3573 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.
toward the heavens, and the way of the
troops was often barred by precipitous
cliffs rising sheer for thousands of feet.
Such a country called for skill in mountaineering as well as ordinary military
training, and not infrequently one method
of defense was the rolling of great rocks
down upon the attacking columns. By
June 12, the Italians were advancing on
Rovereto in the Tyrol thirteen miles from
-Trent, and upon Mori nearby.
The Italians fought under the immediate eye of their King, for Victor
Emmanuel had gone to the front with
his men, to share the dangers and
hardships. More than once he himself aimed and fired the cannons, and
he learned what it was to have shells
bursting around him.
In a month's time, the Italians
were satisfied that they had made
sufficient progress in the Trentino to
secure their rear against attack, and
they began a determined advance
along the Isonzo front from Tarvis to
the Adriatic. They no doubt hoped
to break through the Austrian defenses, capture Trieste, and push on
toward Klagenfurt, beyond which lay
an open road to Vienna, only about
170 miles away, or about as far as
New York is from Cape Cod. Their
advance in the first few days of the
war had brought them in most places
to the Isonzo River, and in the region
of Monfalcone beyond that stream.
Monfalcone was taken in the second
week of June, and here the Italians
gained possession of the electric
light works that supplied Trieste,
only a little more than a dozen miles away.
The Isonzo line proved to be a tough nut
to crack. The Austrians had made large
preparations, and the campaign was to be a
prolonged siege over a front of more than
a hundred miles of natural fortress, consisting of a* chain of precipitous mountains.
For months before the war began the Austrians had been actively engaged in making
preparations. In commanding places they
had established hundreds of guns, many of
them of heavy calibre. Some of these were
mounted on rails and protected by armor
plates, and, in case the enemy succeeded
in locating them, they would be shifted
to another locality.
When the Italian forces crossed the
Isonzo, they came against an intricate
network of Austrian trenches, many of
them laid in cement, and defended by
every possible protective device, including machine guns and barbed wire entanglements through which ran an electric current. In places these trenches
ran in parallel lines along the slopes of
mountains, from foot to summit, forming a
sort of staircase which must be conquered
step by step with great sacrifice of life.
Warfare in this region was, therefore, not
unlike the trench warfare on the Western
Front, but with the added disadvantage to
the attacking party of being obliged to
overcome great natural difficulties.
Considerable Italian successes were reported in the middle of July, with the