Battle of Stalluponen, 17 August 1914 (East Prussia)

Battle of Stalluponen, 17 August 1914 (East Prussia)

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The First World War , John Keegan. An excellent narrative history of the First World War, especially strong on the buildup to war. Good on detail without losing the overall picture. Keegan keeps to a factual account of the war, leaving out the judgement calls that dominate some books. [see more]

Battle of stalluponen end date

The end. August 17, 1914, between. Info. It was a minor German success, but did little to upset the Russian timetable. Although the importance of the Eastern Front in World War II is now well established, the history of the fighting on that front from 1914 to 1918 is hardly known outside the Battle of Tannenburg. The battle began August 14, 1914, between. Battle of Lorraine. First Battle at Ypres, Flanders, Belgium 1914 The most damaged area in all of Europe Great Britain lost 86,000 men 25. The First Battle of the Aisne marked the end of mobile warfare on the Western Front and the start of the period of static trench warfare that would last until 1918. Belligerents Russian Empire German EmpireCommanders and leaders Paul von Rennenkampf Hermann von FrançoisStrength 1st Army (200,000) I Corps of German Eighth Army (40,000)Casualties and losses 5,000 killed or wounded3,000 captured 1,297 casualties The Battle of Stallupönen, fought between Russian and German armies on August 17, 1914, was the opening battle of World War I on the Eastern … tamsinbrads. Russian General Rennenkampf 's plan was to invade East Prussia. An escalation of threats and mobilization orders followed the incident, leading to the outbreak of World War 1 in mid - August. Aaron18Wheeler. The War to End All Wars It all started when Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, were assassinated by a Serbian nationalist, Gavrilo Princip, in June of 1914. Aug 20, 1914. Overly eager to get stuck in, they’ve piled forward and initiated the Battle of Stalluponen, a vast, confused mess between Eighth Army and the Russian 1st Army. Battle of Marne Attrition = the enemy must be worn down to the point of collapse by continuous losses Stalemate = a point where neither side can achieve victory 23. Involving some 250 ships and 100,000 men, this battle off Denmark’s North Sea coast was the only major naval surface engagement of World War I. The Battle of Stallupönen, fought between Russian and German armies on August 17, 1914, was the opening battle of World War I on the Eastern Front. Battle of Gumbinnen. The Russians sloped off as night fell, no doubt traumatised by the German use of a … The Battle of Stalluponen was the opening battle of World War I on the Eastern Front, a theater of that war largely overlooked in the West. Spanish Action Vocab 9 Terms. Explanation: The battle of Stalluponen is considered the first battle on the eastern front. The Russians had the worst of the slogging match, with German weight of artillery being a decisive factor. Dates: Battles 12 Terms. Battle of Stalluponen. The German’s corp of men at the Battle of Stalluponen was lead by General Hermann von Francois. Battles - The Battle of Lutsk, 1916 The Battle of Lutsk of 4-6 June 1916 heralded the launch of the Russian Brusilov Offensive and started the remarkable run of sweeping successes enjoyed by Russian Commander Alexei Brusilov until the Offensive later ran out of steam. The German General Herman Von Francois was not ready for the Russian attack. OTHER SETS BY THIS CREATOR. Important Figures & Monarchs In World War I 42 Terms. Battle of the Ardennes. By the end of it, a Russian division has been scattered and 1st Army is falling back towards its guns, eventually drawing the pursuing Germans onto heavy artillery fire. On the morning of August 17, 1914 Rennenkampf marched into Germany with 200,000 men behind him. August 24, 1914, between. Ypres, Flanders, Belgium (1914) 24. 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Battle of Stalluponen, 17 August 1914 (East Prussia) - History

By Eric Niderost

On August 2, 1914, Russian Czar Nicholas II appeared on the balcony of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg to formally proclaim a state of war between Holy Russia and its bellicose neighbor, Germany. Thousands of people packed the square in front of the palace, sweltering under a brutal summer sun but still exultant. To them Nicholas was the “Little Father” who would lead them to victory over their hated foe.

Nicholas, bearded and dressed in a simple khaki uniform, was accompanied by his elegant wife, Alexandra. The czar tried to speak, but the crowd was so vast that the noise and tumult of the assembled throngs drowned out his words. Suddenly, the crowd knelt and spontaneously began singing “God Save the Czar,” the national anthem. In the emotional moment many people began to weep, including the czar and the czarina. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Russia would prevail against Germany.

But wars are not won with speeches and tears, and before long reality set in. Russia possessed the largest army in Europe, with a peacetime strength of 1,400,000 men. When fully mobilized, another 3,100,000 reserves could be added to that total. Once aroused, the Russian bear could be a formidable opponent. The Germans rightly feared an army that was nicknamed “the Russian steamroller” and was seemingly capable of flattening its enemies with sheer numbers.

The Ambitious War Plans of Tsar Nicholas

Germany seemed vulnerable on paper because Russian-controlled Poland—the so-called Polish Salient—pressed like a mailed fist against Germany’s western and northwestern borders. As war plans evolved, Russia’s Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Armies would be deployed against Germany’s ally Austria-Hungary. The Ninth Army would be kept in the St. Petersburg area to guard against enemy naval incursions. That left the First and Second Armies free for operations against the Germans.

Meanwhile, France was left virtually alone to face the German might. According to the Schlieffen Plan, Germany’s long-standing blueprint for a two-front war in Europe, seven-eighths of the German Army would swing in a wide arc across Belgium and northern France, defeating French forces in detail. Once France was defeated, the Germans could then turn east and deal with the Russians. The plan was based on the theory that full Russian mobilization would be glacially slow. On August 4, French ambassador Maurice Paleologue called on the czar to impress upon him the need for haste. He implored Nicholas to take the offensive immediately, before the French Army was crushed. Convinced, the czar assured the ambassador that the Russian Army would attack as soon as mobilization was complete.

Paleologue next called on the Russian commander in chief, Grand Duke Nicholas, the czar’s cousin, commonly called Uncle Nicholas. At six feet, six inches tall, Nicholas literally towered over his contemporaries. He was known as a competent if not particularly brilliant soldier. The French ambassador was blunt: “How soon will you order the offensive?” he asked. “As soon as I feel strong enough,” the Grand Duke replied. “It will probably be the fourteenth of August.” On paper, at least, the Russians had promised that they would begin an offensive 15 days after the start of mobilization—well before German calculations assumed they would.

It was decided that the first Russian offensive would be directed against East Prussia. General Yakov Zhilinsky, commander of the Northwest Front Group, had the First and Second Armies to achieve their objectives. The First Army, under General Paul von Rennenkampf, consisted of six and a half infantry divisions and five cavalry divisions, some 210,000 men altogether. They were to strike west, pushing forward in the direction of Königsberg and attacking any German forces in their path. Meanwhile, the Second Army, some 206,000 effectives under General Alexander Samsonov, would come up from the south, swinging around the Masurian Lakes region into the rear of the engaged German forces.

The ambitious plan was nothing less than a double envelopment that would rival Hannibal’s triumph centuries before. With the bulk of the German forces tied up in the west, the capture of East Prussia would be an unforeseen calamity. Berlin itself would be threatened, and if the German capital was captured, the Germans would have to sue for peace. The Russian plan was bold and depended much on precise timing, but with enough luck there was a chance they could pull it off.

Russia’s Weaknesses

Yet in many ways Russia remained unprepared for modern war. The disastrous Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 had been a wake-up call, a stern warning to modernize the Russian armed forces. Some reforms were put in place, but it was estimated that Russia would not be ready for a major European conflict until 1917. Above all, modern war demanded that nations have modern transportation systems and a fully functioning industrial base to sustain armies in the field. For every factory in Russia, there were 150 in Great Britain.

Anticipating war with Germany, France poured vast sums of money into Russian railroad construction, but in 1914 the results still fell short of what was needed. For every yard of Russian track per square mile, Germany had 10. As if that weren’t bad enough, Russian railroads had a different gauge than German railroads. That meant that Russian supply trains had to halt at the border and transfer their cargo to horse-drawn transport. The hasty mobilization meant that many Russian units lacked field bakeries and even medical supplies. There was also a crippling shortage of telephone wire, telegraph equipment, and trained signal corpsmen. There were few trained cryptographers, which meant Russian messages were often read by the Germans.

The Germans were aware of these weaknesses, and they were shocked and surprised when the Russians assumed the offensive so quickly. The task of guarding East Prussia was assigned to Lt. Gen. Maximilian von Prittwitz’s Eighth Army. Prittwitz was 66 years old and so overweight that he was called “Fatty” behind his back. Lethargic and overcautious, the only thing Prittwitz had going for himself was that he had a highly competent deputy chief of staff, Colonel Max Hoffmann. Hoffmann analyzed the situation and concluded that Rennenkampf’s First Army would invade first. If and when the Russians crossed the frontier, Hoffmann wanted to meet them at Gumbinnen, 25 miles from the border. Hoffmann wanted to lure the Russians into East Prussia, forcing them to stretch their supply and communications lines before pouncing on them by surprise.

“Kosaken Kommen!”

In the meantime, advance elements of the First Army approached the frontier. General Basil Gourko led a cavalry division and an infantry division across the border as dawn was breaking on the morning of August 12. There was some skirmishing, but German troops quickly melted into the countryside. Gourko’s objective was the town of Marggrabowa, some five miles from the Russian border. Marggrabowa’s streets were empty, but in the distance Gourko heard the chatter of a German machine gun. The Russians opened up with their own machine guns, and the German gun fell silent. Gourko and a squadron of dismounted lancers quickly took the center of town. There was no further resistance. Fearful townsfolk peered from upper-story windows but eventually came out to watch the invaders.

Although there were still people in town, most were elderly. It seemed that most of the townsfolk, along with the German soldiers, had fled the area. It was a pattern that would be repeated in the coming days. Hundreds, then thousands, of common Germans were on the roads, fleeing westward with the dreaded cry of “Kosaken kommen!” on their lips. The Cossacks, those hard-riding horsemen of the steppes, were particularly—and rightly—feared by both soldiers and civilians.

This was bad enough from the Germans’ point of view, but worse was soon to follow. General Hermann von François, commander of the Eighth Army’s I Corps, didn’t like the Prittwitz plan of engaging the Russians so deep inside German territory. Most of his men were native East Prussians, and the idea of yielding ground to the enemy rankled François. He felt that he knew better than the dunderheads at headquarters.

Rennenkampf’s First Army crossed into East Prussia in the early morning hours of August 17. As Rennenkampf’s III Corps approached Stalluponen, they detected elements of François’s I Corps. Soon battle was joined, with François watching the action from a church steeple. German commanders back at headquarters were shocked, then enraged, to receive a message from François that he was fighting the Russians at Stalluponen, only five miles from the Russian border. François had disobeyed orders, and in the German Army such insubordination was a cardinal sin. François was immediately ordered to break off the action and retire to Gumbinnen, 20 miles away.

François ignored the messages, so a major general was sent to deliver the order in person. “The General-in-Chief orders you to stop the battle immediately!” the major general shouted. François was not cowed. “Inform General von Prittwitz that General von François will break off the engagement when he has defeated the Russians!”

As events unfolded, the Russian 27th Division was mauled and some 3,000 Russian prisoners were taken. The “Slavic horde” was checked, at least for the moment, and François belatedly fell back as he was originally ordered. Although one division had been badly chewed up and retired for reorganization, the rest of Rennenkampf’s army was intact. The advance would continue.

The Battle of Gumbinnen

François’s I Corps opened the Battle of Gumbinnen with an artillery barrage in the predawn hours of August 20. At 4 am, the German infantry groped its way forward in the predawn darkness, stumbling toward the Russian lines on the far right. The sun soon rose over an awesome spectacle—line after line of Germans in field-gray uniforms, distinctive in their pickelhaube spiked helmets.

Russian artillery opened up with a deafening roar, carpeting the area with well-placed salvos. The neat gray lines were torn asunder, bloodied soldiers tossed about like rag dolls. For once, the Russian gunners ignored warnings about the scarcity of shells, using 440 per day when the accepted rate was 244 rounds. The Germans kept going, even though a nearby road, once stark white, was now gray with the corpses of the fallen. Then the Russian guns fell silent—they had run out of ammunition. Free of the tormenting artillery, the German I Corps pressed forward and smashed into the Russian 28th Division, decimating it in the process.

In the Russian center and left, Rennenkampf’s fortunes improved. The problem with the German attack was that it was in some respects premature. François again had jumped the gun and launched an attack before his support—General August von Mackensen’s XVII Corps and General Otto von Below’s I Reserve Corps—could come up. Mackensen and Below had a long march to the battlefield, and entered the fray only at 8 am. François’s attack on the left had alerted the Russian center and right, and the delays that Mackensen and Below experienced gave Rennenkampf time to prepare a warm reception. When Mackensen’s troops came within range, the Russian guns opened fire with horrific results. Dirty blossoms of smoke and flame ripped ranks apart, sending survivors scurrying for cover.

Some units tried to charge forward, and, out of nine advances, seven managed to reach the Russian lines, where the fighting was hand-to-hand. The Russian peasant soldier, often scorned and derided, was a tough and stubborn close-range fighter. The battered Germans were forced to give way time and again. The shelling was so heavy that some German formations never even got near the German lines. Some Russian shells landed on German ammunition wagons, heightening the confusion and terror.

At last, flesh and blood could stand no more. A company of Germans suddenly threw away their arms and ran. A neighboring company panicked and began to run as well. Soon, whole regiments, then battalions, caught the contagion of fear and took to their heels. Roads and fields were jammed with fleeing men. Staff officers tried to halt the stampede, but to no avail. Mackensen, appalled and embarrassed, rushed along in a staff car urging men to come to their senses and return to duty. The rout continued, and frightened troops did not stop until some 15 miles from the battlefield. Below’s Reserve Corps was heavily engaged by this time, but Mackensen’s sudden retreat exposed his left flank, forcing him to withdraw.

The Russians had been roughly handled in the battle’s early stages, but by nightfall it was clear that Gumbinnen was a Russian victory. All that was needed was a vigorous pursuit to clinch the triumph. Unaccountably, Rennenkampf froze. The Russian general basically did nothing to follow up his initial victory. The German forces on his center and left were in full retreat, but François’s I Corps had given the Russians a bloody nose earlier and still were somewhere on the left.

Retreat From East Prussia

Rennenkampf didn’t want to chase the Germans blindly, only to be hit on his flank by François’s somewhat battered but still potent force on the left. There were other reasons for First Army’s inactivity. Rennenkampf’s supply line was tenuous at best, and a rapid push forward might stretch it to the breaking point. He decided to stay put, at least for a few days. Meanwhile, the Russian Second Army crossed the German-Russian border on August 21-22. Samsonov had been recalled to active duty from sick leave, and he was completely unfamiliar with his new subordinates. Since there were no suitable east-west railroads in the region, the Second Army had to march to the border, foot-slogging through sandy wastes sprinkled with forests, lakes, and marshes.

The Second Army’s supply problems were even worse than those of the First Army. They marched through a virtual wilderness inhabited by a few poor and wretched Polish peasants. Russian supply trains depended on horse-drawn vehicles, and in these sandy wastes everything moved at a snail’s pace. There were few towns worth mentioning, so the Russians could not requisition food and fodder from the usual sources. By the time the Second Army crossed the German border they had been on the march for nine days. They were approaching exhaustion, and tea and bread—the staples of the Russian soldiers’ diet—were scarce. Mobilization had been so hasty that the troops even lacked field bakeries. Only a trickle of rations reached the long-suffering troops.

World War I: Fallen Russian soldiers after the Battle of Tannenberg, September 1914.

The German defeat at Gumbinnen sent shock waves spreading through East Prussia and Germany proper. Even before the battle, aristocratic refugees had loudly complained about their estates being overrun by Slavic barbarians. Nowhere was the consternation greater than at Eighth Army headquarters. Prittwitz was shaken to the core by stories of German soldiers turning tail and running. When the general heard reports that Samsonov’s army had crossed the border, he completely lost his nerve.

Earlier, German Army Chief of Staff Helmuth von Moltke had told Prittwitz to keep his army intact and, if pressed, retire to the Vistula River. But Prittwitz now decided to retreat behind the Vistula, some 200 miles away. That would leave East Prussia effectively in Russian hands. East Prussia had been the heart of the old Prussian monarchy, the historic base where Teutonic Knights had overrun and colonized the Slavic peoples. To abandon East Prussia would be unthinkable. Moreover, as the Russians pressed westward, Berlin itself would be threatened.

“I am Ready”

When Moltke heard that Prittwitz wanted to retreat immediately, he was aghast. There was no doubt about it—Prittwitz would have to be replaced. Moltke’s choice fell on Paul von Hindenburg, a retired 67-year-old general whose Prussian roots ran deep. It was said that as a lad he had actually known an old man who had been Frederick the Great’s gardener. The old soldier accepted the post with a simple, “I am ready.” General Erich von Ludendorff was chosen as Hindenburg’s chief of staff and transferred from the Western Front, where he had recently distinguished himself at Liege.

Even before Hindenburg’s and Ludendorff’s arrival, Hoffmann had persuaded his superiors, including the now-dismissed Pittwitz, to accept a daring plan he had worked out for victory. In essence, Hoffmann proposed that the Eighth Army disengage from the Russian First Army and turn south to face Samsonov’s Second Army. Only a thin cavalry screen would monitor Rennenkampf’s movements. Hoffmann wanted to turn the tables on the Russians. If all went well, they, not the Germans, would be the victims of a double envelopment. Both the German I Corps and the III Reserve Corps would be shipped by train to the right flank of the XX Corps, now facing the advancing Second Army. The I Reserve Corps and XVII Corps would also march south and take positions on the XX Corps’ left.

German troops in trenches with guns at the ready, in East Prussia, possibly at Tannenberg.

Hoffman was gambling that Rennenkampf would not move in support of Samsonov. If Rennenkampf stayed where he was, or continued northwestward to Königsberg, the Second Army’s fate would be sealed. But if he swung southward, he could fall on the rear of the Eighth Army as it faced Samsonov. It would be a disaster.

Hindenburg and Ludendorff approved Hoffmann’s plan when they arrived on August 23. There would still be some anxious moments because it would take several days for the German Army to redeploy. But if all went well, Samsonov’s Second Army would fall into the trap.

“Hurry Up the Advance of the Second Army”

Unaware of German plans, Samsonov was still pressing forward, urged to hurry by Northwest Front commander General Zhilinsky. “Hurry up the advance of the Second Army,” Zhilinsky demanded, “and hasten your operations.” Samsonov protested, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. The Second Army commander explained he was “advancing according to timetable, without halting, covering marches of more than 12 miles over sand. I cannot go more quickly.”

Samsonov’s supply line had broken down, literally and figuratively. Horse-drawn wagons and gun carriages became mired in the sand. Bakery wagons were missing, and foraging in enemy territory was difficult, especially in a sand-choked, marshy wilderness. Samsonov despairingly told Zhilinsky that “the country is devastated, the horses have long been without oats, and there is no bread.”

Zhilinsky would have none of it. He was certain that the Russians were on the verge of a great victory. On August 21 Samsonov’s XV Corps under General Nicholas Martos ran into elements of the German XX Corps, and fighting began. The Germans withdrew, so Martos pushed forward and took Soldau and Neidenburg, 10 miles inside the East Prussian border. When Cossack patrols entered Neidenburg, Germans began taking pot shots at them from second-story windows. Informed of this, Martos immediately ordered an artillery bombardment of the town. Half of Neidenburg’s 470 houses were destroyed in the barrage. Martos went forward, captured the town, and spent the night in the home of its mayor.

Intercepting Two Russian Messages

The Battle of Tannenberg began in earnest on August 26. The Second Army’s five corps were spread over a front of some 60 miles. The German XX Corps, hard-pressed in part because Hoffmann’s trap was not yet ready to be sprung, slowly gave way before the Russian onslaught. The Hoffmann plan called for François’s I Corps to smash into Samsonov’s left wing, but François initially refused. His heavy artillery and some of his infantry were still detraining from their long, roundabout ride from the north. Angered at this new round of insubordination, Hindenburg and Ludendorff got into a car and drove to I Corps headquarters. Confronted in person, François reluctantly gave way.

There was still the nagging fear that Rennenkampf would suddenly awaken and fall on the German rear when they were preoccupied with trapping Samsonov. Hoffmann stopped at Montovo, where a signal operator handed him two messages that had been intercepted from the Russians. They had been sent in the clear, with no attempt to cipher or encrypt them. After a quick glance at the intercepts, Hoffmann jumped back into his car and ordered his chauffeur to drive at top speed to catch Hindenburg and Ludendorff.

Germany: 1914. German infantrymen attack Russian artillery fire. Probably film photo.

After a few miles, Hoffmann could see the Hindenburg staff car just ahead. Without bothering to slow down or stop their quarry, Hoffmann simply had his chauffeur drive parallel to Hindenburg’s vehicle. Hoffmann thrust the messages into the commander’s car. Both cars came to a screeching stop while Hindenburg and Ludendorff pored over intercepted Russians messages. One missive, sent by Rennenkampf, showed that the First Army was proceeding northwestward toward Königsberg, according to the initial Russian timetable. Rennenkampf was not about to attack the German rear. The second message, from Samsonov, indicated that he was thrusting deeply to the west—in other words, he thought the German Army was in full retreat. Ludendorff could not believe his eyes—the Russian intercepts were almost too good to be true.

Encircling the Russian Center

Fighting continued through August 26 and 27. The Russian right wing, separated from the Russian center, came into contact with Mackensen’s XVII Corps and the I Reserve Corps near Lautern. The Russian right wing was badly beaten and thrown into headlong retreat southward to Olschienen and Wallen, more than 20 miles away. Some Russian soldiers were trapped with their backs to Bossau Lake, and then drowned.

On August 27, François attacked the Russian left near Usdau. Exhausted and starving, Samsonov’s left fell back in disorder. By nightfall, the Russian Second Army’s wings were broken and in retreat. The only thing left to do was to try to extricate his center. Yet Samsonov inexplicably ordered his center to push forward, virtually assuring that it would be encircled and trapped.

At dawn on the morning of August 28, François and his I Corps swung eastward and reached Neidenburg. The door had swung closed. The Russian center—the XIII, XV, and much of the XXIII corps—was trapped. Formations disintegrated, discipline broke down, and the remnants of Second Army became a mob of starving, footsore men stumbling around the dense Prussian forests.

Some units attempted a breakout. Elements of the XIII Corps made a particularly noble effort the Nevsky Regiment led a desperate evening charge that captured four German guns. But later that night, the XIII Corps soon came to a clearing, and on the other side were manned German machine-gun posts. The open ground became a killing field, well lit by crisscrossing German searchlights. The XIII Corps had had no food or water for two days, but the men mounted a series of frantic attacks to escape the German net. Five times the Russians went forward, only to be raked by chattering machine-gun fire. After the fifth failed assault, the Russians gave up the effort, melting into the surrounding woods. They were later taken prisoner.

92,000 Russians Taken Prisoner

All was lost. Samsonov, ill with asthma and crushed by shame, walked into the woods and shot himself. His body was later found by the Germans. Perhaps 10,000 Second Army men escaped the debacle. Casualty figures were uncertain, because of the countless Russians who perished of wounds in the forest or drowned in the marshes and lakes, but approximately 92,000 Russians were taken prisoner and another 30,000 wounded were added to the total. Some 500 guns were also taken. Hindenburg and Ludendorff became national heroes, but the German public gave little recognition to Colonel Hoffmann, the real architect of victory.

In early September, the German Eighth Army again took on Rennenkampf in the First Battle of the Masurian Lakes. When Rennenkampf finally woke up to the Second Army’s peril, he tried to send aid. It was too little, too late the nearest First Army unit was still more than 45 miles away. The First Army’s southern wing was dangerously spread out from the rest of Rennenkampf’s forces. By September 2, the mopping up at Tannnenberg was almost complete. Hindenburg turned his attention to Rennenkampf, hoping for another triumph. The German general was helped by the arrival of two corps from the Western Front. The Russians maneuvered well, and Rennenkampf became aware of the danger of being outflanked.

The German Eighth Army and Russian Second Army clashed. To buy some time, Rennenkampf ordered an offensive, a move that actually pushed the German XX Corps back for a few miles. But victory was fleeting. A huge German flanking movement was developing in the south, and to avoid a second disaster there was nothing to do but retreat. Rennenkampf ordered a rapid general withdrawal that was covered by a strong rear guard. The Russian First Army managed to escape, in part because it retreated more rapidly than the Germans advanced.

Tannenberg stands out as one of the very few battles of World War I that was a clear-cut, decisive victory. It could be argued, however, that the unquestioned triumph also sowed the seeds of eventual German defeat. The East Prussian crisis caused many German units that were vitally needed in the west to be hastily transferred to the east. Those troops might have helped defeat France and Great Britain at the Marne. Instead, the Allies stopped the German advance and ensured that the war would become a muddy morass of static trenches. Because the Schlieffen Plan failed in the west, Germany was condemned to four years of bloody stalemate and, ultimately, crushing defeat.

Pincer Movement

The Army advancing from the east was commanded by General Paul von Rennenkampf, while that from the southeast by General Alexander Samsonov. Between them, they had 29 divisions. Against them stood General Maximilian von Prittwitz commanding 13 divisions. Although the Russians had superior numbers, they were ill-equipped and supplied.

Rennenkampf advanced first on August 15, aiming to draw Prittwitz out. Two days later, Samsonov began his advance. Their plan was to catch Prittwitz’s forces between their two armies, trapping the Germans in a pincer movement.

Paul von Rennenkampf, Russian general, 1854–1918, commander of the 1st Russian Army during 1914.

East Prussia WW1 What If

Post by stg 44 » 18 Dec 2010, 21:55

What if the commander of the German 8th army in August 1914, von Prittwitz, had been more resolute at the beginning of the war? At the battles of Stalluponen and Gumbinnen, his timidity and then haste allowed his subordinates to operate uncontrolled and uncoordinated leading to his army's defeat. . 1914_2.jpg

So what if he kept Francois on a shorter leash, preventing the battle of Stalluponen on the 17th and held off on Gumbinnen until his forces were concentrated by the 21st? The 8th army could have hit Rennenkampf's 1st army as a consolidated mass instead of individual corps making uncoordinated efforts and suffering badly as a result. While it would not have been on the scale of Tannenberg or the 1st Masurian lakes, a sudden defeat inflicted just as Rennenkampf started experiencing supply troubles could have given Prittwitz the peace of mind to go after Samsonov at Tanneberg and then turn once again on the 1st army further East (as it likely retreated in the wake of a defeat at Gumbinnen).

Historically Prittwitz panicked after losing at Gumbinnen and phoned OHL about retreating over the Vistula, leaving East Prussia to the Russians. By the next day Prittwitz had recovered his nerve and already had planned the historical battle of Tannenberg by the time he was relieved and more troops from the West were dispatched to the 8th army. Ludendorff and Hindenberg came in just in time to collect the glory from plans already in motion.

Here though Prittwitz will retain his post, probably inflict an equivalent defeat on Samsonov, and not receive two extra corps and a cavalry division that were sorely missed at the Marne. These forces probably would have allowed the Germans to hold on the Marne river instead of falling back to the Aisne, and complete the encirclement of Verdun, which was abandoned in the fall back.

Back in East Prussia Prittwitz is now able to confront Rennenkampf once again, but now lacks the forces to run a Masurian-style attack, which means the German 8th army probably limits itself to limited attacks against vulnerable Russian units while holding on a prepared defensive line until the Western Front settles down.

They then aren't able to really help the Austro-Hungarians in October by attacking the Vistula and San, which paradoxically is actually much better for both the Germans and Austrians, who can spend the time resting and regrouping. I have more ideas about how this could play out, but I'd like to hear from you all.

Leading to 8th Army defeat.

Post by Dave Bender » 18 Dec 2010, 22:47

At Stalluponen and Gumbinen the larger Russian army dished out as much punishment as it received. For Russia that was good enough since they greatly outnumbered Germany in the East. But German 8th Army was not "defeated" in these relatively small engagements. If German 8th Army had been defeated the German offensive at Tannenburg would have been impossible.

In any case attacking Russian 1st Army head on was bad strategy. German Army doctrine emphasized flanking attacks like the one FM Hindenberg conducted at Tannenburg. Replacing Prittwitz with Hindenburg was one of FM Moltke's few good decisions.

Re: Leading to 8th Army defeat.

Post by stg 44 » 18 Dec 2010, 23:37

Dave Bender wrote: That's a bit of a stretch.

At Stalluponen and Gumbinen the larger Russian army dished out as much punishment as it received. For Russia that was good enough since they greatly outnumbered Germany in the East. But German 8th Army was not "defeated" in these relatively small engagements. If German 8th Army had been defeated the German offensive at Tannenburg would have been impossible.

In any case attacking Russian 1st Army head on was bad strategy. German Army doctrine emphasized flanking attacks like the one FM Hindenberg conducted at Tannenburg. Replacing Prittwitz with Hindenburg was one of FM Moltke's few good decisions.

Defeat is a relative term here it means that the Germans retreated after trading casualties with the Russians. The Russians advanced. While 8th army forces were not 'beaten' they lost the field of battle. Historically the Russians were able to engage the Germans piecemeal while on the defensive, losing men only initially when surprised by Francois. There was a significant delay before Mackensen attacked next, but by then Rennenkampf was alerted to the German attack and had time to prepare. Here I am proposing that the Russians get sucked in and are allowed to take Gumbinnen before meeting the German line on the Angerapp. Once engaged the Francois's I corps moves around the north of the Tzullkinner forest, attacking the flank of the Russian 1st army. The delay would also allow the 3rd reserve division, which arrived too late to fight historically, time to arrive, where, reinforced by some Landwehr units, could attack the Russian southern flank.

Hindenberg and Ludendorff did not conduct flanking attacks as often as you suggest. In fact at the Masurian lakes it was Francois who really focused on the flanking/turning maneuver, belatedly opening Ludendorff's eyes to the opportunity. So sayeth Hew Strachan. And Tannenberg was already planned and being executed before Hindenberg and Ludendorff even got involved in the Eastern Front. It was Prittwitz's plan and Ludendorff got credit. So sayeth General Max Hoffmann.

So sayeth Hew Strachan

Post by Dave Bender » 19 Dec 2010, 00:31

Re: So sayeth Hew Strachan

Post by stg 44 » 19 Dec 2010, 00:57

This is an issue we've been over many times German generals and lower level officers in 1914 often disregarded doctrine as there was yet no consensus on which tactics to use. Strachan was not defining doctrine, rather, he was explaining what happened during Hindenberg's battle of the Masurian lakes. Flank attacks are not possible in every situation, much like the Masurian lakes. Prittwitz used flank attacks when he had control over his forces, for example the plan for Tannenberg. He did not have control over Francois at either Stalluponen or Gumbinnen.

Please, let's not make this a pissing contest yet again about German doctrine. Instead could we focus on the main idea that I have illustrated with my poorly-drawn map? It even uses the doctrine of the Exerzier Reglement.

Focus on the main idea

Post by Dave Bender » 19 Dec 2010, 05:49

Germany 8th Army was relatively small. They cannot afford to become decisively engaged at Gumbinnen. Even if they kick the snot out of Russian 1st Army the Russian 2nd Army is likely to cut their rail line from the west. That would leave German 8th Army little choice but to withdraw into the Konigsburg fortress complex where it will be trapped.

FM Hindenburg made the right decision to shift 8th Army west. That way Russian forces won't cut his supply line and (if necessary) line of retreat.

FM Moltke made the right decision to reinforce East Prussia with two additional infantry corps. If German 8th Army had gotten trapped in Konigsburg or elsewhere those two veteran infantry corps could have formed a blocking position to prevent Russian 1st Army from advancing westward.

Re: focus on the main idea

Post by stg 44 » 19 Dec 2010, 20:10

Dave Bender wrote: Germany 8th Army was relatively small. They cannot afford to become decisively engaged at Gumbinnen. Even if they kick the snot out of Russian 1st Army the Russian 2nd Army is likely to cut their rail line from the west. That would leave German 8th Army little choice but to withdraw into the Konigsburg fortress complex where it will be trapped.

FM Hindenburg made the right decision to shift 8th Army west. That way Russian forces won't cut his supply line and (if necessary) line of retreat.

FM Moltke made the right decision to reinforce East Prussia with two additional infantry corps. If German 8th Army had gotten trapped in Konigsburg or elsewhere those two veteran infantry corps could have formed a blocking position to prevent Russian 1st Army from advancing westward.

Though I agree that there was danger in becoming bogged down in fighting the 1st army, the threat to the rear of the 8th army from the Russian 2nd is negligible in the extra 4 days or so that this version of Gumbinnen would take. 2nd army was at the end of it supply lines by this point and had trouble feeding its men. It couldn't advance much farther without setting supplies lines up, which at this point had collapsed. Really the only reason Tannenberg was possible was that the gross mismanagement of the Russian Northwest Front by Gilinsky, who ordered Samsonov and Rennenkampf to advance before their armies were mobilized. Supply units were still not ready, which caused they to fall apart the second the border was crossed and the rail gauge changed. German signals intelligence was well aware of all this thanks to Russian broadcasts in the clear or in simple code.

The 8th army had to fight both the Russian armies in sequence, so why would it matter if it was Rennenkampf first? Neither could cut his supply lines before the other was dealt with, but Prittwitz was taking no chances by trying to hit Rennenkampf first. Had he been more determined 8th army could have struck Rennenkampf a blow before turning on Samsonov. 8th army doesn't need to destroy 1st army, just force a retreat so that they had enough of a window to deal with 2nd army. Historically the Russians so widely diverged that it was unnecessary to defeat Rennenkampf, but it wasn't inconceivable that the early clashes could have turned out better for the Germans in East Prussia, so as to prevent the Russians from drawing off forces from the West.

The loss of these forces at the Marne proved critical for the French, because had they been there the Marne would not have been nearly as successful. Moltke historically made a bad decision in shifting forces East because they were needed in the West, not the East. The Eastern Front could have been maintained until the Marne line was established, which means that after September 12th they can be sent East. Yes it would alter the situation in Prussia, but it wouldn't lose the Germans anything vital. Any gains in the West far offset losses in the East.

Cry Havoc!

A little over 100 years ago, the advancing troops of the Russian 1st Army met Maximilian von Prittwitz's 8.Armee at the town of Gumbinnen in East Prussia. It was the first German offensive of the the war in the east. Strategically, the battle was a German defeat. Tactically the Russians certainly didn't shine, but they held long enough, and did enough damage to the German XVII Corps to make von Prittzwitz lose his nerve and retreat. His corps commanders did not generally agree that they had been beaten.

Courtesy of the new World War I Campaigns game from John Tiller Software. East Prussia '14, I'm going to try my hand at managing a better outcome for 8.Armee.

8.Armee positions the morning of August 20th, 1914. IArmeekorps and XVII.Armeekorps are already in contact

Aside from being very interested in the time period right now due to the centennial of the start of WWI, I'm very impressed by this latest John Tiller offering. France '14 was a great game, particularly once Jison's MapMod had been applied to make it look more appealing. East Prussia '14 takes the France '14 engine and updates some key mechanics to make the gameplay even more engaging.

I.Armeekorps is already a bit battered from their recent engagement at Stalluponen. My intent is to attack the objective at Mallwischken with 2.Infantrie-Division (light blue symbol background) while conducting a breakthrough of the Russian line north or Brakuponen to surround and isolate the village with a brigade of 1.Infantrie-Division.
Beyond that, East Prussia '14 is the first Tiller game I haven't immediately sought out graphic mods for. JTS have evidently recognized talent when they've seen it and hired Jison to do the artwork for this title. The result is impressive: East Prussia '14 is about as graphically appealing as a chit shuffler can be. The maps are lovely - and very large, ultimately covering all of East Prussia and a good bit of Poland, providing lots of room for the sweeping campaigns of the Eastern Front in the first year of the Great War.

XVII.Armeekorps is in a bit of a jam. Von Mackensen ran his troops straight into some strong Russian positions without good reconnaissance and now I need to deal with it. An attack towards those (apparently) undefended objectives on the Russian right by the 36.Infantrie-Division (purple counters) seems a likely gambit.
JTS has provided the same engine and graphics updates for France '14. There's more to the update though, than just bringing the engine and graphics up to snuff - there are now a series of Grand Campaign scenarios allowing players to experience the entire war on both Western and Eastern fronts at battalion scale. This is accomplished through a series of linked scenarios in a scenario tree dictated by the results of previous battles. Players can make strategic decisions to move units between fronts that will impact the forces available in the scenarios. The game supports multiplayer PBEM and online play to facilitate three, four, or more players controlling the massive armies on the map for these huge scenarios.

The engine has also been updated to support the 2x zoom 2D view that's been showing up in other recent JTS games and updates. This increased zoom is essential for these games when played on modern high-resolution displays. The 3D views still exist but are as unattractive as ever. There must be someone that plays using these, but I'd appreciate a means to turn them off complete so I don't unintentionally zoom too far in and have to endure the 1990s graphics.

Battle of Stallupönen

On August 17 Rennenkampf started the invasion of Prussia, marching the First Army directly westward towards the German lines.

Although he faced no resistance, Rennenkampf stopped his advance in a neat line about five miles (8 km) from the border. Acting without orders, Francois decided to take his forces to Stallupönen where one of the Russian divisions was resting. A furious frontal attack broke the Russian division, which fled eastward, losing 5,000 casualties and 3,000 prisoners, almost the entirety of the Russian 105th Regiment.

When Prittwitz learned that François had engaged the Russians, he sent an adjutant to order François to break off the attack and retreat. François by this time was too committed to safely disengage, and had no intention of doing so anyway. He contemptuously, and famously, told the adjutant, "Report to General Prittwitz that General von François will withdraw when he has defeated the Russians."

Battle on the first day of Russia's invasion of East Prussia (First World War). The Russian First Army under General Pavel K. Rennenkampf, invading from the east, was spread out over too wide a front. It ran into a single German army corp under General Hermann von Francois, and was badly mauled. Rennenkampf temporarily withdrew to the border, having lost 3,000 men, in what would compared to later battles appear to be a minor skirmish. Francois withdrew to Gumbinnen.


Explore the events and milestones of the First World War with the National Army Museum's interactive timeline.

Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

The heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, is assassinated by a Bosnian Serb in Sarajevo. The Austro-Hungarians blame the Serbs and seek revenge.

Germany backs Austria-Hungary

Germany assures Austria-Hungary of its support against Russia should the latter oppose Austria’s planned attack on Serbia.

Austro-Hungarian ultimatum rejected

Austria-Hungary sends Serbia an impossible ultimatum, which is rejected.

Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia

Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia. Russia mobilises in support of its Serb ally.

Germany warns Russia

Germany warns Russia to cease mobilisation despite the latter’s claim that this is only aimed against the Austro-Hungarians.

Germany declares war on Russia

Germans and Ottomans sign treaty

Germany and the Ottoman Empire (now Turkey) sign a secret alliance treaty aimed against Russia.

Germany declares war on France and Belgium

Germany declares war on France (an ally of Russia) and neutral Belgium. The Germans’ Schlieffen Plan is based on a quick strike against France while Russia is slowly mobilising.

Sir Edward Grey addresses Parliament

Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, addresses Parliament on the war in Europe and outlines the pros and cons of a British intervention.

Germany invades Belgium

As part of its plan to attack France, Germany invades Belgium aiming to outflank and encircle much of the French Army.

Britain declares war on Germany

Britain declares war on Germany following the latter’s violation of the Treaty of London (1839), which guaranteed Belgian neutrality.

Ottomans close the Dardanelles

The Ottomans close the Dardanelles Strait, a shipping route linking the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.

Germany captures Liège

The Germans besiege and then capture the fortresses of Liège in Belgium.

Austria-Hungary declares war on Russia

Serbia declares war on Germany

Lord Kitchener’s appeal for new recruits

The British Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, calls for 100,000 volunteers for his ‘New Armies’.

British Expeditionary Force arrives in France

Field Marshal Sir John French’s British Expeditionary Force (BEF) arrives in France.

Battle of the Frontiers

7 August - 13 September 1914

The Germans’ Schlieffen Plan meets with initial success in a series of engagements fought against the Allies in southern Belgium and eastern France.

France declares war on Austria-Hungary

Britain declares war on Austria-Hungary

Austria-Hungary invades Serbia

First large-scale overseas deployment of Royal Flying Corps

Four squadrons from the Royal Flying Corps join the British Expeditionary Force in France.

Battle of Cer

The Serbs defeat the invading Austro-Hungarians in the first major Allied victory of the First World War. This battle also sees the first aerial dogfight when the pilots of Serbian and Austro-Hungarian reconnaissance aircraft engage each other with small arms.

The war in the east, 1914

On the Eastern Front, greater distances and quite considerable differences between the equipment and quality of the opposing armies ensured a fluidity of the front that was lacking in the west. Trench lines might form, but to break them was not difficult, particularly for the German army, and then mobile operations of the old style could be undertaken.

Urged by the French to take offensive action against the Germans, the Russian commander in chief, Grand Duke Nicholas, took it loyally but prematurely, before the cumbrous Russian war machine was ready, by launching a pincer movement against East Prussia. Under the higher control of General Ya.G. Zhilinsky, two armies, the 1st, or Vilna, Army under P.K. Rennenkampf and the 2nd, or Warsaw, Army under A.V. Samsonov, were to converge, with a two-to-one superiority in numbers, on the German 8th Army in East Prussia from the east and the south, respectively. Rennenkampf’s left flank would be separated by 50 miles from Samsonov’s right flank.

Max von Prittwitz und Gaffron, commander of the 8th Army, with his headquarters at Neidenburg (Nidzica), had seven divisions and one cavalry division on his eastern front but only the three divisions of Friedrich von Scholtz’s XX Corps on his southern. He was therefore dismayed to learn, on August 20, when the bulk of his forces had been repulsed at Gumbinnen (August 19–20) by Rennenkampf’s attack from the east, that Samsonov’s 13 divisions had crossed the southern frontier of East Prussia and were thus threatening his rear. He initially considered a general retreat, but when his staff objected to this, he approved their counterproposal of an attack on Samsonov’s left flank, for which purpose three divisions were to be switched in haste by rail from the Gumbinnen front to reinforce Scholtz (the rest of the Gumbinnen troops could make their retreat by road). The principal exponent of this counterproposal was Lieutenant Colonel Max Hoffmann. Prittwitz, having moved his headquarters northward to Mühlhausen (Młynary), was surprised on August 22 by a telegram announcing that General Paul von Hindenburg, with Ludendorff as his chief of staff, was coming to supersede him in command. Arriving the next day, Ludendorff readily confirmed Hoffmann’s dispositions for the blow at Samsonov’s left.

Meanwhile, Zhilinsky was not only giving Rennenkampf time to reorganize after Gumbinnen but even instructing him to invest Königsberg instead of pressing on to the west. When the Germans on August 25 learned from an intercepted Russian wireless message (the Russians habitually transmitted combat directives “in clear,” not in code) that Rennenkampf was in no hurry to advance, Ludendorff saw a new opportunity. Developing the plan put forward by Hoffmann, Ludendorff concentrated about six divisions against Samsonov’s left wing. This force, inferior in strength, could not have been decisive, but Ludendorff then took the calculated risk of withdrawing the rest of the German troops, except for a cavalry screen, from their confrontation with Rennenkampf and rushing them southwestward against Samsonov’s right wing. Thus, August von Mackensen’s XVII Corps was taken from near Gumbinnen and moved southward to duplicate the planned German attack on Samsonov’s left with an attack on his right, thus completely enveloping the Russian 2nd Army. This daring move was made possible by the notable absence of communication between the two Russian field commanders, whom Hoffmann knew to personally dislike each other. Under the Germans’ converging blows Samsonov’s flanks were crushed and his centre surrounded during August 26–31. The outcome of this military masterpiece, called the Battle of Tannenberg, was the destruction or capture of almost the whole of Samsonov’s army. The history of imperial Russia’s unfortunate participation in World War I is epitomized in the ignominious outcome of the Battle of Tannenberg.

The progress of the battle was as follows. Samsonov, his forces spread out along a front 60 miles long, was gradually pushing Scholtz back toward the Allenstein–Osterode (Olsztyn–Ostróda) line when, on August 26, Ludendorff ordered General Hermann von François, with the I Corps on Scholtz’s right, to attack Samsonov’s left wing near Usdau (Uzdowo). There, on August 27, German artillery bombardments threw the hungry and weary Russians into precipitate flight. François started to pursue them toward Neidenburg, in the rear of the Russian centre, and then made a momentary diversion southward, to check a Russian counterattack from Soldau (Działdowo). Two of the Russian 2nd Army’s six army corps managed to escape southeastward at this point, and François then resumed his pursuit to the east. By nightfall on August 29 his troops were in control of the road leading from Neidenburg eastward to Willenberg (Wielbark). The Russian centre, amounting to three army corps, was now caught in the maze of forest between Allenstein and the frontier of Russian Poland. It had no line of retreat, was surrounded by the Germans, and soon dissolved into mobs of hungry and exhausted men who beat feebly against the encircling German ring and then allowed themselves to be taken prisoner by the thousands. Samsonov shot himself in despair on August 29. By the end of August the Germans had taken 92,000 prisoners and annihilated half of the Russian 2nd Army. Ludendorff’s bold recall of the last German forces facing Rennenkampf’s army was wholly justified in the event, since Rennenkampf remained utterly passive while Samsonov’s army was surrounded.

Having received two fresh army corps (seven divisions) from the Western Front, the Germans now turned on the slowly advancing 1st Army under Rennenkampf. The latter was attacked on a line extending from east of Königsberg to the southern end of the chain of the Masurian Lakes during September 1–15 and was driven from East Prussia. As a result of these East Prussian battles Russia had lost about 250,000 men and, what could be afforded still less, much war matériel. But the invasion of East Prussia had at least helped to make possible the French comeback on the Marne by causing the dispatch of two German army corps from the Western Front.

Having ended the Russian threat to East Prussia, the Germans could afford to switch the bulk of their forces from that area to the Częstochowa–Kraków front in southwestern Poland, where the Austrian offensive, launched on August 20, had been rolled back by Russian counterattacks. A new plan for simultaneous thrusts by the Germans toward Warsaw and by the Austrians toward Przemyśl was brought to nothing by the end of October, as the Russians could now mount counterattacks in overwhelming strength, their mobilization being at last nearly completed. The Russians then mounted a powerful effort to invade Prussian Silesia with a huge phalanx of seven armies. Allied hopes rose high as the much-heralded “Russian steamroller” (as the huge Russian army was called) began its ponderous advance. The Russian armies were advancing toward Silesia when Hindenburg and Ludendorff, in November, exploited the superiority of the German railway network: when the retreating German forces had crossed the frontier back into Prussian Silesia, they were promptly moved northward into Prussian Poland and thence sent southeastward to drive a wedge between the two armies of the Russian right flank. The massive Russian operation against Silesia was disorganized, and within a week four new German army corps had arrived from the Western Front. Ludendorff was able to use them to press the Russians back by mid-December to the Bzura–Rawka (rivers) line in front of Warsaw, and the depletion of their munition supplies compelled the Russians to also fall back in Galicia to trench lines along the Nida and Dunajec rivers.

Battle of Stalluponen, 17 August 1914 (East Prussia) - History

The Great War, otherwise known as World War I centers upon European nations that simply could not get along. You have the Allies on one side, which includes the French, Great Britain, and the Russians, otherwise known as the Triple Entente and on the other, you have the Central Powers, composed of Austro-Hungary, Germany, and Italy.

One of the reasons WWI is described as the Great War is because of the number of military personnel involved from all sides, a total of 70 million, not to forget the total number of casualties, which was over 38 million, including 9 million deaths. Because we designate this as the first world war, it stands to reason that a second world war followed shortly.

World War I Timeline (1914-1919)

Jul 28. Serbia, supported by Russia, prepares to enter into the next phase as the Austria-Hungary declares war. Russia mobilizes its troops. WWI technically starts.

Jul 31. Russia does not heed Germany’s warning to stop mobilizing. Russia expresses that their advancement is only against Austria-Hungary.

Aug 1. Germany does several things at this point. They form a clandestine alliance with the Ottoman Empire, and declare war against Russia.

Aug 2-4. Germany invades Luxembourg, declares war against Belgium and France, consequently invading Belgium.

Aug 4. The United Kingdom declares war against Germany.

Aug 12. The UK declares war against Austria-Hungary.

Aug 14. A series of battles are fought in what is known as the Battle of Frontiers, these include the Battle of Mullhouse, Plan 17 & the Battle of the Ardennes by the French Schieffen Plan by the Germans, and the very quiet Battle at Mons by the British expeditionary forces.

Aug 17. As Russia enters the fray, they enter East Prussia in the Battle of Stalluponen.

Aug 23. Japanese Empire declares war on Germany.

Aug 26. Germany defeats Russia badly at the Battle of Tannenberg.

Aug 27. German controlled port in China, Tsingtao, is captured by British and Japanese forces in the Siege of Tsingtao.

Aug 30. German Samoa (becoming Western Samoa later) is occupied by New Zealand forces.

Sep 11. German New Guinea is over-run by and occupied by Australian forces.

Sep 13. South African troops commence the invasion of German South-West Africa.

Sep 29. A short lived victory by Russian forces against the Germans is known as the Battle of Warsaw, otherwise known as the Battle of the Vistula River.

Nov 1. The Ottoman Empire finds itself at war against the Russians.

Feb 4. German’s use submarine warfare in attacking merchant vessels.

Feb 19. British and French naval forces begin the Dardanelles (one of the Turkish straits) campaign. This was also known as the Gallipoli Campaign.

Apr 22. Germans use poison gas for the first time at the second Battle of Ypres.

Apr 28. Allied forces land in Gallipoli in what is known as the First Battle of Krithia.

May 7. A German U-boat (submarine) attacks and sinks the British liner RMS Lusitania.

Aug 6. Sometimes known as the August Offensive, the Battle of Sari Bair highlights the British attempt to gain an advantage to control the Gallipoli peninsula away from the Ottoman Empire.

Sep 25. One of the failed British offensives in WWI’s Western Front, the Battle of Loos also marks the first time poison gas is used by the British.

Oct 6. Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Germany invade Serbia.

May 31. In one of the major naval battles of the war, the Battle of Jutland commences. The Australians, British, and Canadians (more than 6,000 are killed) battle the Germans (more than 2,500 are killed).

Jul 5. Commisioned in 1905, the Devonshire-class armoured cruiser HMS Hampshire is sunk by one of the mines laid by a German mine-laying submarine U-75.

Jul 1. The Somme offensive or better known as the Battle of the Somme takes place between the allied forces, led by the British, against a resistant Germany. The allies lose nearly 780 aircrafts during the battle.

Aug 27. Germany finds itself at war against Italy. Romania joins in the war between the Allies and Italy.

Mar 26. The British fail to capture the city of Gaza in the First Battle of Gaza.

Apr 2. President Woodrow Wilson speaks to Congress giving his reasons in favor of going to war.

Apr 6. One of the results of the telegram by Zimmermann, the United States finally declares war against Germany as approved by the US Congress.

May 18. President Wilson and Congress pass the Selective Service Act into law. This authorizes the government to draft men for the war.

Jun 25. First sign of American involvement, troops land in France.

Jul 6. The much maligned Lawrence of Arabia lead Arab rebels and capture Aqaba, a Jordanian port.

Nov 9. The Balfour Declaration is a document expressing the United Kingdom’s intent in helping gain a national home for the Jewish people in “Palestine”.

Jul 20. The Kingdom of Yugoslavia is made possible by the Corfu Declaration.

Dec 7. Austria-Hungary finds itself being declared war upon by the United States.

Dec 8. The British find themselves in the Battle of Jerusalem.

Mar 3. Germany and the new Bolshevik Russia sign the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

Mar 21. Germany’s Spring Offensive is launched without trepidation.

Apr 21. Baron Manfred von Richthofen, better known as the Red Baron, a German pilot considered an ace, is shot down.

May 28. The first American offensive of the Great War takes place in the Battle of Cantigny.

Jun 6. Following the skirmish at Chateau-Thierry, US Marines engage the Germans further in the Battle of Belleau Wood.

Sep 12. General Pershing of the United States lead more than 300,000 American soldiers in the Battle of St. Mihiel.

Sep 19. The British finally capture Palestine in the Battle of Meggido.

Nov 3. Austria-Hungary and Italy sign an armistice, made effective on November 4.

Nov 9. Kaiser Wilhelm flees Germany and abdicates his position.

Nov 11. Armistice Day, Germany signs the armistice in Compiegne in France. All fighting ends on the 11th day, of the 11th Month, at the 11th hour.

Nov 12. Austria becomes a republic.

Nov 14. Czechoslovakia becomes a republic.

Jan 25. League of Nations proposal is received and accepted by attendees.


Rennenkampf, General Pavel Karl. (1854-1918).

Rennenkampf was a graduate of the Russian staff academy in St. Petersburg and was a well-known figure at the Tsarist Court. He was no stranger to active service, having served in China in 1900-1901. He commanded a cavalry division in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 and emerged from that conflict with his professional reputation enhanced.

After its catastrophic defeat by Japan, the Russian army was forced to modernize. Unfortunately, the officer corps split on the mechanics of such reform between the adherents of Sukhomlinov, the Minister of War, and those of Grand Duke Nicholas. As a result, army reforms were carried out in a muddled fashion and, particularly in such areas as logistics and heavy artillery, the army was much less prepared for what 1914 would bring than the German army was.

Rennenkampf was the commander of the Vilna Military District when the war broke out and, upon mobilization, assumed command of the First Army. The war plan called for an invasion of East Prussia by Rennenkampf's First Army and Alexander Samsonov's Second Army with the objective of forcing the Germans to withdraw troops from the invasion of France.

First Army began the invasion of East Prussia on 12 August with cavalry probes. The bulk of the army crossed into German territory five days later. Almost immediately the Russians were engaged and beaten at Stalluponen by the German I Corps under General Hermann von Francois. He had acted in disobedience to orders because he was unwilling to cede any territory to the enemy voluntarily. But von Prittwitz, the commander of the German Eighth Army compelled him to withdraw before he could exploit his victory.

As the Germans withdrew, Rennenkampf's army continued to march slowly into East Prussia. Von Prittwitz, at von Francois' urging, ordered an attack by the entire Eighth Army. The Battle of Gumbinnen (20 August) was a confused affair which resulted in a Russian tactical victory. However, Rennenkampf's supply services had all but collapsed. Artillery batteries were short of shells, the men were short of food and the horses were short of fodder. Rennenkampf sat idly while the entire Eighth Army concentrated against Samsonov's Second Army, surrounded it and destroyed it at the Battle of Tannenberg. While he was re-organizing his army. Rennenkampf made no effort to reconnoitre his front and was totally unaware that he had no significant German forces facing him.

The Battle of Tannenberg was finished on 31 August. The Germans regrouped and used the railway system of East Prussia to concentrate against Rennenkampf's army. He was defeated in the Battle of the Masurian Lakes 9-14 September) and was forced to retreat from East Prussian soil. However, his army remained intact, despite certain German claims to the contrary.

The Russian threat to East Prussia had forced the Germans to withdraw two infantry corps and a cavalry division from France, so it might be said to have accomplished its objective. But the price was high. In early 1915, the recriminations began. Rennenkampf's Baltic German heritage was noted and whispered questions about his loyalty circulated around St Petersburg. Finally, he was relieved of his command and then dismissed from the army.

In early 1918 the Bolsheviks offered him a commission in the newly-formed Red Army. Rennenkampf declined-and was shot by the Bolsheviks.

Watch the video: The Great War #40 - Battle of Stalluponen, 17 August 1914. Worms #162 (June 2022).


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