Primary Documents - Grand Duke Nikolai on the Battle of Gorlice-Tarnow, 3 June 1915

Grand Duke Nikolai Reproduced below is the reaction of the Russian Army Commander Grand Duke Nikolai - the uncle of Tsar Nicholas II - to the disastrous Russian performance at the opening of the Austro-German Gorlice-Tarnow Offensive, launched on 2 May 1915 and overseen by August von Mackensen.

Click here to read von Mackensen's account of the opening of the offensive.  Click here to read the German press statement issued in the offensive's aftermath.  Click here to read the reaction of Austro-Hungarian Minister of War Alexander von Krobatin Click here to read the view of the British military observer assigned to the Russian Army, Stanley Washburn.

The Gorlice-Tarnow Offensive by Russian Army Commander-in-Chief Grand Duke Nicholas, 3 June 1915

Petrograd, June 3rd

As Przemysl, in view of the state of its artillery and its works, which were destroyed by the Austrians before their capitulation, was recognized as incapable of defending itself, its maintenance in our hands only served our purpose until such time as our possession of positions surrounding the town on the northwest facilitated our operations on the San.

The enemy having captured Jaroslav and Radymno and begun to spread along the right bank of the river, the maintenance of these positions forced our troops to fight on an unequal and very difficult front, increasing it by thirty-five versts [Note: about twenty-four miles], and subjecting the troops occupying these positions to the concentrated fire of the enemy's numerous guns.

Przemysl was bombarded with heavy guns up to 16-inch calibre, and the enemy delivered his principal attack against the north front in the region of Forts 10 and 11, which the Austrians had almost completely demolished before the surrender of the fortress.

When we repulsed these attacks the enemy succeeded in taking several of our guns, which had bombarded the enemy's columns until the latter were close to the muzzles, and the last shell was spent.

Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. III, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923

A "box barrage" was an artillery bombardment centred upon a small area.

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