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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 9, Number 1, March 2015


Anita Virgil
Forest, Virginia, USA

A Rare Moment



"Laon is built on a high mesa from which the view extends over miles of rolling fields . . .From the tower of the cathedral at the highest point of the town the carved stone heads of cows, instead of gargoyles, gaze in bovine serenity over the landscape."1

But early on an August morning of 1914, far below the same stone cows gazing across the bucolic panorama below, sat Maréchal Joffre observing the red-trousered French army battle the Germans who were on the march to Paris. Three hours later, satisfied the French soldiers were displaying adequate élan, Joffre had his chauffeur drive him to a station restaurant to enjoy "a good lunch."


Apportez-moi filet de boeuf saignant
pommes de terre frites
et une bouteille de Bordeaux.

the uniforms were woolen
the battle was lost by the French
the war continued four more years

1. Barbara Tuchman The Guns of August, Bantam Books, p. 420.
Photo credits: Laon Cathedral: Wikimedia Commons, Acroterion;
Cow image provided by the Abelard website



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