The World War

The story of the World War is the story of the control of the sea by

the Allies, of land fighting on two fronts, the western and the

eastern, and of separate scattered campaigns in Africa and Asia.


Here the war really began and here it seems likely to be decided and

ended. The Germans who planned the war were ready and, using their

railroads built for that pur
ose, rushed their armies to the Belgian

border before France had hardly begun to mobilize. Luxemburg was

overrun at once and Belgium invaded. The brave Belgians under General

Leman held up the advance for several days at Liége and saved France

and western civilization. The Huns soon occupied nearly all of Belgium,

taking Brussels on August 20 and Antwerp on October 9.

They pushed on directly toward Paris, driving the British who had been

landed, the Belgians, and the French, before them. They advanced to

within twenty miles of Paris, near Meaux on the Marne, and were there

defeated September 5-10, 1914, and forced to retreat to the Aisne,

where they entrenched themselves.

The Germans had driven the British south by constantly threatening to

outflank them, and there had been a race to the gates of Paris. Now the

British turned the tables and, in attempting to outflank the Germans,

there was a race away from Paris to the North Sea, with the final

result that the enemies were lined up opposite each other, from

Switzerland near the German border to the coast between Dunkirk and


Until 1918 trench warfare continued. The Germans sought to drive the

English out of Ypres, but did not succeed. In one of these attacks on

April 22, 1915, gas was used for the first time.

The British and French won a great victory on the Somme, July, 1916,

taking nearly 75,000 prisoners. This battle is recognized as one of the

turning points of the war, for it caused the extensive retreat of the

Germans the following spring. The Huns devastated the territory from

which they retreated more completely and mercilessly than any army,

even barbarians, had ever done before in the history of the world. The

British attempted to capture Lille and the bases of the German

submarines on the Belgian coast at Ostend and Zeebrugge, but were


In November, 1917, General Byng, in a surprise attack in which for the

first time a large number of tanks were used, broke the famous

Hindenburg line of trenches and captured 8000 Germans. He soon lost

all the territory he had gained and many men, through being surprised

himself by attacks on both sides of the pocket or salient which he had

pushed into the German lines.

The Battle of the Somme referred to above was intended to relieve the

terrible pressure of the Germans on the French forts at Verdun. The

German Crown Prince had attacked these in July, 1916, determined to

break through at whatever cost. But the soul of France rose to the

occasion and declared, "They shall not pass!" The Battle of Verdun

lasted from July until December, 1916. The Germans lost half a million

men, but they did not pass. Before many months every vantage point

which the Germans had won was back in French hands.

In 1917, the French pushed the Germans back between Rheims and Soissons

to the Ailette River, where they remained until the Second Battle of

the Marne, July, 1918.

Little of importance happened during the winter of 1917 and 1918, and

Germany, with Russia out of the way, prepared to deliver a final blow

and win the war, before American troops should arrive in force. The

Germans, with large numbers of troops from the eastern front, were so

confident, that great fear was felt among the Allies that America would

be too late.

The German plan as it unfolded itself was to attack, wave after wave,

with tremendous numbers of men; to use great quantities of a new and

more terrible gas; to pay no attention to losses, but to break through

where the French and English lines joined; then to push the French

south towards Paris and the English north towards the sea. They

expected to take Amiens, forty miles from the mouth of the Somme, and

to push down the river to the sea. With the broad river between them

and the French, a small force could keep the French from crossing,

while the great German army captured or destroyed the British, who

would be hemmed in by the sea.

The attack was launched on March 21 over a front of fifty miles and it

nearly succeeded. It brought the Germans to within six miles of Amiens,

which would have been captured if the English on Vimy Ridge had not

prevented them by holding the German line from advancing. The Germans

waited a month, planning an attack which should capture Vimy Ridge and

prepare the way for the capture of Amiens. In this they were


Not being able to divide the armies of the French and English or to

take the Channel ports, they turned in May toward Paris. They attacked

in tremendous force between Rheims and Soissons and pushed forward

thirty-two miles to the Marne. On July 15 they launched another great

offensive over a front of fifty miles from east of Rheims to west of

Château-Thierry. They crossed the Marne and were making some progress

when, on July 18, the French and Americans struck them on the flank

between Soissons and Château-Thierry. The Germans were forced to

retreat, having lost 220,000 men, hundreds of guns, and vast stores.

At this time over 1,000,000 American soldiers were in France. They

arrived in time and showed themselves "the bravest of the brave." One

of the American units was granted, for its bravery in the Second Battle

of the Marne, the only regimental decoration ever awarded by France to

a foreign regiment; and the French commander bestowed upon one division

the most thrilling praise. "They showed," he said, "discipline that

filled the Germans with surprise. They marched with officers at the

sides and with closed ranks exactly like veteran French troops."

Italy began operations against Austria in May, 1915. For more than two

years, she advanced over almost impassable mountain ranges to the

reconquest of the territory Austria had stolen from her. Then, in

October, 1917, Italy met with a terrible disaster; she lost 180,000 men

and was driven back to the river Piave and to within fifteen miles of

Venice. This costly defeat was due partly to lack of supplies which her

allies should have furnished her; partly to printed lies dropped from

Austrian airplanes among the Italian soldiers telling of the wonderful

peace and liberty that had come to Russia, where Germans and Russians

were like brothers; and partly to the mistake of Italy and her

commanders. It resulted in making all the Allies realize that they

could not succeed separately but must work together as one, if they

were going to win; and in the appointment of General Ferdinand Foch as

commander in chief of all the allied forces in the West, including

European Russia.

In the spring of 1918, the Austrians, at Germany's command, renewed

their attack and succeeded in crossing the Piave, which in its upper

reaches towards the mountains was almost a dry river bed. They waited

until, as they supposed, the mountain snows had melted. After many of

them were across and after they had been checked on the western bank by

the Italians, they attempted to recross the river. In the meantime

floods had poured down from the mountains changing the dry bed into a

rushing river, deep and broad, in which thousands of the Austrians were

lost. Austria was able to make no further effort.


Russia was the first of the Great Powers among the Allies to enter the

war, but Germany did not count upon her remaining in it long. German

influence, especially that of the German Socialists with the uneducated

Russians, was so strong that the Kaiser expected a revolution long

before it happened. The Russian leaders were self-seeking, and the Tsar

and his advisers were lacking in ability and force. The Germans

thought Russia would collapse very soon, and thus leave Germany free to

turn and conquer France; after which they could settle with England,

and then with the United States.

Until the close of 1916, the Russian armies gave the Germans fierce

opposition except when, through treachery of the officers of the

government, supplies and ammunition were withheld and the soldiers had

to fight cannon, machine guns, and rifles with the butts of their

muskets. Of course the Russians were driven back, but not until they

had come within one hundred and eighty-five miles of Berlin, which was

the nearest approach of an enemy army during the first four years of

the war.

In the fall of 1914, the Russian armies suffered through treachery a

terrible defeat near Tannenberg in the Masurian Lake region of East

Prussia, but the great leader of their armies farther south, Grand Duke

Nicholas, invaded Austria, capturing stronghold after stronghold until

treachery of Russian officials forced him to retreat. The retreat of

his armies was conducted in so masterly a manner that it has ranked him

as one of the great generals of the World War.

As soon as German money and German lies had undermined the directing

forces at the Russian capital, it was an easy matter for German armies

to overrun Russian Poland, to capture Warsaw and the great Russian

fortresses, and to advance as far north as Riga.

Then in the spring of 1917 came the revolution, when the Duma refused

to obey the order of the Tsar. The soldiers sided with the people; the

Tsar was thrown into prison, to be shot more than a year later. Germany

made a "peace drive," and soon had the entire Russian army ready to

quit. Leaders in the service of Germany, like Lenine, used dreamers

like Trotsky to help on the breaking up of Russia. Kerensky, who had

been chosen to lead the government after the first revolution, was

deposed and obliged to flee the country as the result of a second

revolution by soldiers, sailors, and workmen. Lenine became Prime

Minister and Trotsky, Foreign Minister. Then the way was clear for

Germany to work her will. Agreeing to all proposals, she led the

Bolsheviki, which means "the majority," into such a situation that

they were powerless. Then throwing aside all her agreements, she forced

them to sign the disgraceful treaty of peace at Brest-Litovsk. It broke

up a portion of the old Russia into several nations or independent

provinces, which separated the Russia that remained entirely from the

rest of Europe. The provinces, Ukraine, Poland, Finland, Esthonia,

Livonia, Courland, and Lithuania were really dependencies of Germany.

Turkey was also rewarded by receiving a part of Transcaucasia, which

Germany later attempted to take from her.

The Germans promised not to use soldiers from the eastern front against

Russia's former allies in the West; but this promise was only another

"scrap of paper," and she transferred vast numbers to the front in

Italy and in France and, by their help, nearly won her great drives of


When Russia collapsed and made peace with the Central Powers, Roumania,

who entered the war on the side of the Allies, August 27, 1916, was

left entirely surrounded by enemies and, to save herself from the fate

of Belgium and Serbia, was obliged to consent to peace terms offered by

Germany. She ceded a large part of her territory south of the Danube to

Bulgaria, who had joined the Central Powers "for what she could get out

of it," on October 4, 1915. Bulgaria's king is called "The Fox of the

Balkans" and looks upon agreements, treaties, and honesty in the German

manner. Like the Germans, all his acts show that he believes "might is

right" and that any act is justified if necessary to his success.


In the spring of 1915, English and French fleets attempted to force the

Dardanelles, but failed. Had the straits been opened and Constantinople

taken, Russia would probably have been saved and the war shortened.

Many believe now that a mistake was made in not sacrificing the ships

necessary to force the straits and to capture Constantinople, but at

the time the French and British leaders were unwilling to make the

sacrifice. Troops had been landed at Gallipoli to assist the fleets,

but they were withdrawn in January, 1916.

England sent an expedition from the Persian Gulf to capture Bagdad in

the fall of 1914. It was small in numbers and suffered some reverses,

but succeeded in capturing the city on March 11, 1917.

When Turkey entered the war on the side of the Central Powers, the

Germans hoped to stir up a religious war, uniting all the Mohammedans

in the East under the lead of Turkey, against the Christian nations.

All Mohammedans, however, do not recognize the Sultan of Turkey as

their leader, and the King of Hedjaz revolted against Turkey in June,

1916. Hedjaz includes all the Arab tribes between the Tigris on the

east and Syria on the west. Arabia forms the largest part of the

territory of this kingdom.

With the assistance of the King of Hedjaz, the English have been able,

by advancing across the Sinai Desert, to capture Jerusalem. Jerusalem,

the Holy City of the Christians, has been in Mohammedan hands, except

for two short periods, for seven hundred and thirty years. The Crusades

were fought to take it from them, and ever since, Christians have

mourned that it had to be left in the hands of the Moslems. It probably

will never again pass from the control of Christian nations.

Japan entered the war early, August 23, 1914, as an ally of Great

Britain and, on November 7, had taken the only German colony in China,

Tsingtau. Germany had forced this from China, as punishment for the

murder of two German missionaries. Japan and Australia soon captured

all the German possessions in the Pacific, and Great Britain all the

German colonies in Africa, leaving Germany without a single colonial



The Kaiser is reported to have said, "Germany's future lies on the

sea"; and it seems as if the control of the sea by the Allies has

really determined her future, for had the Central Powers controlled the

sea, they would have won the war.

By the wise foresight of those directing the movements of the British

navy, the Grand Fleet, numbering about four hundred vessels, had been

assembled for inspection just before the war broke out, and they were

ready, when England entered the war, to move to ports from which they

could attack the Germans, if the latter should decide to send out their

fleet. The Grand Fleet has all through the war remained hidden, and,

like some invisible power, is protecting the freedom of the world.

Hundreds of swift scout ships keep watch ready to report every move of

the enemy. Only once has Germany come out in force, to be driven back

to shelter, defeated, in the Battle of Jutland, May 31, and June 1,


Germany placed her hopes in the submarine, but she has had little

chance to use it against English war vessels. She also scattered mines

upon the high seas in violation of the laws of war and of nations. One

of these mines on June 5, 1916, sank the British cruiser Hampshire,

which was carrying Lord Kitchener to Russia. Lord Kitchener and his

staff were lost.

Germany used every power in her hands to win, never hesitating to set

aside the laws of nations or the opinions of civilized men. So she

turned her submarines against merchant ships in violation of

international law. The sinking of the Lusitania was the first great

shock to the United States. President Wilson protested on behalf of the

American people, and after other merchant vessels had been sunk and

more American lives lost, Germany was given her choice of a break with

America or of promising that she would give up her submarine attacks

without warning upon merchant ships. Germany promised to do so, but

made this promise, as the United States learned later, only to give her

time to build enough submarines to starve out England in a year or less

by using them against merchant ships in violation of her agreement with

the United States. It was only another "scrap of paper."

So America entered the war April 6, 1917, and at once the danger from

submarines began to grow less, for American destroyers, combined with

those of the other Allies, soon were sinking submarines faster than

Germany could build them, and American shipyards began to turn out

merchant ships in such unheard-of numbers that the sinking of a few

ships each month became a minor matter. At the close of the fourth year

of the war, an English writer said of what America had done in one


It would be idle to recount here what America has done. But for

what she has done the heart of every Briton beats with

gratitude. There is physical evidence of it over here. American

soldiers throng the streets. American sailors gather in our

ports. American naval vessels are scouring our home waters in

fullest coöperation with the British and French and have reduced

the destruction by submarine pirates by more than half what it

was one year ago. On land they are fighting with the Allies the

battles of civilization and dying for its ideals, and the

fondest wish of every patriot both here and in France is that

the community of feeling thus cemented in blood will never pass


In October, 1918, there were about two million American soldiers in

France. They had made possible the great victories, beginning with the

Second Battle of the Marne, by which all the German gains of 1918 were

wiped out and the St. Mihiel salient recovered. The Huns had held this

salient since 1914. Its capture was a brilliant victory for the

American army under General Pershing. It was accomplished in

twenty-seven hours.

King George of England wired President Wilson as follows:

London, Sept. 14, 1918.

On behalf of the British Empire, I heartily congratulate you on

the brilliant achievement of the American and Allied troops

under the leadership of General Pershing in the St. Mihiel


The far-reaching results secured by these successful operations,

which have marked the active intervention of the American army

on a great scale under its own administration, are the happiest

augury for the complete, and, I hope, not far-distant triumph of

the Allied cause.

President Wilson cabled to General Pershing:

Please accept my warmest congratulations on the brilliant

achievements of the army under your command. The boys have done

what we expected of them and done it in the way we most admire.

We are deeply proud of them and of their chief. Please convey to

all concerned my grateful and affectionate thanks.

Frank H. Simonds, the famous military critic, says:

In our own national history, therefore, as in world history, the

Battle of St. Mihiel will have an enduring place. To the world

it announced the arrival of America in her appointed place in

the battle line of civilization.... The road from Concord Bridge

to the heights above the Meuse is long, but it runs straight,

and along it men are still led by the same love of liberty and

service of democracy which was revealed in our first battle

morning nearly a century and a half ago.

At the beginning of October, 1918, the Allies were everywhere

successful, in Palestine, in the Balkans, in northern Russia, in

Siberia, and on the western front. The world was proving again that

deceit and violence always lose in the long run.


In July, 1918, the western battle line, running from the North Sea to

Switzerland, was, in general, a huge curve bending into France. Germany

had been working on interior lines on this western front--that is, as

her forces were needed to defend or to attack, she moved them from

place to place on the inside of the circle. The Allies were obliged to

work on the outside of the circle and were therefore at a considerable


Then, too, the Germans had the initiative, that is, they could

determine when and where to attack, while the Allies in 1918, up to

July 18, were having all they could attend to in defending themselves

and preventing a serious break in their lines.

With July 18, 1918, all this was changed. The Allied forces were now

under the direction of a single commander, Marshal Foch, one of the

great military geniuses of all time. His plan was to strike at a

weakened point; then, when the Germans had rushed reinforcements to

ward off the danger, to strike at some other point in the line and thus

use up the German reserves; and to give the German commanders no time

to prepare an offensive on a large scale. The German by nature seems to

think that size determines victory. The big things seem to him the

things that are effective and that win. So his offensives were planned

on a great scale and required months of preparation; and after one

offensive had been stopped, he required more months of comparative rest

to plan and prepare another. The French nature is different; it is

subtle, deft, and skillful, and by repeated strokes of less force,

often accomplishes what the German fails to do with one mighty blow. In

riveting the plates on a ship, or in joining the framework of a steel

skyscraper, a riveting machine is used which, by very rapidly repeated

blows, does the work quickly and well. Somewhat in this way did Marshal

Foch strike the German line, now in this spot, now in that, capturing

or putting out of action large numbers of German troops, outflanking

first one strategic point and then another. As a consequence, the

German line was obliged to draw back and back to prevent the Allies

from breaking through and attacking the German supply trains coming up

in the rear with food and munitions.

West of Verdun the Germans had come into Belgium and France along the

line of the Meuse through Liége and Namur, and across Luxemburg by the

main railway through Sedan. Could either of these great lines of

communication be captured, the Germans would be unable to withdraw to

their own territory without terrible losses, if at all; for between

their armies and Germany lay the great forest region of Ardennes with

but few roads. Two millions of men could not retreat through this

region without leaving guns and munitions behind and their retreat

becoming a rout.

From Verdun the Meuse River runs north and west to Sedan and to the

railroad which extended from the German lines through Luxemburg to

Germany. Marshal Foch honored General Pershing and the American troops

by assigning to them the difficult task of advancing from Verdun

through the valley of the Meuse to Sedan. The story of the fighting of

the Americans in this advance is a story glowing with deeds of heroism

and of reckless daring, a story of the overcoming of almost impossible

difficulties and of final victory. At Sedan in 1870, the Germans

humbled the French and decided the Franco-Prussian War. It is a strange

turn of history that, with the capture of Sedan from the Germans in

1918, the World War was practically decided and ended.

The Allied army from Salonica, with the help of the Serbians, had

conquered Bulgaria late in September, and she had surrendered

unconditionally, thus cutting off Germany and Austria from

communication with their ally, Turkey. General Allenby's conquest of

Palestine and occupation of Aleppo brought Turkey to realize that she

was helpless. She surrendered the last of October. Then the

strengthened and refreshed Italian army attacked the Austrians on the

Piave in Italy and won perhaps the most complete victory of the war on

the western front, capturing over five hundred thousand prisoners and

completely breaking Austria's power for further resistance. Austria

surrendered on November 4.

Thus Germany was left alone, open to attack on her southern and eastern

fronts, while being hopelessly beaten in the west. She asked President

Wilson to secure an armistice from the Allied nations. The President

had declared earlier in the war that we would never deal with the

Kaiser and the autocratic rulers of Germany who had repeatedly broken

their word to us and to other nations. The German people, aware of this

fact, were taking things into their own hands, and the German

Revolution had really begun.

The German Chancellor informed President Wilson that Germany had

changed its form of government and was now being ruled by those

responsible to the German people, and that the German government was

willing to make peace on the basis of President Wilson's Fourteen

Points, as stated on January 8, 1918, and of his later declarations,

particularly that of September 27, 1918.

After some correspondence, the President referred the German government

to Marshal Foch. Envoys were sent from Spa, the German headquarters,

under flag of truce to the headquarters of Marshal Foch in a railroad

car near Senlis. The terms of the armistice made it absolutely

impossible for Germany to renew the war after the cessation of

hostilities, for she was obliged to evacuate all invaded territory, to

remove all her troops twenty miles back from the Rhine, and to give the

control of the river and its crossings to the Allies. She was also

forced to surrender vast quantities of large and small guns, two

thousand air-planes, all her submarines, and the greater part of her

navy. She was practically to give over the control of her railways and

shipping to the Allies and to renounce the unfair treaties with Russia

and Roumania. Alsace-Lorraine was to be returned to France, and Belgium

and northern France restored. The armistice was signed by the Germans

on November 11, 1918. It has been called the most complete surrender

ever known, but Germany had no choice, for her armies were defeated and

her navy had no hope in a battle against the overwhelming odds of the


Der Tag or "The Day" for which haughty Germans had hoped, had come,

but how different from the day they had imagined! When the white flag

of truce was raised on the German battle line, the red flag of

revolution was unfurled in Berlin and other German cities. The Kaiser

had abdicated, the Crown Prince had renounced his right to the throne,

and both had taken refuge in Holland. Other German kings were

abdicating and royal princes were fleeing for safety.

Great celebrations were held in the Allied countries. It seemed as if

the people in the great cities of America had gone wild with joy.

President Wilson appeared in the hall of the national House of

Representatives at one o'clock on the afternoon of Monday, November 11,

and announced the signing of the armistice and its terms and the

conclusion of the war. He asked America to show a spirit of helpfulness

rather than one of revenge toward the conquered Germans, concluding his

message as follows:

The present and all that it holds belongs to the nations and the

peoples who preserve their self-control and the orderly

processes of their governments; the future to those who prove

themselves the true friends of mankind. To conquer with arms is

to make only a temporary conquest. I am confident that the

nations that have learned the discipline of freedom and that

have settled with self-possession to its ordered practice are

now about to make conquest of the world by the sheer power of

example and of friendly helpfulness.

The peoples who have but just come out from under the yoke of

arbitrary government and who are now coming at last into their

freedom, will never find the treasures of liberty they are in

search of if they look for them by the light of the torch. They

will find that every pathway that is stained with blood of their

own brothers leads to the wilderness, not to the seat of their

hope. They are now face to face with their initial test. We must

hold the light steady until they find themselves. And in the

meantime, if it be possible, we must establish a peace that will

justly define their place among the nations, remove all fear of

their neighbors and of their former masters, and enable them to

live in security and contentment when they have set their own

affairs in order. I, for one, do not doubt their purpose or

their capacity. There are some happy signs that they know and

will choose the way of self-control and peaceful accommodation.

If they do, we shall put our aid at their disposal in every way

that we can. If they do not, we must await with patience and

sympathy the awakening and recovery that will assuredly come at


To the people of the United States he sent the following message:

My Fellow Countrymen: The armistice was signed this morning.

Everything for which America fought has been accomplished. It

will now be our fortunate duty to assist, by example, by sober,

friendly council, and by material aid, in the establishment of

just democracy throughout the world.


No one can foretell all that this victory, won through the most

terrible suffering and sacrifice the world has ever been called upon to

bear, means to mankind; but we know it means a new day and a new

opportunity for millions of down-trodden men and women in all parts of

the world. It means giving a new world of democracy and equality of

opportunity to those who never dreamed this possible, except by leaving

their native lands and coming to America. It means bringing all that

America means to us to races that for centuries have lived without

hope. It means the downfall and the punishment of those who would

selfishly rise by the persecution and suffering of others. It means

that in the end right must always conquer might.