A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 210

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THE EFFORT OF SERBIA


General Mishich, with the ist Serbian army, had halted on the littlemountainstream—theDicina. Hesuddenlyadvancedina general attack oh the moruiag of December 3, 1914, and com- pletely surprised the Austrians. He caught them leisurely moving along the valley paths. Capturing the overlooking hills, the Serbs shot down the hostile columns while the Austrians were stillwonderingwheretheyshouldplacetheirartiller}^ Naturally, the Serbs knew every fall and rise of the ground, for Mishich himself had been born and- bred near the Suvobor, and his gun sites, skilfully captured by sudden strokes, commanded the paths along which he was driving the enemy. So overwhelming was the recoil of the Serbs that Potiorek and his staff thought all the Serbian armies had been massed for the attack on the Suvobor. Under these conditions the Austrian commander attempted in the*heat of the action to alter entirely his dispositions for battle. He ordered both hil wings to send large reinforcements to his centre. * But the movement of large bodies of troops through snowstorms in the mountain chains of the Balkans, intersected only by a few rough roads, was not a quick or. easy matter. The guns were also held up, with the supply wagons, and most of the Austro-Hungarian troops had nothing to eat for twodaysormore. Andthisatatimewhenthesearchingcold- ness of the high altitudes, in which they were operating in mid- winter, hourly lowered their vitality. The Serbian artillerymen did admirable work. As soon as their infantry' had rushed a good gun posificm for them they got their pieces up, and then opened with shrapnel on the enemy, bunched up iii the valley and plainly outlined against the snow. All the targets were large and extraordinarily clear, and with their long experience of mountain warfare the Serbian artillerymen, with guns firing twenty rounds a minute, wrought terrible havoc. It was the remarkable increase in the destruc- tive power of the Serbian artillery that made the Austrian staff conclude that all the forces of Serbia were concentrated in front of Suvobor. At the end of ten hours of fierce, incessant conflict the Austrian first line was thrown back with the loss of some of its mountain howitzers. The troops retired on the positions de- fendedbytheirheavysiegeguns. ButtheSerbians,exhilarated by their preliminary success, wanted no sleep or food. Onward they swept in the darkness, gaining ground over which it would

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