Skilful Retreat Conducted by Foch
De Castelnau's Lorraine army was still in peril, however, and a further withdrawal across the Seille and Meurthe rivers and thence into France, was decided upon. The army was ordered to fall back to a new position on the French side of the frontier, covering the Trouvée de Charmes, a gap in the Eastern fortress barrier, with the entrenched camp of Toul on its left and that of Epinol on its right.
In co-operation with Dubail's First Army, they would there await the inevitable attack by the victorious Germans.
Foch's 20th Corps was assigned to act as the rear guard of the whole army, covering its retirement across the Meurthe to the new battle positions. A welcome reinforcement reached the Second Army on August 21, made up of three brigades and several batteries of artillery belonging to the 9th Corps which had mobilized at Tours.
The retreat across the frontier was begun on August 21. Gen. Foch, with his "Iron Corps," guarded the retirements, holding the heights on the left bank of the Meurthe above and below St. Nicholas and covering the river crossings with his artillery fire.
On the right bank, a brigade of the llth Division, with several batteries, held the heights above Flainvol against repeated attacks, and only withdrew across the river at dark, blowing up the bridges as they went. The only French troops left on the right bank were those that held the Grand Cauronne. On Sunday, August 23, the Second Army was in position on its chosen battle ground for the defence of the Charmes Gap.
Allied Line in the North Also in Retreat
On the same day, Lanrezac's French army on the Sambre was defeated by von Buelow, the British had begun their retreat from Mons, the armies of De Ruft'ey and De Langle had both been shattered and the whole Allied line on the Northern frontier was falling back.
As a result of the defeat of the Second French Army at Morhange, Gen. Dubail's First Army was obliged to abandon the