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First World War : 11th of August 1914

Following the defeat near Mulhouse and the force retreat the French high commandment created an ” Army of Alsace ” with at its head, General Paul Pau. He will join his army on the 13th of August.

The same day, France declares war to Austria-Hungary, answering to their declaration of the 10th and cuts all diplomatic relations with the Empire.

While the hope of a quick victory in Alsace and Lorraine is gone,  the French army offered the Germans a heavy resistance in the Meuse ( Lorraine region ). The small village of Pillon is taken but the German army is confronted by hundreds of French poilus in the neighboring village of Mangiennes. The two villages are only separated by woods.

Parts of the III and IV French armies are stationed in Mangiennes, alerted at the presence of German hussars nearby. After the French cavalry sighted the German forces, Colonel de Hautecloque ( in charge of France’s 14th hussars regiment ) ordered machine guns to be deployed. The two enemy armies are barely a couple of kilometers away from each other. Artillery fire is exchanged and for a while, both sides camped on their positions. On the German general is asked to take Mangiennes, despite indicated that the terrain was not favorable for an assault. However the German command, realizing that their flank was weak and a easy target decided to reinforce the presence of German soldiers in Pillon. The French officers are persuaded that the artillery destroyed the German machine guns or forced them to retreat and General Cordonnier charged their flanks, however it was unsuccessful and the cost in men hight. Some soldiers, despite the orders, pursued the Germans in the nearby village of Loison.

The fighting of the 11th of August between Mangiennes and Pillon made 120 Frenchmen died and 240 Germans lost their lives.