The fighting on the Loire began spontaneously, before any guiding strategy had been shaped by either side. As the German armies advanced on Paris, the cavalry on their extreme left wing, reconnoitring and requisitioning far to the south of the main body, entered the region of

287 the Forest of Orteans, a belt of scrub and woodland north of the Loire where the first organised troops of the provincial armies were beginning to assemble. There was a little skirmishing, during which the French troops evacuated orleans in panic and reoccupied it again without opposition 1; and by the beginning of October French and German outposts faced one another on a vestigial front which ran roughly eastwards from Artenay along the northern edge of the Forest of Orleans.2