On the morning of August 15, 1914, General de Castelnau's Second French army moved rapidly toward the Lorraine border on a front extending from the Grand Cauronne to the Vosges. In the van of this advance was the 20th Corps, commanded by General Ferdinand Foch, the incomparable strategist who was destined four years later to lead all the Allied armies to a glorious victory.
The French army aimed at seizing the Metz-Strasburg railroad, and especially the junction at Saarburg, in order to cut the direct communication between the armies of Prince Rupert and von HeerinGeneral The actual frontier line was then held by a mere screen of enemy troops, the main German army occupying an entrenched position of great strength in the hilly country a few miles back of the border.
General Foch's 20th Corps, across the frontier, advanced in two columns, the left aiming at Delme, the right at Chateau Salins, both driving the German outpost guards before them. Bridges were thrown across the Seille River and the corps crossed to the German side before night.
General Espinasse's 15th Corps, meanwhile, was moving toward the lake region, and General Taverna's 16th Corps on Saarburg, with General Conneau's cavalry division guarding its right flank and exploring the wooded uplands in front. On the extreme right, a division of Dubail's army was co-operating in the move on Saarburg.
The German frontier forces continued to fall back slowly during the next two days, fighting delayed actions on a large scale, but leaving neither guns nor prisoners in the hands of the French. General Foch's right column seized Chateau Salins on the 18th and his left column occupied Delme, thus controlling the junction of the Nancy-Morhange railway with the frontier line to Metz. The French center, advancing through the lake region, was approaching the main Metz- Strasburg railway; the French right wing had occupied Saarburg Junction.
On the 19th, the French advance came under heavy artillery ...