From September 7 to 13 the Russians took a strong position on the line from Angerburg to Gerdauen, Allenburg, and Kehlau, the left wing resting on the Mazurian lakes and the right wing protected in the rear and flank by the forest of Frisching, whose pathless woods and swamps furnished an almost impregnable position. The Russians devoted great efforts to intrenching their position and brought up besides their heavy artillery. Russian cavalry scouted far to the west and south, but otherwise the army-undertook no offensive operations in the days following a battle at Tannenberg.
The German forces, according to the German official account, were composed of the Second, Third, Fourth and Twentieth corps, two reserve divisions and five cavalry divisions.
General von Hindenburg, the German commander, meanwhile was assembling every available man, depriving the fortresses of their garrisons and calling in all but a bare remnant of the force protecting the southern frontier in the vicinity of Soldau, adding them to reinforcements received from the west.
General von Hindenburg again resorted to the customary German flanking movement, and since the German right, protected by the forest and marshes, seemed too strong, he adopted the daring strategy of sending the flanking force to the lake region to the south, the same character of movement by which the Russian Narew army had been defeated on August 28, in the vicinity of Ortelsburg, and which in case of failure might have been equally as disastrous for the Germans.
STRATEGY IS SUCCESSFUL
The strategy, however, succeeded, although General Rennenkampf offered a desperate resistance to the frontal attacks. After three days’ fighting the Russians were forced back slightly in the center. When the flank movement of the Germans was discovered already threatening the flank, a counter-movement was launched with a new army collected at Lyck, including the Twenty-second corps and parts of the Third Siberian corps, just arriving from Irkutsk, and the balance of the defeated army. The counter-attacks failed and on September 10 the Russians began to fall back on their main position, retreating in good order and well covered.
The Russian artillery on the right wing appears to have made a good retreat owing to a timely start, while the left wing was hard pressed by the enveloping German infantry. From this wing the Russians retreated across the border in two columns, while the main body went northward and the others in an easterly direction, pursued by the Germans, who advanced far from the border.
The German government appointed Count von Merveldt as governor of the Russian province of Suwalki and other points occupied by them.
The University of Koenigsberg on September 18 conferred upon General von Hindenburg honorary doctors’ degrees from all four of the departments of philosophy, theology, law and medicine, in recognition of his success against the Russian invader.