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President Wilson Leading the Parade at Washington, Sept. 4, 1917, in Honor of the Men Drafted From the District of Columbia
(Photo © Olinedinst from Underwood & Underwood)
The Crowd Outside the New York Public Library Bidding Farewell to the National Guard, August 30, 1917, Before
Going Into Camp (Photo Paul Thompson)
cuted simultaneous assaults-like the -scenic, strategic, and personal—will be rushing together of two locomotives found in a descriptive article elsewhere head on—and, as usual, the Canadians in this magazine. I shall merely try to had the best of it. This coal city of conventionalize the stage of the great cinsely packed dwellings has now be- drama and record its acts and scenes. 'come a citadel of reinforced concrete
Imagine a triangle erected on the possibly the strongest single position forty-mile base extending from the Batthat has ever confronted the Allies on
tery to Peekskill via Tarrytown, with its the western front. They have already vertex at Boston. At forty miles on its entered some of the isolated quarters northern side of 190 miles would fall of the town, and have firmly established Hartford; at forty-four miles on its themselves on the north at the Cité St. southern side of 120 miles would fall Laurent and the Cité St. Edouard; on Bridgeport. Place this triangle on a map the west at Cité Jeanne d'Arc; on the of similar scale of the Austrian coastsouth at Eleu or Leauvette. But between land, Carniola, Styria, and Lower Austhese suburbs and the concrete citadel lie tria, with its base resting on Tolmino the coal pits with their fathomless depths and Trieste, with Gorizia somewhere near of ages and the mysteries of kultural Tarrytown, and Hartford would become strategy. Meanwhile, the struggle there the great Austrian fortress of Klagenhas become succession of
furt; Bridgeport, Laibach; while the verlanches of gas, burning oil, rifle and ma- tex, Boston, would fall on Vienna. Superchine-gun fire, and hand-to-hand strug- impose the topography of Vermont and gles in which the German loss seems all its Green Mountains, and we have a fair out of proportion to the military value idea of the terrain over which the Italof the place with its present industrial ians are making their way, of the geouselessness. Less of an enigma is the graphical obstacles which obstruct their fact that the besiegers are cautious in path, and the remoteness of their obtheir use of big howitzers and high ex- jectives. plosive shells.
Their campaign of last year left them The remainder of this front through
in the possession of Gorizia and its Champagne and the Argonne has wit- bridgeheads, but not of the heights, risnessed a constant application of at
ing from 1,800 feet to 2,240 to the northtrition-artillery duels, bombing, air- east and east of the town, and a footplane combats, and raids carried out by hold on the edge of the Carso Plateau, the Allies—with particular emphasis on
which is not unlike the approach to the the St. Quentin sector, on the Aisne and Battery from Tarrytown, if only we in the Champagne. These three places
imagine Manhattan Island strewn with and their relation as approaches to the
volcanic heaps, some of them a thousand great industrial city of Laon were suf
feet high. ficiently dwelt on last month. Toward No, the Hudson would not adequately the middle of September the British, by represent the Isonzo, for between Peeksa series of small drives, had improved kill (Tolmino) and Tarrytown (Gorizia) their positions amid the farms north of the river would have to become deep and St. Quentin; on the Aisne and in Cham- swift and narrow and pass through pagne the counter artillery bombard- gorges rising higher than the Palisades. ments of the French seemed to have On May 14 last, the Italians, in an atgained dominance
those of the tack which defied all rules of tactics, Crown Prince. The French raids, one of and almost the imagination of strategy, which in Champagne, between St. Hilaire to say nothing of the forces of nature, and St. Souplet, on Sept. 12 swept over crossed this gorge above Gorizia and won two of his trenches and established a line Monte Cucco, or Kuk, on the eastern bank in the third, have accounted for many of the river. In a sustained offensive prisoners.
of twenty-five days they developed their The wonders of the great Italian of- lines along this bank so as to include the fensive begun on the night of Aug. 18-19 Vodice Ridge and south to the steps of
Monte Santo; while on the Carso they finally the great isolated mass of Herhad mounted further on the plateau and mada, with its varied summits rising were within striking artillery distance of from 500 to 800 feet above the surroundthe great volcanic mounds there - ing lowlands, across which they moved Faitihrib, 1,200 feet; Castagnavizza, until within mid-calibre range of Duino. with its protecting mound, 550 feet high; In these twenty-five days the Italians: Selo, backed by Starilokva, 580 feet, and captured 28,000 Austrians and had prob
VOLZANA TOLMINO OBLAKE
ably rendered hors de combat over 100,000.
Italian Army's Achievement Such was the situation when, on the night of Aug. 18, they began a second and still more spectacular offensive, the end of which is not yet. So far they have gained sixty-five square miles of tefritory. The Austrian casualties are calculated to be 150,000, over 35,000 of whom are known to be prisoners. The enemy has also lost an immense amount of war material, principally abandoned in the vast intrenched camps on Bainsizza or captured under convoy in the Chiapovano Valley, and over 2,000 cattle on the hoof.
But these figures give an inadequate idea of the vastness of the Italian achievement, its military and moral results, and its potentialities for the future. At the present moment it looms up the most important and longest sustained assault upon the enemy in his own territory since the war began.
For convenience it may be well to remember that four distinct forces, independent, yet each the complement of the other, are taking part: The Third Army, under General Cappello, in the north, on the Bainsizza Plateau, Monte
Santo, Monte San Gabriele, and the approaches to San Daniele; the Second Army, under the Duke of Aosta, operating south to the sea, in the Valleys of Vippacco and Brestovizza, on the Carso, and before Hermada; the British and Italian monitors, which have bombarded Hermada and the Austrian ships and arsenals at Trieste and Pola; finally, the great Caproni aerial machines, which both on the battle line and over Trieste and Pola have ably aided the work of the soldiers and warships.
For weeks prior to Aug. 18 the Italians at sundown every night had by a great engineering feat diverted the water of the Isonzo above Anhovo, and had built in the shallow stream thus left ten-foot bridges, which were concealed from view when the water resumed its natural course each morning. On the eve of the crossing they supplemented these with four pontoon bridges laid while their searchlights blinded the eyes of the Aus
trians the opposite cliffs. These bridges extended from Anhovo up to Loga, a distance of four miles. That night the stream remained diverted and the army of Cappello crossed, while the Duke of Aosta performed a diversion on the Carso.
On the Bainsizza Platcau Thus a foothold on the northern part of the Bainsizza was gained, while simultaneously the right wing of Cappello's army descended upon the plateau from Monte Cucco and the Vodice and began to envelop Monte Santo and deploy into the Val Chiapovano. The Austrian army on the Bainsizza, threatened from three sides, made a rapid retreat to the ridge, 1,000 feet high, which bounds the eastern edge of the plateau from its sheer drop into the Chiapovano.
Bainsizza Santo Spirito—“ The Windy Bath of the Holy Ghost "—is called a plateau merely because it forms an elevated foundation upon which rest isolated masses of rock, just like the Carso. It is fifteen miles north and south and ten east and west. The Austrians had turned it into a series of intrenched camps and had burrowed into the hills for machine-gun nests and mid-calibre emplacements. All the material there which fell to the Italians showed that the Austrians believed that their stay would be permanent, protected as they were on the front by the deep-gorged Isonzo and on the south by the mountains from Cucco to San Daniele.
On Aug. 24 the tricolor of Italy was flung to the breeze from the summit of Monte Santo. From this commanding height of 2,240 feet it was seen from Loga to the Hermada. On Sept. 1 Cappello had penetrated to a depth of seven and a half miles on a front of eleven over the Bainsizza, occupying all fortified positions and more than 40 villages and hamlets. On Sept. 14, after several repulses, the Italians established themselves upon Monte San Gabriele, which rises 1,700 feet above the Isonzo and dominates San Daniele by 300 feet.
Meanwhile the Duke of Aosta had been engaged in complementary manoeuvres