On the same day that Belgrade was taken the Austro-Germans crossed the Danube between Gradishte and Semendria, near the village of Zatagna and the small fort called Kosolatz. Ram, too, after having been heavily bombarded, was taken.
Not long after the first Austro-German guns began hurling their shells across the Danube, against the Serbian position at Semendria, the Serbians learned of the disposition and the resources of the enemy. The troops under Mackensen were divided into two armies, each in close contact with the other.
Mean and abominable huts, with patches of garden ground filled up the space inclosed by the gorgeous ramparts and massive towers of Semendria. The further we walked the nobler appeared the last relic of the dotage of old feudal Servia. In one of the towers next the Danube is a sculptured Roman tombstone.
Ram and Semendria, both fortified places, guarded the mouth of the Morava Valley, and these Gallwitz subjected to an especially heavy fire. By October 5, 1915, the shelling became heaviest in this sector: the enemy's guns and howitzers belched forth a steady hail of big shells. Belgrade, also, became the object of an increasingly tremendous effort on the part of the Austro-German artillery.
They then sent this message to the Servians: 'You have held good for two days; but we will try it again with all our force, and then see whether we give up the country to the Drina, or whether we drive you to Semendria. "To the infantry within the breastworks he gave orders that they should not fire until the Turks were so close that every shot might tell.
The Serbian frontier constituted a sharp salient which was indefensible against a superior force, and the Austrians exploited this advantage by extending their front of attack from Semendria on the Danube right round to Ushitza beyond the Drina.
But at about nine we roll safely into Jagodina, well- satisfied with the consciousness of having covered one hundred and forty- five kilometres to-day, in spite of delaying our start in the morning until eight o'clock, and the twenty kilometres of indifferent road between Grotzka and Semendria.
These were the two already mentioned; the north, along the line from Obrenovatz to Belgrade and to Semendria; or, the front Obrenovatz-Ratza-Losnitza-Liubovia. The first possibility had the advantage to the Austrians of offering the shortest route to the center of the country the Morava Valley, their natural objective.
Seeing me jotting down my notes with a short piece of lead-pencil, the proprietor of the mehana at Semendria, where we take a parting glass of wine with the captain, and who admires America and the Americans, steps in-doors for a minute, and returns with a telescopic pencil-case, attached to a silken cord of the Servian" national colors, which he places abound my neck, requesting me to wear it around the world, and, when I arrive at my journey's end, sometimes to think of Servia.
Then came several attempts on the part of the Austro-Germans to cross the rivers; all these the Serbians successfully repulsed, though they may have been mere feints, as a boxer jabs at his opponent's jaw while he really aims for his wind. There were seven of these attempts. In one, near Semendria, the Serbians reported that a whole battalion of an enemy was destroyed.