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Title: Foch the Man - A Life of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Armies
Author: Laughlin, Clara E.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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A Life of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Armies



With Appreciation by Lieut.-Col. Edouard Réquin
of the French High Commission to the United States

With Illustrations

Revised and Enlarged Edition

[Frontispiece: Marshal Foch at the Peace Conference.]

New York -------- Chicago
Fleming H. Revell Company
London and Edinburgh
Copyright, 1918, 1919, by
Fleming H. Revell Company
First Printing - November 11, 1918
Second Printing - November 19, 1918
Third Printing - November 29, 1918
Fourth Printing - December 7, 1918
Fifth Printing - January 9, 1919
Sixth Printing - May 1, 1919



[Illustration: Hand-written letter from Foch.]

[Illustration: Page 1 of hand-written letter from Lt.-Colonel E. Réquin
to Clara Laughlin.]

[Illustration: Page 2 of hand-written letter from Lt.-Colonel E. Réquin
to Clara Laughlin.]

[Transcriber's note: The letter in the second and third illustrations
is shown translated on the following page.]


I have read with the keenest interest your sketch of the life of
Marshal Foch.  It is not yet history: we are too close to events to
write it now, but it is the story of a great leader of men on which I
felicitate you because of your real understanding of his character.

Christian, Frenchman, soldier, Foch will be held up as an example for
future generations as much for his high moral standard as for his
military genius.

It seems that in writing about him the style rises with the noble
sentiments which inspire him.

Thus in form of presentation as well as in substance you convey
admirably the great lesson which applies to each one of us from the
life of Marshal Foch.

Please accept, Mademoiselle, this expression of my respectful regards.



  Three Spirits stood on the mountain peak
    And gazed on a world of red,--
  Red with the blood of heroes,
    The living and the dead;
  A mighty force of Evil strove
    With freemen, mass on mass.
  Three Spirits stood on the mountain peak
    And cried: "They shall not pass!"

  The Spirits of Love and Sacrifice,
    The Spirit of Freedom, too,--
  They called to the men they had dwelt among
    Of the Old World and the New!
  And the men came forth at the trumpet call,
    Yea, every creed and class;
  And they stood with the Spirits who called to them,
    And cried: "They shall not pass!"

  Far down the road of the Future Day
    I see the world of Tomorrow;
  Men and women at work and play,
    In the midst of their joy and sorrow.
  And every night by the red firelight,
    When the children gather 'round
  They tell the tale of the men of old.
  These noble ancestors, grim and bold,
    Who bravely held their ground.
  In thrilling accents they often speak
  Of the Spirits Three on the mountain peak.

        O Freedom, Love and Sacrifice
          You claimed our men, alas!
        Yet everlasting peace is theirs
          Who cried, "They shall not pass!"


_Reprinted by permission of M. Witmark & Sons, N. Y._

_Publishers of the musical setting to this poem._



Stirring traditions and historic scenes which surrounded him in


The horsemarkets at Tarbes.  The school.  Foch at twelve a student of


What Foch suffered in the defeat of France by the Prussians.


Foch begins his military studies, determined to be ready when France
should again need defense.


Begins to specialize in cavalry training.  The school at Saumur.


Seven years at Rennes as artillery captain and always student of war.
Called to Paris for further training.


Parallels in their careers since their school days together.


Where Foch's great work as teacher prepared hundreds of officers for
the superb parts they have played in this war.


Some of the principles Foch taught.  Why he is not only the greatest
strategist and tactician of all time, but the ideal leader and
coordinator of democracy.


Clemenceau's part in giving Foch his opportunity.


How the Superior War Council prepared for the inevitable invasion of
France.  Foch put in command at Nancy.


True to his belief that "the way to make war is to attack" Foch
promptly invaded Germany, but was obliged to retire and defend his own


How the brilliant generalship there thwarted the German plan; and how
Joffre recognized it in reorganizing his army.


"The Miracle of the Marne" was Foch.  How he turned defeat to victory.


Foch's skill and diplomacy in that crisis show him a great coordinator.


How Foch stopped the German drive that nearly separated the French and
English armies.


The completest humiliation ever inflicted on a proud nation.


How Foch carries himself as victor.


Marshal Foch at the Peace Conference . . . . . . _Frontispiece_

The room in which Ferdinand Foch was born

The house in Tarbes where Foch was born

Ferdinand Foch as a schoolboy of twelve

The school in Tarbes

Marshall Joffre--General Foch

General Pétain--Marshal Haig--General Foch--General Pershing

General Foch--General Pershing

Marshal Foch, Executive head of the allied forces

Ferdinand Foch, Marshal of France


When the Great War broke out, one military name "led all the rest" in
world-prominence: Kitchener.  Millions of us were confident that the
hero of Kartoum would save the world.  It was not so decreed.  Almost
immediately another name flashed into the ken of every one, until even
lisping children said _Joffre_ with reverence second only to that
wherewith they named Omnipotence.  Then the weary years dragged on, and
so many men were incredibly brave and good that it seemed hard for
anyone to become pre-eminent.  We began to say that in a war so vast,
so far-flung, no one man _could_ dominate the scene.

But, after nearly four years of conflict, a name we had heard and seen
from the first, among many others, began to differentiate itself from
the rest; and presently the whole wide world was ringing with it: Foch!

He was commanding all the armies of civilization.  Who was he?

Hardly anyone knew.

Up to the very moment when he had compassed the most momentous victory
in the history of mankind, little was known about him, outside of
France, beyond the fact that he had been a professor in the Superior
School of War.

Now and then, as the achievements of his generalship rocked the world,
someone essayed an account of him.  They said he was a Lorrainer, born
at Metz; they said his birthday was August 4; they said he was too
young to serve in the Franco-Prussian war; and they said a great many
other things of which few happened to be true.

Then, as the summer of 1918 waned, there came to me from France, from
Intelligence officers of General Foch's staff, authoritative
information about him.

And also there came those, representing France and her interests in
this country, who said:

"Won't you put the facts about Foch before your people?"

If I could have fought for France with a sword (or gun) I should have
been at her service from the first of August, 1914, when I heard her
tocsin ring, saw her sons march away to fight and die on battlefields
as familiar to me as my home neighborhood.

Not being permitted that, I have yielded her such service as I could
with my pen.

And when asked to write, for my countrymen, about General Foch, I felt
honored in a supreme degree.

In due course we shall have many volumes about him: his life, his
teachings, his writings, his great deeds will be studied in minutest
details as long as that civilization endures which he did so much to
preserve to mankind.

But just now, while all hearts are overflowing with gratefulness to
him, it may be--I cannot help thinking--as valuable to us to know a
little about him as it will be for us to know a great deal about him
later on.

My sources of information are mainly French; and notable among them is
a work recently published in Paris: "Foch, His Life, His Principles,
His Work, as a Basis for Faith in Victory," by René Puaux, a French
soldier-author who has served under the supreme commander in a capacity
which enabled him to study the man as well as the General.

French, English and some few American periodicals have given me bits of
impression and some information.  French military and other writers
have also helped.  And noted war correspondents have contributed
graphic fragments.  The happy fortune which permitted me to know
France, her history and her people, enabled me to "read into" these
brief accounts much which does not appear to the reader without that
acquaintance.  And distinguished Frenchmen, scholars and soldiers,
including several members of the French High Commission to the United
States, have helped me greatly; most of them have not only close
acquaintance with General Foch, having served as staff officers under
him, but are eminent writers as well, with the highest powers of
analysis and of expression.

Lieutenant-Colonel Édouard Réquin of the French General Staff, who was
at General Foch's side from the day Foch was made commander of an army,
has been especially kind to me in this undertaking; I am indebted to
him, not only for many anecdotes and suggestions, but also for his
patience in reading my manuscript for verification (or correction) of
its details and its essential truthfulness.

And I want especially to record my gratefulness to M. Antonin
Barthélemy, French Consul at Chicago, the extent and quality of whose
helpfulness, not alone on this but on many occasions, I shall never be
able to describe.  Through him the Spirit of France has been potent in
our community.

Thus aided and encouraged, I have done what I could to set before my
countrymen a sketch of the great, dominant figure of the World War.

The thing about Foch that most impresses us as we come to know him is
not primarily his greatness as a military genius, but his greatness as
a spiritual force.

Those identical qualities in him which saved the world in war, will
serve it no less in peace--if we study them to good purpose.

As a leader of men, his principles need little, if any, adaptation to
meet the requirements of the re-born world from which, we hope, he has
banished the sword.

Not to those only who would or who must captain their fellows, but to
every individual soul fighting alone against weakness and despair and
other foes, his life-story brings a rising tide of new courage, new
strength, new faith.

For the young man or woman struggling with the principles of success;
for the man or woman of middle life, fearful that the time for great
service has gone by; to the preacher and the teacher and other moulders
of ideals--to these, and to many more, he speaks at least as
thrillingly as to the soldier.

This is what I have tried to make clear in my simple sketch here



Ferdinand Foch was born at Tarbes on October 2, 1851.

His father, of good old Pyrenean stock and modest fortune, was a
provincial official whose office corresponded to that of secretary of
state for one of our commonwealths.  So the family lived in Tarbes, the
capital of the department called the Upper Pyrénées.

The mother of Ferdinand was Sophie Dupré, born at Argèles, twenty miles
south of Tarbes, nearer the Spanish border.  Her father had been made a
chevalier of the empire by Napoleon I for services in the war with
Spain, and the great Emperor's memory was piously venerated in Sophie
Dupré's new home as it had been in her old one.  So her first-born son
may be said to have inherited that passion for Napoleon which has
characterized his life and played so great a part in making him what he

There was a little sister in the family which welcomed Ferdinand.  And
in course of time two other boys came.

[Illustration: The Room in Which Ferdinand Foch was Born.]

[Illustration: The House in Tarbes Where Foch was Born.]

These four children led the ordinary life of happy young folks in
France.  But there was much in their surroundings that was richly
colorful, romantic.  Probably they took it all for granted, the way
children (and many who are not children) take their near and intimate
world.  But even if they did, it must have had its deep effect upon

To begin with, there was Tarbes.

Tarbes is a very ancient city.  It is twenty-five miles southeast of
Pau, where Henry of Navarre made his dramatic entry upon a highly
dramatic career, and just half that distance northeast of Lourdes,
whose famous pilgrimages began when Ferdinand Foch was a little boy of

He must have heard many soul-stirring tales about little Bernadette,
the peasant girl to whom the grotto's miraculous qualities were
revealed by the Virgin, and whose stories were weighed by the Bishop of
Tarbes before the Catholic Church sponsored them.  The procession of
sufferers through Tarbes on their way to Lourdes, and the joyful return
of many, must have been part of the background of Ferdinand Foch's
young days.

Many important highways converge at Tarbes, which lies in a rich,
elevated plain on the left bank of the River Adour.

The town now has some 30,000 inhabitants, but when Ferdinand Foch was a
little boy it had fewer than half that many.

For many centuries of eventful history it has consisted principally of
one very long street, running east and west over so wide a stretch of
territory that the town was called Tarbes-the-Long.  Here and there
this "main street" is crossed by little streets running north and south
and giving glimpses of mountains, green fields and orchards; and many
of these are threaded by tiny waterways--small, meandering children of
the Adour, which take themselves where they will, like the chickens in
France, and nobody minds having to step over or around them, or
building his house to humor their vagaries.

Tarbes was a prominent city of Gaul under the Romans.  They, who could
always be trusted to make the most of anything of the nature of baths,
seem to have been duly appreciative of the hot springs in which that
region abounds.

But nothing of stirring importance happened at or near Tarbes until
after the battle of Poitiers (732), when the Saracens were falling back
after the terrible defeat dealt them by Charles Martel.

Sullen and vengeful, they were pillaging and destroying as they went,
and probably none of the communities through which they passed felt
able to offer resistance to their depredations--until they got to
Tarbes.  And there a valiant priest named Missolin hastily assembled
some of the men of the vicinity and gave the infidels a good
drubbing--killing many and hastening the flight, over the mountains, of
the rest.

This encounter took place on a plain a little to the south of Tarbes
which is still called the Heath of the Moors.

When Ferdinand Foch was a little boy, more than eleven hundred years
after that battle, it was not uncommon for the spade or plowshare of
some husbandman on the heath to uncover bones of Christian or infidel
slain in what was probably the last conflict fought on French soil to
preserve France against the Saracens.  And there may still have been
living some old, old men or women who could tell Ferdinand stories of
the 24th of May (anniversary of the battle) as it was observed each
year until the Revolution of 1789.  At the southern extremity of the
battlefield there stood for many generations a gigantic equestrian
statue, of wood, representing the holy warrior, Missolin, rallying his
flock to rout the unbelievers.  And in the presence of a great
concourse singing songs of grateful praise to Missolin, his statue was
crowned with garlands by young maidens wearing the picturesque gala
dress of that vicinity.

Some forty-odd years after Missolin's victory, Charlemagne went with
his twelve knights and his great army through Tarbes on his way to
Spain to fight the Moors.  And when that ill-starred expedition was
defeated and its warriors bold were fleeing back to France, Roland--so
the story goes--finding no pass in the Pyrénées where he needed one
desperately, cleaved one with his sword Durandal.

High up among the clouds (almost 10,000 feet) is that Breach of
Roland--200 feet wide, 330 feet deep, and 165 feet long.  A good
slice-out for a single stroke!  And when Roland had cut it, he dashed
through it and across the chasm, his horse making a clean jump to the
French side of the mountains.  That no one might ever doubt this, the
horse thoughtfully left the mark of one iron-shod hoof clearly
imprinted in the rock just where he cleared it, and where it is still
shown to the curious and the stout of wind.

It is a pity to remember that, in spite of such prowess of knight and
devotion of beast.  Roland perished on his flight from Spain.

But, like all brave warriors, he became mightier in death even than he
had been in life, and furnished an ideal of valor which animated the
most chivalrous youth of all Europe, throughout many centuries.

With such traditions is the country round about Tarbes impregnated.

It has been suggested that the name Foch (which, by the way, is
pronounced as if it rhymed with "hush") is derived from Foix--a town
some sixty miles east of St. Gaudens, near which was the ancestral home
of the Foch family.

Whatever the relatives of Ferdinand may have thought of this as a
probability, it is certain that Ferdinand was well nurtured in the
history of Foix and especially in those phases of it that Froissart

Froissart, the genial gossip who first courted the favor of kings and
princes and then was gently entreated by them so that his writing of
them might be to their renown, was on his way to Blois when he heard of
the magnificence of Gaston Phoebus, Count of Foix.  Whereupon the
chronicler turned him about and jogged on his way to Foix.  Gaston
Phoebus was not there, but at Orthez--150 miles west and north--and,
nothing daunted, to Orthez went Froissart, by way of Tarbes, traveling
in company with a knight named Espaing de Lyon, who was a graphic and
charmful raconteur thoroughly acquainted with the country through which
they were journeying.  A fine, "that-reminds-me" gentleman was Espaing,
and every turn of the road brought to his mind some stirring tale or
doughty legend.

"Sainte Marie!" Froissart cried.  "How pleasant are your tales, and how
much do they profit me while you relate them.  They shall all be set
down in the history I am writing."

So they were!  And of all Froissart's incomparable recitals, none are
more fascinating than those of the countryside Ferdinand Foch grew up



The country round about Tarbes has long been famed for its horses of an
Arabian breed especially suitable for cavalry.

Practically all the farmers of the region raised these fine, fleet
animals.  There was a great stud-farm on the outskirts of town, and the
business of breeding mounts for France's soldiers was one of the first
that little Ferdinand Foch heard a great deal about.

He learned to ride, as a matter of course, when he was very young.  And
all his life he has been an ardent and intrepid horseman.

A community devoted to the raising of fine saddle horses is all but
certain to be a community devotedly fond of horse racing.

Love of racing is almost a universal trait in France; and in Tarbes it
was a feature of the town life in which business went hand-in-hand with

In an old French book published before Ferdinand Foch was born, I have
found the following description of the crowds which flocked into Tarbes
on the days of the horse markets and races:

"On these days all the streets and public squares are flooded with
streams of curious people come from all corners of the Pyrénées and
exhibiting in their infinite variety of type and costume all the races
of the southern provinces and the mountains.

"There one sees the folk of Provence, irascible, hot-headed, of
vigorous proportions and lusty voice, passionately declaiming about
something or other, in the midst of small groups of listeners.

"There are men of the Basque province--small, muscular and proud, agile
of movement and with bodies beautifully trained; plain of speech and
childlike in deed.

"There are the men of the Béarnais, mostly from towns of size and
circumstance--educated men, of self-command, tempering the southern
warmth which burns in their eyes by the calm intelligence born of
experience in life and also by a natural languor like that of their
Spanish neighbors.

"There are the old Catalonians, whose features are of savage strength
under the thick brush of white hair falling about their leather-colored
faces; the men of Navarre, with braided hair and other evidences of
primitiveness--vigorous of build and handsome of feature, but withal a
little subnormal in expression.

"Then, in the midst of all these characteristic types, moving about in
a pell-mell fashion, making a constantly changing mosaic of vivid hues,
there are the inhabitants of the innumerable valleys around Tarbes
itself, each of them with its own peculiarities of costume, manners,
speech, which make them easily distinguishable one from another."

It was a remarkable crowd for a little boy to wander in.

If Ferdinand Foch had been destined to be a painter or a writer, the
impressions made upon his childish mind by that medley of strange folk
might have been passed on to us long ago on brilliant canvas or on
glowing page.

[Illustration: Ferdinand Foch (center) as a Schoolboy.]

[Illustration: The School in Tarbes Where Foch Prepared for the
Military Academy.]

But that was not the way it served him.

I want you who are interested to comprehend Ferdinand Foch, to think of
those old horsefairs and race meets of his Gascony childhood, and the
crowds of strange types they brought to Tarbes, when we come to the
great days of his life that began in 1914--the days when his
comprehension of many types of men, his ability to "get on with" them
and harmonize them with one another, meant almost as much to the world
as his military genius.

Tarbes had suffered so much in civil and religious wars, for many
centuries, that not many of her ancient buildings were left.  The old
castle, with its associations with the Black Prince and other renowned
warriors, was a ramshackle prison in Ferdinand Foch's youth.  The old
palace of the bishops was used as the prefecture, where Ferdinand's
father had his office.

There were two old churches, much restored and of no great beauty, but
very dear to the people of Tarbes nevertheless.

Ferdinand and his brothers and sister were very piously reared, and at
an early age learned to love the church and to seek it for exaltation
and consolation.

Later on in these chapters we shall see that phase of a little French
boy's training in its due relation to a maréchal of France, directing
the greatest army the world has ever seen.

The college of Tarbes, where Ferdinand began his school days, was in a
venerable building over whose portal there was, in Latin, an
inscription recording the builder's prayer:

"May this house remain standing until the ant has drunk all the waves
of the sea and the tortoise has crawled round the world."

Ferdinand was a hard student, serious beyond his years, but not
conspicuous except for his earnestness and diligence.

When he was twelve years old, his fervor for Napoleon led him to read
Thiers' "History of the Consulate and the Empire."  And about this time
his professor of mathematics remarked of him that "he has the stuff of
a polytechnician."

The vacations of the Foch children were passed at the home of their
paternal grandparents in Valentine, a large village about two miles
from the town of St. Gaudens in the foothills of the Pyrénées.  There
they had the country pleasures of children of good circumstances, in a
big, substantial house and a vicinity rich in tranquil beauty and
outdoor opportunities.  And there, as in the children's own home at
Tarbes, one was ashamed not to be a very excellent child, and, so,
worthy to be descended from a chevalier of the great Napoleon.

In the mid-sixties the family moved from Tarbes to Rodez--almost two
hundred miles northeast of their old locality in which both parents had
been born and where their ancestors had long lived.

It was quite an uprooting--due to the father's appointment as paymaster
of the treasury at Rodez--and took the Foch family into an atmosphere
very different from that of their old Gascon home, but one which also
helped to vivify that history which was Ferdinand's passion.

There Ferdinand continued his studies, as also at Saint-Étienne, near
Lyons, whither the family moved in 1867 when the father was appointed
tax collector there.

And in 1869 he was sent to Metz, to the Jesuit College of Saint
Clément, to which students flocked from all parts of Europe.

He had been there a year and had been given, by unanimous vote of his
fellow students, the grand prize for scholarly qualities, when the
Franco-Prussian war began.

Immediately Ferdinand Foch enlisted for the duration of the war.



There is nothing to record of Ferdinand Foch's first soldiering except
that from the dépôt of the Fourth Regiment of Infantry, in his home
city of Saint-Étienne, he was sent to Chalon-sur-Saône, and there was
discharged in January, 1871, after the capitulation of Paris.

He did not distinguish himself in any way.  He was just one of a
multitude of youths who rushed to the colors when France called, and
did what they could in a time of sad confusion, when a weak government
had paralyzed the effectiveness of the army--of the nation!

Whatever blows Ferdinand Foch struck in 1870 were without weight in
helping to avert France's catastrophe.  But he was like hundreds of
thousands of other young Frenchmen similarly powerless in this: In the
anguish he suffered because of what he could not do to save France from
humiliation were laid the foundations of all that he has contributed to
the glory of new France.

At the time when his Fall term should have been beginning at Saint
Clément's College, Metz was under siege by the German army, and its
garrison and inhabitants were suffering horribly from hunger and
disease; Paris was surrounded; the German headquarters were at
Versailles; and the imperial standards so dear to young Foch because of
the great Napoleon were forever lowered when the white flag was hoisted
at Sedan and an Emperor with a whole army passed into captivity.

How much the young soldier-student of the Saône comprehended then of
the needlessness of the shame and surrender of those inglorious days we
do not know.  He cannot have been sufficiently versed in military
understanding to realize how much of the defeat France suffered was due
to her failure to fight on, at this juncture and that, when a stiffer
resistance would have turned the course of events.

But if he did not know then, he certainly knew later.  And as soon as
he got where he could impress his convictions upon other soldiers of
the new France he began training them in his great maxim: "A battle is
lost when you admit defeat."

What his devotion to Saint Clément's College was we may know from the
fact of his return there to resume his interrupted studies under the
same teachers, but in sadly different circumstances.

He found German troops quartered in parts of the college, and as he
went to and from his classes the young man who had just laid off the
uniform of a French soldier was obliged to pass and repass men of the
victorious army of occupation.

The memory of his shame and suffering on those occasions has never
faded.  How much France and her allies owe to it we shall never be able
to estimate.

For the effect on Foch was one of the first acid tests in which were
revealed the quality of his mind and soul.  Instead of offering himself
a prey to sullen anger and resentment, or of flaring into fury when one
time for fury was past and another had not yet come, he used his sorrow
as a goad to study, and bent his energies to the discovery of why
France had failed and why Prussia had won.  His analysis of those
reasons, and his application of what that analysis taught him, is what
has put him where he is to-day--and _us_ where _we_ are!

From Metz, Foch went to Nancy to take his examination for the
Polytechnic at Paris.

Just why this should have been deemed necessary I have not seen
explained.  But it was, like a good many other things of apparent
inconsequence in this young man's life, destined to leave in him an
impress which had much to do with what he was to perform.

I have seldom, if ever, studied a life in which events "link up" so
marvelously and the present is so remarkably an extension of the past.

Nancy had been chosen by General Manteuffel, commander of the First
German Army Corps, as headquarters, pending the withdrawal of the
victors on the payment of the last sou in the billion-dollar indemnity
they exacted of France along with the ceding of Alsace-Lorraine.  (For
three years France had to endure the insolent victors upon her soil.)

And with the fine feeling and magnanimity in which the German was then
as now peculiarly gifted General Manteuffel delighted in ordering his
military bands to play the "Retreat"--to taunt the sad inhabitants with
this reminder of their army's shame.

Ferdinand Foch listened and thought and wrote his examinations for the
school of war.

Forty-two years later--in August, 1913--a new commandant came to Nancy
to take control of the Twentieth Army Corps, whose position there,
guarding France's Eastern frontier, was considered one of the most
important--if not _the_ most important--to the safety of the nation.

The first order he gave was one that brought out the full band strength
of six regiments quartered in the town.  They were to play the "March
Lorraine" and the "Sambre and Meuse."  They were to fill Nancy with
these stirring sounds.  The clarion notes carrying these martial airs
were to reach every cranny of the old town.  It was a veritable tidal
wave of triumphant sound that he wanted--for it had much to efface.

Nancy will never forget that night!  It was Saturday, the 23d of
August, 1913.  And the new commandant's name was Ferdinand Foch!

Less than a year later he was fighting to save Nancy, and what lay
beyond, from the Germans.

And _this_ time there was to be a different story!  Ferdinand Foch was
foremost of those who assured it.



Ferdinand Foch entered the Polytechnic School at Paris on the 1st of
November, 1871, just after he had completed his twentieth year.

This school, founded in 1794, is for the technical education of
military and naval engineers, artillery officers, civil engineers in
government employ, and telegraphists--not mere operators, of course,
but telegraph engineers and other specialists in electric
communication.  It is conducted by a general, on military principles,
and its students are soldiers on their way to becoming officers.

Its buildings cover a considerable space in the heart of the great
school quarter of Parts.  The Sorbonne, with its traditions harking
back to St. Louis (more than six centuries) and its swarming thousands
of students, is hard by the Polytechnic.  So is the College de France,
founded by Francis I.  And, indeed, whichever way one turns, there are
schools, schools, schools--of fine arts and applied arts; of medicine
in all its branches; of mining and engineering; of war; of theology; of
languages; of commerce in its higher developments; of pedagogy; and

Nowhere else in the world is there possible to the young student, come
to advance himself in his chosen field of knowledge, quite such a
thrill as that which must be his when he matriculates at one of the
scores of educational institutions in that quarter of Paris to which
the ardent, aspiring youth of all the western world have been directing
their eager feet from time immemorial.

Cloistral, scholastic atmosphere, with its grave beauty, as at Oxford
and Cambridge, he will not find in the Paris Latin Quarter.

Paris does not segregate her students.  Conceiving them to be studying
for life, she aids them to do it in the midst of life marvelously
abundant.  They do not go out of the world--so to speak--to learn to
live and work in the world.  They go, rather, into a life of
extraordinary variety and fullness, out of which--it is expected--they
will discover how to choose whatever is most needful to their success
and well-being.

There is no feeling of being shut in to a term of study.  There is,
rather, the feeling of being "turned loose" in a place of vast
opportunity of which one may make as much use as he is able.

To a young man of Ferdinand Foch's naturally serious mind, deeply
impressed by his country's tragedy, the Latin Quarter of Paris in those
Fall days of 1871 was a sober place indeed.

Beautiful Paris, that Napoleon III had done so much to make splendid,
was scarred and seared on every hand by the German bombardment and the
fury of the communards, who had destroyed nearly two hundred and fifty
public and other buildings.  The government of France had deserted the
capital and moved to Versailles--just evacuated by the Germans.

The blight of defeat lay on everything.

In May, preceding Foch's advent, the communards--led by a miserable
little shoemaker who talked about shooting all the world--took
possession of the buildings belonging to the Polytechnic, and were
dislodged only after severe fighting by Marshal MacMahon's Versailles

The cannon of the communards, set on the heights of Pére-Lachaise (the
great city of the dead where the slumber of so many of earth's most
illustrious imposed no respect upon the "Bolsheviki" of that cataclysm)
aimed at the Pantheon, shot short and struck the Polytechnic.  One
shell burst in the midst of an improvised hospital there, gravely
wounding a nurse.

At last, on May 24, the Polytechnic was taken from the revolutionists
by assault, and many of the communards were seized.

In the days following, the great recreation court of the school was the
scene of innumerable executions, as the wretched revolutionists paid
the penalty of their crimes before the firing squad.  And the students'
billiard room was turned into a temporary morgue, filled with bodies of
those who had sought to destroy Paris from within.

The number of Parisians slain in those days after the second siege of
Paris has been variously estimated at from twenty thousand to
thirty-six thousand.  And all the while, encamped upon the heights
round about Paris, were victorious German troops squatting like Semitic
creditors in Russia, refusing to budge till their account was settled
to the last farthing of extortion.

The most sacred spot in Paris to young Foch, in all the depression he
found there, was undoubtedly the great Dôme des Invalides, where,
bathed in an unearthly radiance and surrounded by faded battle flags,
lies the great porphyry sarcophagus of Napoleon I.

With what bitter reflections must the young man who had been nurtured
in the adoration of Bonaparte have returned from that majestic tomb to
the Polytechnic School for Warriors--to which, on the day after his
coronation as Emperor, Napoleon had given the following motto:

"Science and glory--all for country."

But, also, what must have been the young southerner's thought as he
lifted his gaze on entering the Polytechnic and read there that
self-same wish which was inscribed over the door of his first school in

"May this house remain standing until the ant has drunk all the waves
of the sea and the tortoise has crawled round the world."

The edifice in which part of the Polytechnic was housed was the ancient
College of Navarre, and a Navarrias poet of lang syne had given to the
Paris school for his countrymen this quaint wish, repeated from the
inscription he knew at Tarbes.

France had had twelve different governments in fourscore years when
Ferdinand Foch came to study in that old building which had once been
the college of Navarre.  Houses of cards rather than houses of
permanence seemed to characterize her.

Yet she has always had her quota--a larger one, too, than that of any
other country--of those who look toward far to-morrows and seek to
build substantially and beautifully for them.

That forward-looking prayer of old Navarre, and recollection of the
centuries during which it had prevailed against destroying forces, was
undoubtedly an aid and comfort to the heavy-hearted youth who then and
there set himself to the study of that art of war wherewith he was to
serve France.

Among the two hundred and odd fellow-students of Foch at the
Polytechnic was another young man from the south--almost a neighbor of
his and his junior by just three months--Jacques Joseph Césaire Joffre,
who had entered the school in 1869, interrupted his studies to go to
war, and resumed them shortly before Ferdinand Foch entered the

Joffre graduated from the Polytechnic on September 21, 1872, and went
thence to the School of Applied Artillery at Fontainebleau.

Foch left the Polytechnic about six months later, and also went to
Fontainebleau for the same special training that Joffre was taking.

Both young men were hard students and tremendously in earnest.  Both
were heavy-hearted for France.  Both hoped the day would come when they
might serve her and help to restore to her that of which she had been

But if any one, indulging in the fantastic extravagancies of youth, had
ventured to forecast, then, even a tithe of what they have been called
to do for France, he would have been set down as madder than March
hares know how to be.



When Ferdinand Foch graduated, third in his class, from the artillery
school at Fontainebleau, instead of seeking to use what influence he
might have commanded to get an appointment in some garrison where the
town life or social life was gay for young officers, he asked to be
sent back to Tarbes.

No one, to my knowledge, has advanced an explanation for this move.

To so earnest and ambitious a student of military art (Foch will not
permit us to speak of it as "military science") sentimental reasons
alone would never have been allowed to control so important a choice.

That he always ardently loved the Pyrenean country, we know.  But to a
young officer of such indomitable purpose as his was, even then, it
would have been inconceivable that he should elect to spend his first
years out of school in any other place than that one where he saw the
maximum opportunity for development.

"Development," mind you--not just "advancement."  For Foch is, and ever
has been, the kind of man who would most abhor being advanced faster
than he developed.

He would infinitely rather be prepared for a promotion and fail to get
it than get a promotion for which he was not thoroughly prepared.

Nor is he the sort of individual who can comfortably deceive himself
about his fitness.  He sustains himself by no illusions of the variety:
"If I had so-and-so to do, I'd probably get through as well as
nine-tenths of commanders would."

He is much more concerned to satisfy himself that his thoroughness is
as complete as he could possibly have made it, than he is to "get by"
and satisfy the powers that be!

So we know that it wasn't any mere longing for the scenes of his happy
childhood which directed his choice of Tarbes garrison when he left the
enchanting region of Fontainebleau, with its fairy forest, its
delightful old town, and its many memories of Napoleon.

His mind seems to have been fixed upon a course involving more cavalry
skill than was his on graduating.  And after two years at Tarbes, with
much riding of the fine horses of Arabian breed which are the specialty
of that region, he went to the Cavalry School at Saumur, on the Loire.

King René of Anjou, whose chronic poverty does not seem to have
interfered with his taste for having innumerable castles, had one at
Saumur, and it still dominates the town and lends it an air of

Toward the end of the sixteenth century Saumur was one of the chief
strongholds of Protestantism in France and the seat of a Protestant

But the revocation of the Edict of Nantes granting tolerance to the
Huguenots, brought great reverses upon Saumur, whose inhabitants were
driven into exile.  And thereupon (1685) the town fell into a decline
which was not arrested until Louis XV, in the latter part of his reign,
caused this cavalry school to be established there.

It is a large school, with about four hundred soldiers always in
training as cavalry officers and army riding masters.  And the riding
exhibitions which used to be given there in the latter part of August
were brilliant affairs, worth going many miles to see.

There Ferdinand Foch studied cavalry tactics, practiced "rough riding"
and--by no means least important--learned to know another type of
Frenchman, the men of old Anjou.

In our own country of magnificent distances and myriad racial strains
we are apt to think of French people as a single race: "French is

This is very wide of the truth.  French they all are, in sooth, with an
intense national unity surpassed nowhere on earth if, indeed, it is
anywhere equaled.  But almost every one of them is intensely a
provincial, too, and very "set" in the ways of his own section of
country--which, usually, has been that of his forbears from time

In the description I quoted in the second chapter, showing some of the
types from the vicinity of Tarbes which frequent its horse market, one
may get some idea of the extraordinary differences in the men of a
single small region which is bordered by many little "pockets" wherein
people go on and on, age after age, perpetuating their special traits
without much admixture of other strains.

Not every part of France has so much variety in such small compass.
But every province has its distinctive human qualities.  And between
the Norman and the Gascon, the Breton and the Provençal, the man of
Picardy and the man of Languedoc, there are greater temperamental
differences than one can find anywhere else on earth in an equal number
of square miles--except in some of our American cities.

To the commander of General Foch's type (and as we begin to study his
principles we shall, I believe, see that they apply to command in civil
no less than in military life) knowledge of different men's minds and
the way they work is absolutely fundamental to success.

And his preparation for this mastery was remarkably thorough.

At Saumur he learned not only to direct cavalry operations, but to know
the Angevin characteristics.

In each school he attended, beginning with Metz, he had close class
association with men from many provinces, men of many types.  And this
was valuable to him in preparing him to command under-officers in whom
a rigorous uniformity of training could not obliterate bred-in-the-bone

Many another young officer bent on "getting on" in the army would have
felt that what he learned among his fellow officers of the provincial
characteristics was enough.

But not so Ferdinand Foch.

Almost his entire comprehension of war is based upon men and the way
they act under certain stress--not the way they might be expected to
act, but the way they actually do act, and the way they can be led to
act under certain stimulus _of soul_.

For Ferdinand Foch wins victories with men's souls--not just with their
flesh and blood, nor even with their brains.

And to command men's souls it is necessary to understand them.



Upon leaving the cavalry school at Saumur, in 1878, Ferdinand Foch went,
with the rank of captain of the Tenth Regiment of Artillery, to Rennes,
the ancient capital of Brittany and the headquarters of France's tenth
army corps.

He stayed at Rennes, as an artillery captain, for seven years.

It is not a particularly interesting city from some points of view, but
it is a very "livable" one, and for a student like Foch it had many
advantages.  The library is one of the best in provincial France and has
many valuable manuscripts.  There is also an archaeological museum of
antiquities found in that vicinity, many of them relating to prehistoric
warfare.  Some good scientific collections are also treasured there.

What is now known as the University of Rennes was styled merely the
"college" in the days of Foch's residence there.  But it did
substantially the same work then as now, and among its faculty Foch
undoubtedly found many who could give him able aid in his perpetual study
of the past.

Rennes especially cherishes the memory of Bertrand du Guesclin, the great
constable of France under King Charles V and the victorious adversary of
Edward III.  This brilliant warrior, who drove the English, with their
claims on French sovereignty, out of France, was a native of that
vicinity.  And we may be sure that whatever special opportunity Rennes
afforded of studying documents relating to his campaigns was fully
improved by Captain Foch.

In that time, also, Foch had ample occasion to know the Bretons, who are,
in some respects, the least French of all French provincials--being much
more Celtic still than Gallic, although it is a matter of some fifteen
hundred years since their ancestors, driven out of Britain by the
Teutonic invasions, came over and settled "Little Britain," or Brittany.

The Bretons maintained their independence of France for a thousand years,
and only became united with it through the marriage of their last
sovereign, Duchess Anne, with Charles VIII, in 1491 and--after his
death--with his successor, Louis XII.

And even to-day, after more than four centuries of political union, the
people of Brittany are French in name and in spirit rather than in
speech, customs, or temperament.  Many of them do not speak or understand
the French language.  Few of them, outside of the cities, have conformed
appreciably to French customs.  Quaint, sturdy, picturesque folk they
are--simple, for the most part, superstitious, tenacious of the old,
suspicious of the new, and governable only by those who understand them.

Foch must have learned, in those seven years, not only to know the
Bretons, but to like them and their rugged country very well.  For he has
had, these many years past, his summer home near Morlaix on the north
coast of Brittany.  It was from there that he was summoned into the great
war on July 26, 1914.

In 1885 Captain Foch was called to Paris and entered the Superior School
of War.

This institution, wherein he was destined to play in after years a part
that profoundly affected the world's destiny, was founded only in 1878 as
a training school for officers, connected with the military school which
Louis XV established in 1751 to "educate five hundred young gentlemen in
all the sciences necessary and useful to an officer."

One of the "young gentlemen" who profited by this instruction was the
little Corsican whom Ferdinand Foch so ardently venerated.

The building covers an area of twenty-six acres and faces the vast
Champ-de-Mars, which was laid out about 1770 for the military school's
use as a field for maneuvers.

This field is eleven hundred yards long and just half that wide.  It
occupies all the ground between the school buildings and the river.

Across the river is the height called the Trocadéro, on which Napoleon
hoped to build a great palace for the little King of Rome; but whereon,
many years after he and his son had ceased to need mansions made by
hands, the French republic built a magnificent palace for the French
people.  This vast building, with its majestic gardens, was the principal
feature of the French national exhibition of 1878, which, like its
predecessor of 1867 and its successors of 1889 and 1900, was held on the

Facing the Trocadéro Palace, on the Champ-de-Mars, is the Eiffel Tower
(nearly a thousand feet high) which was erected for the exposition of
1889, and has served, since, then-unimaginable purposes during the stress
and strain of war as a wireless station.  The "Ferris" wheel put up for
the exposition of 1900 is close by.  And a stone's throw from the
military school are the Hôtel des Invalides, Napoleon's tomb, and the
magnificent Esplanade des Invalides down which one looks straightway to
the glinting Seine and over the superb Alexander III bridge toward the
tree-embowered palaces of arts on the Champs-Élysées.

On the other side of the Hôtel des Invalides from that occupied by the
military school and Champ-de-Mars is the principal diplomatic and
departmental district of Paris, with many embassies (not ours, however,
nor the British--which are across the river) and many administrative
offices of the French nation.

Soldiers and government officials and foreign diplomats dominate the
quarter--and homes of the old French aristocracy.

The Hotel des Invalides, founded by Louis XIV and designed to
accommodate, as an old soldiers' home, some seven thousand veterans of
his unending wars, has latterly served as headquarters for the military
governor of Paris, and also--principally--as a war museum.

Here are housed collections of priceless worth and transcendent interest.
The museum of artillery contains ten thousand specimens of weapons and
armor of all kinds, ancient and modern.  The historical museum, across
the court of honor, was--in the years when I spent many fascinating hours
there--extraordinarily rich in personal souvenirs of scores of
illustrious personages.

What it must be now, after the tragic years of a world war, and what it
will become as a treasure house for the years to come, is beyond my

It was into this enormously rich atmosphere, pregnant with everything
that conserves France's most glorious military traditions, that Captain
Ferdinand Foch was called in 1885 for two years of intensive training and



After quitting the School of War in 1887 (he graduated fourth in his
class, as he had at Saumur; he was third at Fontainebleau), Ferdinand
Foch was sent to Montpellier as a probationer for the position of staff

He remained at Montpellier for four years--first as a probationer and
later as a staff officer in the Sixteenth Army Corps, whose headquarters
are there.

[Illustration: Marshall Joffre, General Foch]

It is a coincidence--without special significance, but interesting--that
Captain Joseph Joffre had spent several years at the School of
Engineering in Montpellier; he left there in 1884, after the death of his
young wife, to bury himself and his grief in Indo-China; so the two men
did not meet in the southern city.[1]

Joffre returned from Indo-China in 1888, while Foch was at Montpellier,
and after some time in the military railway service, and a promotion in
rank (he was captain for thirteen years), received an appointment as
professor of fortifications at Fontainebleau.

Some persons who claim to have known Joffre at Montpellier have
manifested surprise at the greatness to which he attained thirty years
later; he did not impress them as a man of destiny.  That is quite as
likely to be their fault as his.  And also it is possible that Captain
Joseph Joffre had not then begun to develop in himself those qualities
which made him ready for greatness when the opportunity came.

If, however, any one has ever expressed surprise at Ferdinand Foch's
attainment, I have not heard of it.  He seems always to have impressed
people with whom he came in contact as a man of tremendous energy,
application, and thoroughness.

The opportunities for study at Montpellier are excellent, and the region
is one of extraordinary richness for the lover of history.  The splendor
of the cities of Transalpine Gaul in this vicinity is attested by remains
more numerous and in better preservation than Italy affords save in a
very few places.  And awe-inspiring evidences of medievalism's power
flank one at every step and turn.  Without doubt, Foch made the most of

Needless to remark, the commander-in-chief of the allied armies has not
confided to me what were his favorite excursions during these four years
at Montpellier.  But I am quite sure that Aigues-Mortes was one of them.
And I like to think of him, as we know he looked then, pacing those
battlements and pondering the warfare of those militant ages when this
vast fortress in the wide salt marshes was one of the most formidable in
the world.  What fullness of detail there must have been in the mental
pictures he was able to conjure of St. Louis embarking here on his two
crusades?  What particularity in his appreciation of those defenses!

The place is, to-day, the very epitome of desolation--much more so than
if the fortifications were not so perfectly preserved.  For they look as
if yesterday they might have been bristling with men-at-arms--whereas not
in centuries has their melancholy majesty served any other purpose than
that of raising reflections in those to whom the past speaks through her

From Montpellier, Ferdinand Foch returned to Paris, in February, 1891, as
major on the general army staff.

He and Joffre had now the same rank.  Joffre became lieutenant colonel in
1894 and colonel in 1897; similar promotions came to Foch in 1896 and
1903.  He was six years later than Joffre in attaining a colonelcy, and
exactly that much later in becoming a general.

Neither man had a quick rise but Foch's was (as measurable in grades and
pay) specially slow.

About the time that Major Joffre went to the Soudan, to superintend the
building of a railway in the Sahara desert, Major Foch went to Vincennes
as commander of the mounted group of the Thirteenth Artillery.

Vincennes is on the southeastern skirts of Paris, close by the confluence
of the Seine and the Marne; about four miles or so from the Bastille,
which was the city's southeastern gate for three hundred years or
thereabouts, until the fortified inclosure on that side of the city was
enlarged under Louis XIV.

The fort of Vincennes was founded in the twelfth century to guard the
approach to Paris from the Marne valley.  And on account of its pleasant
situation--close to good hunting and also to their capital--the castle of
Vincennes was a favorite residence of many early French kings.

It was there that St. Louis is said to have held his famous open-air
court of justice, which he established so that his subjects might come
direct to him with their troubles and he, besides settling them, might
learn at first hand what reforms were needed.

Five Kings of France died there (among them Charles VI, the mad king, and
Charles IX, haunted by the horrors of the massacre on St. Bartholomew's
eve), and one King of England, Harry Hotspur.  King Charles V was born

From the days of Louis XI the castle has been used as a state prison.
Henry of Navarre was once a prisoner there, and so was the Grand Condé,
and Diderot, and Mirabeau, and it was there that the young Duc d'Enghien
was shot by Napoleon's orders and to Napoleon's everlasting regret.

The castle is now (and has been for many years) an arsenal and school of
musketry, artillery, and other military services.  Before its firing
squad perish many traitors to France, whose last glimpse of the country
they have betrayed is in the courtyard of this ancient castle.

The vicinity is very lovely.  The Bois de Vincennes, on the edge of which
the castle stands, is scarcely inferior to the Bois de Boulogne in charm.
We used to go out there, not infrequently, for luncheon, which we ate in
a rustic summerhouse close to the edge of the lake, with many sociable
ducks and swans bearing us company and clamoring for bits of bread.

It would be hard to imagine anything more idyllic, more sylvan, on the
edge of a great city--anything more peaceful, restful, anywhere.

Yet the whole locality was, even then, a veritable camp of Mars--forts,
barracks, fields for maneuvers and for artillery practice, infantry
butts, rifle ranges, school of explosives; and what not.

France knew her need of protection--and none of us can ever be
sufficiently grateful that she did!

But she did not obtrude her defensive measures.  She seldom made one
conscious of her military affairs.

In Germany, for many years before this war, remembrance of the army and
reverence to the army was exacted of everyone almost at every breath.
Forever and forever and forever you were being made to bow down before
the God of War.

In France, on the contrary, it was difficult to think about war--even in
the very midst of a place like Vincennes--unless you were actually
engaged in organizing and preparing the country's defenses.

After three years at Vincennes, Ferdinand Foch was recalled to the army
staff in Paris.  And on the 31st of October, 1895, he was made associate
professor of military history, strategy, and applied tactics, at the
Superior School of War.

He had then just entered upon his forty-fifth year; and the thoroughness
of his training was beginning to make itself felt at military

[1] I have found it interesting to compare the careers of Joffre and Foch
from the time they were at school together, and I daresay that others
will like to know what steps forward he was taking who is not the subject
of these chapters but inseparably bound up with him in many events and
forever linked with him in glory.



After a year's service as associate professor of military history,
strategy, and applied tactics at the Superior School of War in Paris,
Ferdinand Foch was advanced to head professorship in those branches and
at the same time he was made lieutenant-colonel.  This was in 1896.  He
was forty-five years old and had been for exactly a quarter of a century
a student of the art of warfare.

His old schoolfellow, Joseph Joffre, was then building fortifications in
northern Madagascar; and his army rank was the same as that of Foch.

It was just twenty years after Foch entered upon his full-fledged
professorship at the Superior School of War that Marshal Joffre, speaking
at a dinner assembling the principal leaders of the government and of the
army, declared that without the Superior School of War the victory of the
Marne would have been impossible.

All the world knows this now, almost as well as Marshal Joffre knew it
then.  And all the world knows now as not even Marshal Joffre could have
known then, how enormous far, far beyond the check of barbarism at the
first battle of the Marne--is our debt and that of all posterity to the
Superior School of War and, chiefly, to Ferdinand Foch.

It cannot have been prescience that called him there.  It was just
Providence, nothing less!

For that was a time when men like Ferdinand Foch (whose whole heart was
in the army, making it such that nothing like the downfall of 1870 could
ever again happen to France), were laboring under extreme difficulties.
The army was unpopular in France.

This was due, partly to the disclosures of the Dreyfus case; partly to a
wave of internationalism and pacifism; partly to jealousy of the army
among civil officials.

An unwarranted sense of security was also to blame.  France had worked so
hard to recoup her fortunes after the disaster of 1870 that her
people--delighted with their ability as money makers, blinded by the
glitter of great prosperity--grudged the expanse of keeping up a large
army, grudged the time that compulsory military training took out of a
young man's life.  And this preoccupation with success and the arts and
pleasures of prosperous peace made them incline their ears to the
apostles of "Brotherhood" and "Federation" and "Arbitration instead of

Little by little legislation went against the army.  The period of
compulsory service was reduced from three years to two; that cut down the
size of the army by one-third.  The supreme command of the army was
vested not in a general, but in a politician--the Minister of War.  The
generals in the highest commands not only had to yield precedence to the
prefects of the provinces (like our governors of states), but were
subject to removal if the prefects did not like their politics and the
Minister of War wished the support of the prefects.

Even the superior war council of the nation might be politically made up,
to pay the War Minister's scores rather than to protect the country.

All this can happen to a people lulled by a false sense of security--even
to a people which has had to defend itself against the savage rapacity of
its neighbors across the Rhine for two thousand years!

It was against these currents of popular opinion and of government
opposition that Ferdinand Foch took up his work in the Superior School of
War--that work which was to make possible the first victory of the Marne,
to save England from invasion by holding Calais, and to do various other
things vital to civilization, including the prodigious achievements of
the days that have since followed.

Foch foresaw that these things would have to be done and, with absolute
consecration to his task, he set himself not only to train officers for
France when she should need them, but to inspire them with a unity of
action which has saved the world.

I have various word-pictures of him as he then appeared to, and
impressed, his students.

One is by a military writer who uses the pseudonym of "Miles."

"The officers who succeeded one another at the school of war between 1896
and 1901," he says, referring to the first term of Foch as instructor
there, "will never forget the impressions made upon them by their
professor of strategy and of general tactics.  It was this course that
was looked forward to with the keenest curiosity as the foundational
instruction given by the school.  It enjoyed the prestige given it by the
eminent authorities who had held it; and the eighty officers who came to
the school at each promotion, intensely desirous of developing their
skill and judgment, were always impatient to see and hear the man who was
to instruct them in these branches.

"Lieutenant-Colonel Foch did not disappoint their expectations.  Thin,
elegant, of distinguished bearing, he at once struck the beholder with
his expression--full of energy, of calm, of rectitude.

"His forehead was high, his nose straight and prominent, his gray-blue
eyes looked one full in the face.  He spoke without gestures, with an air
of authority and conviction; his voice serious, harsh, a little
monotonous; amplifying his phrases to press home in every possible way a
rigorous reasoning; provoking discussion; always appealing to the logic
of his hearers; sometimes difficult to follow, because his discourse was
so rich in ideas; but always holding attention by the penetration of his
surveys as well as by his tone of sincerity.

"The most profound and the most original of the professors at the school
of war, which at that time counted in its teaching corps many very
distinguished minds and brilliant lecturers: such Lieutenant-Colonel Foch
seemed to his students, all eager from the first to give themselves up to
the enjoyment of his lessons and the acceptance of his inspiration."

Colonel E. Réquin of the French general staff, who has fought under Foch
in some of the latter's greatest engagements, says:

"Foch has been for forty years the incarnation of the French military
spirit."  For forty years!  That means ever since he left the cavalry
school at Saumur and went, as captain of the Tenth regiment of artillery,
to Rennes.  "Through his teachings and his example," Colonel Réquin goes
on to say, in a 1918 number of the _World's Work_, "he was the moral
director of the French general staff before becoming the supreme chief of
the allied armies.  Upon each one of us he has imprinted his strong mark.
We owe to him in time of peace that unity of doctrine which was our
strength.  Since the war we owe to him the highest lessons of
intellectual discipline and moral energy.

"As a professor he applied the method which consists in taking as the
base of all strategical and tactical instruction the study of history
completed by the study of military history--that is to say, field
operations, orders given, actions, results, and criticisms to be made and
the instructions to be drawn from them.  He also used concrete
cases--that is to say, problems laid by the director on the map or on the
actual ground.

"By this intellectual training he accustomed the officers to solving all
problems, not by giving them ready-made solutions, but by making them
find the logical solution to each individual case.

"His mind was trained through so many years of study that no war
situation could disturb him.  In the most difficult ones, he quickly
pointed out the goal to be reached and the means to employ, and each one
of us felt that it must be right."

But best of all the things said about Foch in that period of his life, I
like this, by Charles Dawbarn, in the _Fortnightly Review_:

"Such was"--in spite of many disappointments--"_his fine confidence in
life, that he communicated to others not his grievances, but his secret



Foch made the men who sat under him love their work for the work's sake
and not for its rewards.  He fired them with an ardor for military art
which made them feel that in all the world there is nothing so
fascinating, so worth while, as knowing how to defend one's country
when she needs defense.

He was able, in peace times when the military spirit was little
applauded and much decried, to give his students an enthusiasm for
"preparedness" which flamed as high and burned as pure as that which
ordinarily is lighted only by a great national rush to arms to save the
country from ravage.

It was tremendously, incalculably important for France and for all of
us that Ferdinand Foch was eager and able to impart this enthusiasm for
military skill.

But also it is immensely important, to-day, when the war is won, and in
all days and all walks of life, that there be those who can kindle and
keep alight the enthusiasm of their fellows; who can overlook the
failure of their own ardor and faithfulness to win its fair reward, and
convey to others only the alluring glow of their "secret satisfactions."

In the five years, 1895-1901 (his work at the school was interrupted by
politics in 1901), "many hundreds of officers," as René Puaux says,
"the very elite of the general staffs of our army, followed his
teaching and were imbued with it; and as they practically all, at the
beginning of the war, occupied high positions of command, one may
estimate as he can the profound and far reaching influence of this one
grand spirit."

Let us try to get some idea of the sort of thing that Foch taught those
hundreds of French army officers, not only about war but about life.

From all his study, he repeatedly declared, one dominant conviction has
evolved: Force that is not dominated by spirit is vain force.

Victory, in his belief, goes to those who merit it by the greatest
strength of will and intelligence.

It was his endeavor, always, to develop in the hundreds of officers who
were his students, that dual strength in which it seemed to him that
victory could only lie: moral and intellectual ability to perceive what
ought to be done, and intellectual and moral ability to do it.

In his mind, it is impossible to be intelligent with the brain alone.
The Germans do not comprehend this, and therein, to Ferdinand Foch,
lies the key to all their failures.

He believes that each of us must think with our soul's aid--that is to
say, with our imagination, our emotions, our aspiration--and employ our
intelligence to direct our feeling.

And he asks this combination not from higher officers alone, but from
all their men down to the humblest in the ranks.

He believes in the invincibility of men fighting for a principle dearer
to them than life--but he knows that ardor without leadership means a
lost cause; that men must know how to fight for their ideals, their
principles; but that their officers are charged with the sacred
responsibility of making the men's ardor and valor count.

At the beginning of his celebrated course of lectures on tactics he
always admonished his students thus:

"You will be called on later to be the brain of an army.  So I say to
you to-day: Learn to think."

By this he was far from meaning that officers were to confine thinking
to themselves, but that they were to teach themselves to think so that
they might the better hand on intelligence and stimulate their men to
obey not blindly but comprehendingly.

It was a maxim of Napoleon's, of which Foch is very fond, that "as a
general rule, the commander-in-chief ought only to indicate the
direction, determine the ends to be attained; the means of getting
there ought to be left to the free choice of the mediums of execution,
without whom success is impossible."

This leaves a great responsibility to officers, but it is the secret of
that flexibility which makes the French army so effective.

For Foch carries his belief in individual judgment far beyond the
officers commanding units; he carries it to the privates in the ranks.

An able officer, in Foch's opinion, is one who can take a general
command to get his men such-and-such a place and accomplish
such-and-such a thing, and so interpret that command to his men that
each and every one of them will, while acting in strict obedience to
orders, use the largest possible amount of personal intelligence in
accomplishing the thing he was told to do.

It is said that there was probably never before in history a battle
fought in which every man was a general--so to speak--as at the battle
of Château Thierry, in July, 1918.  That is to say, there was probably
never before a battle in which so many men comprehended as clearly as
if they had been generals what it was all about, and acted as if they
had been generals to attain their objectives.

It was an intelligent democracy, acting under superb leadership that
vanquished the forces of autocracy.

Foch has worked with a free hand to test the worth of his lifelong
principles.  And the hundreds of men he trained in those principles
were ready to carry them out for him.

No wonder his first injunction was: Learn to think!

To him, the leadership of units is not a simple question of
organization, of careful plans, of strategic and tactical intelligence,
but a problem involving enormous adaptability.

Battles are not won at headquarters, he contends; they are won in the
field; and the conditions that may arise in the field cannot be
foreseen or forestalled--they must be met when they present themselves.
In large part they are made by the behavior of men in unexpected
circumstances; therefore, the more a commander knows about human nature
and its spiritual depressions and exaltations, the better able he is to
change his plans as new conditions arise.

German power in war, Foch taught his students, lay in the great masses
of their effective troops and their perfect organization for moving men
and supplies.  German weakness was in the absolute autocracy of great
headquarters, building its plans as an architect builds a house and
unable to modify them if something happens to make a change necessary.

This he deduced from his study of their methods in previous wars,
especially in that of 1870.

And with this in mind he labored so that when Germany made her next
assault upon France, France might be equipped with hundreds of officers
cognizant of Germany's weakness and prepared to turn it to her defeat.



"It was not," Napoleon wrote, "the Roman legions which conquered Gaul,
but Caesar.  It was not the Carthaginian soldiers who made Rome
tremble, but Hannibal.  It was not the Macedonian phalanx which
penetrated India, but Alexander.  It was not the French army which
reached the Weser and the Inn, but Turenne.  It was not the Prussian
soldiers who defended their country for seven years against the three
most formidable powers in Europe; it was Frederick the Great."

And already it has been suggested that historians will write of this
war: "It was not the allied armies, struggling hopelessly for four
years, that finally drove the Germans across the Rhine, but Ferdinand

But I am sure that Foch would not wish this said of him in the same
sense that Napoleon said it of earlier generals.

For Foch has a greater vision of generalship than was possible to any
commander of long ago.

His strategy is based upon a close study of theirs; for he says that
though the forms of making war evolve, the directing principles do not
change, and there is need for every officer to make analyses of
Xenophon and Caesar and Hannibal as close as those he makes of
Frederick and Napoleon.

But his conception of military leadership is permeated with the ideals
of democracy and justice for which he fights.

One of his great lectures to student-officers was that in which he made
them realize what, besides the route of the Prussians, happened at
Valmy in September, 1792.

On his big military map of that region (it is on the western edge of
the Argonne) Foch would show his students how the Prussians, Hessians
and some Austrian troops; under the Duke of Brunswick, crossed the
French frontier on August 19 and came swaggering toward Paris,
braggartly announcing their intentions of "celebrating" in Paris in

Brunswick and his fellow generals were to banquet with the King of
Prussia at the Tuileries.  And the soldiers were bent upon the cafés of
the Palais Royal.

Foch showed his classes how Dumouriez, who had been training his raw
troops of disorganized France at Valenciennes, dashed with them into
the Argonne to intercept Brunswick; how this and that happened which I
will not repeat here because it is merely technical; and then how the
soldiers of the republic, rallied by the cry, "The country is in
danger," and thrilled by "The Marseillaise" (written only five months
before, but already it had changed the beat of nearly every heart in
France), made such a stand that it not only halted Prussia and her
allies, but so completely broke their conquering spirit that without
firing another shot they took themselves off beyond the Rhine.

"We," Foch used to tell his students, "are the successors of the
revolution and the empire, the inheritors of the art, new-born upon the
field of Valmy to astonish the old Europe, to surprise in particular
the Duke of Brunswick, the pupil of Frederick the Great, and to tear
from Goethe, before the immensity of a fresh horizon, this profound
cry: 'I tell you, from this place and this day comes a new era in the
history of the world!'"

It is that new era which Foch typifies--that new era which his
adversaries, deaf to Goethe's cry and blind to Goethe's vision, have
not yet realized.

It was "the old Europe" against which Foch fought--the old Europe which
learned nothing at Valmy and had learned nothing since; the old Europe
that fought as Frederick the Great fought and that had not yet seen the
dawn of that new day which our nation and the French nation greeted
with glad hails much more than a century ago.

In 1792 Prussia measured her military skill and her masses of trained
men against France's  disorganization--and  overlooked "The

In 1914 she weighed her might against what she knew of the might of
France--and omitted to weigh certain spiritual differences which she
could not comprehend, but which she felt at the first battle of the
Marne, has been feeling ever since, and before which she had to retire,
beaten but still blind.

In 1918 she estimated the probable force of those "raw recruits" whom
we were sending overseas--and laughed.  She based her calculations on
our lack of military tradition, our hastily trained officers, our
"soft," ease-loving men uneducated in those ideals of blood and iron
wherein she has reared her youth always.  She overlooked that spiritual
force which the "new era" develops and which made our men so responsive
to the command of Foch at Château Thierry and later.

"The immensity of a fresh horizon" whereon Goethe saw the new era
dawning, is still veiled from the vision of his countrymen.  But across
its roseate reaches unending columns of marching men passed, under the
leadership of Ferdinand Foch, to liberate the captives the blind brute
has made and to strike down the strongholds of "old Europe" forever.

For nearly six years Foch taught such principles as these and others
which I shall recall in connection with great events which they made
possible later on.

Then came the anti-clerical wave in French politics, and on its crest a
new commandant to the School of War--a man elevated by the
anti-clericals and eager to keep his elevation by pleasing those who
put him there.

Foch adheres devoutly to the religious practices in which he was
reared, and one of his brothers belongs to the Jesuit order.

These conditions made his continuance at the school under its new head
impossible.  Whether he resigned because he realized this, or was
superseded, I do not know.  But he left his post and went as
lieutenant-colonel to the Twenty-ninth artillery, at Laon.

He was there two years and undoubtedly made a thorough study of the
country round Laon--which was for more than four years to be the key to
the German tenure in that part of France.

Ferdinand Foch, with his brilliant knowledge and high ideals of
soldiering, was now past fifty and not yet a colonel.

Strong though his spirit was, sustained by faith in God and rewarded by
those "secret satisfactions" which come to the man who loves his work
and is conscious of having given it his best, he must have had hours,
days, when he drank deep of the cup of bitterness.  There are, though,
bitters that shrivel and bitters that tone and invigorate.  Or perhaps
they are the same and the difference is in us.

At any rate, Foch was not poisoned at the cup of disappointment.

And when the armies under his command encircled the great rock whereon
Laon is perched high above the surrounding plains I hope Foch was with
them--in memory of the days when he was "dumped" there, so to speak,
far away from his sphere of influence at the School of War.

In 1903 he was made colonel and sent to the Thirty-fifth artillery at
Vannes, in Brittany.

Only two years later he was called to Orleans as chief of staff of the
Fifth army corps.

On June 20, 1907, he was made Brigadier General and passed to the
general staff of the French army at Paris.  Soon afterwards, Georges
Clemenceau became Minister of War, and was seeking a new head for the
Staff College.  Everyone whose advice he sought said: Foch.  So the
redoubtable old radical and anti-clerical summoned General Foch.

"I offer you command of the School of War."

"I thank you," Foch replied, "but you are doubtless unaware that one of
my brothers is a Jesuit."

"I know it very well," was Clemenceau's answer.  "But you make good
officers, and that is the only thing which counts."

Thus was foreshadowed, in these two great men, that spirit of "all for
France" which, under the civil leadership of one and the military
leadership of the other, was to save the country and the world.

In 1911 Foch, at 60, was given command of the Thirteenth division at
Chaumont, just above the source of the Marne.  On December 17, 1912, he
was placed at the head of the Eighth Army Corps, at Bourges.  And on
August 23, 1913, he took command of the Twentieth corps at Nancy.

"When," says Marcel Knecht, "we in Nancy heard that Foch had been
chosen to command the best troops in France, the Twentieth Army Corps,
pride of our capital, everybody went wild with enthusiasm."

It is M. Knecht who tells us about the visit to General Foch at Nancy,
in the spring of 1914, of three British generals whose presence there
Foch utilized for two purposes:  He showed them what he was doing to
strengthen Nancy's defensibility, and thereby urged upon them France's
conviction that an attack by Germany was imminent and unavoidable; and
he utilized the occasion to show the Lorrainers his warm friendliness
for England--which Lorraine was inclined still to blame for the death
of Joan of Arc.  Foch knew that German propagandists were continually
fanning this resentment against England.  And he made it part of his
business to overcome that prejudice by showing the honor in which he
held Great Britain's eminent soldiers.



So much has been said about France's unreadiness for the war that it is
easy for those who do not know what the real situation was to suppose
that the French were something akin to fools.  For twenty centuries the
Germans had been swarming over the Rhine in preying, ravaging hordes,
and France had been beating them back to save her national life.  That
they would swarm again, more insolent and more rapacious than ever
after their triumph of 1870, was not to be doubted.  Everyone in France
who had the slightest knowledge of the spirit that has animated the
Hohenzollern empire knew its envy of France, its cupidity of France's
wealth, its hatred of France's attractions for all the world.  Everyone
who came in contact with the Germans felt the bullet-headed
belligerence of their attitude which they were never at any pains to

The military men of France knew that Germany had for years been
preparing for aggression on a large scale.  They knew that she would
strike when she felt that she was readiest and her opponents of the
Triple Entente were least ready.

The state of mind of the civilians--busy, prosperous, peace-loving,
concerned with conversational warfare about a multitude of petty
internal affairs--is difficult to describe.  But I think it may not be
impertinent to say of it that it was something like the state of mind
of a congregation, well fed, comfortable, conscious of many pleasant
virtues and few corroding sins, before whom a preacher holds up the
last judgment.  None of them hopes to escape it, none of them can tell
at what moment he may be called to his account, none of them would wish
to go in just his present state, and yet none of them does anything
when he leaves church to put himself more definitely in readiness for
that great decision which is to determine where he shall spend eternity.

In 1911 it seemed for a brief while that the irruption from the east
was at hand.  But Germany did not feel quite ready; she "dickered"; and
things went on seemingly as before.

France seemed to forget.  But she was not so completely abandoned to
hopefulness as was England--England, who turned her deafest ear to Lord
Roberts' impassioned pleas for preparedness.

France has an institution called the Superior War Council.  It is the
supreme organ of military authority and the center of national defense;
it consists of eleven members supposed to be the ablest commanding
generals in the nation.  The president of this council is the Minister
of War; the vice president is known as the generalissimo of the French

In 1910 General Joseph Joffre became a member of the Superior War
Council, and in 1911 he became generalissimo.

It was because the Council felt the imminence of war with Germany that
General Pau--to whom the vice presidency should have gone by right of
his priority and also of his eminent fitness--patriotically waived the
honor, because in two years he would be sixty-five and would have to
retire; he felt that the defense of the country needed a younger man
who could remain more years in service.  So Joffre was chosen and
almost immediately he began to justify the choice.

Joffre and his associates of the council not only foresaw the war, but
they quite clearly previsioned its extent and something of its
character.  In 1912 Joffre declared "the fighting front will extend
from four hundred to five hundred miles."  He talked little, but he
worked prodigiously; and always his insistence was: "We must be

"With whole nations," he said, "engaged in a mortal combat, disaster is
certain for those who in time of peace failed to prepare for war."  And
"To be ready means, to-day, to have mustered in advance all the
resources of the country, all the intelligence of its citizens, all
their moral energy, for the purpose of attaining this one aim--victory.
Getting ready is a duty that devolves not only upon the army, but upon
all public officials, upon all organizations, upon all societies, upon
all families, upon all citizens."

This complete readiness was beyond his power to effect.  But in his
province--the army--he achieved marvels that were almost miracles.

It was France's good fortune (and that of her allies) that in all he
undertook for the purification and strengthening of the army Joffre
had, from January, 1912, the complete co-operation of the Minister of
War, M. Millerand.  Together, these two men, brilliantly supported by
some of Joffre's colleagues in the Superior Council--notably Pau and
Castelnau--achieved results that have been pronounced "unparalleled in
the history of the Third Republic."  They freed the army from the worst
effects of political influence, made it once more a popular
institution, and organized it into an effectiveness which needs, now,
no comment.

When Foch was put in command of the Twentieth army corps at Nancy it
was in the expectation that Nancy would sustain the first shock of the
German invasion when it came.  The opinion prevailed that Nancy could
not be held.  Whether Joffre was of this opinion or not, I do not know.
If he was, he probably felt that Foch would give it up only after
harder fighting than any other general.  But Foch believed that Nancy
could be defended, and so did his immediate superior, the gallant
General Castelnau, in command of the Second Army of Lorraine.

For nearly a year following upon his appointment to Nancy, Foch labored
mightily to strengthen Nancy against the attack which was impending.
He seems never to have doubted that Germany would make her first
aggression there, only seventeen miles from her own border, and with
Metz and Strassburg to back the invading army.

But that there were other opinions, even at Nancy, I happen to know.
For, one day while the war was still new, I chanced in rooting in an
old bookstall in Paris, to find a book which was written by an officer
of the Twentieth Corps, in 1911.[1]

The officer was, if I mistake not, of the artillery, and he wrote this
"forecast" to entertain the members of his mess or battery.

He predicted with amazing accuracy the successive events which happened
nearly three years later, only he "guessed" the order for mobilization
in France to fall on August 14, instead of August 1; and all his
subsequent dates were just about two weeks later than the actualities.
But he "foresaw" the invasion of Belgium, the resistance at Liége and
Namur, the fall of Brussels, the invasion of France by her northeastern
portals.  Almost--at the time I read this book--it might have served as
history instead of prophecy.  I would that I had it now!  But I clearly
remember that it located the final battle of the war in Westphalia,
describing the location exactly.  And that it said the Emperor would
perish in that downfall of his empire.  And it cited two prophecies
current in Germany--the long-standing one to the effect that Germany's
greatest disaster would come to her under an Emperor with a withered
arm, and one made in Strassburg in 1870, declaring that the new empire
would dissolve under its third Emperor.

The book was published in January, 1912, if I remember rightly, and was
almost immediately translated into German.  And I was told that one
hundred thousand copies were sold in Germany in a very short time, and
it was made the subject of editorials in nearly every prominent German

Probably Foch read it.  He may even have discussed it with the author.
But he held to the belief that when the attack came it would come
through Nancy.

He was not, however, expecting it when it came.

[1] The reason I cannot give his name, nor quote directly from his
book, is that a fellow-traveler borrowed the book from me and I have
never seen it since.



In the first days of July, 1914, divisional maneuvers were held as
usual in Lorraine.  Castelnau and Foch reviewed the troops, known
throughout the army as "the division of iron."

A young captain, recently assigned from the School of War to a regiment
of Hussars forming part of the Twentieth army corps, wrote to his
parents on July 5 an account of the maneuvers in which he had just
taken part.  He said that "the presence of these two eminent men gave a
great interest" to the events he described.  And the impression made
upon him by Foch is so remarkable that his letter is likely to become
one of the small classics of the war--endlessly reproduced whenever the
story of Foch is told.

"General Foch," he reminds his parents, "is a former commander of the
School of War, where he played, on account of his great fitness, a very
remarkable role.

"He is a man still young [he was almost 63!], slender and supple, and
rather frail; his powerful head seems like a flower too heavy for a
stem too slight.

"What first strikes one about him is his clear gaze, penetrating,
intellectual, but above all and in spite of his tremendous energy,
luminous.  This light in his eyes spiritualizes a countenance which
otherwise would be brutal, with its big mustache bristling above a very
prominent, dominant jaw.

"When he speaks, pointing lessons from the maneuver, he becomes
animated to the extent of impassionedness, but never expressing himself
otherwise than with simplicity and purity.

"His speech is sober, direct; he affirms principles, condemns faults,
appeals to our energies in a brief but comprehensive style.

"He is a priest, who judges, condemns, and instructs in the name of the
faith which illumines him and to which he has consecrated all the
powers of his mind and his heart.  General Foch is a prophet whom his
God transports."

The young officer who wrote thus to his parents was Captain André
Dubarle; and he later laid down his life for his country on the field
of honor commanded by General Foch.

The letter seems to me as treasurable for what it conveys to us of the
sort of young man Foch found among his officers and soldiers (there
were many such!) as for what it tells us of the impression Foch created
even in those days before men's souls were set on fire with fervor for

On July 18 General Foch asked and obtained a leave of absence for
fifteen days, so that he might join the family group gathered at his
home near Morlaix in Brittany.  His two sons-in-law, Captain Fournier
and Captain Becourt, also obtained leave.  The former was attached to
the general army staff at Paris, and was granted seventeen days.  The
latter was in command of a company of the Twenty-sixth battalion of
Foot Chasseurs at Pont-à-Mousson.  He was given twenty-five days'
leave.  The wives and children of both were at Morlaix with Madame Foch.

So little expectation of immediate war had France on July 18 that she
granted a fortnight's absence to the commander of those troops which
were expected to bear the first shock of German aggression when it came.

But I happen to know of a French family reunion held at Nancy on July
14 and the days following, which was incomplete.  One of the women of
this family was married to a German official at Metz whose job it was
to be caretaker for three thousand locomotives belonging to the
imperial government and kept at Metz for "emergencies."  On July 12 (as
it afterwards transpired) he was ordered to have fires lighted and
steam got up in those three thousand engines, and to keep them, night
and day, ready for use at a moment's notice.

Those smoking iron horses in Metz are a small sample of what was going
on all over Germany while France's frontier-defenders were being given
permission to visit Brittany.

But for that matter German war-preparations were going on much nearer
to Nancy than in Metz, while Foch was playing with his grandchildren at

Beginning about July 21 and ending about the 25th, twelve thousand
Germans left Nancy for "points east," and six thousand others left the
remainder of French Lorraine.

The pretexts they gave were various--vacations, urgent business
matters, "cures" at German watering places.  They all knew, when they
left, that Germany was mobilizing for attack upon France.  They had
known it for some time before they left.

Since the beginning of July they had been working in Nancy to aid the
German attack.  They had visited the principal buildings, public and
private, and especially the highest ones, with plans for the
installation of wireless at the modest price of $34.  "It is so
interesting," they said, "to get the exact time, every day, from the
Eiffel Tower!"

They had also some amazingly inexpensive contrivances for heating
houses, or regulating the heating already installed, or for home
refrigeration--things which took them into cellars in Nancy--and before
they left to join their regiments they were exceedingly busy
demonstrating those things.

They were all gone when General Foch was recalled, on July 26.

On July 30 German under-officers crossed the frontier.

On August 3 Uhlans and infantrymen on motorcycles were shooting and
pillaging on the French side of the border, although it was not until
6:45 P.M. that day that Germany declared war on France.

That which France had been unable to suppose even Germany capable of,
happened: The treaty with Belgium became a scrap of paper and the main
attack upon France was made by way of the north.

But the expectation that Nancy would be one of the first objectives of
the Hun-rampant was not without fulfillment.  For the hordes advanced
in five armies; and the fifth, the German left wing under Crown Prince
Rupprecht of Bavaria, was ordered to swarm into France south of that of
the Imperial Crown Prince, spread itself across country behind the
French armies facing northward, join with Von Kluck's right wing
somewhere west of Paris, and "bag" the French--armies, capital and
all--"on or about" September 1.

It was all perfectly practicable--on paper.  The only difficulty was
that there were so many things the German staff had omitted from its
careful calculations--omitted, perforce, because it had never guessed
their existence.  And that spoiled their reckoning.

Foch had, for years, been teaching that fighting demands supreme
flexibility, adaptability; that war is full of surprises which must be
met as they arise; that morale, the spiritual force of an army, is
subject to fluctuations caused by dozens of conditions which cannot be
foreseen and must be overcome.  The phrase oftenest on his lips was:
"What have we to do here?"  For, as he conceived warfare, officers and
even privates must constantly be asking themselves that.  One plan goes
awry.  Very well! we'll find a better.

But Foch had not trained the German general staff.  They made war
otherwise.  And well he knew it!  Well he knew what happened to them
when their "blue prints" would not fit unexpected conditions.

He knew that they expected to take Nancy easily, that they were looking
for some effort to defend it, but not for a French attack.

They did not know his maxim: "The best means of defense is to attack."

He attacked.  His Twentieth corps fought its way through the center of
the Bavarian army, into German Lorraine.  Then something happened.
Just what it was is not clear--but doubtless will be some day.  The
offensive had to be abandoned and the French troops had to withdraw
from German soil to defend their own.

How bitter was the disappointment to Foch we may guess but shall never
know.  But remaking plans in his genius.

"What have we to do here?" he asked himself.

Then, "in the twinkling of an eye," says one military historian,
"General Foch found the solution to the defense problem wherewith he
was so suddenly confronted when his offensive failed of support."



What is known as the battle of Lorraine began at the declaration of war
and lasted till August 26--though the major part of it was fought in
the last six of those days.

I shall not go into details about it here, except to recall that it was
in this fighting that General Castelnau lost his oldest son, stricken
almost at the father's side.

A German military telegram intercepted on August 27 said:

"On no account make known to our armies of the west [that is to say,
the right wing, in Belgium] the checks sustained by our armies of the
east [the left wing, in Lorraine]."

So much depended on those plans which Castelnau and Dubail and
Foch--and very particularly Foch!--had frustrated.

Joffre realized what had been achieved.  And on August 27 he issued the
following "order of the day":

"The First and Second armies are at this moment giving an example of
tenacity and of courage which the commander-in-chief is happy to bring
to the knowledge of the troops under his orders.

"These two armies undertook a general offensive and met with brilliant
success, until they hurled themselves at a barrier fortified and
defended by very superior forces.

"After a retreat in perfect order, the two armies resumed the offensive
and, combining their efforts, retook a great part of the territory they
had given up.

"The enemy bent before them and his recoil enabled us to establish
undeniably the very serious losses he had suffered.

"These armies have fought for fourteen days without a moment's respite,
and with an unshakable confidence in victory as the reward of their

"The general-in-chief knows that the other armies will be moved to
follow the example of the First and Second armies."

Now, where were those other armies?  And what were they doing?

France had then eight armies in the field, and was soon to have a
ninth--commanded by General Foch.

There was the First army, under General Dubail; the Second, under
General Castelnau; the Third, under General Sarrail; the Fourth, under
General Langle de Cary; the Fifth, under General Franchet d'Espérey;
the Sixth, under General Manoury; the Seventh and Eighth armies are not
mentioned in the Battle of the Marne, and I have not been able to find
out where they were in service.

The First and Second armies, fighting in Lorraine, we know about.  They
developed, in that battle, more than one great commander of whose
abilities Joffre hastened to avail himself.  On the day he issued that
order commending the First and Second armies, the generalissimo called
Manoury from the Lorraine front, where he had shown conspicuous
leadership, and put him in command of the newly-created Sixth army,
which was to play the leading part in routing Von Kluck.  And on the
next day (August 28) Joffre called Foch from Lorraine to head the new
Ninth army, which was to hold the center at the Battle of the Marne and
deal the smashing, decisive blow.

In two days, while his troops were retreating before an apparently
irresistible force, Joffre created two new armies, put at the head of
each a man of magnificent leadership, and intrusted to those two armies
and their leaders the most vital positions in the great battle he was

The German soldiers facing Joffre were acting on general orders printed
for them eight years before, and under specific orders which had been
worked out by their high command with the particularity of machine
specifications.  And all their presumptions were based on the French
doing what Teutons would do in the same circumstances.  Their
extra-suspender-button efficiency and preparedness were pitted against
the flexible genius of a man who could assemble his two "shock" armies
in two days and put them under the command of men picked not from the
top of his list of available commanders, but practically from the

The Third, Fourth and Fifth armies of Joffre were those which had
sustained the terrific onslaught in the north and had been fighting in
retreat, practically since the beginning.

On August 25 Joffre declared; "We have escaped envelopment"--thanks
largely to the action in Lorraine, holding back the Bavarians--and,
clearly seeing that he could not hope for favorable results from a
great battle fought in the north, he gave the order for retreat which
meant the abandonment of north-eastern France to the Hunnish hordes.

What anguish that order caused him we shall never know.  He realized to
the full what the people of that great, prosperous part of France would
have to suffer.  He was aware what the loss of those resources would
mean to the French, and also what their gain would mean to the Germans.
He understood the effect of retreat upon the morale of his men.  And he
must have been aware of the panic his order would create throughout the
yet-uninvaded parts of France where no one could know at what point the
invasion would be checked.  He knew that the nation's faith in him
would be severely shaken, and that even his army's faith in him would
be put to a supreme test.

But when a man trains himself to be a commander of men, he trains
himself to go through, heroically and at any cost, what he believes
must be done.  To sacrifice one's self comes comparatively easy--given
compelling circumstances and an obedient soul.  But to sacrifice others
never becomes easy to a man who respects the rights of others.  And we
shall never begin to comprehend men like Joffre and Foch until we shake
ourselves free from any notion we may have that military expediency
makes it easy for them to order great mental and physical suffering.

General Foch detached himself, on August 29, from his beloved Twentieth
corps and betook himself to the little village of Machault, about
twenty miles northeast of Châlons-sur-Marne, where he found assembled
for his command an army made up of units from other armies.  They were
all more or less strange to one another and to him.

There was the Ninth army corps, from Tours, made up of Angevins (men
such as Foch had learned to know when he was at Saumur) and Vendeans
(the Bretons' south neighbors).  Some of these men had been fighting
without respite for nine days as they fell back, with the Fourth army,
from the Belgian border.  With them, since August 22, had been the
remarkable Moroccan division under General Humbert.

Then there was the Eleventh corps of Bretons and Vendeans, which had
been through the same terrible retreat.

And--not to enumerate too far--there was that Forty-second division of
infantry which was destined to play one of the most dramatic,
thrilling, forever-memorable parts in all warfare.  It had been in the
Ardennes, and had fallen back, fighting fiercely as it came.

To help him command these weary men whose hearts were heavy with
forebodings for France, Foch had, as he himself has said, "a general
staff of five or six officers, gathered in haste to start with, little
or no working material, our note books and a few maps."

"Those who lived through these tragic hours near him," says René Puaux,
"recall the chief questioning the liaison officers who did not know
exactly where the different units were, punctuating his questions with:
'You don't know?  Very well, then go and find out!'; putting together
in his head the mosaic of which there were still so many pieces
missing; gradually visioning a plan for bringing them together;
calculating his effectives; estimating approximately his reserves of
ammunition; discovering his bases of food supply."

And through all this stress he had the personal anguish of being unable
to get word of his only son, Germain Foch, or of his son-in-law,
Captain Becourt, both of whom had been fighting on the Belgian front.

"It was not, however," M. Puaux says, "the time for personal emotions.
The father effaced himself before the soldier.  There was nothing to be
thought of save the country."

Thus we see Ferdinand Foch, on the eve of the first Battle of the Marne.



It was Saturday, August 29, 1914, when General Foch went to Machault to
take command of the various units he was to weld into the Ninth army.

On the Tuesday following (September 1) Joffre was quartered with his
general staff at the little old town of Bar-sur-Aube, fifty miles south
of Châlons, and he had then determined the limits to which he would
permit the retreat of his armies.

If a stand could be taken and an offensive launched further north than
the Aube River, it should be done; but in no event would the withdrawal
go beyond the Seine, the Aube and the region north of Bar-le-Duc.

He then placed his armies in the field in the relation in which he
deemed they would be most effective: the First army, under General
Dubail, was in the Vosges, and the Second army, under General
Castelnau, was round about Nancy; the Third army, under General
Sarrail, east and south of the Argonne in a kind of "elbow," joining
the Fourth army, under General de Langle de Cary; then the Ninth army,
under General Foch; then the Fifth army, under General Franchet
d'Espérey; then the little British army of three corps, under General
Sir John French; and then the new Sixth army, under General Manoury.

So Foch, on the third day of organizing his new command, received
orders--at once terrible and immensely flattering--that he was to
occupy the center of Joffre's battle line and to sustain the onslaught
of Von Buelow and the famous Prussian Guards.

In the morning of Saturday, September 5, all commanders received from
Joffre the now historic message:

"The moment has come for the army to advance at all costs and allow
itself to be slain where it stands rather than give way."

The men to whom this order was relayed by their commanders had,
five-sixths of them, been ceaselessly engaged, without one single day's
rest of any kind and much of the time without night rest either, for
fourteen days, fighting as they fell back, and falling back as they
fought; the skin was all worn from the soles of their feet, and what
shoes they had left were stuck to their feet with blood.

"They had marched under a torrid sky," says Louis Madelin, "on
scorching roads, parched and suffocated with dust.  In reality they
moved with their hearts rather than with their legs.  According to
Pierre Lasserre's happy expression, 'Our bodies had beaten a retreat,
but not our hearts,' . . .  But when, worn out with fatigue, faces
black with powder, blinded by the chalk of Champagne, almost dying,
they learned Joffre's order announcing the offensive, then the faces of
our troops from Paris to Verdun beamed with joy.  They fought with
tired limbs, and yet no army ever showed such strength, for their
hearts were filled with faith and hope."

At daybreak on Sunday, the 6th, Foch pitched his headquarters in a
modern château near the little village of Pleurs, which you probably
will not find on any map except a military one, but it is some six
miles southeast of Sézanne.  And the front assigned to Foch ran from
Sézanne to the Camp de Mailly, twenty-five miles east by a little
south.  The Marne was twenty-five miles to north of him.  Between him
and its south bank were many towns and villages; the clay pocket (ten
miles long) called the Marshes of St. Gond, but far from marshy in that
parching heat; and north of that the forest of Epernay.  His vanguards
were north of the marshes.  But as that Sunday wore on, the Prussian
Guards drove Foch's Angevins and Vendeans of the Ninth Corps back and
occupied the marshes.  The Bretons on the east of Foch's line were
obliged to dislodge, and the Moroccans and Forty-second Division had to
yield on Foch's left.

Thus, at nightfall of the first day's fighting, Foch's new army had
given ground practically everywhere.

The next day the German attack became fiercer, and it seemed that more
ground must be yielded.

That was the day when Foch made his memorable deduction: "They are
trying to throw us back with such fury I am sure that means things are
going badly for them elsewhere and they are seeking compensation."

He was right!  Von Kluck was retiring in a northeasterly direction
under Manoury's blows; and even Von Buelow (whom Foch faced) was
withdrawing parts of his troops from the line at Foch's left.

But the attempt to break through the center Foch held, waxed fiercer as
the Germans realized the strength opposing them on their right.

And on Tuesday, the 8th, Foch was unable to hold--save at certain
points--and had to move his headquarters eleven miles south, to Plancy.

He had now reached the Aube, beyond which Joffre had decreed that he
must not retire.  On its north bank his gallant army must, if it could
not do otherwise, "allow itself to be slain where it stands rather than
give way."

On that evening he sent Major Réquin to the Forty-second Division with
orders for the morrow.  The most incredible orders!

The enemy had found his point of least resistance--on his right wing.
He ought to strengthen that wing, but he could not.  All the reserves
were engaged--and the enemy knew it as well as he did.  And it is a
fixed principle of war not to withdraw active troops from one part of
the line to strengthen another.

Only one part of his army had had any success that day: Toward evening
the Forty-second Division and the Moroccans had made an irresistible
lunge forward and driven the enemy to the north edge of the marshes.

They were weary--those splendid troops--but they were exalted; they had

Foch believes in the power of the spirit.  He appealed to the
Forty-second to do an extraordinary thing--to march, weary as it was,
from left to right of his long line and brace the weak spot.  And to
cover up the gap their withdrawal would make he asked General Franchet
d'Espérey to stretch out the front covered by his right wing and
adjoining Foch's left.

In a letter to me, Lieutenant-Colonel (then Major) Réquin gives some
graphic bits descriptive of that historic errand.  He was a sort of
liaison officer between General Grossetti, commanding the Forty-second
Division, and the latter's chief, General Foch, his special duty being
to carry General Foch's orders to General Grossetti and to keep the
army chief informed, each evening, how his commands were being carried

"It was 10 P.M.," he writes, "when I roused General Grossetti from his
sleep in the straw, in the miserable little shell-riddled farm of

"The order astonished him; but like a disciplined leader, he started to
execute it with all the energy of which this legendary soldier was

The Forty-second came!  While they were marching to the rescue the
Prussian Guard in a colossal effort smashed through Foch's right.  They
were wild with joy.  The French line was pierced.  They at once began
celebrating, at La Fère-Champenoise.

When this was announced to Foch he telegraphed to general headquarters:

"My center gives way, my right recedes; the situation is excellent.  I
shall attack."

For this, we must remember, is the man who says: "A battle won is a
battle in which one is not able to believe one's self vanquished."

He gave the order to attack.  Everything that he cared about in this
world was at stake.  This desperate maneuver would save it all--or it
would not.  He gave the order to attack--and then he went for a walk on
the outskirts of the little village of Plancy.  His companion was one
of his staff officers, Lieutenant Ferasson of the artillery; and as
they walked they discussed metallurgy and economics.

There could be nothing more typically French or more diametrically
opposed to the conceptions of French character which prevailed in other
countries before this war.  And I hope that if Lieutenant Ferasson
survives, he will accurately designate (if he can) exactly where Foch
walked on that Wednesday afternoon, September 9, when, his center
having given way, his right wing receded, he pronounced the "situation
excellent," gave the order for attack, and went out to discuss

Toward six o'clock on that evening the Germans, celebrating their
certain victory, saw themselves confronted by a "new" French army
pouring into the gap they had thought their road to Paris.

The Forty-second Division (more than half dead of fatigue, but their
eyes blazing with such immensity and intensity of purpose it has been
said the Germans fled, as before spirits, when they saw these men) had
not only blocked the roundabout road to Paris; they had broken the
morale of Von Buelow's crack troops.  Without this brilliant maneuver
and superb execution the successes of all the other armies must have
gone for naught.

"To be victorious," said Napoleon, "it is necessary only to be stronger
than your enemy at a given point and at a given moment."

Foch's preferred way to take advantage of that given point and moment
is with reserves, which he called the reservoirs of force.  "The art of
war consists in having them when the enemy has none."

But as there were no reserves available at that first Battle of the
Marne, he exemplified his other principle that conditions must be met
as they arise.

"I still seem," says René Puaux, "to hear General Foch telling us, one
evening after dinner at Cassel several months later, about that
maneuver of September 9.

"He had put matches on the tablecloth"--some red matches which Colonel
Réquin treasures as a souvenir--"and he illustrated with them the
disposition of the troops engaged.  For the Forty-second Division he
had only half a match, which he moved here and there with his quick,
deft fingers as he talked.

"The match representing the Twelfth German Corps (which with the
Prussian Guard was cutting the gap in Foch's weak spot) was about to
make a half-turn which would bring it in the rear of the French armies.

"The general, laying down the half-match that was the Forty-second
Division, made an eloquent gesture with his hand, indicating the move
that the Forty-second made.

"'It might succeed,' he said, laconically, 'or it might fail.  It
succeeded.  Those men were exhausted; they won, nevertheless.'"

At nine o'clock the next morning (September 10) the Forty-second
entered La Fère-Champenoise, where they found officers of the Prussian
Guard lying, dead drunk, on the floors in the cantonments, surrounded
by innumerable bottles of stolen champagne wherewith they had been
celebrating their victory.

Two days later Foch was at Châlons, to direct in person the crossing of
the Marne by his army in pursuit of the fleeing enemy.

"The cavalry, the artillery, the unending lines of supply wagons," says
Colonel Réquin, "the infantry in two columns on either side of the
road; all this in close formation descending like a torrent to resume
its place of battle above the passage on the other side of the river;
was an unforgettable sight and one that gave all who witnessed it an
impression of the tremendous energy General Foch has for the command of
enormous material difficulties."



Germany's plan to enter France by the east gate, in Lorraine, was
frustrated with the aid of Foch.

Her plan to smash through the center of the armies on the Marne was
frustrated, with the very special aid of Foch.

Blocked in both these moves, there was just one other for Germany to
make, then, on the western front.

And on September 14, Joffre, instead of celebrating the victory on the
Marne, was deep in plans to forestall an advance upon the Channel
ports, and began issuing orders for the transfer of his main fighting
bodies to the north.

All this, of course, had to be done so as to leave no vulnerable spot
in all that long battle line from Belfort to Calais.

Joffre had clearly foreseen the length of that line.  He predicted it,
as we have seen, in 1912.  Doubtless he had foreseen also that it would
be too long a line to direct from one viewpoint, from one general
headquarters.  What he was too wise to try to foresee before the war
began was, which one of France's trained fighting men he would call to
his aid as his second in command.  He waited, and watched, before
deciding that.

And late in the afternoon of October 4 he telegraphed to General Foch
at Châlons, telling him that he was appointed first in command under
the generalissimo, and asking him to leave at once for the north, there
to coordinate the French, English and Belgian forces that were opposing
the German march to the sea.

Five weeks previously Foch had been called to the vicinity of Châlons
to assemble an army just coming into existence.  Now he was called to
leave Châlons and that army he had come to know--that army of which he
must have been so very, very proud--and go far away to another task of
unknown factors.

But in a few hours he had his affairs in order and was ready to leave.

It was ten o'clock that Sunday night when he got into his automobile to
be whirled from the Marne to the Somme.

At four in the morning he was at Breteuil, where General Castelnau had
the headquarters of his new army, created on September 20 and
designated to service on Manoury's left.  General Castelnau had not yet
heard of the generalissimo's new order.  He was sound asleep when the
big gray car came to a stop at the door of his headquarters after its
one-hundred-and-fifty-mile dash through silent towns and dark,
war-invested country.

Six weeks ago Foch had been his subordinate.  Then they became equals
in command.  Now the magnificent hero of Lorraine who, before the war,
had done so much on the Superior War Council to aid Joffre in
reorganizing the army, rose from his bed in the chill of a fall morning
not yet dawned, to greet his superior officer.

Some black coffee was heated for them, and for two hours they discussed
the problems of this new front--Castelnau as eager to serve under Foch,
for France, as, eight weeks ago, Foch had been to serve under
Castelnau.  If the sublime unselfishness of such men could have
communicated itself to some of the minor figures of this war, how much
more inspiring might be the stories of these civilian commanders!

At six o'clock Foch was under way again--to Amiens, Doullens, St. Pol,
and then, at nine, to Aubigny, where General Maud'huy had the
headquarters of his army, holding the line north of Castelnau's.

The difficulties of Foch's new undertaking were not military alone, but
diplomatic.  He had to take account of the English and Belgian armies,
each under independent command, and each small.  It was the fitness of
Foch for the diplomacy needed here, as well as his fitness for the
great military task of barring the enemy from the Channel ports, that
determined Joffre in nominating him to the place.

In 1912 General Foch had been the head of the French military
commission sent to witness the British army maneuvers at Cambridge.

He speaks no English; and not many British generals at that time spoke
much French.  Yet he somehow managed to get on, with the aid of
interpreters, so that his relations with the British officers were not
only cordial, in a superficial social way, but important in their
results of deepened understanding on his part and of respect on theirs.

His study of what seemed to him the military strength and weakness of
France's great neighbor and ally was minute and comprehensive.

In his opinion, the soldiers of Britain were excellent; but he was
fearful that their commanders lacked seasoned skill to direct them
effectively.  This lack he laid to that apparent inability to believe
in the imminence of war, which was even more prevalent in Britain, with
her centuries of inviolate security, than in France.

Two years before the long-suspended sword fell, Foch foresaw clearly
what would be the difficulties in the way of England when she should
gird herself for land conflict.  Doubtless he had resolved in his mind
plans for helping her to meet and to overcome them.

Now he was placed where he could render aid--where he _must_ render aid.

After the Battle of the Marne Sir John French wanted his army moved up
north, nearer to its channel communications--that is to say, to its
source of supplies.  And on October 1 Joffre began to facilitate this
movement.  It was just well under way when Foch arrived in the north.

And on October 9 the gallant Belgian army withdrew from Antwerp and
made its way to the Yser under cover of French and British troops.

Foch soon saw that an allied offensive would not be possible then; that
the most they could hope to do was to hold back the invading forces.

Until October 24 he remained at Doullens, twenty miles north of Amiens.
Then he removed his headquarters to the ancient town of Cassel, about
eighteen miles west and a little south of Ypres.

From there he was able to reach in a few hours' time any strategic part
of the north front and from this actual watch-tower (Cassel is on an
isolated hill more than 500 feet high, and commands views of portions
of France, Belgium, and even--on a clear day--of the chalky cliffs of
England; St. Omer, Dunkirk, Ypres, and Ostend are all visible from its
heights), he was to direct movements affecting the destinies of all
three nations.

The Belgians, whose sublime stand had thwarted Germany's murderous plan
against an unready world, were a sad little army when they reached the
Yser about mid October.  It was not what they had endured that
contributed most to break their spirit; but what they had been unable
to prevent.

To those heroic men who had left their beautiful country to the
arch-fiends of destruction, their parents and wives and children to
savages who befoul the name of beasts; who no longer had any
possessions, nor munitions wherewith to make another stand on Belgian
soil; to them Foch took fresh inspiration with his calm and tremendous
personality; to them he sent his splendid Forty-second Division to
swell their ranks so frightfully depleted in Honor's cause; to them he
gave the suggestion of opening their sluices and drowning out of their
last little corner of Belgium the enemy they could not otherwise

This done, the next problem of Foch was to establish relations with Sir
John French whereby the most cordial and complete cooperation might be
insured between the British Field Marshal and the French commander of
the armies in the north.

There are several graphic accounts of interviews which took place
between these generals.

It was on October 28 that Foch saw the success of the opened sluices
and the consequent salvation to the heroic Belgians of a corner of
their own earth whereon to maintain their sovereignty.

On the 30th the English suffered severe reverses in spite of the aid
lent them by eight battalions of French soldiers and artillery
reinforcements.  In consequence, they had had to cede considerable
ground, their line was pierced, and the flank of General Dubois' army,
adjoining theirs, was menaced.

When word of this disaster reached Foch that night he at once set out
from Cassel for French's headquarters at Saint Omer.

It was 1 A.M. when he arrived.  Marshal French was asleep.  He was
waked to receive his visitor.

"Marshal," said Foch, "your line is cracked?"


"Have you any resources?"

"I have none."

"Then I give you mine; the gap must be stopped at once; if we allow our
lines to be pierced at a single point we are lost, because of the
masses our enemy has to pour through it.  I have eight battalions of
the Thirty-second Division that General Joffre has sent me.  Take them
and go forward!"

The offer was most gratefully received.  At two o'clock the orders were
given; the gap was stopped.

Nevertheless, the British despaired of their ability to hold.  Marshal
French had no reserves, and decided to fall back.

A liaison officer hastened to notify General Dubois that the British
were about to retire, and General Dubois betook himself in all speed to
Vlamertinghe, the Belgian headquarters, to notify their commanding
general.  Foch happened to be with the Belgian general.  And while
these three were conferring, the liaison officer (Jamet) saw the
automobile of Marshal French pass by.

Realizing the importance of the British commander's presence at that
interview, Jamet ventured to stop him and suggest his attendance.

Foch implored French to prevent retreat.  French declared there was
nothing else for him to do--his men were exhausted, he had no reserves.
Foch pointed out to him the incalculable consequences of yielding.

"It is necessary to hold in spite of everything!" he cried; "to hold
until death.  What you propose would mean a catastrophe.  Hold on!
I'll help you."

And as he talked he wrote his suggestions on a piece of paper he found
on the table before him, and passed it to the British commander.

Marshal French read what was written, at once added to it, "execute the
order of General Foch," signed it, and gave it to one of his staff

And the Channel ports were saved.

But a greater thing even than that was foreshadowed: Foch had begun to
demonstrate what was in him before which not only the men of his
command must bow but the generals of other nations also.

One of the staff officers of General Foch who was closely associated
with him there in the north in that time of great anxiety, has given us
a pen-picture of the chief as his aides often saw him then.  Doubtless
it is a good picture also, except for differences in trifling details,
of the great commander as he has been on many and many a night since,
while the destinies of millions hung in the balance of his decisions.

"All is silence.  The little town of Cassel is early asleep.  On the
rough pavement of the Grande Place, occasional footsteps break the
stillness.  Now they are those of a staff officer on his way to his
billet.  Now it is the sentry moving about to warm himself up a bit.
Then silence again.

"In a little office of the Hotel de Ville, a man is seated at a table.
His elbows are on a big military map.  A telephone is at his hand.  He
waits--to hear the results of orders he has given.  And while he waits
he chews an unlighted cigar and divides his attention between the map
and the clock--an old Louis XVI timepiece with marble columns, which
ticks off the minutes almost soundlessly.  How slowly its hands go
round!  How interminable seems the wait for news!

"Someone knocks, and Colonel Weygand, chief of staff, enters; he has a
paper in his hand: 'Telephoned from the Ninth army at 1.15 A.M.' . . .

"The general has raised his head; his eyes are shining.

"'Good! good!'

"His plans are working out successfully; the reinforcements he sent for
have arrived in time.  There is nothing more he can do now; so he will
go to bed.

"A last look at the map.  Then his eye-glasses, at the end of their
string, are tucked away in the upper pocket of his coat.  The general
puts on his black topcoat and his cap.

"In the hall, the gendarme on guard duty gets up, quickly, from the
chair wherein he is dozing.

"The general salutes him with a brisk gesture, but with it he seems to
say: 'Sleep on, my good fellow; I'm sorry to have disturbed you.'

"At the foot of the grand staircase, the sentry presents arms; and one
of the staff officers joins the commander, to accompany him to the
house of the notary who is extending him hospitality.

"A few hours later, very early in the morning, the general is back
again at his office."

Thus he was at Cassel, as he directed those operations on the Yser by
which he checked the German attempt to reach Calais and Dunkirk, and
revealed to the military world a new strategist of the first order.

By November 15 (six weeks after arriving in the north) Foch had the
high command of the German army as completely thwarted in its design as
it had been at the Marne.  It had fallen to Foch to defeat the German
plan on the east (Lorraine), in the center (Marne) and on the west
(Ypres).  And the consequences of this frustration that he dealt them
in Flanders were calculated to be "at least equal to the victory of the
Marne."  Colonel Réquin calls that Battle of the Yser "like a preface
to the great victory of 1918."

In the spring of 1915 Foch left Cassel and took up headquarters at
Frévent, between Amiens and Doullens, whence he directed those
engagements in Artois which demonstrated that though trench warfare was
not the warfare he had studied and prepared for, and nearly all its
problems were new, he was master of it not less than he would have been
of a cavalry warfare.

In the autumn of 1915, Foch moved nearer to Amiens--to the village of
Dury in the immediate outskirts of the ancient capital of Picardy.  For
the next chapter in his history was to be the campaign of the Somme
including the first great offensive of France in the war, which,
together with the Verdun defense, forced the Germans not only again to
re-make their calculations, but to withdraw to the Hindenburg line.

On September 30, 1916 (just before his sixty-fifth birthday, on which
his retirement from active service was due), he was "retained without
age limit" in the first section of the general staff of the French army.

Honors were beginning to crowd upon him as the debt of France and of
her allies to his genius began to be realized.  Responsibility vested
in him became heavier and heavier as he demonstrated his ability to
bear it.  But always, say those who were nearest him, "a great,
religious serenity pervaded and illumined his soul."

This is a serenity not of physical calm.  Foch is intensely nervous,
almost ceaselessly active.  His body is frail, racked with suffering,
worn down by the enormous strains imposed upon it.  But the
self-mastery _within_ is always apparent; and it inspires confidence,
and renewed effort, in all who come in contact with him.



After his position in the first section of the General Staff had been
made independent of age limits, General Foch was relieved (for the
autumn and winter at least, during which time no operations of
importance were expected) of active command of a group of armies; and
at once began the organization of a bureau devoted to the study of
great military questions affecting not the French lines alone but those
of France's allies.

[Illustration: General Pétain--Marshal Haig--General Foch--General

At first the headquarters of this bureau were at Senlis, near Paris.
Then they were moved close to France's eastern border where Foch and
his associates studied ways and means of meeting a possible attack
through Switzerland--if Germany resolved to add that crime to her
category--or across northern Italy.

So clearly had Foch foreseen what would happen in the Venetian plain,
that he had his plan of French reinforcement perfected long in advance,
even to the schedule for dispatching troop trains to the Piave front.

In January, 1917, Marshal Joffre reached the age of retirement (65).
He was venerated and loved throughout France as few men have ever been.
Gratitude for his great gifts and great character filled every heart to
overflowing.  His country had no honor great enough to express its
sense of his service to France.  Yet it was felt that for the
operations of the future, the interests of France and of her allies
would be best furthered with another strategist in command of the
armies in the field.  Joffre's retirement was therefore effected.

Joffre is an engineer, a master-builder of fortifications, a great
defense soldier.  But defense would not end the war.  France must look
to her greatest offensive strategist.

There could be no question who that strategist was.  No one knew it
quite so well as Marshal Joffre.  And one of the most splendid things
about that mighty and noble man is the spirit in which he concurred in
(if, indeed, he did not suggest) the change which meant that another
should lead the armies of France to victory.

The appointment of General Foch as head of the General Staff was made
on May 15, 1917, while Marshal Joffre was in the United States to
confer with our officials regarding our part in the war.  On the same
date General Philippe Pétain, the heroic defender of Verdun, who had
been Chief of Staff for a month, was appointed Commander-in-Chief of
all French armies operating on the French front.

General Foch installed himself at the Invalides, and addressed himself
to the study of all the allies' fronts, the assembling American army,
and to another task for which he was signally fitted: that of
coordinating the plans and purposes of the Generalissimo and the

Wherever General Foch goes, one finds him creating harmony and, through
harmony, doubling everyone's strength.

He "gets on" with everybody, but not in the way that sort of thing is
too generally done--not by methods which have come to be called
diplomatic and which involve a great deal of surface affability, of
wordy beating about the bush and concealing one's real purposes from
persons who see his hand and wonder if they are bluffing him about

Foch has no stomach for this sort of thing.  His whole bent is toward
discovering the right thing to do and then making it so plain to others
that it is the right thing that they adopt it gladly and cooperate in
it with ardor.

In council he is still the great teacher striving always not merely to
make his principles remembered, but to have them shared.

The eminent French painter, Lucien Jonas, who has served in Artois, at
Verdun, on the Somme and in Italy, and has been appointed painter of
the Army Museum at Des Invalides, was commissioned to make a picture of
General Foch holding an allies' council of war at Versailles.

It was, of course, impossible for Jonas to be actually present at a
council meeting.  But it was arranged that he should sit outside a
glass door through which he could see all, but hear nothing.

"General Foch," he tells us, "held his auditors in a sort of
fascination.  One felt that in his explanations there was not a flaw,
not a hesitancy.  All seemed clear, plain, irresistible."

This power was his in great degree in the years before the war.  But
now men who listen to him know that his perceptions are not merely
logical--they are workable.  His performances prove the worth of his

On March 21, 1918, Ludendorff launched his great offensive against the
British army.  The line bent; it cracked.  Amiens seemed doomed; the
British in France were threatened with severance from their
allies--with envelopment!

After four days of onrushing disaster a conference was called to meet
at Doullens--a conference of representatives of the allied governments.
Something must be done to coordinate the various "fronts," to put them
under a supreme command.

Foch was hastily empowered to order whatever he deemed advisable to
prevent the separation of the English and French armies.  It is
apparent that the wide powers thus hurriedly given to him were bestowed
with the approval of every member of the conference.  In October, 1918,
however, in responding to a note of greeting from Lloyd-George on the
occasion of his sixty-seventh birthday, Foch recognized the weight of
the British Prime Minister's influence at the conference:

"I am greatly touched," he replied, "by your congratulations and thank
you sincerely.

"I do not forget that it was to your insistence that I owe the position
which I occupy to-day."

Foch's new responsibilities were laid upon him on March 26.  By evening
of the 28th he had the situation so well in hand that he was able to
hold in check the German onslaught without even employing all the
troops he had brought up for that purpose.  He had averted what
threatened to be the worst disaster of the war, and he had reserves in
readiness against a new and augmented attack.  This in two days!

On the 30th an official announcement told all the world that the
destinies of the allied armies were by common consent confided to the
general direction of Ferdinand Foch.

On that same day there was made public, by the French war authorities,
something which had taken place and had contributed in a degree we are
not yet able to state, to the investment of Foch with supreme power.
This was a visit made by General Pershing to Foch.  In the presence of
Foch, Pétain, Clemenceau and Loucheur (Minister of Munitions) Pershing
made the following declaration:

"I come to tell you that the American people would hold it a great
honor if our troops were engaged in the present battle.  I ask you this
in my name and in theirs.  At this moment there is nothing to be
thought of but combat.  Infantry, artillery, aviation--all that we have
is yours.  Use them as you will.  There are more to come--as many more
as shall be needed.  I am here solely to say to you that the American
people will be proud to be engaged in the greatest and most glorious
battle in history."

[Illustration: General Foch--General Pershing]

On April 5, a week after his appointment to the supreme command was
announced, Foch granted an interview to a group of war correspondents.
Their various accounts differ very slightly.  Instead of quoting any
one I will make a digest of them.

They found the general installed in a provincial mansion, place not
named.  The room he occupied was nearly bare; an old table, an
armchair, a telephone, a huge war map, no profusion of papers, no "air
of importance."

Foch was writing in a notebook.  He rose, when he had finished his
entry among those epoch-making memoranda, and received his visitors.
He had but a few minutes to give, yet he realized the importance of the
occasion and treated it accordingly.  These men were to send to
millions of people in the great democracies of France, Britain and
America their pen pictures of the man just invested with the greatest
military responsibility any man in the world's history has ever borne.
Battles must be fought, but also those people had a right to such a
sense of participation as only their press could give them; it was
their issue; their attitude toward it was the foundation of their
nation's morale.  Foch has neither time nor taste for talk about
himself, but he is no war autocrat; he is, as he constantly reiterates,
a son of France, defending human liberties.  He might not have much
time to give journalists, but it is not in him to minimize their place
in a world where the will of the majority prevails and the press does
much to shape that will.

His manner on that occasion was calm, unhurried, but very direct, to
the point.

"Well, gentlemen," said he, "our affairs are not going badly; are they?
The boche has been halted since March 27.  He has, doubtless,
encountered some obstacle.  We have stopped him.  Now we shall endeavor
to do better.  I do not see that there is anything more to say.

"But as to yourselves, keep at your task.  It is a time when everyone
ought to work steadfastly.  Work with your pens.  We will go on working
with our arms."

"I regret," wrote Lieutenant d'Entraygues in the Paris _Temps_, "only
one thing: that all the people of France were not able to see and hear
this soldier as he spoke to us.  They would know why it is not possible
to doubt our victory."

It was probably about that time that Major Darnley Stuart-Stephens
wrote of Foch, for the _English Review_.

"The man who has been consecrated by destiny to the saving from Moloch
of this globe's civilization, is he who will prove once more that in
the conflict between the finely tempered sword and the finely tempered
brain, it is the mental asset that will prevail."

Major Stuart-Stephens had studied the "mental assets" of Ferdinand Foch.

"Now and again at his lectures." he wrote, "I have noticed that
far-away look of the mystic in his eyes that I remember so well in
those of that other soldier-saint, Charles Gordon."

It was that spiritual greatness in Foch which everyone felt, on which
everyone brought into contact with him based his unfaltering faith in
the outcome.

"We do not know," says an editorial writer in the New York _Evening
Sun_, "what the judgments of the military critics will be when they
have carefully studied and sifted the evidence, but to a layman it
looks as if Foch was not merely a very great general but one of the
greatest generals of all recorded history . . . as great a general as
Napoleon or Caesar or Hannibal or Alexander."

But whether they put him, as a military man, on a par with Napoleon, or
come sapiently to the conclusion that he was no more than a very able
general fortunate in being in command at the time the Germanic morale
was breaking, it will never be possible to disprove that he was a
supreme leader of men in a great war of ideals--an incarnation of all
those qualities of faith and fervor, of self-mastery and dependence on
the Divine, of self-realization and with it devotion to the rights and
progress of others, which are embodied in the Christian democracy for
whose preservation millions have gladly died.



Faith in the ability of Foch to lead us all to victory was, however, not
to endure without its grave tests.

The German drive of March 21 was checked by his co-ordination of Allied
forces.  But checking the enemy just before he reached the key of the
Channel ports was not defeating him; preventing him from driving a wedge
between the British and French armies was only diverting him to another
point of attack.  He was desperate--that enemy!  He knew that he must win
a decisive victory soon, or see his own maladies destroy him.

He knew the genius of Foch; he knew the immense increase in strength that
the Allies had achieved in unifying their command.  He may have
underestimated the worth in battle of our American fighters; but it is
scarcely probable that he underestimated the worth, behind the lines, of
our army of railroad builders, harbor constructors, supply handlers, and
the like.  He knew that whether we could fight or not, we had money and
men and were pouring both into France to help win the war.

And he also knew that victory after victory which he had won had not only
failed to increase his might but had, somehow, weakened him; country
after country had fallen before his sword or before his
poison-propaganda--or both!--his plunder was vast, his accessions in
fighting men available for the Western front were formidable--yet
something in his vitals was wrong, terribly wrong; he must stop, soon,
and look to his health, or he would be too far-gone for recovery.  But
not now! not now!  "They" must be crushed now or never!

So he fought like a maddened beast whose usual cunning has given place to
frenzied desperation.

Again and again and again he lunged--now here, now there.  And the
defenders of civilization fell back and back, before him.

Where was that calm, quiet man who had said: "Well, gentlemen, our
affairs are not going badly; are they?"

"The boche," he had said, "has been halted . . . now we shall endeavor to
do better."

What had happened?  The boche was _not_ halted!  He was, in fact,
shelling Paris!

It was in those days that the "soldier-saint," as Major Stuart-Stephens
has called him, must have had need of all his faith and all his fortitude.

We don't know much, yet, except of a very superficial sort, about those
days.  We know what happened in them insofar as army movements are
concerned, and the heartbreaking re-occupation of towns and villages
where French and American restoration squads were working to make
habitable those places the Huns had laid waste; and the continued
shelling of Paris by the "mystery gun"; and the great exodus of civilians
from the capital as the ravaging hordes drew nearer and always nearer.

These things we know; but not what Foch was thinking--except that he was
not thinking of defeat.

If there was a true heart in France that ever for a moment doubted the
outcome of the war, or dreamed of abandoning the conflict before it had
made the future safe, I have never heard of that one.

Certainly the man who was leading them never doubted.  Nor was it on his
own skill that his faith was founded.  He knew Who would give his cause
the victory.

In the fifth German drive of 1918 the enemy crossed the Marne!  Paris was
almost in sight--Paris! where millions of French were celebrating the
fall of the Bastille and the birth of freedom as if the leering, jeering
enemies of all freemen were not so close to the gates of the Capital that
the gleam of their tusks might almost have been seen from the city's
outermost ramparts.  Certainly the drunken fools within--drunk with their
deep draughts of liberty--could hear the snarling and snapping of the
approaching wolves, the baying of Big Bertha, the barking of her smaller
sisters!  But it would be like those crazy French to dance and sing and
celebrate the overthrow of autocracy, while an autocracy the like of
which no French King had ever exercised was on the eve of engulfing them.

So the German General Staff said, sneering, as it laid its plans for the
final drive on Paris.  They would start that drive on the night of July
14, while the fools were celebrating, when they were least expecting an
attack.  Probably most of them would be drunk.  Oh, almost certainly!
Their resistance would be weak, And for all time thereafter it would make
an impressive tale for schoolbooks throughout the Pan-Germanized world,
that democracy was dispatched in her last orgy of exultation.

As clearly as if he were not only present in the councils of German
Headquarters, but present inside the thick round skulls about the council
table, this boche attitude and intent was comprehended by the small frail
man at Mormant, where his Headquarters then were.

On that night of July 14 he began the great offensive which never stopped
until the whining boche was east of the Rhine!

His Intelligence Department told him that the German drive would probably
begin at ten minutes past midnight.  They might be quite wrong, but that
was their guess.  Foch was all-but sure they were not wrong; that it was
not in German nature to reason other than as I have described.

An hour before midnight the Germans were (doubtless) surprised by some
lively action of French artillery.  Strange!  But it couldn't mean
anything, of course!  So the boche came on.  The behavior of the French
was not quite what he had expected; one thing after another happened that
was not in his calculations.  But that did not argue aught against the
calculations!  It was the exasperating habit of the French to do
unexpected things.  Most annoying!  But not able to affect the outcome,
of course.

On July 18th they got "more unexpected still"--they and sundry "green"
troops from the flaccid, fatuous U. S. A.!  Some "hounds of the devil"
were let loose upon the gray-clad armies of righteousness.  It was
outrageous the way those sons of Satan fought!  They rushed upon the
legions of the Lord's anointed as if killing Germans were the noblest
work a man could be about.

So many things happened that were not down on paper--in the plans of the
German General Headquarters!  It became distressingly evident that these
Yanks knew as little, and cared as little, what was expected of them as
the stupid Britishers or the mercurial French or the suicidal Belgians.
They didn't know how to fight--they couldn't know--they had never done
any fighting, and whom had they had to teach them warfare?  They were
absurd.  They didn't know the simplest rules of war--they didn't know
enough to surrender when they were surrounded, cut off, outnumbered.
They fought on!  They didn't know how to fight; but Lord! how they could
kill Germans.  And then they were such fools that their medical corps
came out onto the battlefield and when they found a German who wasn't
dead but was suffering, their doctors bound up his wounds and gave him
water to quench his raging thirst, and left him for his own comrades to
carry away and nurse--that, instead of gouging his eyes out with a
bayonet's end or bashing in his skull with the butt of a gun!  Strange
people!  They never could become good slaves of Kultur; so the wounded
Germans whose agonies they had assuaged, rose up on their elbows and shot
them dead.

In six hours the Allies, not only reinforced but recreated by this tide
of new life, new eagerness, re-took twice as much ground on the
Soissons-Rheims salient as the Germans had won in six days' desperate

When the word to fight came to the men of the American army, it was less
like a command to them than like a release, a long-desired permission.
Many, if not most, of them had for nearly four years been straining at
the leash which held them from the place where their sense of honor told
them they should be.

[Illustration: Marshal Foch, Executive Head of the Allied Forces]

"They were superb," Marshal Foch has said, paying wholehearted tribute to
them.  "There is no other word.  Our armies were fatigued by years of
relentless struggle and the mantle of war lay heavily upon them.  We were
magnificently comforted by the virility of the Americans.  The youth of
the United States brought a renewal of the hope that hastened victory.
Not only was this moral factor of the highest importance, but also the
enormous material aid placed at our disposal.  Nobody among us will ever
forget what America did."

Let us hope that neither will any among us ever forget for a single
instant how much was paid for us in blood and anguish by those who held
the beast at bay from us for long years before we put forth a stroke in
our own defense or in friendly help or in support of our ideals.

That our aid arrived in time to help turn the tide, that our men were
magnificent when their opportunity was given them, is cause not for
vaunting ourselves, but only for gratefulness that our honor remains to
us--that we have not had to accept life and liberty at other men's hands
while our hands stayed in our pockets.

Our fighting men redeemed us in our own eyes; they restored our souls'
dignity; for this we can never be grateful enough to them.  But we can
never be braggart about it.  It might so easily have come too late!

On August 6, Foch was made Marshal of France.

And two days later, the British, on the Somme, launched the first really
successful offensive of the war--not stopping a drive, but inaugurating

At last Foch was able to make war as he had for years contended that war
should be made: The way to make war is to attack.

It was his plan, now that he had the men to make this possible, to keep
the enemy busy by striking first at one point of the long line running
from Belgium to the Piave, and then at another.  And by the first of
September the Allied line on the Western front was back where it ran in
the deadlock of 1915-16 while the attack on Verdun was raging.

"General Pershing," Foch has said, "wished to have his army concentrated,
as far as possible, in an American sector.  The Argonne and the heights
of the Meuse were a sector hard to tackle.  So I said to him: 'All right;
your men have the devil's own punch.  They will get away with it.  Go to

And they went!  That was the famous St. Mihiel salient.  The American
infantry started their advance there on September 26.  They went forward
with a rush.  On their left, the French advanced as rapidly, and on
October 1 re-took St. Quentin, which the Germans had held since the
beginning of the war.  October 2 the British, operating on the left of
the French, reached Cambrai which also had been in German hands for more
than four years.

October 4 the Hohenzollern King of Bulgaria deserted his doomed allies
and his throne and began looking for a place of refuge.

And on that day the Hohenzollern government at Berlin had so little
relish for the situation on all fronts, that it besought the President of
the United States "to take in hand the restoration of peace, acquaint all
the belligerent states with this request and invite them to send
plenipotentiaries for the purpose of opening negotiations. . . .  With a
view to avoiding further bloodshed, the German Government requests the
immediate conclusion of an armistice on land and water and in air."

October 10, Austria and Turkey joined Germany in appealing for peace
terms.  Notes continued to pass between the Germanic capitals and
Washington, D. C.

But Foch fought on.

The Americans had cleared the last corner of the Argonne of German
machine-gun nests and gunners, and were widening their offensive on the
Meuse.  The French had taken Laon, and were pushing on.  The British had
taken Lens and Cambrai and were advancing on Douai and Lille.

On the 23rd of October the President of the United States referred the
matter of the armistice to the Allies.  On the 29th, the Allied War
Council met at Versailles to fix the armistice conditions.

(Foch meanwhile had launched an offensive against the Austrians on the

Now, an armistice is supposed to be a cessation of hostilities for an
agreed period, all combatants to remain as they were; if the parley for
peace is not successful, the struggle is to resume where it paused,
neither side having gained or lost, except as delay may or may not have
been favorable to them.

Foch had not the smallest intention of granting the hard-pushed enemy
that sort of an armistice--time to recuperate, to parley while Winter
came on and postponed the resumption of his offensive until Spring.  To
do that meant to prolong the war probably another year, at enormous cost
in lives, suffering, materials.

What he would grant would be an armistice in which the enemy, so far from
keeping his positions would abandon them all and retire far behind the
Rhine; in which the Allies, so far from keeping their positions, would
follow the retreating enemy into his own country, and police it; in which
the enemy, so far from resting on his sword, would hand it over--his
swords, and his cannon, and his machine-guns, and his fleet and his
submarines and his aircraft and his locomotives; in which he would
release all Allied prisoners and not ask the release of any of his
captured men.

The terms were the most ignominious ever imposed upon a prostrate enemy.
The sole reason for referring to them as "armistice terms" was that peace
terms are final and absolute, and these were not final--they would be
made much worse if the Germans failed to satisfy their conquerors on
every point.

When the Allied War Council had agreed with Foch on the armistice terms,
he said:

"Within ten days or a fortnight I can break the German army in three,
envelop a section of it, and take a million prisoners.  Is there any
condition which, in the opinion of any of you, could be imposed upon the
enemy then, more conclusive than those of the armistice?"

No one could think of anything that might add a jot to the completeness
of Germany's subjugation.

"Then, gentlemen," answered the Commander-in-Chief, "we will proceed with
the armistice.  When all is won that can be won for the safety and honor
of France and her Allies, I cannot for the sake of prestige or
gratification or personal glory, order action that would cost the life of
any parents' young son, any little child's father.  I am a bereaved
father.  I think of the fathers and mothers whom further fighting must
bereave.  The enveloping advance which our armies could make in ten to
fourteen days would cost us thousands of lives, many maimed men.  If
those things must be to bring the triumph of Right, we can bear them
again as we have borne them these years past.  But not for any other

"The German high command," he said later, at Trèves, "was not ignorant of
the fact that it faced a colossal disaster.  When it surrendered,
everything was prepared for an offensive in which it would infallibly
have succumbed.  The Germans were lost.  They capitulated.  That is the
whole story."

The German plenipotentiaries arrived at the French front at nine o'clock
on the evening of November 7, and were escorted to the Château Francfort
to spend the night.  The next morning they were taken to Rethondes in the
forest of Compiègne.  There Foch (whose headquarters were at Semis,
twenty-two miles nearer Paris) awaited them in his special train.

I may be quite wrong about his reason for receiving the German envoys in
a railway carriage.  But my surmise about it is that he did not want any
fixed place associated with Germany's humiliation until those empowered
to act for the defunct empire of William I came to the Gallery of Mirrors
at Versailles and there, where the German empire had been proclaimed,
witnessed the formal degradation before the representatives of all
civilization of their nation that was built on the principle that Might
is Right.

Next to this in poetic justice would have been to summon those
plenipotentiaries before him at Senlis where their troops had committed
such insensate horrors in September, 1914.  But for reasons of his own
(which we may be sure had nothing to do with courtesy) Foch went part way
to meet them.

They complained, afterwards, that he received them coldly.  If he was
able to keep his manner cold, it was only because his self-command is so
great.  For no other man in the world knows so well as he the extent and
the enormity of the crimes those men and their masters and their minions
are guilty of.  A primitive man, or any undisciplined modern man, would
have leaped at their throats.  Instead, Foch treated them as if they were
human though not humane beings, and read to them slowly and in a loud
voice, the terms of the armistice for which they had asked.

Mathias Erzberger, their spokesman, requested a cessation of hostilities
whilst a courier carried the terms to German General Headquarters at Spa.

There the Kaiser, Hindenburg and others awaited particulars.

Foch declined to cease hostilities.  He knew his enemy too well.

As soon as the Kaiser learned what the terms were, he abdicated his
throne and fled his country.  When the courier had returned, and the
German plenipotentiaries once more presented themselves before Foch
(again in his car) the "War Lord" of all the world was cowering in a
Holland hiding place, his blubbering heir was in another, and a Social
Republic had been declared in Berlin.

How the Hohenzollerns knew the terms of the armistice full twenty-four
hours before the courier's return to German Headquarters at Spa, I have
not seen explained or heard any one conjecture.

From Rethondes to Spa is a matter of some two hundred and fifty miles, by
road, and nearly forty-eight hours were consumed by the courier in
covering that distance; he did not reach German Headquarters until ten
o'clock Sunday morning, November 10.  But the Kaiser abdicated and the
Crown Prince renounced his claims to the throne, in Spa on Saturday
morning, and they were both out of the country when the courier was
received, his papers were read, and he was sent back with word to the
plenipotentiaries to get amelioration of some conditions, if possible,
but in any event to sign.

If the press reports are not in error as to the time the courier arrived
at Spa, then the terms of the armistice must have been made known to the
Hohenzollerns by telegraph or other quick communication very early on
Saturday--probably as soon as the courier recrossed his own lines, which
he could have done not many hours after quitting Compiègne forest.  And
Berlin seems to have known the terms at least as soon; for it was "the
receipt of an urgent telegram" from Berlin, which the Kaiser is reported
to have read with a shiver, that precipitated the abdication and flight.

These details are significant, even in so brief a sketch of Foch's life
as this is; for in their very confusion and obscurity they tell a great
story of what was either realized or feared in the German camps and in
the German capital.

The magnitude of that which Foch was ready (and was by his enemies known
to be ready) to do could not be better conveyed to us than by the panicky
haste of those who knew themselves doomed, to make any concessions but at
all costs to avert Foch's next move.

Shortly after midnight on Sunday, the German delegation (which had by
Foch's orders been scrupulously served in the matter of their creature
comforts) again presented itself before him in his railway car.  Four
hours were spent discussing the possibility of performing some of the
conditions exacted, and modifications were made which in no degree
altered the completeness of Germany's subjugation.

Then the papers were signed.

The Germans were punctiliously escorted to their own lines.  I have not
heard what Foch did; but it would not surprise me to learn that he went
back to bed, and to sleep.

Perhaps, after giving orders for notifying his Government and her Allies,
he sent a message to Madame Foch.  But I am quite sure that otherwise he
did not "celebrate," except that he gave God thanks for the victory.



When the French army rode into Metz, Foch was not at its head.  There
may or there may not be another man who could and would have foregone
that satisfaction; but certainly there are not many.

It does not seem probable that he avoided the occasion; although it
would be like him to take advantage of some good excuse for absence if
he thought there was one of his generals who specially deserved and
desired the honor of that triumphant entry into reclaimed Metz.

The attitude of Foch toward praise and plaudits and personal glory is,
it seems to me, one of the supremely great things about him.  I cannot
imagine him "ducking" shyly away from any place where he knew he ought
to for fear of salvos of acclaim; it would be as unsoldierly to him to
dodge cheers as to flee from battle, if that way his duty lay.  And,
similarly, I cannot imagine him going anywhere to gratify his personal
feelings and collect the praises due him, if there was an urgent reason
for his being somewhere else.

[Illustration: Ferdinand Foch.  Showing His Insignia as a Marshal of
France, Consisting of Seven Stars on Each Sleeve and Four Rows of Oak
Leaves on His Cap.]

The business, military and executive, of seeing that the armistice
terms were fulfilled, was tremendous.  Much of it devolved upon him and
made inconceivably great requisitions on that genius he has "for the
command of enormous material difficulties"--a genius he first displayed
in getting the Ninth Army across the Marne in pursuit of the fleeing
Germans, in September, 1914; and which he further evidenced in every
succeeding phase, beginning with the reconstitution of all the forces
fighting on the Yser.

The armistice period was a period of extreme demands on him.  In it
there was scant opportunity to go here or there with his triumphant
armies.  His work in the field, as a commanding general, had
practically ceased with his removal from the Ninth Army after little
more than a month of such command.  From the time he took up his
headquarters on the hill at Cassel, he became "a desk man"; it was no
longer his function to execute orders; thenceforth he had the far more
trying duty of issuing orders--a truly awful responsibility and one
which demands much solitude, much soul-searching as well as
map-pondering and other weighing of the ponderable which is so easily
off-set by the imponderable, the unguessable.

There are few situations possible in life in which a man could be set
apart with his soul and have so much demanded of his communings as was
demanded of Foch from October, 1914, on to October, 1918.  Every
decision he made involved lives--hundreds and thousands or hundreds of
thousands of lives--and not one pang of what must be suffered for each
life laid down was strange to him; his only son was among the first to
die for France and human liberties; and one of his daughters was
widowed; the home he "left in the joyousness of a midsummer Sunday" was
desolate, and it stood forever to him as a symbol of the homes in
France and latterly, in the lands of all the Allies, with whose
best-beloved he made this or that move in the war to preserve
civilization.  Nor were the lives he staked all that were involved;
there were all that were incidentally menaced if his strategy
failed--all that must suffer immediately and all that must suffer
ultimately under the heel of the brute if the brute were not destroyed.

A man who has lived thus for more than four years, sharing the
awfulness of his burden only with Almighty God, must needs have passed
to a spiritual plane whereon such self-considerations as still sway the
rest of us have ceased to obtrude themselves.

The quest of personal glory is as hard to associate with Ferdinand Foch
as with the little Maid of France.  Both fought for God and for France
and for a Cause, as their Voices directed them; that he has one of the
best brains of modern or of all times, and that she did "not know her
A, B, C," sets them not so far apart as the materialist might imagine;
for the thing that made both invincible was the power of their faith to
create an unconquerable ardor in themselves and in their men.  The
churches in France wherein Foch knelt seeking guidance, beseeching
strength, are likely to be doubly-consecrate, for ages, no less than
those wherein Jeanne d'Arc prayed.  She is venerated not as a military
leader (though she was that) but as the one who awakened the soul of
mediaeval, much-partitioned France and made possible the
nationalization of her country.  He will be venerated (by the great
majority) not as "the first stategist of Europe," but as the supreme
incarnation of that spirit which makes modern France transcendent among
nations vowed to democracy.

It is Foch's "likeness" to the myriad soldiers of France that France
adores--not his difference from the rest.  Her poilu is her beau ideal
of faith and courage, of patriotism and devotion to the principles of
human rights, of cheerfulness and hopefulness, of invincibility in that
his cause is just.  France is too essentially democratic to esteem one
set of characteristics in the mass of men and another set in the
leaders of men.  Foch and Joffre will live always in the hearts of
their countrymen because, like Jeanne d'Arc, they have so much to say
to everyone--so much that illumines every path in life wherever it is

On the 19th of December, 1918, Joffre took his seat among the Immortals
of the French Academy.  The vacancy to which he had been elected was
that made by the death of Jules Claretie who, before his admission to
the Academy and before his absorption in the affairs of La Comédie
Française, had written several books about the leaders of the French

It was Ernest Renan who delivered the address of welcome to Claretie
(in February, 1889) and he said that it was still too soon to know
whether those leaders of whom Claretie had written were supremely
justified or were not.

"You are young," Renan said to the new Immortal, "and you will see this
question solved, . . . some years hence it will be known; if in ten or
twenty years France is prosperous and free, faithful to right, strong
in the friendship of the free peoples of the world, then the cause of
the young Revolutionists is won; the world will enjoy the fruits of
their endeavor without having had to know their unripe bitterness."

Joffre quoted this part of Renan's address, in taking his seat.
Claretie had not lived quite long enough to see, save with the eye of
faith, that day Renan foretold; but Claretie's successor in the French
Academy had seen it!  And it was like him to say:

"I think, gentlemen, that in doing me the honor of receiving me into
your august body, your desire is to pay homage to that glorious French
army which has proved that the soul of France is steadfast for the
rights of man, even unto death that men may be free."

Accepting the honor as paid through him to the men who had proved the
worth of that Liberty, Equality and Fraternity the Revolution declared
and decreed, Joffre asked permission to name those to whom, he deemed,
the gratitude of France and of France's Immortals was due.  And first
among them he named Foch.

This was gracious; it was generous; but it was more than that.  And
though Joffre went on to name many leaders, many armies, many moral
forces incarnate in many men as co-responsible for victory, no one
could know quite so well as he how completely the France of which Renan
dreamed as a glorious possibility, is realized and typified in the man
whose name leads all the rest as having saved not France only but the
liberties of mankind.

Bonaparte, although he was not French (save technically) and not a
democrat, captured the hearts of France in spite of all he cost them;
because he aggrandized France, made her supreme in many things besides
extent and power.  It is instinctive in every Frenchman (or woman, or
child!) to revere anyone who does new credit to the name of France or
brings new glory to it; for the passionate love of country is the
primary religion of the French--they may or may not have another, but
unless they are totally renegade they have that faith, that devotion.

In Ferdinand Foch they have a great leader who is in no sense an
"accident" (as Bonaparte was), a sporadic development in their midst, a
spectacular growth on an exotic stem.  They have, rather, a
quintessential Frenchman of to-day, even more widely representative of
his countrymen than Lincoln was of ours.

"The fame of one man," says Henri Bordeaux, "is nothing unless its
represents the obscure deeds of the anonymous multitude."

This is a typically modern idea, and typically French.  France of
to-day would not deny the worth of any development because it was
singular, isolate; but what she is particularly interested in is the
possibilities of development along the lines that are followed by the
many and are open (broadly speaking) to all.  Guynemer, for a shining
instance, is the idol of every schoolchild in France, not for his
daring alone, nor for the number of boche birds of prey he brought
down; but because wealth and influence were unavailing to get him an
opportunity beyond what the poorest, humblest youngster might have got
in the same indomitable way; and because frail health and puny strength
could not debar him from the sublimest exploits of daring for France.
His circumstance--physical and material--tended to bind him to the soft
places of earth.  His desire to serve France gave him wings to fly far
beyond the eagles.  He has no grave.  He rides the empyrean for all
time, to tell the youth of France how surmountable is everything to one
who loves his country and the rights of mankind.

Foch is of less legendary sort, but he, too, epitomizes France; and he
will be increasingly potent as time goes on, irrespective of whether
the sword is or is not superseded in the affairs of men.

"The obscure deeds of the anonymous multitude" are much like his own
obscure deeds prior to the great day when France needed him and found
him ready.

Every black-smocked schoolboy in France loitering along historic
highways to his gray-stuccoed school, may feel in himself a Foch of
to-morrow--and quicken his steps so that he may make himself a little
more ready for his recitation.

Every youth entering upon his military training must find in Foch a
comrade whose influence is all toward thoroughness, "Learn to think,"
was Foch's personal admonition for long years before he thus charged
his students.

Every teacher toiling to impart not knowledge alone but the thirst for
knowledge, the zeal to use it nobly, has in Foch such a fellow as the
annals of that great profession do not duplicate.  Other teachers may
have influenced more pupils; but no human teacher ever saw such a
demonstration of his principles--to the saving of mankind.

Every good father in France may see himself in Foch--and especially
every father who gave his son for France and her ideals.

Every man whose work in life calls him to lead other men, in peace or
in war, has supreme need of Foch; because Foch embodies those
principles of leadership to which men are now responsive, those ideals
toward which they are striving.  Particularly as a coordinator is Foch
great--and potent for the future.  There is, probably, no other kind of
service so important to the world's welfare, now, as that of bringing
men together; making them see that fundamentally they are all, if they
are right-minded, fighting for the same thing; and that in union there
is strength.

As a scholar, Foch is brilliant besides being profound.  As a man, he
is simple--and France admires simplicity; he is elegant--and France
loves the elegance that is the expression of fine thinking, fine
feeling; he is modest of his own attainments, and proud of France's

For nearly every great commander, victory in arms has led to power in
the state.

Foch is a statesman as preëminently as he is a warrior.  His counsel
was as weighty in the peace settlement as his strategy was in winning
the war.

But one cannot conceive him using his prestige, military or diplomatic,
to increase his personal power.

He has served God and man; he has served his country and his conviction
of right.  He is content therewith--just as he hopes millions of men
are content who have done the same according to their best ability.

"I approach the twilight of my life," he wrote not long ago, "with the
consciousness of a good servant who will rest in the peace of his Lord.
Faith in eternal life, in a good and merciful God, has sustained me in
the hardest hours.  Prayer has illumined my soul."

In presenting to Foch the baton of a Marshal of France, President
Poincaré recalled certain definitions he had often heard Foch
reiterate: "War is the department of moral force; battle, the struggle
between two wills; victory, the moral superiority of the conqueror, the
moral depression of the conquered."

"This moral superiority," said the President of the French Republic to
the new Marshal of France, "you have tended like a sacred flame."

Always, the tone of tribute to Foch is one of veneration for the
greatness of his soul and his preëminent ability to represent and to
lead his people.

"You are not," President Poincaré went on, "of those who let themselves
be downcast by danger; neither are you of those whom victory dazzles.
You do not believe that we are near the end of our efforts and our
sacrifices.  You guard against optimism as much as against depression."

This he said to Foch, in the field, on August 23, 1918, when the fruits
of victory though in sight were not yet within grasp.

Had the presentation been three months later, President Poincaré would
(I think) have spoken not differently; better even than before, he
would have known that Foch is not "of those whom victory dazzles"; and
not less clearly than before would he have perceived that Foch does not
"believe that we are near the end of our efforts and our sacrifices."

Foch may well feel that he has done his utmost for his country and for
mankind, in the crisis for which he prepared himself and which he met
with such superb faith in the triumph of Right; but he certainly does
not feel that he has ushered in the millennium; he knows what other
demands there are and will be upon the souls of men, on their devotion
to their country, their perception of truth and honor, and their ardor
and ability to serve humanity.  He knows that not France alone but
every nation has need to-day and henceforth of leaders who will do just
what he did: personify the highest ideals of their people and prepare
themselves to defend those ideals intelligently, unselfishly, devoutly.

He has established a new standard in leadership.  Far from culminating
an old order, he has inaugurated a new--an order which everyone may
join who wills to serve.  Its motto is: "Right is Might; believe in the
power of Right; learn to uphold it; strengthen others, as they come in
contact with you, to meet the enemies of Right and to vanquish them;
never forget that the moving power of the world is _soul_, and the laws
of the soul were made by God."

Too deep a student of history, too keen an analyst of human nature to
entertain any illusions about the enemy he has conquered but not
converted, Foch knows that if what he has been privileged to do for
France and for her allies is to have any lasting value, there must be a
league of freedom-loving peoples as strong and as united to preserve
peace as they were to win it; and that this league must be supported by
a general morale not one whit less devoted to the end in view than was
the morale which won the war.

Too wise to feel that the victory is his save as he was the leader who
re-organized millions and showed them how to make their conviction of
Right prevail, he is also too wise to wish that his were the power to
create the world anew.  He knows that not only will the to-morrows of
mankind be as the multitudes of mankind make them, but that they should
be not otherwise directed; this, of all things, is what the overthrow
of autocracy means.

He helped us to shake off the Beast who sought to impose his will on
all the world.  Briefly, at least, that Menace is restrained--thanks to
the indomitable will of many nations and to the genius of Ferdinand

It is for us--every one of us!--to say what shall come out of the
security that Foch and his armies have maintained for us at so great a
price; how long we shall maintain it and how honorably we shall use it.

And to us, with this sacred obligation on us, Foch would say:

"It is not enough to mean well, to desire that righteousness shall
prevail; it is not enough even to be willing to give all, should it be
required of you.  You must _know how_ to serve your ideals, your
principles.  Victory always goes to those who deserve it by possessing
the greatest power of will and intelligence."

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