charity to 
assuage the unspeakable pains of this world-wide calamity. 
It is, perhaps, not to be wondered at that no equivalent 
amount of thought was given to the larger economic prob- 
lems of the war. In France, as in England, there was much 
talk of " capturing " German trade, which, in fact, was 
rapidly being destroyed. The thinking observer knew that 
trade is not to be caught as boys catch butterflies; and he 
knew, also, that the idea of any substantial compensation 
for this vast disturbance and arrest of production and ex- 
change by way of war indemnities was a simple fantasy. At 
a meeting of the French Political Economy Society, on 
October 5, M. Yves Guyot estimated that, in six months, the 
war would cost the seven European belligerents, including 
loss of production and losses in human capital, more than 
88 milliards of francs — £3,520 Millions — or over seventeen 
times the amount of the indemnity imposed on France in 
1871. M. Leroy-Beaulieu reckoned that £240 Millions a 


month was being spent by the seven nations in immediate 
military costs. He thought that they would have to bor- 
row from £1,400 Millions to £1,600 Millions at the end of a 
six-months' war, and that, considering the lowness of the 
real national debt of Germany, she could pay an indemnity 
of £800 to £1,000 Millions. 

The current strain of the war upon State finances is illus- 
trated by the account placed before the House of Com- 
mons at the beginning of March 1915, when the British 
Government obtained two new Votes of Credit. The first 
of these brought the war expenditure for the eight months, 
August-March, up to £362,000,000, nearly tripling the nor- 
mal national budget. As £441,000,000 had been borrowed 
for the war up to this time (£350,000,000 in the previous 
November, and the rest earlier), a margin of £86,500,000 
was left in the Treasury toward a war expenditure which 
was being piled up at a rate of £543,000,000 a year, or about 
a million and a half per day. 

The completest estimate of the costs of the war hitherto 
attempted was laid before the Royal Statistical Society 
on March 16, 1915, by Mr. Edgar Crammond, and showed 
a rate of expenditure and loss considerably in excess of 
that of M. Guyot's calculation. Mr. Crammond assumed a 
continuance of active and general hostilities up to the end 
of July 1915, and, for the period of twelve months, con- 
cluded that the direct and indirect costs to the six chief 
nations involved would amount to £9,147 Millions, the larger 
half of this colossal sum falling upon the Allies. This 
does not include the losses of Japan, Servia, or Turkey, for 
which the data were insufficient, or the very heavy penalties 
falling upon the United States and other neutral nations. 
The cost to the six Powers, Mr. Crammond reckoned as fol- 


Belgium 526,500,000 

Russia 1,400,000,000 

Germany 2,775,000,000 


France 1,686,400,000 

British Empire 1,258.000,000 

Austria-Hungary . . . 1,502,000,000 



These totals lie divided into direct and indirect costs (in 
millions of pounds), as follows: 



of property 


value of 
loss of life 

Loss of pro- 
duction and 
other losses 










British Empire 


















The loss of production, in the case of England, by the 
withdrawal of, say, two million workers, he placed at 
£200,000,000. He endeavored to distinguish clearly between 
the permanent loss of capital — that is, the direct State ex- 
penditure and destruction of property — which he estimated 
at £4,000 Millions, and the indirect losses, such as that of 
income and the capitalized value of lives lost, which was put 
at £5,150 Millions. He gave reasons for believing that, al- 
though the larger half of these burdens would fall upon the 
Allies, the vast superiority of their resources would enable 
them to continue the war much longer than Germany and 
Austria could, and to recover much more quickly from its 

The chief value of calculations like this was to turn such 
competent minds as were not absorbed in the work of the 
war itself to the contemplation of the exceedingly grave prob- 
lems which, if historical precedent goes for anything, must 
arise upon the resumption of normal economic life. The 
word " normal " is, indeed, out of place, for many years must 
elapse ere Europe reaches a stable condition in industry 
and business. Mr. Crammond's balance-sheet dealt with 


immediate penalties: it scarcely touched the neighboring 
field of losses due to the world-wide dislocation of finance, 
commerce, and production that usually follows a great war. 
The political treaty of peace is merely the occasion, in the 
present anarchic condition of international society, for the 
opening of an undeclared economic war, in which the vic- 
tims can find neither patriotic nor any other kind of con- 
solation. Millions of soldiers and armaments workers are 
disbanded, and sent out to destroy the price-level of pro- 
ductive industry. For a time, a spasm of " trade revival " 
may help them. Floods of newly created wealth are sud- 
denly poured into markets which are mere glass-houses in 
their delicacy. A fever of financial speculation aggravates 
the process. Prices, interest, and wages soar up, and up. 
Then the bubble bursts. The nexus of production and con- 
sumption is lost; there is what people call overproduction, 
a glut of commodities. Orders are restricted, and prices 
fall. Laborers are dismissed, and wages fall. Capital is 
canceled, and interest falls. What should be the blessing 
of mankind, the power of producing new wealth, is turned 
into a curse. There is a widespread " trade crisis " ; and 
riotous crowds of unemployed workmen ask angrily whether 
it was for this that they fought through the greatest war in 
history. 1 Nevertheless, the war taxes required by the bill 
of immediate losses have still to be paid. 

Three schools of political thought may be said to have 
arisen from the long economic crisis following the war of 
1870-71 — those of Imperialism, of " Tariff reform," and of 
Labor-Socialism. We cannot foresee the changes the great 
war will work in the mind of the western world, except 
that there will certainly be a general demand for some 
better means of assuring European peace than those yet 
existing. But it should not be altogether beyond the power 

1 The writer may, perhaps, refer to an inadequate consideration of the 
economic effects of the wars of 1866 and 1871 in his " Industrial History 
of Modern England." 


of the doctors of physical and social science to cope with the 
problems just indicated. It was the new power of steam, 
directed by Pitt as national financier, as really as the power 
directed by Nelson and Wellington, that broke Napoleon 
and saved England a century ago. Because the new means 
of producing wealth were not subjected by organization 
to the general welfare, the mass of the people sank for many 
years into abject misery. Whether invention and science 
can again effect such a miracle as that of the " industrial 
revolution," we cannot say; we can, however, say that only 
second in importance to the conclusion of a lasting peace 
between the belligerent States is the task of so directing the 
resumption of common work that the injury shown in past 
trade crises may be reduced to a minimum. 

II. The Deadlock op the Trenches 

The chief military lesson of the first five months of the 
western war was the great power of the intrenched de- 
fensive. Not even in Napoleon's highest period had the 
doctrine of energy and concentration afterwards formulated 
by Clausewitz been illustrated as in the first month of the 
German campaign, and afterward in the persistence of 
mass attacks. Everything that superior numbers, filled 
with inspiration of the offensive, and backed by long scien- 
tific preparation, could attempt was attempted; and nearly 
always it broke upon the resistance of a thin line of maga- 
zine rifles and field-guns in a deep ditch. 

In 1902, before the aeroplane and the motor-wagon — per- 
haps the most important of the new implements of war — had 
appeared, the writer summarized as follows the chief thesis 
presented in the writings and conversations of the late John 
de Bloch, the Russian military economist: " The resisting 
power of an army standing on the defensive, equipped with 
long-range, quick-firing lilies and guns, from ten to forty 
times more powerful than those employed in 1870 and 1877, 


expert in intrenching and in the use of barbed wire and 
other obstacles, and highly mobile, is something quite differ- 
ent from that which Napoleon, or even later aggressors, had 
to face. Not only is it a much larger force, the manhood 
of a nation, instead of its hooligan surplus; it is also a body 
highly educated, an army of engineers. Its infantry lines 
and battery positions will be invisible. Reconnaissances will 
be easily prevented by protecting bands of sharpshooters; 
and no object of attack will offer itself to the invader till he 
has come within a zone of deadly fire. His cavalry cannot 
charge intrenched infantry; and, while the direction of an 
attack against a hidden foe has become extremely difficult, 
owing to the immensity and dispersion of the two forces, 
the morale of the attacking army will be weakened by the 
absence of all the bracing elements of ancient warfare, and 
the open order now necessary. The most heavy and pow- 
erful shells, which are alone of use against intrenched posi- 
tions, cannot be used in great number, or brought easily into 
action; while the defenders have their ammunition at hand 
in unlimited quantities. While the defenders are more safe 
than ever in their trenches, the attackers are necessarily 
exposed over an immensely enlarged field, to a heavier and 
more accurate fire than has ever been known in earlier 
battles. Artillery shares the advantage of a defensive posi- 
tion. If the attackers have a local superiority, the defenders 
can delay them long enough to allow of an orderly retire- 
ment to other intrenched positions. The attacker will be 
forced to intrench himself, and so the science of the spade 
reduces battles into sieges. Battle in the open would mean 
annihilation; yet it is only by assault that intrenched posi- 
tions can be carried. 

" Warfare will drag on more slowly than ever. Frontier 
defenses will give time for a concentration of national re- 
sources; while, on the other hand, the invader will have 
greater difficulty than ever in provisioning his enormous 
hosts. A conqueror cannot reward himself as he once did, 


nor can be hope for compensation for the expenses he will 
have to bear. While an invading army is being decimated 
by sickness and wounds, and demoralized by the heavy loss 
of officers and the delay of any glorious victory, the home 
population will be sunk in misery by the growth of economic 
burdens, the stoppage of trade and industry. The small, 
mobile, elastic, and manageable army of the past was cap- 
able of making quick marches, sudden changes in its line of 
operation, turning movements, movements on interior lines, 
strategical demonstrations in the widest sense; in a word, 
it was capable of performing all the acts in which the genius 
of a great captain could show itself. But massed armies of 
millions, like those of to-day, leaning on fortresses, in- 
trenched camps, and defenses which have been prepared for 
the last thirty years, must perforce renounce all the more 
delicate manifestations of the military art. Armies as they 
now stand cannot maneuver, and must fight in directions 
indicated in advance. The losses of to-day would be pro- 
portionately greater than in past wars, if it were not for 
the tactical means adopted to avoid them. The diminution 
in the losses arises from dispersion and the great distances 
over which battles are fought. But the consequence of dis- 
tance and dispersion is that victorious war — the obtaining 
of results by destroying the enemy's principal forces, and 
thus making him submit to the conqueror's will — can exist 
no more." 

De Bloch was prejudiced by inaccurate summaries of his 
work " La Guerre " ; and much has happened since the 
closing years of the nineteenth century, when he wrote it. 
He did not say that war had become impossible — if he had 
believed that, proof in six volumes would, indeed, have been 
a labor of supererogation — but that an aggressive war could 
not now give the results aimed at as between States of 
nearly equal resources. Whatever errors of detail he made, 
he was a true savant; it can no longer be denied that he 
foresaw the main track of military development; and, at a 


time when western readers are encouraged by many republi- 
cations to test German military theory by its results, it 
cannot be ill to challenge comparison with a radically 
opposed school of thought. The new instruments of war 
have not invalidated his thesis, because, generally, they are 
the property of both sides. The aeroplane has greatly suc- 
ceeded in scouting and signaling work, revealing concen- 
trations of troops behind the lines, and hidden gun positions. 
The motor-wagon has exceeded all expectations, and, with 
the motor-bus, car, and cab (1,300 motor-buses were re- 
quisitioned in Paris alone), has revolutionized the convey- 
ance of men and supplies. To these and the railways, we 
owe the marvelous rapidity with which the extension of 
lines is now carried out. The searchlight, field-telephone, 
" wireless," and the trench periscope must be mentioned as 
important parts of the modern equipment. But neither 
side has a monopoly of these scientific auxiliaries ; and the 
most characteristic tools of the newest armies are still the 
oldest of all tools, the spade and pick for digging trenches — 
and graves. This is due above all to the fact that trenches 
are so easily dug and moved in obedience to local conditions, 
and that they offer so narrow a mark (2 or 3 feet) to the 
enemy's artillery. The stoutest steel and concrete cover- 
ings give no compensation for the fixity of the fort, whose 
position cannot be long concealed. Even if its guns have 
the advantage of number, range, and power, the besiegers 
may be able to steal near without being located, or they 
may get protection behind a range of hills; if the fort does 
not possess these advantages, it is doomed, except for the 
purpose of a short arrest, by the weight of high explosives 
the new mobile, heavy howitzers can pour upon it, by high- 
angle fire, from their protected and frequently changed em- 

It will be said, and with truth, that, when his aggression 
has been checked, the would-be conqueror can still fall back 
upon the advantages of the intrenched defensive. But he 


does so with forces relatively, as well as positively, reduced 
by his heavier losses in the aggressive campaign. The fol- 
lowing estimates of comparative strength, put forward at 
various times, with much supporting evidence, by the French 
Government, have not, so far as I know, been challenged. 
On a peace footing, the German Empire had 25 army corps. 
At the opening of the war this number was increased to 61 ; 
and by the end of the year, it had reached G9 (Active corps, 
25£; Reserve, 21£; Ersatz brigades, 6^; Reserve corps of new 
formation, 7^; Landwehr corps, 8J). This represented, 
very nearty, if not quite, the maximum of the German effort. 
For, assuming original resources (minus railway men, 
police, etc.) of about 8| million men, there being on the two 
fronts, at the end of the year, about 4 millions ; and the net 
losses in five months having been 1,300,000, there remained 
a margin of only 3,200,000, or, if inefficients and men over 
thirty-nine years of age be deducted, only 2 millions. This 
would compensate for, wastage at the same rate for about 
eight months; if more new corps were formed, the margin 
available would be used up proportionately sooner. 

On the other hand, Russia and England had only just be- 
gun to bring their main forces into action; while France, 
with 2,500,000 men at the front, and every unit at war 
strength, had still 2 million men to call up. In quality, the 
comparison favored the Allies still more markedly. The 
new German levies were largely untrained. Most of the 
old regiments had had to be entirely renewed ; and the lack 
of officers was already seriously felt. Depressed by the 
knowledge of repeated failure in both fields, and the rumor 
of approaching famine at home, they saw France reforming 
her generalship and conserving her energies; they saw new 
hosts gathering on both flanks, better trained and com- 
manded, better equipped and supplied — already definitely 
superior in artillery — and unboundedly confident in their 
rising strength. The moral difference between a genuine 
national defense and a defensive which is only the bank- 


ruptcy of an outrageous aggression is enormous. Added to 
the material difference in the balance of forces which be- 
gan to show itself when winter sealed the deadlock in the 
west, it warranted the high hopes with which the Allies 
entered upon the new year's operations. 

III. The Farm of Quennevieres 

On the first of October, the French official bulletin con- 
tained the following phrase : " Between the Oise and the 
Aisne, the enemy has vigorously attacked Tracy-le-Mont, to 
the north-east of the Forest of Laigle, but has been repulsed 
with heavy loss." Tracy was a village of GOO inhabitants, 
between Noyon and Vic-sur-Aisne. It did not share the 
fame of these larger neighbors (Noyon is reputedly the 
birthplace of Charlemagne, as well as of Calvin, and Vic 
has an eleventh-century church and a thirteenth-century 
donjon). Nor was any war correspondent present to 
chronicle the conflict of which the above sentence is the only 
direct record. But there was present on the battlefield a 
corporal stretcher-bearer, who, being wounded, has since put 
down some notes of his experiences. In printing them, the 
Temps says, not too strongly, that, " while written by a 
man who has no literary pretensions, they may be compared 
with the most striking pages of some Russian authors." 

The writer is concerned to expose the current idea that 
the Army Medical Service begins to work when the firing 
ceases, resting meantime at the rear. This is only true of 
the special divisions of nurses and stretcher-bearers charged 
with the removal of the wounded to hospital. The regi- 
mental doctors, on the contrary, work on the field and under 
fire, and cannot even take shelter in trenches, like the firing- 
line. On the day in question, when the duel of gun and 
rifle fire had begun in earnest, they were advised that many 
French and German wounded needed help in the large farm 
of Quennevieres, lying between the lines. It was a journey 


of the utmost peril, but two doctors and the writer started 
off without hesitation. The trio reached the farm. Around 
it, the trees were torn and cut, deep holes showed in the 
soil, and gaps in the walls of the farmyard. Probably the 
Germans thought it sheltered the French artillery, and had 
deliberately bombarded it. 

" We now heard again the whizz-z-z that those who have 
once heard it can never forget. The shell was coming 
straight toward us. We fell flat, in the twinkling of an 
eye, our noses to the ground. Happy he who finds a drain 
or ditch at such a moment! Yet we had time to ask our- 
selves whether it would pass over, or catch us in this ridicu- 
lous posture; and I saw the past and the future." Four, 
five, six shells tore over them. " We got up, muddy and 
peevish. A faint smell of dynamite filled the air. We 
passed through the gateway. The yard, surrounded on 
three sides by the farmhouse and servants' quarters, was 
quiet and trim. Through the open shed doors, we could 
see cows peaceably ruminating. But a horribly thin dog 
was barking grievously, as he turned round and round some- 
thing on the soil — a great red patch of clotted blood. The 
poor beast bayed without cessation, in lamentable appeal 
to his master, who had fallen there. 

" We entered the kitchen, and found three ground-floor 
rooms full of wounded — French and German uniforms pell 
mell ; a few officers. Six unwounded German soldiers, three 
carrying the Red Cross armlet, are taking care of both — we 
must say it to their honor — with equal solicitude. There 
are also a French doctor and nurses. Many of the unfortu- 
nates, lying on the blood-marked straw, had horrible 
wounds. The farm had seemed to them a last refuge; and 
they had dragged themselves as best they could to what for 
many of them would be only a tomb. ... A soldier asks 
for a drink ; as he rises, with hand stretched out for the 
glass of water, a bullet comes through the window, and 
strikes him full in the heart. The poor fellow sinks with- 


out a sigh. Most of the wounded are taken away in a lull 
of the combat. Drs. A. and T. remain with the last of them, 
and with the Germans, who help them with a real courage. 
It is three in the afternoon. Firing recommences, more 
violent than ever. The shells whistle ceaselessly. An adju- 
tant, terribly wounded, begs to be put into the cart, which 
seems to him a guarantee that he will be among the next 
to be removed. Scarcely is he laid there than shrapnel 
bursts over the cart, killing him. The firing sounds more 
clearly. I watch the doctors, indifferent to the approach- 
ing danger, tending the wounded. Most of the living rooms 
of the farm are now in ruins. In the sheds, the cows low 

" A wounded man in the kitchen calls me. Struck by a 
ball in the chest, the poor fellow pants for breath. He is 
supporting himself by one arm, which slips on the bloody 
straw. With the other hand he feels in his overcoat pocket, 
which is glued up with congealed blood, for a letter which 
he hands to me, his eyes full of tears. ' It will soon be over/ 
he says, ' perhaps for both of us. But if you should escape, 
look, here's a letter.' He stopped. A shell passed, bury- 
ing itself in the road twenty yards away. The lad looked 
at me, smiling sadly through his tears. I take the letter. 
' My sweetheart,' he murmurs. And I see in his blood- 
stained fingers a little lock of black hair which he presses 
tenderly to his lips. 

" Raising my eyes to the ceiling, I see the plaster break 
into a huge star, and through a gaping hole the end of a 
great shell appears. The ceiling sinks funnel-wise; at the 
same moment the roof cracks, and the shell explodes. Then 
all is dark. . . . Presently I come to myself, half suffo- 
cated with dust and the fumes of dynamite. The house is 
riven from top to bottom, and we can see the calm blue 
sky through the broken roof. The least seriously wounded 
men disengage their fellows. One of the Germans, half 
mad, gesticulates and wails, ' Zum keller, zum keller ! ' (' To 


the cellar!') His contortions throw a comic note into the 
terrible scene. Nearly all of us are bleeding. The poor 
lover is dead, disfigured. Shells have struck the house on 
two sides. In a part that is still standing, a sergeant, 
mortally wounded, with indifferent gaze watches the ceiling 
cracking and sinking above him." 

They manage to get into the cellar; and here the German 
wounded, hungry and desperate, burst out into complaints 
of this war of pains incalculable into which they have been 
driven. " ' My poor wife! My poor children!' cries one 
of them, wounded in the stomach by a fragment of shell. 
Another says that his wife was a Frenchwoman, and he 
had seen his brother-in-law in a group of prisoners. At this 
moment, in a dark corner, we heard a sob, and a woman's 
voice rose out of the shadow : ' All my own children are 
dead, and my husband was killed up there in the yard.' It 
was the farmer's wife. She had watched, helpless, the work 
of destruction. Children, husband, goods, she had lost 

" And I saw once more the emaciated dog up there baying 
in the yard before the clotted blood of his master." 

Another cartful of wounded was removed. The remain- 
ing woman and two men spent four more hours in the cellar, 
under the faint light of a smoky lamp. It was 9 p.m. 
when they got away from the ruined farm. As they passed 
over the battlefield, they saw the dim forms of ghouls rob- 
bing the dead. 

The writer signs himself " Pierre de Lorraine." It is 
doubtless a pseudonym. And the official record of one day 
of this " anonymous war " merely records that " the enemy 
has attacked Tracy-le-Mont, but has been repulsed with 
heavy loss." 

IV. The Christmas Truce 

Sometimes, not often, there comes to hand a simple sol- 
dier's letter that reflects more faithfully than any but the 


highest art the facts of an obscure corner of the vast battle- 
field. A Lorrainer, wounded and made prisoner by the 
French, writes : " To tell you what I have suffered is impos- 
sible. The marches, the nights in ditches, the fever of fight- 
ing, the lack of food — I lived for three days on tinned stuff 
that I took from the knapsacks of dead soldiers — the burn- 
ing villages — what horrors! It was frightful; my heart 
bled. I was with one section for six hours under artillery 
fire. The first shell killed the man on my right, and a long 
string of blood dripped from his ear ; he died after an hour 
and a half of acute suffering, during which he cried out 
like one of the damned. We lay there, our heads buried 
in the soil, without stirring, waiting for death. What 
moments! Every day was like that. The dead bodies, 
blocked the trenches. Although bullets and projectiles fell 
like hailstones about us, I was preserved from them until 

the morrow of the terrible battle of , when I was given 

the mission of reconnoitering a village. We were received 
with a storm of fire. I was struck by a piece of shell which 
tore my arm. Sitting under a hedge, I tied my handkerchief 
round it, but the blood ran down in a stream, staining my 
breeches and boots, and falling drop by drop on to the 
grass. Completely exhausted, I yet managed to walk a 
couple of miles to the ambulance. Then I was made 
prisoner; but we of Alsace or Lorraine were separated 
from the Germans, and everywhere welcomed with open 

M. Georges Berthoulat gives an account of a visit he paid 
to one of the camps of wounded behind the center of the 
French fighting line. The men spoke to him of the horrible 
conditions of trench warfare, with the air poisoned by dead 
bodies that cannot be removed, because directly a head is 
lifted above the earthworks it is a mark for the sharpshoot- 
ers. Without naming it, he refers to a jolly suburb of a 
large town, in the villas of which some British officers had 
installed themselves during the interval of rest. He was 


very much struck to find them occupying themselves with 
golf, football, boating, and swimming; and, after speaking 
of their clean-shaved faces and carefully brushed uniforms, 
he observes : " The British troops fight like ours, but they 
dress and wash better." 

He tells two of the best stories of the war. The army 
corps whose base he was visiting has two chaplains — a 
Catholic priest and a Jewish rabbi. They seemed to be very 
good friends, as well as the best of fellows. One evening, 
they were kept on the battlefield looking after some 
wounded, and found it impossible to get back to the lines. 
After looking round, they found an abandoned farm, with a 
single ragged pallet. Here they spent the night, side by 
side; and, as they went off to sleep, the priest remarked to 
the rabbi : " If there were only a photographer here ! — the 
Old and the New Testaments as bedfellows." 

An officer told the writer that the carnage on the Craonne 
plateau was such that, owing to the mass of German 
corpses, the aviators have now to fly high to avoid the pesti- 
lential odor. The same officer narrated the following piece 
of heroism: After the fighting on September 15-17, an in- 
fantry regiment was defending the village of P , which 

the Germans were shelling from a higher level. The French 
troops had to evacuate a large farm, called, I suppose sym- 
bolically, " Cholera Farm," standing between the two firing- 
lines. In it had been left a number of French wounded. 
The colonel asked for a volunteer to bring them back over 
the 300 yards of intervening plain, which was swept con- 
tinually by the enemy's fire. A cart and horse would be 
at his disposal. For a moment, there was silence. Then 
a simple soldier named Expert stepped out of the ranks, 
and said, " I'll go." For three days, he made the journey 
to and from " Cholera Farm," alone, putting the wounded 
in his cart, and taking them, with others whom he picked 
up on the road, to the ambulance in the rear. He never 
budged under the storm of the big guns. But, on the 


evening of the third day, his horse was shot. Expert at 
once stepped into the shafts, and began to drag the cart 
himself. On the road, however, meeting a carriage belong- 
ing to another regiment, he commandeered one of its horses, 
for the supreme sake of his precious wounded. This was a 
military offense, and Expert received, almost simultane- 
ously, the military medal for his heroism, and a sentence of 
fifteen days' imprisonment for having taken a horse with- 
out authority. But he did not serve the term. 

I have no heart to collect humorous stories of the war; 
but this incident told by a returned soldier is characteristic. 
An infantryman walked into his trench eating a pear. The 
whizz of a shell was heard; then it burst, throwing the 
man to the ground amid a cloud of dust. Before his com- 
rades could speak, he was on his feet, shouting angrily : 
" The pigs ! They've made me drop my pear ! " 

A cavalry patrol was reconnoitering the edge of a wood. 
There was deep silence; the place was believed to have been 
evacuated, and nothing suspicious could be seen. Suddenly, 
a wounded infantryman half-rose from the beetroot field, 
and, with his last strength, called out : " Take care . . . ma- 
chine-guns ! " The patrol turned and galloped off, pursued 
by a volley which did not touch them. The wounded soldier 
fell dead. 

Eighty years ago, Alfred de Vigny reproached his con- 
temporaries by comparing the soldier's life with the gladi- 
ator's : " The people are the easy-going Caesar, the laugh- 
ing Claudius, whom the soldiers endlessly salute as they 
pass — ' Those about to die salute thee ! ' " There was no 
easy-going Caesar in England, or France, or Belgium when 
the great war began; and it was in no gladiatorial spirit 
that the millions of reservists and volunteers offered their 
lives to their country. For them, war was a hateful means 
to a necessary end. I have spoken to hundreds of them, 
and have not met one who would not have prayed, with me, 
that the end might come soon, and the means be then aban- 


cloned and broken for ever. How else shall their sacrifice 
be honored? 

One of the strangest and most significant events of the 
war marked Christmas on a long line of trenches held, on 
the one side, by a body of Saxon troops, on the other by the 
Leicestershire Regiment, the London Rifle Brigade, and 
some other British units. Darkness fell at about 7 o'clock 
on Christmas Eve, and with it a sudden calm. The Ger- 
man snipers seemed to have disappeared. Then the sound 
of carol-singing rose from the trenches; and, at that, the 
British snipers in turn ceased. The magic chorus sank and 
swelled again to the black sky. Some of the British soldiers 
raised an experimental cheer. " Shouts from the Germans : 
'You English, why don't you come out?'" — so wrote an 
officer of the R.F.A. — " and our bright knaves replied with 
yells of ' Waiter.' " Nevertheless, they came out; and, very 
soon, fires and candles were burning along the parapets 
hitherto guarded with ceaseless vigilance, and the men were 
fraternizing in a crowd between them, exchanging gifts and 
experiences, and agreeing that the truce should continue till 
midnight of Christmas Day. " It was all arranged pri- 
vately, and started by one of our fellows going across. 
You can hardly imagine it. The only thing forbidden was 
to make any improvement to the barbed wire. If by any 
mischance a single shot was fired, it was not to be taken as 
an act of war, and an apology would be accepted ; also, that 
firing would not be opened without due warning on both 

Officers came out to see " the fun." A chaplain gave a 
German commander a copy of " The Soldier's Prayer," and 
in return received a cigar, and a message for the bereaved 
family of a certain British officer. " He had been killed ; 
and, as he was dying, the German commander happened 
to pass, and saw him struggling to get something out of his 
pocket. He went up, and helped the dying man, and the 
thing in the pocket was a photograph of his wife. The 


commander said, ' I held it before him, and he lay looking 
at it till he died, a few minutes after.' " 

Christmas Day passed in burying the dead, whose bodies 
lay in scores between the trenches; in carol-singing, each 
side cheering the other; and in a football match, which 
the Saxons won. " War was absolutely forgotten," says 
one soldier's letter; "they weren't half a bad lot, really." 
" The sergeant-major," an officer wrote, " has not got over 
it yet ; his remarks were, ' It is 'ardly credible,' and ' I never 
would 'ave believed it.' " 

God bless you, comrades, say I. Such acts, such men, 
give us back our faith in the virtue of life and the com- 
mon human heart. No earthly Majesties or Excellencies 
sanctioned, no pale-faced dreamer invited them to, this 
high experiment. The vision of their hours of reconcilia- 
tion will last when many a day of dear-bought but necessary 
victory has sunk into oblivion. The men who went back 
to their guns, if they survive, will recall it as the day when 
Christmas became real for them. Bereaved mothers and 
wives will cherish the memory. We who sit in a security 
we have scarcely helped to make will remember with twinges. 
"Its logic?" Thou grub, to set logic against prophetic 
love! And you, pundits and sergeant-majors of our ruling 
spheres, read and mark well this humble, yet most impera- 1 
tively credible, omen. Our sons' ways will not be as ours. 
They will make a new Europe. At your peril, do not hinder 
them. Many will have died for liberty. The rest, and 
their sons, and their sons' sons, will live for peace. 


Aerschot, massacre at, 48 
Alsace, first French advance into, 

17, 88; second advance, 19-22, 

31, 89; subsequent actions, 202, 

American aid and opinion, 41, 137, 

138, 276, 356-7, 364 
Amiens, 158, 208, 257, 267, 269-71, 

Andenne, massacre at, 52 
Antwerp, Belgian army retires to, 

sorties from, 149; defense and 

fall of, 275, 280-4 
Arbitration and mediation, Ger- 
many's refusal of, xiv, xx, xxi, 

Argonne, the, 175-8, 262-3, 336-8 
Arlon, wholesale shootiag of 

civilians at, 53 
Armies, strength of the opposed, 

xxiv, 7, 23, 31, 42-5, 86, 87, 90, 

147, 157-8, 256-7, 268, 283-6, 

294, 303, 374, 383 
Arras, bombardment of, 272-3 
Artillery of the Allies, 264, 383 
Asquith, Mr., on the aim of the 

Allies, xiii 
Aviators, 25, 101, 117-18, 128, 166, 

200, 229, 382 

Balkan conflicts, xv, xvi 

Baye, pillage of the Chateau of, 

Belgian Ministry at Havre, the, 

Belgium, German assurances to, 

on the eve of the war, xix, xxii 
British army transferred to the 

north, 282-3 

— neutrality, question of, xvii, 61-2 

— Regiments named: 4th Fusi- 
liers, 101; Royal Irish, 102, 288; 
Middlesex, 102, 288, 291; Gor- 
don Highlanders, 102, 288, 299; 

9th Lancers, 104, 161 ; 12th Lan- 
cers, 119; 18th Hussars, 104, 161; 
2nd Yorks Light Infantry, 117; 
37th Battery R.F.A., 117; 2nd 
Munster Fusiliers, 119; King's 
Royal Rifles, 260-2, 295; Royal 
Sussex, 260; North Lancashire, 
260; Coldstream Guards, 260; 
1st Royal Highlanders, 260; 1st 
Scots Guards, 260; Northamp- 
tonshire, 260, 295; Munster, 
260; Queen's, 261, 295; Dorset, 
288; Lincoln, 288; Royal Fusi- 
liers, 288; Leicestershire, 291; 
Cameron Highlanders, 295; 
Somerset Light Infantry, 291; 
Royal Scots Fusiliers, 296; 2nd 
Warwickshire, 297; London 
Scottish Territorial, 291; Here- 
ford Territorial, 298; Somerset 
Yeomanry, 298; Leicester Yeo- 
manry, 298; S. Staffs, 300 

Brussels, German occupation of, 
33-4, 97 

Bulletin des ArmSes, 76-7 

Camp des Roma ins, capture of 

Fort du, 246 
Casualties, 117, 122-3, 251, 254, 

298, 299, 300, 373-4 
Censorship, the British, 73-4 
— the French, 72-5 
Charleroi, French retirement from, 

36, 89, 90, 99, 100 
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston, in 

Antwerp, 277-8 
Clemenceau, M., and V Homme 

Enchaine", 365 
Clermont-en-Argonne, burning and 

sack of, 212-13 
Costs of the war, estimates of, 

Courtaqon, wrecked school in, 





De Bloch, Jean, on modern war- 
fare, 379-80 

De Mun, Count Albert, 28 

Deputies killed, 368 

Dinant, first battle of, 35-6; mas- 
sacre at, 50-2 

Doctors, heroic, 103, 300, 384-5 

Epernay, the Germans in, 232-7, 

Pinancial measures in England 

and France, 41-2, 66, 375-6 
Foch's 7th French Army, 122, 149, 

167-8 et seq. 
Foch, General, in his office, 332 
Fortresses, fall or abandonment of, 

25, 87, 118, 121, 131, 138, 232-3, 

360, 382 
" Frightfulness," the philosophy 

of, 57-60, 210-11, 215-17, 223-4, 

Frontier, Franco-German, military 

geography of the, 15, 22-3, 86-7, 


Ghent, 148-9, 279-80 

Haelen, Belgian victory at, 31-2 

Hausen's (Von) advance through 

the central Ardennes, 35-7, 89, 

90, 99 

Herve, Gustave, 63, 372 
Hospital services, 365-7 

Indian troops in action, 292 
Irish, attitude of the, 16 
Italian neutrality, xxii, 62 

Jaures, Jean, 15, 63, 78 

Joffre's strategy, General, 21, 87, 

91, 95, 109-10, 119, 120, 121, 
122, 123, 149-57, 159, 162-3, 177- 
8, 265 

Kitchener's advice to 
Atkins," Lord, 44-5 


Laon Mountains as a defensive 

position, 255 
Le Cateau-Landreeies, battle of, 

Lille, 92, 97, 105, 272, 273, 275, 

283, 290 

Lorraine, French retreat from, 29, 

Louvain, fire and massacre at, 

Luxemburg, invasion of, xvi, xviii, 

xix, 31 

Marshes of St. Gond, 166, 168-9 
Maubeuge, defense and fall of, 

118, 148 
Maunoury's 6th French Army, 115, 

120, 122, 149, 157, 257, 262 
Ministry, French, reconstructed, 

124; leaves Paris, 130, 135, 136- 

8, 368 

Mobilizations and declarations of 
war, the, xvi-xvii, xxiv, 56, 64-5, 

Morhange, great German victory 
at, 28-9, 88 

Namur, defense of, 38-9, 94 

Nancy, defense of, 29-30, 209, 245, 

Naval situation, 40, 62; naval in- 
tervention on Belgian coast, 
305-6, 307 

Neuf chateau (Ardennes), De Lan- 
gle's defeat at, 35, 89-90 

Nomeny, massacre of, 252 

Paris, the fortifications of, 124-6, 
131, 138, 145; air-raids on, 128- 

9, 364-5 
Parliamentarism, French, justified, 

Peace suggestions to France, Ger- 
man, 363-4 
Pgronne, Germans in, 269-70 
Pervyse, destruction of, 324-6 
Plans of campaign, the, xxiii-iv, 
12-13, 14, 16-19, 25, 29-30, 31, 
32-3, 85-8, 90-5, 110, 121, 147- 
57, 173-5, 255, 265-8, 276-7, 285- 
6, 290, 294, 319-20 

Railway communications, 3-4, 71- 

2, 111-12, 132-3, 166, 230, 266-7, 

282-3 319 
Refugees, 41, 105-8, 132-4, 139, 

143-4, 279 
Revigny, destruction of, 216 
Rheims Cathedral, the damage to, 




Roberts, Earl, death of, 301 
Russia and the Poles, 66-7 

St. Mihiel, German capture of, 
246-7, 263, 341, 345-6 

St. Quentin-Guise, battle of, 120 

" Scrap of Paper " speech of the 
German Chancellor, xix 

Senlis, massacre at, 206-7 

Sermaize, destruction of, 217-18 

Servia and Austria, xvi-xvii, xx, 

" Smashing Blow," the, from Bel- 
gium, 85, 87-8, 90-5, 97-8 

Socialists, attitude of, xiii, 13-14, 

Soissons, 225-8, 237-8, 239, 255-8 

Spies, German, 46, 180-1 

Tamines, massacre at, 48-9 

Termonde, 148-9 

Trench warfare, 262-4, 322, 362, 

Troyon, siege of Fort, 175, 246 

Ultimatums, the, xvi, xviii, xx, 56 

Verdun, defense of, 25, 89, 112- 
13, 121, 335-47 

Victoria Cross, 101, 105, 117, 123, 

Villers-aux-Vents, destruction of, 

Vis6, first engagement of the 
western campaign, 8-9, 46-7 

Viviani, M., on German war prep- 
arations, 64-5; speech on De- 
cember 22, 370 

Warfare, the rules of, 57-8, 235-6, 

William II, the Emperor, xvi, 58, 

209, 251, 285, 296, 298 

Ypres, Cloth Hall destroyed, 298, 

Zabern, 26-8 


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