Generaloberst Von Moltke
Saarbourg, Late September 1914
Your Imperial and Royal Majesty
"Und donnernd dröhnt die Artill'rie. Wir stehen vor der Infanterie. Granaten schlagen bei uns ein, Der Franzmann will in unsere Stellung 'rein."
Your Imperial Majesty will surely recognize this verse from the Argonnerwaldlied; be so kind, Your Majesty, and recall it's melody, it's elevated rythm ripe with the promise of glory, honor and victory, for several dispatches have reached me bearing word of the victory of German arms.
In Morhange, Kronprinz Wilhelm's magnificent Army, 110.000 men strong, clashed with an Army under Castelnau and Foch numbering 135.000 Poilu. I myself took on command of von Heeringen's Army, but could not prepare it in time to join the Battle. Then, 140.000 Bavarians joined the fight instead, just in time to turn the tide and transform certain disaster into glorious victory. The reports speak of 21.000 German soldiers dead on the field of battle and 31.000 French casualties. Castelnau and Foch must then have withdrawn to the valley of the Mosel; the French extracted themselves in orderly fashion and with great skill. The Kronprinz of Bavaria must have whipped his army like a farmer would a stubborn mule, because the lead elements of his Army, which had done battle just hours ago, reached the valley before the French. Joined by von Mudra's Württembergians, thirsting for revenge since the shameful defeat handed to them by Castelnau the month before, Rupprecht managed to block a French force on it's way to reinforce Castelnau in Morhange. The south Germans lost 13.000 men, while Xavier Ruffey's Army had to mourn 30.000 Poilu.
Rupprecht's victorious force will now make haste for Morhange, to rest for a few days. Von Gebsattel (XV) reports that both French Armies withdrew to Saint Mihiel, opposing Metz; a beaten, but still formidable force. It is to be expected, that the French armies will, after a few days of rest and reinforcements, be up to fighting strength. Metz must be considered as a possible target for a French counterstrike. Kronprinz Wilhelm von Preussen, Your Imperial Majesty's most able and honorable Son, will lead his Army back to Metz.
To the South, the French under Dubail have occupied Colmar. I myself am opposing him with an Army in Saarbourg. As of now, Strassbourg, bordering both Colmar and Saarbourg, stands undefended. Your Imperial Majesty, I have to make a grave decision; do I devide my Army in the face of the enemy, in order to defend both Fortresses or do I heed the advice of Frederick the Great and remind myself that he who defends everthing, defends nothing?! As of this moment, I believe that both Fortresses must be defended, albeit with insufficient force, to deny the enemy access to our Hinterland. He may try to cross at Freiburg, but I am confident that forces could be railed to Freiburg to destroy an eventual bridgehead rather quickly.
Your Imperial Majesty, great Battles have been fought in Belgium and northern France. Several Korps have been mustered in Brüssel and are now en route to reinforce the Kessel at Lille. The Korps of von Lochow (III) and von Linsingen (II) were ordered to Arras, to close the last route of escape out of Lille. Both Korps dug in quickly. During the night of the following day, the BEF's remaining 100.000 men attempted a breakout and ran head-on into the German field fortifications. Von Lochow reports 2400 of our men dead and 14.000 casualties inflicted on the British. Still, our relatively small force could not hold the British who were still in good enough shape to commence the retreat towards Amiens.
In the meantime, Kluck's I Army had advanced to Beauvais, with Paris already in sight of his men. There are reports that the troops, to endure the heavy burdens Kluck's merciless advance faced them with, have resorted to heavy consumption of spirits. As I understand it, Kluck was furious at the lack of discipline but his staff urged him to hold off on punishing the army; extraordinary hardships require extraordinary methods the officers said. And Kluck agreed. At Beauvais, men were seen dancing around roadsigns announcing the distance to the french capital. But then, suddenly, the advance had to be halted. Reports from Lille had arrived. The Korps that ran into the British Expeditionary Force in Lille had successfully surrounded the stubborn English who were now trying to break out. Kluck decided to turn his Army around towards Amiens.
The BEF, with a fighting strength of 83.000, clashed with von Kluck's I Army, 115.000 strong at Amiens. The exhausted British, pursued by the two German Korps of von Lochow, were no match for our brave soldiers. Although German arms suffered higher casualties, 18.000 against 11.000 British, the BEF had to halt their retreat and withdraw back to Lille. I am very confident, with all railroads either cut or occupied, that the BEF is doomed. Help from the coast may still come, this we can not rule out, but we must hope that we hold sufficient numbers to make the Islanders surrender. I ordered Lochow, for his extraordinary performance, promoted on the field of battle.
Von Hausen along with 140.000 soldiers of the III Army and associated Korps have pursued Lanrezac's 100.000 Poilu across the Meuse at Rethel. Casualties were almost en par; 29.000 German and 28.000 French lie dead on the banks of the Meuse. Still, we must be content, Your Imperial Majesty. Von Hausen, with Lanrezac continuing his involuntary withdrawal, claims victory and he has the ground to show for. The French Army has retreated to Reims. I do believe that they are still in good shape, but we must continue the Offensive at all costs. French Reinforcements from the Mosel Front might well be dispatched, so we must try to occupy their Armies as thorougly as possible. In the meantime, von Richthofen's Cavalry solidified it's hold on the Depot and Railroad hub at Saint Quentin.
To von Hausen's north, in Namur, after an intense bombardment by our superior siege artillery, King Albert's force surrendered to von Bülow (II). Supply lines across Belgium have been established with only the Fortress of Maubeuge as a last obstacle. I have ordered von Bülow to lay siege to the last significant Fortification between Brüssel and Paris. With German Armies at Longwy, Rethel and Saint Quentin and the Railroad cut at Beauvais, I consider it almost impossible for the French to send reinforcements to the west, or at least farther than Paris. Fall and it's brother, mud are almost upon us.
East Prussian Front:
The situation in Prussia, Your Imperial Majesty, unfortunately isn't equally as comfortable for German Arms. Hindenburg has dispatched the remains of von Francois (I) Korps to Königsberg. Both division are in dire need of replacements and rest, neither to be had at the front in Wladislavov. Francois has also been given a fresh command; although I do disagree with this on principle, the general situation does not allow court martial of one of Hindenburg's Lieutenant's. I have ordered Hindenburg to keep Francois close.
To the west, the rail-corridor into Königsberg has been secured by von Scholtz (XX) and Below (I Reserve). Another Korps, the XXIII Reserve under von Kathen, has arrived in Thorn. All three Korps have been sent reinforcements from Königsberg and will move against Samsonov's lead elements. Although we are still on the defensive, we must not let the Russian's too deep into Prussia. We have received reports of several Junker farmsteads set aflame, women raped and children nailed to barndoors. We must not allow the Prussian countryside be put to the torch.
Mackensen's Korps (XVII), with two additional divisions, is en route to Lemberg to support Austrian operations and re-establish the front between the Buh and Lipa rivers. I had not expected the Austrians to be beaten that badly but it seems that the Russians have the upper hand on Conrad. Lemberg must not fall; this would drive a wedge into the Austro-Hungarian front, making von Komarow's position in Czernowitz almost untenable and threaten von Krasnik's flank in Krakau. Von Böhm-Ermoli's III Army has arrived at Kolomea, reinforcing von Komarow's position at Czernowitz. Brussilov's force seems to be growing steadily. He will have to cross the Pruth river to strike at Czernowitz; Conrad and I are in agreement that this is a rather strong position and can only be beaten by blundering on the Austrian end. With the III Army arriving, II Korps will be railed to Halicz, replacing von Denta's IV Korps which had been battered in the last battle at Lemberg. Brudermann (IV) will withdraw to Przesmyl and rest. Mackensen, once in Galicia, will take his position opposing Ruszki at Lemberg, or Lvov as the Slavs call it. In the meantime, XI and XIV Korps, both severly beaten in the battle of Lemberg, will withdraw behind the Lipa. I don't think the Russians capable to assault Lemberg and I have convinced Conrad to not interrupt the siege. We must consolidate and regroup before striking at Lemberg. The front around Krakau seems to be intact for now.
Contrary to Conrad's original strategy, this front is by far the most quiet. The Austrians are still working on establishing some sort of Military Control at the Iron Gates, Ritter von Frank (II) and Potiorek (I) do not have the manpower to overwhelm Putnik at Belgrade. The mountains of western Serbia can not be penetrated during Fall or Winter, so we must hold off until additional forces can be mobilized. Overall, Austrian mobilization has been a disaster. I have dispatched several officers to Conrad to assist with further planning of conscription and railroad tables. We must hope for the best.
This concludes my report of Late September. Your Imperial Majesty will receive the next report in early October
Your Imperial and Royal Majesty's obedient servant
Generaloberst Helmuth Ludwig von Moltke