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the actual offensive was launched, the number of men employed was proportionally immense.
Before we follow in detail developments along the eastern front, it will be well for a fuller understanding of these, to visualize again its location and to determine once more the distribution of the forces maintaining it on both sides. In its location the eastern front had experienced very little change since the winter of 1915 had set in and ended active campaigning. Its northern end now rested on the southwest shore of the Gulf of Riga at a point about ten miles northwest of the Baltic town of Pukkum on the Riga-Windau railroad and about thirty miles northwest of Riga itself. From these it ran in a southeasterly direction through Schlock, crossed the river Aa where it touches Lake Babit, passed to the north of the village of Oley and only about five miles south of Riga, and reached the Dvina about halfway between Uxkull and Riga. From there it followed more or less closely the left bank of the Dvina, passed Friedrichstadt and Jacobstadt to a point just west of Kalkuhnen, a little town on the bend of the Dvina, opposite Dvinsk. There it continued, generally speaking, in a southerly direction, at some points with a slight twist to the east, at others with a similarly slight turn to the west. It thus passed just east of Lake Drisviaty, crossed the Disna River at Koziany, then ran through Postavy and just east of Lake Narotch, crossed the Viliya River and the Vilna-Minsk railroad at Smorgon, and reached the Niemen at Lubcha. From thence it passed by the towns of Korelitchy, Zirin, Luchowtchy and entered the Pripet Marshes at Lipsk. About ten miles south of the latter town the line crossed the Oginsky Canal and followed along its west bank through the town of Teletshany to about the point where the canal joins the Jasiolda River. From that point the Germans still maintained their salient that swings about five miles to the east of the city of Pinsk.
Up to just south of the Pinsk salient, where the line crossed the Pripet River, it was held, for the Central Powers, almost exclusively by German troops. Below that point its defense was almost entirely in the hands of Austro-Hungarian regiments.
Soon after crossing the Pripet River the line reached the Styr River and followed its many turns for some thirty miles, now on its western bank and then again on its eastern shore. This river was crossed between Czartorysk and Kolki: About thirty miles south of Kolki, just to the east of the village of Olyka the Russians had succeeded in maintaining a small salient, the apex of which was directed toward their lost fortress of Lutsk almost twenty miles to the west, while the southern side passed very close to that other fortress, Dubno, even though it ran still some distance to the east of it. Crossing then the LembergRovno railroad, the line ran along both banks of the Sokal River to Ikva and crossed the Galician border near Novo Alexinez.
A short distance south of the border, about twenty miles, it crossed the Lemberg-Tarnopol railroad, at Jesierne, a little town about sixty miles east of Lemberg and less than twenty miles west of Tarnopol. Ten miles further south the Strypa River was crossed and followed within a mile or so along its west bank for a distance of some twenty miles, passing west of Burkanow and Buczacz. Just south of the latter town the line overspread both banks of the Strypa up to its junction with the Dniester, thence along the banks of this stream for almost twenty miles to a point about ten miles west of the junction of the Sereth River with the Dniester. At that point the line took another slight turn to the east, passing just east of the city of Czernowitz, and crossing at that point the river Pruth into the Austrian province of Bukowina. Less than ten miles southeast of Czernovitz the border of Rumania was reached near Wama and thereby the end of the line.
As the crow flies, the length of this line, from the Gulf of Riga to the Rumanian border was six hundred and twenty miles. Actually, counting its many turns and twists and salients, it covered more than seven hundred and fifty miles. From the Gulf to the Pripet River the eastern front was held by German troops with one single exception.
From there an Austrian army corps with only a very slight admixture of German troops completed the front of the Central Empires down to the Bessarabian border.
SCALE OF MILES 20 50
LINE AS IT WAS BEFORE
EASTERN BATTLE FRONT, AUGUST, 1916
From the Gulf of Riga down to the Oginski Canal five distinct German army corps were facing the Russians. The most northern of these covered the Gulf section and the Dvina front down to a point near Friedrichstadt. The second group was lined up from that point on down to somewhere just south of Lake Drisviaty, the third from Lake Drisviaty to the Viliya River, the fourth from the Viliya River to the Niemen River, and the fifth from the Niemen to the Oginski Canal. Generals von Scholz, von Eichhorn, von Fabeck, and von Woyrsch, were in command of these difficult units, with Field Marshal von Hindenburg in supreme command. The sector south of the Oginski Canal and up to the Pripet River was held by another army group under the command of Field Marshal Prince Leopold of Bavaria.
The first Austrian army corps, forming the left wing of the front held by the Austro-Hungarian forces, was commanded by Archduke Joseph Ferdinand. Later on, as the rapid success of the Russian offensive made it necessary for German troops to come to the assistance of their sorely pressed allies, General von Linsingen was dispatched from the north with reenforcements and assumed supreme command of this group of armies located in Volhynia. The command of the Galician front was in the hands of the Bavarian general, Count von Bothmer, while the forces fighting in the Bukowina were directed by General Pflanzer.
On the Russian side of the line General Kuropatkin, well known from the Russo-Japanese War, was in command of the northern half of the front. Of course, there were a number of other generals under him in charge of the various sectors of this long line. But on account of the comparative inactivity which was maintained most of the time along this line, their names did not figure largely. South of the Pripet Marshes General Alexeieff was in supreme command. Under him were General Brussilov and General Kaledin in Volhynia, General Sakharoff in Galicia, and the Cossack General Lechitsky in the Bukowina along the Dniester. Here, too, of course were a number of other commanders who, however, came into prominence only occasionally.
An intimate view of some of the Russian generals and their troops is presented in the following description from the pen of the official English press representative:
“The head of the higher command, General Alexeieff, early in the Galician campaign clearly proved, as chief of staff to General Ivanoff, his extraordinary capacity to direct an advance. As commander on the Warsaw front he made it evident that he could, with an army short of all material things, hold until the last moment an enemy equipped with everything, and then escape the enemy's clutches. At Vilna he showed his technique by again eluding the enemy.
"General Kaledin, the commander of the army on the Kovel front, is relatively a new figure in important operations. At the beginning of the war, as commander of a cavalry division, his universal competence in all operations committed to his care brought him rapid promotion, until now he is the head of this huge army. Meeting him frequently as a guest, I have come to feel great confidence in this resolute, quiet man, who is surrounded by a sober, serious staff, each officer picked for his past performance.
"I note an infinite improvement since last year in the army. In the first place I see no troops without rifles, and there is no shortage of ammunition apparent. Then there is an extraordinary improvement in the organization of the transport. In spite of the large volume of troops on this front they are moving with less confusion than the transport of single corps entailed two years ago. The compact organization of munition columns and the absence of wasted time have speeded up communications fully fifty per cent, enabling three units to be moved as easily as two last year.
"The transport has been further improved by the addition of motor vehicles. The staff organization is incomparably better than at the beginning of the war, and I have not seen a single staff on this front which is not entirely competent. The system of transporting the wounded has been well organized, and vast numbers are being cleared from the front stations without confusion or congestion.