Battle of the Frontiers of 1914

Battle of the Frontiers of 1914

 

combat from August 21 to 25 between the German and Anglo-French troops in the Western European theater during World War I.

After taking Liège and driving the Belgian Army toward Antwerp, the German First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth armies continued the offensive on the right flank through Belgium and northwestern France with the objective of encircling and routing the Anglo-French troops, which for their part launched an offensive that led to a number of meeting engagements, including what were called the Ardennes and Sambre-Meuse operations and the operation in the vicinity of Mons. During the Ardennes Operation of August 22-25, the French Third Army of General Ruffey and the Fourth Army of General F. H. de Langle de Cary suffered a defeat at the hands of the German Fifth Army of Crown Prince William and the Fourth Army of Duke Albert of Württemberg and were forced to pull back. In the Sambre-Meuse Operation of August 21–25, the German Second Army of General K. von Bülow threw back the French Fifty Army of General C. Lanrezac on August 22. The Third Army of General M. von Hausen, approaching the Meuse River from the east, threatened to encircle the French army, but the French managed to pull back in an organized manner. In the operation at Mons of August 23-25, the First Army of General A. von Kluck threw back the British Expeditionary Force of Field Marshal J. French, which retreated to the Le Cateau-Cambrai line. The French First and Second armies, which had tried from August 14 to mount an offensive in Lorraine, were forced to retreat to their initial positions by the German Sixth and Seventh armies on the left flank.

In the Battle of the Frontiers, the German troops, despite superiority in forces and a favorable operational position, failed to rout the Allied armies. However, the German High Command (Emperor Wilhelm II, supreme commander in chief, and General H. von Moltke, chief of staff) overestimated their success and, believing that the French troops had already been smashed, began on August 26 to redeploy two corps and one cavalry division from the right flank of the Western Front to East Prussia, where an offensive by the Russian armies had unfolded. At the same time, the setback in the Battle of the Frontiers forced the Anglo-French troops to pull back to the Aisne River and then to the Marne and to begin regrouping their forces to strengthen their left flank.

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