Sunday, August 23, 1914 found the armies of Castelnau and Dubail standing in battle formation in front of the Trouvée de Charmes, the 20-mile gap opening in the side of France, near Nancy, flanked on its northern end by the fortified Meuse heights and on its southern end by a fortified spur of the Vosges.
De Castelnau's battle line, with its left on the heights of the Grand Cauronne and extending southward toward Essey, formed almost a right angle with Gen. Dubail's line, which ran from Essey by way of Baccarat to the Vosges. The German advance, therefore, must either be frontal against one army, exposing a flank to the other, or else form a salient enveloped by the French from the outset. Including the terrain swept by the guns mounted in the forts of Toul and Epinol, the front was 45 miles long.
The Germans, after occupying Luneville on the 23d, advanced toward the Gap and gave battle on the following day. A corps of Gen. Heeringen's army made an attempt to turn Dubail's flank by forcing the Pass of St. Marie in the Vosges, but was repulsed by the 14th French Corps, reinforced by troops from the garrison of Epinol.
At the same time, two corps of Bavarian troops had pushed along by the Meurthe valley and engaged the 21st French Corps at Celles and Baccarat, but still the line did not budge. The main attack was made against De Castelnau's front.
Advancing across the Mortague valley on both sides of Gerbeviller, the Germans flung themselves in dense masses against the positions held by the 15th and 16th French Corps, but the men of Provence and Languedoc amply retrieved their failure at Morhange, resisting every attack. On the right of them, Conneau's cavalry fought dismounted. Here the attack was pressed furiously for hours, but in vain. Now began a terrific bombardment, shells and shrapnel raining upon the Plateau, but it could not disperse the indomitable Frenchmen.
The German assault having failed, Gen. de Castelnau resolved to launch a counter-...