A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 269

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A Popular History of The Great War   ·   Volume 1: The First Phase - 1914   ·   Chapter 15: The French in Retreat
The French in Retreat

WHILE the British Expeditionary Force was helpijig to hold Ixick the great envelox)ing movement of the itiaiu German army, the northern forces of 1‘Tancc were fight- ing their way southward. The British troops esicajicd more lightly than their immediate comradesTu-arms at Charleroi. For the 5tli French army, after the passage of the Sambre was forced on its right, was placed in a difficult position by the failure of the 4th army to hold Givel, close to the i3bint where the Meuse flows from France into Belgium. Pressed back relentlessly by the army of General Billow, with General Hausen, commanding the Saxon array and the Prussian Guard, operating near their right wing, the 5th army hadtoretirewithallfiossiblespeed. Forinfrontofitabody of Germans was advancing on Rocroi, near its distant of rctieai. To protect the retiring infautry and guns, the house- men of the two divisions of French cavalry on the western flank rode their mounts to a standstill. These divisions were under Ctcneral Sordet, who was afterwards to bring his force to the- relief of the British 2nd corps at tlie battle of Lc Gateau. The .struggles of the French 4th army, operating from the Meuse, \vcre. licroic. Round Binant, where they had triumphed a little while before, the French were heavily outnupibercd. They fell back lighting artillery duels and rearguard actions. Just near the French border, at the little Belgian river town oi Giv'Ct, the German troops got across the Meuse. Some ol Ihem adv^anced on Rocroi, and thence to Rethel; otliers r'lsceiided the Meuse against a maguificciit resistance by the French. At one point a French brigade of some 5,000 trOox>s beat back a German division of some 20,000 in a light lasting 12 Iiours. The steadily increasing power of resistance in the FVeiich culminated at Charlcvillc, a town lying on the French Meuse opposite to M^zi^res. It is near Sedan and the groat hollow in the hills in which the main French army was trapped in 1870 by Germans occupying the encircling heights

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