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PROTECTION OF THE REAR OF THE GERMAN EIGHTH ARMY, DURING THE BATTLE OF TANNENBERG.
I.-WHAT HAPPENED IN REAR OF THE GERMAN EIGHTH ARMY FROM 20 TO 31 AUGUST 1914.
On 28 August the 1st Cavalry Division advanced to Lautern and then northeast of RosseI. When Russian cavalry appeared from Langheim and advanced on Santoppen, this cavalry merely sited its artillery and the Russians then moved northward. Late that afternoon the Army ordered that one brigade of the division was to be sent to Lotzen "to reconnoiter the terrain east of the lakes, and to determine the location of the Russian II Corps," which unit had been reporting as withdrawing on Grajewo. This order was not executed, for during the night the Army ordered one brigade to Ortelsburg to take part in the pursuit. The remainder of the division was to continue on its present mission.
On the morning of 29 August the 1st Cavalry Brigade started for the south. The remainder of the 1st Cavalry Division remained for the present at Rossel, then moved to Voigtsdorf, where it gained contact with the 6th Landwehr Brigade. At Lautern the division took time out for a rest. It was completely exhausted. A phone call to Army headquarters that afternoon reported as follows: "No distant reconnaissance against the Russian First Army. Horses can barely trot. Close-in reconnaissance." This condition of affairs was particularly serious as the Russian threat towards Allenstein was being felt. In spite of all difficulties the 1st Cavalry Division was able to prevent the Russian 1st Cavalry Division from reaching their march objective: Seeburg-Bischofsburg. It only advanced as far as the area east of Bischofstein.
On the morning of 30 August the 1st Cavalry Division received radio orders from army headquarters as follows: "Everything depends upon your holding up the enemy reported at Rossel, regardless." On this day the bulk of the division moved to Rothfliess.
During the night of 30-31 August the Russian 1st Cavalry Division made a thrust in the direction of Allenstein, which was the only far-reaching and large scale operation of the cavalry of the Russian First Army during the battle of Tannenberg. But it was too late. On the morning of 31 August there was a skirmish between them and the units of the 6th Landwehr Brigade and the 1st Reserve Hussars. The Russians were easily brushed aside. That afternoon the 1st Cavalry Division received orders to move to the north and to cut off the hostile cavalry division. ''Relentless Pursuit" was ordered. The 1st Cavalry Division then advanced to Lautern. On 1 September it struck hostile cavalry near Kiwitten. After a brief fire fight the Russians withdrew to the north. The cutting off of the Russian cavalry did not succeed. The German cavalry pursued as far as Gr. Schwahsfeld, mostly with artillery fire.
On the front of the Russian First Army the few Landwehr and railroad and bridge guards were unable to offer delay to the advancing Russians. In some cases the Landwehr withdrew with astounding celerity. One, Landwehr Battalion withdrew 42 miles in 24 hours. Such troops as were sent out from the cities along the Vistula, such as Danzig, were placed under the command of Lieut. General von Heuduck and were deployed along the Passarge River. On 31 August parts of the Russian 2d and 3d Cavalry Divisions approached the Passarge, and were met by a mixed detachment, which went to Wormditt and held them up in a fire fight lasting several hours. When a small German detachment on bicycles and in automobiles appeared from Braunsberg on the north flank of the Russians, the latter withdrew towards the east during the early evening hours.
The fortress Königsberg had been engaged in an artillery duel since 28 August. As the Russians were pressing from the east, the commandant could not spare enough forces to attack towards the south and threaten the flank of the Russian First Army. Strong Russian forces were contained just the same by the fortress early evening hours.
II.-DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS.
Three factors furnished the protection to the rear of the German Eighth Army: The fortresses Königsberg and Lotzen; the 1st Cavalry Division; and the Landwehr and guard units, detailed to impede the advance of the Russians.
Had the Russian First Army intervened, the German Eighth Army could not have defeated the Russian Army decisively.
Source: PROTECTION OF THE REAR OF THE GERMAN EIGHTH ARMY, DURING THE BATTLE OF TANNENBERG. ["Die Rückendeckung der 8. Armee wahrend der Schlacht bei Tannenberg." By Captain Meier-WeIcker. Militär-Wochenblat, 25 July 1936.] Abstracted by Major E.F. Koenig, Infantry. RML, March 1937.
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