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
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