Page 3480


losses, they had beaten back their enemy in

two of the greatest battles in world history.

Though they had lost much, they had

saved more. Threatened repeatedly with

annihilation, they might well be grateful

that they had come through the ordeal

so well. They faced the future with confidence. In the acid test of battle, the

French army had once more shown itself worthy of the best traditions of a

glorious past. The little Belgian army

had suffered terribly, but it still remained

in being, and could be recruited from the

hundreds of thousands of fugitives who

had fled from their native land before

the conqueror. Of the gallant little army

of Britons who had seen more desperate

service in four months than had perhaps

ever before fallen in the same time to the

lot of an army there remained hardly

more than some fragments, but reinforcements were pouring in, and though, in

future, the quality could never again

be so good, the numbers would in time

become immensely greater.

Events on the Eastern Fronts had already shown that the war was to be a long

one, an affair not of months but of years.

And the Allies felt that, having survived

the first great onslaught, they had reason

to feel content, for they believed that

Time was on their side.


IN order to understand

the course of events

along the Eastern

Fronts, it is necessary

first to study the map.

Russian Poland, it will

be observed, projects

westward between

East Prussia and Austrian Galicia as into

the jaws of a trap, and forms what is

known to military men as a ''salient angle,"

which is always considered a difficult

position to defend. This weakness of

the Russian position might be eliminated

in one of two ways: by conquering those

portions of Germany and Austria that

lay to the north and south of Poland, or

by withdrawing from Poland and taking

up a straight line of defense to the eastward.

This last step was what the Russians were

ultimately forced to do, but, of course,

they did not seriously consider it at first,

but devoted their efforts to capturing

the projecting "jaws" of hostile territory

that threatened them.

In preventing the consummation of

this Russian purpose the Germans and

Austrians were aided by two important

circumstances. The defense of East Prussia was simplified by the fact that it possessed some natural advantages in the

way of defense and by the fact that the

German fleet controlled the Baltic Sea.

On the other hand, Austrian Galicia was

in large measure a flat country which

would be comparatively easily overrun;

but behind it rose the tall and rugged

ramparts of the Carpathians, through

whose passes the Austrians, if defeated,

could retire, and from which they could

sally out and harass the invaders. In

the matter of strategic railroads and

ordinary highways, the Central Powers

enjoyed an immense advantage, and were

able to mass troops at a given point, by

train or automobile, much more rapidly

than could the Russians.

This advantage would have been all

the greater had it not been for two or

three other considerations. The Russian

infantryman was physically superior to

any other soldier in the world, and could out march any other soldier. Furthermore,

in the Cossacks the Russians had in great

numbers a body of mobile horsemen superior to any other large body of cavalry

in any army; men whose trade was war

and who were the descendants of men

whose trade was war. For transportation

of supplies the Russians depended in large.

measure upon immense numbers of two

and four-wheeled wagons, drawn by hardy