After the Battle of Mons, the British Expeditionary Force sought to get away to the southwest as the Germans rapidly advanced towards them. Though their morale was good, standing their ground was out of the question: the Germans were too many, and would have quickly surrounded them.
Needing to gain some separation from the Germans before of his units could focus on the withdrawal, British commander Sir John French fought a delaying action at Elouges.
With neither the British nor the Germans willing to commit their forces to a full-on battle in the area, Elouges developed into a very fluid conflict, much as a significant skirmish. Both sides, in fact, endangered their opponent’s artillery, for example, usually safe far behind the lines.
Though the Germans surrounded a solitary battalion of British troops, the delaying action was otherwise successful, as Sir John continued to move his force to the south and west.
. . .
Farther to the south, the supreme German commander Helmuth von Moltke had decided to gamble an attack in the Lorraine region (near the Franco-German border). To this point, the German armies in that area had successfully resisted all of the French attacks, and Moltke allowed his commanders to attack in that area with the goal of driving a wedge between the French First and Second armies. While the attack was unsuccessful, there was a more significant effect: Moltke had drawn troops away from his all-important right-wing in order to give his forces on the left-wing more strength for the attack.
Though technically Moltke knew that he had to keep his right-wing strong, for it was the key to victory, his actions deviated from this doctrine.