Page 3454

3454 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

brisk fighting in the Vosges passes, resulting favorably to the French. At St. Blaise,

a sharp fight took place, in which the

German general was wounded and the

French took their first standard. The

Germans were driven eastward and northward and, on the 20th, after severe street

fighting in which they captured twenty-four guns, the French again took Mulhausen.

Much of the territory thus gained had soon

to be abandonned, but some political advantage was gained, as the encouragement

afforded the French by these successes

was considerable.

Further north General de Castelnau

with over two hundred thousand men

routed a Bavarian army corps, and then

pushed onward into the Lorraine lowlands

toward Strassburg and Metz. General

Dubail with another army moved down

the Bruche valley, and captured Schirmeck

and Muhlbach, with twenty guns and

fifteen hundred men. Saarburg was taken

by assault, thus breaking the railway line

from Metz to Strassburg. Paris greeted

the news of these successes with the same

enthusiasm as those further south, and

the arrival at the capital, by way of

Switzerland, of an Alsatian member of

the German Reichstag, Abbe Wetterle,

added to the general joy.

But on the 20th, the same day that the

Germans entered Brussels, a great German

force under Crown Prince Rupprecht of

Bavaria and General von Heeringen, aided

by the Metz garrison, fell upon the invaders from three sides at once. The

French 15th Corps faltered and then fled,

and the whole army was forced back.

The Germans claimed 10,000 prisoners

and 50 guns, and though the French disputed having sustained such losses, a defeat was undeniable. Within a few days

all the French troops were out of Alsace

and Lorraine, except in the region of the

southern Vosges passes; and France was

thinking not of aggression but of preserving

herself from annihilation.

The German avalanche had, in fact,

begun to move. Against Verdun and the

northern barrier fortresses, through the

gateways of Luxemburg and Belgium,

poured the mightiest host that had ever

gone to war. To meet and turn it back

was now the superhuman task of General

Joffre and his "children."

In certain quarters it has been contended

that Joffre and his lieutenants had not

until now realized the German plan of

throwing a vast host across Belgium into

northern France. But the fact that the

main German concentration was in the

region between Liege and Luxemburg

had been ascertained by spies and by

aerial reconnaisance at least as early as

August 12th, though the immense power

of the impending attack was not realized

until much later.

General Joffre attempted to anticipate

the German blow by a counterstroke.

Evidently if the French could have taken

or masked Metz and pushed on down

the Moselle valley, they would have

rendered a German invasion by way of

Belgium to the last degree hazardous.

The defeat before Metz destroyed all

hope of success in this direction, and

to Joffre fell the hard task of realigning