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Paths of Glory Impressions of War Written at and Near the Front   By: (1876-1944)

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Impressions of War Written At and Near the Front



"The paths of glory lead but to the grave." Thomas Gray

To the Memory of MAJOR ROBERT COBB (Cobb's Kentucky Battery, C. S. A.)


What is enclosed between these covers was written as a series of first hand impressions during the fall and early winter of 1914 while the writer was on staff service for The Saturday Evening Post in the western theatre of the European War. I tried to write of war as I saw it at the time that I saw it, or immediately afterward, when the memory of what I had seen was fresh and vivid in my mind.

In this volume, as here presented, no attempt has been made to follow either logically or chronologically the progress of events in the campaigning operations of which I was a witness. The chapters are interrelated insofar as they purport to be a sequence of pictures describing some of my experiences and setting forth a few of my observations in Belgium, in Germany, in France and in England during the first three months of hostilities.

At the outset I had no intention of undertaking to write a book on the war. If in the kindly judgment of the reader what I have written constitutes a book I shall be gratified.

I. S. C.

January, 1915.



I. A Little Village Called Montignies St. Christophe. II. To War in a Taxicab. III. Sherman Said It. IV. "Marsch, Marsch, Marsch, So Geh'n Wir Weiter". V. Being a Guest of the Kaiser. VI. With the German Wrecking Crew VII. The Grapes of Wrath.. VIII. Three Generals and a Cook IX. Viewing a Battle prom a Balloon X. In the Trenches Before Rheims.. XI. War de Luxe... XII. The Rut of Big Guns in France.. XIII. Those Yellow Pine Boxes.. XIV. The Red Glutton.. XV. Belgium The Rag Doll of Europe . XVI. Louvain the Forsaken.

Chapter 1

A Little Village Called Montignies St. Christophe

We passed through it late in the afternoon this little Belgian town called Montignies St. Christophe just twenty four hours behind a dust colored German column. I am going to try now to tell how it looked to us.

I am inclined to think I passed this way a year before, or a little less, though I cannot be quite certain as to that. Traveling 'cross country, the country is likely to look different from the way it looked when you viewed it from the window of a railroad carriage.

Of this much, though, I am sure: If I did not pass, through this little town of Montignies St. Christophe then, at least I passed through fifty like it each a single line of gray houses strung, like beads on a cord, along a white, straight road, with fields behind and elms in front; each with its small, ugly church, its wine shop, its drinking trough, its priest in black, and its one lone gendarme in his preposterous housings of saber and belt and shoulder straps.

I rather imagine I tried to think up something funny to say about the shabby grandeur of the gendarme or the acid flavor of the cooking vinegar sold at the drinking place under the name of wine; for that time I was supposed to be writing humorous articles on European travel.

But now something had happened to Montignies St. Christophe to lift it out of the dun, dull sameness that made it as one with so many other unimportant villages in this upper left hand corner of the map of Europe. The war had come this way; and, coming so, had dealt it a side slap.

We came to it just before dusk. All day we had been hurrying along, trying to catch up with the German rear guard; but the Germans moved faster than we did, even though they fought as they went. They had gone round the southern part of Belgium like coopers round a cask, hooping it in with tight bands of steel. Belgium or this part of it was all barreled up now: chines, staves and bung; and the Germans were already across the line, beating down the sod of France with their pelting feet.

Besides we had stopped often, for there was so much to see and to hear... Continue reading book >>

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