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THE WAR IN THE EAST
Serbia's Successful Defense – Russia's Invasion of East Prussia — The Disaster of the Masurian Lakes — Secrets of Russia's Weakness The Conquest of Galicia Tremendous Counterstrokes by Hindenburg and Von Mackensen Przemysl and Lemberg -- The German Invasion of Poland and the Baltic Provinces - Riga and Petrograd Threatened The War in the Balkans — Conquest of Serbia – The Dardanelles and the Gallipoli Campaign Greece and Salonika The Struggle at the Head of the Red Sea - Armenia and Mesopotamia.
THE FIRST shots of the war were fired on the eastern frontier when Austrian artillery bombarded the Serbian capital, Belgrade, from across the Danube. This action was not important, and was soon followed by a far more successful counter attack by Serbians and Montenegrins upon Austria.
An Austrian regiment which attempted to cross the Danube east of Belgrade was annihilated. On August 12th the Serbs and Montenegrins crossed the border into Bosnia and swept irresistibly toward Sarajevo. Heavy fighting occurred at Shabatz and on the Save River, in which the Serbs were on the whole successful. The Austrian invasion of Serbia was foiled, and the Serbian invasion of Bosnia was maintained.
Meantime a far greater campaign was undertaken at the other side of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Russian army was mobilized in three grand divisions. The center was in Russian Poland. The left wing, under the Grand Duke Nicholas, one of Russia's greatest generals, began on August 11th an invasion of Galicia, or Austrian Poland; while the right wing a week later crossed the border into East Prussia.
THE GALICIAN DRIVE The Russian left wing was at first highly successful. After seven days of incessant fighting it completely overAUSTRIA
whelmed the Austrians on September 2d, and the next day occupied the important city of Lemberg. The next day Halicz was taken; on September 9th the Austrians were vanquished in a hard battle at Rawaruska; on September 22d Jaroslav was captured, and five days later Russian troops were in the Carpathian mountain passes, and crossing the Hungarian frontier. The great fortress of Przemysl, the last Austrian stronghold left in Galicia, was invested and besieged all that fall and winter, but was not captured by the Russians until March 22d. Its fall cleared the way for a Russian advance into Hungary, or would have done so had not something happened elsewhere to bring the Russian plans to naught.
IN EAST PRUSSIA The Russian advance at the right was at first equally successful. East Prussia was invaded, and on August 26th Insterburg and on August 27th Tilsit were captured. An important victory was won at Gumbinnen, and the main Prussian army was apparently shut up in Königsberg. A detachment of the Russian army moved forward into the region of the Masurian Lakes, to clear the way for an advance on the lower Vistula.
That gloomy and forbidding region was, however, destined to be the scene of disaster for the Russians. Germany's greatest General, Hindenburg, known as the “Old Man of the Masurian Lakes," advanced to the attack upon them, with a superior force and with infinitely superior knowledge of the "lay of the land." The Russians were trapped among the lakes and almost interminable marshes, in places where it was impossible for supplies of munitions to reach them. For three days a tremendous conflict raged at Tannenburg and Allenstein, which resulted
in the complete defeat of the Russian troops, with enormous losses. A retreat back into Russia followed, after which the initiative remained with the Germans, who presently began an invasion of Russia from Posen.
Meantime the Germans and Austrians sought a diversion of the war at the two wings by means of a vigorous attack in the center. Hindenburg moved against Warsaw from the northwest, while an Austrian army moved toward the same city from the southwest. The Russian resistance was feeble, and by mid-October the Germans were within a short distance of Warsaw. This emergency compelled the Russians to withdraw troops from the Galician campaign to protect their center; which they did effectively. Within a week the Germans began to be driven back and before the end of the month they were cleared out of Poland. The Russians followed up their advantage, crossing the frontier into Posen on November 8th, and a week later resuming the Galician drive and advancing to within twenty miles of Cracow.
Then the see-saw was repeated. Hindenburg struck furiously at Poland again, and again penetrated to the neighborhood of Warsaw. This compelled a withdrawal of Russians from Galicia and suspension of operations toward Cracow. The Germans were again driven back from Warsaw, and at the end of the year there was a renewal of the Russian aggressive all along the front. A third time, in February Hindenburg took the aggressive, this time at the Russian right, and succeeded in driving the Russians out of East Prussia. But the Russian center held firm, and at the left an important invasion of Hungary seemed imminent.