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The terrain in the fortress zone was difficult to observe, because many ravines ran between the forts. Interval defences had been built just before the battle but were insufficient to stop German infiltration. The forts were also vulnerable to attack from the rear, the direction from which the German bombardments were fired. The forts had been built to withstand shelling from 210-millimetre (8.3 in) guns, which were the largest mobile artillery in 1890 but concrete used in construction was not of the best quality and by 1914 the German army had obtained much larger 420mm howitzers, (L/12 420-millimetre (17 in) M-Gerät 14 Kurze Marine-Kanone) and Austrian 305mm howitzers (Škoda 305-millimetre (12.0 in) Mörser M. 11). The Belgian 3rd Division (Lieutenant-General Gérard Léman) defended Liège.[9] Within the division, there were four brigades and various other formations with c. 36,000 troops and 400 guns. The Army of the Meuse consisted of the 11th Brigade of III Corps (Major-General von Wachter), the 14th Brigade of IV Corps (Major-General von Wussow), the 27th Brigade of VII Corps (Colonel von Massow), the 34th Brigade of IX Corps (Major-General von Kraewel), the 38th Brigade of X Corps (Colonel von Oertzen) and the 43rd Brigade of XI Corps (Major-General von Hülsen).The cavalry component consisted of Höherer Kavallerie-Kommandeur II (II Cavalry Corps Lieutenant-General Von der Marwitz, consisting of the 2nd (Major-General Von Krane), 4th (Lieutenant-General Von Garnier) and the 9th (Major-General Von Bulow) cavalry divisions. The Army of the Meuse (General von Emmich) had c. 59,800 troops with 100 guns and howitzers, accompanied by Erich Ludendorff as an observer for the General Staff.

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要塞内の地形を観測することは困難であった。要塞の多くが渓谷の間を縫って構築されたいたためである。要塞間の防備も戦いの直前に構築されていたが、ドイツ軍の侵攻阻止にはまだ不十分であった。 要塞は背後からの攻撃に対して脆弱だった。ドイツ軍はその方角に砲爆撃を行った。 要塞は、1890年当時の最も大きな可動重砲である、210ミリ(8.3インチ)砲に耐えられるよう建造されていたが、建造に用いたコンクリートは良い品質ではなかった。1914年にはドイツ軍はより大型の420ミリ榴弾砲(L/12 420mm(17インチ)M-Gerat 14クルップ式海岸カノン砲)を装備し、オーストリア軍は305ミリ榴弾砲(スコダ305mm(12インチ)モーゼル式M11)を装備した。ベルギー第三師団(ジェラード・レマン中将)はリエージュを防備した[9] 第三師団には4個旅団と各種編成の部隊があり、総勢36,000名と400門の砲があった。 ミューズの陸軍は第3軍団11旅団(フォン・ヴェヒター少将)、第4軍団第14旅団(フォン・バッソウ少将)、第7軍団第27旅団(マーソウ大佐)、第9軍団第34旅団(クラーベル少将)、第10軍団第38旅団(フォン・エールツエン大佐)、第11軍団第43旅団(フォン・ヒュールセン少将)で構成されていた。 騎兵部隊は、第2高等騎兵軍(第2騎兵軍団 フォン・デル・マルヴィッツ中将指揮)で第2(フォン・クラーネ少将)、第4(フォン。ガルニエル中将)、第9(フォン・ビューロー少将)の各騎兵師団で構成されていた。 ミューズの軍(フォン・エーミッヒ大将)は総勢59,800名、100門の野砲、榴弾砲を有した。また、司令部参謀のオブザーバーとしてエーリッヒ・ルーデンドルフが参加した。

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