French Defeated at Neufchateau
Still unaware of the vastly superior forces which the Germans had assembled, the French forces, on August 21, 1914 confidently advanced to give them battle.
Namur had not yet fallen, and indeed, the fortress was expected to hold out for weeks. The Third French Army, commanded by Gen. Ruffey, followed from the east to the west the course of the Semois River, a tributary of the Meuse. The Fourth French Army, under Gen. Langle de Carey, operated between the Meuse and the Lesse. The German forces occupied the wooded plateau, extending from Neufchateau to Palisent, which they had strongly fortified.
On August 21, Gen. Langle's infantry boldly attacked the Wurttembergers, but were repulsed. Still fighting, they fell back across the Meuse River. The pursuit by the Germans was punctuated by strong counterattacks, inflicting great losses upon them.
Gen. Ruffey's Third Army was similarly checked in its advance on Neufchateau by the superior forces of the German Crown Prince and was thrown back on the line of the Semois River. Both offensive actions undertaken by the armies of the French center had miscarried. Not only were they unable to lend their aid to Gen. Lanrezac, operating before Charleroi on their left, but they were obliged to retreat.
Positioned at the confluence of the Rivers Meuse and Mouzon, the little town dominates the Vosges Plain. It is at the centre of the various communications channels in the south-west of Lorraine, connecting with the région of Champagne to the west.