[September 05, 2014] Exactly 100 years ago today, began what is considered one of the most decisive battles in history. The Battle of the Marne was France’s counteroffensive to prevent the Germans from capturing Paris. Luck would have it that the commander of the French army would discover the German’s offensive plans when they were retrieved from the knapsack of a slain German officer. Both the French and British armies had predicted incorrectly how the Germans would attack. However, with the precise German plans now in their hands, the French counteroffensive was a successful affair that forced the Germans to retreat.
Consistent with the theme of remembering World War I, senior leader strategy from that war will be briefly discussed. The Battle of the Marne was a defeat for Germany’s “Schlieffen Plan.” This plan called for the outflanking of the French forces by going north through Belgium and capturing Paris before the Russians could mobilize … and it was working. The French army and their allied British Expeditionary Force were in retreat all along the front. Battle sounds could be heard in Paris and Parisian taxis carried troops to the frontlines on one tank of gas.
Approximately 100,000 soldiers were killed or wounded during the six days of heavy fighting along the 100 mile front. Ultimately, the battle lines on the western front stretched across France and Belgium. The Battle of the Marne, also called the “First Battle of the Marne,” resulted in a race to build defensive fortifications. The combatants settled into the trenches for a four-year war of attrition that took the lives of millions.
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[Here are some very good websites dedicated to the Battle of the Marne]