The Kaiser's Army: The Politics of Military Technology in Germany during the Machine Age, 1870-1918

By Eric Dorn Brose | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
QUEEN OF THE BATTLEFIELD

THERE WAS A clearing in the woods high above the Meuse that commanded a beautiful view. Far below, the river meandered through its valley. A few miles away on the opposite side, a bare hill ascended away from the glistening water, angling steeply upward until it reached a forest known as the Bois de la Garenne. This thick wood was itself nestled in a bowl below precipitous ridges that yielded in their turn to the darkness of the Ardennes farther up. The whole majestic landscape seemed to crown the town of Sedan hundreds of feet below on the valley floor. 1

Moltke had selected this clearing for the headquarters of the German Army. The morning mist on 2 September 1870 limited King William, Bismarck, and the royal entourage to the mere sounds of escalating violence, but by noon nature's curtain had parted before the full panorama of battle. The hillside above Sedan was dotted and speckled with the bivouacs of the French Army and the brightly colored uniforms of tens of thousands of desperate soldiers. Two long lines of German cannon could be seen below on the closest bank of the Meuse, and high above the town friendly gun crews wheeled their engines of destruction into position and began to fire. Their distant roar echoed the louder shots from the guns in the valley. “Now we have them in a mousetrap,” 2 exclaimed Moltke the day before as he surveyed the ring of his armies, tightening around the French. But the mechanized terror that followed would mock

-26-

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The Kaiser's Army: The Politics of Military Technology in Germany during the Machine Age, 1870-1918
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Contents *
  • The Kaiser's Army *
  • Introduction 3
  • Chapter 1 - Old Soldiers 7
  • Chapter 2 - Queen of the Battlefield 26
  • Chapter 3 - Between Persistence and Change 43
  • Chapter 4 - The Plans of Schlieffen 69
  • Chapter 5 - Past and Present Collide 85
  • Chapter 6 - No Frederick the Great 112
  • Chapter 7 - Toward the Great War 138
  • Chapter 8 - Rolling the Iron Dice 183
  • Chapter 9 - Denouement 226
  • Notes 241
  • Bibliography and Abbreviations 293
  • Index 305
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