from ‘The Great War’ edited by Wilson, volume 3, Chapter 65
Przemysl and the
Advance of the Great German Phalanx

From a British Magazine

left: from an Italian newsmagazine - the fall of Przemysl
right: from a German magazine - the fight for the city/Austrian artillery



Capture of Lupkow Pass and Menace to Hungary—Disgrace and Dismissal of Hindenburg and Rise of Mackensen—Falkenhayn Creates the Grand Phalanx to Capture Calais—Position ot Hungary Compels him to Swing the Phalanx against the Southern Russian Army—Tremendous Hurricane Fire against the Short Russian Front in Western Galicia—Radko Dimitrieff Stands Up against the Withering Blast— Holding the Austrian Archduke on the Dunajec, he Withdraws the Remnant of his Men from the Biala River—Mackensen's Phalanx Tries to Advance Through the Gap and Get to the Rear of the Southern Russian Army— Magnificent and Decisive Stand Made by Dimitrieff against Terrible Odds—General Ivanoff Sweeps into the Battlefield with Strong Reinforcements—Mackensen Defeated by Superior Strategy on the Wisloka—General Brussiloff's Victories in Bukovina and South of Lemberg— Battles of Jaroslav and Sieniawa—The Army of the Austrian Archduke Defeated in Poland and Northern Galicia—Russians Win a Week's Breathing Space owing to the Slow Movement of the Grand Phalanx—Why the . German Commander Could only Move his Enormous Fighting Force at the Rate of Three Miles a Day—Russian Front in Peril at the Salient of Przemysl—Having Removed all their Stores, the Russian Troops Retire from the Town. …


After the fall of Przemysl it was known, both from the reports of prisoners and from information received from Russian Intelligence officers, that the general condition of Austrian troops along the Carpathian battle-line was deplorable. For the Austrian officers were more careful in looking after their own interests than in tending to the well-being of the soldiers under their command. We have given in the previous chapter some of the extraordinary figures concerning the sickness prevailing in the Austrian Army. It was fairly evident to General Brussiloff that the military forces of the Dual Monarchy were approaching a condition of extreme weakness. Only by the help of half a million German troops did they still hold the rampart of the Carpathians. The Russian design was, therefore, to press the enemy most strongly at his weakest point, and while holding the main German eastern armies from the Niemen to the Lower Vistula, to advance over the Carpathians into Hungary.

The advance began the day after the fall of Przemysl.

Half of the 200,000 troops released by the success of the siege operations were sent southward towards the Dukla and Lupkow Passes. There they strengthened the front of the Russian southern army, and the reinforced troops began steadily to push both the Austrians and the Germans over the crests of the mountains. In the neighbourhood of the Dukla the three road passes of Polyanka, the Dukla, and the Jaliska were won by the Russians, and they descended the Hungarian slopes towards Bartfeld, Svidnik, and the valley of the Laborcz River. Then in the higher and more densely-wooded heights between the Lupkow and the Uzsok Passes our Allies conquered, in the first week of April, 1915, the towering forested ridge of the Polonina Mountains and approached Rostok Pass. From this point they progressed by fierce and incessant forest fighting through the high snows to the Smolink Hills, situated beyond the main Carpathian ridge, on the Hungarian decline. The only reverse the Russians met with was around the railway-station of Mesolaborcz, in Hungary, where one of their divisions was trapped in a valley and badly cut up.

But this was only a small, temporary check in a great and steadily successful advance by something like three-quarters of a million men of the southern army. Every day the Russians took from 2,000 to 7,000 prisoners, with a few mountain guns and a dozen machine-guns. This was the regular result of the steady process of attrition by which all the hostile forces were being worn down and forced back in disorder into the Hungarian plain. In the second week in April the enemy's powers of resistance suddenly weakened in a general manner, and the Russians were able to advance twenty miles in twenty-four hours between the Dukla and Uzsok Passes. About this time a heavy snowstorm raged on the great heights, and the more robust Russian peasants advanced through it on a ninety-mile front, over pathless steeps, with six feet of drifted snow in places. By sheer superiority of physique they pushed back, in the frozen tempest, the less enduring Teutons and Magyars, and fought their way to the upper waters of the Uzsok River. The German regiments sent to relieve the Austrian army had to renew their front line four times. Then they, too, fell back towards the lower slopes on the Hungarian side, where the snow was melting in the warmer climate.

In one month's fighting on the Carpathian heights the Russians captured 40,000 men and 4,000 officers, twenty guns, and an immense number of machine-guns. The Austrians had four distinct armies deployed along the mountain range from Bartfeld to the Rumanian frontier. Assisting them were ten German army corps. Then another Austrian army, operating from Cracow, faced General Dimitrieff along the Dunajec River. Every available man from the Dual Monarchy was thus massed against the southern Russian army which General Brussiloff was pushing over the Carpathians into the Hungarian wheat-plain. So fierce and relentless was the pressure exercised from Galicia against Hungary that the German General Staff had to stand on the defensive in France, Flanders, and Poland in order to collect the army corps needed to save Hungary. At the beginning of the third week in April it was reckoned that the opposing forces on the Carpathians numbered 3,000,000 men.

The main points in the conflict were the Homonna Railway, ascending the Lupkow Pass, and the Munkacs Railway, crossing near the Tuchla Pass. On the Homonna line the Russians by mid-April were twenty miles into Hungary. On the Munkacs line the Germans were still trying to advance towards Stry. But they were in danger of having their lines of communication cut by a sharp Russian advance into the valley of the Theiss. On April 18th the weather changed at last and brought the Russians for a time to a standstill. For the warm spring rain washed the snow from the Carpathian peaks, with the result that the mountain torrents were turned into turbulent floods and the lower valleys into lakes, while in many places land which had been hard and frozen was transformed into impassable swamps. Being mainly on the southern slope of the mountains, with a web of railways close behind them, the Austrians and Germans tried to profit by the spring floods, and brought up heavy artillery—8 in., 11 in., and 12 in. howitzers—into the Carpathian region. Then, in the last week of April, they delivered a great massed attack against the heights held by the Russians upon the Homonna and Munkacs lines. But the Russians beat them down by machine-gun and rifle fire and hand-grenades.

The Lupkow Pass was captured and an advance was made from the Hungarian side against the Uzsok Pass. This threatened to cut off the German force defending the pass, and when this was done there would be a gap of seventy miles in the Carpathian defences—quite a large enough door for Brussiloff to flood the Hungarian plain with a large force of troops. Such was the position in the last week in April, 1915. On Field-Marshal von Hindenburg, who was responsible for the disastrous situation, fell the disgrace of the disaster. He had completely failed. In his bull-like rushes against Ivangorod and Warsaw, Grodno and Prasnysch, he had wasted army corps after army corps. Possessing, in a railway system designed by the elder Moltke, the finest instrument of invasion in the world, he had done little more than turn it into a huge platform for military acrobatics that wasted men by the hundred thousand without producing a single definite important gain.

A council of war was held on the eastern front, at which the Emperor William decided to dismiss Hindenburg from his high command. The decision was not made public, by reason of the extraordinary popular faith in the victor of Tannenberg. But for all that the act of dismissal was carried out. Hindenburg retired for a time at least from the Army, and devoted himself once more to the pleasures of the punch-bowl and a country life. His appearance at Ypres was merely a pretence. He was not in command there, but was sent, for the sake of his false reputation as a conqueror, to hearten the troops of the Duke of Wuertemberg and the Crown Prince of Bavaria.

The former Minister for War, General von Falkenhayn, who had succeeded the younger Moltke as Chief of Staff, took over the enormous task of directing operations on both the eastern and the western fronts. General von Mackensen, who had become the favourite general of the Kaiser by reason of the skill and fury in attack he had shown in the battles round Lodz, was appointed to lead the main German forces in Galicia. General von Linsingen, commanding the German troops on the Munkacs-Stry line, was further reinforced and given larger powers of command. The Austrian Archduke Friedrich, nominally in chief command over the Austro-Hungarian forces, was placed under the control of Mackensen; the Archduke Ferdinand, commanding the army along the Dunajec, was also subordinated to Mackensen, and all the other Austrian and Hungarian commands were also strictly subjected to German leadership.

What especially angered General von Falkenhayn was the lack ol strategical insight displayed by Field-Marshal von Hindenburg and Hinddenburg’s Chief of Staff, General von Ludendorff. After their failure along the Bzura and Pilica front, and along the East Prussian borders, they had responded too blindly to the offensive movement made by the Russians in the Carpathian region. All they had done, when General Brussiloff pressed over the Dukla Pass and menaced the Lupkow Pass, was to concentrate against the advancing Russian lines. In the opinion of General von Falkenhayn, the Russian pressure should have been countered by a sudden and sharp flank attack from Cracow against the Dunajec and Biala river lines. To this purpose the formidable German reinforcements should have been used, instead of being wasted in indecisive mountain conflicts on the Russian positions in the Carpathians.

The correctness of this view was generally admitted at the Austro-German council of war, and the Kaiser entrusted Falkenhayn with the task of remedying Hindenburg's and Ludendorff's mistakes. Ever since Falkenhayn's failure on the western front to break through at Ypres and capture Calais, he had been preparing to make good this plan of his in the spring of 1915. All through the winter and early spring the German artillerymen in France and Flanders had been ordered to observe a strict economy in the use of high-explosive shells. This was the explanation of the momentary allied ascendancy in artillery power, remarked by both the French and British commanders at the close of 1914. Germany was quite as formidable in heavy armament as she had been, and it was calculated that in the manufacture of munitions she was still seventy-five per cent, more efficient than Britain and France combined. In all German and Austrian armament factories the work had been kept going day and night by three eight-hour shifts in the early months of the war. But after the defeat at Ypres the supply of munitions was increased, by engrossing every power-lathe formerly used for ordinary work, and setting the armament mechanics and labourers on a general twelve-hour shift,, the men working in weekly turns of twelve hours' day work and twelve hours' night work.

The fierce winter battle on the Bzura, Pilica, and Nieder Rivers, and the operations of the German army of half a million men north of Warsaw along the Bobr, Narew, and Niemen Rivers, necessitated the use of a vast number of high-explosive shells. In all their battles against the Russians the Germans used their superior artillery power in a wasteful manner. This waste was partly balanced by the economy observed upon the western front, and with the extreme speeding up of all the gun-making work and munition factories, General Falkenhayn had his new war machine ready for operations by the middle of April, 1915. Krupp and Skoda and other gunmakers had provided him with two thousand new heavy pieces of ordnance, and three millions of large, heavy, high-explosive shells. There were also 2,000 new or fairly unworn pieces of field-artillery, and for these also there were thousands of truckloads of high-explosive shell ready. At the same time the manufacture of machine-guns had gone on at high speed, enabling the ordinary fire-power of the infantry to be enormously increased.

It was Falkenhayn's original intention to use this new war-machine to break the Franco-British, iront, either at the western end neat Calais, where tie made his first attempt, or at the eastern end near Metz, where the nephew of the elder Moltke had proposed to attack before he was superseded as Chief of Staff by Falkenhayn. But with Hindenburg's complete failure in both strategy and tactics, in the eastern theatre of war, Falkenhayn's scheme for a decisive spring campaign in the west had to be postponed. So successful was the southern Russian army under General Brussiloff that by the middle of April it was in a position to advance into the Hungarian plain and cut the communications of all the German and Austrian troops on the Carpathian front. By his extraordinary success, combined with the general lack of munitions of war in Russia, General Brussiloff drew on his men the crushing blow intended originally for the French and British troops.

The position of the southern Russian army was very curious. It was advancing in great force all along the Carpathians on a front of more than one hundred and fifty miles; but on its right flank, looking towards Cracow, there was a lateral position of about seventy miles, held only by a small entrenched army of 160,000 men, under the Bulgarian commander, General Dimitrieff. By selecting for attack two places on this short lateral front, the existence of all the Russian armies in Galicia and Hungary could be menaced. The Austro - German means of communication round Cracow were excellent. There were two lines of railways running from Cracow to Dimitrieff's positions at Tarnov, near the Dunajec River, and at Gorlice, on the Ropa stream. Then, midway between Cracow and Tarnov, the two railways were connected by a crosscountry line, enabling troops to be manoeuvred in trains from south to north or north to south. In the south, on the Lower Dunajec, was the railway junction of Neu Sandez, from which another railway ran into Northern Hungary. There were thus three railways, by means of which the thousands of heavy howitzers and the millions of high-explosive shells could be transported for action against the narrow lateral Russian front in Western Galicia.

Towards the end of April General Dimitrieff observed the concentration of enemy forces against his line. He was far from suspecting that the greatest military machine known in history was being brought against his comparatively small forces. He asked for reinforcements, and General Ivanoff, on the Nida front north of him, and General Brussiloff, on the Carpathian front south of him, sent what men and guns they could spare.

But when the blow fell on the night of April 30th, 1915, the force of it was beyond anything that man had experienced.

In estimates published before the war, the entire artillery power of Germany was placed at 4,000 guns and howitzers. This was a larger number of pieces of ordnance than either France or Russia was credited with possessing. Our Army, for instance, only had seven hundred guns. About seven hundred guns was the number used by General Dimitrieff to defend his lines along the Dunajec and the Biala Rivers until the fall of Przemysl enabled him to increase his artillery. When reinforced, he had about 250,000 troops between the Lower Vistula and the Carpathian heights, but a good many of them lacked their artillery corps, as there was still a serious shortage of munitions. Massed against them were more than a million Germans, Austrians, and Hungarians, with their artillery corps of about 2,000 guns, behind which was Falkenhayn's enormous new siege train of 2,000 heavy pieces, including some howitzers of 17 in. calibre.

The front was far too short for the deployment of the enemy forces. Both the guns and the troops were arranged in a step formation, or echelon system. Yet the echelons were so close together that there was a practically solid line of front from the point where the Dunajec flowed into the Vistula to the point where the Biala valley merged into the Carpathian heights. The Austrian army of the Archduke Ferdinand advanced on the night of April 30th against the Dunajec front. Mackensen, with part of his troops and 1,000 pieces of siege-artillery in addition to his ordinary artillery corps, attacked south of Tarnov, between that town and Gorlice.

The Archduke was unfortunate, as Austrian Archdukes sometimes are on the field of battle. Some of his forces advanced in the darkness down the Vistula at the junction point between General Ivanoff's army in Poland and General Dimitrieff's army in Western Galicia. He was given German troops for this important operation, and they managed to entrench by the river, forming themselves into a spear-head driven between the two Russian armies.

On paper their position appeared to constitute a formidable menace to their opponents, but the Russian infantry attacked them on the night of May 2nd and annihilated them with the bayonet. Elsewhere along the high banks of the Lower Dunajec the Austrian army was unable to advance. The gunners used hundreds of thousands of shells against the Russian positions, but they did not succeed in putting the Russian light field-artillery out of action. The result was that every attempt made by the Archduke to throw pontoon bridges over the stream by day or night was defeated by our Allies' shrapnel fire.

Only at one point, between the outflow into the Vistula and Tarnov, did the Austrians succeed in crossing the river. At the town of Oftinov there had been a ferry in peace time, but the river flowed between two very high artificial banks, and the Russian artillery was so well hidden that even the hurricane fire from the enemy's howitzers could not find it, though hundreds of Austrian and German airmen were searching for the Russian guns and directing the fire of their own pieces. But the German engineers had been working for some weeks round the ferry. They had driven several large tunnels through the bank on their side, leaving only a wall of earth on the river frontage. In the tunnels ran pontoons, fitted with wheels, and filled with men. In the night the wall of earth was blown up, and twenty pontoons were wheeled out and floated across the river under cover of a terrific bombardment. It was an exceedingly ingenious plan of attack, yet the troops, who floated across the river in the darkness, did not succeed as well as they expected. For, though the Russians were surprised, they sank nine of the pontoons and killed or wounded most of the men in the remaining eleven bridge-boats. At a loss of two thousand men a bridgehead was won on the opposite side of the Dunajec on the morning of May ist. But the Archduke's army could get no farther than the bridge-head. All the Lower Dunajec was firmly held by the Russians for a full week, from April 30th to May 6th.

It was only at 10 a.m. on May 6th that Tarnov was reoccupied by the Austrians, and until four o'clock in the afternoon of the same day the Russians held some of the commanding heights on the east bank of the Lower Dunajec. Considering the overwhelming power of artillery and men possessed by the Archduke Ferdinand, and the extraordinary skill of his engineers, the surprise attack on the Russian positions on the Lower Dunajec was a ridiculous failure. With everything in his favour, he took six to seven days to win two or three hundred yards of water and land. In the meantime General Ivanoff, commanding the Russian army in Central Poland, was able to march hundreds of thousands of men across the Vistula to the help of General Dimitrieff's small army. Even the Caucasian corps, formerly on the Bzura front near Warsaw, was able to march into Western Galicia before the Archduke Ferdinand brought his army across the Dunajec. The Austrian command and the Austrian troops were absolutely incompetent. Their incompetency, joined with the heroic intrepidity and fighting skill of Dimitrieff and his men, saved the Russian Empire from a vast and decisive disaster.

Along the Biala, above Tarnov, the enemy started with an advantage in the lie of the land, for in many places the banks were higher on the western side of the river than on the eastern side. It was along the Biala, with his centre at Ciezkovice, that General von Mackenscn attacked. His front extended only about twenty-five miles, from Tuchov to Gorlice. He had at least half a million men, including all the remnants of the Prussian Guard and the best Bavarian and Saxon troops from the French and Flemish front. His crack troops numbered 150,000, and the rest of his men were mainly drawn from the First German Reserve. He had 1,500 heavy guns, including most of the available 17 in. howitzers. Opposed to him were two army corps of General Dimitrieff's army, reduced by the wastage of war to 60,000 men. There was thus somewhat less than one Russian to every yard of front, and as there were three lines of Russian trenches the trench garrisons amounted to about one man to four yards. Mackensen began the attack with what the Germans called a hurricane fire. For four hours every gun and howitzer was worked as fast as human hands could work it, and 700,000 high-explosive shells were pitched into the Russian trenches— more than ten shells to each Russian soldier. The quantity of projectiles used by Mackensen on this narrow front in four hours was double the amount usually regarded as necessary for a six months' siege of a great and well-provisioned fortress.

Falkenhayn had been inspired by the British artillery achievement at Neuve Chapelle. The plan, execution of which he had entrusted to Mackensen, merely consisted in a grandiose, but quite unoriginal, imitation of the new tactics of rapid, heavy artillery fire invented by Sir John French, Sir William Robertson, and General Foch. There was no escape from the 17 in. Skoda shells, or Pilseners, as the Russians named them. Each shell weighed 2,800 pounds; in its flight it rose nearly five miles in the air, and it penetrated twenty feet into soft ground before it exploded. Every living thing within one hundred and fifty yards of the explosion was killed, and many persons farther off were also slain. The main damage was not done by the metal fragments, but by the enormous pressure of the exploding gas. The gas got into the body cavities, and in its further process of expansion tore the flesh apart. Men who happened to be close by entirely disappeared; not the slightest remains of their clothes or of their flesh could be found. Their rifles melted like metal struck by lightning. Scores of men at a distance who escaped metal fragments, stones, and showers of earth, were killed, lacerated, or blinded by the pressure of gas. The gas also broke in the partitions and bomb-proof roofs of shelters, and as the force of the explosion travelled everywhere along the air, no winding of the trenches was a defence against the terrible pressure.

At Ciezkovice on May 1st the Russians managed for a time to hold their ground even under the hurricane of shells. They remained silent and motionless until the German infantry advanced to occupy the wrecked trenches; then they opened fire at six hundred paces and repulsed them. But more southward, at Gorlice, there was no battle. The famous naphtha town was battered into a heap of ruins, only one wall with a tower standing in the midst of unimaginable devastation. The immense oil- tanks were set on fire at the first attack, and for days the flames shot up into the clouds, making the place look in the distance like a gigantic torch. The Russians who survived the first inferno of shell fire beat back the advancing infantry and retired in the night north-eastward to Biecz.

Then, on the fourteen-mile front from Tuchov-Biecz, Mackensen, by means of long- range fire from his heavy artillery and a bombardment at shorter range by his field guns, delivered another attack on May 2nd. But between Tuchov and Biecz there are three streams and the Branka Mountain, with a peak 1,600 feet high. The peak dominates a considerable stretch of the lower course of the Biala. General Dimitrieff made full use of this advantage in the lie of the land, and though he had only light field-artillery firing shrapnel he held the enemy up for another three days. It was not until May 5th that the Grand Phalanx, as Mackensen's enormously-gunned army was called, succeeded in blowing a path through the Russians' three lines of defences east of the Biala. In other words, General Dimitrieff, by a magnificent six days' resistance on his southern front and flank, gave the southern Russian army, operating in Hungary from the Zboro, Dukla, and Lupkow Passes, full time to withdraw in good order away from the mountains and back to the San. Only the 48th Russian Division, under General Korniloff, was cut off by the enemy while retiring from the Dukla Pass on May 6th. Korniloffs troops were surrounded on all sides, but their commander skilfully massed them in the direction of the San Valley, and by a violent attacking movement through the densely-wooded foothills the division shot and bayoneted its way out of the German ring of flame and steel and rejoined its parent corps on Friday, May 7th.

With this brilliant exception, there was no disaster to the Russian movement of withdrawal, for though a gap was forced between the two army corps holding the Biala line, and the right flank of one corps was crushed by the hurricane shell fire, the brigades which lost most heavily retired undemoralised. Some regiments had only three hundred men left, but still remained full of fight, and practically all the hostile infantry attacks, led on this front by the Prussian Guard, were defeated; for the two corps held out so stubbornly that the famous Caucasian corps arrived in time, after an all-night march, and went forthwith into battle and closed the gap. Every time the Germans advanced beyond the cover of their guns the Russian infantry moved out and counter-attacked. The Russian losses were heavy, and many of the regiments were reduced to half or a quarter of their number. But the men had scarcely any bullet-wounds—it was entirely shell fire that had pounded them out of the trenches. For this reason the Russians remained in wonderfully good spirits. All they desired was to catch the German infantry away from the big guns and show that, man for man, they could outfight the enemy.

"Wait until it gets dark, little brothers!" the Russian privates would say, looking towards the Germans, and intending the message for them. And when darkness fell on the battlefield and the squadrons of hostile aeroplanes were unable to direct the fire of the big guns, the Russian soldier got to work in the woods on the flank of the enemy's foremost columns. Then the enemy began to keep up an intense bombardment all night. Under cover of this fire, his troops went forward, but as soon as the guns had exhausted their temporary stock of shells the Russians turned back at dawn and recaptured their trenches by a furious charge, retreating when the German gunners got a fresh supply of ammunition and resumed the hurricane fire. The Third Army lost about fifty guns, most of them being destroyed by heavy shells. A few of the batteries were deliberately sacrificed in covering the retreat of the infantry, and according to the accounts of a Hungarian novelist, who was an eye- witness of the scene, the Russian gunners of the rearguard fought on, amid an overpowering tempest of fire, until they had used all their shells.

The result of the extraordinary tenacity of the Third Russian Army was magnificent. It completely defeated the scheme of General von Falkenhayn. Falkenhayn had not massed a million men, with four thousand guns, against the short Dunajec and Biala line merely with a view to pushing back the four Russian army corps there and recapturing Przemysl; for the front on which he worked was so narrow that he could not employ his men along it. Only five German army corps went into action on the Biala front against the two Russian army corps holding the position, and along the Dunajec the Archduke Ferdinand used only about three Austrians to one Russian. The main Austro-German force was waiting in the rear of the fighting-line until the time came for it to perform its special duties. What was intended was to blow a hole about thirty to forty miles wide in the Russian front. Then through this hole all Mackensen's troops, with only their light field-artillery, were to dash against Lemberg and get in the rear of General Brussiloffs forces. Mackensen's task, in short, was to envelop entirely the southern Russian army, against which Linsingen and' Bohm Ermolli were still pressing on the south.

In addition to this grand operation, another great encircling movement was intended against the central Russian army, under General Ivanoff, entrenched along the Pilica and Nida Rivers, and linking with Dimitrieff's forces near the junction of the Vistula and the Dunajec. For while one half of the Grand Phalanx swung through the gap to the rear of Brussiloff's army in the south, the other half of the Phalanx, according to Falkenhayn's plan, was to move through the gap and turn northward across the Vistula and get in the rear of Ivanoff's army, cutting its communications with Ivangorod. It will be seen that the scheme was of a grandiose nature, and the power employed in its attempted execution was of incomparable magnitude. Had it prospered, Russian armies amounting to two million men would have been destroyed. The Russians, besides, would have lost the greater part of their artillery, leaving the Empire permanently crippled. The army in front of Warsaw would have been left in the air and compelled hastily to retreat, dragging with it all the Russian forces guarding the Warsaw-Petrograd Railway.

The Germans and Austrians would then have been able to conduct the summer campaign into the heart of Russia, if need be; or, as they hoped to do, they could have then held the enfeebled Russians back with part of their forces while they swung the victorious Grand Phalanx across Central Europe and launched it against its original target in France or Flanders.

As soon as the magnitude of the force employed by Mackensen was revealed, every intelligent man could see how enormous was the scope of Falkenhayn's plan. For this reason the entire civilised world looked with feverish anxiety to the conflict in Western Galicia. But for a time the situation was saved by the marvellous endurance of the diminishing troops of the Third Russian Army and the heroic skill of their commander, General Dimitrieff. It may be doubted if there can be found in military history any man to compare with Radko Dimitrieff. Neither the retreat of Sir John Moore to Corunna nor that of Sir John French to the Marne was as difficult as the operation conducted by the great Bulgarian. Indeed, the greatest of all retreats in modern times—the retreat of the Russians under Barclay du Tolly and Kutusoff before the Grand Army of Napoleon—was not so magnificent an achievement as that which Radko Dimitrieff accomplished.

At the beginning of May he gave ground at Gorlice in the south, but hung on the upper course of the Dunajec with desperate tenacity. By this means he kept in connection with General Ivanoff's army and obtained reinforcements from it; and when the town of Tarnov fell, the two linked Russian armies withdrew down the Vistula towards the next great tributary, the Wistoka. At the same time, by a more sudden retirement from Gorlice towards Jaslo, Dimitrieff removed from the zone of high-explosive shell fire on his southern flank, while keeping in close touch with General Brussiloff's forces round the Dukla Pass. Then when the three Russian armies— Ivanoff's, Dimitrieff's, and Brussiloff's—were closely linked together, the direction of all the combined operations was taken over by the oldest of the three commanders—the veteran General Ivanoff. Behind him was the Grand Duke Nicholas and the Russian Staff, who decided the national lines of strategy; but the great retreat was chiefly fought by Ivanoff, with Dimitrieff and Brussiloff assisting him.

By May 7th the position of the Russians was secure; for though they were compelled to continue to give ground, the cohesion of their forces, instead of being weakened by the blow from the German battering-ram, was strengthened. Before the blow fell, General Dimitrieff, trusting to his formidable system of trenches to maintain his defensive action, had lent a division of his two southern army corps for operations on the Carpathians. Mackensen knew of this position of affairs from his spies, and launched the Grand Phalanx against the weakened place in Dimitrieff's front. And when, after a week's furious and incessant fighting, Dimitrieff's front remained unbroken, the position in regard to infantry power was improved. Reinforcements were poured into Galicia, and a considerable new army was collected in the Lublin province. Munitions were railed eastward from Kieff to Lemberg, and brought westward from Ivangorod and sent down to Jaroslav. Brussiloff shortened his line, enabling him to lend men, and Ivanoff withdrew from the Nida, in Poland, and abandoned Kielce, with its copper-mines, and established a new line running from the Pilica and over the Lysa Gora heights through Opatov to Sandomicrz, close to the junction of the Vistula and the San Rivers. This considerable shortening of his line enabled him also to throw large bodies of men and guns into the Galician battles.

What, however, the Russian commander could not do was to extemporise an artillery power equal to that of the enemy. A thousand heavy guns of position are not made in a day or a month, and three million high-explosive shells from 6 in. to 17 in. in diameter cannot be .manufactured on the spur of the moment. The port of Archangel was closed to ordinary traffic in May to enable the British and French Governments to pour into Russia every gun and shell, rifle and cartridge that could be spared. The operations of our First Expeditionary Force were interrupted, and our large reinforcements were to some extent delayed by the necessity to loyally help our great Ally when, in the midst of great difficulties, she was fighting with heroic efficacy the common battle of civilisation; for Russia was withstanding the blow that might have been aimed at France, Britain, and Belgium, and the Western Allies naturally did all they could to pour warlike stores and weapons in a continual stream through Archangel. At the same time the Siberian Railway was working at high pressure, connecting the Galician battlefield with the armament factories of Japan and America. With all this outside help Russia could not, in a few weeks, get anything like the artillery power of her enemies; but she did equip a fresh army and get some hundreds of howitzers of a lighter model, which were the most useful of all in bathes of manoeuvres on the open field.

The Grand Phalanx which Falkenhayn had built up had one very serious defect. It was the hugest battering-ram mortal man had ever constructed. The difficulty-was that it would only act in battering-ram fashion. Placed in position, with a solid definite obstacle to work against, it could quickly smash that obstacle into fragments. But when the obstacle withdrew at a speed of twenty miles a day, the battering-ram could not at once pursue it and immediately get to work again. Mackensen's extraordinary number of heavy artillery, and his store of millions of high-explosive shells, some weighing more than a ton each, could only be moved along a railway by means of hundreds of trains. The Russians thoroughly destroyed all railway lines as they retreated, and badly damaged every metalled roadway. The consequence was that the battering-ram could only move forward at the speed which the Germans and Austrians were able to rebuild the railway. The speed varied from three miles to five miles a day at the most. Something like four miles a day was therefore the average rate of progress of Mackensen's army and its enormous siege train.

The German Commander-in-Chief had sacrificed mobility to power. Basing his plan entirely on the conditions of the trench warfare system obtaining throughout the western front, and extending over the larger section of the eastern front, he had constructed a war-machine that could break through any trench system and shatter any fortress, but which could not pursue an enemy. As a matter of fact, both the Germans and the Austrians were too eager to pursue. On each occasion when the Russian lines withdrew from the zone of heavy shell fire the attacking infantry advanced in an attempt to transform the retreat into a rout. The Russians waited for them with light field-guns, machine-guns, and infantry concealed in woods and ditches from the eyes of reconnoitring hostile airmen. It was then that our Allies got in time after time a damaging counter-blow.

This was also the explanation of the extraordinary and continual conflict of statement in the Russian and Austro-German official reports on the Galician struggle.

The Austrians and Germans made premature claims to victories on all the chief points of attack along the Wisloka, Wislok, and San Rivers. Mackensen, for instance, claimed to have captured Rymano on Wednesday, May 5th, and to have forced the passage of the Wislok. But two days afterwards he again claimed to have captured Rymano. The town of Debica, on the Lower Wisloka, was also apparently won twice by the army of the Archduke Ferdinand. In both cases the explanation was that the Russians withdrew from a hurricane of shell fire, only to return and slaughter the German and Austrian infantry when it advanced too confidently to occupy the position. At Debica railway-station the Russians used armoured motor-cars with terrible effect against a hostile division that tried to move quicker than the battering- ram behind it. There was, however, one occasion when Mackensen's army almost succeeded in retrieving its failure to break through on the Russian front on the Biala River. On Sunday, May 9th, Mackensen's army was further reinforced from Cracow. It crossed the Wislok at Krosno, and the troops deployed in dense lines along the high range of hills running from Stryschov on the Wislok to Brozov on the tributary stream of the Stobnica. It was only a sixteen-mile front, ending about thirty miles west of Przemysl. Covered only by their light field-artillery, the German troops, with the battered Prussian Guards still at their head, manoeuvred in a brilliant and impetuous manner under the most brilliant of German commanders, and making a frontal attack against the Russian centre, broke it by pressure of massed numbers. It was a well-fought, well-managed victory in the old, orthodox Prussian manner. Mackensen sacrificed his men in tens of thousands at the decisive point until they had advanced so close that neither the Russian bayonet nor the Russian shrapnel could master its final charge of the surviving locked and roaring ranks of Germans.

This time no orderly retreat was possible. Mackensen had repeated his achievement at the Piontek marshes, north of Lodz. He had clean broken through the Russian front. No orderly retirement was possible for our Allies. But as General Russky at Lodz had changed Mackensen's triumph into a disaster, so now General Ivanoff, with heavier odds against him, turned a defeat into a glorious feat of arms. He gave way in his centre, making no attempt to retrieve the position there, but sent all his reserve troops in a long, swift march southward towards Krosno.

By means of their magnificent marching powers the Russians rounded the enemy's flank, and in a series of furious charges worked round still farther and menaced his rear. First a German division gave way, then an army corps, enabling the Russians in front also to advance southward to take part in the surprise turning movement. By Sunday evening Mackensen was losing on his right flank double what he was winning on his advanced centre. In fact, his whole line was in process of crumbling up, the Russians having got a hook round it. He had to draw back his victorious troops and send them to his rear, and check the Russian flanking movement. The Russian commander was not able to press his advantage, through lack of a decisive number of men on the Przemysl front. But he completely stopped Mackensen's advance and was able to retreat to the San River in a tranquil manner.

One of the reasons why the Russian counter-stroke was not fully driven home at Krosno was that a large part of the new reinforcements was operating in the Bukovina. Here, on the same Sunday evening as Mackensen in Galicia received his first severe check, a battle was raging on a forty-mile front from Obertyn to Czernovitz. A large Austrian army, under the Archduke Eugene, was trying to work up to the Dniester, and then, in co-operation with the German army moving towards Stry, envelop Lemberg from the east, and cut the Russian communications with Kieff. In conjunction with the severe pressure that the armies of the Archduke Ferdinand and Mackensen were exercising on the east, and the army of Linsingen and the army of Bohm Ermolli were exercising from the south, the enemy's flanking movement in the Bukovina was a very serious matter. But General Brussiloff had good railway communications with Russia at Tarnopol, north of the Dniester. That is to say, he could get reinforcements and munitions quickly, and his local commander- in-chief, General Ivanoff, agreed that the Bukovina front was the best suited for a counter-blow.

So on May 9th the Russians offered battle round Czernovitz, and advanced in impetuous attack for two days, throwing the enemy back with heavy losses. Some 5,000 prisoners were taken and six guns, and the advanced enemy forces holding the bridge-head on the Dniester at the railway town of Zalestchiki were routed. At the same time a strong attack was done upon the hostile forces working up from the Carpathian Mountains.

More than 5,000 bodies were found in front of the Russians on the mountain slopes of the Javornik range. In five days 20,000 prisoners were taken between the Dniester and the Pruth Rivers, and the Russians captured the town of Nadvorna, and cut the railway between Bukovina and Austria. This for the time being put an end to the Austrian attempt at a flanking movement from the Bukovina. A new commander, General Pflanzer, replaced the Archduke Eugene, the latter going to the Italian front.

The Austrians still lacked driving power. All the chief work in the struggle for Galicia was done by German troops under Mackensen or Linsingen. Linsingen's fighting army was the chief force in the south. It worked with Pflanzer's Austrian army in the Bukovina on its left, and on its right was Bohm Ermolli's Austrian army, working through the Uzsok Pass towards Sambor, and General von Marwitz's Austro- German army, advancing through the Dukla and Lupkow Passes, and linking with Mackensen's Grand Phalanx. Of all these four southern armies Linsingen's was the chief striking force. It was composed largely of Bavarian troops, and operated along the Munkacs-Stry railway, with a direct aim against Lemberg. More than half a million men were employed by Linsingen, with a large amount of light field-artillery, including many 6 in. howitzers. Some 12 in. pieces of ordnance were also brought up over the mountain range as the railway was rebuilt. But the difficulties of communication were so great that the heavy artillery power of this, second great German army remained very much inferior to that of Mackensen's force.

The result was that Linsingen, having to meet Brussiloff on fairly equal terms, was continually-defeated in his advance against Lemberg. Indeed, Linsingen was-only able to advance when Brussiloff resolved to shorten his line with a view to assisting, the Third Russian Army.

As General Ivanoff viewed the situation, the entire success of Falkenhayn's scheme depended on the progress made by Linsingen. Mackensen and his mighty Phalanx,, crawling forward at a speed of four miles a day, had failed to break the Russian front and encircle the southern Russian army. The movement of the Phalanx was therefore no longer a menace, but merely a new development of the war of attrition. The vast and cumbrous, moving siege train could be left to exhaust itself in continual frontal attacks, with the Russians giving way very slowly as they wore down the enemy. If necessary, this kind of Russian retreat could be carried on for months, at the rate of four miles a day, without Mackensen getting, farther into Russian territory than the Austrian Archduke Friedrich had done in August, 1914, before he was completely overthrown and routed.

But the position of Linsingen's army was different. It was making a flank attack against the Russians at the same time as the Phalanx was making a frontal attack. If the flank attack succeeded, the consequence would be an overwhelming disaster to all the Russian forces in Galicia. So both General Ivanoff and the Grand Duke Nicholas devoted special attention to the struggle between Linsingen and Brussiloff. Brussiloff completely retired from the Carpathian front in the middle of May, and took his stand in the valley of the Dniester from Drohobycz.

through Stry to Bolechov. He had a good main road just behind his front, and a railway line running to his centre. It was a position similar to that he had held in the winter of 1914 all along the Carpathian front, having a network of railways behind him, while the enemy's lines of communication ran over the mountain rampart. It took Linsingen four days to get all his men, guns, and munitions across the heights and arranged in battle order on the foothills above the Galician plain. He began his grand attack on May 19th, and the struggle went on day and night. The Russians never stirred from their trenches, but shot down the enemy's massed formations as they neared the wire entanglements. The battle went on incessantly for two weeks, Linsingen bringing his heavy artillery into action with massed fire effects on May 25th.

Meanwhile the Russian right wing, which had been partly outflanked, drew back a little at Slonsko, but the strength of the Russian front was not changed. Dense columns every day descended the slope of the Carpathians to reinforce Linsingen, a movement from East Prussia being stopped by the German Staff in order to use the men in the southern Galician battle. But at the same time the Russian Staff was also pouring troops 1 through Tarnopol and Lemberg to the assistance of Brussiloff. The battle-front was only forty miles long, and the German commander packed his men together in deep lines, in the old-fashioned Napoleonic fashion, which took no account of the development of the power of the modern rifle, machine-gun, and quick-firer using shrapnel shell. For instance, against the narrow Russian trenches in front of the petroleum town of Stry, sixty thousand Germans advanced on May 29th. Fully a third of them were slaughtered, but the rest forced back the Russians and took the town.

Theoretically, they had broken the Russian front. But the Russian commander had had good time to prepare a counter-stroke. He knew that Linsingen's right wing was composed of Austrian troops quite exhausted by the hard fighting. So, as the remnant of the three German divisions entered Stry, he retired on his centre, having already massed his reserves on his left wing. There he struck at the Austrian troops, captured all their positions, and then dealt the familiar counter-stroke against the rear of Linsingen's victorious centre. The affair was a repetition of the similar outflanking and rear attack against Mackensen at Krosno during the first week in May. But Brussiloff's general position was stronger than that of Radko Dimitrieff, for Brussiloff was not fighting for a retreat and to prevent a rout. His forces were at the time as strong as those of Linsingen. He had seen the enemy's blow at his centre coming, and had deliberately given way there with a view to bringing about the annihilation of Linsingen's army. For two days his victorious right wing continued to curl round the enemy's rear in desperate hand-to-hand fighting over the Carpathian foothills towards the Stry-Munkacs railway line, by which Linsingen's men were fed and munitioned.

Linsingen's left wing was allowed to advance about twenty miles northward to the town of Mikolajov, on the Dniester, which in turn was barely twenty miles from Lemberg. In short, Linsingen's left wing was Only a day's march from the railway centre of Galicia. There he would be far in the rear of the Russian armies facing the forces of Mackensen and the Archduke Ferdinand on the San River. The lure was very enticing, and it lay moreover in the line of the weakest resistance. Linsingen was, of course, well aware of his danger, but he thought that he could prevent Brussiloff from getting in his rear in the south.

For two days the result of this most interesting manoeuvre hung in the balance. Brussiloff had the situation well in hand, and was eager to pursue his advantage, and envelop his too adventurous opponent. But the Grand Duke Nicholas and the Russian Staff, and also General Ivanoff, were doubtful. There was no question but that Brussiloff could bring off his great stroke, but the problem was whether this large and yet only local success would be purchased at too heavy a cost to the general Russian position in Galicia; for the Russian line on the San, north and south of Przemysl, was in danger. The Phalanx had crawled up again to the Russian front, and another retirement had become necessary. Help was again needed from Brussiloff to strengthen the Third Army, and Brussiloff was therefore ordered to give over all his operations and entrench along the Dniester River.

The Russian position on the Dniester was very strong. In the western reaches above Sambor and Drohobycz there was a twenty-mile stretch of wide river-swamps, fed by the melting snows of the Carpathians, and forming for the time an impassable defence. Then, in the more eastward reaches, there were open cultivated spaces with intervals of dense woodland along the northern bank. The Russian general strongly entrenched along the open spaces, and placed most of his guns there. In the forests he left only advance-guards with machine-guns to defend the crossings. On nearing the river, Linsingen made a general reconnaissance in force on a front of forty miles. He was beaten back at all the towns and open spaces, but won a bridge- head at last near Zuravno, where the northern bank of the river was thickly wooded. Here the army of Count Bothmer, which constituted the main striking force of Linsingen's command, crossed the Dniester on the night of June 6th, after having lost some ten thousand men two days before in a fruitless attempt on the Russian bridge-head near the junction of the Stry and Dniester.

Having at last got across the Dniester by Zuravno, Count Bothmer advanced through the forest for two days, winning a stretch of ground on the northern bank some fourteen miles long and ten miles broad. But around this wooded tract the Russians closed in on the night of June 8th, and then in a long, violent hand-to-hand struggle of a thousand conflicts screened from each other by the trees, the Germans were pushed back over and into the river. It was a soldiers' battle with the bayonet, similar to that which had occurred in the forests near Ivangorod in October, 1914. All the Russians' stores of ammunition were running low, cartridges as well as shells; but by getting the enemy into a deep forest, where none of his guns was of much use, General Brussiloff, in spite of the heavy material odds against him, won on June 9th a decisive victory on the important flank position along the Dniester. The Russian Staff calculated that, in the month's fighting between the Carpathians and the river, Linsingen's army lost, on a front of forty miles, 150,000 men. Twenty-five guns, more than a hundred machine-guns, and forty thousand prisoners were taken, and serious symptoms of demoralisation were perceptible in Linsingen's force.

Meanwhile General von Mackensen, with the Grand Phalanx and its supporting armies, continued to make progress in the direction of Przemysl. In frontal attack after frontal attack Mackensen battered his way forward, losing men by the hundred thousand, and yet increasing his infantry forces as his siege train crawled along; for the German Staff, directed by General von Falkenhayn, fed the Phalanx with every available soldier in the two Central Empires. Mackensen's great siege train slowly moved along the railway, from Gorlice to Jaslo, and thence northward to Rzeszoff towards Jaroslav. He attacked Jaroslav on Friday, May 14th, meeting only a single Russian division, entrenched for a rearguard action on the hills west of the town. For two days the division held back the Germans, while the main Russian forces crossed the river and entrenched along the eastern bank.

Then, on Monday, May 17th, the real battle began. The Prussian Guard Corps, with the Tenth Army Corps and the Forty-first Reserve Corps and a composite Corps, advanced across the fords of the San, between Jaroslav and the town of Sieniawa. Their forward movement was heralded by a tempest of heavy shells from the enormous German batteries. But such was the skill of General Ivanoff in choosing his ground and directing the counterattack that Mackensen only won from one to three miles' depth of ground east of the river. Then, entrenching some of his reserve troops along the foothold won along the east bank of the San, the German commander put the larger part of his siege train on the railway, and travelled back to Sanok in the south, and thence towards Przemysl. For the Russian General Staff the solely vital problem was to keep the Russian lines intact for as long and wearing a fighting retreat as the German Staff cared to impose upon the Russian armies. But in the last anxious days of May it seemed to some of Russia's western allies as if the obstinate attempt at a long defence of the perilous salient at Przemysl might give Mackensen the opportunity for the grand stroke of breaking through the Russian forces. It was almost with a feeling of relief that military circles in Britain and France heard that the enemy had recaptured Przemysl on Tuesday, June 1st. The delay in retiring was then revealed.

The Russians had filled the city full of military stores. To prevent these stores from falling into the hands of the Austrians and Germans, a small, heroic rearguard manned the entrenchments while the war material was being rapidly removed by the double-track railway to Lemberg and the broad highway running due east. What the Austrians recovered was nothing but the empty shell of what had been their mightiest stronghold.

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