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German Geography - Fulda Gap

Map - Fulda GapConsistent with the abundance cf tertiary volcanoes, much of the terrain is defined by basaltic lava flows. Toward Eisenach and toward Hamburg these flows are interstratified with lignite fields of some commercial value. And atop most of this rock is brown forest soil with mountain brown forest soil above Vonelsberg and the Rhon.

Windblown silt from the terminal faces of glaciers, or loess, has been deposited in the Fulda Valley and in a region generally to the northwest of a line from Kassel to Frankfurt. Beyond this (to the northwest) are found fluvioglacial aeposits (i.e., those depositeu by a glacier out transportea further anc selectively cepositea by melt water). The natural woods tend to be mountain beech and pine at the highest levels. In the lowest regions, near Frankfurt, there are poorly drained regions of boreal forests.

When cleared, tne uplana regions, if suitable for any agricultural pursuits, are usually limited to meadows, ana milk cows abound. In some soutnerly slopes, terraces may be cut for vineyarus. Most upland is left wooded however. The river valleys are blessed with more and better soil and milder climate. In these regions agriculture may be pursuea intensively.

The highest point in the central highlands, at about 1140 m, is Brocken in the Harg Mountains immediately to tne northeast of this area. But the Kassel-Fulad-Frankfurt region has the wasserkuppe at 950 m and many others that rival it. WasserKuppe is in the Rhon, a large tertiary volcanic mass which also has the Kreuz and Nammersfeld peaks at 928 m, the Heiaelstein at 926 m, the Eiernauck at 910 m, and the Stirnberg at 902 m.

If not the hignest, the Vogelsberg still tends to dominate because of its central location. It forms the southwestern end, as the Rhon fornis tne southeastern end, of the East Hessen Highland (Osthessisches Bergland). Like the Rhon it is the remains of a tertiary volcano. The central region, known as the Oberwald contains the local high points of the Taufstein at 774 m, the Honeroas-K. at 763, the SiehenAhorn at 755, the Herchenhainer Hohe at 733, and the Nessel-B. at 715 m.

Immediately to the north of the Vogelsberg is the Knullgebirge and Homberger Highland. The Eisenberg peaks at 636 m and the Knull Kopfenen itself is at 634 m. The Fulaa-Werra-Berglana lies both to the north and east and it has peaks over 700 m. The Fuldatal region, that is the Fulda River valley, separates the Rohn ana the Fulda-Werra-Berglano on the right-hand from the Vogelsberg and the Knullgebirge and Homberger Highland on the left. The Fulda and the rivers into wnich it empties determine a principal north-south route through the central highlands. From Bac Hersfela thnrough Bebra, to Kassell and on toward Hannover; also south through Fulda arid on toward Schweinfurt.

A natural path from Bad Hersfeld to the soutnwest is offered by tne large scale saddle between the high points of the Oberwald and those of the KnuilgeDirge and Homburger Highland. The route passes Alsfeld and proceeas on toward Giessen. As Giessen is neared the route must swing more to the south as it parallels the course of the Wetter River. The river keeps to the east of the Taunus Mountains as it flows down to its meeting with the Main at Frankfurt.

Unlike the relatively recent land masses, the Taunus Mountains are ancient; being formed when old Devonian seas were forced into deep folds. Here, as in the other land about the Rhine these folds run from west-southwest to east-northeast. The other land masses may lack folding but they exhibit much faulting; most nortnwest of Fuida and to the Southwest and soutneast of Kassel.

Access from the east to the natural routes described has not been defined quite so clearly by nature. One promising route parallels tne Horsel River as it flows past Eisenacn down to the Werra River. This route keeps well to the north and west of the end of the Tnuringerwala. Once reaching the Werra, tne route follows it to the west ana southwest (upstream) as far as Gerstungen. The route then leaves tne river and continues more or less directly to Bau Hersfela. This route was the most attractive when autobanns were being planned and it still is attractive. There are collateral routes available, mostly to the north but some even to the south.

Fulda is a town and episcopal see of Germany, in the Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau, between the Rhon and the VogelGebirge, 69 m. N.E. from Frankfort-on-Main on the railway to Bebra. Although irregularly built the town is pleasantly situated, and contains two fine squares, on one of which stands a fine statue of St Boniface. The present cathedral was built at the beginning of the 18th century on the model of St Peter's at Rome, but it has an ancient crypt, which contains the bones of St Boniface and was restored in 1892. Fulda owes its existence to its famous abbey. It became a town in 1208, and during the middle ages there were many struggles between the abbots and the townsfolk.

The great Benedictine abbey of Fulda occupies the place in the ecclesiastical history of Germany which Monte Cassino holds in Italy, St Gall in South Germany, Corvey in Saxony, Tours in France and Iona in Scotland. Founded in 744 at the instigation of St Boniface by his pupil Sturm, who was the first abbot, it became the centre of a great missionary work. It was liberally endowed with land by the princes of the Carolingian house and others, and soon became one of the most famous and wealthy establishments of its kind. About 968 the pope declared that its abbot was primate of all the abbots in Germany and Gaul, and later he became a prince of the Empire.

The Duke of Wirtemberg having taken possession of Fulda, the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick resolved to beat up his quarters. For this purpose he selected a body of troops, and began his march from Marpurg early in the morning on the twenty-eight day of November 1759. On the thirtieth they marched directly to Fulda; where the Duke of Wirtemberg, far from expecting such a visit, had invited all the fashionable people in Fulda to a sumptuous entertainment. The Prince forced open the gates; and they retreated to the other side of the town, where four battalions of them were defeated and taken; while the Duke himself, with the rest of his forces, filed off on the other side of the Fulda. Two pieces of cannon, two pair of colours, and all their baggage, fell into the hands of the victors.

Napoleon, on 25 October 1813, took the road by Gotha and Fulda towards the Rhine. At Fulda, Bliicher, who had for some days led the advance and fought several actions with the French rear-guard, was ordered to strike to the right, take the direction of Wetzlar, and leave the main road open to the Grand Army : an order highly injurious perhaps to the cause, at a moment when a more energetic pursuit might have led to the most important results. The French army were already pursued by vastly superior forces; and surrounded on all sides by swarms of Cossacks and light troops that not only harassed the rear, but disputed every difiicult piece of ground with the advanced guard. On the 2d of November, Napoleon crossed the Rhine, followed by about 70,000 men, all that remained of the splendid army of 400,000 gallant soldiers who had, three months before, stood arrayed beneath his banner.

General von Falckenstein, who had been appointed to the command of all the Prussian forces in the west, rapidly concentrated his army after the capitulation of the Hanoverians, and moved upon Frankfort via Fulda. On 04 July 1866 he worsted the Bavarian detachment at Wiesenthal, inducing the retirement of the whole Bavarian army beyond the Saale. Prince Alexander, commanding the 8th corps, upon learning of this commenced his retreat on Frankfort. On the 6th General von Falckenstein occupied Fulda, and in view of the fact that seventy miles of country separated the two corps of the federal army, he determined to overwhelm them in detail.




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Page last modified: 09-01-2019 18:52:20 ZULU