Page 3573

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