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horses. Such transport trains could not,

of course, move with anything like the

rapidity of motor trucks, but they could

go where motor trucks could not go, and

were, upon the whole, better suited to warfare in Russia, where good roads were


The plan of the Central Powers as regards the Eastern Front has already been

explained in its larger lines. The Germans

threw, as we have seen, almost the whole

of their immense army westward

against France, leaving the task of

meeting the Russians to a comparatively small force of their own troops

and to the Austrians. It was hardly

expected that these forces combined

would be able permanently to hold in

check the vast hordes that the Russians would move westward; but

Russian mobilization was known to

be a slow matter, and the Germans

expected to gain a decision over

France before the Russians could

strike any decisive blow. In fact, because of the greater rapidity with

which Austria could bring her forces

into play, it seems that the two allies

hoped that in the first few weeks of

the war, a large part, if not all, of

Poland might be overrun.

The Russian objects may be summarized as follows: to mobilize as

quickly as possible; to threaten East

Prussia and draw off some of the pressure from France; to smash the Austrian armies before the German troops

in the west could come to their aid.

In all these objects they were reasonably successful, and no history of the great

conflict is complete which does not lay

heavy emphasis upon the influence exercised

at this time by the Russian armies.

The first actual fighting of the whole

war took place, of course, upon the Servian

border. A bombardment of Belgrade was

begun before Germany or Russia entered

the war, and Austrian forces began an

invasion of the country. The Russian

menace was so great, however, that not

enough troops could be spared for the

purpose, and, after overrunning a portion

of the little country, the Austrians were

badly defeated by the Servians along

the heights of Tzer, at Shabat, and near

Losnitza, and were forced to retreat,

whereupon the Servians and Montenegrins

began an invasion of Bosnia. Much bitter

fighting subsequently took place in this

Servian region, details of which will be

given later; but, for a long time, the attention of the world was mainly directed

to other campaigns.

Those people who based their opinion

of the Russian army upon the showing it

had made in the war with Japan soon discovered that they were not in accord with

the actual facts. The Russian military

establishment had been reorganized, and,

though the system was by no means a

perfect one, the armies that now marched

to battle were much more efficient than

those which had met defeat after defeat

on the plains of Manchuria.

At the head of the Russian armies

stood the Grand Duke Nicolai