3495 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.
had been rendered unserviceable by the
garrison before surrendering.
The capture of Przemysl released the
army that had been besieging it to reinforce the Russian armies operating in the
region of the Carpathians. Stupendous
efforts were now made by the Grand Duke's
forces to capture this great natural barrier and overrun the plains of Hungary,
into which raids had already more than
once been made by Cossacks.
The fighting in the Carpathians was
done under the most adverse conditions,
at high altitudes, amid snow, and the
Russian attacks were directed against
strong natural positions. The chief efforts,
of course, were directed against the various passes, and the fighting consisted,
therefore, of numerous local but correlated
engagements, in which the Russians suffered immense losses but gradually pushed
their enemies back. By the middle of
April, they had managed to capture the
principal chain of the Carpathians on the
front Reghetoff-Volosate, a distance of
about seventy miles, and had taken upwards of seventy thousand prisoners. At
one point the Austrians made sixteen desperate attempts to recover a commanding
height but failed.
The Allied cause at this moment seemed
more in the ascendant than at any time
since the beginning of the war. The
French and British public were looking
forward to the "spring drive," which they
hoped would result in the expulsion of
the Germans from France and Belgium.
The naval attempt upon the Dardanelles,
it is true, had been checked, but it was
generally supposed, even in neutral countries, that the Straits would be forced in
a few months at most. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was hard pressed,
and the Russians seemed upon the point
of sweeping over the Hungarian plains
to join hands with the Servians and perhaps
with the Italians, who were on the eve of
entering the conflict. Some observers
thought that by autumn it would all be
over with the Central Powers.
Quietly, however, these Powers, and
particularly Germany, had been making
stupendous preparations. Vast new forces
had been raised and equipped. New methods of warfare had been evolved. And
movements were in readiness that were to
shatter all the Allies' hopes for speedy
victory and were to result in their discomfiture in almost every theater of action.
Before we follow the course of the campaigns on land, however, it is desirable
that we should describe the early events of
the war upon the seas.