September 3, 1914

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

The Capital Journal headlines reported:

Fighting Is Fierce on Part of Front and Allies Must Fall Back
Elaborate Plans Made for A State of Siege;
Non-combatants Sent Out

Military Officers Say It Will Be Impossible for Them to Isolate the City
Their Right Said to Be Taking Desperate Chances of Being Trapped

Helmut von Moltke. Source: Wikipedia.

Helmut von Moltke, the German Chief of the General Staff was responsible for implementing the German strategy for defeating France, based the work of his predecessor, Count Alfred von Schlieffen. Field Marshall von Moltke delegated the responsibility for the war against France to subordinate Generals. Instead of following the plan, the retreat of the French and the British led the Germans to pursue the retreating armies rather than to follow the details of the plan. The retreating armies did not surrender and, though their casualties were horrendous, the allies remained a viable force. The German armies gained vast territory, but, as they were to learn again during World War II in Russia, territory did not mean victory.

What the Schlieffen Plan failed to account for was the key point that UPS stresses in its advertisements: “I love logistics!” The Germans failed to factor in the very long “tail” modern armies have. As they were to do in World War II, German front lines moved more rapidly than could their supply lines. It probably would have made little difference whether German armies deviated from the “plan” as, by September, they were stretched further than their resources could handle.

On the editorial page are several brief notes about the war:

The New York Times predicts a shortage of pipes on account of the war. It, however, does not take into account the two-billion-bushel corn crop and the fact that when this is shelled there will be nearly a billion bushels of cobs. Besides there are thousands of acres of cane in the south and this makes ideal stems. Uncle Samuel will never go without his smoke while the cane and cob hold out.


The czar simply smiled when talking about the loss of 70,000 men in the recent battle with the Germans. With unlimited capital in the shape of men, he thinks no more of the loss of that kind of a bet than an old poker player does of losing his ante. That is one of the pitiful things about the war, that men are looked upon as so many chips to be bet and lost in the war game. When one thinks of the daring courage of the German soldier and the dauntless bravery of the Belgian, who risks life, family, property, all the human heart hold dear, in defense of his country and his country’s right, there can be but one feeling, that of profound sorrow that such men, who should be sires for their race, should be sacrificed at the whim of any emperor, czar, king, or any other human ruler. It is a crime against the human race.


One hardly knows whether to believe any or all the statements made of and concerning each other by the warring powers as to the atrocities alleged to have been committed. The French accuse the Germans of cutting off children’s hands so they could not act as soldiers. The Germans accuse the French of things about as bad. The Russians are charged with cutting off women’s breasts or worse offenses. If what they all charge is true, this alleged civilized warfare discounts anything our savage progenitors ever dreamed of. Let us hope that out of respect to the human race that all those stories are the emanation of overwrought imaginations, and are in no wise true.


War affects things differently. The haughty automobile has not advanced a cent in price on account of the war, but the American horse and the lowly but splendid mule, whose native state is Missouri have seen their values nearly doubled. Autos are all right for pleasure but when it comes down to business and hard work the long eared creator of Missouri’s corn crop goes to the front.


Probably the best evidence that Turkey is about ready to take a hand in the war, is the persistent manner in which she keeps announcing that she will not. If she does there will be something stirring in the Balkans again, and it may be possible the Turk will be driven out of Europe to stay out forever.


It is announced that owing to the war in Europe the price of surgical instruments will be increased. Will this have a tendency to make appendicitis get beyond the purse of any but the millionaires who dodged the income tax and saved the price?


About whclarc

We are devoted to providing information fresh from the Archives, Library and Collections of the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem, Oregon. We specialize in the history of Marion County and the greater Salem area.
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