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Battles Round Lemberg (Lvov)
"BATTLES ROUND, 1914 LEMBERG (LVOV) -5. - In the Austro-German campaign against Russia, the operations round Lemberg (Polish, Lvov) both in 1914 and in 1915 formed an important part of the fighting in Galicia. They are described here in two general sections.
I. THE Galician Battle Of Aug.-Sept. 1914 In accordance with the general tactical and strategical situation, the main body of the Austro-Hungarian army concentrated and formed up for deployment in Central and Eastern Galicia, about Aug. 20 1914. The four armies (I., II., III., IV.) formed up for deployment under cover of a frontier guard for which provision had been made in peace-time. This was augmented by other troops as follows: (a) those corps which had been stationed in the deployment area (I. Cracow, X. Przemysl, XI. Lemberg), parts of which had even in peace-time been pushed forward to the frontier; (b) the cavalry divisions quartered in the above-named areas, which had been hastily reinforced from the interior of the monarchy; (c) the Territorial Landsturm, Gendarmerie and Customs guards, which had been called up on the first day of the alarm to occupy all the important frontier posts. These precautions were taken on the definite assumption that the Russians would employ their powerful cavalry masses in a rapid incursion for the purpose of hindering the mobilization and deployment of the Austro-Hungarian armies, an assumption which subsequent events almost completely belied.
Although all components of the army formed up for deployment according to programme, the advantage to be gained by greater speed in their mobilization, on which the Army Commands of the Central Powers had always counted, was not achieved. The fact was that, though incomparably better situated as regards mobilization and deployment, the Central Powers suffered from mistaken political and military-political calculations, which delayed effective war preparation by nearly a month, and also from the fundamentally unsound grouping of the armies. The main portion of the II. Army (IV. and VII. Corps) was first deployed against Serbia on the Sava, where portions of it were even engaged, with the result that this army - having to traverse the whole breadth of the monarchy to the N. - was only represented by one-third of its strength (the Kdvess army group, XII. Corps) in the great introductory battles. After the arrival of all forces allocated to the N. the total strength of the armies was, roughly, 750,000 rifles, 60,000 sabres and 2,000 guns.
The first-line infantry was well armed and equipped, though the rifle was ballistically somewhat inferior to the Russian service pattern. The cavalry was well mounted, but undeniably old-fashioned in its equipment. The artillery was relatively inferior to the Russian in the quantity, and absolutely in the quality of its guns. In view of the medley of races within the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, and the violent constitutional struggles arising from the centrifugal nationalist agitation fanned from outside, doubts had arisen in many quarters as to the trustworthiness of the troops. As regards the first period of the war these doubts were certainly not justified. The spirit of the army resisted all attempts to undermine it, and the bearing of the troops in the initial battles was excellent, superior indeed to that of the enemy on more than one front.
On the Russian side the forces used in the opening operations and the preliminary battles were as follows: - (a) against East Prussia - the I. and II. Armies with over 20 infantry divisions; (b) against Austria-Hungary - the IV., V., III. and VIII. Armies in the first line, the VII. Army in the second. These armies had each a strength of 9-12 infantry and 3-4 cavalry (or Cossack) divisions. Judged by the number of units, therefore, Russia's superiority in numbers did not appear to be overwhelming, but it was actually greater than appeared, since the Russian infantry division was about one-fifth stronger in infantry and artillery than the Austro-Hungarian. About one-quarter of the Russian forces consisted of reserve divisions.
The information received by the Austro-Hungarian Higher Command, before and during deployment, gave a far from clear idea of the operative situation. They knew that the transport of troops for deployment was going forward on all railway lines and were aware of the evacuation of Congress Poland; but as regards grouping and strength, particularly in the case of the heavy-massed groups rolling up from the E., they appear to have been in uncertainty. It is possible that they underestimated these. For the Austro-Hungarian conduct of operations two alternatives presented themselves: (I) to unite the whole of the fighting forces on the Middle and Lower San and accept a defensive battle, advantage at the same time being taken of any opportunity for a well-timed offensive, using as a pivot for this the San and Vistula line (by that time completely prepared), the fortress of Przemysl, and the San and Vistula bridgeheads, designed for the purpose; (2) to open an immediate offensive against the Russian army masses, as yet divided, while they were making their concentric advance.
The advantage of the first plan lay in the possibility of utilizing the whole of the forces to the last rifle and gun, and also of inflicting partial tactical defeats on the enemy by swift and skilful advances from the bridgeheads. Against this weighed the disadvantage of allowing the Russians to bring up the whole of their superior forces. East Galicia, too, with Lemberg, its political and economic centre, as well as large portions of Central Galicia, would be relinquished without a struggle to the enemy, who could also make use of his increasing numerical superiority to invade Hungary - with momentous political results.
The advantage of the second plan lay in the reasonable hope of falling on the still divided enemy armies with relatively superior forces. But here the danger was that, as the army would at first have to advance fan-wise owing to its obligatory initial situation, a mishap in any one of the armies might - owing to the relatively small extent of the area available for manoeuvring - compromise the whole situation and even bring all the armies into a critical position. Thus the second alternative was by far the more risky solution, depending as it did on skill in the leading of the various armies. Provided, however, that no important errors of detail were made, it promised the greater results; and it was the alternative chosen by the Army Higher Command.
For the Russians the natural procedure, aimed at from the very first, was to make a concentric attack on the Dual Monarchy simultaneously with a threat to East Prussia, and one to Berlin in the background. The enormous fighting masses of the Russian Empire, and the relative shortness of the lines, admitted of this double project. Thanks to the early completion of their preparation they were also enabled to make full use of their original enveloping base against Austrian territory and the armies forming up for deployment within it. All the main lines of transport converged thither, while the whole conduct of operations was materially advanced by the circumstance that the strategical and even the tactical communications between the two great concentration areas - the territory between the Vistula and the Bug on the one side and Podolia on the other - were completely guaranteed by the triangle of fortresses - Kovno, Dubno and Luck (Lutsk). The Russian plan of operations was accordingly drawn up on these lines. In the area between the Vistula and the Bug were posted the V. Army (Chelm) and the IV. Army (Lublin) facing generally southward; and against East Galicia the III. and VIII. Armies facing generally westward, while the VII. Army followed in echelon to the left.
Some characterization of the fighting methods on both sides, as evidenced in the beginning of the war, may not be out of place here.
In all Austro-Hungarian tactical regulations and training manuals the greatest stress was laid on the encounter battle. Conscious and deliberate initiative was represented as the leading motive of every sort of action in war or battle. In practice, particularly in the grand manoeuvres, this motive, correct as it was, came to be so exaggerated that the attack was practically asserted to be the one true form of battle. This undoubtedly created a certain rigidity of opinion which in the long run developed into schematism. To fail to attack was to run great risk of adverse criticism and judgment, a decisive personal motive being thus added. Another result was a frequently very marked belittling of the effect of weapons, which was particularly the case with the artillery. Rigorous battle-training and profitable employment of this arm were consequently taken too little into account; and its tactical cooperation was developed rather on the formal side. With the cavalry analogous principles were laid down. Dismounted fire action above all was a method of fighting rarely and unwillingly practised. The infantry was very well trained on modern principles, particularly in the technique of rifle fire; but the tactical cooperation of the three arms received no special attention. Taking all in all it was reasonable to count upon a quick engagement by all detachments and groups, particularly as the fighting moral - especially at the beginning of the war - was at its highest level, and the flexibility of units and the uniform training of commanders of all grades seemed to guarantee high manoeuvring power.
For the Russian army the war with Japan had been an excellent training. The cooperation of all arms, and particularly the employment of their strong artillery, had reached a high stage of development. Especially remarkable was their rapid fortifying of the field of battle by means of which a Russian front habitually covered itself almost as soon as an action began. In this respect the Russians were at first far superior to their opponents. Indirectly this no doubt contributed to the clumsiness of most of the attacks, which often resulted, contrary to the wish of the Command, in a stationary fire-fight in which the superiority of the Russian artillery was usually balanced by that of the AustroHungarian musketry training. In manoeuvring the Russians were less skilful than their opponents, who profited by this fact. to extricate themselves from many an awkward tactical situation. The Russians were capable of great marching feats on occasion, but their pace was generally rather slow. Their fighting moral was excellent throughout; indeed their endurance in the most. difficult tactical situations could not be surpassed. The reconnoitring activities of the Russian cavalry, particularly of the Cossacks, was remarkable, and not less remarkable was the use made of political propaganda, systematically introduced in peace, and the good organization of intelligence in the potential theatre of operations. On the other hand, the Russian cavalry was disinclined to mounted action on a large scale and had a marked preference for the dismounted fire-fight. No considerable mounted attack therefore ever occurred, though on several occasions large masses of cavalry were opposed to each other.
On Aug. 5 the Austro-Hungarians pushed forward all the cavalry divisions in the deployment area to gain touch with the enemy. It was hoped that this, combined with a general air reconnaissance the day before, would give the necessary data for decisive conclusions. But the reconnoitring activity of the cavalry resulted only in a series of small cavalry actions, successful and unsuccessful, without bringing in trustworthy information as to the grouping of the enemy, whose fighting strength and readiness for operations were, speaking generally, underestimated in consequence. Nevertheless Aug. 18 saw the issue of orders which formed the basis of the offensive scheme in all armies. This inevitably involved - even merely geometrically - the armies drawing apart excentrically. The Army Higher Command, however, reserved to itself the definitive grouping of the larger units. This was particularly the case with the IV. Army, in the centre, whose orders were" to group itself in such a way as to be able to push forward towards the N., N.E. or E."On the three following days (Aug. 20, 21 and 22) the I. Army successfully accomplished the crossing of the Tanew region, dreaded for its impracticability, without mishap, and took possession through its advanced guards of the pronounced ridge lying north of this region from E. to W. For the rest, the I. Army was required to occupy the whole of the ridge on Aug. 22, the IV. Army, as before, to hold itself in readiness to proceed to the N. or N.E., while the III. and II. Armies (or rather that group of the latter, under Gen. von Kovess, which had arrived in the theatre of war), with fronts facing E., were to deal with any possible attacks.
Out of this situation there arose a string of combats which at first were favourable to Austria-Hungary. Thus at Czernowitz a Russian division was repulsed by an Austrian Landwehr' division and thus also arose S. of Krasnik from the 23rd onwards a series of actions which are collectively known as" the battle of Krasnik."The I. Army went forward, with its nine divisions in columns aligned, and came upon the enemy in a prepared position but numerically greatly inferior. At first, indeed, there were only two and a half infantry divisions, hurriedly thrown forward from the Lublin concentration area, and though reonforcements were sent up to them they remained considerably inferior in numbers. Fighting with extraordinary bravery they were nevertheless ousted from all their positions by the morning of Aug. 25, the I. Army attempting to envelop the Russian right wing. In their hasty retreat the Russians left behind them 6,000 prisoners, 28 guns and a number of standards.
Under the influence of these events the Austro-Hungarian Army Higher Command, on the evening of Aug. 24, issued the definitive dispositions for developing its offensive. In accordance with this the I. and IV. Armies were to deliver the proposed great blow northward, i.e. against the IV. and V. Russian Armies, the general direction given being" Lublin and Chelm."The III. Army and the available portions of the II. Army were to be entrusted with the defence against the Russian III. and VIII. Armies advancing from the E., which mission - it must be emphasized - they were to carry out offensively. Thus on the Austro-Hungarian side a mass of 350 first-line battalions was allotted to the main blow northward while i 50 battalions (which could soon be reenforced up to 200) were to act on the defensive towards the east.
The first great scheme in the operations, which aimed at a rapid advance and an attack on the enemy's oncoming main groups before they could unite, might therefore be considered a success - at least as regards the first part. In view of the difficulties surmounted this was certainly a considerable strategical achievement. It now remained to secure the tactical results - that is to say, the blow in the N. must end in a complete victory, and the enemy in the E. must be effectually repulsed. The first of these efforts succeeded, the second did not; and from this failure arose the general battle of Grodek - Rawa Ruska and eventually the retreat beyond the San.
It should be added that Gen. von Kummer's army group had received instructions as early as Aug. 15 to invade Russian Poland from the concentration area at Cracow and to traverse that country in a north-easterly direction, thus forming a strategic protecting flank for the main army advancing on the right bank of the Vistula. It was also expected to provide the necessary reserve and nucleus for the anticipated revolutionary movement in Congress Poland. The execution of this task should not have been difficult, in view of the fact that the Russians had at first only the one cavalry division (the 14th) in the area W. of the Vistula, but in fact it proved extraordinarily difficult, as the whole army group - excepting the 7th Cay. Div. - was made up of Landsturm formations which had been thrown together on the spot and whose armament and equipment were quite inadequate.' In these circumstances and with these masses, it became almost a work of art to carry through the extremely exhausting marches and small skirmishes which arose out of the Russian opposition. As, too, the desired insurrection almost entirely failed to materialize, the Army Higher Command recalled the whole army group - from below Zawichost - on Aug. 24, to the right bank of the Vistula, where it was placed under the command of the I. Army, which had thenceforward 12 divisions at its disposal. In addition to this Gen. von Woyrsch's Silesian Landwehr corps had now pushed through from Prussia, so that, from Sept. 4 on, the I. Army had the strength of 14 inf. and 3 ca y. divisions. This army had meanwhile continued its advance to an attack in the general direction of Lublin, according to orders. By Sept. 2, it had, after winning a succession of skirmishes, come within half a day's march of the line which had been formed S. of the central point just referred to, and was being vigorously defended by the whole of the IV. Russian Army, which had come up in It was a singular fact that the Army Higher Command brought on to the field in the very first moments of the battle all the fighting forces that could by any means be got together. Nearly one-third of the battalions assembled in the deployment area were second or rather third-line troops (the third line is practically non-existent in Austria-Hungary). But this method, though demonstrating great energy in the leading and employment of fighting masses, was hardly suitable to apply to troops about to be sent to two separate theatres of war. Here again the totally inadequate armament and equipment of the Landsturm formations formed a serious drawback. Not only was their fighting power materially damaged but unusually heavy losses were suffered on the march and in action which might have been avoided.
the meantime. The I. Army's attempt to envelop the Russian right wing met with but slight success, but a group that had formed up behind the Russian left wing delivered a thrust which, at a later stage in the action, was to influence the course of events considerably. Before going further into this it will be well to describe the operations and battles of the IV. Austro-Hungarian Army which culminated in the eight days' battle of Komarow.
Battle of Komarow. - Portions of the IV. Army's II. Corps had gone into action on the afternoon of the 24th being attached to the I. Army. It was known that a strong enemy group (the XXV. Corps) was in the act of deploying before Zamosc. The IV. Army had at its disposal, prepared for prompt service, only the 3 divisions of the II. Corps, the 10th Div. of the IX. Corps and parts of the VI. Corps. The remainder (the 26th Div. of the IX. Corps and the XVII. Corps) were still forming up for deployment and in some cases had not yet arrived on the scene of action. The army commander decided to proceed to the attack with the troops on the spot, in order to bring the enemy to a stand, and then make an enveloping attack on both wings, in which he would be supported by the Archduke Joseph Ferdinand's army group (3rd and 8th Infantry, 41st Landwehr and 2nd Ca y. Divs.) which had been allotted to the army command. on the evening of the 24th. But first the nearest enemy corps had to be repulsed and the advance of the Russian XIX. Corps, marching from Tyszowice, cut off.
To deal with the first of these tasks a group was formed of 3 divisions (4th, 13th and 25th) of the II. Corps and the 10th Div. of the IX. Corps, under the command of General of Infantry Schemua. From 6 A.M. on Aug. 26 this group went forward in several parallel columns along the ridge W. of the TomaszowZamosc road. The collision with the enemy, who were established in hastily erected shelters, took place in the afternoon. By evening the enemy had been thrown out of their positions and forced back to the northern ridge. Here they established themselves firmly in prepared positions.
The VI. Corps, advancing in three divisional columns (39th, 27th and 15th Divs.) echeloned in rear to the right, had first of all to change its direction of march from north-east to north. The 39th Div., advancing on and E. of the Tomaszow - Zamosc road, came up against the enemy (the Russian XIX. Corps) in a strong position and captured his outposts; but, in front of the main position at Tarnawatka, the division was surprised by gunfire and forced to retire to the heights N. of Tomaszow until evening. The 27th Div. (especially the 85th Infantry Regt.), advancing eastwards on the right, delivered an exceptionally brave and persistent attack which unfortunately entailed heavy losses owing to inadequate artillery preparation. The attack in itself succeeded, but the enemy could not be prevented from taking up another position farther back. The right-wing division of the corps, which had had the greatest distance to come, did not come into action that day. On the other hand a violent fire-fight had occurred in the afternoon, E. of the Huczwa at Posadow, in which a cavalry corps under Gen. von Wittmann, formed from the 6th and 10th Ca y. Divs., fought with some success against a Cossack division reenforced by infantry. In the evening, after the fight, the cavalry corps retired for the night to Dyniska, followed by all portions of the IV. Army which were echeloned to the rear (26th Div. and the temporarily formed XVII. Corps consisting of the XIX. Infantry Div. and three march brigades).
For the following day (Aug. 27) the II. Corps had as their allotted task to drive the enemy back beyond Zamosc. At the same time a combined attack, in which portions of the VI. and IX. Corps took part, was organized against the Russian XIX. Corps, which had dug itself in above Tarnawatka, and in particular against the right wing. The remainder of the army was to continue its advance, but here some delay was caused by the Higher Command's granting and withdrawing alternately, three times over, the right of Archduke Joseph Ferdinand's army group to make its own dispositions. The unfavourable turn of events in the E. was the cause of the Higher Command's difficulty in deciding as to the definite distribution of this fighting group. The day (Aug. 27) began with a misfortune to the IV. Army.
The 10th Ca y. Div., encamped on the extreme right wing, was in the early morning hours surprised and routed. Gen. Schemua's attack, on the contrary, was carried out according to programme, and his group succeeded, by evening, in throwing back the whole of the XXV. Russian Corps beyond Zamosc, some portions of it being put to flight. A large number of prisoners and 20 guns, including some heavy pieces, were left in the hands of the Austro-Hungarians.
The combined attack on the right wing of the XIX. Russian Corps, however, met with no success, and its chances became smaller in proportion as the enemy fronts visibly gained by reenforcements. Airmen's reports confirmed the approach of an enemy corps (the XVII.) from Grubieszow (Hyubieszow) and Krylow and also the direct approach from the N. (in the direction of Chelm) of enemy forces on all the lines of communication. These proved later to be the troops of the V. and XIII. Russian Corps. By evening on the same day the Austro-Hungarian 15th Div. (VI. Corps) had after a short fight reached the neighbourhood of Laszczow (Pukarzow). Acting on these various reports, the Command of the IV. Army ordered the right wing (in particular the 15th Div.) to bend backwards and take up a frontal position to the N.E. on the line Laszczow - Posadow. This was done partly to enable the advancing group (Archduke Joseph Ferdinand's 19th Div.) to deliver a blow at the enemy's flank and rear.
But the day of Aug. 28 began with a surprise attack at dawn on the 15th Infantry Div., which was massed in the narrow space near Pukarzow. After a short and costly battle, in which the divisional commander and the chief of the general staff were killed, the division was routed and in its flight westward lost the greater part of its artillery irretrievably in a swamp. The enemy pursued, and came up with the flank and rear of the 27th Infantry Div., but their progress was checked by the vigorous intervention of a brigadier, the position saved and the shattered remnants of the 15th Div. reassembled at Tomaszow. On other parts of the front the day was spent in fruitless fighting, though the enemy was at least prevented from breaking through, from the concentration area at Tarnawatka, by the now reassembled 26th Div., which unfortunately suffered heavy losses in the process. Certain portions of the II. Corps followed the enemy in his retreat northward, while others joined in the fighting on the I. Army's right wing; but the main body of the corps remained concentrated round Zamosc.
All these varying incidents notwithstanding, the fact remained that the IV. Army with all its groups had been brought up for the purpose of a uniform attack, and during the evening the Army Command issued orders for such an attack to be made by the whole army. This attack was based on the plan of battle drawn up on Aug. 25, in which the VI. Corps and the 19th Infantry Div. were to form the battle-front, while the IX. Corps (loth and 26th Divs.) was to envelop the enemy on the W. (especially in the Tarnawatka position) and the II. Corps to wheel from the N. on to the enemy's rear with two of its divisions, using a third division (the 4th) to cover the manoeuvre. This cover in rear was to be made complete by the 10th Cay. Div. which had been transferred from the I. Army to the IV. for the purpose. Lastly, the Archduke Joseph Ferdinand's army group was to attack vigorously from the S. and to attempt an enveloping attack on the enemy's left flank. That is to say, there was to be a double enveloping attack by all portions of the IV. Army. On the evening of Aug. 28 reports had already come in of effective attacks by both the 19th Div. and the Archduke's divisions. These were particularly valuable on account of the surprising number of guns captured under fire, of which there were over fifty.
On August 29 this army group repeated its tactical successes and made a further haul of 26 guns. But while the enemy was being continuously reenforced, the Austro-Hungarian troops, though fighting splendidly, were greatly exhausted by their marching and fighting achievements of the previous days, and therefore did not gain ground to the desired extent. As regards the remaining parts of the battle-front, the heavy persistent fighting in the area occupied by the Xvii., Vi. and. IX. Corps took on the character of a fixed battle broken by repeated enemy attacks, which were in particular directed against the reentrant formed by the VI. and IX. Corps. The intention was obviously to effect a breach in this joint and break up the IV. Army front. It did not succeed; but the battle was a very costly one, owing largely to the superiority of the Russian artillery, which in a stationary fire-fight made itself plainly felt. In the II. Corps the two divisions (13th and 25th of Archduke Peter Ferdinand's army group), told off to attack in rear, commenced their wheeling manoeuvres in a southerly direction. But their movements were not as rapid as could have been desired.
On the following day (Aug. 30), the fifth day of the battle, information came through from the Army Higher Command that according to an intercepted radiotelegram, a strong army body of the enemy's forces advancing from the E. had instructions to attack from Sokal the rear of the Austro-Hungarian right. This sounded unlikely, and in fact all that the IV. Army Command did was to send the 6th Ca y. Div. to the Solokija in the direction of Beiz (Belz). But undeniably the report, on becoming known (it penetrated also to the Archduke Joseph Ferdinand's army group), did so far prejudice the advance that the desired wheel to the W. by this group did not take place. This was partly due, no doubt, to the fact that the enemy, realizing the magnitude of the danger which threatened him, reenforced his left wing more and more until he was able, the next day, actually to show once more a numerical superiority in artillery - and this although 80 guns had been taken from him on this sector.
On this day, too, the Xvii., Vi. and IX. Corps fought some violent local battles on their own part of the front. The enemy confined himself this time to defensive tactics, in contrast to the two preceding days. From the N. a vehement blow was struck on the same day against the 4th Div. of the II. Corps by 2-21 enemy divisions. But the troops of this division, reenforced by 3 Landwehr battalions, parried bravely all the thrusts of its more powerful enemy, who pushed forward as far as the Labunka, but, being apparently incapable of any further action, retired in the night of Aug. 31 in a northerly direction. The Archduke Peter Ferdinand's group (13th and 25th Divs.) had now at last finished its wheel manoeuvre southwards, so that by the evening of the same day two divisions were able to deploy in rear of the enemy. One detachment on the left wing, commanded by Col. von Star, pushed forward as far as Perespa (on the Dub). On the same evening Gen. von Boroevic, commanding the VI. Corps, arranged for an attack to be delivered by the 15th Infantry Div. from the S. on the enemy position to the S. of Komarow. This attack, courageously executed and well prepared by concentric artillery fire, was successful. Large masses of the enemy (the XIX. and V. Corps) within the Komarow area were surrounded on three sides, the S., the W. and the North.
The enemy, being extremely brave, did not submit to his fate, but during the night of Aug. 31 concentrated 18-20 battalions and three battery groups with which to force a way of retreat, and meanwhile withdrew from the centre of his front detachments and also transport which were set to march along the Komarow - Tyszowice road in an easterly and later a northerly direction. Groups of infantry, artillery and army service corps from the Russian left army wing were similarly withdrawn and retreated towards Grubieszow and Krylow. Into the midst of these groups burst the 2nd Austro-Hungarian Div. after violent artillery preparation, and captured 20 guns. The reports of these actions on the enemy's line of retreat came in to the Army Command in the course of the day (Aug. 31). On the morning of this day the attacking groups, mentioned above, which had been improvised on the Russian right wing, went forward against the Archduke Peter's front, which faced S., and subjected it to a rain of overwhelming artillery fire. But Col. von Star's detachment on the left wing still held the Russian outermost wing in a vice, even after the fire of a Cossack division in rear had made itself vigorously felt. Naturally the Austro-Hungarian 9th Ca y. Div., posted behind. the Archduke Peter's front, found it hard to remain inactive. Moreover, the Archduke Peter had received a report early in the morning that an enemy column, three battalions strong; was approaching from the north. This report - in no case a very alarming one - was afterwards proved to be false, but it caused the group commander, already shaken by the powerful artillery fire, to order a retreat - in other words a wheel to the west. This rearward wheel was carried out unmolested, but it opened to the enemy the line of retreat which had been completely blocked. This was a tactical error which greatly influenced the outcome of the battle. It was curious that, on both wings of the army, false reports of danger in the rear were able to upset a well-conceived scheme, one of which the greater part had already been put into effect, for surrounding the enemy.
The result of the fighting on Aug. 31 was the capture of Komarow, with the heavily fortified position on the heights around it and the repulse of the enemy from all parts of the front except on the E. wing, where their strong position and very considerable forces enabled the Russians to cover the wheel and retreat of the army towards Chelm and Grubieszow. This wing maintained its position throughout Sept., when the pursuit was in full force along the remainder of the front, and in this way a series of rearguard actions took place. But during the night of Sept. 1-2 the last of the Russian detachments quitted the field, and fell back, in some cases in disorder, in the direction of Grubieszow.
The eight days' battle had ended in a complete victory for the Austro-Hungarian troops, but, owing to the events just described, the complete breakdown of the enemy, which was to be the outcome of the battle, did not follow. The number of guns captured was unusually large, amounting to i 56, but very serious, too, were the losses suffered by the Austro-Hungarian troops, who had been almost entirely on the offensive, amounting in all to 40,000, including 8 generals and a number of senior officers.
With the Eastern Group (II. and III. Armies)
In the meantime events had taken a most unfortunate turn with the Eastern group of armies. At the beginning of operations the two great units, on forming up for deployment, had had about two infantry divisions available, to which were added six cavalry divisions that had been pushed forward up to and beyond the frontier of the empire. Since the middle of Aug. these mounted troops had been in sharp contact with the enemy's cavalry masses, which were being followed by infantry, and sections of the AustroHungarian cavalry at times took refuge between the heads of their own infantry division.
The task allotted to the two armies was, as has been stated, to hold off" by offensive operations "the enemy forces advancing from the E. until the I. and IV. Armies should have delivered their blow. This task was no easy one, since the enemy would obviously be in a position to develop a considerable superiority, particularly as two corps (the IV. and VII.) were still rolling up. The problem could be solved either offensively or defensively. The argument for the offensive was that the greater the space won towards the E. by these two covering armies, the greater would be the security of the two attacking armies (I. and IV.). The disadvantage it involved was the distance which the columns would put between themselves and the troops still on the way to the front in proportion as they pushed forward to the east. Above all there was the danger of the Austro-Hungarian troops being drawn into decisive battles against a more powerful enemy with practically no chance of success. If, on the other hand, a solution was sought in the defensive, a tactical advantage could be drawn from the excellent defensive fronts offered by the many parallel sectional lines (deep-cut streams and rivers) which traverse the Podolian land ridges, E. of Lemberg. These fronts were particularly suited to long-drawn-out battles, especially against an enemy inclined to be clumsy in attack, as the Russians undoubtedly were. But the Army Higher Command decided to solve the problem offensively, and the two armies (the III., XI. and XII. Corps and 2 Landwehr divisions) with a strength of 2 infantry divisions began their eastward advance on Aug. 2 4 accordingly. From the 26th onwards there was violent fighting on the Zlota Lipa and at Zloczow. The Russians settled down at once in typical fashion to a defensive action, while the Austro-Hungaria.ns for their part failed to make their attack ,uniform along the whole front. With such unfavourable tactical and numerical conditions, no amount of bravery could bring success, and both armies were forced to retreat on the evening of the 27th. But the retreat was checked at the Gnila Lipa after a day's march, and on Aug. 29 and 30 violent battles again took place at Glynjany, Przemyslany, and Bobrka.. Here the VII. Corps, which had now been brought up, took part, but still no success was achieved. The losses were very heavy, especially in the XII. Corps (Gen. von Kovess), which lost nearly all its artillery. At the last moment the Army Higher Command decided to give up the attempt to advance, to abandon Lemberg and the Dniester bridgehead at Mikolajow, and to withdraw the two armies behind the line of the Wereszyca. During these battles the Russians, after repulsing the attacks, had aimed especially at throwing their weight on to the Austro-Hungarian weak left wing, and thus to carry out an enveloping movement. This was in fact only possible after the crossing of the Bug basin, E. of Lemberg.
The costly fighting waged by the two covering armies had at least gained the time needed by the other armies (the I. and IV.) for their blow, but this object might have been attained by far less costly means. Eleven infantry divisions, reenforced by successive bodies of troops from the rear up to fifteen divisions, would, if placed in a strong defensive position on the Gnila Lipa, for instance - have been able to offer a resistance which the Russians could not have broken without heavy sacrifices. These battles to the E. of Lemberg provided in fact the clearest possible illustration of the exaggeration of the offensive principle. They weakened considerably the fighting power of the troops, and the fact that they were able to take part in a leading battle a few days later only proved their excellent quality.
Operations Introductory to the Battle of Grodek - Rawa Ruska.- After the close of these battles fronting eastwards, which coincided with the victory at Komarow, the Austro-Hungarian Army Higher Command was confronted with grave issues. It should be added that, although the battles fought by the I. Army in its advance on Lublin had had favourable and lasting results, the enemy's growing power of resistance was making itself felt. Two solutions of the problem were now possible: - (a) To bring the II. and III. Armies once more into action and to let the IV. Army wheel against the N. flank of the Russian forces now pursuing the II. and III. Armies, thus bringing about a major decision in accordance with the proposed" Operation on the interior line "; (b) To withdraw all the armies to the now fully prepared line of the San, to defend this line and to seize any favourable opportunity for renewing the attack.
As regards (a), this plan involved going on with the scheme of operations in accordance with the policy originally adopted, but at the same time ignoring the fact that one part of the problem to be solved had already ended in failure. The Army Higher Command would also be bound to admit that the blow on the N., though successful, had not finally crushed the enemy. For the decisive moment - that is, for the main battle, the I. Army would not be available at all and the IV. Army would be incomplete. For there was not, in the opinion of the Army Higher Command, much time to lose - in other words, the initial operations must begin immediately. That being so, the IV. Army would have to give up the vigorous and effectual fighting pursuit of the defeated Russian army. And yet this was the one way in which this army could have been eliminated from the calculation for the, time being. The topographical conditions for forcing a great tactical decision in the Grodek area were certainly favourable. A strong front might be formed protected by the line of the Wereszyca behind which the II. and III. Armies, unlucky up till now in their fighting, could receive such local reenforcements as would restore their full fighting power. But these conditions, again, were so obvious as to exclude any possible alternative plan of operations. To get into the right position for this, namely, :" frontal defence on the part of the II. and III. Armies behind the Wereszyca, flank action and a blow from the N. on the part of the IV. Army,'.' the IV. Army, at the close of the battle of Komarow, would have .immediately to wheel and to execute within a narrow area a tricky manoeuvre such as only units specially trained in manoeu vring could perform. At the same time a flank-protecting force, of sufficient strength to guard against any possible attack by the defeated V. Russian Army, would have to be told off from the main body. At the IV. Army headquarters this flank-protecting force was calculated, in consideration of all the determining factors, at 4 infantry and 2 cavalry divisions, so that 8 infantry and 1-2 cavalry divisions would still be available for the blow towards the south. But the Army Higher Command, in its anxiety to keep the attacking force as powerful as possible, wanted the protecting force reduced to 3 infantry and one cavalry division. In view of the sharp defeat suffered by the V. Russian Army even such a force might possibly have sufficed had their task been exclusively that of protecting the IV. Army, but this, as will be seen, was not the case. If all the conditions here outlined were fulfilled, there was certainly reason to hope for a favourable decision which would undeniably have great tactical, and possibly even greater political, results. It was absolutely essential, however, (r) "to have an unconditional guarantee of the I. Army's power to hold out N. of the San - Tanew region, at least up to the line of the Por; (2) that the wheel manoeuvre of the IV. Army should succeed completely; (3) that this army should be covered by the pinning down of the V. Russian Army on the lower Huczwa; (4) that the main attack from N. to S. in the area E. of the Wereszyca should be successful." 1 Turning to a consideration of the scheme of operations under (b), the "concentration of all four armies on the San," it would seem that the obvious drawback was that it would rob the two victories of Krasnik and Komarow of their strategical importance. To give up yet another slice of Galicia would have been a disadvantage from the military and still more from the political standpoint. Yet the plan was not without considerable advantages. First and foremost the II. and III. Armies would have a still longer respite from the enemy's attentions and could have all the available reinforcements and supplies sent to them at leisure. The Russian opponent would then find himself opposed by an entrenched front, which as far as could be foreseeen he would be unable to overpower with his firstand second-line forces on the spot; while the time gained would certainly give the Austro-Hungarian armies opportunities for an offensive attack from the manoeuvre area on the San. Finally the IV. Army would have one or two days in which to pursue and rout the defeated enemy before wheeling from the battle-field. In addition this scheme of operations offered the least risk in contrast to (a), in which practically everything was staked on one throw, a risk for which no absolute necessity could be pleaded. Nor could the fact be overlooked that - unlike Russia - the Dual Monarchy had, in the united armies at that moment in Galicia, practically all its available military forces assembled and could still absolutely rely on them. The Army Higher Command decided to solve the problem by the first scheme. It was by far the more daring, and yet, given the four conditions just enumerated, it was not unreasonable, so long as these conditions obtained, to count upon that measure of luck which must always attend the execution of a resolve to force a direct decision.
First of all the advance of the IV. Army's main body was expedited to the utmost by order of the Army Higher Command. It will be remembered that the battle of Komarow was brought to a complete finish only on Sept. 2, early in the morning. In order to carry out the Army Higher Command's instructions the heads of the newly grouped army columns would have to reach the line Belzec - Uhnow by the evening of the following day. But this line lay 3 o km. to the S. of the axis of the battle-field, that is, in precisely the opposite direction from that of the previous advance.
The immense difficulties which arose out of this re-grouping, particularly in the case of the mass of transport, need not be dwelt on here. It is enough to say that by Sept. 5 everything was in order, and the army began its prescribed march southwards in three great columns. The western column (IX. Corps) was composed of 3 divisions (the 25th, 10th and 26th), the centre 1 Extract from Auffenberg-Komarow's A us Osterreich-Ungarns Teilnahme am Weltkrieg, Berlin, 1920.
(VI. Corps) also had 3 divisions (the 39th, 27th and 15th), the eastern (XVII. Corps) 2 divisions (the 19th and 41st) as well as 2 march brigades. These three columns, marching towards the line Magierow - Niemirow, given as their first destination, were preceded by the 6th Cay. Div. and followed by the 3rd Infantry Div. echeloned to the left, and by the 2nd Ca y. Div. still further behind. Protection in rear was provided by the Archduke Joseph Ferdinand's newly formed army group, consisting of the 4th and 13th Divs. of the II. Corps, and the 8th Inf. and 9th Cay. Divisions. The Army Higher Command's original order was that the IV. Army should continue the pursuit of the defeated enemy as long as possible and then wheel to the S., but it was also to protect the I. Army's right flank against which the enemy's attacks were becoming more and more alarming. Indeed this question of protection assumed an ever-growing importance in the eyes of the Army Higher Command and an order was presently issued placing the whole of the Archduke Joseph Ferdinand's army group under the I. Army command with the exception of certain detachments to be left behind. On these detachments the IV. Army would now depend entirely for protection in its rear. But the circumstances did not - as will be seen - admit of such a splitting up of the army group as this entailed, and the double task had undoubtedly an adverse influence on the measures taken by the group commanders. The idea of transferring the whole of the Archduke's army group to the W. was probably inspired mainly by a captured radio-telegram from the Russian Supreme Command which led the Army Higher Command to assume that "the V. Russian Army (Plehwe) was being transported by train from Wladimir Wostok to Brest Litovsk and that any danger threatening the IV. Army from the N. was therefore removed." One more example of a false or misinterpreted report which was to lead to fateful decisions!
Meanwhile, from Sept. 3 onwards, all the II. and III. Army detachments which had been thrown back behind the Wereszyca line were concentrating in preparation for a prolonged defence. On the left (northern) wing of the III. Army in particular 6 infantry divisions, ready for action, were assembled, and here too the 4 th, 10th and r r th Ca y. Divs. were brought together for recuperation. From this time on, these cavalry divisions were to be under the IV. Army Command. Lastly the IV. Corps was assigned to the II. Army, or rather to its right wing. Thus - apart from the Landsturm formations - the II. Army (forming the right wing of the united front) could now take the field with 9 divisions and the adjacent III. Army with 7 divisions.
The IV. Army, once it had overcome all the obstacles caused by its wheel through 180 degrees, made its advance southwards in good style, bringing up the heads of the armies to their proper destinations each day, though the left wing column (XVII. Corps) came sharply into contact with some enemy units coming from the east.
The forward push of the I. Army towards the Lublin area came to an end on Sept. 2. On the 3rd and 4th there were local battles along the line of its advance, but from Sept. 5 onwards pressure on the I. Army's right wing was so strong that it was forced to give ground and had to be withdrawn behind the line of the Por. This involved a retirement on the other parts of the front, which even the appearance on the scene of Gen. von Woyrsch's Prussian Landwehr corps failed to prevent. Even so the enemy's pressure on the I. Army's right wing was still so strong that both the I. Army Command and the Army Higher Command appealed to Archduke Joseph Ferdinand's group for help - an appeal to which it was now impossible to respond. It is evident from the map that the enemy columns, curving outward to the N., had begun to be a menace to the advancing IV. Army, while the 3rd and 8th Divs. echeloned in rear were forced to deploy fully in an eastward direction against enemy columns superior in numbers. The 8th Div. was hereby compelled to fight a very sharp and costly action. The 3rd Div. during the night of Sept. 6-7 succeeded in surprising a Russian division in the wood N. of Hujcze, but in the general fighting that ensued was forced to retire westwards and join up with the XVII. Corps.
The Army Higher Command, to whom all these events were reported in the course of the day (Sept. 27), were compelled to see that the situation on which the decision to bring about an important battle on the Wereszyca was based had now undergone a substantial change. Of the four essential conditions laid down earlier as the necessary basis for this decision, practically only one remained, or rather had been carried out: - the one relating to the wheel of the IV. Army. This manoeuvre had succeeded. On the other hand, it seemed doubtful whether the I. Army could continue its resistance N. of the Tanew for any length of time; the Archduke's weak army group stood opposed to superior forces moving to outflank it; and the decisive blow from N. to S. was rendered impossible by the general enemy grouping, in which the weight had been flung on to the right (N.) wing. The Army Higher Command had therefore no alternative but to make a radical change in the original plan of operations. It would perhaps have been most to the purpose to discard altogether the guiding idea which now offered so little chance of success, and to concentrate all the armies on the already constructed line of the San. But the Army Higher Command held fast to its resolution to bring about a decisive battle in the Grodek area, though making certain concessions to meet the altered situation. Thus the IV. Army, designed as the attacking wing in the original scheme, was to be converted into the defensive wing with its front facing E., while the II. and III. Armies were to deliver the blow from the S. to N. - a complete exchange of roles. To this end the IV. Army had to continue its wheel manoeuvre and the II. and III. Armies to fight their way across the Wereszyca line, which until then formed the cover for their front, and then proceed to the attack. As a result of these operations the two op= ponents laid their weight on opposite wings, the Russians on the N., the Austro-Hungarians on the S. wing. This was quite against the original intention of the Austro-Hungarians, and it undoubtedly weakened their position appreciably, from a strategic and still more from a tactical point of view.
The Battle of Grodek-Rawa Ruska. Retreat behind the San
Directions for the execution of this plan were issued on the afternoon of Sept. 7. The IV. Army Command at once dispatched all heavy trains in a westerly direction to beyond the San. Rzycki, to the E. of Rawa Ruska, was selected as a pivot for the continuation of the army's wheel, and here were brought into action for the fire-fight the 4th and 6th Ca y. Divs. (Gen. von Wittmann), which had been selected from the very considerable cavalry masses actually on the spot. A second cavalry corps (the 10th and iith Ca y. Divs. under Gen. Nagy) was ordered to provide cover, mounted, for the army's extreme outer flank. The first of these cavalry groups executed its task admirably in a two-days' fire-fight. The army's right wing (the VI. and IX. Corps) was allowed to continue its offensive advance, partly with the object of drawing upon itself as the "defensive wing" as many as possible of the enemy's forces, and partly so as to use its infantry - so 'well schooled in attack - to the best advantage in an area of which a comprehensive survey was quite impossible and showed no obvious boundary line. The left wing (3rd and 8th Divs.) went back, after the heavy fighting already described, to the N. of Wittmann's cavalry corps, where it remained for the rest of the proceedings in close touch with the II. Corps (4th and 8th Divs.). This corps, being pressed by the attacking V. Russian Army, retired after a series of battles by successive stages to Tomaszow.
Following out the Army Higher Command's plan of attack, the divisions of the II. and III. Armies began an offensive advance over the Wereszyca on Sept. 8 and wrested certain advantages from the enemy, who on this front was considerably weaker; but point 315 (Stawczany - Mostki - Dornfeld), the line which the II. Army was to have reached by the evening of Sept. 8, was only taken on Sept. 11. On the other parts of the front the fighting, on Sept. 9 and 1 o, swung backward and forward without a decisive advantage being gained on any one section. Here the Austro-Hungarians made effective use of that form of warfare which consists in throwing up cover during the battle on an extended front - in other words, trench warfare, which later was to become. the characteristic feature.
In contrast to the progress made on the right wing of the Austro-Hungarian battle-front, the development of the battle positions on the 9th, 10th and ith showed that the left wing had recoiled. There the IV. Army was fighting against a superiority of almost two to one. The IX., VI. and XVII. Corps on that part of the front facing E. were, it is true, able to hold their position, and the artillery line with about ioo guns which had been formed behind the salient (the XVII. and II. Corps) defeated all the enemy's attempts at attack; but the Archduke Joseph Ferdinand's army group (the 4th, 8th, 13th and 3rd Divs.), which had been in action for nearly 20 days without a break, could no longer hold out after all its heavy losses, and had to be led backwards from one position to another. Even the relatively strong I. Army was forced to retire by stages, and into the gap thus formed between the IV. Army, after its wheel, and the I. Army, the V. Russian Army pushed forward slowly but surely its cavalry division and corps. This army had resumed its advance on Sept. 7 after re-forming.' On the same day the 8th Div. had been put out of action by a strong column of the III. Russian Army advancing from the southeast. K This left the Archduke Joseph Ferdinand with only the 4th and 8th Divs. of the VI. Corps and the 9th Ca y. Div. at his disposal. These weak forces could offer no permanent resistance on such open ground and, after fighting a serious battle on Sept. 9, they were withdrawn behind the line of the Rata (which ran provisionally parallel with the railway line from Jaroslau to Belzec), where, they joined the 3rd and 8th Divs. of the XIV. Corps, which had likewise been severely battered.
The general strategic situation now appeared to the Army Higher Command to be untenable. Instructions were therefore issued on the afternoon of Sept. i 1 to break off the fighting and retire behind the San. This retreat, facing full W., had, so far as the II. and III. Armies were concerned, only one disadvantage - the scarcity of communications available within the narrow zone of retreat. But for the IV. Army the conditions almost brought about a catastrophe.
On the afternoon of Sept. 11, the V. and XVII. Corps of the V. Russian Army, reaching out to the W., were posted, together with their own powerful artillery forces, in the direction of the rear and flank of the IV. Army. A single determined blow from these forces would infallibly have placed that army in a most hopeless situation. It was fortunate that the Russian corps in question were those that had received the worst punishment at Komarow and had therefore lost much of their fighting power. But behind this immediate danger there lay another not less serious. The Russian IV. Army, now pursuing the Austro-Hungarian I. Army in its retreat over the San, could easily detach large groups from the massed forces on its left wing and send them forward against the line of retreat of the IV. Austro-Hungarian Army, thus attacking this army at its most vulnerable point in the critical moment of the San crossing. The precautions which had to be taken against both these dangers were the more difficult to carry out in view of the fact that the whole of the army's infantry units were just then heavily engaged.
Under these circumstances the violent attack delivered in the afternoon by the united forces brought up from the E. and N.E. (the III. Russian Army) came as a welcome incident. The attack was repulsed along the whole front after an obstinate and bloody battle lasting on into the evening. Particularly in front of the 19th Div., composed of Bohemian regiments, there lay heaps of corpses. After the failure of the attack the Russians ceased fighting, and at many points whole sections of their front were discovered by reconnoitring patrols to be in retreat. Under these conditions it was an easy matter to shake off the enemy during the night of Sept. 11-12, and by following this up during the day with a powerful backward push, to break off fighting contact with the enemy almost entirely. To deal with the Rus ' Incidentally the Russian V. Army, which had been defeated at Komarow, but not pursued - this being impracticable - took exactly as long to re-form and return to the field as the II. and III. AustroHungarian Armies after their misfortunes E. of Lemberg, although in their case pursuit did follow.
sians attacking from the N. (V. and XVIII. Russian Corps) both the cavalry corps were brought into action. Although these were units which had been greatly exhausted in the course of the operations, they succeeded, with the help of the rearguard of the XVII. and IX. Corps, in holding off the not very strong enemy pressure. It was none the less necessary to place the swampy line of the Sklo between themselves and the enemy as soon as possible, so as to rule out any possibility of further contact. But this meant crowding together all the divisions now holding a front of about 50 km. into a defile only some 15 km. wide. But although this manoeuvre could be executed without such very great difficulty, the same could not be said when it came to removing the second danger already alluded to - the blow from the IV. Russian Army which had now arrived at the San. To do this, the area Laszki - Lazy - Krakowiec - Chotyniec and that portion of the line of the Sklo which borders it would have to be barricaded off with all possible haste. The IV. Army Command effected this by bringing up a weak brigade by motor from the VI. Corps, which was posted nearest to the only metalled road of communication within the zone of march. A pivot was thus formed, in the course of Sept. 13, from this brigade in conjunction with line of communication posts and field troops. These were able to repulse all attacks coming from the N., in particular one at Krakowiec on Sept. 13. These attacks, it is true, were made chiefly by cavalry, with artillery, as the enemy had not grasped the opportunity offered him of a decisive flank attack by strong forces.
In spite of this the II. Corps was kept in the Krakowiec area on Sept. 14, as a precaution. Under cover of this corps and the cavalry corps the armies carried out their retreat and crossed the San. It is true that from Sept. 13 onward the enemy's columns were active in their pursuit from the E. and made it infinitely difficult - especially for the IV. Army - to get the masses of trains brought back. Within the stretch N. of Przemysl up to and including Jaroslaw there were, including the temporary pontoon bridges, only six bridges over the San which were practicable. Even fewer were the permanent roads leading to them. It was therefore necessary to fall back on improvised roads. It has already been said that the great trains of supplies and material had been dispatched in good time to the W. and across the San; but even so, the train units that are absolutely indispensable in battle (munitions, sanitary, technical and field supplies) and in addition the supply wagons (essential in view of the many days duration of the battle) formed a train mass many kilometres long. Out of these conditions arose the immediate danger of the sensible weakening of the troops' fighting power as a result of continual protective and rearguard battles and even the contingent danger of disorder and disbandment. The commander of the IV. Army,, which was most exposed to these dangers, therefore gave a plain order that no fighting in protection of the trains would be permitted. The trains were, if it became inevitable, to be given up, the teams having first been set free and the communications blocked.
In this manner the crossing of the San was achieved by all the army columns without a single fighting unit having suffered serious losses, such losses being confined to men unable to march, who succumbed because they were no longer equal to the fatigues of 25 days of operations and fighting at a stretch.
The crossing of the line of the San by all four armies brought to a close the first period of operations, which was marked by a continuous series of severe battles and difficult manoeuvres within the Lemberg area. The plan of an offensive operation on the interior line had led to no useful, lasting success. Conceived under the influence of the strategical conditions that had formerly prevailed when tactical decisions were quickly reached, it was not suited to the present day when, even in fortunate cases, days - weeks - were spent in straining after victory; when the numerically weaker opponent could only seize the advantage of a momentarily favourable situation quickly enough if he were able to inflict an annihilating defeat on the isolated groups of the numerically stronger enemy forces during their concentric advance. But such success could only be attained under specially favourable circumstances and through the perfect cooperation of all subordinate commanders. In this case these conditions did not exist; and, as the space separating the Russian groups was from the first not overwide, the double blow could not succeed in spite of great isolated successes. Only the manoeuvring skill of the Austro-Hungarian units, coupled with the hesitating advance of the Russian forces, enabled the Austro-Hungarians to escape unharmed from situations which might easily have led to the kind of disaster typical of an unsuccessful "operation on the interior line." With such tremendous fighting power displayed on both sides the losses were enormous, telling with double intensity on the Austro-Hungarian as the weaker of the two armies. (A. - K.) II. THE Summer Battles Of 1915 The Battle of Grodek - Magierow, June 16-19 1915. - After the break-through at Mosciska Lubaczow the Russians retired slowly, fighting as they went, to a position behind the Wereszyca on the heights of Magierow and Cieszanow, and behind the Tanew. In this naturally strong line of defence, which was continued to the left by the strong Dniester line facing the Southern and VII. Armies, they proposed to fight a defensive battle to cover East Galicia and Lemberg. The continuous defeats of the last six weeks, resulting from the Austro-German spring offensive, had already caused them heavy casualties, and the loss of East Galicia would exercise a disastrous effect on the prestige of the Entente, while the evacuation of hard-won territory could not fail to exercise a demoralizing influence on the Russian army, already greatly exhausted.
The strong position selected had therefore long been carefully prepared and fortified; the country, which had been the scene of operations in Aug. and Sept. 1914, was well known to both sides. The defences constructed by the Austrians around Lemberg at this period had been strengthened by the Russians, and a circle of more or less defensible works now surrounded the Galician capital on a circumference of some 30 miles. The GrodekMagierow position was specially designed to secure it against the first rush of the enemy. It ran from the point d'appui of Mikolajow along the N. bank of the Dniester to Manasterzec, then along the E. bank of the Wereszyca to Cuniow and W. of that river to the heights of Janow, whence it ran by the heights S. of Rawa Ruska to Narol Miasto, and thence by the heights N. of the Tanew to the Vistula. Farther to the rear the Russians had provided for the possibility of a break-through by constructing a second position W. of the Rawa Ruska - Lemberg railway. This line, as yet incomplete, was connected with the ring of forts near the height of Lysa Gora, N.W. of Lemberg, and was continued thence W. of the Szczerek to the Dniester.
Early in June all the Austro-German troops between the Dniester and the Vistula (Austro-Hungarian II., German XI. and Austro-Hungarian IV. Armies) had been placed under Gen. von Mackensen. His intention was to direct the attack of the centre and southern wing of the XI. Army on Magierow and thence due E., passing N. of Lemberg. The strong left wing of the II. Army was to deliver an enveloping attack upon the fortified line Janow - Kommarno, while the IV. Army, although maintaining its position in the angle of the San and Vistula, was to press N. in conjunction with the XI. Army's left, and then to advance with its right on Rawa Ruska. On the Russian side there stood facing Mackensen's army group, which comprised in all the 41st Infantry and 2 cavalry divisions, Gen. Lesch's III. and Gen. Brussilov's VIII. Armies, with same number of infantry divisions and 5 cavalry divisions.
On June 16 the Austro-Germans pressed the Russians hard along the whole line. The centre of the VIII. Russian Army offered a stubborn resistance to Bohm's centre and northern wing, while its left withdrew before his right early in the day. The Austro-Hungarian XVIII. Corps, in the course of the afternoon, stormed the Russian rearguard positions at Wolczuchy and Dobrzany, while parts of it penetrated into the part of the town of Grodek, which lies W. of the Wereszyca. On the northern front of the German XI. Army Brussilov's army on the heights N. and N.E. of Lubaczow was heavily engaged with the combined corps and the X. Corps, while farther S. the remainder of the Army (XLI. Corps, Austro-Hungarian VI. Corps, Guard Corps and XXII. Reserve Corps) reached their objectives on the line Niemirow - Jaworow without opposition. On the front of the Archduke Joseph Ferdinand the right and centre of the Russian III. Army held its ground. In the afternoon violent fighting commenced at Cewkow and Cieplice. This ended on the following morning (June 17) in the storming of the heights N. of Cewkow by the XVII. Corps, which led to the retreat of the Russian III. Army behind the Upper Tanew and also to the evacuation of the Rudnik area. The IV. Army followed them up as far as the heights parallel with the S. bank of the Tanew, its right wing having reached N. of Cieszanow.
The II. Army, which had on the previous day worked its way up to the main Russian positions, now began its preliminary bombardment, and attacked the main crossing points. Heavy fighting took place between the XVIII. Corps and the Russian XXVIII. Corps for the possession of Grodek, as also for the bridges of Kommarno and Lubien Wk. (Great). Meanwhile on the left the Austro-Hungarian XIX. Corps crossed the Wereszyca near Kamienobrod and in conjunction with the IV. Corps began an enveloping attack against the Wielkopole ridge.
The XI. Army had now arrived in face of the Russian main position, and a general attack in the direction Rawa RuskaZolkiew was ordered for June 19.
On the 18th the Russians resisted fiercely on the whole front. The II. Army, however, succeeded in taking Mosty and Kommarno and in completely clearing the W. bank of the Wereszyca. The XI. Army pushed closer up to the Russian positions, against which the artillery preparation had already begun, and grouped itself for the forthcoming attack. This was to be begun at 7 A.M. on the r9th, after two hours' artillery preparation, by the XLI. Austro-Hungarian, VI. Guard and XXII. Corps, while the X. Corps and Stein's combined corps were to cover its northern flank towards Rawa Ruska. The II. Army was to capture Lemberg and to outflank and roll up the Russian line on the Dniester, while the IV. Army was to cover the XI. in the direction of the Tanew, and with its right wing corps to follow the XI. Army.
The assaulting wedge of the four corps of the XI. Army succeeded in breaking the stubborn resistance of the principal Russian front, pressing through it in the direction of Magierow, and penetrating as far as the Rawa Ruska - Lemberg railway. The II. Army had heavy fighting before the Russian main position. After two days' fierce battle the XVIII. Corps completed the capture of Grodek, the XIX. Corps took two points d'appui N.W. of Kamienobrod, while the IV. and the Beskiden Corps to the N. began at 5 P.M. the bombardment of the heights by Wielkopole and Stradec in the bend of the Wereszyca. The infantry assaults that followed lasted till the late evening of the loth, and resulted at 4 A.M. next morning in the capture of the Stradec height, which was the key position for the next advance. That same evening the S. wing stormed the heights on the E. bank of the Wereszyca, while the XVIII. Corps broke through the Russian positions on the Grodek road. These successes marked the failure of the last Russian attempts to bar the way to Lemberg. Their main position was no longer tenable, and a general retreat now began on the eastern front of the XI. Army and the whole front of the II. Army.
The Battle of Lemberg, June 20-22
On the evening of June 20 the Russians recognized that, in view of the disastrous breakthrough at Magierow, they could no longer hold their main position. The next line of defence ran from the Dniester at Mikolajow, along the hills E. of the Szczerek to Sokolniki, where it joined the girdle of fortified positions extending from Sokolniki by Rzesna Polska to the height of Lysa Gora. From this point it continued on the heights W. of Kulikow by Glinsko, and along the Rawa Ruska road, where it joined the unchanged portion of the Russian main position running by Brusno Stary and the heights N. of Cieszanow along the Tanew.
After the break-through at Magierow the Austro-Hungarian VI. Corps, the German Guard, and parts of the XXII. Res. Corps had pressed forward a considerable distance. The situation being still somewhat obscure, it was deemed advisable not to push the XI. Army on June 20 beyond the Lemberg - Rawa Ruska railway, particularly as wireless messages and aviation reports, while announcing the Russian forces were retiring towards the N.E., gave reason to suspect a strong hostile concentration N. of Rawa Ruska. The XI. Army in its further advance could not run the risk of being exposed to a stroke against its flank from this direction. It was therefore not to advance E. beyond the line of the above-mentioned road, and was to keep in close touch to the N. with the right flank of the IV. Army. Should the enemy retire, however, he was to be energetically pursued.
On the evening of the 10th the XLI. Corps, fighting on Mackensen's right wing, had succeeded in coming up to the strong Russian positions at Glinsko and had begun its artillery attack. Arz's Austro-Hungarian corps to the N., after repulsing several hostile counter-attacks during the previous night, had also made progress. The Guard, and parts of the XXII. Reserve Corps, after heavy fighting, had stormed the Lemberg - Rawa Ruska road and railway on a front of 7 m. N.E. of Dobrosin. On the front of the remainder of the XXII. Reserve and X. Corps there was little change, advance troops of the 19th Div. (X. Corps) occupied the village of Rawa Ruska, driving the Russians back to the heights immediately N. of it. Meanwhile on Mackensen's left army wing Stein's combined corps drove back the Russian Guard at Brusno Stary. On the IV. Army front there was no important change.
The II. Army was closely following up the retiring Russians. On the left the Beskiden Corps, completing its success of the previous night, reached the line Polany - Rokitno. The IV., XIX., and XVIII. Corps were, by the evening, close up to the fortified line, while the V. Corps, during the pursuit of June 20, reached the Szczerek below Pustomyty in the south. The 51st Honved Div. and Szurmay's corps, which had been transferred from the Southern to the II. Army, drove the Russians completely across the Dniester.
The main burden of the further attack fell upon the II. Army, which was to capture Lemberg as soon as possible, while the right wing of the XI. Army was to render the northern front of Lemberg untenable by a wide turning movement to the east. The forcing of the Dniester line by the German Southern Army, and its advance into the area E. of Lemberg against Brussilov's left flank, would materially increase the success of the plan.
The energetic advance of the II. Army on the S. wing on June 21 bore full fruit; the V. Corps succeeded in several places in capturing the Russian advanced positions on the E. bank of the Szczerek. Thus the gist Honved Inf. Div. gained possession of a hill just N. of Usiec at the confluence of the Szczerek with the Dniester. The 14th Inf. Div. penetrated the Russian positions at Dmytrze 4 m. S. of Szczerek, while the 33rd Inf. Div. stormed the bridge to the N. of this place at Za Grobla. The XVIII. Corps, exposed to the flank fire of heavy artillery from Sokolniki, was unable to advance, but the XIX. Corps worked its way close up to the points d'appui of Sokolniki, Sknitow and Rzesna Polska. The IV. Corps had already captured the advanced positions of the Lysa Gora and Brzuchowice forts, making an enveloping position against them secure, while the Beskiden Corps cleared the edge of the woods W. of Zarudce.
On the XI. Army front Arz crossed the Lemberg road in the forest region S. of Dobrosin, while Lt.-Gen. Francois' XLI. Corps was heavily engaged round the strong positions on the heights at Glinsko, capturing the most westerly summit in the afternoon. On the remainder of the XI. Army front and that of the IV. Army the situation remained unchanged.
On the night of the 22nd the Russians, at Glinsko, threatened to the N. by the advance of Arz's corps, and to the S. by the Beskiden Corps, which had beaten them back in the actions at Zaszkow and Zarudce, evacuated their now very exposed positions facing the XLI. Corps and fell back by Blyszczywody and Dzibulki. Arz on the afternoon of the 22nd penetrated deeply into the forest area N.E. of Zolkiew.
Meanwhile great events had taken place on the front of Bbhm's army. In the forenoon the Beskiden Corps, after storming the heights S.W. of Kulikaw, advanced well beyond this place, and by pushing detachments forward succeeded in blocking the road from Lemberg by Zoltance to Kamionka.
At 4 A.M. the IV. and XIX. Corps opened a bombardment against the works on the N. and N.W. fronts of Lemberg. At 5 A.M. the 13th Landwehr Inf. Div. of the XIX. Corps penetrated into the Rzesna work on Hill 320. At II A.M. the 10th Div. of the same corps had captured the group of works at SknitOw, while the 43rd Landwehr Inf. Div. of the IV. Corps stormed the work Brzuchowice 348. At the same time the r3th Landwehr Div. continued the attack on the heights E. of Rzesna Polska, and the 27th and 32nd Inf. Divs. were heavily engaged round the Lysa Gora heights. Shortly after rr A.M. this strong bulwark of the N.W. front of Lemberg also fell into the hands of the AustroHungarians. Under pressure of these events, the Russians, who had defended themselves by numerous counter-attacks, evacuated Lemberg. At noon Bohm's troops entered the city, which had been in Russian hands for over io months.
During the morning, the V. Corps had succeeded in storming the Russian positions on the heights E. of the Szczerek. In the afternoon the Russians, obviously as a result of the fall of Lemberg, into which Gen. Bohm had made his own entry at 4 P.M., abandoned their whole front facing the Austro-Hungarian II. Army.
The battle of Lemberg had thus ended in a victory for the Central Powers. By the evening of the 22nd the II. Army had reached the line Dawidow - Remenow. The effect of the victory was now making itself felt along the whole front; even the angle between the San and the Vistula, so long and stubbornly defended by the Russian XV. Corps, was evacuated by the evening of the 2 2nd, and the Russians fell back also before the AustroHungarian I. Army and the southern wing of Woyrsch's Army.
The hoped-for separation of the Russian armies, in the direction of Tomaszow and Sokal on the one hand and eastwards on the other, seemed nearer, but was not yet achieved.
The Army Supreme Command, after consultation with the German Supreme Command, now ordered new dispositions. Mackensen was to continue the pursuit of the retreating enemy in a northerly direction with the Austro-Hungarian IV. and German XI. Armies. The Beskiden Corps was subordinated to him, in order to cover his eastern flank. The II. Army was detached from Mackensen's group and ordered to pursue eastwards by way of Busk and Zlocz6w, while the Southern Army was to force the passage of the Dniester below Zurawno, in order to envelop Halicz from the N. and press on further across the lower Gnila Lipa.
By the evening of the 23rd the centre and left of the Russian IV. Army were also withdrawn, on the front of Woyrsch's right wing and that of the Austro-Hungarian I. Army, to Ilia, Sienna, Ozark6w and Zawichost. Both armies followed them up, Woyrsch with some rearguard fighting, the I. Army practically unopposed.
The VIII. and XIV. Corps of the Austro-Hungarian IV. Army followed the Russians to the San. On the remainder of the front of the IV. and XI. Armies the situation remained unchanged.
Pursuit by Mackensen's Army Group Northwards; Battles in East Galicia (June 23--July r4)
The northern wing of the II. Army met with stubborn opposition on June 23, on the line JaryczOw - Dmytrowice, but succeeded by the middle of the day in capturing a part of the Russian positions S. of the latter village. On the 24th also the II. Army found itself faced along its whole front by strong Russian lines, from the northern wing of which the Russians even delivered exceedingly violent counter-attacks. Owing to this the relief of the Beskiden Corps by a new group under Field-Marshal-Lt. Kreysa, formed of two divisions of the II. Army, appeared almost impossible.
On the German Southern Army front, also, the Russians struck hard against the two centre corps, and drove back the 10th Inf. Div. to the Dniester. Linsingen's northern wing, on the other hand, succeeded in reaching Bortniki and ChodorOw, where, however, it met with fresh resistance. His southern wing was able to secure the N. bank of the Dniester below Halicz.
The pursuit by Mackensen to the N. and by Bohm to the E. had been determined automatically by the lines of the Russian retreat. The continuation of the offensive on the grand scale, however, would involve the choice of only one of these directions for the main attack; and whether this attack were delivered to the N. or to the E. there would be serious risk of a Russian assault on its open flank.
After the battle of Lemberg the Russians had concentrated their main strength between the Vistula and the Bug, while a smaller force had retired into East Galicia. Consequently, an advance by Mackensen northwards must bring him into contact with the main force of the Russians, while the protection of his eastern flank would be comparatively easy, owing to the favourable configuration of the ground in East Galicia, where, in order to assail him, the Russians would have to cross several tributaries of the Dniester flowing from N. to S. The protection of the N. flank of an army advancing eastward would be more difficult, and would require considerable covering forces. These considerations outweighed the fact that an eastward advance would be in the same direction as had hitherto been followed in the attack, and also the prospect of freeing East Galicia, which it was felt could be postponed.
The thrust to the N., moreover, was better fitted to meet the general situation. The centre of the Russian front was still bent far forward into Russian Poland. The greatest possible success to be aimed at by the Austro-Germans was to envelop this front, and, at the proper moment, helped by the pressure of their northern wing (the German E. front), to surround it. Were this to succeed, East Galicia would fall into their hands of itself. The northward advance was therefore decided on.
This might be carried out by the IV. and XI. Armies, in conjunction with the main body of the II., swinging northwards, leaving the remainder of the latter with the Southern and VII. Armies to drive the Russians out of East Galicia, or at least to contain them. A more promising alternative, however, was to leave the whole II. Army in East Galicia, while Mackensen led the northward thrust with the IV. and XI. Armies, together with fresh forces to be marched up between the II. and the XI. Armies. The shortening of the front at the end of June, as a result of the progress made by Woyrsch and Puhallo, made it possible to withdraw Puhallo's army from the front and form it up behind the inner wings of the II. and XI. Armies. Moreover, the XLI. Res. Corps, which had been ordered to the western front, was not now urgently needed there in view of recent favourable developments of the situation, and was thus for the moment available. On the other hand, the complete withdrawal of the II. Army from East Galicia appeared dangerous. The Austrian and German High Commands decided therefore for the second plan.
The regrouping between the Vistula and the Bug could be completed, and the northward advance begun, by the middle of July. The armies, meanwhile, continued to carry out their previous tasks. Mackensen followed up the retiring Russians to the N., Bohm to the E. The ever-widening gap between the two armies was provisionally filled up pending the arrival of the I. Army by the extension of the II. Army's left wing to Kamionka Strumil6wa and to the Rata, and the concentration of strong reserves behind their N. wing.
By the evening of the 25th all the XI. Army's measures for the continuance of the pursuit had been completed. On the morning of the 26th the attack was to be continued on the whole front; the XVII. Corps on the right of the IV. Army, which adjoined the XI. Army on the W., was to join in and occupy the Loczwa depression N. of CieszanOw, while Bohm's wing corps to the E. of it was to advance on Kamionka StrumilOwa.
The southern wing of the II. Army (5 corps), in the battle of Bobrka, stormed the positions of the Russian VI. Corps W. of the Biala Potok, and by the evening of the 25th had forced it back to the hills E. of that brook. The XVIII. and XIX. Corps also advanced successfully E. of Budkew and at Dzwinogrod, while Brussilov's southern wing on both sides of JaryczGw Nowy delivered a succession of fierce counter-attacks against the northern wing of the II. Army.
By this date the Southern Army also had not only repulsed all the attacks directed against its centre, but in the battle of Bukaczowce had occupied the whole left bank of the Dniester from Bortniki to W. of Halicz.
The attack of the VI. Guard and XXII. Corps of the XI. Army pressed forward in to the line Bojanicze - Mosty MleBrusno Stary. In the afternoon Mackensen's left wing corps succeeded in defeating the Russians and, carrying with it the adjoining Austro-Hungarian XVII. Corps of the IV. Army, pressed forward. By the evening of the 27th the Russians were falling back before these corps and on the whole front of the XI. Army. The II. Army had been heavily engaged on both these days, had taken Jaryczow Nowy and driven the Russians behind the Swirz; the Russians evacuated all the right bank of the Dniester before that army's S. wing and the N. wing of the Southern Army, and abandoned Halicz on the approach of Hoffmann's corps.
Next day they fell back behind the Gnila Lipa, followed by the northern wing of the Southern Army and the main body of Bohm's, while the latter's northern wing reached the Bug, S.E. of Kamionka Strumilowa. The XI. Army drove back the Russians north-westwards, its left wing corps and the adjoining XVII. Corps being heavily engaged at Narol Miasto. These corps reached Osuchy and Tarnawatka; the centre of the XI. Army gained the area S. of Laszczow and S.W. of Krystynopol, while the Beskiden Corps filled the gap between Kamionka and the Rata. The IV. Army passed the Upper Tanew.
Early on the 29th the Russians evacuated their lines facing the last-named army and retired to the ridge bordering the Tanew region to the N. The Archduke's army was in touch with them again by the evening, in spite of the difficulty of advancing over tracks through heavy sand and swamp, the destruction of the bridges and the partial obliteration of the roads, and in spite, too, of having had to fight repeated actions with the Russian rearguards.
The left wing corps of the IV. Army was, meanwhile, on the 30th, to push forward with all possible speed on Annopol, in order to menace the flank of the Russians opposing the I. Army and force them also to retire. This was successfully accomplished by midday, and before nightfall the main body of the I. Army had reached the Kamiena and the area S. of Tarlow in pursuit, while parts of it were already being prepared for transport away. On the 30th the whole of the IV. Army was able to begin its advance into the mountainous district of Krasnik and Turobin; little opposition was met with, as the Russians had fallen back to fresh positions on the heights N. of the Wyinica and N. of the Por. The left and centre of the XI. Army, driving before them the hostile rearguards, which fell back behind the Wolica and to the area S. of Grubieszow, advanced beyond Szczebrzeiyn, Zamosz and Tyszowce.
The Battle on the Gnila Lipa. - Meanwhile on the Gnila Lipa front there developed a severe battle which continued till July 4. By the end of June the II. and Southern Armies had, after a series of determined attacks, secured a footing on the heights to the E. of the river at several points. On July 1 the offensive of the Southern Army here met with a decisive success. Bothmer and Kosch, advancing against the line held by the Russians' XVIII., XXIII. and XI. Corps on the front Firlejow - Bursztyn, drove them back, despite their fierce resistance and determined counter-attacks, behind the Narajowka. A slight check suffered on the same date by the 51st Honved Inf. Div. on the southern wing of the II. Army was thus fully counterbalanced, and the idea of stopping the pursuit on the Gnila Lipa, which had occurred to the II. Army, was once more abandoned.
The success achieved was increased during the following days. The Russians in face of BOhm's southern wing evacuated their ground under pressure of the Southern Army's advance, whereupon Bohm also began to move forward across the Gnila Lipa. On the night of the 2nd BOhm's centre also assumed the offensive successfully, and drove back the enemy to the heights W. of the Zlota Lipa, where they were again attacked all along their front on the 3rd.
During the night of the 4th the Russians, unable to hold out against Bohm's and Linsingen's vigorous assaults, abandoned this height also, and took up positions behind the Upper Bug and behind the Zlota Lipa. Here they intended to entrench themselves so strongly as to be able to offer a prolonged resistance. Bohm and Linsingen continued their attacks without achieving any conspicuous successes. Both sides, therefore, settled down to trench warfare, using the respite to recuperate and regroup their troops. It was not till the end of Aug. that heavy fighting again developed on the Zlota Lipa front (Campaign of Rovno).
In the middle of July Pflanzer-Baltin attacked the Russian IX. Army's lines between the Sereth and Strypa, in order to assist the main offensive by containing the Russian forces opposed to him. This was known as the battle of the Dniester (July 14-19). At the same time his northern wing advanced across the Zlota Lipa below Zadarow and established itself on the E. bank. The Russians stubbornly held their ground and delivered counter-attacks, so that six days of fighting produced no results worth speaking of. The main object of the operations had, however, been fully secured.
Second Battle of Krasnik, July 1 - .14 - The Austrian IV. Army, pushing forward into the mountainous area of Krasnik and Turobin, had now reached the area already made famous by the successful campaign of Dankl's army in Aug. 1914. The Russians were now established N. of the Wyinica and the Por in order to stop, or at least to delay, any further advance of Archduke Joseph Ferdinand's army and the left of the XI. Army which was next to it. Strong Russian concentrations had moreover been reported at Vladimir-Volhynskiy and Grubieszow. Gen. Russky, the commander of the Russian N.W. front, appeared to be putting up a determined resistance.
The Archduke's troops had reached the Wyinica and the Por without meeting with any particular opposition, and, in spite of their exhaustion, at once began their attacks. The Austrian X. Corps took possession of Krasnik in the first rush. At the same time the German X. Corps of the XI. Army forced the passage of the Por after overcoming stiff opposition, while the XXII. and Guard Corps secured the heights on the N. bank of the Labunka after fierce fighting.
On July 2 the offensive was to be continued by both armies at all costs. An assault group composed of five divisions of the XIV. and IX. Corps (IV. Army) was formed under command of Field-Marshal-Lt. Roth for the actual breaking through of the hostile positions E. of Krasnik. The Russians, however, anticipating some such move, had strengthened their forces at Krasnik, and forced the Austrian X. Corps by very violent counterattacks to evacuate it. However, when, after the necessary artillery preparation, Roth's attacking wedge drove deeply into their front by way of Studzianka on July 3, the Russians had to cease their attacks; whereupon the X. Corps reoccupied Krasnik, while the 47th Res. Div. (VII. Corps) pushed four battalions to the N. bank of the Wyinica. The right wing of the army had also continued its offensive, and with the German X. Corps had advanced completely across the Por; while the XXII. and Guard Corps had worked forward nearly as far as the Wolica after heavy fighting. The right wing of the XI. Army had reached the area Terebinn-Krylow and to the S.E. of Sokal, whence the Beskiden Corps continued the line as before to Kamionka Strumilowa. The XLI. Corps was sent back to the army and placed behind its right wing.
Puhallo's army, meanwhile, had given a striking sign of its presence by taking the Russian bridgehead of Tarlow and clearing the angle between the Kamiena and the Vistula. After this success the rest of this army was also held in readiness for transport elsewhere; Woyrsch assumed command of all the forces on the left bank of the Vistula, and Bredow's division relieved the I. Army in its positions. It was reckoned that they would finish taking up their positions in the area behind the inner wings of the II. and XI. Armies by July 13. Mackensen, meanwhile, in view of the Russian concentration of forces at Vladimir Volhynsk and Grubiesz6w and the great extension of his front which must result from any further advance, resolved to stop the pursuit by the XI. Army and only to resume the further offensive northwards when Puhallo's army had joined him. The right wing of the XI. Army therefore ceased to attack. The left wing, on the other hand, had to continue its advance in order to keep pace with the progress of the Archduke's attack; it pushed forward to Czernieczin and Staw, while the centre had to repulse violent counter-attacks. On its right wing a new group from the II. Army under Szurmay took over the sector between Kamionka Strumilbwa and the Rata from the Beskiden Corps.
On the 4th Roth's group met with complete success. Pressing forward into the line Stara Wies - Wilkolaz it carried with it the XVII. Corps on its right beyond Tarnawka, while the X. Corps on its left, with part of the VIII. Corps, reached Urzedowka.
Next day the attack was successfully continued along the whole front of the IV. Army. The XVII. Corps reached Gilczew and the left wing of the XI. Army the Zolkiewka.
On the 6th the X. and VIII. Corps had very hard fighting. The Russians now really seemed to be pulling themselves together for a counter-blow, and they began by offering a desperate resistance to the attack of the two corps. The Command of the IV. Army followed their attack with considerable anxiety, for they had made very little headway up to the present, while on the front of Roth's group and the XVII. Corps a cessation in the fighting was ordered so as to allow of regrouping the forces and preparing for a continuance of the break-through.
During this pause, on July 7 a serious set-back occurred. On the 5th an intercepted Russian wireless message had notified the presence of the VI. Siberian Corps and a grenadier div., both consisting of entirely fresh troops. On the 6th the Russian resistance noticeably stiffened and on the 7th the Siberian VI. Corps energetically attacked the inner wings of the XIV. and X. Corps. The 106th Inf. Div. and the X. Corps were driven back to the heights N. of Krasnik and behind the Wyznica, and the right wing of the VIII. Corps had to retire in conformity. During the next few days the Russians secured further successes, forcing back the XVII. Corps and the 47th Reserve Div. of the VIII. Corps. But by the 10th the IV. Army, which had been hastily reinforced by two cavalry divisions and some Landsturm formations from the I. Army, had overcome the crisis by its own strength. The 4th Inf. Div. from the I. Army, which had been sent to Zolkiew, had, it is true, now been placed under it, but before its arrival the Russian attacks had died down and even showed signs of turning into a retreat.
This counter-blow, thus fortunately parried, had no serious effect on Mackensen's army, of which the regrouping could be carried out as planned, under cover of the activity on the IV. Army's front, almost without the enemy noticing it.
After the capture of the Tarlow bridgehead the transfer of the I. Army proceeded rapidly. The Army Command arrived in Zolkiew by one of the earliest trains, and there took over the command of Szurmay's group and superintended the assembly of the army on the Rata and the Bug as far as Krylow. The German High Command was at the same time arranging for the formation of a new German army, "the Army of the Bug," under Gen. von Linsingen, which was to operate between the XI. and I. Armies, and to consist of 7 infantry and one cavalry divisions from the XI. Army and one infantry and one cavalry division from the Southern Army.
The Russians, in the meantime, had also undertaken a regrouping of their forces. At the beginning of the battle of Krasnik the German XI. and Austro-Hungarian IV. Armies were faced by the Russian III. Army, which had been gradually brought up to a strength of 26 infantry and 6 cavalry divisions. This force, already too large for effective handling from a single centre, had further been increased by the arrival of two fresh corps in the Wlodawa area, of which the one was to reinforce the III. and the other the IV. Army. In order to simplify the problem of command the Grand Duke Nicholas resolved to break up the III. Army, the five western corps forming the new III.
Army, and the other six being reorganized into a new XIII. Army. After completion of the regrouping, Mackensen's command consisted of the IV., XI., Bug, and I. Armies. With these he was to subdue Russian Poland by means of a new offensive to the N. in conjunction with Woyrsch and the IX. German Army W. of the Vistula. (E. J.)
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