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Romanian Campaign of 1916.The Invasion


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The battle of Rimnicu Sarat

Advancing on the traks of Romanians and Russians,Mackensen was at 19th of December in front of line Rimnicu Sarat-Filipesti-Viziru-Dunare.The aerian reconnoitrings and sensings made with patrols ,brought him to the conclusion that he has to deal with a carefuly prepared position ,and solid organized,defended by numerous forces ,which could not be forced but only through a great battle .Its beginning has been set for the day of 22nd of December ;till then ,the units of the enemy Armies has been regrouped ,brought into the fighting zone ,giving them also fwe days of rest.

The battle at Rimnicu Sarat has been engaged by the Germans with the totality of their forces ,existing between Carpathian Mountains and Danube :17 Divisions .At the left ,the IX-th Army ,under the Command of General Falkenhayn ,had to execute the principal mission with the mass of the 10 Divisions from Infantry of his .The advancing axis of the IX-th Army was the driveway and railway Buzau-Rimnicu Sarat ;his operational field was the region of hills and mountains in the North of Buzau County and Rimnicu Sarat County,until Buzau River.When the Romanian-Russian position will be broke through ,will begin the action also the Danube Army,Commanded by General Kosch,made out of five Divisions of Infantry German-Turk-Bulgarian and two Cavalry Divisions.She will operate in the flat region between Buzau River and Danube River ,with the direction towards Braila.

The Romanian-Russian Front was occupied at the right wing by Romanians ,and at the center and left wing by Russians.The Romanians were occupying the mountaineous positions and of hills,from Furu Mountain until Racoviteni ,with the troops of Rimnic Group of the II-nd Romanian Army .The Russians were occupying the most important part of the Front ,with many Army Corps and with numerous Cavalry.The two adverse armies were forming in this way o commune fighting Front ,from mountains to Danube.

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With all the big concentration of troops ,the Russian did not had the serious intention to hold with any price this line.Even from 16th of December the Russian Commander ,in a report towards the King ,as well as in the order of operations towards his troops ,shows the intention to retreat behind Siret River ,indicating to each unit the sector to be occupied.That is why ,also ,the Romanian Commandment had to cosider the resistance on Rimnicu Sarat Front as a provisory stage and to proceed at organizing of definitive resistance on line Casin-Clabuc Mountain -Purcelesti(North of Odobesti),in continuation with the Russian line of Siret River.

The battle at Rimnicu Sarat has lasted six days ,from 22nd to 27th of December and it was the greatest battle in the retreat times.The Germans name her also "Weihnachtsschlacht"-Christmassbattle,because her decissive action was given in the days of Chatolic Cristmass.

General Falkenhayn ,of which IX-th Army ,will carry the weight of the battle ,has set to its left wing Kraftt Group,made out of the totality of its mountain troops ;this one would operate against the Group of Romanian Divisions in the mountaineous region and of hills;its mission was to operate a turning of the Romanian flank in Dumitresti region .Mounted on Buzau-Rimnic driveway was Morgen Group ;its mission was to breakthrough the Russian lines and conquer Rimnicu Sarat city .Falkenhayn kept in reserve Divisions 89th and 41st ,to throw them into the fight at the moment and right point ,to obtain the decissive success.At the right side ,until Buzau River ,was Kuhne Group.

At 22nd the battle unleashes on the whole Front of the IX-th German Army .At the left extremity ,the Bavarian Alpine Corps ,operating in the mountains,extends its wing ,seeking to establish the connection with the right side of the I-st Austro-Hungarian Army under the Command of Archduke Iosif ,which operates in Vrancea.On our side,the connection between Rimnic Group and Vrancea Group is established by a Cavalry Division ,Russian.For three days ,the German Alpiners and the Austrian Alpiner of the 73rd Division which are at the right side of the first ones ,cannot make one step forward .The Romanian troops of Divisions 2nd ,1st and 6th kepp with strength the positions on Cilnului Water ;the Russian Cavalry Division Zamurskaia have occupied Vintileanca and Intre Rimnice ,at the right of Romanians.

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In the day of 24th of December ,Morgen Group manages to obtain a decissive success :the 12th Bavarian Division ,with the aid of the 89th Division ,fighting at the junction point of the Russian Front with the Romanian one,has taken with assault the elevation with height 417 m ,which dominates,at South East of Racoviteni ,Cilnului Water .The position,heavily strengthened ,has been defended with stubborness by the Russians ,has been retaken by these ones and again taken back by the Germans after fierce fights which lasted until the evening ,making heavy casualties to both adversaries.After the losing of these positions ,the Russians have decided the evacuation of the entire line of battle and step by step retreat to the behind positions.This decission,taken by the Russian Commander and not communicated to the Romanian one ,starts to show its effects in the unfolding of the fights in the following days.In the day of 25th of December ,the fourth day of the battle ,the Alpine Corps inensifies the attacks against Romanians .At the extreme right of the Romanian Front ,the Russian troops of Zamurskaia Division leave the position ,and leave uncovered the right wing of the 3rd Romanian Division;the enemy advances and occupies Sarii Hill(Dealu Sarii),Vintileanca and Intre Rimnice.The Romanians have to retreat with heavy losses ,after they oppose a fierce resistance.A Company of the 22nd Regiment,Romanian, has occupied and defended the hill at height 854 m,fighting with the bayonet ,untill all soldiers together with their Commander have been murdered.To the South,the Alpiners attacks ,Austro-Hungarians,against the 1st Division ,Romanian,given with strong support of artillery ,are repelled ;Marghiloman hill is held solid by Romanians.The Front of Divisions 3rd and 1st are strengthened with troops of the 7th Reserve Division.

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At 26th of December ,the fight has continued.The enemy,sustained by strong artillery ,has attacked between Divisions 3rd and 1st .The fights have unfolded with violence at Spidele ,on Hills Sonticari and Marghiloman .The hills are conquered by the enemy and the Romanians retreat on Ferului Hill.The Russians send in aid from Dumitresti a Brigade of Cossacks from Tuzemna Division ,with a baterry of cannons for mountain.But only engaged in to the fight ,the cossacks retreat with music ahead ;after it retreats also the mountain battery .Through the empty space thus produced ,the enemy advances between the two Romanian Divisions ,of which wings he turns,and occupies Spidele and Ferului Hill.The 4th Hunters Regiment ,which has occupied by a counterattack Sonticari Hill after a fierce fight ,is forced to retreat with great casualties;also the 27th Regiment.The left wing of the 3rd Division is checked under the fire concentrated of enemy artillery and has felt casualties.

The batteries of artillery of the 1st Romanian Division unleash a violent baraj fire over the enemy and bring it to a stand still.The Romanian Commander sends to counterattack a Battalion of the 16th Regiment from reserve ;under his protection reconstitutes the scattered remains of the 4th Hunters Regiment and of 27th Regiment,and attack with vigor the enemy.Spidele Village is reconquered;the Romanians attack Ferului Hill in the left flank and behind and reoccupy it.Sustained by the artillery of the 21st Regiment ,the Romanian troops advance and occupy Hills Sonticaru and Marghiloman ;the storming of the Romanians and the artillery precise fire of theirs encouraged the Cossacks ,which come back to attack.Towards evening ,Sonticari Hill is reconquered and the situation is reestablished almost everywhere,after a day of violent fights and bloody losses.

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The day of 27th of December was supposed to bring the decissive .At the right wing of the Romanian Front ,the Bavarian Alpine Corps ,strengthened with troops of Infantry and Cavalry,has made the junction with the right wing of Gerock Group of the Army of Archduke Iosif and attacks with strength in concentric mode the whole Front of the 3rd Romanian Division and of Division Zamurskaia ,forcing them to retreat at East of Jitia ,in Dumitresti direction .On the Front of the 1st Romanian Division the fights have continued for mastering of Sonticari Hill and Marghiloman Hill which by evening have been almost entirely conquered.

But in the central sector ,the Russians ,which after occupying of height 417 ,have retreated step by step,fighting for each palm of terrain,lose today the city of Rimnicu Sarat .The Russian Commander considers the battle as lost and gives the order of general retreat .At the right side of the Russians ,the 6th Division Romanian,remaining with the left flank in the air,receives as well order of retreat.The 1st Division ,with all the victorious fight which she has given during the day ,has remained isolated ,by the retreat of the 6th Division from the left,and of the 3rd Division ,from the right ;she has now to follow the retreat of her neighbours.

At 28th of December ,the retreat of Rimnic Group is general;the three Divisions of Russian Cavalry ,which have operated under the orders of the II-nd Romanian Army -Divisions Zamurskaia ,Tuzemna and Usuriskaia-are united in a Corps under the Command of Russian Generla Krimov ,which is moved to the right of Rimnic Group,to make the connection with Vrancea Group .besides,the Romanians Commanders,General Averescu and General Vaitoianu has found themselves forced to ask to the Great Romanian Headquarter and to the King,to give another destination to Russian Cavalry Corps ,"because by intempestive and disorganized retreats ,they influence bad the Romanian troops".

In the South -Eastern Sector of the battle ,Kosch Army has started the attack on the Front between Buzau and Danube ,when on the Front of IX-th German Army,the battle begun to be decided in the favour of the Germans .At 26th of December the enemy attacks the strongly strengthened positions,by the Russians, at Filipesti (Faurei train station);has been given a fierce fight ,especially around point of support near Filipesti Church and height 55.More to the East,in the neighbour region with the Danube River,has taken part into the fight with bravely also a Detachment of British Armoured Cars ,of which Commander has been wounded .After the Russian 's retreat from Rimnicu Sarat,the position at Filipesti ,being threatened to be taken in flank ,has been evacuated and,in her wake,the entire line Viziru-Dunare(or Danube River)The general retreat of the Russians has been made in direction Focsani -Braila.The losses of the Russians in the Battle of Rimnicu Sarat hve been very big;the number of prisoners taken by the Germans is ,after the German communicates ,of 10 220 men.

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The Russians are leaving Dobrogea

The retreat of the Russians from Muntenia(Valahia or Romanian Country) flat has provoked also their retreat from Dobrogea.General Zaharov came to the Command of the troops in Dobrogea -replacing the incapable Zaioncikovski -full of the fame earned in the fights in Volinia.He has lost it in Dobrogea.Although he had at his dispozition numerous forces -four Army Corps-es and few Cavalry Divisions -he has done precisely nothing to regain the lost terrain and has imobilised himself ahead the Bulgarian positions .

At 14th of December ,the Russians have started the retreat from the Dobrogean Front ,pursued close by Bulgarians.Dobrogea trusted by us to Russian defence ,was abandoned in Bulgarian hands .At 16th of December ,the Russian Front was on the line Pecineaga-Babadag ;the next day ,the Bulgarian Cavalry entered in Babadag on the pontoon bridges ,build in this points ,after which they set fire to them.The Romanian bridge of boats,throwed here by Romanian pontooneers,for the flowing of the Romanian refugees has been carefuly lifted ,towed to Galati and send in the country.

In Dobrogea have only remained Russian troops massed in to Macinului Peninsula ,having as defence line the wooded hills which stretch in the istm of this peninsula ,from Greci to Vacareni.Macinul was making the bridgehead wich defended Braila ,from the Dobrogean shore ;the two localities have been linked by a bridge of pontoons .At 29th of December Mackensen ,following with the right wing the attack of Braila ,from the South,as the Dobrogean Army was attacking it on the other shore ,from the East.At 4th of January the German troops ,Bulgarians and Turk entered in Macin.the next day,the last of the Russian troops from Dobrogea were crossing the Danube ,by Vacareni,in Basarabia .In the same day Braila ,attacked from the South and from East ,has been occupied by the enemy;she has been completely exhausted by the Russians:the deposits ,docks ,even the shops were empty.

The Danube enemy Army has arrived in the wattery region from the South of Siret River;at 6th of January ,her advance has been completely stopped by this region.

*A Russian military historian ,General Vinogradski writes:" During this time we have lost Dobrogea in an unexpected way;the situation did not impose ,in the slightest ,the retreat of the VI-th Russian Army.The enemy,inferior ,was not pressing but only soft against the excelent positions covering the crossing of the Danube at Braila...Nothing out of the ordinary threatened the troops on the left of Danube ,because the fleet of the enemy was not mastering the Danube River so there was no danger for the Army to be cut by her base.This deplorable manoeuvre made us lose the fluvial way of lower Danube ...etc".

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( Columns of the Romanian Attack Group crossing Neajlov River-during Neaslov and Arges Battle- under enemy bombardment-after a German engraving)

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Defending Danube River Delta

The Danube delta was in a situation alltogether special compared with the rest of Dobrogea.It was of the greatest interest to defend and keep navigable the Sulina river arm(Danube River has three arms wich flow into the Black Sea;Chilia ,Sulina and St.Gheorghe).That is why ,from the outbreak of the war ,the mouth of the channel has been barriered by a strong mobile gate ,made out of thick beams heavy chains and wire cables ,behind which there was a hidden battery of launch torpedo automobile.On the beach ,around Sulina,has been installed two Russian batteries of 150 mm and three Romanian field batteries ,served by sailors ,which were aimed to the large of the Black Sea.In the harbour was the small Cruiser"Elisabeta",a canoonier ,a torpeedo -boat and all the floating material of the European Comission.

In the beginning ,the whole defence preparation was aimed towards the sea.The Germans have tried to obstacle the Russian transports of troops ,sending submarines until the ray of Sulina Harbour and placing thousands of torpedo-mines in the way of the Russian boats.Some of the Russian transports have been torpeedoed by submarines ,or they collided with the mines and drowned.A special rservice for fishing the mines ,made out of Romanian sailors and Russians ,were working around the clock.Ships S.M.R.[13] have been given to the Russians which armed them,as to use them as cruisers and for stretching nets against submarines.

The German Cruiser "Breslau" has attacked the Snake Island ,where it has been installed a station of wireless telegraphy ,and taken prisoner the small Russian-Romanian garrison.

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After the fall of Constanta ,starts to enter in the calculus of the Romanian Commandment also the eventuality of an attack of Danube Delta from the land.In truth Russians,retreating from Dobrogea ,the enemy advances towards Tulcea and Isaccea .The communication on the water between Danube and Galati is threatened to be cut and the Danube Delta to remain isolated.The Germans organize at Constanta a naval base.Their hydroplanes come almost daily to Sulina ,where the bombs throwed by them make ravages ,especially amongst the civilian population ,killing people ,destroying and burning buildings from the city,which are almost all made out of wood.A hydroplane is hit by the cannons of our defence and taken down in to the sea,from where it is captured together with the pilot and mechanic ,at 7th of November.Latter on,even the German Commander of the squadron has been hit,captured and transported to the hospital in Sulina where he died.

The Russian Commander prepares to evacuate Danube Delta and the Commander of the Russian fleet in Sulina takes measures of retreat towards Sevastopol .The officers of the Romanian Navy ask with all their strengths to not abandon Delta ,which can be easily defended because her geographical particularities ,and the enemy has not the necessary equipement to attack such a dificile region ,in which he cannot unfold his land forces of infantry and artillery.Under the protection of the Romanian river monitors which descend from Braila and bombard the elevations at Isaccea ,could puor down the valley the imense convoy of comercial ships and of loaded barges ,from Galati to Chilia .Following the explanations and insistences of Romanians,the Russian Admiral Kolceak ,the Commander of the Russian Forces in the Black Sea ,was convinced about the necessity of keeping the Delta and of the possibility of her defence.In truth,becoming masters of the Delta,the Austrian-germans would have made of Sulina River Arm a strong operational base ,which would have threatened from very close Sulina locality.On the board of "Elisabeta" Cruiser Kolceak declared to the Romanian navy officers :"Even if Zaharov retrets all his troops from Dobrogea ,I will keep with any price the Delta with the war ships and with the navy infantry troops which I wiil send from Russia".And truly,Kolceak has send a Russian Division of troops of Navy Infantry ,which have occupied Delta ,making Front on Danube shore from the mouth of Sf.Gheorghe Arm until Chilia .Behind this Front were constituting two great bases of operations :Sulina and Chilia which are in permanent connection over the water with Odessa and Sevastopol.In these bases are gathered all Russian war ships-countertorpedoboats,cannoniers,pontoons on which have been installed cannons of 150 mm,mine draggers ,hospital ships,as well as the Romanian ones-monitors ,vedettes and all the floating material which managed to flow from Galati .One part of the barges ,which could not pass under the cannons of Isaccea ,have refugeed on Prut River.From the barges from Chilia have been send by land to Iasi great quantities of wheat ,in the heavy winter,when the deposits of replenishments from the country(kingdom) were almost over.The Front of Danube Delta (or Delta) defence .Fixed in this way has remained till the end of the War in the same situation .Few trials of the enemy to cross in the Delta have been repelled.That is why the enemy only organized his high positions at Tulcea and Isaccea with cannons of big caliber and strong projectors ,of fraid of an offensive Romanian-Russian from Delta direction ,under the protection of the fleet*.

*At 15th of April 1917 ,the torpedo boat "Smeul" was shipwreked in the Black Sea ,on the road between Sulina and Periprava,at the entering in Stambulu Vechi Arm.In this shipwrek perished three members of the French Military Mission,Navy Lieutenants Carriou,Denain and Begouin.

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The Front of the Northern Romanian Army

The second half of the November has been relatively quiet on the Moldavian Front.After the burn out of the battle begun by the enemy with the aim to mask the principal operations enterprized by him in Jiu Pass ,the two adversaries have remained on their positions.The Moldavian Carpathian Front(as the Carpathian Mountains go also in Moldavia) was now held until Uzului Valley by the IX-th Russian Army ,under the Command of General Lecitki ;from Slanic towards South ,the Sector of Oituz and of Vrancea was held by the Romanian Northern Army,reduced at Divisions 15th and 7th ,the 7th Mixt Brigade of Calarasi and the 6th Division in Buzau Mountains .The latter one ,after the operative necessities ,was passed when to the Northern Army,when to the II-nd Army.The Command of the Northern Army was given to General Cristescu.

At 28th of November the IX-th Russian Army begun the long awaited action ,offensive,against the enemy in front ,on the whole stretch of the frontier , mountaineous of Moldavia.The action extended to the right to Kaledin Army ,which occupied the Front of Bucovina Carpathian Mountains and the Padurosi ones,until Iablonita Pass.The goal of this offensive was to ease the action of Romanian Army which,in Muntenia ,had to begin the great battle on Neajlov and Arges.The fights have been given when in a sector ,when in another,with breaks ,lasting until the half of December .They were made out of attacks not very well coordinated ,made when for an elevation ,when for another one,without obtaining any significant success .The only result reached ,was that the Germans and the Austro-Hungarians have brought some more Divisions from the quiet Fronts ,to strengthen the Carpathians Front ,especially in Trotus -Oituz region ,the most threatened.The I-st Army Austro-Hungarian on the Moldavian Front was at this date composed of three Groups;at the center Ghimes Group ,Commanded by German General Litzmann;at the North Bicaz-Dorna Group ,Commanded by the Austrian general Lutgendorff.Gerock Group depended operatively by the IX-th German Army ,of Falkenhayn ;the Ist Austro-Hungarian Army continued to be part of the Group of Armies Commanded by the Archduke inheriter Carol;After the death of Emperor Franz Joseph and arriving on the throne of Carol,the Command of the Group passed over to Archduke Maghiarofil(Hungarofil) Iosif.

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About the left wing of Lecitki Army,the Northern Romanian Army has also received the task to participate to the Russian Offensive ,with the mission to repell the enemy and occupy the exits of the Defiles in Sesu Secuilor(Secuilor Flats).Because has been taken from this Army ,the 7th Division ,send to take part in Arges battle,her combative force diminished ,such that it could not be talk now about a strong offensive,but only about actions for fixing the enemy.

The operations of the Northern Army have started at 30th of November by an attack in Slanic region ,with the right of the 15th Division against the Southern wing of the Army of Archduke Iosif,and extended towards South,one side and the other of Oituz Valley and in Vrancea against Gerok Army.There have been obtained small initial successes ,with all the thick fog which was making impossible the operations ,but the conquered positions could not be held.It was quicly reached the conclusion that the forces of the Northern Romanian Army represent only the strict necessary to keep the equilibrium with the enemy ;any waste of forces would break this equilibrium in our detriment.Faced with the lack of perspectives of the fights ,and of their risks,the action ceased at 3rd of December.

General Cristescu has been named sub-Chief of the Great General Staff ;the Command of the Northern Army ,reduced at 15th Division and 7th Mixt Brigade ,and 4th Calarasi Brigade (Cavalry0 has been given to General Er.Grigorescu.By mid December ,the troops of the former Northern Army have entered in the composition of the II-nd Romanian Army ,under the Command of General Averescu,under the name of Oituz-Vrancea Group.

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Casin battle

For almost three weeks ,the Sector of the Northern Romanian Army ,narrowed at the Front occupied by a Division and two brigades ,has been quiet.The Romanian troops could consolidate their positions ,fighting mostly with the winter hardships.In the second half of December ,the quiet ended.A great battle ,the most important on this Front ,will start in the same time with the Battle of Rimnicu Sarat.

Archduke Iosif ,the new Commander of the Austro-Hungarian Army on the Moldavian Front ,did not want to remain inactive.As Falkenhayn prepared the attack of the Romanian-Russian positions at Rimnicu Sarat,he decided to take,in his turn ,an offensive in the Moldavian Mountains of South.The offensive had to embrace the whole montaineous region from Ghimes Pass until Vrancea region and to be executed with a strength of some 10 Divisions ,of which 6 Germans and 5 Austro-Hungarian.Its aim was the entering through Trotus Valley and of Oituz into Siret Valley ,to turn the Russian-Romanian positions from this region and,with this face,to ease Falkenhayn advance from the South.The Austro-Hungarian Commandment did not give up to its favorite plan,with all the failures from Oituz and with all the opposition of Falkenhayn ,which did not stop at all with his ironies and persiflations the Austrian Commandment ,in which strategig capabilities he had no trust whatsoever.The Groups Ghimes and Uz ,strong of five Divisions ,would have to fight against the Southern wing of the Russian Army Lecitki ;the principal action would have to be lead by Gerock Group against the Romanian Group Oituz-Vrancea .Gerock Army had two sectors :at North ,Sector Slanic-Oituz-Casin ,made out of Divisions 71st Austro-Hungarian ,40th and 187th Germans ,under the Command of German General von Staabs ;at South ,Putna Sector,made out of 1st Austro-Hungarian Cavalry Division and the 218th German Division under the Command of Austrian Cavalry General Ruiz von Roxas .The Romanians had,as we know ,the troops of Oituz-Vrancea Sector (the 15th Division and the 7th Mixt Brigade ).The 15th Romanian Division was made out of 24 battalions of Infantry and and was strengthened with a Calarasi Brigade ,of Cavalry.The disproportion between the forces of the two adversaries was thus a crushing one in the adversary's favour.The move of the 14th Russian Division in Oituz Sector and sending of a Russian Cavalry Division in the aid of the troops of the said sector,made during the battle,could not modify but very small this disproportion.That is why ,the battle of Casin,named in this way after the name of the Valley in the middle of the tactic field of operations ,wil constitute for Romanians a new and very hard trial.The 15th Division and her Chief ,General Grigorescu ,both becoming legendary by their iron resistance at Oituz,will have again the occasion to make the probe of wit,energy and of their power of martyr.

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The battle at Casin started at 22nd of December ,in the same day with the Battle of Rimnicu Sarat and lasted until 31st of December .The terrain in which it was given being,especially in the Southern part,very bad,rove through by mountain massifs and with a confuze structure ,cut by deep valleys and covered with secular forests ,did not permit the unfolding of big continuous Fronts ;that is why it was made of numerous attacks and counterattacks given by isolated units.In fight with the adversary,greatly superior the resistance of Romanians was brilliant.The heroism of the troops was at the height of the wit of her Commander .The elevations neighbour with Oituz ,witnesses to so many fights ,heroic ,given in the first two Battles of Oituz ,have been again watered with the anemied blood of our exhausted troops .

What was making very difficult the carrying of the fights,was the lack of trust in the Russian ally.Tactical necessities asked for th Romanians to be replaced by Russians ;the enemy sensed it ,and attacked imediately.The Russians were leaving very easy the positions which had names that became hollyfor Romanians ,because in their land were resting thousands of heroes which gave their souls for preserving them.Then the hearts of Romanian soldiers were aking ,the attacks started then by themselves almost and,in heavy fights,on blizzards and terrible colds,the celebre elevations of Capusii,Cernicai ,Staneica,Fata Moarta ,were reconquered by Romanians ,for then other attacks ,overwhelming as strength,or surrounding manoeuvres made in other sectors,to oblige the defenders to leave them again.In the center of the action in Oituz Valley ,13th "Stefan cel Mare" Regiment has made again his duty with vigor and sacrifice.

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The offensive of the enemy has started in Vrancea with the attack of the Southern wing ,General Ruiz,against 7th Mixt Romanian Brigade ,which had her positions on the Valleys of the two Tisita,Lepsei,Putnei,Narujei and Zabalei.Artillery batteries,heavy, of 150 mm bombard with extreme viollence the position on Clabuc ,which they destroy.In fierce counterattacks ,made on 24th of December on line Clabuc-Fata Moarta ,the Romanians acomplish to reoccupy Clabucului Peak.The pressure of the enemy becomes more and more stronger;it exercises itself especially along Lepsei Valley and in direction of Putna Train Station,at the flowing of Tisita in to Putna.The train station is occupied by the enemy at 26th,reconquered by Romanians then,again lost .The 12th Division of Russian Cavalry is send in the aid of the 7th Brigade Mixt;she arrives on position at 26th and attacks ,reconquers Putna Train Station.The German official communicate of 26th of December has to confess:"Romanians defend with stubborness the valleys which take from Vrancea Mountains in Moldavian flat lands .With all the weather and unfavorable terrain in the high mountains ,our troops push the enemy step by step ".The two units constitute in a Group ,under the Command of General Baron Mannerheim.At 27th of December ,the enemy attacks overwhelm the 7th Brigade Mixt which,not being able to resist ,started the retreat in order towards Soveja-Dragosloveni.

In this time,in Oituz Sector ,Staabs was thankful to bombard the Romanian positions with artillery ;the bombardment touched a maximum of violence in the day of 23rd of December .To come in to aid of the 7th Mixt Brigade ,heavily attacked in the neighbour sector,the Romanian Commandment decided to retreat the 15th Romanian Division at Onesti,to constitute a reserve from which to send reinforcements in the threatened sector .The place of the 15th Division was supposed to be occupied by the 14th Division ,Russian,neighbour;the replacement will be made on the day of 25th.This decission fills with bitterness the hearts of Romanians.They understood to fight with hopelessness for the defence of their lands,to close the way to Modavia ,but the Russians were fighting without any heart whatsoever.

These feelings were expressed by General Grigorescu in a report addressed to the High Romanian Commandment .Grigorescu shows that the terrain in Oituz region is absolutely unknown ,for the officers,as well as for the Russian troops."The mentality of those replacing me is totaly other than ours-continues the hearted general-and namely retreat ,and again retreat ,to spear the lives of those called just to sacrifice them for fulfilling of their calling.This mentality is manifested daily in all the circles and I believe is not of the nature to ensure the defence of the national territory ,as our allies consider Moldavia as a simple territorial avanguard ,a piece of neglecting importance in a retreat,faced with the imensity of their Empire".Grigorescu shows that for nine weeks he has defended the Sector with 24 Battalions and he has the courage to do it in the future as well,if he is given only a Brigade in reserve."The defence has to be let in the hands of those who have made the test,that they now how to do it".

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Theatre of Fights at Casin,Vrancea and Focsani

Pozitii initiale dusmane=initial enemy positions;Directii de atac principale dusmane=principal directions of enemy attack;Pozitii romano-ruse=Romanian-Russian positions;Inainte de 22 decembrie=before 22nd of December;(inceputul bataliei de la Casin)=the beginning of Casin Battle ;la inceputul lunii Ianuarie=At the beginning of Janauary;La 7 ianuarie=at 7th of January;la 18 ianuarie=at 18th of January

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At 25th of December ,the 14th Russian Division arrives on position to replace the Romanians ,which begin at night to evacuate the positions from North towards South.The next day ,at 26th of December ,like he would have been knowledged by this change ,Staabs attacks the sector with 71st Division ,on both sides of Oituz Valley,breaksthrough the Russian Front ,and conquers Cernica Peak and Staneica Ridge.At the request of help of the Russians ,four Romanian Battalions return from their marching ,counterattack the Germans and after a violent fight reconquer Staneica Ridge;during the night Grigorescu sends another five Battalions in the aid of the Russians .The next day the German's attack is general ,on the whole stretch of the sector ,intervening also the 187th Division in Casin Valley.The 15th Romanian Division cannot be retreated from the Front ;one part of her is engaged in the support of the 14th Division ,Russian,of which Commander asks for help with great insistence.The enemy attack is now general;it increases in violence with the participation of a numerous artillery ,without stopping even at night.Under this formidable pressure ,the left wing of the 15th Division from Casin sector has to retreat on Talimba fields and Fata Coroanelor ,accompanying the move of retreat of the 7th Mixt Brigade ,from the left ,which is retreating at Soveja -Dragosloveni.

On the new positions ,Oituz-Vrancea Group supports in the day of 28th of December fierce attacks ;the troops of the 15th Division hold on position with great sacrifices.Some of the units have 75% casualties.It is planned for the next day a counteroffensive with the 7th Mixt Brigade ,for which are concentrated at Soveja -Dragosloveni 7 Battalions from the 15th Division and from 2/5 Brigade ,one Calarasi brigade and 7th calarasi Regiment ;that is why the Detachment on Talimba field has to keep the position with any price.But at 29th of December gerock ,which has suspended the attacks in the Northern sector ,Slanic-Oituz, has concentrated all the efforts and troops in Casin sector ,has attacked with great strength on the whole Casin Front ,turning the Romanian Detachment flanks;this one has to retreat ,tries a counterattack ,which crushes by the overwhwlming superiority of the enemy ,and has to retreat some more to Union Factory .The Romanian Detachment has lost in this day 16 officers ,dead and wounded,315 dead soldiers and 495 wounded and 235 m.i.a.In the same day, Ruiz closed in to Soveja and attacked Mannerheim Group both sides of the driveway.The attack made against 7th Mixt Brigade does not succeed ;Sturza resists,repels the enemy and regroups his troops for the planned counteroffensive .At the left wing ,the 12th Russian Cavalry Division gives up a little terrain ;Tulnici Train Station passes from hand to hand.

At the left of Mannerheim Group constituted the Russian Group of Cavalry Krimov,which makes the connection with Rimnic Group -General Vaitoianu.

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Gerock intention is now clear ;interrupting the attack at the left ,in Oituz Valley ,he attacks now in the point of junction of extreme left wing of IX-th Russian Army (the 14th Division) with the 15th Romanian Division ,there pushes Staabs the 187th German Division with strength and the right wing of the 71st Austro-Hungarian Division .Grigorescu has retreated his troops under his direct Command on the edge of the elevations which dominate from the West Vrancea flat:Magura Casinului -Cornu Magurei -Muntele Razboiului(War Mountain)-Slatinei Hill.The attacks of the enemy cannot take out the Romanian troops from this position,no matter how violent and frequent they are repeated.The attacks and counterattacks succeed at short intervals for regaining of some position ,lost,and the victories are always payed with big casualties.The Austro-Hungarian communicate from this day has to notice once again that:"The enemy defends with stubborness each palm of terrain".

In Mannerheim sector ,Sturza has started at 30th of December the counteroffensive from Soveja with the 7th Mixt Brigade,strengthened.The Romanians are advancing on six columns ,attack with energy Ruiz 's troops and reject them.Two Battalions of the 25th Rahova Regiment suroound a German Company and make it prisoner entirely,with the Commander and machineguns.At the left ,however,the 12th Russian Cavalry Division and the Calarasi Romanian Brigade do not resist to the enemy attack ;the Germans are advancing towards Negrilesti.Sturza cannot exploit his success ;threatened at the left flank he begins the retreat towards Rachitasu-Gura Vaii(Valley Mouth).With all the orders of General Averescu to retake the offensive ,or at least to remain on position,to not uncover the left of the 15th Division ,Sturza believes that this move would be risky and continues at 31st of December the retreat,stopping on Rachitasu,mounted on Susita Valley.At 31st of December Gerock could make the calculus of operations.In Vrancea,Ruiz was with the Southern Wing ahead of Naruja Valley ,and with the Northern wing at Soveja.In Casin-Oituz sector ,Staabs was finding with the Southern wing on Magura Casinului ,occupyed even in the evening of that day and ahead of the elevations connected by her,fixed by the heroic troops of the 15th Division ,as the Northern wing could only occupy only some elevations on the frontier and was still ahead Hirjei ,kept to respect by the Romanian Battalions of the 15th Division ,which have strengthened the 14th Russian Division.

In ten days of violent fights ,given by both sides with big losses and great sufferings ,on torential rains ,blizzards and snows ,in one of the most difficult regions ,the Romanian Front has been pushed in the Southern part of Vrancea where the advance of the enemy was maxim,with about 12.5 Miles .The trial of the enemy to fall behind and in the flank of the Romanian-Russian positions at Focsani and Siret ,making possible in this wasy for mackensen Army and the one of Falkenhayn the occupation of these positions ,did not succeed.For the success of this last trial ,new efforts had to be made ,new blood had to be speled.

The battle started to take a new course .From the South ,in the wake of Rimnicu Sarat Battle ,were closing in the troops of the two adversaries heading North;the Romanians and Russians in retreat ,the Germans in pursuit .The Front of the two Armies will establish on Milcov for the baattle to come,which will decide the fate of Focsani .The Romanian Group from Oituz-Vrancea ,making the junction with Rimnic Group ,will take part together with this one in this battle .The Battle at Casin will continue ,but as a sector of the great battle of Focsani and Siret.

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Siret line

After the victory at Rimnicu Sarat ,Falkenhayn had a moment of hesitation.The hardships of the winter ,which was announcing more and more threatening ,the exhaustion of his troops and the resistance of the enemy showed him the continuation of the advance as a risky bussiness.At 31st of December however,the Great German Headquarter ordered the continuation of the operations ;the IX-th German Army and the Danube Army have to occupy line Focsani -lower Siretului Valley ,to unite with the right wing of the Army of Archduke Iosif on a shorter Front and to gain on this river a strong line of defence for the winter time,and a base of operations for the latter beginnings of offensive.Keeping the line of Siret was for the Russians a capital matter.It was strongly organized and will be tremendeously defended. At its defence ,was not about saving of a piece of Romanian land anymore,which left the Russians indiferent ;it was about the safety of the Russian Front ;Lower Siret River Line formed the left flank of the big Russian Front ,stretched from the Baltic Sea until the Danube River and the Black Sea.

The valleys of Putna and Siret had a strategical value well recognized ;they continue ,from the military point of view,the line of the mountains ,closing the passing from Moldavia in to Muntenia(Valahia) in the most narrow portion of the country.But as,close to its flowing into the Danube River,Siret forms a large valley and marshy ,difficult to attack ,in the region between the mouth of Rimnic and mouth of Putna ,the valley shortens and the shores are low.Here,in the most favorable point to be attacked ,finds the driveway crossing Nanesti-Fundeni .The line of Siret ,with Galati towards East ,with Focsani towards West ,was organized in a strong defensive system ,formed by the fortified zone Focsani -Namoloasa -Galati .The fortifications have been build facing North ,such that they are a strong support in the case of an agression of the Russians against Romania.By a strange twist of fate ,the line was now turned upside down.Instead of defending us against the invasion from the North ,she had to defend us against the attack from the South .Undoubtfully,the system has lost entirely its value.The forts and batteries have been disarmed ,as those around Bucharest.The Russians have build strong works of strengthenings at South of Focsani and of Siret ,especially in the region Nanesti -Fundeni,something towards North-East of Namoloasa ,where it is organized a solid bridgehead.

It was obvious that the attack of Siret line will be given against this sector ,central.Falkenhayn has such,to operate facing North-East .He has ,however,to have the flank and back ensured.The follow up was that the attacking of Siret has to be made ,only in the same time with Focsani occupation and with the taking out of Romanians from Vrancea.That is why,the action of Falkenhayn will go hand in hand with the one of Gerock .The two Groups of adverse Armies will constitute now a single fighting Front ,of which left wing will be in Vrancea ,the center on Milcov and the right on SIret.

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The battle at Focsani and Siret

As Oituz-Vrancea Group was heroicly resisting to the enemy aasaults ,Rimnic Group ,after ending the Battle of Rimnicu Sarat ,was beginning the retreat to North ,in the nigth of 31st of December-1st of January .The retreat was made with difficulty ,through accidented(bad) terrains and forested,on a very bad weather ,with a blizzard whipping in the face .After 36 hours of penible marchings ,Rimnic Group could occupy the new positions on the Northern shore of Milcov River.The right side of the Front was at Capraria ;from here through Odobesti stretched until Patesti ,where it connected with the right of the IV-th Russian Army.The units in the composition of Rimnic Group were,from left to right,Divisions 6th,3rd and 12th.The Division has been passed under the orders of General Mannerheim ,with which Rimnic Group linked at the right side ,and the 7th Division was in reserve.The five Divisions of Rimnic Group summed at this date an effective of 1217 officers and 31 970 men of troops,fighters.In this way, the II-nd Army was reconstituted of Rimnic Group ,general Vaitoianu,occupying Milcov Sector and General Mannerheim Group ,occupying Vrancea Sector(Naruja-Zabala-Soveja).More to the right ,the 15th Romanian Division -General Grigorescu -at Casin ,was passed under the orders of 40th Russian Corps of the IX-th Army.

The IV-th Russian Army ,retreating from Rimnicu Sarat to the North ,has opposed resistance with the right wing in Sihlele-Plainesti region,on Rimna.At 29th of December ,General Morgen has defeated this resistance and forced the Russians to continue their retreat.In these places ,the celeber Russian General Suvorov has reputed in 1789 a great victory over the Turks ;it brought to the General the supername of Rimniski.The Germans felt obliged to profane and destroy the statue biuld by the Russians on Rimnei shore ,in the memeory of their great General.At 3rd of January Morgen was in front of Focsani.

The Front of the two Armies was descending thus ,from Oituz mountains and of Vrancei ,along Milcov River ,continuing then with Putna Valley and at the Sout of Siret until Braila region,occupied by the enemy at 4th of January.The grouping of the enemy forces was the following:in Oituz-Vrancea Sector was operating ,just as until now,Gerock Group ,from the Army of Archduke Iosif ;in Odobesti Sector ,against Vaitoianu Group ,was operating Kraftt Group ,made out of the Divisions of German Alpiners and Austro-Hungarians;in Focsani and Putna Sector ,against the right of the IV-th Russian Army,was operating Morgen Group;Kuhne and Kosch Army were operating in Siret Sector.

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