Page 3654

3654 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD,

of the Eastern Front. Realizing the vital

need of checking the Russian avalanche,

the Germans drew forces from the Western

Front and from all parts of their empire,

and brought Turkish and Bulgarian forces

to help perform the great task. The

whole Austrian line was stiffened by sending

German forces thither, and the management of affairs was taken over by German

generals. Vast numbers of men and guns

were concentrated for the defense of

Kovel, and for many weeks some of the

fiercest fighting of the war took place in

that region. Both sides won considerable

local successes, but ultimately the Russian

drive was brought to a pause, with Lemberg

and Kovel still in Teutonic hands.

General Brussilovs offensive had, however, been one of the great outstanding

features of the war. It had resulted in

the capture of over four hundred thousand

prisoners, the killing and wounding of

many hundreds of thousands more, the

recovery of much Russian territory, and

the reconquest of Bukowina and part of

Austrian Galicia. The Austrian drive

against Italy had been foiled, the pressure

on Verdun partly relieved, while the

German boast that Russia had been "put

out" of the conflict by the campaign of 1915

was shown to be a hollow one.

During the first week in June, the Austrian drive against Italy continued to

gain ground and prisoners, but the disasters on the Eastern Front forced the

Austrian commanders to detach large

forces from the west to meet the irruption

of the Russians. The Italians at once

took the offensive, and soon managed

to regain most of the ground that had

been lost. A terrible danger for Italy had

been averted.

Meanwhile, the Italians had been steadily

pounding away on their Eastern Front

against the almost impregnable Austrian

fortifications between the Alps and the

Adriatic. Early in August, the Italians

launched here the most powerful attack

they had yet made, and, after terrific

fighting, captured .Gorizia, with fifteen

thousand prisoners, and vast booty in

guns and munitions. For a time, partisans

of the Allies hoped that the Italians would

be able to sweep on to Trieste, hurl back

the Austrian armies, and open the way

for a great Invasion of the Dual Monarchy,

but the Austrian defenses proved too

strong, and a state of deadlock was again

reached.

The Russian offensive in Volhynia, Galicia, and Bukowina sufficed to relieve the

pressure against Italy, but it did not bring

to an end the drive against Verdun. The

Germans had announced so loudly the

certain capture of Verdun, and the military

prestige of the Crown Prince was so

closely involved with the outcome of the

great drive, that the Kaiser and his advisers

persisted in the great effort long after prudence dictated that it should be given up.

Through April, May, June, and even

during a part of July, the stupendous,

bloody drive was kept up. The roar of

great guns was almost incessant. Forests

were swept flat by shell fire, and even

the tops of mighty hills were blown off

by the never ceasing hail of projectiles.

In this period, much of the German

effort was devoted to attacks west of the

Meuse. Here, as elsewhere, they made

some progress, for the French policy

continued to be to yield a position when

its retention bade fair to be too costly,

but the moment the Germans occupied

the position they would be subjected to

a terrific fire from the French guns. For

weeks terrible fighting took place on and

around the slopes of Le Mort Homme

(Dead Man's Hill), and tens of thousands

of brave men yielded up their lives in

the struggle for its possession.

On both sides of the river the French

executed frequent counter-attacks. On the

22d of May, the French even succeeded

in recapturing a part of Fort Douaumont,

but, three days later, they were again

ejected after a desperate, bloody struggle.

On the 6th of June, the heroic garrison

of Fort Vaux, after being cut off for a long

time from communication with the rest of

the French forces, surrendered. In recognition of his valor, its commander, Raynal,

by order of General Joffre, was made a commander of the Legion of Honor.