Page 3465

3465 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

"operating corner," composed of the British

army and the French armies of Langle

de Cary and Lanrezac were to be forced

back for days, exposed every day to annihilation, which would have ruined the

plan. But risks had to be run, and General Joffre was cool-headed enough to run

them. In the meantime he formed new

armies, and concentrated large forces,

particularly in the neighborhood of Paris.

He meant to fight the big battle on ground

chosen by himself, where the ranges

would be known to the meter by his

artillery men; where, if he won a victory, the Germans would be in imminent peril of meeting the total

destruction they hoped to bring to

him. He counted upon the Russians

at least preventing the Germans

from sending any more reinforcements westward; by their activities

they did, in fact, cause the Germans

to transfer several army corps from

the west to the east. A demonstration

by the Belgians from Antwerp would,

it was hoped, compel the Germans, in

order to protect their rear, to detach

forces that otherwise would be sent

forward into France.

The plan called for the greatest

possible resolution. There must be

no swerving from the one great

idea. To a few higher officers the

General said: "I mean to deliver

the great battle in the most favorable conditions, at my own time,

and on the ground I have chosen."

Everything was to be sacrificed to

one final object-Victory.

If an officer faltered, even though he

was one of Joffre's closest friends, he

was relentlessly sacrificed, and a man was

substituted who, in the acid test of actual

battle, had shown an aptitude for leadership. Great cities and the whole of fair

provinces were abandoned to the mercies

of a remorseless enemy. The tears of

homeless fugitives tore at the great human

heart of the commander, but these and

other trials he bore for the sake of his idea.

Sacrifice sometimes brings its reward,

and so it was now to prove.

On the 5th of September, General Joffre

knew that the time had come. More

than once in the retreat situations had

developed that had threatened the utter

ruin of his conception, but always the

splendid fighting qualities of the retiring

French and British soldiers had fended

off disaster. He had expected to fight

as the Germans passed Amiens, where

a new army under General Maunoury was

forming, but the unexampled rapidity

of the German advance forced him to fall

still further back, and Maunoury's army

was transferred to Paris. Meanwhile, the

eastern barrier still stood firm, and Verdun,

the pivot of the whole movement, though

hard pressed, still bade defiance to the

Crown Prince's legions. From Verdun

westward, over a front of one hundred

and eighty miles, extended a line of French

armies, but with the greatest concentration

of forces about Paris, where the decisive

blow was to fall. From the Verdun hinge

the French line had swung back upon