The Prussian Machine  -  Battles

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* Dates:  23 - 31 Aug 1914 

* Background:
The Schlieffen Plan counted on a slow, tedious mobilization of the Russian Army, freeing Germany up to at least initially concentrate on encircling Paris and the French forces. The German High Command (OHL) was therefore surprised when Russia mobilized within three weeks and moved to invade East Prussia (an area which many high-ranking German generals called home.) The initial Russian advance into Prussia was successful despite poor communications, poor military intelligence, and a bitter personal rivalry between Generals Rennenkampf (Russian First Army) and Samsonov (Second Army). German Eighth Army commander von Prittwitz und Gaffron, after encountering and fighting off Rennenkampf at Stallupönen (17 August) and Gumbinnen (20 August), lost his nerve when he realized Samsonov, marching on Allenstein, was in the process of encircling him. He thus informed OHL that he was ordering a retreat to the Vistula River (der Weichsel) and needed reinforcements. German Chief of General Staff Helmuth von Moltke, fearing a deep Russian penetration into the homeland, mistakenly transferred two corps and a division from Belgium
(XI. Corps, Guard Reserve Corps and 8th Cavalry Division) and began considering Prittwitz's replacement. In the meanwhile, Prittwitz was convinced by his staff not to retreat, but rather to turn and fight both armies. No-one on his staff thought to notify OHL of these plan changes, however, thus sealing the doom of Prittwitz's personal career as Moltke was sealing the doom of the Schlieffen Plan.

von Hindenburg

* The Germans:
As German reinforcements were being transferred east, General Hindenburg was called out of retirement in order to replace the hapless Prittwitz. It was also at this time when he formed a portentous partnership with his new chief of staff, the hero of Liege: Generalmajor Erich Ludendorff.  Hindenburg's corps commanders in the Eighth Army included:  Francois (
I), Mackensen (XVII), Scholtz (XX),  and Below (I.Reserves). The real genius behind Tannenberg, however, is often considered to be Lt. Colonel Max Hoffmann, the Eighth Army's Deputy Chief of Staff who was responsible for most of its war planning.  (Order of Battle at bottom of page)

* The Battle: On 23 August, Ludendorff ordered three corps (I, I.Res, and XVII) to rapidly transfer from the Gumbinnen area to Tannenberg where they met up with XX Corps, leaving only a cavalry division to screen and hold off Rennenkamp. The Eighth then quickly outflanked and annihilated Samsonov's army.  Over 125,000 Russian soldiers were captured, killed or wounded, while Samsonov disappeared into the forest to commit suicide. The Eighth Army then rapidly shifted to the north in order to encircle Rennenkampf. A powerful German attack on the Russians near the Masurian Lakes left Rennenkampf's forces shattered and on the retreat.

This German victory was initially referred to as the Battle of Ostroda, but to give the German military and civilian populace a further psychological boost, Ludendorff and Hoffmann suggested using the name of nearby Tannenberg (present-day Stebark, Poland). The reference was to the 1410 battle where Polish-Lithuanian forces routed the Teutonic Knights. The 1914 Tannenberg was the most decisive single tactical battle of the Great War, with German losses totaling slightly more than 10,000. But, the sum result was disastrous for Germany: by transferring troops eastward to defend East Prussia, von Moltke foolishly weakened Germany's momentum on the Western Front as they drove toward Paris (ironically, the transferred troops were still en route to the Eastern Front as the Battle of Tannenberg was being waged). This decision by Moltke thus helped ensure a German defeat on the Marne. It also put OHL leadership in an unnecessary quandry for most of the remainder of the war - whether to concentrate forces on the Western Front (as originally planned) or the Eastern Front, where more immediate results at least seemed to be attainable.

* click to enlarge


Eighth Army

  Generaloberst Paul von Hindenburg
Chief of Staff:  Generalmajor Erich Ludendorff
     Sr. Quartermaster:  Generalmajor Paul
     1st General Staff Officer:  Oberstleutnant Max Hoffmann
     Aide-de-Camp:  General der Kavallerie Alfred Graf zu Dohna-Schlobitten
     General of Pioneers:  Generalmajor Richard Kasten
     Field Railway Cdr - East:  Major Otto Kersten
   I. Corps

                          I. Army Corps - General Staff

  Cdr:  General der Infanterie Hermann von Francois
           Chief of Staff:  Oberst Walter FH Schmidt v. Schmidtseck
           1st General Staff Officer:  Major Ewald von Massow
(total strength:  24 battalions, 11 cav sqdns, 182 arty pieces)

  1. Inf Division      Cdr:  Generalleutnant Richard von Conta
                              CoS: Major von Graberg
           1. Inf Brigade:  Generalmajor von Trotha
                 Gren Regt 1:   Oberstleutnant Eggerss
                 Inf Regt 41:   Oberst Ernst Schönfeld

            2. Inf Brigade:   Generalmajor Conrado Paschen
                 Gren Regt 3:   Oberst von Wedel
                 Inf Regt 43:   Oberst von Eisenhart-Rothe
1. Fld Arty Bde:   Generalmajor Kurt Moewes
                 FA Regt 16:   Oberst Albert Bromeis
                 FA Regt 52:   Oberst Karl Hellwig
                                         (assigned: 2. Ers Bty/FA 73)
Uhlan Regt 8:   Oberstleutnant Friedrich FH Schäffer von Bernstein
                                          (assigned: 4 & 5 Squads/Drag Rgt 10 - fm 41.ID)
                                          (assigned: 2 Squad/Res Heavy Cav Rgt 3 - fm 35.RID)
     (also: Pi.Bn 1/Coy 1, Div Pontoon Train 2, Med Coys 1& 3)

  2. Inf Division     Cdr:  Generalleutnant Adalbert von Falk
                             CoS: Major Goedel
           3. Inf Brigade:  Generalmajor Theodor Mengelbier
                 Grenadier Regt 4:   Oberst Emil Stern
                 Inf Regt 44:   Oberst Emil von Loeper

            4. Inf Brigade:   Generalmajor Bernhard Boeß
                 Fusilier Regt 33:   Oberstleutnant Otto Weicke
                 Inf Regt 45:   Oberst Maaß
Mtd Jäger Regt 10:   Oberstleutnant Max Berring
2. Fld Arty Bde:  Generalmajor Karl Fouquet
                 FA Regt 1:   Oberst von Sydow
                 FA Regt 37:   Oberstleutnant von der Lippe
(also: Pi.Bn 1/Coys 2 & 3, Div Pontoon Train 1, Med Coy 2)

  assigned to I. Corps:

            Foot Arty Rgt 1:  Major Christ  (I.Bn) 
Foot Arty Rgt 15:   Major Kunze  (II.Bn Res Regt fm Fortress Thorn)
Fld Aviation Det 14:   Hauptmann Heinrich
            Pioneer Bn 1:  Major Queisner
            5. Ldw Brigade:  Generalleutnant Friedrich von Mülmann  (fm 35. RID)
                 Ldw Regt 2:  Oberst von Reuter
                 Ldw Regt 9:  Oberstleutnant Schmidt
                                         (Res MG-Abt 4; 2x MG Coys)
                                         (1. Ersatz Bty/Fld Arty Regt 35)
                                         (I.Bn/Res Ft Arty Regt 11; 4 Bty/Res Ft Arty Regt 15)
     (also: Corps Pontoon Train 1, Tel Det 1, Searchlight Sec 7)
   XVII. Corps

                          XVII. Army Corps - General Staff

  Cdr:  General der Kavallerie August von Mackensen
           Chief of Staff:  Oberstleutnantt Karl von Dunker
           1st General Staff Officer:  Major Detlof Graf von Schwerin
(total strength:  24 battalions, 8 cav sqdns, 148 arty pieces)

  35. Inf Division    Cdr:  Generalleutnant Otto Hennig
                             CoS:  Major Engelien
           70. Inf Brigade:  Generalmajor Heinrich Schmidt von Knobelsdorf
                 Inf Regt 21:  Oberst Hans Brunnemann
                 Inf Regt 61:  Major Lüdecke

            87. Inf Brigade:  Generalmajor von Hahn
                 Inf Regt 141:  Oberstleutnant Steinkeller
                 Inf Regt 176:  Oberst Runge
Mtd Jäger Regt 4:  Oberstleutnant Hugo FH von Loen
35. Fld Arty Bde:  Generalmajor Otto Uhden
                 FA Regt 71:  Oberstleutnant Hecht
                 FA Regt 81:  Oberstleutnant Theodor Bertog
(also: Pi.Bn 17/Coy 1, Div Pontoon Train 35, Med Coys 1 & 3)

  36. Inf Division    Cdr:  Generalleutnant Karl von Heineccius
                             CoS:  Major von Winning
           69. Inf Brigade:  Generalmajor Georg von Engelbrechten
                 Inf Regt 129:  Oberst Breßler
                 Inf Regt 175:  Oberst Schleenstein

            71. Inf Brigade:  Oberst von Dewitz
                 Gren Regt 5:  Oberst Hartwig FH von Eichendorff
                 Inf Regt 128:  Oberst von Treskow
Hussar Regt 5:  Oberst Henning FH von Barnekow
36. Fld Arty Bde:  Generalmajor Hahndorff
                 FA Regt 36:  Major Waldener
                 FA Regt 72:  Oberstleutnant von Rabenau
(also: Pi.Bn 17/Coys 2 & 3, Div Pontoon Train 36, Med Coy 2)

  assigned to XVII. Corps:

            Foot Arty Regt 17:  Major Mahrenholz  (I.Bn) 
Fld Aviation Det 17:  Hauptmann Dincklage
            Pioneer Bn 17:  Major Paul Härms
                 (also: Corps Pontoon Train 17, Tel Det 17, Searchlight Sec 17)
   XX. Corps

                          XX. Army Corps - General Staff

  Cdr:  General der Artillerie Friedrich von Scholtz
           Chief of Staff:  Oberst Emil Hell
           1st General Staff Officer:  Major Robert Kunhardt von Schmidt
(total strength:  25 battalions, 6 cav sqdns, 164 arty pieces)

  37. Inf Division    Cdr:  Generalleutnant Hermann von Staabs
                             CoS:  Major Wilhelm von Gazen gen. Gaza
           73. Inf Brigade:  Generalmajor Karl Wilhelmi
                 Inf Regt 147:  Oberst Ritsch
                 Inf Regt 151:  Oberst Karl Dorsch
                 Jäger Bn 1:  Major Weigelt

            75. Inf Brigade:  Generalmajor Alfred von Böckmann
                 Inf Regt 146:  Oberst von Heidebreck
                 Inf Regt 150:  Oberst Hans Küster
Dragoon Regt 11:  Oberstleutnant Maaß  (less 4 & 5 squadrons)
37. Fld Arty Bde:  Oberst Karl Giebeler
                 FA Regt 73:  Oberst Forst
                 FA Regt 82:  Oberstleutnant Karl Plantier
(also: Pi.Bn 26/Coy 1, Div Pontoon Train 37, Med Coy 1)

  41. Inf Division    Cdr:  Generalleutnant Leo Sontag
                             CoS:  Major Weniger
           72. Inf Brigade:  Generalmajor Schaer
                 Inf Regt 18:  Oberst Mecke
                 Inf Regt 59:  Oberst Sonntag

            74. Inf Brigade:  Generalmajor Rudolf Reiser
                 Inf Regt 148:  Oberst von der Osten
                 Inf Regt 152:  Oberst Konrad Geisler
Dragoon Regt 10:  Oberstleutnant von Lewinski  (less 4 & 5 squadrons)
41. Fld Arty Bde:  Generalmajor Wilhelm Neugebauer
                 FA Regt 35:  Oberstleutnant Max Wilke
                 FA Regt 79:  Oberstleutnant Walter Marcus
(also: Pi.Bn 26/Coys 2 & 3, Div Pontoon Train 41, Med Coys 2 & 3)

  assigned to XX. Corps:

            Foot Arty Regt 5:  Major Bissinger  (II.Bn) 
Fld Aviation Det 15:  Hauptmann Donat
            Fld Aviation Det 7:  Hauptmann FH von der Goltz  (Fortress Lötzen)
Pioneer Bn 26:  Major Koch
                  (also: Corps Pontoon Train 20, Tel Det 20, Searchlight Sec 26)
   I. Reserves

                          I. Reserve Corps - General Staff

  Cdr:  General der Infanterie Otto von Below
           Chief of Staff:  Oberst Torsten Graf von Posadowsky-Wehner
           1st General Staff Officer:  Major Viktor Keller
(total strength:  26 battalions, 4 cav sqdns, 78 arty pieces)

  1. Res Division    Cdr:  Generalleutnant Gustav von Förster
                             CoS:  Hauptmann Heinersdorff
           1. Res Inf Bde:  Generalmajor Wilhelm Barre
                 Res Inf Rgt 1:  Oberstleutnant Karl von Sommerfeld und Falkenhayn
                 Res Inf Rgt 3:  Oberstleutnant Ferdinand von Steuber

            72. Res Inf Bde:  Generalmajor Maximilian Licht
                 Res Inf Rgt 18:  Oberstleutnant Henning FH von Lützow
                 Res Inf Rgt 59:  Oberstleutnant Bruno Modrow
                 Res Jäg Bn 1:  Hauptmann Mellin
Res Uhlan Rgt 1:  Major Berner
Res Fld Arty Rgt 1:  Oberstleutnant Schulz

  36. Res Division    Cdr:  Generalleutnant Curt Kruge
                               CoS:  Hauptmann Boelke
           69. Res Inf Bde:  Generalmajor Otto Homeyer
                 Res Inf Rgt 21:  Oberstleutnant Heyn
                 Res Inf Rgt 61:  Oberst Immanuel
                 Res Jäg Bn 2:  Hauptmann Brückner

            70. Res Inf Bde:  Generalmajor Detlef Vett
                 Inf Rgt 54:  Oberst Hans von Tippelskirch
                 Res Inf Rgt 5:  Oberstleutnant Karl Graf von Reventlow
Res Hussar Rgt 1:  Major von Borcke
Res Fld Arty Rgt 36:  Oberstleutnant Lannert
            Pioneer Bn 2

  assigned to I. Reserve Corps:

           6. mixed Landwehr Bde:  Generalmajor Krahmer
                 Ldw Regt 34:  Oberstleutnant FH von Dalwigk zu Lichtenfels
                 Ldw Regt 49:  Oberstleutnant Kipping
                 Cavalry:  1, 2, & 3/Ldw Sqdns II.AK
                 Fld Arty:  1 & 2/Landsturm Btys I.AK

            Foot Arty ResRegt 4:  Hauptmann Baensch   (I.Bn) 
Fld Airship Det 8:  Hauptmann Donat
Pioneer Bn 2:  Hauptmann Doering
   Assigned Units

                          Assigned Units

  3. Res Division    Cdr:  Generalleutnant Kurt von Morgen
                             CoS:  Major Frantz
            5. Res Inf Bde:  Generalmajor Hesse
                 Res Inf Rgt 2:  Oberstleutnant Rodig
                 Res Inf Rgt 9:  Oberstleutnant Wobring

            6. Res Inf Bde:  Generalmajor Krause
                 Res Inf Rgt 34:  Oberst Hein
                 Res Inf Rgt 49:  Oberstleutnant FH von Eberstein
                 Res Drag Rgt 5:  Major Götz
Res Fld Arty Rgt 3:  Major Ehrhardt

  Division Unger    Cdr:  Generalmajor von Unger
                             CoS:  Hauptmann Liebmann
           20. Landwehr Bde:  Generalleutnant von Hertzberg
                 Landw Rgt 19:  Oberstleutnant FH von Lüttwitz
                 Landw Rgt 107:  Oberstleutnant Senft von Pilsach
                   (two Festungs Machine Gun Companies)
            Heavy Res Mtd Rgt 3:  Major von Kameke
Fld Arty:  Oberstleutnant Wittich
              (from 35th Reserve Division - Fortress Thorn)

  Landwehr Div Goltz    Cdr:  Generalleutnant FH von der Goltz
                                      CoS:  Hauptmann Göldener
           33. Landwehr Bde:  Generalmajor von Oertzen
                 Landw Rgt 75:  Oberstleutnant Stwolinski
                 Landw Rgt 76:  Oberstleutnant Billig

            34. Landwehr Bde:  Generalleutnant von Pressentin
                 Landw Rgt 31:  Oberstleutnant von Lilienhoff-Swowitzki
                 Landw Rgt 84:  Oberst Becker (from Grd-Ldw, Ldw IX.AK)
                 Cavalry:  Rittmeister von Sydow
Fld Arty:  Landw IX.AK, 1&2 Bty
            Foot Arty:   Hauptmann Floeter  (from Graudenz)

  1. Cavalry Division    Cdr:  Generalleutnant Hermann Brecht
                                      CoS:  Hauptmann FH von Gienanth
           1. Cavalry Bde:  Generalmajor von Glasenapp
                 Cuirassier Rgt 3:  Oberstleutnant von Lewinski
                 Dragoon Rgt 1:  Oberstleutnant Graf von Kanitz
           2. Cavalry Bde:  Generalmajor Robert FH von Kap-herr
                 Uhlan Rgt 12:  Oberst von Below
                 Mtd Jäger Rgt 9:  Oberstleutnant von Koppelow
           41. Cavalry Bde:  Generalmajor von Hofmann
                 Cuirassier Rgt 5:  Oberstleutnant Kurt von Rex
                 Uhlan Rgt 4:  Major Charisius
           Jäger Bn 2:  Major von Frankenburg-Lüttwitz
           R./Fld Arty 1:  Major Reuß

  70. mixed Landwehr Bde    Cdr:  Generalmajor Adolf Breithaupt
                 Landwehr Rgt 5:  Oberstleutnant Zimmer
                 Landwehr Rgt 18:  Oberstleutnant von Wedel
                   (1.Ersatz MGK/XX.AK, 1.Festungs-MGK-Graudenz)
                 Rittmeister Dahms: 1,2,3/Landwehr XX.AK, 4/Ldst. XVII.AK


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