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WarChron - August 1914 - First Russian Defeats



The Year 1914

On 16 August, in East Prussia, Rennenkampf's Russian 1st Army advance defeated the Germans near Insterburg, as the Germans fell back toward Koenigsberg.

Austrian authorities permitted Polish leader Josef Pilsudski to set up a Supreme National Committee in Krakow and form a Polish Legion to fight against the Russians.

On 17 August, the Russian 1st and 2nd Armies continued their advances into East Prussia, the 1st Army from the east, and the 2nd Army from the south. Russians encountered German 8th Army units at Stalluponen. The Germans were falling back on Gumbinnen.

On the Southwest Front, units of the Austro-Hungarian 3rd Army occupied Kamenets-Podolsk.

From 17-21 August, Tsar Nicholas II and the Imperial Family paid a state visit to Moscow.

On 18 August, in East Prussia, General von Prittwitz, commander of the German 8th Army, with the I, XVII, I Reserve, and XX Corps, with HQ at Marienburg, left only two divisions of the XX Corps under Scholtz on the southern front, while the remainder of the army, one cavalry and seven infantry divisions, were concentrated to oppose Rennenkampf. The German XVII Corps, under von Mackensen, delivered a frontal attack on the southern frontier of East Prussia, but it was heavily repulsed. The Germans lost some 8,000 men.

On the Southwest Front, the Russian 3rd Army was driving southwest on Lemberg. The Russian 8th Army had crossed the Zbruch and Sereth Rivers, and was moving on Halicz (Galich).

On 19 August, on the Northwest Front, the Russian 1st Army's II Corps advanced on Lyck and Goldap, entering them the next day. The 1st Army had already suffered losses and had severe supply problems. On the Southwest Front, the Russian 9th Army, led by General Lechitskiy, was still in the process of forming and was being transferred from Petrograd to Warsaw. General Zaltsa's Russian 4th Army, with the XIV, XVI, III Caucasian, and Grenadiers Corps, was moving south from Ivangorod, driving on Lublin. Due to his poor performance, Zaltsa was replaced on the 26th by General A.E. Evert. The Russian Army needed 260 trains a day just to supply their reserves.

General Pleve's Russian 5th Army, with the XXV, XIX, V, and XVII Corps, and General Ruzskiy's 3rd Army, with the XXI, XI, IX, and X Corps, cut the Brody-Lemberg railway. They faced the Austro-Hungarian 1st and 4th Armies, plus Austrian forces led by German General von Woyrsch.


The Year 1914

On 19 August, further south in Galicia, Brusilov's Russian 8th Army, with the VII, XII, XXIV and VIII Corps, swung north to aid the 3rd Army, and advanced west of Proskurov against the Austro-Hungarian 3rd Army. The main enemy forces were holding the Gnila Lipa River line.

Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich issued a manifesto that called for the subject peoples of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to rise up against the Habsburg regime.

The German military advisor in Turkey, General Liman von Sanders, wrote the Kaiser that he saw no value in any Turkish military venture, and requested that the whole German mission be recalled.

On 20 August, airmen of the German 8th Army confirmed northern advance of Samsonov's 2nd Army, which was pushing back von Scholtz's XX Corps. The German 8th Army was being driven back by Rennenkampf at the Battle of Gumbinnen. Russian troops now held the line Insterburg - Allenstein. German Field Marshall Helmuth von Moltke relieved 8th Army commander General von Prittwitz and Chief of Staff von Waldersee, replacing them with General Paul von Hindenburg and his Chief of Staff, General Erich von Ludendorff.

The Russian Tsar received the Czech leader Karol Kramer, who sought Russian support for the eventual creation of a free Czechoslovak republic. The Russian Ministry of Trade and Industry established the Central Administrative Committee on Fuel.

On 21 August, French Ambassador to Russia, Maurice Paleologue, presented a French demand to the Russian War Minister urging him to accelerate their offensive as much as possible to relieve pressure on the Allied Western Front. The Duma was summoned for a one day session to vote on war credits and financial matters. On the Northwest Front, Rennenkampf's Russian 1st Army had advanced too slowly, which allowed time for the Germans to concentrate their forces against Samsonov's 2nd Army, which had already occupied Koslau, Ortelsburg, Soldau, and Neidenburg. German 8 th Army Staff HQ moved from Marienburg to Bartenstein.

A Conference of Mayors met in Moscow and decided to proceed with the establishment of The All-Russian Union of Towns and Cities.

On 22 August, in East Prussia, German Airship Z.V returned after a reconnaissance flight over Wloconnek, Plotsk, Kutno, Lodz, and Novogeorgievsk and reported seeing a heavy concentration of Russian troops on the flank of the German XX Corps. The news came just in time to save it from being decimated.



The Year 1914

On 22 August, the Germans were forced to evacuate Insterburg and being driven back at the Battle of Frankenau, but the Russian 2nd Army was unable to advance further. German intelligence was listening to un-coded Russian radio messages, which enabled them to be aware of projected moves.

German Airship SL II observed the area from Ostroviets, Krasnik, and Turobin, briefly touched down at Przemysl, then returned to its base at Liegnitz. German airships would carry out many reconnaissance and bombing missions, bringing back vital information.

On the Southwest Front, the Austro-Hungarian 1st, 4th and 3rd Armies, moving north and east from Lemberg, collided with the Russian 4th, 5th, 3rd and 8th Armies southwest of the Pripyat (Pripet) Marshes. The Austro-Hungarian 1st Army defeated the Russian 4th Army at the Battle of Krasnik, which lasted through the 25th.

The Russian Southwest Front HQ was at Rovno. General Brusilov's 8th Army, with HQ at Proskurov, had the VII, VIII, XII, and XXIV Corps, plus two cavalry divisions.

Ruzskiy's 3rd Army, with HQ at Dubno, had the XXI, XI, IX, and X Corps, and three cavalry divisions, advanced, taking Brody, forcing the Austro-Hungarian 3rd Army to fall back.

The Russian State Duma decided to appoint a Provisional Committee to deal with the affairs of war victims. War Charity labels were sold to help them.

On 23 August, General Hindenburg, with von Ludendorff as his Chief of Staff, arrived at Marienburg to take over from von Prittwitz. General Max von Hoffmann had already set in motion plans to concentrate German forces against Samsonov's 2nd Army and defeat the Russians armies piecemeal.

The German 8th Army fell back as the Russian 2nd Army took Soldau and Neidenburg in East Prussia. The Germans found a notebook on a dead Russian officer which revealed Rennenkampf's 1st Army plans to move on the Insterburg Angerburg sector, and that Samsonov's 2nd Army would cross the Lotzen Ortelsburg line to hit the flank of the Germans.

The Tsar and Empress and members of the royal family attended a solemn service in the Uspenskiy Cathedral at Moscow to pray for victory.

On 24 August, on the Northwest Front, the Russian 1st Army entered Angerburg, then holding a line only 48 km east of Koenigsberg. Rennenkampf's troops were already tired and running low on supplies.

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