A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 271

Not Proofread. The contents of this page needs to be proofread. Currently, there are multiple typos / OCR errors that require attention.
A MEETING AT ST. QUENTIN


cavaliy. A 9th army, composed ol three corps from the s6uth, wasformedunderGeneralFoch. Whatisstillmoreimportant, General Jolfre, while leaving his re-forraed battle-front to test tiie enemy's strength again in such battles as that at Guise, con- tinued the general retreat in France. For he found that the new French 6th army, being mainly reserve troops, was not strongenoughforhissecretpurpose. Itwassounsuccessfulin resisting the attack of von Kluck's army that all northern France had been left open to the enemy. But General Joffre had a strong general reserve near Paris. It could be used to reinforce the Allied line at any point where the enemy could be j)ierced or turned. General Joffre waited^£or his opportunity. Such in general outline w^as the position of the French tovvards the latter days of August ; but for a fuller understanding of the course of events a more detailed description of the actions in- volved and the moves that led up to them is necessary. By August 25 their victories in Lorraine, the Ardennes arid on the Sambre had appeared to justify the Germans in vnth- drawing aj least two army corps for service on the eastern front. Von Moltke certainly took the view that the great general action had been fought in the west and had resulted in a decisive \ ictory. But when he proposed to withdraw troops he found ihat his genei'als on the spot were jealous as to who should sparethem. Eventuallyitwasdecidedtowithdrawthemfrom the right. Meanwhile the Allied commands liad certainly no cause for optimism, and on the same day (August 26) that the Gennan nth corps and Guard Reserve corps received orders for East Prussia, General Joffre and Sir John, French were in anxious conclave at British headquarters at St. Quentin. It was a particularly grave moment for the British commander-in-chief, for he had received news that Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien had that day decided to stand at Le Cateau. The night before General Joffre had issued orders that '‘further operations would be carried out with a view to forming a mass of manoeuvre on the left flank to carry out an offensive/' and the plan was that this mass of manoeuvre was to be provided by the French 4th and 5th armies and the Britisli, plus the new French 6th army. But the rapid sequence of events led to a decision that the general French and British retreat should be continued by gradual stages, and Sir John French

← 270   ·   271   ·   272 →
(page index)