Page 3572


they would endeavor to fight their way

up the Adige and Brenta valleys toward

Trent and Botzen, and they would also

try to force the passage of the Isonzo

and capture Trieste and Pola, the Austrian

naval base south of Trieste. To throw

all their forces against Trieste alone would

be to the last degree unwise, for the region

about Trent, as will be seen from the map,

projects deep into northern Italy, and

from it the enemy would be able to fall

like a thunderbolt upon the Italian flank

and perhaps cut the army off from Italy.

To guard against this danger, the Italians

must conquer this salient and hold the

roads leading out of it.

On the day that war began, Austrian

aviators dropped bombs upon the city

of Venice and five other towns along the

Adriatic coast, while Austrian war vessels

shelled towns from the sea. For the

most part, however, the larger Austrian

ships remained closely in port, and only

the submarines and other small craft

sallied out at intervals to annoy the Italian

navy and merchant shipping. Throughout the civilized world anxiety existed

lest Austrian aerial bombs should destroy

some of the priceless buildings and other

objects of art in northern Italy, and the

Italians took steps to safeguard these

things as far as possible.

On land the Austrians contented themselves with a defensive role. The Italian

armies at once crossed the border at many

places, uprooting the yellow and black

posts bearing the Austrian eagle, as a

sign that the frontier was to be erased.

The opposition was at first comparatively

slight, but presently the Italian forces

reached positions which the Austrians

had prepared in places that were naturally

fitted for easy defense, and thenceforward

the Italian advance was a slow and costly


As a matter of precaution, the Italians

delayed their serious movement eastward

against Trieste until they could occupy

the Trentino, or at least seize the main

highways and "cover" the defenses, thereby

eliminating the danger of a sudden irruption against their left flank and rear.

The fighting in this region was both extremely difficult and extremely romantic.

It was in large part a warfare of peaks

and passes, of Austrian Tyrolese troops

against Italian Bersaglieri. The jagged

peaks of lofty mountains towered high