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borderland, and especially Italy, because she has to attack. The Italian army is strong in numbers, ably commanded, well provided, and animated by an excellent spirit. As this army becomes more inured to war, and traditions of victory on hardfought fields become established, the military value of the army is enhanced.
“As I think over the Italian exploits during the war, I remember that the men of Alps, of Piedmont and Lombardy, of Venetia, and Tuscany, of Rome, Naples, Sardinia, and Sicily have one and all contributed something to the record, and have had the honor of distinguished mention in General Cadorna's bulletins, which are austere in character and make no concessions to personal or collective ambitions. I find much to admire in the cool and confident bearing of the people, in the endurance of great fatigues by the troops, and in the silent patience of the wounded on the battle field. I fancy that the army is better in the attack than in the defense, and I should trust most with an Italian army to an attack pressed through to the end without halting."
The first indications of renewed activity, outside of artillery duels, anywhere except in the Trentino, appeared during the last days of June. On June 28, 1916, the Italians suddenly, after a comparative quiet of several months, began what appeared to be a strong offensive movement on the Isonzo front. They violently bombarded portions of the front on the Doberdo Plateau (south of Goritz). In the evening heavy batteries were brought to bear against Monte San Michele and the region of San Martino. After the fire had been increased to great intensity over the whole plateau, Italian infantry advanced to attack. At Monte San Michele, near San Martino and east of Vermigliano, violent fighting developed. At the Goritz bridgehead the Italians attacked the southern portion of the Podgora position (on the right bank of the Isonzo), and penetrated the first line trenches of the Austrians, but were driven out.
The Italian offensive was continued the next day, June 29, 1916, and resulted in the capture of Hills 70 and 104 in the Monfalcone district. The Austrians undertook a counteroffensive at Monte San Michele and Monte San Marino, on the Doberdo Plateau, attacking the Italian lines under cover of gas. Fighting continued in the Monfalcone sector of the Isonzo front for about a week, during which time the Austrians vainly endeavored to regain the positions which they had lost in the first onrush of the Italian offensive. After that it again deteriorated into artillery activity which was fairly constantly maintained throughout the balance of July, 1916, without producing any noteworthy changes in the general situation.
Coincident with this short Italian offensive in the Monfalcone sector of the Isonzo front, there also developed considerable fighting to the east on the Carso Plateau, north of Trieste, which, however, was equally barren of definite results.
Minor engagements between comparatively small infantry de tachments occurred in the adjoining sector—that of the Julian Alpson July 1, 1916, especially in the valleys of the Fella, Gail and Seebach. These were occasionally repeated, especially so on July 19, 1916, but throughout most of the time only artillery duels took place.
In the Carnic Alps hardly anything of importance occurred throughout the late spring and the entire summer of 1916, excepting fairly continuous artillery bombardments, varying in strength and extent.
Considerable activity, however, was the rule rather than the exception in the sector between the Carnic Alps and the Dolomites. There, one point especially, saw considerable fighting. Monte Tofana, just beyond the frontier on the Austrian side, had been held by the Italians for a considerable period, and with it a small section of the surrounding country, less than five miles in depth. The Italians at various times attempted, with more or less success, to extend and strengthen their holdings, while the Austrians, with equal determination, tried to wrest from them what they had already gained, and to arrest their further progress.
In this region Alpine detachments of the Italian army on the night of July 8, 1916, gained possession of a great part of the valley between Tofana Peaks Nos, 7 and 2, and of a strong position on Tofana Prima commanding the valley. The Austrian garrison was surrounded and compelled to surrender. The Italians took 190 prisoners, including eight officers, and also three machine guns, a large number of rifles and ammunition.
A few days later, on July 11, 1916, the Italians exploded a mine, destroying the Austro-Hungarian defenses east of Col dei Bois peak. This position commanded the road of the Dolomites and the explosion blew it up entirely, and gave possession of it to the Italians. The entire Austrian force which occupied the summit was buried in the wreckage. On the following night the Austrians attempted to regain this position which the Italians had fortified strongly in the meantime, but the attack broke down completely.
Three days later, July 14, 1916, Italian Alpine detachments surprised and drove the Austrians from their trenches near Castelletto and at the entrance of the Travenanzes Valley. They took some prisoners, including two officers, as well as two guns, two machine guns, one trench mortar and a large quantity of arms and ammunition. An Austrian counterattack against this position was launched on July 15, 1916, but was repulsed.
Finally on July 30, 1916, the Italians registered one more success in this region. Some of their Alpine troops carried Porcella Wood and began an advance in the Travenanzes Valley.
Throughout this period considerable artillery activity was maintained on both sides. As a result Cortina d'Ampezzo, on the Italian side, suffered a great deal from Austrian shells, while Toblach, on the Austrian, was the equally unfortunate recipient of Italian gunfire.
On the western frontier, between Italy and Austria, along Val Camonica, only artillery bombardments were the order of the day. These were particularly severe at various times in the region of the Tonale Pass, but without important results.
Aeroplanes, of course, were employed extensively, both by the Austro-Hungarians and the Italians, although the nature of the country did not lend itself as much to this form of modern warfare as in the other theaters of war. Some of these enterprises have already been mentioned. The Austrians, in this respect, were at a decided advantage, because their airships had many objects for attacks in the various cities of the North Italian plain. Among these Bergamo, Brescia, and Padua were the most frequent sufferers, while Italian aeroplanes frequently bombarded Austrian lines of communication and depots.
PART VI-RUSSO-TURKISH CAMPAIGN
RUSSIAN SUCCESSES AFTER ERZERUM
ITH the same surprising vigor with which the Russian
armies in the Caucasus had pushed their advance toward Erzerum, they took up the pursuit of the retreating Turkish army, after this important Armenian stronghold had capitulated on February 16, 1916. With Erzerum as a center the Russian advance spread out rapidly in all directions toward the west in the general direction of Erzingan and Sivas; in the south toward Mush, Bitlis and the region around Lake Van, and in the north with the important Black Sea port of Trebizond as the objective. This meant a front of almost 300 miles without a single railroad and only a limited number of roads that really deserved that appellation. Almost all of this country is very mountainous. To push an advance in such country at the most favorable season of the year involves the solution of the most complicated military problems. The country itself offers comparatively few opportunities for keeping even a moderate-sized army sufficiently supplied with food and water for men and beasts. But considering that the Russian advance was undertaken during the winter, when extremely low temperatures prevail, and when vast quantities of snow add to all the other natural difficulties in the way of an advancing army, the Russian successes were little short of marvelous.
As early as February 23, 1916, the right wing of the Russian army had reached and occupied the town of Ispir on the river Chorok, about fifty miles northwest of Erzerum, and halfway