That’s Why He’s Called a “Foot” Soldier (1914)
In the early morning of September 7, we had a very short march into a wood near Artonges. Here we saw something which was not agreeable to see; many supply wagons returning hastily and in bad condition. The drivers told us about a retreat of our troops, about heavy casualties, about a defeat, etc. We were anxious about the battle, which we could only hear, but not see.
About 8 o’clock AM, we marched to Villemoyenne and began digging in there, our front to the west. We could not understand this situation because to date we had been driving the French to the south. Now we had to march to the north; and it was rumored that our troops had to retreat. We were digging in, our front to the west; that is, to the outside flank. Where could the First Army be? It all looked as if the French could attack our right flank. We could feel a certain anxiety among our troops. However, we had not a long time to think about it. About 11 o’clock AM we finished digging and started a forced march to the east. We got the order to reach Fromentieres, located behind the middle of our army. The march was difficult as it was very warm and dusty, and as we had to cross several long columns of ammunition wagons and wagons with supply going to the front or coming back. About 1 o’clock PM we halted, though we had not yet reach Fromentieres. Then we turned back to the vicinity of Artonges. These numerous changes made an unfavorable impression on the troops. The high commanders seemed not to know what to do. Since we had hardly any experience of war, all these seemingly confused and vacillating orders made a momentous impression and had injurious effect upon the morale of the troops.
About 5 o’clock PM we reached again the neighborhood of Artonges. We were still talking about the events of the day and about the different meanings of the battle, when we were alarmed suddenly. It was 8 o’clock PM. Our battalion commander told us the French had made a penetration through the left wing of our army, and that during the night we were to march there to help, without any rest and without any regard for march casualties. It was dark when we started the forced night march, sometimes crosscountry. Now we had the direction to the east again. We ran in double time for 5 minutes each 30 minutes. We had the impression that the battle must be going very badly, otherwise we would not have to make this march.
Finally, on September 8 about 1 o’clock AM, we had reached our goal near Champaubert. The march casualties had not been very heavy. I lost in my company only about 10 men from 130. It is a war experience that march casualties never are very heavy in night marches and in a retreat. The reason may be that nobody likes to leave his unit, when he does not know where he is or when he may be captured.
At Champaubert we dropped to the ground and fell asleep at once. We believed that we would attack at daybreak. But after three short hours of rest we were aroused. However, we did not engage in battle but marched again to the east. Nobody knew wherefore nor why.
Source: Captain A. von Schell, draft text “The 14th German Division with the Second Army (Von Buelow) in the First Battle of the Marne, 1914,” Advanced Course 1930-31, The Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia.
Image source: “Help Them – Keep Your War Savings Pledge,” by Casper Emerson, Jr., U.S. Army Center for Military History.http://www.forgottenwarstories.com/2016/06/01/thats-why-hes-called-a-foot-soldier-1914/http://www.forgottenwarstories.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Untitled2.jpghttp://www.forgottenwarstories.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Untitled2-150x150.jpgWW1france,germany,infantry,world war IIn the early morning of September 7, we had a very short march into a wood near Artonges. Here we saw something which was not agreeable to see; many supply wagons returning hastily and in bad condition. The drivers told us about a retreat of our troops, about heavy...stevenhardestySteven Hardestyforgottenwarstories@gmail.comAdministratorForgotten War Stories