Battle of Stallupönen

Battle of Stallupönen

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict = Battle of Stallupönen
partof = the Eastern Front of World War I

caption = Eastern Front, August 17–23, 1914.
date = August 17, 1914
place = Stallupönen, East Prussia (now Nesterov, Russia)
result = German victory
combatant1 = flag|Russian Empire|size=25px
combatant2 = flag|German Empire|size=25px
commander1 = Paul von Rennenkampf
commander2 = Hermann von François
strength1 = I Army (200,000)
strength2 = I Corps of VIII Army (40,000)
casualties1 = 5,000 plus 3,000 prisoners
casualties2 = 1,200

The Battle of Stallupönen, fought between Russian and German armies on August 17, 1914, was the opening battle of World War I on the Eastern Front. It was a minor German success, but did little to upset the Russian timetable.


The German Schlieffen Plan was based on defeating France and the United Kingdom as quickly as possible in the west, which would then permit the Germans to transport their forces eastward to meet the massive Russian Army. The Russians were able to field up to ten complete armies compared to Germany's eight, but they were scattered across the country and would take some time to organize and move up. This meant that the Germans had a short window of time where they could fight a defensive battle, holding off what forces the Russians could move forward, while they waited for the battles in the west to be decided.

Immediately prior to the opening of hostilities, the Eastern Front developed largely according to pre-war planning. Two Russian armies were in the immediate area, Pavel Rennenkampf's First Army east of the city of Königsberg, and Alexander Samsonov's Second Army to the south. Rennenkampf planned on marching on Königsberg, tying down any German forces in the area, while Samsonov would move northwest to cut off any escape.

The Germans were also deployed largely according to everyone's expectations. The German Eighth Army was strung out in pockets in front of Rennenkampf, but did not have the manpower to completely cover the front of either of the Russian armies. On paper, the situation looked almost hopeless, and the standing orders were to fight a delaying retreat. However, Hermann von François, the commander of the First Corps of the German Eighth Army, was convinced his better-trained and equipped forces could halt, and perhaps defeat, Rennenkampf's Russian forces.

Most of the Eighth Army was organized into a defensive line running south of Gumbinnen, about convert|20|mi|km west of the Russian border. However, small units were sent forward to garrison towns, railway lines and strongpoints. They were ordered to retreat on contact with the enemy, joining the main forces at Gumbinnen. For the first five days of the war, the only combat was minor skirmishes with Rennenkampf's cavalry who were conducting reconnaissance along the border area.

The Battle

On August 17 Rennenkampf started the invasion of Prussia, marching the First Army directly westward towards the German lines. Although he faced no resistance, Rennenkampf stopped his advance in a neat line about five miles (8 km) from the border. Acting without orders, Francois decided to take his forces to Stallupönen where one of the Russian divisions was resting. A furious frontal attack broke the Russian division, which fled eastward, losing 5,000 casualties and 3,000 prisoners, almost the entirety of the Russian 105th Regiment.

When Prittwitz learned that François had engaged the Russians, he sent an adjutant to order François to break off the attack and retreat. François by this time was too committed to safely disengage, and had no intention of doing so anyway. He contemptuously, and famously, told the adjutant, "Report to General Prittwitz that General von François will withdraw when he has defeated the Russians." [ [ The Battles of Stalluponen and Gumbinnen] ]


While the Russians retreated, François pursued them into the evening, but ended his advance when he came under Russian artillery fire. He then reluctantly obeyed Prittwitz's order and withdrew 15 miles (24 km) to the west, taking up new positions around Gumbinnen. His success was infectious, and convinced Prittwitz to be more aggressive in dealing with the Russian forces. This proved to be unwise at the following Battle of Gumbinnen two days later.


External links

* [ Battle of Stallupönen at]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Battle of Tannenberg (1914) — Infobox Military Conflict conflict = Battle of Tannenberg partof = the Eastern Front of World War I caption = date = 23 August 1914 ndash; 2 September 1914 place = near Allenstein, East Prussia result = Decisive German victory combatant1 =… …   Wikipedia

  • Battle of Gumbinnen — The Battle of Gumbinnen, initiated by the Germany on August 20, 1914, was the first major German offensive on the Eastern Front during the First World War. Due to the hastiness of the German attack, however, the Russian army emerged victorious.… …   Wikipedia

  • Bataille De Stalluponen — Front Est, 17 23 août 1914 Informations générales Date 17 août 1914 Lieu …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Bataille de Stalluponen — Front Est, 17 23 août 1914 Informations générales Date 17 août 1914 Lieu …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Bataille de stalluponen — Front Est, 17 23 août 1914 Informations générales Date 17 août 1914 Lieu …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Bataille de Stallupönen — 54°37′50″N 22°34′24″E / 54.63056, 22.57333 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • First Battle of the Masurian Lakes — Infobox Military Conflict conflict = First Battle of the Masurian Lakes partof = the Eastern Front during World War I caption = Eastern Front to September 26, 1914. date = September 9 ndash;14, 1914 place = East Prussia, present day Poland result …   Wikipedia

  • Nesterov — For other uses, see Nesterov (disambiguation). Nesterov (English) Нестеров (Russian) …   Wikipedia

  • List of battles 1901–2000 — List of battles: before 601 601 1400 1401 1800 1801 1900 1901 2000 2001 current 1901 1925*1901 Balangiga Massacre September 28 Filipino guerrillas launch a surprise attack on soldiers of the 9th U.S. Infantry and massacred nearly all of them.… …   Wikipedia

  • List of military engagements of World War I — See also a chronological list of WW1 battles.This is a List of military engagements of World War I which encompasses land, naval, and air engagements as well as campaigns, operations, defensive lines and sieges. Campaigns generally refer to… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.