On 7 August 1914, under Plan XVII, the VII Corps of the French 1st Army successfully captured Mulhouse in Alsace, part of the Alsace and Lorraine territories annexed by the Germans in the Franco-Prussian War (1871). After the Germans recaptured Mulhouse on 10 August 1914, Marshal Joffre, French Commander-in-Chief, directed Generals Dubail and De Castlenau to advance their First and Second armies further into Alsace and Lorraine. They met little resistance until Sarrebourg and Morhang, where the German combination of barbed wire, machine and artillery fire decimated the attacking French. The French finally retreated when, on 20 August, Prince Rupprecht’s 6th Army smashed through the French lines and looted, shot, bayoneted and burned everything in sight, including houses and civilians. Meanwhile, in the Ardennes, the 3rd Army, led by General Ruffy, also suffered catastrophic defeat, with the French poorly equipped to counter German machine and artillery fire.
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