September 2nd, 1914 - French Government Evacuates Paris
Pictured - A map showing the Parisian forts.
The French had not yet realized that von Kluck’s army had turned away from Paris. On the 2nd, the anniversary of the Sedan, the downhearted government chose to evacuate. The Parisians mocked their fleeing government, but many of them wished to escape as well. Military Governor of Paris Gallieni was happy enough to have the government gone, as he now wielded sole power over the defence of the city.
On that day Gallieni finally received the forces that he had been nagging Joffre to give him, gaining six divisions. The next morning posters appeared all over the city, proclaiming Gallieni’s determination to defend the city to the last.
The German soldiers who threatened Paris felt less than triumphant, however. One officer wrote of their condition: “Our men are done up, they stagger forward, their faces coated with dust, their uniforms in rags. They look like starving scarecrows.”
The men relied on alcohol and the thought of Paris to keep them going. On the 2nd Moltke confirmed von Kluck’s decision to go south-east of the city and try and roll up the French line. He ordered von Kluck’s army to provide flank support to the German 2nd Army under von Bülow, but Kluck the pacemaker was outraged at this decision.
Kluck kept racing forward, neglecting to defend the German flanks. He thought it sufficient to keep one weak corps facing Paris while the rest of the army marched on. The German flank was now presented to the city of Paris and Gallieni’s new army.