Page 3433

3433 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

to carry out the work of organization.

The popular view was voiced by The Times,

on August 5, and, later in the same day,

Prime Minister Asquith announced that

Kitchener had been offered and had accepted the post of Minister of War.

Lord Kitchener at this time was 64

years old and was probably the best known

military figure in the world. As a youth

in his teens he served with honor in the

French army after the defeats of Worth,

Gravelotte, and Sedan, which had laid

France practically at the feet of the soldiery of Prussia. Later he served in

Egypt under Sir Evelyn Wood and Lord

Grenfell, and reorganized the Egyptian

army after the capture of Khartoum and

the death of Gordon. A decade later,

when Great Britain took up once more

the re-conquest of the Soudan, he carried

out a systematic campaign against the

Dervishes and crushed their hordes at

Firket, Atbara, and Omdurman. In 1899,

when disaster after disaster befell the

British forces in South Africa, Lord Roberts

and he went to the seat of war and brought

the conflict to a satisfactory conclusion.

Subsequently, he remodeled and improved

the army in India, and, still later, he became British Agent and Consul General to

Egypt, where by his justice and far-seeing

measures he conciliated the Nationalist

party and gained the confidence of the

peasants of the Nile valley. In early

life, he had experienced many dangerous

adventures, had displayed dash, initiative,

and dauntless courage in the field as

a subordinate, and had been severely

wounded in 1888 in an attack on Osman

Digna's camp. But his great talent was

for organization and for executive work.

It will not be said of him that he was a

strategist of high order, nor is it probable

that historians will find his conduct of

affairs in the War Office faultless, but his

mere name and reputation at this period

were of enormous value. Englishmen regarded him as the last word in efficiency

and ability to bring things to pass.

Lord Kitchener had no illusions regarding the situation. He is reported to have

said that the war would last for three

years. He realized that it would be necessary to build up a great British army,

and he well understood that the task

would take much time.

The raw material for soldiers in Russia

was, of course, practically unlimited; while

both Germany and Austria-Hungary had

a few million more untrained men. Servia and Montenegro, between them, could

raise three or four hundred thousand men,

not especially well trained but hardy, and

many of them already veterans of two

wars. Belgium maintained a peace force

of forty or fifty thousand men, not very

well trained.

At the beginning of the war, the German

army stood supreme. It was not quite

so large as the Russian, but it was better

equipped, better trained, better officered,

and possessed a confidence based upon

four victorious wars fought within a century. From Waterloo onward, down to

the battle of the Marne, the Prussians,

who were the backbone of Germany, had

hardly experienced a defeat. Nor had