22/7/1915 Russia’s “Great Retreat”

The German advances into Poland from north and south are hammering the Russians. It is becoming increasingly clear that the enemy advance cannot be stopped; attempting to hold onto Poland will lead to the destruction of any armies left to defend it. The Northwestern Front of the Russian army is commanded by General Mikhail Alexeev. In an effort to salvage what he can from the wreckage, he now orders that forces in western Poland are to retreat to new lines to the east. The pretence is maintained that Russian forces are going to establish a new line in eastern Poland, but few doubt that Russian forces will be moving much further away. The control of central Poland established by Russia in the late 18th century is coming to an end.
The series of retreats Russia has made since the start of Germany’s Gorlice-Tarnów offensive are blurring into one, becoming known collectively as the Great Retreat. Although the Russians are largely successful in manoeuvring their armies to avoid encirclement, the endless retreats are demoralising. In many cases the Russian forces are also having to evacuate positions where arms and materiel have been stockpiled, which causes great annoyance to under-equipped soldiers. The Russians are trying to emulate the “scorched earth” tactics that defeated Napoleon in 1812, but disorganisation means that much useful material is being left behind intact for the Germans.

The successive failures of the army in the war seem to be laying bare the failed nature of the Tsarist regime itself.

retreating Russians image source (Really Bored)

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