A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 218

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FRANCE'S FRONTIER BATTLES


acted on the provocation with extreme promptness. On August 7 a weak French force moved through the Belfort, gap and advanced on Mulhouse, and the next day, after driving back a weaker German force, occupied that town and the neighbouring Altkirch. The avowed objects of this movement were to seize and destroy the Rhine bridges, but it would appear as though [ie chief reason was the desire of the French to seize a political fdivantage. CertainlyGeneralJoffre'sproclamationannouncing the approaching liberation of the provinces torn by Germany from France in 1871 would seem to disclose the political rather thanthemilitarymotivesofthisadvance. GeneralvonHeerin- g«n, in command of the German 7th army, was, however, prepar- ing a counter-stroke, 'and had massed his troops on the Colmar- Breisach line. On August 10 he attacked in overwhelming numbeEs and almost succeeded in cutting the French com- munications. TheFrenchwerecompelledtoevacuateMulhoiise and to commence a retreat, which by the 12th had brought them back, seriously depleted in numbers, to a position only ten miles from Belfort. The ill success of this hasty and premature attempt only incited the French command to stronger measures. A new Alsace army was formed under General Pau and by the 14th was ready to advance. Meanwhile the Germans, anticipating a French attack in Lorraine, had withdrawn most of their forces northwards. General Pau, therefore, encountered little opposi- tion, and driving the weak German troops before him re-occupied Miilhouse on the 20th. Pushing on he reached the outskirts of Colmar two days later, in the advance inflicting a severe defeat upontheGermansatDornachonthe19th. Suchobjectasthe French had in these manoeuvres had been achieved, for the enemyhadbeenentirelyclearedoutfromUpperAlsace. The futility of the move was, however, quickly demonstrated. The repulse of the French attack in Lorraine and the disturbing situation in the west, where Kluck was marching on Paris, compelled the abandonment of the ground won and a retreat of the French to the Belfort frontier, the majority of the troops being dispatched hurriedly westward to aid in the battle of the Marne. Nothing of political or military value had been gained by this ill-starred advance; on the contrary, troops which would have been far more usefully employed elsewhere were completely wasted. TheonlygainwhichtheFrenchhadtoshowfortheir

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