Historical Highlights, August 5 – 8, 1914
- August 5, 1914
- The Germans launch a surprise attack on Liége, Belgium that is repulsed with heavy casualties.
- Austria declares war on Russia.
- Montenegro declares war on Austria.
- August 6, 1914
- Serbia declares war on Germany.
- Zeppelin L-Z flying from Cologne drops 13 bombs on Liége, initiating the war in the air.
- Germany captures Longwy, France. The Battle of the Frontiers has begun.
- 80,000 British troops, 30000 horses and 315 field guns under General Sir John French begin to assemble for transport to France.
- August 7, 1914
- After a night long bombardment, the Germans enter Liége without resistance. The Belgians still occupy many of the forts.
- August 8, 1914
- The French VII Corps enters Mulhouse, Germany without a shot being fired.
Four more infantry divisions have finished mobilization and are released to join the invasion, one division each from 1st to 4th Army. In addition, all cavalry divisions have been released.
The Germans continue to invest Liége. Artillery has not made it to the front yet, but is moving slowly behind the front line. Six divisions, including a cavalry division have surrounded Liége. The Belgian 1st Cavalry Division is caught outside the Liége fortresses because mobilization is not yet complete. The German 2nd Cavalry Division makes contact with the Belgian cavalry, preventing it from pulling away. The Belgians are cut off from their supply, not being in Liége.
The cavalry doesn’t even slow the Germans down as they complete the envelopment of Liége and destroy the cavalry. No losses are taken by the Germans.
In the Ardennes, the Germans complete the conquest of Luxembourg (the first nation knocked out of the war!), and confront the French cavalry screen in the southern Ardennes. Just a little south, French territory is taken by the Germans for the first time as more German cavalry captures Longwy and the iron there. The Germans have no fear of counterattack before reinforcements arrive. Iron does not play any role in the scenarios, but may play a role in the campaign game.
The Germans turn and push into Bastogne, attacking the French cavalry there. The French have the advantage of defending the Ardennes Mountains, but are unable to hold the Germans back, as the French are destroyed.
The Germans also launch attacks out of the cities of Luxembourg and Longwy, striking the southern flank of the French screen. Again, the French are destroyed, but this division, defending the woods, cause some casualties among the German cavalry. Once again, French cavalry cannot hold the Germans back as they cross the border into the southern Ardennes.
Lesson to the French: screens are fine, but don’t get too far away from your HQ units. All Entente losses were due to getting too far away their HQ units and the vital supplies. Of course, this was not the case for the Belgian cavalry. That unit was trapped and unable to move or draw supply. Belgium is in a bad position, and will get overwhelmed, unless they can get into Antwerp and tie one or more of the German Armies down and slow them down.
So, how does the Entente react to this?
This turn, all other French cavalry divisions have completed mobilization, along with the 14th Infantry XX in Belfort, near the Swiss border.
As happened historically, the 14th Infantry Division and 8th Cavalry Division move in and liberate Mulhouse after losing it to the Germans in 1871. As historical, not a shot was fired, but the two divisions are in a precarious position.
One thing I discovered about Vassal this turn is that it it can show the movement of units without being intrusive. From this point forward, the maps show not just the units that have moved, but the paths they have taken.
The Central Powers turn showed the vulnerability that cavalry divisions have, even in highly defensible terrain. To reflect this, the lone surviving cavalry division in the Ardennes beats a hasty retreat to friendly units, and all other cavalry units that have completed mobilization move to reinforce the French line, while they wait for mobilization to complete and can advance into Alsace-Lorraine.
The use of the cavalry units to reinforce French units also means the French abandon the iron at the city of Longuyou (map spelling, may actually be Longuyon). The French believe they will recapture it if the Germans move in.
In Belgium, the sole cavalry division would have completed mobilization this turn, but it was destroyed before mobilization could be completed. All other Belgian units are scrambling to complete their mobilization before the Germans can overrun them. In the meantime, all they can do is hold their positions.
AS it stands right now, the French have accumulated 4 Demoralization Points, but the Germans have accumulated 32 Demoralization Points, 30 for the loss of Mulhouse to the French. The loss of Longwy does not seem to count for Demoralization Points, as it can’t be determined if this is an actual city at this time. It is probably just a town at this time in history. A resource rich town, but still a town.
No combat occurs because the French mobilization is incomplete at this point. The next turn, Plan XVII should be initiated.
All primary combat units (not including reserves or engineers) will complete and the war will begin in earnest. The British Expeditionary Force is still moving troops across the Channel and won’t be able to move until the 4th turn of August.
What else happens on the August turn 3? Austria-Hungary and Serbia initiate hostilities, and Russia rushes to join the war, throwing the German timetable off. Because the Eastern & Western Front are linked, the Germans are not required to pull units from the west to save East Prussia. In theory, not sending troops east could have allowed the Germans to win the First Battle of the Marne, and thus, successfully concluded the war in the West. In theory. But what would have happened had the Germans withdrawn to the Vistula fortifications, giving up Königsberg and several other cities that would have added many more Demoralization Points to their ledger?
While I am not prepared to test this idea in this particular game, it is in interesting idea to ponder. I may go halfway and not send reinforcements just to see how well the German 8th Army handles the two Russian armies that will be advancing into East Prussia.