Page:EB1922 - Volume 31.djvu/899

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853
MARNE, BATTLE OF THE

move out eastwards in the afternoon, but that it could be directed to operate on the right or left bank of the Marne as required. The next thing was to secure the cooperation of the British, and accordingly at one o'clock Gen. Gallieni started for the headquarters of Sir John French, which were at that time fixed at Melun. The British commander was at the moment with his troops some miles in front, and in his absence it was not possible to arrive at a definite decision on a matter of such importance as the project now suggested. On his return Gen. Gallieni was shown a telegram which had come from Gen. Joffre early in the afternoon. It was to the effect that, while favouring the project of an early offensive in principle, Gen. Joffre considered that the project of carrying the VI. Army to the left bank of the Marne S. of Lagny held out the greatest prospect of success. Gen. Joffre, Gen. Gallieni and Sir John French were all equally desirous of assuming the offensive at the first available opportunity, and any divergence of opinion was but on matters of detail. Further telephonic communication removed from the mind of the commander-in-chief any lingering doubts as to the advisability of adopting Gen. Gallieni's original plan of using the VI. Army N. of the Marne. From all the information gained Gen. Joffre had now realized that a chance not often to be met with in war was offered him. He determined to assume the offensive at the earliest moment, and shortly before midnight he issued his directions in which he stated that advantage was to be taken of the situation of the German I. Army to concentrate against it the efforts of the Allied armies of the extreme left. All necessary preparations were to be carried out during the 5th, and the attack was to be made on Sept. 6. The die was now cast, and it only remained for the Franco-British armies to carry out to the full the tasks assigned them by the French generalissimo.

In detail the orders of Gen. Joffre were as follows: (a) All the available forces of the VI. Army N.E. of Meaux to be ready to cross the Ourcq between Lizy and May-en-Multien, in the general direction of Chateau-Thierry. The available portions of the I. Cavalry Corps which are close at hand to be handed over to Gen. Maunoury for this operation, (b) The British army to establish itself on the line Changis-Coulommiers, facing E., ready to attack in the general direction of Montmirail. (c) The V. Army to close slightly on its left and take up the general line Courtacon-Esternay-Sezanne, ready to attack, generally speaking, south to north. The II. Cavalry Corps to ensure connexion between the British army and the V. Army. (d) The IX. Army to cover the right of the V. Army by holding the southern outlets of the St. Gond marshes and by placing part of its forces on the tableland N. of Sezanne.

In the orders issued by Gen. Joffre on the afternoon of the 4th only the VI., British, V. and IX. Armies had received detailed instructions as to the task before them, but on the 5th supplementary ordsrs were issued, carrying on the scope of operations so as to include the French III. and IV. Armies. These orders were received by the armies concerned at about 7 p.m. on the 5th, and ran as follows:—

IV. Army.— To-morrow, Sept. 6, our left armies will attack the German I. and II. Armies in front and flank. The IV. Army will cease its southerly movement with that of the III. Army, which will issue N. of Revigny and take the offensive towards the north-west.

III. Army. The III. Army, covering itself against attack from the N.E., will debouch to the W. to attack the left flank of enemy forces marching W. of the Argonne. It will coordinate its action with that of the IV. Army, which has received orders to attack.

Working from W. to E., the disposition of the armies of France and England between Paris and Verdun, as they stood during Sept. 5, was as follows:—

French VI. Army: Gen. Maunoury. VII. Corps (i4th Div., 63rd Reserve Div.); IV. Corps (detraining at Cagny and vicinity; considerable delay had been caused by a railway accident en route; 55th and 56th Res. Divs., Gen. Lamaze; 61st and 62nd Res. Divs., Gen. Ebener; a Moroccan Brigade; I. Cavalry Corps, Gen. Sordet, less the Provisional Cavalry Div., Gen. Cornulier-Luciniere).

(This army had endeavoured to effect its concentration at Amiens, but had been forced to fall back on Paris and now stood on a line covering the capital on the N. and north-east. The 45th Div. did not actually come up until the evening of the 5th and was kept in reserve. The I. Cavalry Corps had fallen back S. of the Seine, very exhausted.)

British Army: Field-Marshal Sir John French. I. Corps (ist and 2nd Divs.; Gen. Sir Douglas Haig) ; II. Corps (3rd and 5th Divs.; pen. Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien) ; III. Corps (4th Div. plus 19th Inf. Bde.; Gen. Pulteney) ; Cavalry Div. (5 cavalry brigades and horse artillery; Gen. Allenby).

(This army lay behind the Grand Morin on the general line Bailly-La Houssaye-Courpalay, in order, from left to right, III., II., I, and covered by the cavalry.)

French V. Army: Gen. Franchet d'Espérey. I., III., X., XVIII. Corps; 37th and 38th (Algerian) Divs.; 5lst, 53rd and 69th Reserve Divs.; II. Cavalry Corps (Gen. Conneau).

(The front of this army extended from about CourtaQon on the left to between Esternay and Sezanne on the right.)

French IX. Army: Gen. Foch. IX. Corps (included Moroccan Div. vice 18th Div.); XI. Corps (included l8th Div.; strength 3 divs.) ; 42 Div. ; 52nd and 6oth Res. Divs. ; gth Cav. Div.

(This army occupied the front Sezanne-Camp-de-Mailly, near Sompuis. The 9th Cavalry Div. was on the right flank.)

French IV. Army: Gen. Langle de Gary. II. Corps; XII. Corps; XVII. Corps; Colonial Corps.

(The IV. Army occupied a position from near Sompuis through Humbauville, thence S. of Vitry-le-Francois, as far as Sermaize. It was reinforced on Sept. 9 by the XXI. Corps from the I. Army.)

French III. Army: Gen. Sarrail. IV. Corps; sent to VI. Army (IV. Corps); V. Corps; VI. Corps; one brigade of the 54th Div.; 65th, 67th and 75th Res. Divs. ; 7th Cav. Div.

(This army was posted on the line Revigny-Souilly, and on its right it joined up with the mobile garrison of the fortress of Verdun.

It was reinforced on Sept. 7 by the XXV. Corps from the II. Army.)

On the same date the German armies in France were thus disposed:—

I. Army: Gen. von Kluck. II., III., IV., IV. Res. and IX. Corps; 2nd, 4th and gth Cav. Divs. under Gen. v. der Marwitz, with three Landwehr brigades on lines of communication.

(The III. Res. Corps of this army had been left behind to watch Antwerp, and the IX. Res. Corps, temporarily held in Germany for the defence of the N.W. coast, was only just beginning its movement to Belgium and France. The IV. Res. Corps was posted on a line S. of Nanteuil and W. of the Ourcq to form a flank guard for the new march of the German I. Army. The main body of that army had its right about Crecy, and the line ran thence generally eastwards through St. Augustine and Sancy to Esternay.)

II. Army: Gen. von Bülow. Guard, VII., X. and X. Res. Corps; Guard and 5th Cavalry Divs. (under Gen. von Richthofen). (The headquarters cf the II. Army were at Montmirail, and its line stretched thence, keeping N. of the marshes of St. Gond, through Congy to Ecury-le-Repos. The VII. Corps was echeloned behind the right rear, N.W. of Montmirail. The VII. Res. Corps of this army had been detached to besiege Maubeuge.)

III. Army: Gen. von Hausen. XII., XII. Res., and XIX. Corps, with one Landwehr brigade.

(This army consisted of Saxon troops, and was in position with its right in touch with advanced troops of the II. Army about Ecury-le-Repos. Its centre was opposite Sommesous and its left extended towards Vitry-le-Frangois. Of the XII. Res. Corps one division the 24th had been left investing Givet, and did not rejoin until Sept. 7.)

IV. Army: Duke Albrecht of Wurttemberg. VIII., VIII. Res., XVIII., and XVIII. Res. Corps, with one Landwehr brigade.

(The line of this army ran from near Vitry-le-Francois to Ponthion and thence by Possesse to Somme-Yevre.)

V. Army: German Crown Prince. V., V. Res., VI., VI. Res., XIII. and XVI. Corps; 33rd Res. Div., and Landwehr Div. with additional brigades, five in all; 3rd and 6th Cavalry Divs.

(The Crown Prince's army lay in two portions. One part of it the VI., XIII. and XVI. active corps faced the French III. Army on the line Charmontoise-Triaucourt-Froidos. The two reserve corps were to the N. of Verdun, the VI. Res. being on the left-hand bank near Montfaucon and the V. Res. on the opposite bank about Consenvoye. The active corps was E. of Verdun, and the 33rd Res. Div. and the Landwehr formed a special force in Woevre and on the Moselle based on Metz.)

The French, British and German armies thus enumerated were those immediately concerned in the operations which are now known as the battle of the Marne. Farther to the S.E., between the fortress of Toul and the Swiss frontier, the German VI. (Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria) and VII. (Gen. von Heeringen) Armies had been heavily engaged with the French I. and II. Armies since the middle of August.

The area on which the battle was about to be contested forms roughly a rectangle from E. to W. of 120 m., and as the distance from the southern to the northern edge is 50 m. the battlefield may be said to cover some 6,000 sq. m. of area. Save for the