The Battle of Mulhouse was a preliminary French offensive in Alsace in the early days of the First World War. Alsace had been French territory until 1871, and it was hoped that the presence of a French army in the area would trigger a general revolt against the Germans. The advance to Mulhouse was also seen as preparation for the larger offensive planned for Lorraine (14 August-7 September 1914).
The advance to Mulhouse was made by General Bonneau’s VII Corps, from its base at Besançon, seventy miles from Mulhouse. Bonneau was not in favour of the attack, and moved slowly. It took two days for him to reach Mulhouse, only fifteen miles over the German border, losing only 100 men during the advance.
On 9 August the Germans, under General Josias von Heeringen, launched a counterattack. Twenty four hours after arriving in Mulhouse, Bonneau ordered a retreat, pulling back towards Belfort, on the direct route between Besançon and Mulhouse. General Joffre was furious with Bonneau’s lack of aggression, and removed him from command of VII Corps.
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