“The fourth division commenced its detrainment at Le Cateau on Sunday, August 23, and by the morning of the 25th eleven battalions and a brigade of artillery with the divisional staff were available for service. I ordered General Snow to move out to take up a position with his right south of Solesmes, his left resting on the Cambrai-Le Cateau road south of La Chapriz. In this position the division rendered great help.
“Although the troops had been ordered to occupy Cam-brai-Le Cateau-Landrecies position and ground had, during the 25th, been partially prepared and entrenched, I had grave doubts as to the wisdom of standing there to fight.
“Having regard to the continued retirement of the French right, my exposed left flank, the tendency of the enemy’s western corps to envelop me, and, more than all, the exhausted condition of the troops, I determined to make a great effort to continue the retreat till I could put some substantial obstacle, such as the Somme or the Oise between my troops and the enemy.
RETREAT IS ORDERED
“Orders were therefore sent to the corps commanders to continue their retreat as soon as they possibly could toward the general line of Vermand, St. Quentin and Ribemont, and the cavalry under General Allenby were ordered to cover the retirement. Throughout the 25th and far into the evening the First Corps continued to march on Landrecies, following the road along the eastern border of the forest of Mormal, and arrived at Landrecies about 10 o’clock. I had intended that the corps should come further west so as to fill up the gap between Le Cateau and Landrecies, but the men were exhausted and could not get further in without a rest.
“The enemy, however, would not allow them this rest and about 9: that evening the report was received that the Fourth Guards brigade in Landrecies was heavily attacked by troops of the Ninth German army corps, who were coming through the forest to the north of the town.
FRENCH AID IS GIVEN
“At the same time information reached me from Sir Douglas Haig that his first division was also heavily engaged south and east of Marilles. I sent urgent messages to the commander of two French reserve divisions on my right to come up to the assistance of the First Corps, which they eventually did.
“By about 6 in the afternoon the Second Corps had got Into position, with their right on Le Cateau, their left in the neighborhood of Caudry, and the line of defense was continued thence by the fourth division toward Seranvillers.
“During the fighting on the 24th and 25th the cavalry became a good deal scattered, but by early morning of the 26th General Allenby had succeeded in concentrating two brigades to the south of Cambrai.
“On the 24th the French cavalry corps, consisting of three divisions under General Sordet, had been in billets, north of Avesnes. On my way back from Vavay, which was my paste de commandemente during the fighting of the 23d and the 24th, I visited General Sordet and earnestly requested his cooperation and support. He promised to obtain sanction from his army commander to act on my left flank, but said that his horses were too tired to move before the next day.