3782 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.
an Austrian counter-attack threw the Italian
right back somewhat and resulted in the
taking of over 10,000 prisoners. The Italian
resistance then stiffened, and the Austrians
were beaten back. In August, General
Cadorna, after a period of comparative quiet,
began an offensive on the Julian front from
the Adriatic to the upper Isonzo. About
2,000 guns were used in this attack. By
throwing bridges over the Isonzo during a
fog the Italians succeeded in crossing the
river at many points.
In preparing for the crossing of the Isonzo
the Italians, according to a correspondent,
made use of a novel scheme. "On the hills
opposite the Austrian positions, and at
exactly the same level, the Italians had been
concentrating searchlights for days. There
seemed to be miles of them. On the night
when the pontoons were to be thrown across
they were turned full on the Austrians
for the first time, dazzling them to such an
extent that they could see nothing of the
work going on under their noses and only a
few hundred yards under at that. It was
almost as near as if bridges were being thrown
over Broadway with an enemy with preventive means on top of the Times Building and
searchlights on the Hotel Knickerbocker.
"Naturally, the Austrians must have known
that something was going on. There was
considerable firing, and one bridge was damaged. But for the most part the crossing
of the Isonzo was a complete surprise.
"While the searchlights streamed constantly overhead, the Italian engineers
worked below in pitch dark. They had to
drop their pontoon boats down that forty-foot wall on wooden skids, then join them
across the rushing water, plank them over
so that the troops could walk, and provide
ladders for them to climb up the precipice on
the Austrian side.
"Time and again the current swept boats
away before they were properly joined up.
Frequently workers fell into the water and
were carried instantly down. The constant
cannonade helped the searchlights in fooling
the enemy and kept the sound of the bridge making from reaching the Austrians' ears."