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SEPTEMBER 2, 1914
LYMAN ABBOTT, Editor-in-Chie!
HAMILTON W. MABIE, Associate Editor
R. D. TOWNSEND, Managing Editor
THE STORY OF THE WAR
BY ARTHUR BULLARD
THE OUTLOOK'S WAR CORRESPONDENT AT HOME
HE third week of the war-from August 19 to 26-was marked by severe fighting all along the line from Antwerp to the Swiss border. As we go to press the outcome is still, to use the phrase of Homer, on the knees of the gods. But the German armies on the French frontier have scored definite successes. There is a distinct tone of serious concern in the official announcements from London and Paris. Lord Kitchener, in addressing the House of Lords, foretold a long and bitter conflict. Berlin is celebrating victories.
place they had picked out for a last stand. Its importance also depends on how anxious the Germans were to take the place. We can imagine that von Moltke, the German Chief of Staff, had, like his illustrious uncle, planned this campaign in detail, had foreseen each move from the resistance of Liège to the entry into Brussels, and had staked his hope on turning the left of the French line of forts at La Fere. If so, he would have to drive the British out of Mons at all costs, and their resistance would be for him a defeat.
But perhaps we have no definite information-the German commander before Mons had orders to keep the English busy at the extreme left of the Allies' line so that they could not bear help to the French where the main attack was planned. In this case the Germans would not be displeased to hear that the English had stood fast.
One thing is clear. We shall have to revise the meaning we give to the word "battle." The week brought news of a dozen " engagements" each greater in the number of soldiers involved and probably greater in loss of life than most of Creasy's " Decisive Battles of the World." Thermopyla was a very small affair indeed compared to Liège, Haelen, Dinant, Mülhausen, Lunéville, Neufchateau, and the struggles about Charleroi. They would have been "battles" in Napoleon's days. In this war they are "officially retire on pensions and begin to write their described as outpost actions."
War has been "trustified." And just
as a score of steel mills which once seemed gigantic have become small parts of the merger of the United States Steel Corporation, so to-day the bloodiest battle has significance only in its relation to the centralized plans of the opposing General Staffs.
The British War Office, for instance, announced on August 24 that the English troops about Mons had been engaged for twenty-four hours and that their lines held firm. This is important or unimportant according to whether Mons was an outpost which the English did not hope to hold or a
We are getting reports-uncertain, conflicting reports-of a stupendous chess game in which only the first moves have been made. What move has significance we cannot know until we hear what the two sides have been trying to do-perhaps not until the generals
THE GERMAN ADVANCE IN BELGIUM
During the third week of the war the Germans overran practically all of Belgium. Their principal opposition seems to have come from the small native army. They pushed it back steadily and broke through the line of the Allies, forcing the Belgians to retreat northward to Antwerp behind their fortifications, and folding the Anglo-French army back to a line which is very close to the Belgian southern frontier.
Having divided the Allies in this manner, the Germans had a clear road to Brussels,
and entered that capital unopposed on August 20. Light cavalry scouting parties pushed west through Ghent and to, or near, the coast of the English Channel. But the main force, which passed through Brussels, seems to have turned south towards Mons and the French frontier.
Namur has fallen into their hands. This is a brilliant feat for the German arms, as the place was considered to be stronger than Liège, and was expected to put up at least as determined a resistance. No details of this action have reached us. But here, as at Huy, the Krupp siege guns must have done themselves proud.
The importance of this campaign in Belgium depends entirely on an unknown quantity-how intensely did the French and English try to resist this German advance? Two possibilities are worth considering.
First, the Allies may have strained every resource to support the little Belgian army. They may have failed to reach the front in time, through some mismanagement in transportation. They may have suffered disastrous reverses of which the censors have suppressed all news.
Secondly, they may have decided to leave Belgium to its fate, and to solidify their defenses on the line they considered most advantageous—somewhere near the French border. In this case all the fighting in Belgium has been skirmishing, the retrogressive movement of the Allies part of a predetermined plan.
The French and English General Staffs have carefully studied all the strategical features of Belgium. The New York "Evening Post's" London correspondent writes that he has reason to believe that Lord Kitchener made a secret visit to this part of Europe during the summer and went over the ground personally. It is possible that the Allies have not lost a single position in Belgium which they hoped to hold.
The dispirited tone of the despatches from London and Paris, more than any facts they contain, tends to show that the Allies are having an unexpectedly hard time.
THE GERMAN ARMY OF THE CENTER
As was anticipated, the German forces operating between Luxemburg and the Vosges have developed a formidable advance. The French War Office announced on August 25 that the fighting had been severe, that their army was outnumbered and had been forced
to retire, and that the Germans had occupied some French territory around Nancy. On the same date a message came from Berlin by wireless, telling of an "official announcement by the War Office of three distinct victories in this region. An army under the Grand Duke of Wurtemburg defeated the French at Neufchateau in southeastern Belgium. An army under the Crown Prince drove the French across their border at Longwy. And the left wing of this center army, commanded by the Prince Heriter of Bavaria, occupied several villages about Nancy, well within the French frontier. The French defeats were serious; large numbers of men, including superior officers, and many guns were captured. Whether this advance is in sufficient force to threaten the French forts is uncertain as we go to press, but it probably is.
The French War Office has announced that, as there is pressing need for troops in the north, the offensive campaign in the Vosges and in Alsace has been temporarily abandoned. Mülhausen has been evacuated and the French army has retired to a defensive position.
The real importance of these engagements cannot be reckoned in our present ignorance of the intentions of the belligerents. On the whole, it appears that the French advance has been everywhere stopped. But the relation between the cost of the German advantages and their worth is uncertain.
While it is impossible to guess with any surety the actual plans of the opposing General Staffs, there is a large literature in every language of Europe on probable war plans.
Certainly all military writers have laid great stress on the expected dashing attack of the Germans. I have not found a single such discussion in which either a French or German writer expected that the German army would be kept out of northern France as long as this.
The occupation of Brussels and the capture of a few French border villages is very much less than students of strategy expected the Germans to accomplish in three weeks.
The reduction of Namur in three days is the achievement so far of which the Germans have most reason to boast. But Namur is not in France.
The German advance has been steady, uninterrupted-slow. The Allies, even if
the defeats announced from Berlin are not exaggerated, are at this writing as far advanced as they were expected to be. If the Germans planned a "dashing attack," it has not materialized.
Another of the ante-bellum war plans which is worth note is the rôle assigned to the French border army.
In the war of 1870 the decisive point was reached when Marshal MacMahon had to choose between throwing his large army to the defense of Metz or covering Paris. He decided on the latter course. The two main French armies were separated. Marshal Bazaine was left to his fate at Metz. MacMahon began a retreat with the object of keeping between Paris and the Germans. He was forced into a corner at Sedan and overwhelmed.
There is not a French military text-book in which this disastrous move is not discussed. Their General Staff has planned to make its repetition impossible. General Joffre, with his army along the frontier, does not have to trouble about the defense of Paris. Back of him is an intricate system of forts fully manned and equipped. The rest of France is expected to take care of the capital. His army is intended for offense.
If he gets
into difficulties, he will not have to worry about withdrawing his forces in good order. He is expected to strike as long as he has a man left alive. His object, of course, is victory-to defeat the enemy. But even if his army is annihilated it will have done its duty if it has seriously weakened the enemy.
Persistent rumors have been afloat during the week that Italy was about to join the Allies and attack Austria. One circumstantial despatch says that the Dual Monarchy has redrawn some of its troops from Alsace to guard the Italian border. It is certain that serious forces have been concentrated on both sides of the Austro-Italian frontier. Hostilities may break out at any moment.
THE AUSTRO-SERB CAMPAIGN
The first authentic news of a decisive victory comes from Servia. The Austrian invasion has been definitely repulsed. The Serbs have published a detailed list of the spoils they collected on the battlefield, and this list gives evidence of a thoroughgoing
With the Montenegrins-who have a law
on their statute-books against cowardice-in the field beside them, and the Anglo-French fleet bombarding Cattaro on the Adriatic, there is every chance of Servia recovering her "lost provinces " of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Austrians have officially announced that they have temporarily abandoned their "punitive expeditions." The pressure of Russia on the northeast and the threat of Italian action on the west promise to keep Austria's army too busy to continue at present her attempt to chastise Servia.
RUSSIA BEGINS TO MOVE
There was no news of serious operations on the Austro-Russian frontiers during the third week of the war. But the army corps from Odessa and Kiev must be approaching the border. They ought easily to outnumber the force Austria can oppose to them. The one serious fortification they will encounter is Przemysl; but the Carpathians are a national defense, and it is probable that the southern Russian army will try to advance in a northeasterly direction by way of Cracow towards the heart of Germany. Railways are scarce in that part of the world, and the advance cannot be rapid.
The northern Russian army, operating from Vilna, has crossed the German frontier, and claims to have defeated the first line of the German army and to have overrun East Prussia to the Vistula. It is a territory nearly as large as that occupied by the Germans in Belgium, but from a strategic point of view of even more doubtful value.
THE SECOND STAGE OF THE WAR
How long the preliminary maneuvering of the immense armies now in the field will last it is impossible to forecast. But sooner or later the second stage of the war will come -it will consist of sieges.
Geographical frontiers have little significance in military matters. For soldiers to pass a row of sign-posts does not mean much. But back of almost every political frontier in Europe there is a line of fortified defenses. In war these are the only frontiers that count.
The dividing line between France and Germany, for instance, is hardly more real than the equator. The military frontier of Germany is along the Rhine. Military France begins with the line of forts from Belfort to Verdun. The strip of land between is a