By the first of September the Russian advance into East Prussia was well under way and the strong fortress of Koenigsberg was in danger of a siege, German troops were being rushed to its defense. In Galicia there were fierce encounters between the Russian invaders and the Austrians. Several victories were claimed by the Russians all along the line and whole brigades of Austrian troops were reported destroyed, while the Russian losses were also admittedly heavy. The fiercest fighting occurred in the vicinity of Lemberg, the capital of Galicia, which was soon to fall to General Russky. The Austrian attack on Russian Poland failed and the Austrians were driven back across their own frontier. The Russians were seeking to destroy the hope of the Kaiser for help from Austria in Eastern Germany, where the Russian advance, ridiculed or belittled by Germany before it began, became more menacing every day. The German war plans had contemplated a quick, decisive blow in France and then a rapid turn to the East to meet the Russians with a tremendous force. But the belligerency of the Belgians and the cooperation of the British balked these plans, while the Russians moved faster than was expected by their foe. Austria had failed everywhere to stop the Czar’s forces, and then came a crushing blow to Austrian hopes in a ruinous defeat near Lemberg and the loss of that fortress.
THE FALL OF LEMBERG
The capture of Lemberg from the Austrians early in September after a four days’ battle was one of the striking Russian successes of the war. Details reached the outer world on September 10th from Petrograd (St. Petersburg) as follows, the story being that of an eyewitness:
“The commencement of the fighting which resulted in the capture of Lemberg began August 29th, when the Russians drove the enemy from Zisczow (forty-five miles east of Lemberg) and moved on to Golaya Gorka—a name which means ‘the naked hill.’
“We spent the night on Naked Hill, and the actual storming of the town was begun at 2:30 o’clock in the morning. Then followed a four days’ battle. A virtually continuous cannonade continued from dawn to darkness without cessation.
“Even in the darkness the weary fighters got little sleep. Whenever a single shot was heard the men dashed for their places and the battle boiled again with renewed fury.
“The enemy’s counter attacks were delivered with great energy and a dense hail of lead and iron was poured over our ranks. The Russian advance was greatly impeded by the hilly nature of the ground and the great number of extinct craters, which formed splendid natural fortifications for the enemy, which held them doggedly. Out of these, however, the enemy was driven in succession.
“We suffered much from thirst, for the stony, country was devoid of springs. The days were oppressively hot and the nights bitterly cold.