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Battle of Lorraine
Part of the Western Front of World War I
French heavy cavalry Paris August 1914.jpg
French heavy cavalry on the way to battle, Paris, August 1914.
DateAugust 14–25, 1914 (major combat)
LocationLorraine
Result German victory
Belligerents
France France  German Empire
Commanders and leaders
France Auguste Dubail
France Noel de Castelnau
France Ferdinand Foch
German Empire Konrad Krafft von Dellmensingen
German Empire Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria
German Empire Josias von Heeringen
Strength
French I Army (5 corps)
French II Army (5 corps)
Total: 590,000 men
German VI Army (6 corps)
German VII Army (3 corps)
Total: 345,000 men
Casualties and losses
Unknown 66,500

The Battle of Lorraine was a battle of World War I fought in August 1914 between France and Germany. This followed Plan XVII, which proposed a French offensive through Lorraine and Alsace, and into Germany itself.

French offensive[edit | edit source]

The main French offensive in the west, known as the Battle of Lorraine, was launched on 14 August. The First Army of General Auguste Dubail was to advance on Sarrebourg, while the Second Army of General de Curières de Castelnau headed towards Morhange.

On the 17th, the XXth Corps (General Foch) captured Château Salins near Morhange, while Sarrebourg was captured on the 18th. However, after four days of retreat in order to lure the French armies into German territory, the German Sixth and Seventh Armies under the combined command of Konrad Krafft von Dellmensingen launched a counter-attack; Crown Prince Rupprecht was in charge of the German forces assigned to meet and engage the French assault in the centre until they could be enveloped by the encircling German right wing. The German rear guards, equipped with machine guns, inflicted heavy casualties on the French infantry, still wearing their early 19th-century uniform of blue coat and red trousers.

German counteroffensive[edit | edit source]

Crown Prince Rupprecht, dissatisfied with the defensive role assigned to him, along with Dellmensingen, petitioned his superiors to allow him a counter-offensive, contrary to the warnings of Schlieffen in the Schlieffen Plan.[1] On August 20, the offensive began and Noel de Castelnau ordered his army to withdraw from Morhange (the Battle of Morhange (French language: Bataille de Morhange)). Seeing this, Auguste Dubail's army pulled out of Sarrebourg (the Battle of Sarrebourg (French language: Bataille de Sarrebourg)). The Germans didn't halt at the border and instead marched on to try to take Nancy. Ferdinand Foch's XX Corps managed to defend Nancy successfully, halting the German offensive. To the south, Mulhouse was retaken, but it was abandoned as the French gave up on Plan XVII.

The battle lapsed into stalemate until August 24, when a limited German offensive was launched (the Battle of the Mortagne (French language: 1re Bataille de la Mortagne)). The French had been alerted beforehand by scouting aircraft and so German gains were limited to a small salient. The following day, even that was lost when the French counterattacked. Fighting continued on to the end of the month, at which time trenches were built and a permanent stalemate ensued.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Keegan 1998, p. 92

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